Kenta trains Nasha for the next couple of nights. But there are little to no attacks for those days as they travel. Soon they find a road and no longer have to walk on forest trails.
Nasha says “I surprised we haven’t been attacked lately”
Kenta says “One should not go looking for a fight.”
John says “You shouldn’t be the one to speak of not looking for a fight.” Kenta shoots John a dirty look. John says without acknowledging Kenta’s look “Word may have gotten out about a strong band of travelers that consist of a Centaur, a Lamia, and whatever I look like to them.”
Kenta says “You do speak some truth there…” Kenta stops moving.
John says “what is it Kenta?”
Kenta says “I smell smoke.”
Nasha sniffs the air and says “I smell it too now.”
John sniffs and smells it too and says “could it be a cooking fire?”
Kenta says “No” and runs forward. John and Nasha give chase.
They round a bend in the road and find several overturned wagons on fire. John calls out “Hello anyone there!”
Kenta quickly motions for John to be quiet saying “The attackers may still be in the area.”
Nasha says “I don’t think so. I don’t feel any movement in the area.” She pauses for a moment then says “There is someone in the wagons!”
John says “Which one?”
Nasha says “I don’t know.”
John says to Kenta “Don’t move” and takes Nasha by the hand. He slowly walks in front of her as he leads her past the wagons. John is hoping that Nasha can pick up the vibrations better if her tail is stretch out.
Nasha stops and looks back at a wagon yelling “That one!”
John yells to Kenta “Quickly Kenta, over here.” Kenta runs over and John jumps on her back and climbs into the overturned wagon.
John lands roughly and looks around through the smoke and firelight. He hears some motion off to the side and looks for the source. He finds a small naked child no older than a toddler with arms covered in down feathers and clawed bird-like legs. He sees that the child has a rope tied around one ankle. John hears Nasha calling for him “John is everything alright?”
John comes to the opening and sees Nasha looking through it, he has a feeling she is using Kenta for support and says “throw down one of your knives. I need to cut someone free.” Nasha drops one of her daggers to John and he heads back to the child holding the dagger in hand. The child starts to panic when John approaches, flapping their arms and jumping as it is trying to get away from him. John tries to grab the rope or the child several times without much success. John even tries to talk to the child with no avail. He then realizes that where one end is moving freely, the other is still anchored to something and goes to find where it is tied off at. He finds the end and starts cutting. He looks over at the child and sees that once freed it can make it to the opening. He even uses the child’s own panic movements to cut the rope. John yells “lookout” once he senses the rope is about to break. Sure enough, once the rope is cut, the child hops on some overturned boxes and makes it to the opening.
Nasha pulls back as the child exits and the child jumps down and runs away. Nasha and Kenta look at each other and say together “A Harpy?”
John yells “Hey a little help here!” Nasha leans downs to grab John. She wraps her tail around Kenta’s underside as she lifts John out. Kenta lets out a few grunts as Nasha tightens her tail for support.
John says “where is the child?” once he is up and sitting on the outside of the wagon.
Nasha motions in the direction the child ran. The child ran for a bit before the rope got tangled in some branches and is still trying to run while the branches jammed against some bushes. The child finally collapsing from exhaustion. John gets down and starts slowly walking towards the child with the knife in hand. He can see now see the child is a girl and she sees him coming, but is too weak to move. John leans down and rolls her on her back as he grabs the leg with the rope tied to it. He brings the knife next to her leg and with one swift movement, cuts the rope off. John lets go of her saying “There you go” as he stands back up. The child looks at her ankle and even tries opening and closing her clawed foot. The child then tries to stand but is too weak to get to her feet. John reaches down and picks her up and holds her in his arms. He looks her in the eyes and then gently pushes her head down onto his shoulder. She wraps her arms and around him and almost instantly goes to sleep.
John says to the others “Collect what supplies you can, then we’re leaving.”
Kenta says “what about the bodies.”
John says “leave them alone. Besides, I doubt they were good people, to begin with.”
Kenta says “And what are you going to with that thing.” Motioning to the child.
John says “We are taking her with us. See if there are any spare clothes that she can wear.”
Kenta says “That thing is a Harpy.”
John snaps back with a hint of anger in his voice “SHE is a child!” John looks to Nasha who seems to be on Kenta’s side.
The child wakes up about an hour later full of energy again. John carries her for a bit then he sets her down when she starts squirming in his arms so she can walk while holding his hand. The child keeps stumbling and falling as they walk and soon starts to motion to get back into John’s arms. John picks her up saying “You are heavy for a bird-like girl you know.” John looks beside him and sees Kenta back. John says “Kenta will you stop for a moment.”
Kenta stops saying “What now.”
John says “I know I said I would never ride you out of respect for you. But Papi here is small and weak.” Motioning to the child “Do you mind if she rides on your back?”
Nasha says “You named it?”
John says “Yes” He looks at the child “I named her. Until we find her family, she is going to be a part of our group.” John looks back at Kenta.
Kenta thinks for a moment then says “Yes, she doesn’t weigh that much to me and she is slowing you down.”
John says “Thank you Kenta.” He puts Papi on Kenta’s back near the middle of the pack saddle and straddles her legs. John says to Kenta “Start walking slowly so she gets a feel for your movements.” Kenta does this and Papi puts her wings down on the saddle to keep herself steady with John walking beside them to keep an eye on her.
Nasha says “You know that it is a fool’s errand to try and find her flock”
John says “Oh, and why is that?”
Nasha says “Harpies attack any Harpy who is not of their flock.”
John says “I’m sure we can talk to them before they attack.”