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unbound Ark: Survival Unbound (Chapter 2)


Oreochema

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Linayn listened to the sound the of the creature’s fading footsteps, her confusion growing with each passing moment. The three-horned animal was completely unfamiliar to her; she’d seen nothing like it before. How far from home had she been taken? For a brief moment, panic began to well up in her chest, but she recalled a piece of advice from her mother.

“You can survive anywhere if you can make the tools. Remember this, and even when you are lost, you are home.”

A breeze welled up from the sea, casting cool air over her. She rubbed her hands down her arms to generate some warmth, but stopped when she felt an oddness in her left arm. She looked down to see a diamond-shaped stone embedded in her wrist. The skin around it was pink and puffy, as though she were still healing from its being placed there. She gingerly touched the flesh around the stone. It was still sensitive, too. She decided not to bother it.

Instead, she went about procuring some of the berries that the three-horned beast had been eating.

 

x-x-x-x-x

 

Her dreams continued to lead her through the first months she had spent on the island. She saw her first attempts at hunting the peculiar creatures, which often ended in failure. The animals she chose were too fast, or too wary. Those that elected to defend themselves, rather than running, left her with wounds that took longer to heal than she expected.

Fishing was somewhat easier, though she learned early that the waters of this foreign place were just as dangerous as the land. Schools of sharp-toothed fish stripped the flesh from even the largest animals in a matter of moments, and thick-shelled crustaceans bore armor too thick to crack with her bare hands. Spears became her most valuable weapons.

Clothing had been a challenge as well, though the plants she found had strong fibers that were easy to weave into simple pants and a shirt. As long as she wasn’t careless, she wouldn’t have to replace them often.

Shelter was another story. The trees were easy enough to fell, and they gave plentiful thatch and wood, but inexperience in crafting with such resources hindered her attempts to build functional walls. Still, she managed a small lean-to that kept out the worst of the elements.

Building her first fire was frustrating. The first time she tried, she found herself staring at the fire pit in a daze, unable to recall how she’d done it before. After a time, however, her amnesiac mind gave her a memory she could use. She recalled a man she had met in the wilderness who crafted fire with sawdust and bits of wood. Following his example, she was able to make her own, along with torches that she planted around her home.

Throughout those first months, she spent many hours contemplating the strange transition. She explored the region near her shelter, and learned about the creatures that lived here, but always searched for something she recognized. There were no familiar landmarks, no other people, and certainly no way to know which direction she should travel. One thing was certain: she was no longer in the land she called home.

What she did discover was that an immense metal tower stood on the shore some distance West of her shelter. The mysterious structure was alive with ruddy light, and cast an eerie glow on the landscape around it, even long after the sun took its rest behind the Eastern horizon. Linayn’s home was well beyond the reach of its light, but she found herself glad for it, because each time she looked at the structure, she was sure she could hear whispers forming in her mind, in voices that were not her own. Often, the whispers seemed to resonate with the device in her arm.

Once the sun helped her learn East from West - and by extension, North from South - she learned she was at the northern shore of some great sea. She couldn’t see the other side, however, and it was at the end of those first months that she decided to follow the shore until she returned to her shelter. In order to avoid the tower for as long as possible, she chose to venture East.

 

x-x-x-x-x

 

The memory continued, reminding her of the foolish decision she had made. It reminded her that she’d survived no more than a day of her journey before falling prey to a creature smarter and more tenacious than she.

Again the darkness returned, and she wondered if her broken mind was trying to tell her something. The voices she heard, however, were indistinguishable….

“Kreluth, bring me more salve.”

Linayn gasped and opened her eyes. She tried to sit up, but found that she was unable to move. A voice spoke from her left.

“Woah! Easy now. You’re injured. We’ve dosed you with a paralytic, so you wouldn’t aggravate your injury. You’re safe, though.”

Linayn had no choice but to trust the stranger, so she forced herself to calm down and examine her surroundings. She lay on a short bed, low to the floor, in a room lit with torchlight. Her inability to move prevented her from seeing what lay along the walls, but through her peripheral vision, she could see the man standing to her left. He seemed to be leaning over a table, and she could hear him mixing something in a stone dish. He stood and approached her.

“You’re lucky to be alive, you know. Troodons are extremely dangerous.”

Troodons…?

She must have let her confusion show, because the man elaborated. “The thing that nearly killed you. It took a nice chunk out of your neck. Your back was cut up a little, too, but you’re healing well. You have a name?”

“Linayn.” She found that whatever kept her from moving at least allowed her to speak. She’d have asked the man’s name in return, but she didn’t want to be rude, especially since he seemed to have saved her life.

“Well, you can talk, at least. I’m Belain.”

Well, that answered that question.

A younger man appeared behind Belain, who turned to greet the newcomer. “Ah, Kreluth! Thank you! Go tell Marcus that our guest is awake. I’m sure he’ll want to meet her.” The young man handed something to Belain and disappeared.

Linayn’s curiosity got the best of her. “Where am I?”

“You’re in a village-base we call ‘Valiant’. Our tribe’s name is ‘Unbound’, and we make our home on the Southeast part of the island.”

“Island?”

“Yes.” Belain looked confused. “You didn’t know?”

“I thought I was on the shores of the Inland Seas.”

“Not sure I know what you mean. I don’t know of any ‘Inland Sea’. But I don’t suppose that means much. Most folks who wake up on the island don’t remember a lot about their past. That is, if they remember anything at all.”

“‘Most?’”

“You’re not the only one. Nobody knows how we got here, but what we do know is that it’s dangerous to live alone. There are things here that make us look like bugs.”

Linayn considered the man’s words. She wasn’t very concerned about the creatures. Despite the fact that she had nearly been killed several times since she had arrived on this “island”, she couldn’t help but feel as though the creatures weren’t the problem; it was her inability to remember her past. The few memories she had told her that she had been taught to survive anywhere, but whatever entity had placed her here had taken those memories from her.

Linayn spent several seconds processing what that meant for her. If no one here remembered much of anything about their past, then it wasn’t likely she would find answers with any of them. She’d be better off searching on her own. However, if what Belain said was true, she was ill-equipped to go about it without some sort of preparation.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of voices approaching. Kreluth had returned, with Marcus in tow.

“Hello.” The newcomer had an air of authority about him, and carried himself with purpose. “How are you feeling?”

“Better than I would be without your help. Thank you.”

“I wish I could say I’m the one who saved you. As it is, you’re lucky our lone Argentavis rider found you when he did.” Marcus stepped forward to place himself closer to the bed. “Many of the other tribes are wary of loners. They probably would have left you to die.”

Linayn blinked in surprise. “Not you?”

“We try to help those who need it. Allies are better than enemies, after all, and allies can watch your back. Which brings me to my next question.” Marcus shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I want to invite you to stay with us, at least for a while.”

“Why? I’m a complete stranger.”

“As I said, allies are better than enemies, and even if you choose to leave, we can teach you skills before you go that will help you survive on your own. In return, we only ask that you help us with our hunting and our crops while you’re with us.”

It only took Linayn a moment to decide on an answer. “I will stay. Thank you for your hospitality.”

If she was going to survive here, her best chance was with other survivors.

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