The howling has started again.
As we penetrated deeper into the jungle it dissipated more each day. Last night it began afresh. I don’t know what could make such horrible noises, like coyotes or wolves, but harsher and more menacing. There are grunts, and screams. Between them I am not sure if I am listening to something wild feasting on men, or feasting upon themselves.
It sounds like a frenzy. And it sounds far too close to us for comfort.
Brief explorations outward in the morning light reveal nothing. At least nothing we recognize from our own experience, which between us is varied and expansive. We dare not risk a full search in such foreign territory. The light under this canopy is difficult to see by in any case, as if it too were weakened by the stagnancy of the air.
Even Starlark has a difficult time making out the shapes moving in the half-light, and he has spent much of his life living in the forests of the west. He still manages to bring down birds when he spots them, and the occasional snake. His archer’s eyes are still strained to find their mark in the darkness of the Nanten, and every miss requires a search for the arrow. Out here there are precious few.
Thankfully Dionus can sense their movement in the air, which makes finding them for Starlark that much easier. It also helps to divide the discovery of game between them. Everything seems larger in the Nanten. The animals are similar to home, and though they are often more colorful they all seem more sinister in appearance. I’ve never felt such hostility in otherwise harmless creatures before. Even the small lizards we find glare at us as if calculating our demise.
One of those snakes attempted to bite Balthandar. Its fangs caught in the reinforced straps around his boot, and he was able to cut its head off before it could untangle itself. Its fangs led us to believe it was venomous. There were burn marks beneath the scratches it left in his boot. Needless to say, it leaves us on edge.
Other than these occasional finds, our supplies are beginning to run low. We have flatbake bread that we were able to make in Blithe that should last us a while yet, but of meat and dried fruit we have little left. For all of the plant life here there seems to be little fruit, and we remain uncertain what roots and stems we might safely eat.
If things get bad enough, we may just have to find out.
These are the sorts of mysteries one doesn’t anticipate. The looming threat of some unknown monster is something I expect. Neither recognizing any plant, nor knowing which among them might be nutritious I do not. I hope that wherever or whoever this Bantish is, there is a supply of food nearby.
Thankfully water is easy to gather from the plants themselves. There are more than one type of fern we have discovered that collects dew and rain in funnel-like leaves. These are plentiful, as are small streams we cross regularly, which is the only reason we are able to carry on at the pace we do.
I doubt very much, however, that I would like to know just how far we have actually come in the last week. I’m afraid it would discourage me. Discouragement is the last thing I need to feel more of today.