After his encounter with the demon in town, Ethan decided to return to the forest. However, he had realized again his hunger, and decided that he had no other choice but to do something about it. He had managed to steal some food from a stand to feed himself. He didn’t like stealing, but he didn’t really have any other options.
Only after satisfying his hunger did Ethan make his way back to the forest. He looked around constantly for any signs of the demon he had encountered before, but didn’t manage to detect any trace of him.
Ethan didn’t really know if he wanted to see that demon again. He was glad that the demon hadn’t killed him, but he didn’t seem all too friendly with him either. The next time Ethan encountered him, maybe the demon would be bored and then decide to fight him. Ethan cringed slightly, remembering the demon’s menacing claws sheathing and unsheathing so easily.
He sighed and decided that, whether he’d meet the demon later, or if they’d never cross paths again, he would deal with that when he got there.
Walking through the forest, Ethan felt at ease. The only ones around him were the animals and nature, no menacing humans or demons to challenge him.
Time passed, and Ethan was making his way back to the tree house. He supposed that that was the only place he could feel safe. He knew that Penny and Luke hadn’t been there in years, and hoped they wouldn’t visit anytime soon. As he walked, the sky began to darken. Brilliant hues of reds, oranges, and yellows streaked across the sky as the sun sank below the horizon.
Just as the stars began to appear, Ethan made it back to the tree house. Arriving from this angle, he noticed a ladder attached to the side of the structure. It was essentially just boards of wood and thick sections of branches nailed to the side, and seemed as if it might break, but seeing it made Ethan feel calm and relaxed. He could remember climbing up to the roof of the tree house as a child with his two friends and watching the sky.
Ethan limped over to the ladder and grabbed one of the rungs, smiling a little. The ladder seemed much smaller now; it had felt so large when he was younger. Using his claws and moving his injured foot delicately, he climbed the ladder and went atop the roof. He moved towards the front of the roof and sat down, legs hanging over the side. Ethan sighed, remembering again doing this as a child, even though now he was alone. He looked up at the sky.
The sun had just dropped behind the horizon, and the sky was turning a deep dark blue. Hundreds upon thousands of stars glimmered in the sky like numerous shards of precious gems. The luminous moon shined down magnificently, surrounded by a few wisps of clouds and the stars.
Ethan smiled. For the first time since his unfortunate incident, he was happy. Looking up at the vast sky, he was at ease. He felt as if he didn’t have any troubles, and that nothing mattered at all. The future would come, and that would be alright; he could handle it. Tomorrow, the sun would come up, and it would be a new day.
A soft noise was heard, grass rustling slightly. Ethan looked over towards some tall grass; he saw that he wasn’t the only one enjoying the view. In the grass, sat a small brown hare. It noticed him looking at it, and turned towards him. Ethan saw that it had only one large yellow eye. Ethan looked at it curiously, and the hare looked back at him, its emotions nearly impossible to decipher. It then turned and moved away into the bushes, leaving Ethan alone again.
Ethan returned his gaze to the sky. He was glad there were animals around, ones like that hare. It was nice to know there were others around.
After a while, Ethan yawned. He didn’t know how long he had been staring at the sky, but it had been much longer than a few minutes. He moved towards the ladder and descended it. Walking around the side of the tree house to the door, he took one last look at the sky and then entered the humble abode.
Inside there was, as there was before, nothing. Ethan limped over to the wall opposite the one window, and sat down. He looked out the window at the trees, wondering if anything dangerous roamed at night. He grew worried, but quickly stopped thinking about it. He took his mask off and set it next to him, and then took his hoodie off.
Ethan lay down on the wooden floor and draped his hoodie around him as a makeshift blanket, using one of the arms as a mediocre pillow. He silently said goodnight to himself, closed his eyes, and quickly fell asleep.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Slowly, Ethan awoke to the sun shining in through the window. He yawned and sat up, looking around in slight confusion before remembering where he was. He moved his hoodie off of himself and put it on, and then set the mask back on his face.
Not knowing quite what he would try to accomplish today, Ethan walked out the entrance; subconsciously on all fours. He looked around and didn’t see anyone. A few birds flew through the air, but none of them paid any mind to him. Ethan looked around at the landmarks surrounding the tree house, wanting to memorize them as quickly as possible.
After taking a good long look at anything unique around the structure, Ethan turned towards a random direction and began moving that way. He made sure to remember his steps so he wouldn’t get lost. Ethan didn’t know what he wanted to do or find, but he didn’t want to hide in the tree house all day.
Walking along, Ethan looked around for anything odd or unusual. He didn’t see anything that fit that description, though. He did, however, see a few animals. There were squirrels and a distant deer or two. He was glad he didn’t encounter any bears. He did manage to see the one-eyed hare again, but it fled when he tried to approach it.
Starting to get tired from all of the walking, Ethan spotted a fallen tree and limped over to it. He sat down and sighed, eyeing his injured foot. It still hurt, but he didn’t know what to do about it. He was hoping it would just heal with no need for any extra medical care, but it sure didn’t feel that way.
Ethan sat in silence, now staring at his demonic hand. The only sounds around him were those of the forest: the wind rustling the trees, squirrels scampering around on the branches, birds chirping in the air. But, soon he noticed a new noise; he couldn’t quite decipher what it was. It sounded like something scraping against something, probably tree bark. The scraping seemed to be coming from something sharp, such as a knife or claws. Ethan frantically looked around to discover the source of the sound, but didn’t see anything.
He sighed and relaxed, figuring it was just something from the trees or a distant animal.
“So you’re the new demon I’ve heard so much about.”
A voice suddenly spoke from the trees, causing Ethan to flinch in shock. A subtle chuckle was heard from the speaker. They seemed to be coming from the trees; Ethan looked up. Only now did he notice a figure perched atop one of the branches. The shadows of the leaves concealed their identity. However, Ethan could see that they were holding something; a large bowie knife. Ethan stared at the large blade, beginning to get frightened.
“Well?” The speaker asked, a slightly impatient tone in their voice. “Where’re you from? You one of those demons who roams from town to town, moving when the place gets boring?”
Ethan managed to get to his feet, trying his best not to stumble. He looked up at the one in the trees.
“I . . .” Ethan started, not quite sure how to talk to this person. “I’m not a demon, I’m human.”
“Heh,” They gave off an amused sound, “Not with that hand and those claws.” They motioned towards Ethan with the large blade.
Ethan quickly looked at his hand and then hid it behind his back.
“Well I don’t want to be a demon,” Ethan replied quietly, “I want to be a normal human again. . .”
“You want to be a normal human?” They scoffed, “Why?”
“I, well I. . .” Ethan showed his demonic hand. “I just don’t like this . . .” He looked down at his injured foot wrapped in a blood soaked towel. “I don’t like that either . . .”
“Being a demon is awesome.” The one on the branch scraped the bark of the tree with the blade. “Better endurance, abilities, independence, great stuff like that.”
“I’d . . .” Ethan looked down at his feet as if he were ashamed of his answer. “I’d still rather be a normal human . . .”
“Meh, demon is still better.” They shifted slightly on the sturdy branch.
“Well, emm. . .” Ethan looked back up. “Are you a demon?”
They paused, and then chuckled.
“You tell me.”
They reached up and shifted something on their face, and then gripped the bowie knife in their mouth. They then pounced down from the branch onto the ground, landing on all fours in front of Ethan.
Ethan backed up at the sight of them. They were a boy, perhaps around the age of 18 or 19. He had dark brown hair that was dyed red around the tips, along with a black and red hoodie. He also carried a bag, one strap slung over a shoulder. He wore gloves with sharp claws on them, Ethan couldn’t tell if those claws were the gloves’ claws or if they simply went through the gloves from his hands. Halfway on his face, as in revealing only mouth and one eye, was a mask. The mask was a Japanese styled wolf mask, black with gold and red detailing around a sharp-toothed grin. The eye that was showing was red, along with a thin, snake-like pupil.
He stood up, now looking down at Ethan, and then reached up and took the knife out of his mouth. He put the knife in a sheath on his belt, and then readjusted his mask so it set evenly on his face. He then crossed his arms, and stared at Ethan. The unsettling grin on his wolf mask intimidated Ethan greatly.
They stared at each other, and Ethan remembered that he was waiting for an answer.
“You . . . are?” Ethan answered, nearly inaudibly.
The masked boy was silent, but then smirked behind his mask and chuckled. Not replying directly to that, he turned and walked a full circle around Ethan; inspecting him. He then stood in front of Ethan again.
“Name’s Ryan.” He introduced himself.
“E-Ethan” Still unsure of whether or not this masked boy was hostile, Ethan answered shakily. He stared at Ryan in silence, not knowing what to do next.
Ryan, like the demon he had encountered in town, seemed amused at how much Ethan was frightened.
“Well there’s really only one main reason why I’m talking to you right now,” Ryan started, and reached over and opened the bag he was carrying.
Ethan watched in silence as he rummaged through the bag.
“Here.” Ryan took something out of the bag. “Kage wanted me to give this to you, for your foot.”
“Kage . . ?” Ethan reached out and took the item. Looking down at it, he saw that it was a medical kit.
“Well . . .” Ethan didn’t know how to respond to this sudden kindness. “I don’t know who Kage is but tell him-” Ethan looked up and paused. “. . . Thanks, I guess”
Ryan was gone.