Tiffanie and Jocelyn kept moving, under pursuit by determined and angry bounty hunters. On the old road to get to Derrian from Uzec would take 3-4 days. In the wild it could take as long as a week to cross the ridge lines into the foothills below, but they had no choice.
The first encounter had been tough enough. A second encounter severely injured both of the them, but through luck and skill they stayed ahead of their attackers while delivering a sever blow to them again, this time closer to lethal.
Leaving their horses with a farmer friendly to the Aarithine Temple, they intensionally went into the rocky ridge country their pursuers could not easily follow – though they were convinced they would. Both Jocelyn and Tiffanie were exhausted as they climbed higher up the ridge.
Despite the hardship, Tiffanie was at home in such conditions (the pursuit withstanding) and could hunt for both of them. Jocelyn was much less so, but with her prayers answered, she always had food, water, and healing to sustain herself and Tiffanie as they kept ahead of their pursuers.
Tiffanie was impressed the supposedly soft Jocelyn refused to give up on helping her, but confused to why. She was under no obligation to do so, but yet she continued. Was the continuation of the curse so important, was curing Tiffanie, or was it something else entirely?
On the fourth night, high in the wood covered ridge country, they made a makeshift camp. No fire, as that would draw attention. Jocelyn noted, “We shouldn’t be too far away now. We’ll cross the ridge tomorrow and then on to Derrien. That being said, there are wolves, leopards, and even bears up here.”
Tiffanie cocked her head as to listen into the distance before replying, “We should be safe enough. After we have our fill of rations, I’ll hang our packs from a bear line. So that if any do come by, they won’t get to our food.
“Besides, with all the travel we have been doing these past days, we should stink enough to keep them at bay,” she said with a smile.
She lightly laughed and smiled, “Bear line, right. I’d never heard of that before but that makes sense.” Survival wasn’t Jocelyn’s strong point-but she did hold her own against the bounty hunters for certain. “I’m working out a plan to get you to Derrien for certain. We can talk after, but after the second encounter they hadn’t changed back. Maybe I can strike a deal with them before the effect wears off?” She continued scribbling ideas as they ate their dinner. Tiffanie put up the bear line, Jocelyn prayed and then took the first watch.
Sleeping, Tiffanie dreamed memories of the last time she was on the run. The bear, the cave, the fear and the strength to keep moving. This time; however, she saw everything from the bear’s point of view – not hers. It was watching him. The dream continued and Typhon/Bear circled his crucified body, protecting it. Eyes projected from the darkness at him. They were intense eyes, eyes of a predator. It emerged from the darkness, a dire bear of frightful presence, easily dwarfing Typhon/Bear. It began to brush past Typhon/Bear, intent to consume Typhon/Man.
Typhon/Bear moved to get between Typhon/Man and the dire bear. Rearing up on to his hind legs, Typhon/Bear gave out a mighty roar as challenge.
Jocelyn was woken up by a noise, thinking it was possibly the bounty hunters making a move. She turned to make sure Tiffanie was awake so they could flee. She heard the noise again, but noticed it was coming from Tiffanie herself.
Thinking it was just Tiffanie snoring, Jocelyn went to shake Tiffanie to have her turn over. That is when Tiffanie made the noise again, and to Jocelyn it sounded like a bear’s growl.
Jocelyn back away from the unnatural sound. She could see Tiffanie writhing, her body began to contort as if fighting, but yet she stayed dreaming.
In the dreamscape, Typhon/Bear and the dire bear were engaged in frightful combat, clawing and tearing at one-another. Typhon/Man was now a boy and could see though the boy’s eyes at the epic struggle (yet still see though the bear’s eyes as well.) A voice said, “the mother bear fights for you. Will you not fight for her?” It was the voice of Typhon’s father. A stone knife lay at the feet of Typhon/Boy. “or will you turn away and run,” mocked the laughing voice of his elder brother, the traitor.
Typhon/Boy looked at the knife on the ground, then to the two struggling bears. Without any fear, Typhon/Boy picked up the knife, and circled around to gain advantage on the dire bear. Climbing the tree he was just moments ago crucified to, Typhon/Boy crawled out on to a large limb. Trying to time things right, Typhon/Boy watched the fighting bears. For just a moment, Typhon/Boy thought that the mother bear appeared to look like his mother.
Shaking his head thinking it was a mistake, Typhon/Boy looked back, and just saw the two bears fighting. Just as the mother bear was knocked back by the dire bear, Typhon/Boy made his move. Leaping down from the tree limb, stone knife in hand, Typhon/Boy landed on the back of the dire bear. As Typhon/Boy was hearing the mocking voice of his traitorous brother, he brought down the knife into the dire bear’s neck.
“I will no longer run away from you!”, he shouted with tears in his eyes, while continuously plunging the knife in the bear’s neck.
The battle swirled around Typhon. He was the boy, the bear, the man, the enemy, and the world. He was rage. His wounds were ignored. In male, female, young and old form he fought. In the chaos, the dream grew dark and battle swirled. Points of view changed throughout the fight until…
The mother bear became Mithwen, Typhon’s mother. She said, “take my power my son, it is yours.” She merged with Typhon, “honor me.”
The man on the tree became Borr, Typhon’s father. He said, “take my power my son, it is yours.” He left the tree and merged with Typhon, “avenge me.”
The boy became Tyvald, Typhon’s brother. He said, “take my power my brother, it is yours.”
He leaped off the dire bear and merged with Typhon, “remember me.”
The dire bear was wounded and howling. The dream grew dark and the chaos ebbed, but the battle still raged between Typhon and the Dire Bear. Nearly dead, Typhon finally slays the beast, holding it down and plunging his knife into it one last time. As it dies, a girls voice (a familiar one) says, “Karhu the Bear watches you. She is guild and protector for us all.” Another voice said, “You are hurting me, wake up.”
Breathing heavily, Typhon wakes. She (Tiffanie) has her hand on her dagger, plunged into Jocelyn’s shoulder. The camp is torn up around them. Holding Tiffanie’s arm, Jocelyn says through obvious pain, “You were hurting yourself, now you are hurting me. Wake up!”
Controlling her rage, Tiffanie withdraws the blade and drops, exhausted from the dream and obvious raging throughout the camp. Jocelyn heals her wound, and then, without a pause begin treating Tiffanie’s wounds as well. “I forgive you. It is my fault for trying to sate your rage, but you were getting more and more wounded. What happened?”
With a heavy sigh, Tiffanie says, “It appears that I had a confrontation with my Totem-Spirit. Through the fight I gained insight into the path I must travel. Forgive me if I don’t go into it too much, maybe another time.”
Looking around the torn up camp, then to Jocelyn, she asked, “Are you alright? And did I really do all this damage?”
“I’m fine.” Jocelyn rubbed her recently wounded shoulder, smiled a bit, looked around, and said, “Yes, you did.” She laughed a bit, almost in relief. “It was as if you were sleepwalking, fighting, and being wounded simultaneously.” She looked around, “well, we can’t stay here. They could have heard. The village of Carranac is just over the ridge. If we leave now we should get there by morning. There is a priest there that will protect us, Brother Albers.” As she gathered her things she added, “I’m here, if you want to talk. I may be an Aarithine priestess, but by definition we of Aarith recognize the influence of all the gods and powers of the world. If not, that’s okay too.”
“Maybe in time I’ll open up more, but for now let us pack up and move on,” Tiffanie said.