For One Last Embrace
Rika grabs her trowel, and digs a small hole in the ground in front of her house. Once the hole is deep enough to fit her fist inside, she pulls a small plant out of a bag, and gently places it into the sandy soil, carefully spreading the roots to ensure it branches out to collect all the water it gets.
As the Numan covers the roots in topsoil, her ears pick up the sound of boots walking down the brick pathway towards her.
Is the mailman early? She uses the wall of the house to help guide her body into a standing position to greet the person.
Instead of the usual mailman, she finds a young lad wearing a red uniform, sans the armor typical of a normal Hunter.
Excuse me; I'm looking for a Mrs. Ashley?
Rika walks over,
Is it okay if we go inside to talk?
Rika brushes the dirt from her dress, and opens the door for the person. As she closes the door behind herself, the look in his eye does nothing to stop her from wondering what was wrong. The two sit down at the kitchen table.
So, how may I help you?
I am a representative of the Hunter's Guild. I was told that you were the person I needed to talk to about this matter.
...I'm afraid I don't understand.
I take it you're married to the hunter Chaz? I am here to deliver some bad news.
Rika's heart drops like a stone as the last sentence reaches her ears.
A group of bandits attacked a camp of Hunters last night. We've received the casualty report, and your husband is among the injured.
Will he be okay? Rika's eyes are quickly turning wet with tears.
...I'm afraid I do not know.
The Numan gets up and places her hands on the young man's shoulders.
Please, I need to see him....
We do not have the resources available to escort you to him.
Where is he?
The hunter looks into Rika's eyes, now on the verge of pouring tears.
...The medics were dispatched to Krup yesterday.
The pregnant woman releases him and makes her way to the kitchen, and tugs at one of the loose boards by the sink. It pulls away from the wall, and she procures a small wad of money. Without saying another word to her visitor, she walks outside and turns towards the marketplace to buy a telepipe.