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"Shame about last night's frost, huh?"

A shame, indeed.

It had been a shame about the frosts of the weeks past, too. The icicles hanging from the wilted corpses of Spring's blossoms were a downright tragedy. Hardened puddles fracturing beneath her boots – yet another lingering tendril of Winter's grasp – were all that broke the burdened silence of the hibernating forest.

That, and the mindless, endless monologue from the mouth-breathing tagalong riding her shadow.

"I reckon it's all from the slaughter from Autumn, y'know? Like, sweet, we've got stockpiles of food for days, but that's a lot of empty paddocks, right? And–"

"Uh-huh." Perhaps if she feigned total disinterest – but was it truly feigning? – he would cease his diatribe and go back to not disturbing every poor damn creature in this forest.

"–And people think I'm mad for this, but I reckon I'm onto something. I mean, to me, it's obvious! We've always had heaps and heaps of cows and pigs and sheep, and it's always been nice and warm at this time of year. But since we, y'know, chopped most of them before Winter, it's been cold as! And I reckon that wasn't a great move, because–"

"Lucas," she hissed through gritted teeth, tightening her grip on the slick wooden handle of the old axe in her hand. Blunt as anything, its rugged blade was good for little more than an excellent threat for silence...but she had promised the kid's mother she would tolerate him for at least the rest of the week as she taught him the ropes. Or, at least attempt to teach him. With a noise-to-signal ratio like this, it was nigh on impossible to get a word in edgewise...let alone allow the information to penetrate the iron fortress between his profoundly decorative ears.

Just how he'd managed to keep up with her broad pace for the last hour while breathlessly spewing his ridiculous theories at her remained more of a mystery as to what had even spawned the majority of them; it had become more and more apparent over the years as to why she chose to keep to herself, quietly going about her duties supplying resources to Arcturus' increasingly blasé population as they did...whatever they pleased, really. The boy, enthusiastic as he was, served as a mere symptom of the problems boiling beneath the village's surface.

"–Like, aside from the Sun, where else do we get warmth from? Cows n' sheep are warm, especially when there are heaps of them. You'd know, you're a farmer! It sure must be cold up at your place these days–"

"Lucas." The growl reverberated through her chest as she clenched her teeth. She could barely hear the crackling of the frozen earth below her as he blathered on. Anything less piercing was lost to the din...or was it? She could swear there hadn't been a peep from a single bee, or any other of Spring's pollinators. Even on a bright, crisp morning like this, she always had an ear out for the previous night's monsters; her sword's sheath perpetually nagged her left thigh from the moment she strapped it on until it was safely mounted back in her armoury, always ready to be whipped from her hip at a moment's notice and driven through the festering skull of whatever staggered from the shadows toward her. But the kid just had a way of making defending not only herself, but him as well, from the last of the night a near impossibility – there was no way to hear what was coming over his constant blathering.

"–And like, there's proof! Milk's warm when it comes out, right? There's only like, a hundred or so cows around at the moment between your farm and the other farms, which isn't enough! At least, I think that's pretty obvious. And then there's the shee–"

"Lucas!" She spat, raising her axe as she spun on a heel. The poor, lanky idiot's stone-grey eyes locked on the chipped blade as it hung inches from his nose. Finally, precious silence. "Lucas, how many ears do you have?"

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