“Ah, Wirt. You are tender in all things we think. Come, eat. We venture you will not be so
upset when you taste food.”
He wafted her away with his free arm and stood. “Never. I am Woodsfolk and will never
digest animals that are made as nothing more than living meat. It is beyond the cruellest of
cruelties to modify so.”
“You stare at such a modification, boy,” Vea said.
“That may be, but I would not eat ye.”
“We should hope not.”
“I would not eat any meat.”
“You’re convictions are solid. We respect this.”
Wirt flopped back down and buried his head in his arms. Vea folded hers and I caught a
glint of anger appear in her eyes, so in an attempt to extinguish said fire, I said, “You know
what? I have journey food with me that I will be glad to munch upon so that you do not need to
plunder your resources.” Wirt gave me thumbs up sign and sank his head back down.
“Do not offend our hospitality,” Vea said and her face lost its look of friendly. She turned to
Wirt and bent low over his shoulder. “We have greenery if you prefer?”
He lifted his noggin and turned his pallid face to hers. It was a fierce countenance that she
presented him with. I doubt that Wirt could refuse her offer. He gulped and said, “What sort?
Fresh or engineered?”
“Bit of both. We grow some veg. A hardy variety that can thrive in this unyielding soil.
Mostly we use to feed critters we consume. But it has flavour and packed full of necessary
nutrients. It resembles most what you would call carrot.”
Wirt sat upright and tried to grin. The widening of his lips however, came out more of a
grimace than a grin. Vea frowned and Wirt quickly said, “Ye make it sound quite edible. I most
definitely will try some.”
“Adara, Eadgard, will you partake?”
I looked at Eadgard and said, “My Santy Breanna would no doubt give me wallop, but
despite the unrest in my belly and nose, I will be as daredevil and try a mouthful.”
“I have never eaten meat. I confess to being somewhat curious as to its flavour. I too will
consume some of this genetically produced product.”
“Then we will bring you a portion of each. And for Wirt, soup made from our homegrown
root plant,” Vea said and headed towards a large metal cooker.
Wirt stared at us both and shook his head. “I am appalled at ye both. How can ye eat of
creatures made from who knows what? Living things that no doubt screamed in pain when they
were butchered. I shudder at the hideous thought.”
“Now, Wirt, these things are bred for nothing else. I would assume they cannot feel
anything, including pain or fear at the thought of death,” Eadgard said.
“Ye do not know this, ye cannot.”
“I understand yer upset, Wirt,” I said and went to hold his hand, but he pulled away and
lowered his head. Vea approached and placed several dishes and spoons onto the table. The
stuff upon them looked like Wirt’s puke and if I am honest, smelt like it too. I took a deep
breath, picked up a spoon and had my first taste of meat. My throat contracted spontaneously
as the mushy stuff slid down. The only thing I could compare the taste to was cheese gone bad,
then left to decompose.
Vea watched our every move, arms folded and her face as stern as before. When we had
swirled the concoction around our bowls and lifted and sniffed and tasted but a lickfull, she
straightened her back and said, “Well? What do you think?”
Eadgard stared at his food, Wirt closed his eyes and I being the only one left that had no
idea of how to answer, found myself unable to make up a fitting pretence at how I felt.
Under the table, Eadgard’s foot made contact with my shin and I blurted forth, “If I am
honest, I think it tastes of something passed from out my innards.” I placed my spoon upon the
table and pushed the bowl away, expecting a cuff or something worse from Vea’s hand.
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