Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chapter Forty-Three

“But why would they shoot at us?” asks Pinocchio.

“Because they are Men,” says the Lion. “And they must never be trusted.” He steps cautiously through the unfamiliar forest, so different from the Wildlands. The smell of magic - that intriguing, burning smell - grows stronger and stronger. They’ve almost arrived.

“But...” persists Pinocchio, and desperately, longingly, he looks back toward the little town.

“It does not matter, my friend.” The Lion curls behind the tiny puppet and gently nudges him forward. “We’re looking for your father, aren’t we? And he is not within that town.”

“Are you sure?” asks Pinocchio. “Wouldn’t he want to be with other people? It’s a safe town! They were shooting guns and they had fires going!”

The smoke was another reason why the Lion had avoided the dwellings of Men.

“What have I told you about red fire?” the Lion asks with a theatrical display of weariness.

The puppet sighs and speaks by rote – this is one of the many lessons he’s learned since traveling with the Lion. “Fire is dangerous.”

“And not just for me...” says the Lion. He winces - his many scars contract into a maze of ruined flesh - at the memory of flames from so many seasons ago, when he was still a cub, and how he had to flee with the rest of his pride. How long ago that had been.

“...But for you, as well,” he finishes. “You are made of wood, Pinocchio, and wood burns. Who’s to say they wouldn’t use you to cook their dinners or heat their water?”

“Well, I’ve never had that problem...” says Pinocchio, though doubt creeps into his voice. Times are different now, and the Lion seems so sure.

“You’ve also never been attacked before,” adds the Lion. “What kind of Men would shoot at an innocent child? Not the kind that can be trusted.”

“No,” he purrs, with another sniff at the air, “your father would not associate with Men like that. He continued walking, through this very forest, down this very path. Why, we’ve almost caught up to him now.”

“Really?” asks Pinocchio. He quickens his pace, and the Lion lets him walk ahead... just in case.

“Have I ever lied to you?” asks the Lion.