The first day of the trio’s journey went by smoothly. The shadow demon, dog, and cat wandered down the road. It was pattered down by many feet, a well traveled thoroughfare between two small settlements. The town they were headed towards was the closer of the two, the other being a whopping week walk.

Grumpi was a little thankful that the further one wasn’t their destination. She only ran into town whenever her supplies were direly low. The walk tended to bring back memories of walking with her grandmother…

She shook her head lightly to clear the thoughts. She wasn’t alone this time and she didn’t need to sink into those thoughts right now.

The Star traveling with her had regained some of her previous exuberance. She had a song in her heart, but it would still be a while yet before she’d sing it aloud. She did, however, stamp along and kick up dust on the dry road. She was fascinated by the simple reaction.

The shadow demon chose to travel with them, claiming she had knowledge and might prove useful. Grumpi didn’t believe her one bit; and even protested her joining in. She was just sure the demon’s plan was to swallow the star the moment she wasn’t paying attention. she was already dwelling in the star’s shadow to move around during the day.

Grumpi looked over top one of the fields, seeing the sun setting. They really weren’t all that far along, but she really didn’t want to travel at night either. The roads were safe enough during the day but at night…

“Hey, Happeh.” she called back over her shoulder. “We need to get off the road.”

“Hm?” the canine looked up from her fun little dust puffs to look at Grumpi. “Why?”

“They’re not safe at night.” a long, dark tail flicked. “We’re gonna camp.”

“Camp?” Happeh easily bound up to the feline. “What’s that?”

“Something we do so we can get a little bit of sleep.” Grumpi explained, looking along the sides of the road. They hadn’t reached where she normally camped due to their late start, which meant they’d have to find another clearing.

“But…I don’t sleep?” the canine asked, giving her head the characteristic canine tilt. “Why don’t we keep walking?”

Grumpi shook her head. “I do, though. I can’t walk hat far without resting and eating.”

Happeh gave a little pout. “Oh alright, so where do we sleep?”

“Well…” golden eyes scanned the sides of the road, looking for a place. “Let’s look while we walk.”

The star was confused, but followed anyways. She was the new one here, after all.

The sun itself had set by the time she finally found a small trail that veered away from the main road. She only found it because the fireflies had began to come out and light up the area. She nervously ducked into it, walking a short distance. It widened into a satisfactory clearing, which made her happy. She went back the way she came, and motioned for Happeh to join her.

“Is this a rest?” Happeh inquired, following the path.

“It’s where we’ll do that, yes.” Grumpi stalked around the clearing. Her eyes lit up as she spotted something at the edge of the clearing. “But first…”

The cat stalked up to the large light and dark green striped melon. She leaned an ear against it and tapped her claws on the rind. Hearing the dull sound, she found the little tendril, happy to see it was brown. It took a bit of shoving but she managed to rock it, revealing a soft, creamy yellow belly on it.

“…Why are you playing with that big green rock?” the brown dog walked up to the feline.

“Not a rock, it’s a watermelon!” Grumpi swiped at the vine with her claws, cutting it in several swipes. Now that it was free, she was able to move it into the clearing properly.

But now what she had, she faced a little conundrum. She looked around the clearing for an sort of sharp rock she could use. Unfortunately for her, the only one she could find was far too big. Pouting, she considered her options.

She could ask the shadow demon, but she wasn’t going to waste her breath. Happeh was bigger and could probably pick up the stone, but Grumpi didn’t know if she could walk the canine through the usage of the tool.

Seeing no other option, she stepped back a bit. One paw was set gently but firmly upon the ground. Pebbles trembled as the earth moved. a long tendril of dirt and stone stretched skywards in front of her. All the rocks migrated to the end, making a hard tip. The top of the spire turned downwards, making it look like a a deer leg; complete with a hoof. It struck down on the melon with force, cracking it.

It took two more strikes for the melon to crack open properly.

The “deer leg” melted back into the ground. Grumpi hung her head and panted softly. That little bit of energy used was more than enough to tire her out. Already, her limbs were shaking from the strain and concentration.

But her treat rested in front of her. It’d been a long time since she had a watermelon this ripe and juicy. She pawed at the cracked parts, until it came apart. She thought it smelled heavenly.

“Oh hey, the green rock has a red inside!” Happeh chirped, moving up beside Grumpi.

Without waiting, the feline took a big bite of the red “flesh”. She chewed lightly at what was in her mouth, before swallowing.

“It’s a watermelon.” Grumpi said again. “And you eat the red part on the inside.”

“Like how you wanted me to do with the red rock?” a pink tongue stuck out, showing her distaste for the hard red fruits.

Caring more about eating at the moment, Grumpi dropped the topic in favor of another bite. It was three more bites before Happeh spoke again.

“How does one… eat?” the dog cocked her head to the other side.

“Just bite the red flesh. The white and green are bitter, so don’t try those.” Grumpi explained, before demonstrating.

Curiously, Happeh tried what Grumpi did. A burst of juicy goodness spread through the canine’s mouth as soon as her teeth severed the edible parts from the rind. The intense flavor increased when she chewed lightly on it.

When she swallowed it, she spoke. “Hey, that’s pretty good!”

“Have more, I can’t eat this whole thing by myself.”the cat didn’t look up from her piece.

“Xerza, you’ve been pretty quiet, do you want some?”

“Don’t offer her any, she’s not gonna eat it anyways.” Grumpi paused and made a bitter little face. Those words sounded a bit too familiar for her liking. Words the demon told her about the star.

“No.” the dog’s shadow stirred, and the demon finally emerged, now that the sun was completely down. She fully materialized and sat down, scratching at one ear with a back foot. “I wouldn’t want anything that cat’s touched anyways.”

“Oh…” Even though she was slightly put out, the canine shrugged. “Well, it’ll be here if you want some.”

Xerza stalked a short distance away, into the grasses nearby. They could still see her, but she was out of range of the fireflies’ light.

When the melon was about half eaten, Grumpi stepped back, leaving the other half. She moved a short distance away, on the opposite side of the clearing to Xerza, and curled up.

“…We’ll save the rest for before we leave in the morning.”Grumpi said softly. “Come curl up with me.”

Happeh obediently moved away from the melon, and flopped down beside the cat. “So what’s this sleep?”

“Be still and rest your body. The fireflies will keep us safe.” Grumpi yawned, resting her head down on her paws. “I shouldn’t be asleep for too long though.”

The silence stretched for a good few minutes. Happeh rolled to her back and watched the cat.

“…Can we go now?”

Grumpi sighed, knowing this was going to be a long night