The rain fell in waves; a heavy sheet would break through the canopy, and another would fall several minutes later. It never just pattered down in this part of the jungle. Not from what Leandro had seen. All in all, it was a good sign. He knew he was close to Seran now. He had no means of starting a fire, though, and the rain would certainly make the dense jungle nearly impassible. Foraging would be dangerous; in the trees he could slip. On the ground he could sink. He had very little left to eat in his canoe; the best he could do was conserve energy. He methodically bolted his belongings down, wrapped them in nets and tied them to the yolk, flipped a plank of wood over them, and threw another net over his shoulders to keep the bugs away. With luck, the river would guide him smoothly. If not, he supposed he could fix that.
Closing his eyes, and crossing his legs, Leandro tried to reach a meditative state. It had often taken him hours to reach that state, being able to tune out all but the river. And the occasional fall of rain did not speed this process. He was drenched, but calm, holding onto the thought that the rain would leave soon enough. But, the further downriver he drifted, and the more rain fell on him, the less he believed this thought.
His canoe began to rock as the waters grew rough. The rain had surely flooded the rivers, and that made them all the more dangerous. For a non-water-user, at least. Leandro had no difficulty slowing the stream.
Then something struck him in the back of the head, and he reeled forward. He lost his hold on the river. It battered and tossed his boat and him alike. More water poured down on him. He coughed, and sputtered, as some of it traveled up his nose. This time, he did not slow the river. He held it still, and turned to see what had struck him.
It was a small, smooth stone. He assumed it had been flung by a monkey.
Another one whizzed past his ear; he looked up to the trees and saw a young boy clutching to the branch with inhuman claws. Leandro squinted up at him. "Why are you attacking me?" The boy's eyes went wide - he reached into his pocket with his outlandish tool, and flung another rock. Leandro brought an arm up to block his face; it bounced off of his shoulder. "Stop dat."
The boy dug his claws into the tree, and stared at Leandro.
"How are you doing that?" the boy shouted. He spoke fairly well, and it took Leandro a moment to process his much smoother accent.
"De river?" The boy nodded. "I ask de water to hold me, and it does."
The boy seemed unimpressed by this answer. "What about your boat?" Leandro did not understand - he glanced down, but did not answer. "How do you use the boat?"
"I float, or I ask de water to carry me a certain way." He looked up at the boy. "I do not want to shout at you; can you come closer?"
Whatever the boy was going to say, Leandro did not hear. More rain rushed down from the canopy, and when Leandro looked up, he lost sight of the boy in the trees. Scanning the branches did nothing, and for a moment he wondered if the boy had been swept down into the river.
"You come closer!"
The boy had lowered himself, digging the claws - which Leandro could see were rather metal hooks attached to his wrists - into the trunk of a tree. Ah, his mother would complain that the tree groaned under such abuse. She had screamed when Leandro tried to mark a tree with a knife. She had screamed at Surya for attempting the same.
Still, the older of the two adjusted himself, and at his silent command, the water drifted him towards the boy. He did not come too close, though, as the boy seemed to have a penchant for throwing rocks.
"You're not from the tribes here," the boy said, staring at Leandro. His skin was a muddy brown, his eyes black, his hair long and untamed, despite the attempt to tie it back. And he was, perhaps, older than Leandro originally thought. "I thought you might be."
"You should not t'row rocks," Leandro said, rubbing the back of his head. "I am just a traveler."
The boy pursed his lips, furrowed his brow. His eyes darted around; Leandro couldn't read the boy at all. And then, his head snapped up, and he reached with a bare foot towards Leandro's boat. "I need this."
Leandro feared this was the start of an interesting adventure.