I don’t believe it. I know my mouth is open, but I just can’t seem to close it. It was true! Sanjay’s fantastical tale of fat, pink animals with curly tails who make that ridiculous sound. I’d thought it a lie for sure. But now… …the evidence was right in front of my eyes in the form of six plump “oinking” things. “I wish someone was here to draw your expression right now,” Sanjay whispers gleefully in my ear. “Don’t worry, I’m on it,” calls Fiona from where she makes furious strokes on paper. I finally close my mouth. I hope it didn’t make it into the sketch. “Pigs,” I say. “Well done, Tatuma,” says Sanjay, with a patronizing smirk. I’ve never seen a more bizzare looking creature. They have hooves like a Dromeda, but obviously none of their galloping grace or agility. In fact, they appear to be the complete opposite, lounging in the mud and burying their face in what looks – and smells – to be rotting food. I clear my throat. “They’re very…rotund.” Sanjay throws back his head and loses his calm for several moments. Fiona joins us, carefully keeping her drawing from my curious eyes. “Well the fatter they are, the more crackling they have when we roast them,” she says. My stomach lurches at her words. “When you roast them?” I ask weakly. She gives me a baffled look. “You know,” she says slowly. “When you eat them?” I shudder. “I don’t think I’ll ever eat one of them.” They were so dirty. But also seemed fairly intelligent. I intercept Sanjay and Fiona’s uneasy look. “You tell her,” whispers Sanjay. Fiona glares at him and holds the sketch in a threatening gesture over the sloppy mess of the pig pen. “There’s no need for threats, oh golden beauty,” Sanjay says. Fiona draws in her hand and gives him an expectant look. He runs a hand through his flaming red hair. “The thing is Olina. It doesn’t look like a pig when you eat it. You know that slightly pink meat you’re fond of?” Horror replaces every other emotion. “What?” I croak. Sanjay begins again, but I hold up a hand. I press my fingers over my lips and swallow several times, breathing heavily through my nose. The pigs squeal and oink, refusing to let me forget the connection between them and my plate of tender food. Was it tender? Now I think of it, the texture was more slimy than anything. And last time I ate it, was it slightly off? I hear the sounds of Sanjay’s composure cracking behind me and Fiona hissing at him to shut up. “Well where did she think meat came from?” he bursts out, finally unable to remain silent. I swallow again to make sure my stomach remains inside my body and straighten. “I knew in principle it came from animals.” I avoid looking at the pigs as I move past the others. “I don’t think I’ll be eating pig again.” “Pork,” offers Sanjay. “That’s what pig flesh is called.” I wince at his choice of the word “flesh” as the Bruma couple walk beside me back to the castle. “Anyway, there’s plenty of other meat aside from pork,” he continues. I shake my head. “I’ll just stick to pears.” “Well there’s this one meat we make from tree bark. I’m sure I’ve seen you eating it already.” “Tree bark?” I ponder, tapping my cheek. “That wouldn’t be so bad.” Fiona makes a muffled choking noise. Sanjay raises an eyebrow. “Are you alright, my luminescent butterfly?” She darts a quick look at me and nods, a mischievous smile on her face.