Finally, they were approaching the edge of the desert. Lyod could even see some green ahead, was that grass?! He dropped to all fours and ran as fast as he could, happy to have something other than sand beneath his paws. Life was good with the wind in your fur and the ground at your feet, s’long as you weren’t in the desert.
He could almost feel the gaze of the shifter on his back as he ran, but couldn’t care less. He would come around or he wouldn’t. Lyod would rather he could cheer him up, but knew from experience that it wasn’t worth trying. He was right about packs being more than words. It would be his choice when to join, and he clearly needed time, or possibly something to vent his anger at other than Lyod. None of this was particularly important though compared to the joy of running on hard ground again. He would have thought that sand was similar to snow, but somehow, it was worse in every single way.
With the few provisions between them, Kro and his unplanned bugbear companion, who had introduced himself as Lyod, had to scavenge the dessert for sustenance. With Kro spearheading the direction in which they fled, this meant that their path took them towards the edges of Shifter Tribe lands into Orc territory. The bugbear, who Kro had managed to convince a pair of Shifters they had crossed paths with was a traveller he was escorting to the fringe of Shifter lands, seemed to be keeping up with him much to his credit. Kro refused to call him by his name, indirectly blaming his very appearance for his exile and although he knew he was unfairly pushing the blame on to the bugbear it was simply easier to do so.
Lyod was glad for the running. He knew running. As for the the shifter running alongside him, he wasn’t quite as sure. He liked him well enough given the small amount of time they had been together; he carried his weight, joined well in the hunt and ran without complaint, and could certainly account for himself in a scrap, but there was something about him which just didn’t fit, he seemed a little distant. Lyod shrugged slightly. It was probably the whole banishment thing. He eyed the shifter again, recalling the recklessness Kro had displayed in his brutal dispatching of a party of Orcs that had objected to their travel through their lands. Lyod still didn’t know how the shifter had emerged from the fight alive, much less largely unharmed. He was probably lost at the thought of life without his pack, it was a hard thing to deal with, Lyod still keenly felt the loss of his own. He nodded inwardly, and started to grin. That must be it. He would help then. Lengthening his strides, he quickened his pace to draw level with Kro.
“I lost my pack too. We could start a new pack, you know, if you liked” he offered somewhat awkwardly.
I feel a disturbance, unsettling, within my forest. Raw evil, careless and unforgiving. It stirs me from my meditation. As I slowly focus on the intruder, my sense of time warps, causing everything to move so fast.
After millennia of observing this forest, warding it from evil, and watching it mature, I have become unaccustomed to the passing of time.
With its sharp eyes it spotted a rattlesnake down below sunning itself on a rock. The wind ruffling its feathers the eagle took the plunge, cutting through the sky like an arrow catching the its prey in its outstretched talons. By some fortune of events the snake managed to twist upwards sinking its fangs into the side of the eagle. Once. Twice. Bother hunter and prey locked in a tangled mess of writhing coils and flapping feathers. Later, fire-ants would come across the deceased corpses of the two locked in the throes of battle even in death but this would be of little consequence to them as they start to dissect their Queen’s next meal.
Elder Rhead Swiftclaw knew a bad omen when he saw one, and the inevitable fall of the great eagle was one such omen. He could feel it in his bones. Banishing such thoughts, he turned his attention to his approaching friend S’jiit Longtail. At the mention of a travelling bugbear who had managed to track a now-deceased orc to his camp, he knew that by the end of this day someone would be in very big trouble and he would be suffering an immense migraine. Never would have guessed that these events would have put in play events that would irrevocably change the destiny of his Hunting Party.
Lyod was advancing more cautiously now, he knew the tracks he followed were those of a shifter, and around these parts, it served you well to beware unnecessary confrontations with the occasionally savage tribes. He would usually be confident approaching a shifter now, as the moon was not currently in the proper alignment for their hunt. However, he wasn’t about to ignore the body of the massacred Orc several miles behind him. Yes, it would do well to approach this shifter cautiously.
It was nearing dawn, and there was still no movement in the camp. Lyod had arrived some two hours earlier, and had watched for any movement from a nearby dune. The camp appeared to be empty, and although definitely temporary, did not appear to have been abandoned just yet. He would wait a while more. Patience while tracking was not something you could decide upon, either you were patient or you failed, there wasn’t much margin of error there. The sun was two hands above the horizon when he finally stood, stretched, and made his way into the camp, careful not to disturb any of the mess of footprints heading in and out. It would be difficult enough to find the right path without adding his paws to the problem. After some time, he was reasonably confident his quarry had headed west with one other, which was confusing, as it indicated that this was almost certainly a hunting pair, and he could not think of any reason why a lone shifter would kill an Orc without his hunting partner even being present. Synthas had taught him quite a bit about the peoples of the land as they travelled, and he knew that ritual was of the utmost importance for the shifter tribes of the Orange Desert. He forrowed his brow and continued, he would have his target, and his answers soon.
An icy chill sweeps the sandy dunes after the sun sets, the sand dunes haphazardly rolling over one another as dictated by the fickleness of the wind. In the dimming light the Prey had finally decided to take shelter from the unforgiving desert winds. This was it. It had been two moons since this Prey had entered his Hunting grounds and he couldn’t resist, this one was too fine a specimen to ignore. Surely, geared as it was, sitting atop a riding lizard it would prove to be a worthy Prey considering his lack of a Hunting partner. And although the Elders had declared no Sport was to be had until the next Blooding, there were only two beings who would know that he had participated in Sporting and Kro was very determined that soon, he would be the only one alive to know this.
Bitter disappointment. The Prey had been to panicked to be considered a serious threat and thus Kro had been willing to let it live, taking the opportunity afforded to him by his Prey quickly back peddling Kro sheathed his blades and contemptuously hissing at this pitiful Orc turned to leave. Against its better judgement, this Orc let out a roar of unbridled anger as it once again charged forward hoping to strike Kro from behind. Perhaps it was its battered pride that forced such an action but it was to no avail for the last thing the Orc saw was an explosion of sand.
Where did it start? I don’t think I’m the best person to answer that actually, since your guess would be as good as mine. For all practical purposes, I suppose you could say that it started with the pack, as most things in my life have tended to. I started running with them when I was still young, although I can’t give you an exact age. I know I was weak when they found me, though I can’t remember it. My first memories are of running, endlessly running. I learned how to hunt, how to fight creatures far larger and stronger than myself, how to track them, how to wound and harry them – with the pack. Everything was the pack, you ran with them, you played with them and you lived, or died with them. I don’t know how many years I lived up in the frozen mountains, but my best guess would put it at about ten, give or take. I was there long enough that I was leading the hunt for a few seasons before I knew it was my time to leave. The best way I can describe how I came to know this is that when you’ve lived in the mountains for long enough, you can feel their life, the tiny little ebbs and flows that make the place alive, harsh though it is. And the mountain was letting me know, subtly, but in no uncertain terms, that my time there was at an end. There wasn’t much emotion as I ran from the pack, it was just the natural thing to do, and I hold them still in my heart, and my spirit. They will always still be there when I need them.