explicitClick to confirm you are 18+

Leaves, Fur, and Games Pt. 1

Vault KoboldJul 17, 2019, 4:20:36 PM

The night was soft with wind. The moon was bright among its star siblings, twinkling in ageless delight. Still, the odd wisp of murky darkness smeared the huge pale orb. It's source down below its presence. The smell of smoke and ash floated through the lazy moving air. The fire burned out of the charred husk of a lone tower. Unnatural pops can be heard from a distance, they came from unnatural sources within. A tired and ragged breath came from a fleeing form. Hasty feet stumbled, causing it to fall. The landing never came.

A flash of fire, no air, and the dreamer woke from their foul memory. Letting out the breath he had been holding, his chest heaved as the life giving air returned. The shadowy scent of smoke lingered in his nose as he threw his legs over the rim of the cheaply padded bed he was in. The smell from his memory changed to the scent of meaty overly spiced breakfast.

Gods, why did they devour such fare considering the stench it gave.

He rose, walking over to the wooden basin by the small window. He pulled the shutters away and let the predawn air in. Turning from the window and dark skies, he scooped some water from the basin to wash off the night sweat and clear his memory, as much as his eyes. The sleepy village outside the single inn he dwelled in was quickly waking.

Not massive or impressive, but slowly on its way to becoming a town. No small feat being on the border of the Virnulva. An ancient wilderness that could easily fit multiple kingdoms under her leafy canopy. Not as if that would ever happen, as the forest folk and even fey were few and far between the monster infested forest which housed a mortal god.

An ageless beast of supernatural power that slept for ages, as the stories said, yet whose power lingered over every leaf of its domain. None the less, the people of Fronpa built their lives in the shadow of the forbidden forest. Growing slowly with each passing year, too slowly for his taste as a relatively new arrival. But beggars can't be choosers, now can they.

Sighing, he made his way to the simple wooden desk and chair opposite the window in his room. Laid out was his crossbow, a rare weapon in these parts, along with some gear oil. His attachable scope, which was worth more than the rest of his gear combined, was a marvel of rarity out here. He maintained his weapon well, not simply as a matter of course but as the perceived source of his income in these borderlands. He got dressed, removed his few belongings from the wardrobe, and put his crossbow together with all of its attachments.

His simple clothes draped over his skinny frame. He had his backup dagger and plenty of bolts in his belt quivers that were secured and resting on the side of his legs. He adjusted his greenish cloak last as he was about to leave his room. Just as his hand reached for the latch, he froze. Nearly forgetting himself, he kneeled to undo the tripwire he had laid.

Better to be prepared then trusting fate's kindness, His master had told him.

He looked over the room one last time. He had left nothing he could not easily and cheaply replace. No reason for thieves or light fingered help to bother with him or his belongings. Finally, he left the pathetic room that had become his home in recent weeks.

He made his way downstairs. He mumbled his good mornings, not bothering to speak with the hostess or eat as he usually did, exiting at a brisk pace. A sign of his eagerness for what a good hunt would finally bring. He gained a few curious looks as he went, wandering villagers and shop owners preparing for the coming day, taking notice of his strange behavior.

He was soon outside the perimeter and amidst the early predawn dew; the sun making its lazy ascent without the strength to burn away the mist just yet. A perfect time to go into the forest and set up his nest. He was hunting rabbits, dire rabbits to be exact, as his master always expected of him. Larger and deadlier than their normal relatives, it’s a blessing these dire rabbits aren’t found anywhere else but in the old woods of the world like the Virnulva. Thanks to hunting them, he gathered enough funds to rebuild a fraction of what he had lost while supporting himself.

Entering the wood seemed to sharpen his senses. Or maybe once anyone steps over the threshold of the wood’s barrier, a legacy of the mortal god that dwelled within it no longer dampened their potent life. The ancient trees were tall, thick, and everywhere. A web of branches above with their plentiful leaves kept everything below dark before the full might of the sun turned it into an eternal twilight. Soon enough he would be able to see the countless beams of light breaking through the leaves and shifting with their movements.

He shook off the stray thoughts as he remained alert, as doing otherwise invited a quick and meaningless death. He held his cloak tightly to keep himself as unseen as possible over the backdrop as he could, keeping his profile to a minimum. The soft mixture of grass, dirt, and moss underfoot helped with that. He was no seasoned hunter even if others mistakenly thought that due to his wilderness knowledge, ability to find prey, and well maintained crossbow. He had little confidence in dealing with the many and myriad predators of this ancient wood. What he was confident in, was his ability to remain watchful and patient for the right time to murder a few dire rabbits for some food and coin.

He stopped for a moment, closing his eyes and letting his senses reach out. There was nothing nearby and his mental map showed him how deep he had gone from the border, just a little more to his nest. While the nest itself was close to the border, that did not account for the maze of trees, dirt mounds, and streams that infested the Virnulva. There were no straight paths to travel, at least not until you went deeper where creatures large and powerful enough to move such obstacles from their way dwelled.

Opening his eyes he moved on to the tree he had been using for the past week. The tiny platform he had fashioned from branches and rope had already started growing moss. Using another rope he had on him, he wrapped it around the trunk and slowly made his way up. He hated the climb. Even with a simple rope, he was not the physical sort. He had spent all his life gaining knowledge and skill, not moving about a forest or working physical crafts.

Again the voice of his master sounded in his head the world is filled with pain, yours is no greater than others.

He could almost see his master’s pitiless eyes glaring at him for grumbling about working for his food and fortune. He pushed on, finally clawing his way onto the nest. At least the future trips before the day was done would be easier. He slapped a rolled up rope ladder that was secured to a large and solid branch overhead, and it unrolled itself as it fell. Laying down on the platform he started to settle in. Spreading his cloak out, he used the scope of his crossbow to scan the direction of the dire rabbit lair he had scouted well over a week ago.

The dire rabbits were very much like their common kin in most ways. Only the dire rabbits were vicious when facing enemies and took advantage of their numbers. They would use their bodies as missiles to tackle you down to the ground. Once they had you they would put those bark breaking teeth to work on every soft spot of you they could reach. They could strip the skin from you in moments before tearing out chunks of flesh. They were a real danger despite their looks. He had hunted at least a pair per day for a solid week and he had seen no change to their apparent numbers or attitude. Their sharp senses and warren made direct approach pointless. They would hide or swarm depending on their mood.

Sadly it was morning and unless he spotted a few curious ones, they would not leave their warren until the afternoon to feed. Still, he would watch and wait, never taking chances in the wood. He adjusted his scope as he finally picked out the lip to a warren entrance, and settled in. Laying on his stomach, he kept the crossbow braced against his shoulder with an eye on the scope.


Part Two

As the title says this is part one, part two will come in time. A major thanks to @ErwinBlackthorn for his writing advice and editing help on this. Feel free to comment and critic, that's the only way amateur writers grow. Thanks for reading. ;)