Closed Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Zhol and Azira try to calm a farmer's llama drama.

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on November 29th, 2014, 8:44 pm


|.
Oh wonderful, the spiky monstrosity could shoot things at him. That wasn't completely and woefully unfair at all. It looked like a giant prickly badger, as best Zhol could tell. Or at least, it looked like a prickly version of a picture of what Zhol thought was probably a badger, that he'd seen in a children's picture book of animals and had only vaguely understood. It was maybe four feet long at a guess, and it's bristling spines started a foot and a half or so off the ground: Zhol had never seen a rodent of such unusual size in the flesh before, and while it wasn't some colossal horse sized predator, and was smaller than he presumed the snowshoe leopard would be, it was still plenty big enough.

Zhol considered Azira's instructions; imagined the inevitable condescending tirade he'd receive about how it had just been proven that he was good for nothing except wasting time, being rescued, and making this whole process harder than it needed to be. He desperately wanted some sort of alternative, some way to subdue the beast on his own, to prove Azira wrong and clamp shut that mouth of hers for a little while. But what was there that he could actually do?

Set it on fire, and stab it, his mind offered helpfully, borrowing Dinah's voice to do so. It sounded exactly like the sort of thing she would have suggested as well; unfortunately for Zhol, Dinah was no huntress, and her advice in such matters probably wouldn't prove all that useful. As far as Zhol could tell, all that would achieve is him being shot by fiery spikes, instead of non-fiery ones. His mind filled with all the options that would be available if he possessed any form of reimancy other than his own. He imagined how his mother might have commanded the very earth to rise up and envelope the rodent. He thought of how Dinah might have used water to knock the spines out of the air. Lillah would have summoned a gale that would have gusted the quills harmlessly aside. But as usual, Zhol's fire was only good for making things worse, and it wasn't like there was anything else he could -

His mind stumbled, tripping over recollections of his time spent in the Hideaway a few days before. In amongst his attempts to use meditation to wrestle some degree of control over his reimantic powers, he had also attempted to learn to use shielding to protect others from the dangers his powers could pose. What he had discovered, and confirmed amid his subsequent reading, was that a shield could only guard against magic and skill of equal potency. His shields could not block his reimancy - or his archery, he had later discovered, terrible as that was - because they simply were not practised and refined enough. But a spike-badger? That was no mage, no expert archer; surely, even his novice abilities could withstand the onslaught of such a thing?

As he'd done in the cave, he reached inside himself for the flickering candle that represented his magic, and imagined himself blowing out the flame: dedicating his djed to something other than conjuring fire. He imagined the wisp of smoke forming itself into glyphing shapes that he remembered being taught by his mother; the overlapped squares that formed an eight pointed star; the runes and symbols that he had memorised but didn't quite understand drawn in at all the correct points. As he shaped the protective glyph in his mind, he focused his thoughts on one simple purpose. Stop the quills. Stop the quills. You don't need to do anything else, just stop those quills. He delved into himself, mining more than just djed: he sought out every vestige of his confidence, every scrap from every corner of his mind. I am not useless. I am not worthless. I can do this. This will work. Around his outstretched fingers, the air shimmered like a heat haze, stretching and twisting as it extended it's way into a barrier between him and the approaching beast. All the while he focused harder on his glyph: more imaginary smoke, sharpening the details, focusing the shapes, making the image clearer and clearer in his mind. It wasn't until the symbol burned with coherent brightness that he risked opening his eyes; it took all the focus he could muster not to grin and punch the air as he stared at the shield he had managed to create.

His shoulders slumped a little with exhaustion at the amount of concentration and focus he'd just expended, but he didn't let it phase him; didn't let it diminish the sense of achievement - even for such a paltry effort. He risked a glance over his shoulder towards Azira, not wanting to look away too long just in case the shield wasn't there when he looked back. "I don't know how long this will hold," he admitted, "Might want to hurry it up with those bow skills, huntress."

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on November 30th, 2014, 11:59 am

Climbing down a tree in a hurry was just asking for trouble. The sort of trouble that Azira was expecting was the sort where she fell out of the tree and broke her knee but thankfully that didn't happen. She had a few close calls though as she lost her footing or as a branch shifted suddenly beneath her when she landed on it. Smaller accidents did happen on the way down. By the time she reached the bottom to find Zhol still standing where she'd last seen him, she was covered in scratches and scrapes galore. There were scratches on her arms that had drawn blood, there were a few on her face although she didn't think that they were bleeding and her parts of her legs were left throbbing where they'd caught on twigs or had rubbed off the trunk. She was sure to end up with a whole host of bruises too but it was too early to expect to see them, not that she had time to go looking.

An odd look was thrown Zhol's way at his comment but she didn't say anything. She had other things to be doing then trying to unravel what the man was on about. The porcupine was still coming albeit it was taking its sweet time. The spines were rising though as she watched and that meant that it was getting pissed enough to be willing to shoot at them. Aside from the fact that she didn't want to be stuck with one of those quills coming at her at speed, she thought that there was supposed to be something in them or on them that was bad, some poison or something. Getting shot with poison would be a lot worse. The thing had to be taken out of the picture and fast. Her plan to throw a blanket over its spines seemed idiotic now, so many of the sharp projectiles sticking from its back that she doubted they all could have been covered. There was the additional fact that it would have sent it over the edge to see her coming at it from the front with the blanket and she would have been riddled with spikes.

Now that she could get a good look at it though she found that there was one vulnerable spot on the creature: its face. If she could shoot it in the face then she'd either catch it in the wrong spot and piss it off instead of killing it, or else get a lethal shot in. Its face was a small target as it was and to try to hit a few small areas that would kill the thing was going to be hard. She had no idea how thick its skull was but she hoped that the arrow would be powerful enough to punch through. She'd shot rabbits in the head before so she should be to kill one little porcupine... which was bigger than a rabbit.

The short bow was unslung from her back, fingers digging for an arrow from her quiver as she got into position. She was in the right stance quickly enough, the huntress well practiced at that. It took a few ticks to get the right spacing between her feet and to adjust her posture before she was turned towards her target. The arrow was nocked, a finger placed above its fletching and two placed below it as she began to draw the string back and raise the bow. She didn't have to raise it as high as normal, her target lower than when she was in the range but that allowed her a tick or two more to adjust her aim before the string was drawn fully back to her cheek. She was aiming for the section of skull between its eyes but when she relaxed her hand and let the arrow fly it struck lower than she'd intended as it caught the porcupine in the nose. It was only a glancing blow, the arrow continuing off into the quills on the creature's back.

It wasn't a fatal shot, although there was certainly blood everywhere, so it had time to get really really pissed. As soon as she knew that it was still alive Azira had gone straight for another arrow. Its spikes were at full extension now as it realised that it was under attack and so in real danger. The arrow was nocked, the girl trying to keep herself calm with measured breathing even though it was highly likely that the porcupine would end up firing first. The bow was raised, the string drawn and she aimed a bit higher this time, the arrow tip following the creature as it weaved its head back and forth. She released her missile and heard the thud as it struck bone and buried itself in the animal's skull. There was a spasm before the porcupine collapsed, seeming to deflate as its spines began to sink down to rest against its body again.

The bow was put down, the creature approached quickly now that it was no longer a threat and examined once she was crouched beside it to be certain that it was completely dead. There were still a few twitches but a knife through its eye made sure that it was just the final firings of its nervous system rather than death spasms. No point having the creature dying in agony. The newly bloodied knife was used to raise a spine for her to examine. "I have meat to bring back but gods damn me if I know how to move it without ending up full of holes. Blanket maybe? I'm going to try to butcher it anyway," she told her companion as she let the quill drop again. She wrenched the arrow out of its skull, the arrowhead lost to her but it didn't matter, she could get others. "Any ideas you'd like to put forward?" she asked, turning to look at him as she stood once more.
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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on November 30th, 2014, 1:08 pm


|.
Zhol fought back a sigh. If course Azira had acted like nothing had happened; it wasn't as if he'd protected them both from a bombardment of sharp spiky things or anything. Well, he hadn't, he supposed; despite her flubbed first shot, Azira had still managed to kill the thing before it actually did anything to harm them. At best, Zhol had altered his status from useless to just unnecessary. His shoulders slumped a little, a silent grumble thought in the direction of Lhex. Would it have been so hard for him to make Azira fall on her ass? Maybe startle the thing so that Zhol's efforts could actually have saved her from a prickly fate, and forced her to eat crow a little?

At least she wasn't being confrontational about it. That was some small mercy.

When Azira stood, and without a hint of irony asked for his input, to say that Zhol was startled was an understatement. His mind instantly emptied of everything, instincts urging him to be far too overcautious to blurt out the first thing that came to mind. Maybe Azira was just trying to entrap him into a situation that proved how little he had to contribute. Maybe this was Azira actually trying to be nice.

His face adjusted into a thoughtful frown. Did he have any ideas? He considered their situation, considered what it was they were on the hunt for; but also considered Azira's earlier assertion that they weren't the only ones out here, that their chances of success were small, and that returning to the city with food was the best way to stop this expedition turning into a total loss. Still, cutting their losses at this point felt like giving up; that didn't seem like Azira's style, and he certainly didn't want it to be his own.

"I don't know much about snowshoe leopards," he admitted, bracing himself for the possible sarcasm that he was probably inviting, "But if they're anything like the predators from back in Cyphrus, us walking around with a meal slung over our shoulders seems like it might attract some attention. Maybe that's a bad thing, or -"

His voice trailed off into a shrug. "Maybe we can turn that to our advantage somehow. Is there a way we can lure out this leopard using our -" He waved vaguely towards the carcass. "Giant prickly rat thing?"

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on November 30th, 2014, 5:51 pm

The blood from the scratches on her arms finally caught her attention and she fetched her water skin. A few precious drops were expended in the washing of the wounds although it was a fairly pointless exercise. She had nothing to wrap around them and they were only to get dirty again but she liked to think that she was doing something helpful. It gave her something to do while she waited for an answer from Zhol. The horse boy wasn't as quick to offer answers as she'd thought he'd be. She'd expected some sort of comment about it being her job and how she should know how to deal with the porcupine. Instead he seemed to really consider what he should say to her.

He brought up some good points though.

Obviously they couldn't carry something dead and bleeding around or they were asking for trouble but they couldn't leave it lying around either. The one thing she doubted they could do was sling it over their shoulders. Even if a blanket was used to dull the points a bit, Azira wondered how well they could penetrate fabric. She had no idea how sharp each of those spines were and she had no intention of testing them. Using it as bait though that was an idea. If they could string a rope around it and suspend it from a tree then they might be able to attract it if it was in the area. If it wasn't nearby though then they'd need to drag it to the right place, which would only lead to predatory trouble.

"If we can hang it up in a tree then it should be safe from most things. Leopards can climb though and if it's near the blood could bring it," she commented thoughtfully. A snigger before she offered the name in Nari. "Ground porcupine... "That's what it is, not a giant prickly rat thing or at least... I think so. I haven't actually seen one before. They're usually shy like the leopards." She burst out laughing after that, the irony of the situation not lost on her. "I never expected to see one or a leopard because they're so shy and yet I've killed one and I'm hunting for the other, weird huh?"

Rope and her winter blanket were fished from her pack. Even if they didn't know what they were doing with the porcupine yet, it needed to be wrapped up and ready to move where needed. Her bow was retrieved from the ground and one end was used to stick under the porcupine so that she could roll it onto its back. A little to the side of where it had been sitting only a moment before she stretched the rope out, the blanket placed on top of it. Once it was in position the porcupine was rolled back to where it had been and then rolled onto its back on the other side onto the blanket. A small section of rope stuck out from under it and she tugged more of it out, the animal held in place with the end of her weapon. She kept pulling until she had a sizeable piece out her side and most of the rope still remained hanging out on the far side.

She used the rope and her bow to manoeuvre the material over the creature and then tied a knot over her new little bundle. Before she knotted it again she cut off the excess and threaded it through the loop of the second knot before she tightened it. The rope left sticking out was of uneven lengths, a short section on one side of the knot and a much longer piece on the other side. The short piece was double knotted as well. It was messily done but it left the porcupine well bundled up and left them with one long section of rope that could be draped over a branch and the kill hauled up.

"It's ready now for whatever we decide to do with it. We can drag it somewhere or we can lift it up into the tree. I can climb up there again, find a sturdy branch and hang it from it. I'm already cut to bits so it doesn't matter if I get scratched up more. At least one of us will be left in one piece. I might as well do it. I didn't get a look up there before I had to come down," she gestured towards the rock outcrop before continuing, "so what do you want to do? I can get it up there alone if I have to."
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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on December 1st, 2014, 10:57 am


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Zhol took an appraising look at Azira, and then another at himself, focusing on the sturdy leather fabric of his pants, the dense weave of his shirt, the fact that he had sleeves that were bound at his wrists to stop them sliding up. He was dressed for scuffs, and snags, for subjecting himself to those sorts of things without undue damage to himself or his clothing.

"I think I'm maybe a little better dressed for clambering about in trees," he pointed out, as politely and as lightly as he could muster.

More thoughts swam about in his mind, considering the surroundings, thinking about how close the ground porcupine as Azira had called it - whatever the blazes those Nari words meant - had managed to get before they'd even noticed it. Maybe leopards were bigger, and easier to spot; but Zhol was willing to bet that they were faster and better at sneaking around, too. Even if that wasn't true, letting one get as close as the spiky badger had seemed like an incredibly bad idea.

His thoughtful frown returned. "Do we maybe want to find a better place for it, though?" He tried to make his suggestion sound as casual, as much like thinking out loud as he could, hoping to avoid antagonising the huntress by making it seem like he was trying to suggest that he knew more about her job than she did. "A bigger clearing, maybe? I'm no expert, but seems to me that the more open there is for the leopard to be out in, the more chances you're going to have to shoot it."

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on December 7th, 2014, 10:32 pm

His suggestion was met with a roll of her eyes. "Yeah whatever. Do what you like," she acquiesced grumpily, shrugging as if to show that she didn't care. She really did. She liked doing things by herself and for herself. She had good reasons for not wanting to work with Zhol. She liked working on her own and she didn't work well with others. She didn't like having someone contradicting her or telling her that her ideas were poor, even if they tried to be subtle about it. It didn't help that they were both Avora. He didn't have to give in to what she wanted and he wouldn't be subservient, not like Khara had been. The Chiet had offered suggestions when asked but she hadn't tried to undermine Azira's authority.

When he said that he wasn't an expert she translated that as "I do think that I know more than you." And he said it so casually to her too. Maybe she should have let the porcupine shoot him full of quills after all. In hindsight, it seemed like it would have been a good idea. If those spines were poisonous then it would have been a great way to off him without getting into trouble for it. Bad luck, nothing she could have done. Too late to be thinking about it now though.

"We can move it if you like. Would you like us to dragging a bleeding body around with us until we find a bigger clearing or would you like to remain here with the bleeding body while I go looking for one? It's going to start oozing out of that material soon anyway. I don't know how long we'll have but something will probably come sniffing soon. There's blood around here already so I don't know how long we have until that happens," she explained, allowing the implications associated with her words to sink in before she pressed on. "Do you want to do your climbing here or do you want to take your chances? We've no idea where that leopard is so how far are we supposed to move it? Should we stick a message on it so that any other predators can know that it's only for the leopard?" she asked softly, venom and sarcasm were beginning to seep into her voice and she knew it.

The teen bit her lip, eyes closing as she shook her head softly back and forth. "Sorry. I prefer to act rather than think it out. You never know I long you have out here until something comes up to bite you in the arse," she told him, the apology coming reluctantly. It was probably better not to antagonise him again or they were likely to end up at each other's throats once more. No sense in them killing each other over what they ought to do with a ground porcupine. That would be more than a little idiotic, not to mention laughable. There was no sense in it though so why not just apologise and have it forgotten about before it could set their blood boiling again.
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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on December 9th, 2014, 5:33 am


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Why was she asking him as if he knew? Was this all some elaborate humiliation, a way to drive home just how useless and inferior he was, disassembling his simple suggestion and rebuilding it into a mockery, only to compound it all by reinforcing just how little of the situation he had understood and considered?

If that was her intent, it had been successful. Zhol seethed internally at the unnecessarily harsh rebuttal, and he found himself one nerve away from turning around, walking off into the woods, and leaving her to suffer whatever fate her arrogant and irritable nature had in store for her. That nerve was protected however, shielded by the obligation he had taken on. He had given his word that he would try; and if Azira wanted to jeopardize their chances by acting like a petulant brat instead of cooperating like a normal human being then fine, but Zhol wouldn't merely give up and surrender to that happening. He might not have been worth all that much himself, but he was determined not to let the same be true of his word.

It all boiled down to one simple question, which he levelled at her with the kind of bluntness that Azira's impatience demanded. "Are you good enough to shoot the leopard if we lure it into a clearing this small?" That was what it all hinged on, really: all the strategy and tactics in the world couldn't compensate if their execution of whatever plan they chose couldn't follow through. If the clearing was too small to give Azira the time she needed, or if it would mean they were too close to escape the leopard's notice, this could all turn into a bloody mess in the blink of an eye. "We both know that I'm not; but if you think you are, we'll stay put and set our trap."

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on December 11th, 2014, 10:28 pm

She waited impatiently and anxiously for an answer, her eyes roving over their surroundings for any signs of movement. While she waited for him to come to some sort of decision she had to make sure that nothing was sneaking up on them. They didn't want anything else attacking them and catching them unawares. Her bow was held in readiness, an arrow nocked but the bow pointed down as she kept an eye on the undergrowth with the occasional glance upwards to skim the trees and the rocky outcrop. If the leopard came upon them, she knew it had more points to attack them from. They were good climbers - or so she'd heard - and so they could be sprung at from above as well as from the ground.

His question turned her attention from the forest to him and she regarded him blankly for a few moments as she thought it over. She was going to have trouble shooting it as long as it was moving. It wasn't a big target like the moose had been so having a lot of space to walk backwards shooting wasn't as important in the case of the snowshoe leopard. Shooting things on the fly was hard as well. The porcupine had been different, she'd been able to keep her distance and line up the shot before the danger was imminent. A leopard was different though. It could move faster, it could jump, it could dodge, it could bite or scratch you with its claws. It was intelligent and that always made things harder. She could recall the disastrous trip a few seasons before where she'd decided to work in a team. The huntress she'd been working with had gotten attacked by a zynx and Azira had inadvertently shot her in the leg instead of shooting her real target.

If the leopard came at them, she was going to have trouble getting at it unless it was kind enough to come to a complete stop and not move as Azira shot at it. Even if it could be distracted by eating something, preferably the porcupine rather than one of them, then there was no guarantee that she could hit it.

"I don't think size matters," she replied slowly, chewing on her lip as she swept her eye around the area again. "I'd sooner set the trap and have my hands free to shoot rather than moving it and getting caught off guard and eaten. I'm all for staying here if you're all right with that. You can get climbing now too. You wanted to do it so you can go do it. Carry the rope up with you, climb as high as you can and throw it over a strong branch and back down to me. I'll probably need you down here again to pull it but we'll see. I'll shout up if I want you," the huntress informed him. She went back to her watch.

"I'll keep an eye on things and shoot anything that moves. Not you of course. I won't shoot you." A smirk crept into her features. "As long as you move your skinny ass quick," she added afterwards with a soft laugh. It wasn't done nastily. She wasn't laughing at him, it was just her sense of humour.
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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on January 13th, 2015, 7:48 am


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"Skinny ass?" Zhol grumbled under his breath as he contemplated the best way to hold the rope. He wasn't that skinny, was he? Sure, he was no hulking blacksmith, and the way that Wind Reach controlled what people ate made sure that no one ever ended up carrying around more weight than they needed to, but skinny? He spent all day active, and exercising. There were muscles lurking underneath his clothes, not just skin and bone. He was how people were supposed to look, wasn't he?

He had no idea why it bothered him so much, but it did, occupying his thoughts as he clambered his way up into the tree. It quickly became apparent that things weren't going to be as simple and straight forward as he had expected them to be; apparently Caiyha hadn't been kind enough to encourage the tree to grow into a convenient natural ladder, and the branches weren't always spaced at the most convenient intervals. The route that Azira had taken had served her well, but Zhol discovered that his taller stature put his body parts in different places; branches dug into his shins as he tried to stretch upwards, others getting in the way and preventing him from climbing as far as he liked with each step. His hands, hardened by constant work in the stables, still suffered under the biting friction of the bark; half way up, he realised that perhaps it would have been easier to have lent Azira some of his more practical clothes, rather than insisting on his chivalric intervention.

Eventually he made it to a branch that seemed sturdy enough; awkwardly he hugged an arm around the tree trunk for balance, fumbling the rope over it and down far enough that he could grip it comfortably once again. He descended a few feet, planting his backside on the branch where he'd been standing, and began to coax the rope through, sending it towards the ground a few feet at a time. It was only then that he became aware of how much further below him the ground actually was, and had to swallow hard to stop his innards from rising up out of the back of his throat and making a leap towards the forest floor. He knew how foolish it was - he'd flown on a wind eagle that very morning, for petch's sake! - and yet the sight of the ground beneath him filled him with the oddest dizzy sensation. He focused his gaze on the rope instead, and searched his situation for some kind of reassuring solace.

At least you're up here already, instead of trying to clamber up with a leopard on your heels, he mused.

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on January 21st, 2015, 12:16 pm

The horse boy had been eager to climb up the tree and now he'd gotten his wish. It became quickly apparent that he had good reason to be regretting that wish right now. As soon as he set out on his upward journey, the obstacles that his height posed were clear to the Inarta's eyes. He had a better reach than her but that seemed to be the only good thing going for him. His size didn't allow him to squeeze through gaps among the branches that she would have managed. She was sure that he ended up with more branches digging into him and whipping at him than she had and the huntress couldn't stop herself from sniggering to herself as he received grief from the tree. It served him right as far as she was concerned. She'd wanted to do it, had already done it without ending up bruised and sliced to bits but he'd been so insistent. He'd thought that it was far more practical for him to do it and now he was finding out just how wrong he'd been.

Azira waited with growing impatience for him to arrive at a branch that the kill could be hauled up on. She was hoping that there would be enough of the rope to allow them to carry out their intentions but there was little to be worried about on that score. It ought to be long enough for what they wanted, even with the lengths she'd used in her tying up of the porcupine. It came as a relief when the man reached a suitable branch and threw the rope over it. It hadn't grown taut yet but it had come close. Zhol probably wouldn't have gotten much higher with it. He began feeding it down to the ground and the huntress moved beneath it, ready to grab it when it grew close enough to her. As it descended, a glance or two was spared for where the porcupine lay, watching as the rope gradually grew taut. Once it did it was unlikely that the outsider would be able to feed any more down to the ground without hauling up the weight of the kill as well. She was fairly confident that she could pull it up over the branch by herself. It would be no bother. She'd managed to haul three hundred pounds of moose meat, albeit with help, over rough terrain and this animal certainly didn't weigh that much.

Though when she jumped for the rope and pulled down what she could of it, it pulled taut and the porcupine felt like an immovable weight on the the end of it. She moved her feet apart, widening them into a sturdy stance and began to pull with all her strength. Azira tugged, trying to step backwards as she did so. It wasn't as easy as she had first anticipated but it did begin to raise a little bit at a time. Her arms began to shake a bit under the strain but she held on. It was quickly becoming more of a struggle to keep it where it was and it was near impossible to raise it any further. To make matters worse the wrapped carcass had begun to swing a little, a light bloody rain falling from openings in her wrappings that she couldn't see. It was a perfect way to attract a carnivore, whether scavenger or predator, which wasn't a good thing considering her current circumstances. Zhol was safely up a tree and she had her hands full with something that wasn't a readied bow. It wasn't a situation that she liked at all.

"Zhol! A little help would be nice," she called. The huntress imagined that the package would be dropped long before he managed to get down to the ground. To be safe, she lowered it back down to the ground with care and sighed with relief once she was free of the burden. She'd wait for him rather than trying to tackle it on her own again.
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Azira
Prodigal Daughter
 
Posts: 923
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Joined roleplay: August 31st, 2013, 3:43 pm
Location: Wind Reach
Race: Human, Inarta
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