Closed Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

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

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The westernmost tip of Kalea, Wind Reach is home to an amazing group of people and their giant eagle mounts. [Lore]

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on September 21st, 2014, 4:27 am


|.15th Autumn, 514
Act natural.

Zhol stared into the soulless black eyes of his enemy, his muscles poised, ready to strike. He watched it's every move, watching for every fleeting sign of intent. His breaths were shallow, carefully timed, trying to slow the rapid pace of his anxious heart.

Don't let it see your fear.

His fingers clenched and unclenched; other parts of him did the same. He swallowed; licked a dab of moisture onto his drying lips. The monster's jaw fell open, a terrifying expression gracing the creature's features. Zhol took his opportunity. He pounced.

The llama unleashed a bleat of surprise as the man from Endrykas threw himself at it, arms wrapping around the beast's terrifyingly long neck, a leg trying to hook over it's shoulders and, with his weight, topple the creature to the ground. It succeeded, with the complete absence of grace and style that one would expect; but at least the llama was down. Zhol shifted his weight, as the farmer had instructed, firm pressure to convince the animal that the ground was where it wanted to stay; and after a few squirms of protest, it seemed content to agree with that insistence. Zhol shifted his knees, one coming to rest just above the llama's shoulder, and was able to liberate his hands. He looked up at the farmer, and caught him chuckling.

"That be worth the Mizas, that were!" the farmer chuckled in an odd, twisted accent that made Common sound strange, dropping a few coins into the waiting hand of the man beside him: an Endal, though if Zhol hadn't already seen him flying a wind eagle he might have guessed he was one of the Avora hunters, what with the bow, the rugged features, and the clothes that looked like they were well used to being worn out in the wilderness. "Bet ya can't do that with them 'orses a' yours, eh?"

Zhol mustered a tight smile. "It wouldn't be wise," he agreed.

His attention fell, back to the creature that had ceased to be his opponent, and was now his patient. It had been strange when Kami had asked that he go to Thunder Bay instead of her: she was by far the better healer, and that was certainly something the settlement's livestock were in dire need of, but she'd asked him to go in her place. He'd agreed in an instant: not just as a favour to a friend, but also at the prospect of actually seeing the ocean - or at least part of it - up close instead of as a dull blue blur in the distance; and more than that, it had provided him with his first ever opportunity to take to the skies on the back of a wind eagle.

It had been terrifying and elating in equal measure, and while there had been something a little undignified about clinging so tightly to the back of the eagle's rider - who, Zhol was convinced, had conspired with his eagle to make the flight as fear-inducing as possible - he suddenly understood the Inarta's obsession with the creatures. While horses had always given Zhol all the sense and rush of freedom he'd ever needed, there was something about looking down and seeing the world spread out below you, watching your shadow dance across the tops of clouds, and hearing the rush of wind past your ears and the thud of eagle wings as they pounded the air that was incomparable.

That was the how of his presence here, but the why was more complex. In preparation to migrate back up the Sanikas Road for the winter, back to the shelter of Wind Reach before the snows came and the ice set in, the farmers and herders from the surrounding hills had begun to congregate in Thunder Bay, the robust animal pens they employed during the summer abandoned in favour of temporary enclosures that would contain the livestock whenever the precession of migrants stopped.

That concept in itself wasn't unusual for Zhol: the herders of Endrykas operated much the same way, keeping their flocks and herds in enclosed spaces that were easy to dismantle and move as the tent city cycled it's way around the Sea of Grass. In fact, the entirety of Thunder Bay had a familiar feel to it at the moment; not nearly the same as his old home, but the atmosphere of tension and preparation tasted the same.

What did seem unusual was the state that these llamas, and some of the other livestock penned up in Water Reach. Zhol examined the ugly wound on the llama's leg, bearing the unmistakable jagged edges of a bite mark from a not insubstantial creature. Zhol didn't have the faintest idea what type of beast might have been responsible, but the farmer was all too eager to offer his theory.

"One of them leopards did that," he said with a sage nod, his arms folding across his chest as if that somehow gave him an air of added authority on the subject. "Snowshoe must a' followed us down from them there 'ills. Them buggers can 'op these fences like they ain't even there."

Zhol wasn't particularly sure what ills had to do with anything, but he'd given up trying to decipher the farmer's slurred speech and his missing letters. With no small amount of willpower, he also avoided the urge to ask why, if these snowshoe leopards where such a problem, they didn't simply make their fences taller. It seemed like the obvious solution; but he supposed that the people who knew what they were doing probably had more wisdom on the subject than he.

Unslinging the satchel of veterinary supplies from his shoulder, he dug through the vials and bottles and myriad other things in search of the items he required. A little splash of alcohol sent the llama into a flurry of flinches, but also flushed out the worst of anything that might cause an infection. Zhol dabbed the excess away with an absorbent pad of linen, and set about smearing an analgesic poultice across the wound. It had the consistency of long overdue milk, and smelt about as bad, but the leaves and other ingredients ground into the paste oozed a sap that soothed the pain and protected the wound at the same time. Over this, Zhol added a simple bandage, blessedly easy to wrap around the llama's thigh, especially when compared to the challenge and awkwardness of doing so on an ungelded horse.

He only half paid attention to the conversation that continued; the Endal didn't seem particularly convinced by the farmer's conclusions, but he pandered to them anyway. "If it is a snowshoe," he assured, "Or anything else for that matter, I'm sure the hunters that Wind Reach just sent will take care of it in no time."

The mention of hunters had Zhol's eyes up and searching, scrutinising the cluster of new arrivals in search of a familiar face. His heart sank at the absence of one game scout in particular, and then further when he finally did spy someone he recognised: not Khara at all; someone far, far worse.

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on September 22nd, 2014, 10:41 pm

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Hunting opportunities weren't something to be turned down, especially if a snowshoe leopard might be involved. Of course Azira had volunteered, eager to bag the beast in question. There was no guarantee that it was a leopard, all that was known was that something was attacking a llama herd down in Thunder Bay and the problem had to be dealt with regardless of the cause. Of course the possible culprit meant that she wasn't the only one willing to find and take down the creature. There had been a number of others to show interest, others who were willing to work in groups, or in pairs at the very least but not Azira. Once they'd arrived in Water Reach and had begun to decide on their groupings, the huntress had made it very clear that she wouldn't work with any of them. They'd left her be after that, ignoring her completely as they made their way to the llama pens with the young woman trailing along behind them.

Now that she was here with the other hunters - others who were no doubt better experienced - she wasn't feeling very confident in this venture. There was no way that she could track the animal and kill it before the others did and if she couldn't manage that much then she was sure that these other hunters would laugh at her behind her back. But it was too late to back out now, too late that she wouldn't an couldn't do it as such a thing would only lead to the same scorn in their eyes. Laughter and derision were things that the girl was used to, things that she'd dealt with since her Yasihood but that didn't mean that she didn't feel ill at the thought. She didn't want to fail but yet it was failure that she saw in her future. Still, she could only try.

As they approached the pens, the teen took the scene in. There were two men who stood at the temporary holdings, both of whom looked up as the hunters made their approach. They'd been overseeing something going on inside the pens into which Azira peered and found a man bandaging up a wounded llama. He looked up as they drew near and the girl gave him a cursory glance before looking at him again, scrutinising his features the second time around. The recognition came to his eyes first before she worked out who he was. The man from the range, the one who had driven her to a point where she had snapped completely and beaten him with her short bow. Her eyes moved from him, her attention turning to the two men who stood waiting for them. One was probably in charge of the llamas, whereas the other... was he a hunter? Judging by the supplies he carried she assumed so but he hadn't been sent for like them but must have been in Water Reach already. She was sure that one of them would better outline the situation, the hunter the more likely spokesperson of the pairing. They came to a stop clustered around the two men and the hunter set about explaining the situation. The frequency of the attacks, the times of them, evidence that had been found within the pens and other relevant information was given to them. As Azira listened, shifting from one foot to the other, her gaze drifted into the pen and to the man she'd attacked before quickly flitting away again.

Once their information was fully set out, the hunters broke into a pair and two small groups while leaving Azira off to one side of them as they set off to scout the area. The huntress went to carry out a similar reconnaissance herself but was stalled by the man with the bow. "You aren't going off alone, are you? You'd be better off joining some of the others, have someone watch your back." The others weren't quite out of earshot and she saw his head turn, ready to call one group back but she interjected quickly. "They don't want me and I don't want them. I'm better alone and I'll keep it that way." Her conviction stalled the man for a few moments but he still wouldn't let her go onwards. "You have to have someone to look out for you, even if it's for nothing more than that, a lookout. I'd go with you but I need to fly back to the city. I'm sure that I can find someone who won't get in your way." His eyes began to search for some companion and the girl couldn't believe that he was serious about this. He wasn't going to let her go hunting without a buddy? Could she not manage at any other time? What was he going to do? Push some useless Chiet or someone onto her so that they could keep an eye out for danger? She'd sooner watch her own back but it was clear that that wasn't going to happen. This man's voice rang with an authority that seemed to mark him as Endal. There would be no refusing this man.

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on September 22nd, 2014, 11:54 pm


|.
Zhol wound the last of the bandage around the llama's thigh, careful to keep it tight enough that it wouldn't fall loose as the creature moved, but not so tight that it caused undue distress to the wound. A grudging thought formed in his mind at how unexpectedly cooperative the beast had been once it had been subdued, and he had to admit that it was a far more patient patient than anyone he'd dealt with at the stables; especially not that jackass, Bucky. The llama's head lifted, gormless face aimed towards him as if it somehow read his thoughts. "Shut up," he grunted, finding the loose end he'd left from the start of the bandage, and knotting it together with the loose end he was left with. "Don't think that means I like you."

With a sigh he eased himself back from the llama and, after a few hesitant ticks, the creature staggered it's way back to it's feet. A few tentative steps on it's leg, and it scampered off in an ever so slightly limping gait; far less trouble moving than before Zhol had arrived, that was for sure.

Patient gone, Zhol clambered back to his feet, hips protesting a little as he straightened them. While he was more than used to spending time in the saddle, his journey to Thunder Bay on the back of a wind eagle had been a different sitting experience entirely, and muscles that were used to being stretched and positioned one way were causing a fuss over having been forced into another.

He ambled back towards the Endal; Jensen was his name, if memory served. He'd been half paying attention as the hunters had received their briefing and departed; a grimace of sympathy swept across his features as he noticed that one had remained, and was apparently subjecting Jensen to her company. He wrestled with momentary indecision before surrendering to an act of heroics, approaching hesitantly, to the rescue. Jensen appeared to be looking for something; his eyes widened in recognition as they settled on Zhol. That was ominous. His insides squirmed into a knot.

"Done?" Jensen asked; Zhol merely nodded, desperately hoping that the Endal was merely preparing to take him home, and didn't want to jinx his chance for escape by speaking. "Good." Taking a few short steps, Jensen grabbed the backpack - Zhol hadn't known what would be required of him in Thunder Bay, and so had brought pretty much everything - that Zhol had shrugged from his shoulders before climbing into the llama wrestling pen, returned, and thrust it into Zhol's arms. Optimism buoyed, hope for freedom surged; both were quickly silenced.

"This huntress here needs an escort," Jensen explained. There was the faintest emphasis on that final word, almost as if it was purposefully chosen to cause as much annoyance as possible. Zhol would have smirked, if a giant tentacled dread monster wasn't busily climbing it's way out of the new pit in his stomach. "I don't want anyone hunting alone with a predator on the loose; and a flamethrowing stable boy from the Sea of Grass is better than nothing, I suppose."

Zhol frowned at that description; not because it was inaccurate, but rather because it was an insight he hadn't realised the Endal had. Jensen had accepted his greeting this morning as if they had never met before, and as if Jensen had no knowledge of him; and yet given his allusion to Zhol's homeland and reimancy, things he was confident that he had not mentioned at any point thus far, it seemed that Zhol's reputation had preceded him after all. Was it outsider infamy, specific knowledge, or was Jensen merely another resident of Wind Reach who could read him just as easily as the merchants at the market had?

"Azira, this is Zhol," Jensen offered by way of an introduction, "And Zhol, this is Azira. Try not to get each other killed."

Zhol stood there in stunned silence, willing his voice to spring into action with some sort of retort or protest; but none came, and none would have worked against the will of an Endal. Instead, he merely contemplated Jensen's last instruction.

But what if she's the one trying to kill me?

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on September 24th, 2014, 11:52 pm

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The huntress didn't like being kept back by this Endal. Not one bit. She felt singled out, targeted. She didn't want to feel that way. Just because she hadn't complied with some unspoken requirement of his didn't mean that she deserved to be held back like this. There was nothing that could be done but wait for some idiot to be pushed upon her with the design of "helping" her. If he was that worried that she'd get killed out there, he'd be better shooting her now and saving time. Whoever was pushed onto her was sure to be a hindrance and a liability after all. The man's query had her gaze turning to its recipient, looking at the youth who'd finished tending to the llama. He looked as worried as she felt. Her eyes whipped back to the Endal as a horrible thought entered her mind. Surely he wasn't considering him, was he?

Nostrils flared, a sound between a gasp and a hiss issuing from her. "I don't need an escort!" The girl spoke between gritted teeth, trying to keep down the insubordinate remarks that threatened to erupt at this man's cheek. He was humiliating her on purpose and so she'd been sure to answer him in Common to ensure that the outsider didn't take this man's word as being true. She was ready to glare at her superior but focused her ire on the ground instead, hands clenching at her sides. Hate filled eyes turned briefly to the outsider, her gaze seeming to place the blame on him in this situation. A flicker of something appeared in her gaze -surprise, curiosity- at the mention of "flame throwing". A check of the Endal's expression to see if it was something said as a joke before eyes turned upon the other Avora. There was only one type of person that she could think of that were involved with fire in that way: reimancers. They didn't throw it as far as she knew but they had command of it. It wasn't a common element to be mastered in the volcanic city, earth being the most common but then this young man wasn't from the city.

Attention was turned to the young man who had at last been named as Zhol, scrutinising him for any evidence to give away a fire related nature. She returned her gaze to the Endal, tone seemingly respectful although her words undermined it somewhat. "I take it that I'm free to go to my death now, Endal?" A mock bow and a switch back to Common followed. "If you're tagging along, you'd want to be quick about following." A glare was shot in the stable boy's direction before the teen strode off in the direction the other hunters had gone, moving as fast as her legs would carry her. The Endal seemingly made no move to stop her, a sound that seemed suspiciously like a chuckle the only thing that followed her. As she traced the path that her comrades had taken, the huntress cursed both the Endal for humiliating her like that and Zhol for being in the right place at the wrong time. If he'd been absent then the hunter might not have found anyone else and might have let her off scot free but the horse boy had had to be there tending the llamas.

The teen wasn't glad of the opportunity to have learned something of him either. She had no idea what the Sea of Grass was, being unfamiliar with the Drykas and the place they inhabited but didn't care to find out where the foreigner had come from anyway. Azira wished that he'd return there, whatever it was, and leave her in peace. If their first encounter was anything to go by he was likely to make conversation and lots of it and she doubted that the beating had done anything to remedy that problem. Judging by his comments after it, she suspected that he might have become soft in the head, if he hadn't been that way to start with that is.

Head turned so that she could look back over her shoulder, checking to see if the young man had made any move to follow her. Her pace slowed involuntarily as she did so. Even when he followed, there'd hopefully be a future opportunity to be rid of him. She'd only been told to try not to get him killed, not to ensure that he didn't meet his end. If a chance of Zhol meeting his demise arose, the teen didn't have to try that hard. That thought made her feel better about the situation, a ghost of a smile gracing her lips.

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on September 25th, 2014, 8:10 pm


|.
Zhol hadn't ever expected to live a particularly long life. When you dwelt upon the Sea of Grass there was a certain awareness of the constant peril you were in. One wrong turn on a journey away from Endrykas, one unexpected Glassbeak stampede, one infection untreated, one fight too far, and it would all be over. You staved it off as best you could of course; you married; you bred; you ensured your blood would live on into the next generation. No one waited for death; and perhaps it had been different for other Drykas in other pavilions; but Zhol had been raised not to fear death and Dira as something to be fled, but rather an inevitable to be accepted, at the time that Lhex chose.

Still, no matter how deeply ingrained that all was in his psyche, it was a somber thought when he realised that between nature, predators, and Azira, this was probably going to be his last day alive.

Zhol's backpack was slung across his shoulders now, his bow detached from it and held loosely in his grip. He wasn't sure how much use he'd be after so little practice - okay, he was sure he would be absolutely no use at all - but if there was even a slim chance of him at least attracting some attention with a few vaguely in the right place arrows? Maybe Azira would stand a chance of taking the predator out while it was busy chewing on his carcass. Maybe that way he'd at least be useful.

He quickened his pace, remembering the way that Khara so often balanced on things, hopping from point to point like stepping stones, and tried to do the same himself: striding from tree root to tree root, rather than stomping his way through the leaf litter and risking all manner of trips, stumbles, and nastiness. "Don't worry about me," he muttered, as the distance between them closed. He doubted the hostility was ever particularly absent from Azira's features, but it absolutely rolled off her at the moment, undeniably aimed solely at him. "I'll keep up."

Idly, he wondered if this was what hunting with Azira had been like for Khara. She'd been so careful to not say a bad word about the huntress; lots of adjectives that weren't negative per se, but combined with a drought of positives, the fact that she'd only managed to tell him very little had let him fill in most of the blanks; and his own bruises had reinforced those assumptions considerably. A stab of anger formed between his lungs; it was people like Azira who were responsible for Khara having so little faith and confidence in herself; it was their fault that she was too traumatised and tightly wound to fully relax around him simply because it was an Avora; it was Azira's fault that Khara liked herself so little; it was her fault that Khara and he weren't -

He stopped that train of thought with a tight clench of his jaw, his fists echoing the sentiment. "I assume you have a plan," he grunted, not particularly inclined to feel civil. "Do I get to know it, or do I just trudge along behind you in silence and wait for our abject failure because you're too stubborn to accept help?"

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on September 26th, 2014, 9:49 pm

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He caught up to her, offering assurances that he wouldn't fall behind. The huntress glanced in his direction, smirking. "Oh I wasn't going to worry." The girl returned her eyes to the path ahead, deciding on a different route to her peers and changing her direction accordingly. Zhol would follow or else fall behind. "Oh and you'd better keep up," she added without looking back, "because if you fall behind, I'm not waiting for you. I don't even want you here." The huntress wasn't going to hide the fact that she resented the other Avora's presence. It was no secret but in case he was somehow to dense to notice, she wanted to make the fact very clear to him: he wasn't welcome.

The girl shifted the weight of gear upon her shoulders as she considered the best course of action. Azira wasn't confident in what she'd have to do and the added inconvenience of the man was the very last think that she needed. Her tracking ability was rudimentary at best and she was keen to avoid the other hunters as best as she could so as to avoid making a fool of herself in front of them or seeming to reliant on them. Additionally, she didn't want to make a fool of herself in front of her unwanted companion. The teen was at a loss of what to do and the man's words made her grit her teeth. It was as if he was reading her mind, poking at her inability to come up a plan by asking her t spread its non-existence in front of him. Just perfect.

"What did I do to deserve chatty companions on my hunts? Who did I offend? First, a chipper game scout, now a nosy horse boy. And there's no 'our' anything in this situation. I'd prefer if you'd just shut up and not scare away any game that I might actually be able to take away from this." Her frustration was the main drive behind her irritation and it was clear to hear in her voice, which was closer to a whine than a snap. This couldn't get any worse she was sure unless she broke her leg or something, did herself some injury that would put her out of commission where her job was concerned. She'd almost take being injured over being in this situation. The last thing that the huntress wanted to admit was that she had no idea what she was doing in this situation.

It was hard to do but the teen tried to push her awareness of her companion to the back of her mind, if not out of it entirely. She needed to focus on the hunt, on trying to find the animal that had injured the llamas. The chances were that the others would beat her to it, were more likely to do so, but she needed to at least make some effort. The young woman scanned the ground, checking for signs that were unlikely to be there. There was no way of telling where her prey had gone but she had to think it out and she thought aloud as she had when on the moose hunt with Khara. "The pens are remote enough. Not in the heart of Water Reach so fewer people around the place. It wouldn't like people would it so it'd go away. It'd hide out somewhere hidden, away from anywhere that people might frequent. So I need somewhere quiet but with easy access to food, water."

Belatedly she remembered Zhol and glanced towards him, catching herself in her rambling. He didn't have a good grasp of Nari though, did he? What she'd said to herself had probably gone over his head not that it was anything that she wanted to keep secret anyway. Probably a good time to include her in her thinking so that he wouldn't think her completely incompetent. "If you must know what my plan is then I'm looking for a good place for a predator to hide. Out of the way of people but near to water that it can drink. In range of the llamas. Happy?"

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on October 5th, 2014, 6:47 am


|.
That mention of Khara was enough to make Zhol silently seethe. Insults and hostility directed towards himself he could cope with; it was nothing he didn't expect from Azira, nor was it anything that was particularly unwelcome, more fuel for the fire of his own self discontent. Even the faintest allusion to Khara though, and Azira's ingratitude at the privilege of spending time with her flooded Zhol's blood with a mix of anger and envy. His grip tightened around his bow, and a notion swept through his mind: novice though he was, even he probably couldn't miss from this range, and Azira's ego-inflated head provided a nigh unmissable target.

Zhol's pitiful command of Nari fumbled with her initial words; when she began to translate for his benefit, aggressively phrased as it was, he felt a reluctant twinge of gratitude that he tried very hard to extinguish. Water, shelter, and food, he mused, processing her words carefully. It made sense he supposed, that the predator they hunted would need the same few essentials to survive in the wilderness that a human would.

"Ecstatic," Zhol grunted back in answer to Azira's question. He glanced around him, wondering just what sort of hiding spot a snowshoe leopard would favour. In truth, he wasn't even sure how big the creatures were, nor what they were capable of. Did they dig tunnels and warrens like rabbits or Inarta? Did they build nests, on the ground or in trees? Did they naturally seek the high ground? Could they see well enough to make a home in deep caves?

"Planning on being any more specific than a good place to hide so that I know what to be looking for? Or are you expecting me to keep my eyes shut this entire time, as well as my mouth?"

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on October 16th, 2014, 2:51 pm

It seemed that Azira wasn't the only one in poor humour over this forced partnership. Zhol's friendly demeanour towards her from the last time had changed to one of surliness. Perhaps the friendly overtures that he'd tried during their previous encounter had been successfully beaten out of him by her. If his friendliness had been then she was glad. The last thing she wanted was for someone to be happy about this arrangement or to put it in a positive light when she most definitely loathed the idea. She'd prefer if he was quiet though rather than questioning her. Not only was it irritating because she was trying to concentrate but also annoying because he seemed to be questioning her abilities. Did she want her methods doubted? No, particularly as she had little confidence in the tentative plans that she'd made herself and didn't need to be put down any further. It was one thing for her to doubt herself but another thing entirely for someone else to do so.

If it was a snowshoe leopard that was causing havoc with the llamas then her lack of knowledge concerning the creatures couldn't be faulted. The big cats were a rare sight to see for the hunters of Wind Reach and so all she knew of them were stories. She was working on guesswork but she liked to think that it was intelligent guesswork. The animals were known to hide-hence why it was rare to see one-so it made sense that they'd hide themselves, especially near a settlement. The Avora didn't know what time of the day they were most active but it made more sense that they would try to keep themselves out of harm's way regardless of the time they preferred to roam about the place. The teen knew that they usually stayed up in higher altitudes but would come down further when winter started to make its approach. There was more rough ground higher in the mountains so up there it provided them with cover, she thought. If that was the case then they might go for something similar down here if it could be found.

"Do you want an honest answer, Zhol?" His name was spat at him as the young woman cast an exasperated glance in his direction. The irritation caused by his question was something that she didn't even bother to try to hide. Let him see it as it was, she didn't care. They were going to be stuck together for goodness knew how long and there was no point being civil toward him when it was guaranteed that that civility would break down in the future. No point pretending only for her real personality emerge later. There was no point in hiding this side of her emotions anyway. Let him see the anger rather than the tears. "You're not a hunter so you wouldn't know but we don't see those leopards here too often. They stay high up, they're good at hiding. Those who see them brag about it and bag it if they can but most hunters know nothing about them. Habits, food, anything like that. Do you think I'm an exception?"

A stone skittered harmlessly underfoot but the huntress paid it no mind, face a mask of sullenness as she continued her explanation. "They don't like people so they hide. Not as much cover down here as higher up the mountain so I'd say that they'll hide where they can. Rocky and uneven ground, ridges, that kind of thing, I think. I don't know though. I'm trying to piece things together. If you can think that you can do better then take the lead, foreigner. I have no problem with you being eaten first and I'll be sure to point out everything that you do wrong." Her gaze became a challenge, daring him to take over her role. She even went so far as to stop and step aside for him, gesturing him on ahead of her. If he stepped up to her challenge then she'd certainly be surprised but she'd be sure to quash it, hide it from his view. The huntress sincerely doubted that he'd do anything of the sort however, he just liked to annoy her. He wasn't actually willing to take over her job, he was just a horse boy after all.
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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Zhol on November 18th, 2014, 11:32 pm


|.
The faintest flicker of a smile tugged at the corner of Zhol's mouth as he endured Azira's aggressive, defensive outburst. It wasn't that he enjoyed being the subject of someone's ire, or that he was spoiling to be on the receiving end of another Azira assault; but there was something about this that felt so comfortably familiar. Most people in Wind Reach avoided him, and Khara tiptoed around him like the artisans had made him out of glass; but Azira was brutally honest in her opinion of him, and in her perception of his inferiority. She treated him the way the Drykas had, without the mandatory reverence that his Avora status earned him from most anyone else he interacted with, and the acerbic bite to her words reminded him of Dinah; his sister had been equally quick to make it known when she disapproved of her brother or his antics. Perhaps Azira was trying to push him away with her attitude; instead, all she achieved was setting the ground rules for their latest bout.

"They don't like people so they hide, huh?" Zhol muttered, seemingly to himself but more than loud enough for Azira to hear. "You must be quite the expert, then."

He didn't wait for her to respond, but instead walked past her as she had invited. He was under no illusions that he knew what he was doing, and certainly he had no skill in tracking - but then neither did Azira from the sound of it, given the fact that she'd needed Khara's skills for such things. What he did know however was to look and pay attention; and right now his attention was drawing him towards a rocky protrusion a short distance away, that offered a little height above the surroundings. He stopped at he base of it, but didn't begin to climb; instead he shrugged off his pack and fumbled through it, trusting that Azira would stomp along reluctantly behind.

As she approached he turned, producing a small leather pouch from within his pack, and teasing out the contents. A small sprung mechanism allowed it to open, the lenses of his sight glass snapping into place. Casually, he perched himself comfortably against the rocky outcrop, offering the magnifying lenses to Azira, and gesturing over his shoulder with his head.

"I may not be a hunter," he replied with a shrug, "But I do know that finding things usually starts off with looking properly."

He let his smile grow ever so slightly.

"You said take the lead, right? Leader says get climbing, huntress."

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Beasts and Burdens (Azira)

Postby Azira on November 21st, 2014, 12:28 pm

The Avora had been watching him of course, watching and waiting to see how he'd react. A ghost of a smile was not a reaction that she'd been anticipating. It wasn't one that she wanted to see. Did he find her challenge funny then? Surely he wasn't that cocky from what she'd seen of him he hadn't appear to be the cocky type but then maybe she was wrong about him. His slight smile was met with a scowl from the huntress as she waited to see if he'd do anything more like actually take over or not.

A muttered comment that easily reached her ears turned the scowl into a glare. Who was he to make assumptions about her? Sure, she didn't like people but she didn't hide from them. She wasn't a petching big cat and she was ready to make some retort about him being all talk and no action when he walked past her. Azira wanted to smack him for taking that small satisfaction away from her. She couldn't say anything like that to him now and anything that she did come up with was only likely to come across as petty.

A murderous glare was aimed at his back but he was followed reluctantly, the teen willing to lie in the bed that she'd made for herself. All she could hope was that he wouldn't find something important and make her look bad. It'd kill her if he could do his job better than she could.

Zhol didn't get very far before he stopped at a rocky outcrop, searching around in his pack for something. The huntress approached him, biting remarks lining up on her tongue to be fired at him. She was only deciding which one to start with when he turned with something in his hand. His expression might not have been a smug one but his entire body screamed it at her. Her teeth ground together. Her dislike for the man was increasing with each passing tick but there was nothing that she could do against him. If she murdered him, it wouldn't exactly seem like an accident now, would it?

Whatever he'd fished out was offered to her, some sort of glass thing - a lense? - that seemed to be something that he deemed important for her to have. The object was regarded disdainfully as it was plucked from his fingers, the nature of what it was becoming apparent as the glass enlarged his fingers when she glanced through it. Magnifying lenses, ones that made seeing things in the distance a lot easier. Damn him for being better prepared for this situation although under normal circumstances it wouldn't be much use to her, or so she told herself.

"You try seeing through trees," she growled, dropping the glass carefully into her quiver. Her pack was dropped as there was no point carrying the extra weight and risking unbalancing herself as she climbed. Her bow and quiver were kept though, both secured on her back and shifted around until she was sure that they wouldn't get in her way before she considered the outcrop itself. The rock was uneven and rough with plenty of handholds if she could just get her fingers around them. Climbing wasn't something that she often had a chance to practice but it didn't seem like a difficult climb and it wasn't one that needed a rope for safety. It wasn't that high either so she wouldn't risk any hurt if she fell, except possibly to her pride.

A hand stretched to a higher handhold while her foot found a place to start her off. Fingers wrapped around a protruding rock, holding tightly before she pulled herself up, one foot dangling free a little above the ground while she searched for a place for her other hand. There was another place a bit higher than the first and she clung to it, pulling herself upwards again as her feet found purchase on the rock. Her arms protested a bit at dragging her weight up the outcrop but she'd endured far worse so she ignored them. This was nowhere near as bad as dragging all that moose meat back with Khara. This was child's play in comparison.

It took a chime or two of scrabbling at rough rock before she was able to get her arms onto the top and pull herself up, feet continuing the climb rather than dangling in the air. Once at the top, Azira found herself on her knees gasping for breath. She took the time to recover while checking her bow and quiver to make sure they hadn't sustained any damage. Standing, the lenses that the other Avora had given her were fished out from amongst her arrows and raised for her to look through.

The outcrop wasn't that far above the level that they'd already been on but it afforded her a better view of her surroundings as grudgingly as she'd admit it to Zhol. She could see further around her although the trees still posed problems in terms of visibility. She did her best to search for any more rocky areas, any places that might provide cover for a snowshoe leopard hide in. The magnification allowed small details to pop out at her and so she was able to spot a sliver of something rocky obscured amidst the trees. It could be something like the outcrop that she was currently standing on or it could be something worth checking out. It was a little higher than where she was currently standing and the ground on that side of where she was seemed to be sloping downwards a bit. Maybe it was higher still. It'd be worth checking out though seeing as they hadn't got anything else to go on.

Her gaze turned skywards, working out the direction by the current location of Syna's light. So the area was north west, maybe twenty or thirty chimes away. She couldn't be sure but it wasn't too far. It seemed that they were going to be heading off that way then.

"Thirty chimes north west," she informed him, the lenses returned to her quiver so that she could make her descent.
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