Closed The Last Hunt of Winter

Khara, another game scout, and a group of Avora go out on a hunt, hoping to bring back food for the winter.

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The Last Hunt of Winter

Postby Verilian on April 2nd, 2015, 10:48 pm

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Zalla seemed pleased with Khara's reply. She, like many of the chiet in Wind Reach, was content to accept things as they were. Unlike Khara, Zalla likely had little interaction with those of higher castes, besides that which came with her job. She had no aspirations of becoming a hunter, or an endal, and likely did not believe either were possible to begin with. She knew, like all Inarta knew, that anyone could become an endal, but she never believed that she herself would be chosen. She was what her caste was supposed to be. Subservient, unambitious, and harmless to the castes above her.

"Yeah! The other scouts would be so jealous. Sure, let's go help."

The hunters all looked up when Khara offered to help. The woman frowned, but said nothing at first. One of the men snorted and shot Khara a glare before motioning her forward.

"I was wondering if you were going to stand there all day or actually make yourself useful. Come over here and help me skin this thing."

The third hunter looked to Zalla, a hunger in his eye, and he seemed a predator staring down its prey.

"I can think of something I'd like you to do. This hunter is hungry. Come over here, girl."


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The Last Hunt of Winter

Postby Khara on April 5th, 2015, 9:39 pm

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There were few moments in Khara's life that actually stood out as some sort of war with morality. Typically she simply didn't have to concern herself with such things, the upper castes made those sorts of decisions, disputes were resolved in The Fighting Pits when need be, and if things became overly serious then the Valintar would make a choice. People like Khara didn't have to worry so much about what was right and wrong in the abstract way that other people maybe did. The right thing was doing as you were told and working hard and keeping out of trouble. It was as simple as that.

There shouldn't have been any sort of war going on within her mind. The one hunter had told her to come help him skin one of the goats and that should have been all that mattered to Khara. She should have been more concerned with her lack of knowledge in how to do such a thing; she should have been wondering if she was simply going to repeat what she had done for Azira when the huntress had been handling the moose and worry about keeping the goat in one place and it's limbs out of the way. Instead she had heard the way the other hunter had spoken to Zalla and felt like everything inside of her was turning to stone, or maybe ice due to the unexpected pain that seemed to accompany it.

She wanted to ignore it, play it off as maybe reading too much into phrasing or even the more pertinent fact that it wasn't her place or her responsibility to try and prevent any lewd acts from taking place on such a trip. No good could come from speaking up, at best she'd simply anger the hunter, at worst... Well, there were far too many scenarios that could battle for that title. The one that stood out the most was that the hunter's attentions would shift from Zalla to her and as much as Khara knew she'd feel that at least she had helped a fellow scout avoid something she had already gone through, part of her knew she just couldn't do it again. Not here. Not now. Not doing something that Khara had always felt she was safe from such advances doing. She could hide in the warrens, could keep following her changed routines that made it so less people were likely to be about when she had to go into common areas, but out here? Hunting trips were where she was forced to place her trust into the hunters that made use of her, here was where she trusted that the need to get a job done took precedence over everything else. She may not have been safe from all the dangers of The Unforgiving when with them, but Khara had always felt she was safe from the Avora she was with at the very least.

So she would say nothing, then. Focus on her task. Leave Zalla to fend for herself; maybe she was even one of those Chiet who secretly wished to catch the eye of one of the higher caste, it could be an advantage if you were open to such things, after all. But what if it wasn't like that? What if it was horrible? What if the other hunter she was helping got a similar idea? Even if it wasn't her, it still destroyed any notion that such things didn't happen outside of Wind Reach itself.

It was an impossible choice, if there even was one to make to begin with. Hungry could actually mean just that, right? Maybe he was going to make Zalla give him whatever rations she had with her. That wasn't so bad, that was perfectly normal and fine and-

The thoughts had raced through her head in only a matter of a tick or two but it was the sudden painful tightening in her chest and the feeling that she couldn't breathe that brought all of reality crashing back down upon her. The conclusions her mind had jumped to had left her with little but the urge to will herself away from the whole thing, to suddenly by act of divination or otherwise end up back within the safe confines of her room where she could make herself as small as possible and...

How it was that Khara managed to reign herself in enough to only have her hands shaking in the slightest as she found herself exactly where she was expected to be, at the side of the hunter who had called her over. She tried to pour her entire focus into what he was doing and what she could do to make the job easier, trying to block out everything else. It was cowardly, maybe, but it was the only thing Khara could think to do that would stem the tide of panic that threatened to overtake her.

She did cast one look upwards, though. Not to Zalla, not to the hunter that had called on the other scout, but to the third hunter - the woman. Odds were she could care less about what happened to some Chiet, in truth she may actively condone such things, but she also seemed to be the one who had taken the hunt and the role the two scouts had played in it, seriously. Maybe she would put a stop to anything, if only for the fact that they all should have been focusing on preparing and moving the carcasses before any predators came across the group.
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The Last Hunt of Winter

Postby Verilian on May 28th, 2015, 9:01 pm

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At the avora's words a stream of emotions flickered across Zalla's face. Excitement, fear, nervousness, embarrassment, apprehension, and finally acceptance. She was, after all, a dutiful chiet and would not refuse the upper caste member, regardless of how she felt on the matter. The girl cast a fleeting glance at Khara before moving forward to attend to the Avora, leaving Khara to go and assist the other.

The hunter looked at Khara for a moment and then handed her a skinning knife, saying nothing, and went right back to work. He started by slicing the goat open from neck to groin, not a pretty sight, and even less pretty when he began pulling out the useless organs. Khara probably didn't know what to do at that moment, but it seemed alright since the hunter gave her no specific directions. Once he was done removing the organs he moved aside, giving Khara room on the lower half of the goat, and he began working on the upper half.

The huntress locked eyes with Khara for a fleeting moment, and a hint of understanding flickered in her eyes for just an instant before she looked away, glancing over at Zalla and the other man. So far nothing had really happened between them, the man was mostly making lewd comments and Zalla's face was flush with embarrassment. The hunter said something Khara couldn't hear, and for a moment Zalla froze in place, before moving to comply. She got down on her hands and knees next to the man and -

"That's enough, Tate, nobody wants to see that. Wait till we get back to Wind Reach, at least, would you?"

"What!? Come on Taryn, a man's got needs."

"Yeah, well unless you need an arrow through your balls you keep that thing in your pants where none of us have to look at it. Do what you want with her when we get home, but control yourself while we're out here, petch it!"

"Fine, fine," the hunter mumbled and began re-fastening the laces on his britches after he waved Zalla away.

"You're lucky you didn't say anything," the hunter next to Khara mumbled, "Out loud, that is. If you had, she would have made you join your friend. And you wouldn't have like that, I think. Now, do you know what you're doing with that knife, or do I need to show you how to do it properly?"

Not waiting for an answer the hunter began instructing Khara in the proper way to skin and prep goat. Zalla got to her feet and backed away, glancing nervously over at Khara, before moving to stand awkwardly by a tree until somebody told her what to do.
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The Last Hunt of Winter

Postby Khara on June 8th, 2015, 12:36 am

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It felt entirely selfish to be relieved in that moment, but Khara couldn't help it. The entire hunt still felt sullied, though. She should have been reveling in doing a good job, in helping the Avora catch their prey, but instead the Chiet felt as if she had narrowly avoided an encounter with a pack of wolves. The hunter telling her that she was lucky didn't exactly dissuade that notion.

In a way she felt guilty for interfering, though. It really wasn't her place to do so and in that tiny tick that her eyes had met Zalla's, Khara couldn't help but wonder if the other scout would thank her or hate her for what she had done. Either way, what was done was done and it felt far easier to handle the sight of the opened goat in front of her than what could have played out.

The Avora she was paired with was far more skilled with a knife Khara's last tutor in such a thing had been. Azira had tried her best to handle the moose's remains several seasons ago but she had been uncertain in what she had done, the cuts imprecise and Khara had felt bad for watching her so intently. This hunter, however, was more than certain of himself.

Khara was fully aware that what she was being shown was something useful, something worthwhile that most of the scouts didn't have a clue about, but it was hard to focus. The sight of the opened goat wasn't the problem, strangely enough Khara wasn't entirely bothered by it - it was just meat, after all. Zalla, however, was a lingering awkward presence. Still, she did her best to follow the hunter's instructions swiftly and without hesitation.

It felt foolish in that moment, but she tried to pour all her focus on the goat and the prep work, trying to abolish any thought of Tate and Zalla from her mind. It seemed a feeble attempt, and disingenuous in a way, but each slice of her knife was accompanied by a small prayer. At first they had been to no one in particular, quiet thanks for keeping the hunting party focused, thanks for success on the hunt itself, for keeping her fellow scout safe for now, but soon her mind shifted and settled more on one deity in particular.

Lately Khara had come to think more and more that she was at the mercy of the goddess of the wilderness each and every time she stepped foot outside of Wind Reach. Caiyha's animals were both sources of food and danger, but didn't the Inarta themselves count as animals to a god? While there certainly must have been a god who controlled lust and other urges, weren't such things primal in a way? Khara had never considered praying to Caiyha for protection against her own people, and she wasn't convinced that it was She that the scout had to thank in that moment, but she refused to entirely rule it out, either.
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The Last Hunt of Winter

Postby Verilian on June 23rd, 2015, 4:02 pm

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If Caiyha answered Khara's prayers, it was only through the singing of the birds, the buzzing of insects, and the soft rustling of leaves as a breeze blew through the trees around them. Such was how gods usually answered, and it was up to their followers to find the voice in the wind. The hunters finished with their kills and waterskins were passed around between the three, leaving Khara and Zalla to themselves for a few chimes. Zalla walked over, an odd look on her face though their was a hint of anger in it.

"I can't believe it." Her voice was full of frustration. "I was so close, and then she stopped it."

Zalla glanced over at the huntress worriedly, as if she thought the woman might hear their whispering. She seemed to have no idea that it was Khara who had somehow managed to move the woman to interfere. Suddenly the frustration left her face and was replaced with worry when she turned back to Khara.

"He wasn't exactly what I'd hoped for my first time, but if he liked me, maybe my life could be better. Can you imagine having an Avora or Endal watching out for you.. Well, I guess you can. Don't think nobody has noticed the way you are with that Drykas. You're so lucky." Zalla glanced back over at Tate. "I just hope this doesn't make him angry. I want him to like me, not hate me"

Just then the hunters seemed to decide it was time to move on. They told Khara and Zalla to lead the long way back to the city gates, so they might have a chance of spotting some other animal. It was okay if they didn't, all the hunters seemed satisfied with the haul they had already, but it never hurt to hope for more. Zalla looked at Khara, waiting for her to take the lead.
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The Last Hunt of Winter

Postby Khara on July 22nd, 2015, 1:02 am

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Guilt twisted and mixed with confusion and a bit of shame. She had been trying to help her fellow game scout but apparently had done quite possibly the exact opposite. Khara had thought about voicing an apology, a confession that she was the reason the huntress had spoken up, but as Zalla continued she felt a new wave of guilt - different in nature - sweep through and steal whatever words were lingering on her tongue. She hadn't imagined that anyone had really noticed her and Zhol, as much as he was an Avora, the horse boy was an outsider first and foremost in the minds of many others. Still, one thing Khara couldn't exactly argue with was the fact she did feel lucky to have him. It wasn't just the attentions of an Avora that she had somehow gained, but something far more meaningful; it wasn't something that Khara ever took for granted, but hearing her relationship even hinted at by another seemed to bring into focus the fact she truly had something that most others in Wind Reach didn't.

Not that it made the attention drawn to that fact any easier to process. An embarrassed flush crept to Khara's cheeks and she was thankful when the hunters decided it was time to move on. It saved her from having to make a comment which no doubt would have been flustered and poorly worded in the moment. The elder scout lead the way, keeping her footsteps light as the two Chiet put a little distance between themselves and the hunters once more. Out of habit more than necessity, Khara's eyes continually scanned for any new signs of movement or life ahead of them as they walked, her mind preoccupied with thinking of some way to reassure Zalla.

"I don't think he'll hate you," Khara finally said, her voice barely above a whisper. The urge to glance behind her to make sure the group of Avora weren't close enough to overhear them had to be avoided to keep from looking suspicious. Instead Khara let a few paces fill the silence, and she strained to listen for the footsteps of the hunters to gauge their position.

Satisfied that the following steps didn't sound too close, she continued. "I think she was right, though. Now wasn't the time. But if he's going to be angry at anyone, it'll probably be her, maybe."

Khara shrugged a shoulder, a smile that was hopefully reassuring forming on her lips as she glanced back towards Zalla. "Who knows, he may pay you even more attention just to try and annoy her. If you like him, then just go with it, I suppose. Everyone should still be in a good mood when we return, at least. Maybe you can catch him at the Weather later or something..."

It was far from the most encouraging of speeches, she knew that right away, but Khara had no idea how the actually encourage that sort of thing. Tracking was easy compared to giving any sort of relationship advice. Not that Khara expected that Zalla was looking for it from her; at least, she hoped not. She wasn't even certain she could accurately describe how it was that she had actually managed to find herself with Zhol, not without a lot of admitting of mistakes and happenstance that wouldn't have happened if he wasn't well… Who he was. Such a series of events would never have happened if the horse boy had been an Inarta, that was for sure.

Khara found herself returning to the earlier embarrassment of having misjudged the situation, her thoughts tumbling together to try and make some sort of sense of it all. She never really had been as free with herself as most Inarta seemed to be. It wasn't a matter of propriety as everything she was used to would have her think nothing of such actions, it was more a discomfort with herself, Kara supposed. Another thing that wasn't quite right with her, perhaps. After all, her and Zhol had been open with their feelings for a while and still hadn't…

A ground squirrel scampering across the path ahead of them pulled her attention away from that line of thinking. A squirrel was hardly worth going after, especially with the kills the Avora had already made, but it was a sign that smaller prey-like animals were in the area, at least. Khara didn't slow their pace, but she redoubled her efforts and attention. Any further worthless words of wisdom for her fellow game scout would have to wait.
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The Last Hunt of Winter

Postby Verilian on August 5th, 2015, 1:15 pm

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"He'll have forgotten all about me by the time we get back to the city. That was my chance to get what you have, and now it's gone."

The other scout fell quiet, her eyes turned toward the ground. They walked in silence for a few chimes, slowly making their way back to the city. The hunters did not seem too keen on actually hunting anymore. They were speaking with one another, joking, laughing, and generally making noise which was exactly the opposite of what one should do when trying to sneak up on an animal. They were moving slowly as well, having fallen quite some distance behind the pair of scouts.

As they walked Khara might notice that much of the already sparse vegetation along the rocky ground had been picked clean, nibbled all the way down to the stem. Something had been grazing in the area. Zalla did not seem to notice, and kept pace with Khara, staring at the ground but apparently not paying attention. Either that or she just didn't know the significance.

A more obvious sign came next, and Zalla did manage to spot that one. A pile of small round and ovalish droppings, far to large to be a rabbit or rodent. Possibly from a deer or some other larger animal. They had a moist sheen to them, not yet dried out, which likely meant they were fresh. And they were, but no tracking skill was needed to make that deduction. Just a few yards away, only a bush between it and the scouts, was a sky goat.

Sky goats were not uncommon around Wind Reach, but to see one down so low was rare indeed. It was munching away at some shoots of grass that had poked their way up and seemed content to keep doing so. Apparently the creature had neither noticed the scouts, or the sounds of the hunters chatting farther back. It was just standing there, right in the open, for anyone to shoot. Zalla glanced at Khara questioningly, having frozen once she spotted the goat. Should they alert the hunters? They were pretty far back, and the goat might run away. It certainly would if they just let the hunters walk up on their own, chatting as they were. Sky goats were quick, and could scale sheer cliffs with ease. If it noticed them, there was no catching up to it.
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The Last Hunt of Winter

Postby Khara on October 9th, 2015, 12:38 am

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Of all the luck! A skygoat would no doubt be a welcome addition to their bounty but the situation could not have been less than ideal. It was a wonder the animal hadn't already run off with the way the Avoras' voices echoed off the nearby cliffs. Boisterous Inarta were not exactly uncommon to the region, though. Perhaps the goat was simply used to it, or perhaps it was having trouble gauging how close the danger was with the way the echoes played in the wind.

There was little time to act, the trio of Avora drawing nearer every tick as the scouts could only watch helpless. Mostly helpless. It was a bad idea and Khara knew it immediately as she moved her bow from her shoulder and withdrew an arrow from her quiver. She was not normally one for decisive action but something had to be done otherwise the Avora would simply walk up on a fleeing skygoat and the Chiet just knew that would be all the worse.

Khara glanced to Zalla as her trembling hands pulled the back of the arrow against the nock on her bowstring. A deep breath was taken before she whispered as quietly as possible with still allowing her fellow scout to hear.

"Go quickly," she pleaded. "But stay low and stay quiet. Tell the Avora about the goat. I'll stay here and..." And what? her thoughts questioned.

She couldn't very well kill the goat on her own, even if it was allowed Khara wasn't sure she was that good of a shot. The amount of living creatures she had actually loosed arrows upon could be counted on one hand - and one of them she still wasn't entirely certain counted as living. Killing it was an improbability. Wounding it, though…

"I'll do something." She decided upon and nodded her head down the trail towards the Avora, a motion that hopefully would be more than enough to encourage Zalla to get going.

Khara took another deep breath, this time for her own benefit, and let it out slowly as she raised her bow. If she stayed where she was there was no hope if the thing decided to suddenly sprint off, she'd have to get closer and hopefully find a way to discourage it from going to the cliffs. That meant trying to put herself between them and the goat. If nothing else, maybe she'd startle the animal into running towards the Avora. That would almost be ideal, really. Just hopefully Zalla would get there first and make them aware of it.

Slowly Khara began to approach, each footfall made as gently and carefully as possible to avoid making noise. Her arm drew back the arrow and held it in place near her lips, ready to be loosed if necessary. Silent prayers were said once more, though she wasn't entirely certain as to who to make them to. As far as she was aware there was no deity of a successful hunt, though she wished quite often that there were.

She wasn't certain how long it would take or if Zalla would be successful, but she made her cautious way towards the cliff face, trying to keep herself from the skygoat's notice. Khara found her arm shaking slightly as muscled protested the strain of keeping the bowstring pulled back, not something she had anticipated and definitely something to try and work on. For now, though, she pushed through it and only allowed herself a quick glance away from the animal towards the path once to see if her plan was - hopefully - working out.
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