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Nothing to See Here [[P]]; Dax
Topic Started: Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:43 am (765 Views)
Amphesiina
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Birdsong clicking and rustling the limbs of the evergreen timbers brought the air into a magical orchestra of life to the snow-covered valley. The great pines stretched on either sides of the sloping land were a mountain-fed river cut through the center of the land like steel. A great open meadow was on either side of the valley, the taller grasses peeking through the rolling hills of snow and making this an ideal grazing ground for herbivores of varying massed. Only two mammoth roamed about, content with their smaller herd, but many bison and elk cleared their paths in the snow. Despite the larger numbers of grazers, very few carnivores found interest in this land. Besides the typical fox and coyote, no wolves or lion tracks were traceable in the snow.

As for the smallest of the ungulates digging through the snow near the treeline for the best chutes, they had just found themselves an appetizing meal beneath a thin layer of snow near a mound of black rocks. A smaller herd of does flicked their tails while enjoying the warmer rays of sun that was nearing the noon hour. One if the does lifted her leg and began to fiercely scratch a rough patch of fur behind her ear while the other four munched away. The doe saw the cast of a shadow only a blink before something clipped the top of her haunches and sent her tumbling into the snow from being off balanced with a low alarmed bleat. The rest of the herd was a step ahead of her, their large fluffy white tails waving in the air behind them like flags as they bounced off in a full sprint. The doe was quick to jump back to her feet and speed up to catch up with the rest of her family, completely unharmed.

“UGGH.”

Amphesiina’s talons had missed their mark of the doe’s spine and instead had lightly grabbed ahold of nothing but fur, gently lifting the animal for but a moment while it slid out of her grasp. She had landed in a flurry of snow nearly ten feet behind the animal, her wings messily flopping over one another. Now the woman was watching her only means of food bounce away in the distance. She released a fly of louder curses and kicked up a pile of snow in her anger. Still snarling hateful things beneath her breath with her ears pinned, the oblivious woman opened her clumsy wings and used them to lift her while she hopped once to where she had attacked the animal. Only a few tufts of fur. A defeated expression and a heavy sigh replaced the spitting rage the inexperienced lady held from her youth. She bent over and clutched the furs, looking back to the deerless trail. Ears drooping, she huffed and sat upon the pile of rocks, folding her wings behind her while she twirled the mouse brown fur between her thumb and index finger.

“Another day of- oh. I ate the last of the dried fish yesterday morning…” Grumbling.

It had barely been a handful of food to support her for the two days and her body was growing sour from the lack of energy she provided. As time was begging to tell, she was an epic failure at hunting. It didn't stop her from trying but now even the mammoths were getting annoyed with her constant soaring about. She wasn't made for dive-bombing her prey on land, or at least, she's never tried it despite so many telling her she could easily do it… if her tail didn't fan out so ridiculously large she would strictly be cursed to fishing. But her tail was closer to a falcon’s, and her wings gathered speed easily. Truthfully, getting kicked out was to force her to learn and hone her ability of flight and survival. But as she sat there on the rock and gazed at the fur, she was beginning to think that maybe she just wasn't meant to be tough like her family thought.

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Daxon
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He was relieved to be out of the company of others. Too many travelers were on the roads these days, there was always a hello, an exchange of pleasantries, a request of aid. The sound of chatter had left his ears ringing and in need of repose. So off he hiked, to the welcomeless shadow of the Gwilikith Mountain Range.

It had been two nights in knee deep snow. He was only just beginning to unwind from the tension of socialization. Daxon played well with others, his parents raised him proper, but that didn’t mean that he had to enjoy it. He had had success fishing in the lower altitudes, and had only just consumed his remaining fish that morning. It was time to get serious about bagging big game. If he was smart enough, he could hang the thing and live off of it for days. The cold temperature kept the meat from spoiling, and he wasn’t planning on traveling any great distance that would require lugging it around. In journeying he had stumbled upon several grass eating creatures, suitable for ingestion. The white tail population was thinning the higher the altitude, but elk remained plentiful, albeit incredibly sizable. If he continued to climb higher, which he had little intention to do, he would reach a climate that only mountain goats inhabited, along with the odd predator. He was uninterested in consuming goat, a meat easily obtained in any other environment. Elk steak would be a delicious meal, sure to put him back into good spirits. A smile appeared on his lips as he thought on it, swinging his short bow off of his shoulder and pulling an arrow from his quiver.

He had been absent mindedly following tracks for some time. There was a large herd of them, it appeared, and he had hunted regularly since he was a boy. There should be no problem in bagging one of them for a meal. He carried little but his armor and weaponry with him. In the frost of the mountains he preferred to dig into the insulating snow to sleep, rather than to worry about securing a tent. If he was successful with his hunt he would consider building a simple lean-to, the trees were sturdy enough to provide more than just firewood here. He knocked a low hanging bough as he paced steadily after the tracks, a plop of snow tumbling down and landing behind him.

He slowed his pace as he neared upon a clearing, crouching to stay low to the ground and reduce his postural sway. He watched as, from across the clearing, a herd of elk does rummaged hurriedly for grass, long buried under the winter snows. A great gust of wind broke through the opening, blasting him in the face with cold air. He wrinkled his nose and pulled the hood of his cloak up. As much of an inconvenience as it was, the wind would not carry his scent to the prey, and would likely cover some of his hurried steps as she jogged in a crouched position around the tree line to get within range of his short bow.

Happy with his ground cover, and with the shortened range, Daxon crouched once more, knocking his arrow to his bow string. He paused as one of the closest elk raised her head, her ears swiveling to pick up sound. He didn’t breathe, his muscles frozen in a practiced stability. Within a moment she dropped her head once more and continued to graze. Slowly he drew his bow upward, aiming his arrow at a particularly plump looking female not far away. He drew back the string, anchoring it to his chin, and adjusted for the breakthrough of wind in the clearing. He exhaled a slow breath and steadied himself and then let the arrow loose.

It was at this moment that a giant winged creature plummeted from the sky overhead. The great expanse of its wings blocked some of the sun’s rays and sent the elk scattering in a panic. He cursed, his lips turning up in a snarl as he watched his well aimed arrow sail through the sky to be buried sloppily in the creature’s shoulder. He ground his teeth as he drew and fired another arrow, this one barely clipping the cow’s haunches as it bounded out of sight, leaving a smattering of blood in its trail. His second arrow skidded across the top of the snow and landed unceremoniously beside the now landed being.

She had begun to curse loudly, an act he would have joined her in if he had been a whiny adolescent child, and not a grown man. Her continued loudness only pushed his meal farther away, and with a cow so wounded, he would have to track her and finish the job. It was the only right thing to do. He would not allow her to continue to suffer.

He broke free of his place in the tree line as she kicked a puff of snow and plunked herself on a small pile of mountain rock. He continued to grind his teeth as his enormous frame pushed through the crisp snow of the clearing. Looking at her wings as he approached her from behind, he deemed her little of a threat. If she could not successfully hunt an elk, than an elk-sized man would be insurmountable.

“You owe me a cow,” he growled, stopping past her to retrieve the arrow that landed in the snow.

He did not turn to look at her, instead moved toward the blood trail left by the wounded animal. He knelt beside it, trying to judge the rate of blood loss by the amount of crimson in the snow. She was bleeding steadily, but not enough to immediately hamper her mobility. He looked over his shoulder at the woman and glared, what was a simple meal had now become a day long tracking excursion, with no promise that the creature would be his in the end, and not overrun by some other savage predator. He swallowed a growing growl in his throat.
Edited by Daxon, Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:07 am.
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Amphesiina
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A subtle shock rippled through the woman’s frame as deeper words spoke from behind her quickly followed by faster feet crunching through the snow. The voice rocked her with a tinge of familiarity and her head whipped around almost completely at 180 degrees to shoot a snotty remark back at Biidohn, but her words stuck in the back of her throat when the stiff figure of a wingless… a man… fell into her sight. Now she jumped from her perch when he moved to examine the trail of splattered crimson. What the hell was a man doing out here? She stood uneasily to her feet while her tail fanned behind her for balance as she returned his haughty glare with a wrinkled nose turned up in distaste. Her frame ducked as her wings parted, steadying herself for a quick take-off.

Maybe the doe saw your hideous face and fled from that instead.

“It’s not My fault you missed.” The woman clicked back at him.

Only a few powerful beats from her wing, and with a jump she was air-born and gained height from the rising thermals quickly. An outstretched foot clasped a large chunk of powdery snow, and as she drifted forwards she released it directly in front of the man. Amphesiin listened to a slur of curses to bring some sort of satisfaction. Another flap and she propelled upwards into the sky ascending at a slant, the colder air striking her face and flowing over her streamline wings. It wasn’t long before she was soaring above the tops of the massive pines. She effortlessly glided away from the ground with very few flaps from her engulfing wings, her small body made a large advantage on lift. Once everything below looked like little dots jumping around, she circled around and drifted.

THAT WAS A REAL, LIVE. HUMAN. OHMYHEAVENS. She thought with excitement. Mom made them out to be such pretty things but, was she drinking? Maybe they don’t all look like that guy. He was much taller than she said, almost like Dad,… and man was he grumpy. I wonder what jumped in his shirt this morning. Wonder if I’ll see him again. The thought made her skin crawl.

“You owe me a doe.” She said mockingly as the tips of her wings began to tilt, almost completing the circle.

… That means he saw me screw up. Crap.

“I’ll show you. You’ll be owing Me fresh food for the next week” She grumbled stubbornly.

Wrinkling her nose, the avian woman dipped her chin to her chest while she began to hover again, allowing the wind channels to flow around her and assist in her stilled moment. Having massive eyes really helped, especially when they were as sharp as a hawks or eagles vision. She could see the treeline they were at, made out the little pile of rocks she had plopped over, and began to follow the treeline into the woods.

Crap.

Of course they went into the woods. She lost them occasionally, but she saw them when they broke through the trees into an empty space before they disappear beneath the pines again. She needed to get closer. Bending her wings like a gannet, Amphesiina rocketted out of the height she achieved at 60 mph, her tail fanned out and her wing opened slightly as her dive turned into a sharp glide. The animals running through the trees were still a distance up ahead of her according to her delicate ears, she needed to continue to gain speed on them, this meant she needed to be continuously beating her wings in a high-speed chase. She’s done it before, but only in games and she had never ever EVER, caught anything from it. Let alone in a wooded area. Her eyes were almost watering, but ahead she caught the sound of animal hooves through her more silent beating wings. She saw flashes of tan hides, her nerves were on end and quickly filling with fear. Still maintaining her speed, she was now nearly above them through the mile she had cleared in the forest chase. The trees too thick to navigate through, any opening was going to be her only chance. A thundering heart pounding out of fear drowned out any other sound she had been focused on as she kept her eyes on the animal running in the rear, it had to be the wounded one.

There was a spot she zipped over, from where a tree had fallen against another and knocked just enough room empty…

Without second thoughts the woman folded her wings like a falcon and dropped into the tree-line like a bullet. As the ground rose up fiercely to meet her, the large tail behind her opened up and acted like a third wing, generating lift for her body to twist and angle between a couple of trees. The elk was a few strides ahead of her, and she was still rapidly dropped at a speed she wasn’t familiar with. Her body unfolded and her legs straightened in front of her with her talons outstretched. Almost clipping her right wing on a giant pine, she grabbed the animal by the back of the neck and its head. Her talons shocked into the skin and openings in the animal’s bones, both were sent tumbling in a flurry of white and upturned debris. Dirt flew as the tumbled head-first, nearly on top of her. Amphesiina screeched and shut her eyes tightly, trying to protected her face with her arms as she was sent onto her back. The fear only brought her talons to lock a death-grip and plunge deeper into the animal. They skid a few feet once they toppled over one another, both the elk and Amphesiina clacking into the tree. Her eyelids parted wide while she stared in shock, but only saw snow and dirt getting kicked and turned up in her face. The elk tried to get back to her feet a few times, lifting the woman right up off of the ground. It fell twice, the third time it didn’t try to get up. Something strong had struck the woman in the face while in the meantime, she felt warmth and saw traces of crimson go flying but couldn’t process why.

Perhaps the animal had died about fifteen minutes ago- she didn’t know. She still clung to it for dear life while the shock ebbed out of her. Her body was trembling fiercely when she finally did let go, each talon removing itself like it had frozen to the animal’s body. When the woman rolled over, she was sore but unharmed. Eagles could take on deer, so could she. But when she did stand, she saw where blood was flooding down her nose. She held her head out from her body, carefully not to drip it onto her clothing, and instead stuffed the joint of her wing against her nostril while she looked at the animal.

Did I… did I do that? Is it- dead? She poked it when a stick. I DID IT. OHMYHEAVENS DID ANYONE SEE THAT? MOTHER WOULD BE SOOO PROUD!!!! AH! She jumped in excitement, hopping on top of the elk and shaking her tail feathers with excitement.

Her wings spread open as her arms stretched upwards with a shout.

“HA!”

It was a different sound from all the screaming she did along with the animal bellowing just a moment ago. But now she stopped and began to look around- how far into the woods had they gone…? Her ears and wings drooped when she spun again.

I could always get back up and… look? Nah. Screw him. That jerk didn’t deserve it, anyways.

She grinned wickedly and hopped off of the still warm animal. She knelt besides it and--- and…?

.. WAIT. I can’t… how do I do this??? I don’t even have a knife? I can’t just- rip it’s skin off. Right?

The woman felt weird grabbing the elk’s flank. The thought of the process shook her with grossness; no. Nope. She couldn’t. She actually felt bad she had killed this poor thing. She felt bad for killing anything. Hence why she was a scrawny stick. Her eyes drifted over to the shoulder where it was muddied with crimson around a shaft barely noticeable through the skin. Amphesiina tried to grab it, but the squish it made also creeped her out. Hissing in frustration, she paced around it before plopping to sit on the flank. The human was last seen tracking the elk, he’d probably get here eventually. Maybe she could just steal what she needed from him after he… dressed, it? Right? Dressed sounds right.

Wait. Why do I need to STEAL from MY kill?!

The woman huffed, and folded her legs in a crisscross while she plopped her head into her hands, her ears perked for the sound of plodding feet.
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Daxon
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“I did not miss because of my marksmanship,” he growled between clenched teeth, his brow low in discontent.

The avian woman leapt into the air with a few beats of her wings. He was half tempted to release the coil of his whip, which was wrapped snuggly around his forearm, and snap it in her direction, bringing her to a slamming halt against the earth. But her mouth was enough to remind him that he preferred solitude of his own company, and he watched her gain height satisfied that she would no longer be a bother. His eyes nearly audibly rolled in his head as she predictably scooped up a clutch of snow and released it above where he stood. Typical adolescent folly, confidence from her height advantage. He stepped easily out of the way and the snow landed with a dull thud beside him, with him none worse the ware. He did not spare her another glance, although it would have only taken a second for him to draw his bow and loose an arrow through one of her more tender areas. Instead he settled the furs on his shoulders and made haste with his tracking, his heavy frame trotting quickly despite the deep snow.

After another hundred feet he paused, kneeling amidst the tracks to assess the sprinkling of crimson. The cow continued to bleed, the adrenaline that allowed her to stay with her herd was causing her to bleed out much more rapidly. He glanced ahead, his ears perked to the sound of crashing in the bush. The herd could be heard at a distance, they had yet to cease their flee. The thought of running in knee deep snow was aggravating. He muttered under his breath about bad parenting and loose children. He mumbled more about consequences for actions and then set off hurriedly again. His brisk jog coupled with breaking through drifts of snow led him to sweat faintly beneath his furs. It was another nuisance. Wet clothing meant cold skin. Cold skin meant poor sleep. He may have to hang his clothes by the fire and sleep naked in his furs tonight. And with the wind blowing in as it was, the thought was not an overly pleasant one.

Another few moments of running and a great white streak caught his eye. Looking up in time to see white wings fold and crash through the canopy of the forest, Daxon audibly growled. The brat from earlier would not cease to be a problem. There was a crashing sound and a great thud of something solid hitting the trunk of a wide tree. He hastened his gait.

When he drew upon the scene he could not help but freeze, pausing to take in the calamity before him.

The elk lay shattered on the forest floor at the end of a long plow mark through the snow. Two of its legs were obviously broken, and a stray rib ruptured its side and stood exposed through the flesh. It appeared to be dead, and sure enough the deranged bird-child was leaping atop it, exclaiming her victory, but he knew better than to assume its spirit had left it. The woman had moved to nudge various parts of the elk by the time he pushed past her to kneel at the animal’s head. In passing he gave her a horrendous shove, leaning a substantial amount of force behind the action, with the intention of toppling her to ground several feet away. He growled as he assessed the animal, running a hand along its throat a moment before drawing a dagger from his boot and sliding in swiftly across the cow’s crooked neck. There, only moments after the blood began to flow, did a shuddering gasp escape the creature, as it was embraced at last by the finality of death. As such, the creature’s heart stopped pumping, and the leaking blood grew sluggish and slow.

As he moved to step away from the elk he noted the broken shaft of his arrow in the animal’s shoulder. Crimson ran like paint down the creature’s fur and he sighed sadly. He did not enjoy the impact of an unclean kill. She stood back, finally drawing his gaze back to the spoiled child before him.

He swallowed every strong desire to lecture her. She celebrated while another creature suffered. She danced atop a shattered animal, flooded with panic and pain, begging for a release from its mortal life. She was more than a reckless idiot. He couldn’t tolerate it. The crimson explosion that seemed to splatter her face was no restitution for behavior. He drew up a stiff finger and pointed at her as though targeting a next victim. “You still owe me a cow.”

This meat would be inedible. The harsh sourness of fear had bled into all of the tissue. If one could manage to swallow the hideous flavor, they would have to pick around copious minute shards of bone, as the crippled beast’s frame lay in splinters on the forest floor. No, this was not an elk to consume. It should be burned in sacrifice and apology. It should be respected.

He thought about her method of hunting and the casualty that lay before him. “On second thought, don’t.” He turned away from her and adjusted her furs, his mind turning to ponder what he could track down and hunt instead. Maybe he would be eating goat after all…

He turned back to her and growled, his voice low and threatening. “Do the gods a favor and stop hunting all together. No bird nor beast deserves this kind of death, this disrespect. Get out of here.”

He moved to rummage through his furs to find a piece of flint, and held it in his hands as he began to seek dry timber. He drew a few loose branches from her fall around the elk’s corpse, the red from its sliced throat stark contrast to the fresh snow it leaked out upon.
Edited by Daxon, Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:43 pm.
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Amphesiina
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Amphesiina backed away from the elk she fell when the taller man reappeared with a heavier breath heaving out of his frame. She wiped her blood still drooling from her swollen nose on the back of her wing again and lightly bounced a small hop away from the animal with erect ears twitching with joy she could barely contain. Her wider eyes were waiting to see some sort of share in her excitement as she had pictured in her head when he moved forwards. It was her first big accomplishment for any type of hunt, fishing didn't count. Normally a moment that would be celebrated with her family, she would settle with that of a stranger. The thought of a full stomach caused trembling in her tail feathers; elk was delicious and since she left

All of her happy little ideas were shot done when the gruffer man threw a hard shove into her chest. Her light body was easily tossed, and with the collision on the more solid torn up ground she grunted as the wind knocked out of her. The lighter woman blinked a few times and groaned as she sat back up in complete bewilderment. Her hand rubbed the side of her sore skull while she pieced her mind back together.

What the hell?

When the avian figure finally rose back to her feet, still trying to figure out why she had just been thrown, her eyes simply blinked when he turned and jabbed a finger at her. He firmly stated a sentence similar to one that had sent her to tackle the beast in the first place. Her lips only parted when she moved to retaliate, the words stopped in her mouth when his angered tone sent her into even more confusion. The large sharply pointed ears slowly turned back, and pinned against her skull. The wider wings drooped when he carried on.

Wait- what's going on…? So first he tells me that I owed him the animal I was hunting in the first place… and now I get it… it's not good enough for him? And he shoves me? What kind of greedy beasts are men? Well… he said nevermind. So- maybe it's okay then? Why is he so angry? I could've died hitting a tree getting this thing…

Her head tilted with curiosity while she watched the hunched figure stare at the animal as if he was expecting it to jump onto its feet and run off again. Eventually the dished ears turned forwards again as nothing was happening. Her voice began as she was about to ask why he hadn't moved to gut the animal yet.

“Wel-”

She perked when the human finally moved, but immediately shrank back when his powerful raging voice snarled at her with hate-filled eyes. Her ears pinned again, but her wings slightly shielded her while they drooped again. She blinked with wider emotionless eyes as his words crept into her mind. Now when she spoke her words sounded a bit nasally while her nose popped from the crusting blood.

“W-what?”

This was her first kill- she was super proud! And here he was telling her to never do it again? It was dead… so obviously she didn't think she screwed up that horribly.

But what does he mean about it being disrespected? It's an animal- can he speak to animals and it suddenly told him I hurt its feelings? Wait- does it have to do with How it died?? Why would I be doing the Gods a favor if I stopped hunting?

“What about the coyotes?”

She blinked as soon as the words left her mouth… those were supposed to of have stayed in her head. But now that they spoke, she swallowed and nervously continued.

“The… the coyotes kill things…”

Her heart fluttered so hard she could feel it in her throat as she spoke, but she was beginning to be able to put her words in a way that made sense.

“I mean- I watched a pack of them kill a deer? And they ate a bunch of the deer before it died, and then they howled together when they killed it? A-and the eagle throws the goats off of the mountain and then they eat it? S…”

Her wings shifted, she had no idea why she was so afraid of this human. Perhaps it reminded her of the hundred times she was lectured by the tribe. But by now her confidence was beginning to return, her ears lifted slightly and her wings; still they drooped amidst confusing things she couldn't wrap her mind around.

“So why is it bad that I killed the elk?”
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Daxon
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“Are you a coyote?” he growled, not pausing his gathering, his arms slowly filling with branches. “Or a wolf?” He dropped the firewood beside the cold corpse of the elk. “Are you an eagle? Does your thirty foot wingspan compare equally to its seven feet?”

He did not understand why he spoke at all. Her skull was thicker than the trunks of these aged trees. She was daft and selfish, ignorant and spoiled. He was speaking to a rock with wings, and nothing more. His thoughts turned to killing and eating her, but she resembled enough of his kind for it to feel like cannibalism. He wondered if the meat of her wings would taste differently. When his mouth watered he realized just how hungry he had become post-chase.

He stooped to rearrange the branches around the crippled corpse of the elk, then refocused on the flint that he carried in his hands. He knelt near a small pile of tinder that he had gathered and packed near the front legs of the animal. As he struck the stone his lips moved in a silent prayer. He thanked the goddess for her gifts, apologized for the ignorance of others, grieved for the unclean death of the animal, and asked for a blessing as he continued his hunt later in the day. After a third strike a heavy spark shot forth from the stone and landed on the dry, shredded tinder. With a few soft puffs of his breath the spark grew to ignite, and the remainder of the fire caught. He rose to his full height and towered over the burning corpse, drawing his dark eyes over to the bird-child that had remained unmoved. He silently wished she would lunge for him, fight him for the meat, try to put out the flame. He would have loved the excuse to wound her, a different lesson to teach.

He would see the ceremony through though, and moved to lean against a nearby tree, away from the one that the pair had collided into earlier. He pressed his shoulder against the trunk and crossed his boots at the ankle, returning his gaze back to the burning elk. His stomach burned with hunger, though his face no longer carried the scowl. With his features placid, his handsomeness was more apparent. He watched the flames lick up the hide of the animal and the smell of burning fur filled the air. The clouds of smoke building from the blaze were dark and heavy, pluming between the man and the bird-girl. He hoped she would turn to leave, dismiss him and wreck her havoc on another mountain top. He could not be sure how he would react if his next hunt was disturbed as this one had been. He reached up a hand and scratched at his beard idly, his emerald green eyes softened and watching in respect as the elk was consumed by spark and flame.
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Amphesiina
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The woman's face began to redden with anger the more this human spoke. She quickly became frustrated when she realized what he was doing to the kill she had made, all her work simply went up in flame. There Amphesiina stood; reddened with clenched fists. Her talons sank into the frozen tundra as she watched a flicker of flame consume the broken cadaver laying crippled in the snows. It blew up a pillar of flame and wafted a nose-wrinkling stench of burning hair into the air, leaving her giant yellow gaze to bore a hole through the middle of the man's skull. Teeth bared quickly through her tightly pulled rose lips, lifting at the corners of her silent snarl as she spoke to the taller figure leaning now against a dwarfing pine.

“I am an Avian. We share more in common with the beasts and wild things of this world than we do with Humans and your weird wasteful customs.”

She spat the word out like it was a curse, but a bit matter-of-factly. Still grumbling, the winged creature turned and unfastened a leather pack from her belt, quickly swinging it around to her front and propelled forwards with a light hop until she could feel the intense against her skin. There she plopped, cross-legged, and opened the pouch on the ground. The lighter whites of her body was lit orange by the crackling frames, finally her eyes tore off of the stupid man and grumpily sank to her stiff leather pack. Unstrapping the pouch, the avian woman tipped it upside down and spilled out the contents. A slightly squished half loaf of bread rolled out wrapped in a crimson cloth along with some small jars and a bone utensil. Amph grabbed two thicker sticks and laid them besides one another, cut a few slices of the bread and laid them on the sticks, then gently held the sticks and bread by the flames were they could warm.

After a minute she pulled the steaming slices back from the flame and placed them gently on top of the snow. Somehow the jars had been undamaged, so she popped one of them open and slathered the amber contents over them. The bone utensil was used to spread the honey. Her stomach growled with the smell of the bread. It certainly didn't beat meat that she had been craving, but morning-fresh bread was still better than nothing. As for the cloth that had the remaining fourth of a loaf, she removed it and put the loaf on her pack. The woman held it up to her drooling nose that had slowly began to stop flowing like the rivers. When she had cleaned up her swollen face quickly she began to simultaneously spread the melted honey across the breads. Her stomach growled at the moment she bit into the bread, a small beadlett of honey dripped down the side of her mouth that she quickly licked clean, then continued to consume her slice. The bread, though flavorful, was beginning to taste bland after practically living off of it the past week.

“really needed that elk…”

She grumbled beneath her breath.
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Daxon
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“I have met Avians,” he spoke in a low rumble in response to her spiteful retort, “they were proud, gracious, graceful hunters.” He slowly slid his eyes from the fire up her frame to rest upon the bloody mess at the center of her face. “Are you sure you are not adopted?” He chuckled gruffly and returned his eyes to the fire, which was consuming the corpse of the elk at a slow, steady pace. “Whoever taught you how to hunt should have their wings clipped.”

After a long pause he spoke again. “A human is just another beast,” he sighed, tucking a stray strand of hair back behind his ear. “I know many men who are more wild than the bear and mountain lion that live on this mountain.”

His mind wandered to his reckless emotional brother. Diocletian had gained a reputation for how fiercely he guarded his female companion, for being a brutal and ferocious warrior, with a blade consistently wet with the blood of those who opposed him. But Daxon only knew him as wild, impulsive, a beast in the skin of a man, ill-tempered and rash. That man held the heart of a bear within his chest. He smiled at the thought of him, hopeful that in the future their paths would cross again, and that when they did, he could wrestle him to the ground and make him eat dirt again. In truth, Daxon missed his brother, and had since the day he left them.

Daxon’s mouth watered as he glanced aside and caught sight of her honeyed bread. At the same time he could not help but laugh, his voice carrying across the open air. He shook his head looking at the soggy faced girl, munching on the baked wheat block. The Avian he had met were far more inclined to dine on meat. In fact, now that he thought upon it, it was the only thing he had seen them consume. He glanced back to the elk and began piecing together the reality of the recent past, clear of his self-focused lens. She’s likely starving. She has been left to fend for herself for whatever reason, and she isn’t having success. She needed to eat anything. She was desperate.

It wasn’t an excuse for taking down an animal the way she did. She should have gone for something smaller, easier. She should have plucked an unsuspecting goat, or even a farm animal. There was no excuse for the atrocity she had just committed upon the elk cow. He sighed. Deep in the cockles of his beating heart, he felt a twinge of empathy for her, gods be damned. He growled again, this time at himself, he wanted a vacation away from people, now he was CHOOSING to get involved.

“Just how hungry are you,” he asked, looking at his boots. There was a new softness to his voice but he dare not share its match upon his face. He shuffled a bit of snow around with his boot. If she wasn’t a massive cheeky brat, he would find himself helping them both find a meal. He didn’t need a full elk to himself anyhow.
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Amphesiina
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Amphesiina choked when he mentioned how awful she was at hunting, but when she thought about something snarky to fling back at him- well, he was right. Her parents were fishers, and bakers… There was really no room for hunting in their schedule. Her ears flopped back with this realization and she continued to munch quietly away at the loaf while the gruff figure spoke.

Man? Being like a beast? Heh.

A loud eruption of laughter caught her off guard, her ears flying erect and pinning as she tried to grasp what he was laughing about. She realized it must of have been at her. Immediately she looked down, lifted her arms and looked at her outfit- nothing a mess there… A flicker of her tongue caught a bead of honey- but as she was trying to figure out her cause of amusement, like a flip being switched she was the opposite of interested in the bread she held. Her mouthful slid down her throat like cement and made her nose wrinkled as she forced it down. Apparently the past weeks have been filled with too much bread. A hand flew up and covered her mouth as she gagged- then her eyes tightly clenched shut while she swallowed again. The sustenance was necessary, she’d force it if she had to.

However, she quietly replaced the bread to the sticks and pushed them away. Her arms folded and she rocked silently, closer to the fire for the time being until her nausea went away. The depth of the man’s voice dragged her out of her thoughts. The flicker of an ear brought her back to conversation. The sound of scuffling feet dragged her larger rounded eyes away from the flames and to the man leaning against the tree. The thought of the elk slowly turned her nausea around; she wanted it again. But wanted to retch at the same time.

“I can live off of bread and fish.” Her reply was simple as her eyes found the flames again. “My child cannot. We’re starving.”

Her wings were resting easily upon the snows, opened to welcome the heat that the elk corpse gave off. It was relaxing- and certainly the biggest fire she had attended since she was out here. Even the sizes of her own fires had been meager and just enough to cook what was needed. The lull of the heat made her sleepy and completely relaxed, the opposite of what she had just been acting like a handful of minutes ago.
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Daxon
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“Gods all be damned to the abyss,” he growled, rubbing the back of his neck. If he was on the fence about assisting the bird-girl before, she had just secured his aid for at least the evening. No matter the annoyance, no decent man left a pregnant woman in the wilds of the mountain, alone and without food.

He shuffled more snow with the toe of his boot before drawing himself from the trunk of the tree and brushing off the bark that had pulled off with him. He stood across the fire from her, she was only a child. He thought on his sister, her long pale hair fluttering in the summer breeze, smelling of wildflowers and honey. He would have murdered every man in the vicinity if Elenna bore a child at this young an age. He let out a slow sigh and adjusted the furs of his cloak. “What game do you prefer? I have seen more than just elk here, if you would prefer goat or pheasant?”

It wouldn’t take him long to procure a meal for the night, but then a shelter of some kind would need to be arranged. He glanced back over at her and sighed. “What are you doing, crashing through ancient pines while with child?”

He was all about female empowerment. He had met many female warriors on his travels, and didn’t once doubt their abilities. He was not one to demand a women put her feet up while pregnant, or stay indoors hidden, but the rate at which she collided with the tree earlier was enough to miscarry any child, human, avian, or otherwise. Maybe she was trying to. Who knows. It wasn’t his concern ultimately, giving her a night or two of food and shelter held more of his interest.

He stepped away from her, going through his gear once more to insure he had everything he needed in order to track and bag a swift kill before nightfall. He had only lost the one arrow, its broken shaft now surrounded by fire. Once happy with his armaments he turned back to her, scratching at his beard. He did not want, nor required, her company. In fact, having her join him would only increase the difficulty of the hunt. Alone he was predictable.

“Stay here, I’ll come back with food.”
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X'yros
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The femme figure narrowed her eyelids in response to the man's sudden outrage, tucking her wings around her softly in front of the fires. Had he not noticed this entire time? Granted... even at 8 months it was a struggle to tell. She was barely anymore than a little bump, her species can't afford large watermelon-sized guts and still be able to fly around as easily. Instead Amphesina shifted to a squat and simple watched the human with tired fascination. She had expended as much energy as she could of have afforded for the day and simply blinked at the taller grumpier figure.

"My tribe kicked me out." She straightened a bit and threw her arms up while mocking the tribe elders. "Go forth into the wilderness and bear a chief for the people! A great leader is born through the hardest of trials!" She leaned forwards and brought her hands together and clenched her fists, quickly releasing them amplify the expression. "Then- Poof- Here I am."

She grabbed a handful of the black-tipped hair that had fallen around her shoulders while she spoke and tossed it back. Thinking of his question. A mammoth crossed her mind. Oh- all the meat on that thing- she could totally eat a mammoth at this point.

"Deer? I could- settle for that... I think I was overshooting with elk- but it was easier to catch. Deer are smaller- just, faster and I can never snag them out in the open. My wings don't gain enough speed for the deer and antelope. I can't tell you how many times I hit the ground..."

She shuddered at the thought of trying to hunt one of those stubborn animals. A few times she had thought of ambushing them at night, but she never had the energy for it. She tried every opportunity she had, which meant she was usually spending the rest of the day fishing in the cold river.

The longer ears perked as he began to shift through his belongings and quietly nagged up her interest. His rudeness seemed to be adverted- for now at least. She popped up to her feet in a light hop, the tiredness swept from her rounded eyes. He was either doing one of two things- going off to hunt, OR, leaving her there. The massive splayed feet slapped against the snow as she awkwardly walked forwards, lifting her wings to accomplish the feat. She was about to ask where he was going when he answered the question that popped into her mind. The lightness from her features faded as she was commanded to sitting still.... right. She looked a bit dissappointed and drooped her ears with a sigh.

"Oh- okay."

Her enormous wings opened a bit, even now despite standing completely stilled on the ground, their size caught a lift. Her taloned feets twisted her back to the fire, and an effortless hop that covered the distance back to the burning carcass brought her back to where she was once sitting. She settled back down by the fire, collapsing onto her bottom and forcing her tail to stick out and fan in the snows behind her. The sleep engulfed her as quickly as the warmth of the flame, her bright-eyed and energetic youthful appearance was simply zapped and replaced with a groggy and barely awake life-less stare. Not wanting to admit it, but her body was sore. Her face still hurt quite a bit too. Standing hurt, sitting hurt- laying down probably hurt. Ohwell. As she sat she drummed her stomach lightly with her fingers and began to nod off- only stopping herself from time to time to keep from falling directly into the fire.
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Daxon
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She offered an explanation to her situation, which only led him to make himself look more busy, shuffling through his belongings. He didn’t care. He did not want to form some kind of bond with the girl. She was brash and immature, spiteful and caustic. He had no intention of seeing her on past the night hours, and would leave her with a pile of meat in the morning before he disappeared to reclaim his solitude. “I don’t care,” he grumbled, resettling the furs of his cloak.

Perhaps if her tribe wanted a decent chieftain, they should have focused more on survival and discipline. The spoiled nature of the avian was distasteful and he had not met an independent member of the race that would have stood for a member of their own being of that age and so useless. His upper lip pulled back, and with child, no less. She must have come from a weak tribe. Or perhaps she hit her head too hard in the collision and now she struggled to piece together who she was or why she was here. Either way, he would do what was honorable, feed and shelter her, and then let her go on with her great mission. JHardest of trials, he mused in his head, and this is what you’re sent to survive? Life? It was nonsense.

She started speaking again and he turned toward her, shooting her a look, “look, I don’t care. I don’t need to know the how’s, the why’s. I asked you a question that required a one, maybe two word answer. I am not interested in your chatter.” He rubbed his forehead. For a moment, he wished he was a worse man. He rather walk away and leave her here to endure the outcome of whatever foolish trial her draft tribe had set out for her. But he was not that man, and he would procure her a deer and spend the night insuring her safety.

He turned on his heel and set off into the wood, stepping away from the burning corpse. He paused, calling back over his shoulder. “I’ll be back with a deer.”

***

In truth it did not take long. The herds of grazers were plentiful in the ranges unoccupied by man. It was a harsh environment, not many travelled here, it allowed populations to flourish. He caught a set of tracks after ten minutes of light jogging, his blade tapping against his thigh with each step. He had crouched behind a fallen tree to spot a small herd of deer bedding down for the night. Several were already tucked into the snow, legs collapsed beneath them. Standing guard was a particularly sizable buck, this rack branching into a series of dulled prongs. He would drop them soon, shedding them to grow a new pair. Or he would have.

Daxon loosed his arrow and the shafted lodged in the creature’s chest with a solid thud. It toppled to the snow, the arrow striking cleanly through the animal’s heart. The rest of the herd shot to their feet, scrambling to clear themselves of the threat. He could hear them through the brush line, twigs snapping in their wake. He approached the buck and whispered a thanks to him for providing his meat and scooped it up in his broad arms, hiking it so its weight was spread between his two shoulders.

He walked slowly back to the low burning fire and the bird-girl that carried with her a potentially damaged young. He broke into the light of the fire and tossed the deer to the ground, ignoring the sleeping figure that had curled up nearly. He set to work wrapping rope around the heels of the deer and swinging it over a thick pine branch near the makeshift camp. Hoisting it up, he secured the deer in a hanging position, its impressive antlers scraping at the snow. He set to work with a dagger, carving up the creature in several different ways in order to purge the blood and remove inedibles. If she was truly hungry, she would not be able to be claimed by sleep for long. He opted not to wake her and took to the task of carving up the creature.
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