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Hunter... Hunted...

 
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 12:35 pm    Post subject: Hunter... Hunted... Reply with quote

Date: 12/3/2003 10:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: BIkPanther


He headed out from RhyDin, following Boar Creek Northward, bounding along in full feline form. He would be able to travel faster on four legs, and it was easier to ground-track this way. He needed to find some venison tonigt, he had never failed to fill and order and he wasn't about to start now.

The last few night had been rather un-productive, but not for lack of trying. He'd gone out four straight mornings and a couple of evenings now, but each time the results were the same. There was no game to be found, not deer, not rabbit, nothing. What he did find was people. A lot more than were ever, or should ever, be found that deep in the wood, and as of yet he had been unable to find out why.

They weren't hiding, they made too much noise for that. They weren't hunting... beside the noise most of them carried only swords or other such weapons. He couldn't tell if they were looking for something, or maybe guarding something...? Even after watching them for a short while, for the most part they just seemed to wander about, sometimes staying in the same area for brief periods. It was an easy task to stay out of their way while observing. But he had learned nothing.

So tonight he decided to venture a bit deeper, and further to the North than the previous few days. The four strong legs carried him at a steady clip for nearly a half-hour before he found what he was looking for. An obvious crossing of the stream with a myriad of scents, many still rather strong. Maybe he could find some of the deer that used this watering hole before dark.

There was the slightest of breezes working it's way between the trees. There was a while before dusk yet, but the waning light seemed to cast an amber glow over everything. Following a set of the freshest looking tracks and the scent they left behind he moved through the trees into the thickening brush, ears alert for the slightest sounds. Ah.. there... about a 100 yards deeper in... a buck.. feeding on the tender leaves of a small group of saplings. But it was downwind of where he was approaching from. The buck would smell him before he could get with-in 50 yards, he would have to try and circle around it.

Each step of his paws was carefully placed as he reversed his approach, His movements were quick and confident even as he kept his gaze towards the location of the buck, checking it's location at every opportunity. He had been able to get most of the way around and was angling in again, moving against the breeze. Using trees and brush for cover he stalked ever closer, having to adjust each time the buck moved to another sapling to feed so as to come up directly behind it. He was close now... so close the scent was nearly intoxicating. His claws extended by instinct, a bit closer and he would be able to strike... just a little more. And then the buck turned, ready to move to the next sapling, a turn that put the feline right in the bucks field of vision.

The ears spun about, the tail went up, and the buck was off... about a half-step after the feline. He knew as soon as the buck turned he would be spotted so he sprung, closing the remaining distance between them by nearly a third in the first leap. He had run down a deer before, but not sure if any had been the size of this one. The pounding of his paws as they hit the ground was a stark contrast to the light bounding of the deer as they wove in and out of the trees. His movement was almost pure instinct as he worked at matching the leaps of the running buck, and he was closing the distance, but not quickly enough.

And then it hit him...or rather he hit them, almost. The buck made a quick leap to the right, then over a patch of brush. Just as he was about to follow he saw them, men. Three, maybe four, weapons at the ready. They must have heard them running in their direction. There were shouts as the buck seemed to jump right through the middle of their group, and he was following right behind.  There was a sharp twang and a whistle just in front of him as he landed. He tried to twist and turn as he bound away but there was another twang followed by an impact that nearly spun him about in mid-air. Pain jolted through his left-fore leg as he land, but he ignored it and just kept leaping, bounding through the brush.

The buck was forgotten, the men were forgotten, as pure animal instinct kicked in and kept him moving. It felt like hours, but was only mere minutes before he finally stopped. The rush of adrenaline was fading fast and the pain was kicking in full bore. He stopped long enough to survey his surroundings, looking, listening, smelling for any sign of pursuit. There was none.

Turning his head to the left he could see it, a stout wooden bolt protruding from his side, just behind his left fore-leg. It was close enough he could bite down on it if he wished, but there was no way to pull it tou from this angle. He couldn't shift forms... no telling how much more damage would be done as his body changed. He would need help... but the closest help was back in RhyDin. It would take awhile to get back, while four legs may be better than two, two were better than three, and there was no way he was going to be able to walk on that left leg. With a snarl mixed of pain and frustration, he turned and started limping his way in the direction that would take him back to the creek.


(more can be found at http://panther.upmykilt.net)
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