Stories & Legends
It was just a game, played among the hunters that were yet to tread upon the silent paths. The plan was simple-track the sastriyas to their grazing ground, seek out the one with the white horns and kill it. The hunters were paired up and sent out at intervals, with the weakest starting first so they had more time to catch up. Lena was naturally among the first pairs not because she was slow or unskilled. It was just simply because she was an unchanged. It was rare for a Mairon to be unchanged but it happened every now and then and there was very little Lena could do about it.
“C’mon you lazy girl!” Llriya cried as she ran up the slope.
Kicking and sputtering sand, Lena narrowed her eyes as she looked at Llriya. “Don’t wait up for me, I’ll be at the top before you could catch your breath!”
“Ha! I would like to see you do that!” Llriya shouted as she sped up again and disappeared just beyond the ridge.
Lena gritted her teeth and cursed as she sprang forward to try and catch her friend. What she would give just to catch up with Llriya. Life had been tough living and growing up in the silent woods. But without the change, it was almost impossible to survive, let alone be a hunter. Just as she crossed the ridge, Lena stopped and sniffed the air.
“Llriya?” whispered Lena as she crouched down to scan her surroundings. “Are you there?”
With just an axe in her hand, Lena slowly crept up to the edge of the clearing and waited. Llriya liked to play games with her when they were younger. There was one time Lena had almost died of fright when Llriya suddenly jumped out at her from seemingly nowhere. Afterwards, Lena had learned that Llriya was practising her changed ability to blend into the shadows and attack from it.
Then out of the corner of her eye, Lena spotted something lying down at the peripheral of the clearing. She sniffed again, that same olive scent she had come across earlier. What was it? The form on the ground looked like Llriya but Lena could not be sure. Before she could make another move, another shape-one bristling with spikes and fangs- strode out of the bushes to stop just inches away from the immobile form on the ground.
Lena did not have to sniff to know she was looking at a raptar! A smaller cousin of the Yasala, it was fast, deadly and utterly fearless. Under normal circumstances, one does not stand and fight a raptar. Even with a pack of hunters, they would be hard pressed to bait and kill one. If Lena was alone, she would have turned and run back to the tribe. Now, with her friend in mortal danger, it was up to her to get her friend out.
Without support or anyone near enough to help, Lena made the only choice she could make and stepped out into the clearing.
"Jálaht Parniss Ge'rakk!" cried Lena in the ancient tongue as the Raptar turned to face her. Gripping her axe tight, Lena said a final prayer to the High one before charging straight at the Rapt...
“Wha…what happened” llriya said as she opened her eyes and winched at the pain in her side. Lena was breathing hard and covered in blood-most of it not belonging to her. Her knees trembled and shook and she finally gave up and sat down on the floor hard.
“I.. I don’t know” Lena stammered as she tried to make sense of just what happened. “One moment I was running at the raptar, the next…” Lena had wanted to say that she had heard a voice, and time had come to a standstill. She also wanted to say that that voice spoke to her and told her strange things. Told her to let go and let her true self take over. She wanted to tell her friend that the whole world went white and she just could not remember what happened next. Lena had wanted to tell her friend but no words came out. The only sound both hunters could hear was the slowly sizzling blood running down the raptar’s back.