The Only Law is Survival

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The Only Law is Survival

Post  Zoketi on Fri Feb 26, 2016 6:06 pm



At first, you had two choices. Kill the beast, or die by its claws. There was simply nothing else to do. If you were lucky you could fell it, but often times that was not the case. Danger danced on every corner. But no one thought of anything else.

Not til the tamers.




Now, two children hold not only a gift but a bounty on their heads.
When you befriend the beast, you make an enemy of your own.

The law remains the same: survive or die.

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  Zoketi on Fri Feb 26, 2016 7:20 pm

Loud, obnoxious voices broke the peaceful morning silence. For once, though, it wasn't Sapata making the racket. It was too quiet to be her, pah. But it was quite irritating, and as she rolled over on the fur blanket she slapped her hands up to her ears. She groaned, squinting open ruddy eyes and staring through the half-light of the pelt that barred the entrance of the cave. It must be past sunrise now, she ought to rise before her mother caught her sleeping in. As she slowly sat up, rubbing eyes and tousling her disaster of hair, the yelling outside continued. "Piss," Sapata grunted. She wasn't supposed to say words like that, but Mother wasn't here. She scratched at her scabbed knees and then stood, snatching up her spear, which was hardly more than two feet in length but was perfect size for the ten-year-old girl. She stalked towards the entrance and peeked outside, squinting at the light and baring her teeth in a scowl.

The camp was lively, warriors passing by carrying fresh-caught deer or tools, women preparing carcasses or watching children. Not far off was the source of the shouting voices - Sapata's own younger siblings. A grunt, and she had burst outside and made a beeline for them, stomping bare feet on the dusty ground. "Hey, you dung-beetles!" She growled, tucking her spear in the sling on her back and crossing her arms at the twins. "Mouths shut!" Both turned towards her, voices trailing off. Meek expressions adorned their matching faces. Etu held a small twisted grass figure, and Sapata assumed they'd been fighting over that toy. They said nothing, but simply stared at her. She sniffed. "Elu, go ask Ooljee to make you a doll. Oh, and," She lowered her voice to a whisper, expression softening. "I know you've been stealing sinew strings from Anakausen's tent. They make great ties for the hideout, don't they?" She grinned at their expressions. "I'm so proud. Now, go make trouble!" She straightened and lifted a hand to shield her eyes as she watched sister and brother scamper off.

Turning, she kicked at the dust as she strode off. The entrance to camp beckoned, as did the woods beyond, so she knew exactly where she was spending her day.

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  WalkingWithBarefeet on Fri Feb 26, 2016 7:34 pm

Howi woke in the early morning, just before the sun could peek through the overhang of dry grasses that was the door to her family's summer hut. Her tribe, the Kebaran, had moved from their winter caves and rock-shelters near lowland lakes towards the highlands that they called their home in the warmer months. The days of sweltering heat had mostly passed, and now it was a more bearable, sweet summer breeze that wafted through her people's settlement. Though the Kebaran were a highly nomadic people, Howi always felt at home wherever they roamed. The very land of Oros was her home, and as long as she could feel the earth beneath her toes, or see the winds blowing the flora that flourished amongst all of the sentient life, she would always believe that she belonged.

Howi liked waking up early, even earlier than Mother, because that meant she could get a head start on her chores and maybe have more time to play out in the wilderness during the late afternoon before her evening duties. Sometimes, she played with the other kids, or romped with her brother Kono, but she enjoyed wandering through the outlying lands even more. She took Kono with her oftentimes, because he always seemed to understand when Howi wanted to be quiet and just exist with the world around them, or help her scout some beasts. Not for hunting, usually, but just out of curiosity. He was older, and since he was male he got to do such things more often, so admittedly he was better than her at that too. He taught her, though, and whenever they actually interacted with the creatures they watched, Howi always seemed to be a bit better at calming the beasts and returning unscathed than if Kono led the charge. Sometimes, she even walked away from encounters with the wild life of their homeland feeling like she had almost made a friend, a companion. But as often as not she never saw the same animal again. It was fine with her. Howi liked her life, almost everything about it, and although she was always okay with change, she felt like maybe it would be alright if everything could stay like this forever.

It wouldn't.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The young Kebaran girl grabbed her cloth garment, holding it against her side, the cloth smooth against her bare skin and she crept around the sleeping forms of her mother and father. Foregoing her leather-and-wood sandals, Howi brushed aside the grasses that hung at the door and quietly stepped outside, careful not to wake her family. There weren't many people up yet. Howi liked how quiet everything was this early. She made her way to the washing area, splashing some water on her face, then began scrubbing the accumulated dust and dirt from her legs, arms, and back. Once she was finished, Howi pulled on her light cloth dress, tightening the braided cloth rope around her neck so the dress hung off her shoulders the way she liked it. It made the garment feel more freeing, and she breathed in as a light breeze that had picked up sailed across the hill where the encampment was, twirling and twisting and grabbing at her clothing, sending shivers down her spine as the wind dried the water droplets that still clung to her skin.

She stretched her limbs, and with a determined huff, set off to complete her morning chores, beginning with hoisting water buckets down to the river to collect it's clean, running water. After that, she would brush out her family's tent, help her mother clean their clothing and tools if it was needed, and maybe help gather, wash, and prepare food. All of this had to be done while watching the younger children, and obeying the older ones, and keeping out of trouble and not picking fights and not running off and not daydreaming and--well, pretty much everything. But Howi really wanted to finish early today, in hopes that she and Kono could spend some time walking through the fields and forests nearby, talking. Maybe she could even catch a rabbit or something for food. She'd been working on her hunting skills, and she thought she was definitely improving, so of course she had to show Kono so he could tell her if she did well. A smile on her full lips at the thought, the young girl stopped by her family tent quickly to grab her spear, tying it around her with its braided chord and started down the river to begin her morning duties.

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  Zoketi on Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:26 pm

Chores didn't exactly fit within Sapata's schedule - the one she made for herself, that is. Who wanted to do that stuff? Cleaning the tents and caves, fetching water, mending broken tools and such. Gag. Nuh. She avoided them whenever she could, which tended to be often. She was usually punished, yes, but apparently hadn't learned her lesson even at the age of ten. Her mother would send her to Switch Woman - at least, that's what all the children called her. Sapata forgot her real name. She was the one who usually gave out switches to all the youth of the tribe. They hurt, but Sapata was tough! She had plenty of scrapes and bruises and scars already; switches on her legs weren't the worst. Of course, she was also often sent to do extra chores, too. She used to throw tantrums, but that was too childish now. At least today she wasn't missing much - a good season brought less work.

The girl pushed past thick brambles now, weaving deeper into the forest. Despite the fact that she got on well with the tribe, she often found she preferred stalking through the woods on her own. Not completely on her own, though. She'd find the animals. Sometimes they watched her, and she watched them. She'd never been attacked, not ever. Not even when she'd been discovered by a saber while playing with her cubs. Often she felt she fit in far better with the beasts than she did her kin and tribe. It was weird but she liked it. She knew the forest well now, from years of trekking through its confines summer after summer. She knew the upper forests too, of course. Perhaps not as well as the warriors did, but well for her age.

Sapata paused at crunching noises and the faintest whine, and instantly pressed against a tree. Teeth bared, she squinted through the woods for a moment, before turning and hoisting herself up the trunk. It hurt her fingers but she was able to reach a low, wide branch. Now given a better view, she was able to glimpse what had made the noises. A dire wolf cub. It was so thin! She peered around. Where was the mother? The littermates? Had this pup gotten lost? All other plans forgotten, the girl climbed down the tree and made her way quietly through the undergrowth. Pulling a stalk of ferns aside, she stepped out before the cub, who immediately froze and yipped. Sapata stared. It was dark brown, nearly black, with wide ears and a huge nose. Its eyes were sunken and its ribs were visible even through the fur. She made a distressed mewling noise, and stepped closer.

The pup cowered, yet didn't try to flee. It made another whimpering noise, and Sapata sunk to her hands and knees, crawling towards it. She had done this many times before, but usually the animal wasn't so weak like this. She carefully pulled out her spear and threw it away into the brush. The pup had tensed, but as the weapon disappeared it relaxed again, blinking wide eyes at her. She inched closer and reached out a hand. The pup sniffed it, then licked her fingers. Leaning back, Sapata sat and crossed her legs. She patted them, and the pup wobbled towards her. Gently she lifted it up and sat it on her lap, where she began to stroke its dark fur. Next order of business - find the mother. If she couldn't, then she'd catch it some food. She just hoped the hunters would venture this way today. Crooning, she continued to comfort the cub.

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  WalkingWithBarefeet on Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:45 am

Howi peeled back the skin of the fruit she was holding, its ripe juices making her hands slick and sticky. She tossed the skins aside, washing the flesh of the fruit, and put it in a basket for the next person to continue the job. She reached over for the next piece, but her gooey fingers just brushed the rough weave of an empty basket. She had finished. Rising to her feet and dusting the lap of her dress off, Howi looked across the work table for her mother. The girl ran to her when she saw her, pausing for a few seconds to swish her hands in the rinsing water, ridding them of the fruit juices she hadn't managed to lick off her fingers. "Mother! Mother, I've finished. I can go now, right?" the child asked, her impatience and excitement shining in dazzling hazel-brown eyes that seemed alight in the afternoon summer sun. Eyota raised an eyebrow, watching her daughter out of the corners of her large brown eyes, the hint of a smile on the edges of her full lips. "Yes, alright child. Go misbehave, if you must. Just be careful," the woman said, shaking her head but smiling still. Howi turned on her heel, dashing away. "I will!

She found Kono near a few other boys his age. Some broke into a wrestle match just as Howi neared. As they tumbled away, a few of the other boys running after them yelling encouragements, Howi sneaked up on her brother, who had his back turned. With a growl, she lept at him, her feet landing on his hipbones and her arms clasping around his neck. She scrambled up his shoulders, flipping her thin legs over them so her feet drummed against his lower abdomen, her stomach against the back of his head as she covered his eyes with her hands. He laughed, the sound making Howi smile even more, and raised his own larger hands to hers that still covered his face. ("Tiny hands, my only weakness," he murmured fondly) He carefully pried her hands off, taking them in his own and resting them on her knees atop his shoulders. "What do you want, monkey?" he asked her, raising his head in attempts to look at her, his forehead wrinkling a bit as his dark irises slid towards her. "I'm done. Wanna come exploring with me?" she asked, smiling at him. Kono reached up, firmly but gently grasped her around the ribs, and lifted her up and over his head, setting her down in front of him. "I can't," he said as he picked her up, "Father says I have a lot of training to do today. We're learning to transition between long-range and short-range," Howi turned and looked up at him as her feet touched the ground. "Why?" Kono gestured, pretending to fight an invisible enemy, "Just in case something that was far away comes close too quickly, or if your weapon gets knocked away," he explained, going through the motions as he said them. Howi watched him, her small eyebrows knitted, and she tsked, "That's kinda dumb. Why would I let my weapon go?" Kono chuckled, kneeling down. Although they weren't too awfully far apart in age, he had always been a bit taller than her. He, like her, was tall for his age. "Sometimes you can't help it, dung-brain," he poked her on the nose. She stuck out her tongue at him. She was displeased he couldn't come with her, but she liked going on her own too. They quipped for a bit more, before Kono was called away and Howi decided to hurry to the forest before she lost her afternoon. Waving goodbye as she trotted out of camp, Howi did not slow until she couldn't see the tents anymore, and was only surrounded by vegetation and life.

The child wandered for a time, holding her spear in one hand idly. She examined ferns, and found many kinds of birds and small mammals. They watched her, and she would watch them, and sometimes she would offer a nut or berry that she had been picking on her walk, and they would take it happily, chirrup at her, and scamper away. Howi liked being out here. She almost felt like her mind drifted away, but at the same time she felt free to think however she wanted and as loud as she wanted. After she had been walking for a good while, when the sun had almost reached it's height in the sky, Howi came to an open field. It was large, with tall grasses swaying in the breeze, like an ocean that rustled and whistled as it moved. She walked along the edge of the field, sometimes in the long grasses and sometimes by the trees, admiring how the sun seemed to have tanned the long stalks. Then, she saw a patch of grass move, that wasn't with the wind. It rustled far too quickly, too sporadically. The girl froze, squinting, trying to see. The grasses were just too tall. It rustled again, and Howi clutched her spear tighter, walking forward. She wasn't really afraid, in fact she was excited. But she was also wary. She wouldn't be stupid--she knew the beasts of Oros could be dangerous, not matter how big they were. There were a few kids she'd heard of, in her tribe and others, that had died from spider bites or snake venom when they were even younger than her. And this creature could be big or small with as tall as the grasses were. They reached past Howi's waist as she waded through them, matching her pace with the wind, brushing the grasses in time with the breeze. Luckily, that breeze was not blowing her scent to whatever awaited her in the grasses ahead. Naturally, the girl lowered into a crouch the closer she got, the stalks raising to her shoulders, tickling her nose and itching her skin. She ignored it, and just paid attention to each indignant movement ahead of her. She was one step away. With bated breath, Howi lifted her weapon, reaching slowly towards the grasses, slipping her fingers between the long blades. She waited a beat, then another, before whisking the grasses apart with a flash of her wrist, eyes afire and spear-point at the ready.

When she saw the beast before her, she let out her breath, and gently put her weapon back onto it's chord, slinging it against her back. Her eyes dimmed, softened, her body relaxing immediately to offer kindness to the creature before her. The juvenile cheetah croaked warily at her, it's mewl raspy from lack of water and nutrition. It was deathly thin, ribs poking out of it's dull, mottled pelt so much that it looked like they would burst right through with every move it made. "Shh, shh..." she cooed, lowering herself to be at the wild cat's level. It was afraid. She presumed it's mother had died, or gotten separated from it, and the cub had probably only just started to learn to catch it's own prey, if it even had started to learn to hunt. Howi stayed where she was, keeping her eyes soft, blinking slowly. The cat watched her. Howi lowered her head ever so slightly, and looked right at the beast. She blinked her eyes again, a warm, inviting fire going out, coming back. Then the cat's brown-hazel eyes blinked back at her. Howi smiled slightly, and carefully, slowly, reached a hand forward. The cheetah seemed wary, but with another look at Howi's face, it gingerly accepted the human's touch.

Howi's vision blasted white, and when the blur subsided, she was looking up. There was a gentle weight on her head, a dark-skinned arm reaching towards her. She saw with more clarity than she ever had before. She saw...herself.

Then her vision flashed again, and Howi was back in her own body, stumbling over herself to land on her rump with a small thud. She blinked, eyes wide, at the cheetah before her. The cat seemed to mimic Howi's reaction, before mewling once again in it's raspy voice, raising it's spotted tail, and stepping towards her with wavering paws. Howi sat up straighter, and the cat stepped into her lap, settling quickly, obviously exhausted. Howi wondrously rested her hand on the cheetah's flank, the other wrapping along her back and rump to support her, the spotted tail flicking once, twice, before wrapping close. She had had interactions with animals before, yes, but nothing, nothing like...this.


Last edited by WalkingWithBarefeet on Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  Zoketi on Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:58 am

She sat for a time, simply petting the cub. It was strange - rarely ever did she stay in one place like this for more than a minute. She didn't understand why this time was different. Maybe the pup was a spirit of calmness. Was that a real thing? Was there such a spirit. She stared down at the dark, skinny pup. She couldn't imagine why a spirit would take the form of such a weak, pitiful animal. Sapata frowned thoughtfully, then placed both hands around the pup's abdomen and lifted it up, holding it inches from her own face. It blinked huge eyes at her. They were greenish-yellow, very bright. The pup's nose twitched as it strained to sniff her face, but she didn't let it touch her yet. After a moment, though, she brought it closer, and felt its cold nose press gently against her own broad one.

It was instant and almost painful. She was blind for a second, and then she was looking into her own face, like it was a reflection from the river. She screamed - but it came out as a squeaky howling whine instead. Their were hands on her waist and she was floating - no, being held by ... by herself? She pawed the air, then lost her senses again. Hardly a moment later she opened her eyes to see the dire wolf's face in front of her. Relief and confusion washed over her as she shakily lowered the pup down to the ground in front of her.

Maybe she hadn't been wrong about the spirit idea. With a huff, Sapata got to her feet. The movement drew a whimper from the cub, and she held out a hand, making cooing noises. Beckoning with fingers, she urged it to follow her as she turned to collect her spear. The pup quailed as she grabbed it, but eyed her cautiously as she tucked it back in the sling hold. She made a queer barking noise and toddled forwards. The cub followed on unsteady legs. Okay, time to hunt! On the way she'd look for signs of a den or siblings. Maybe the mother wolf would find them too. Sapata had a bad feeling in the back of her mind that the mother wasn't alive, but she wasn't giving up hope yet. Shoving aside bracken, she began to wander along a leafy trail, eyes peeled.

She'd found a number of signs that pointed to a nearby dire wolf den. Having been taught a bit of tracking by a family friend as well as learn on her own, she was pretty good at it. It wasn't too long before she caught the smell of something. Something horrid. It was the same as the scent of elk carcasses that had been left in the sun too long and had festered and rotted. She nearly gagged. The pup made a shrill whine and scampered forwards, disappearing through undergrowth. Sapata stumbled after, hand to her face to cover her nose. She stepped out into a clearing and halted. A couple of crows fluttered off, squawking. Before her lay a huge, spread out dire wolf. Dead. It's flank was open, guts spilling out. Behind the beast was a gaping hole between two wide trees. A den formed out of the hillside. She stared back at the dire wolf. It wasn't the gruesome sight so much that shocked her - she'd seen carcasses opened countless times for food. But it was just just...something. Something about the wolf's twisted face, the pale dead eyes. Unnatural. She stepped forwards. Where had her pup gone? She treaded quietly around the dead beast and caught sight of the tiny cub searching the side of the carcass for...milk. No doubt this was the mother. Did she have more surviving pups? Sapata hobbled to the den and crept in, perhaps foolish, but she didn't think it had been claimed by something else yet, not with the dead dire still outside. She nearly tripped over something soft and bent down, reaching. Small, furry, but still and cold. She counted. Five dead pups. No heartbeats met her ears.

She retreated, dragging her feet. The cub was still trying to nurse from its dead mother, and Sapata closed her eyes for a moment, feeling almost like she was the one who'd lost kin. But she pushed it aside and stepped towards the pup. It whined and glanced towards her, as if questioning why it couldn't get milk. "I'm sorry," The girl murmured, reaching out a hand. It came to push its head against her palm, and she scratched gently. "I'll find you some food, okay? Come with me. I'll be your momma now." She turned and beckoned again, and with some hesitation the cub waddled after her. She cast a last glance at the dead female wolf, then pushed through the vegetation and left the site.

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  WalkingWithBarefeet on Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:40 pm

Howi shifted as the cheetah settled, curling up and resting it's head. She gently threaded her fingers underneath it's thin frame, dismayed at how frail the cub felt as she carefully lifted it, the ribs far too easily felt between her fingers. The cat looked at her, seemingly asking 'What are you doing? I was just getting comfortable...' Howi shook her head, shaking a finger idly towards large, questioning brown eyes. "No sleeping yet, little girl," she murmured to it, raising herself to a crouch, poised on the balls of her feet. "Let's find you some food first, alright?" she said encouragingly, and with a nod she rose to her feet. The cheetah's small tail flicked indignantly, obviously still wanting a nap, but all the same it trotted after Howi with a lilt in her pawsteps as the human started off through the grasses again, holding her spear in her hands now.

As they walked, Howi kept an eye out for telltale signs of a mother cheetah, but found none. It seemed that the cub had been without it's mother for a while, judging by how emaciated the poor beast was. She knew that the likelihood of a mother taking back a cub that was so weak, and that may smell of humans, was fairly low even if they could find her. After all, cheetah's were more independent animals than family-oriented ones. So, instead, Howi focused on finding food for the both of them, as her own stomach had started to growl. A little less than an hour later, she had felled two rabbits and one bird with her bola. She'd made it a couple years ago, and it was still one of her favourite weapons. The cheetah twirled around excitedly as Howi offered her the choice of the last rabbit or the bird. She had downed the first rabbit quickly, even though Howi had insisted on cutting up chunks and feeding it to the cheetah herself. She was worried that, if the cub had gulped down the prey in its entirety so quickly after having an empty stomach for so long, the rabbit would just end up regurgitated on the ground. But, with Howi's persistence and skill at flicking away eager leaps and reaching paws, the food was happily digested. The cub picked the bird this time, and Howi quickly plucked the feathers as best she could so the cub could get right to the meat, before skinning her own lunch. She started a small fire, cooking the rabbit as the cheetah dozed, curled at her side, large black nose twitching from the savoury aroma of cooking meat. Howi ate her meal, giving a few more slices to her furry friend, and stamped out the fire hurriedly after the excited cub almost set her tail on fire for the second time. They walked around for a bit, the cheetah playing a game of attack-the-foot, as Howi laughed and squealed when her baby claws got close to flesh. The cheetah never hurt her though, except for a few shallow scratches that were nothing worse than what the girl had gotten from thorns before. They played for a while, napped for a while, spending time together, girl and beast.

"Well, I suppose I better get back," Howi's voice cracked. They had been quiet for a long time now. She lifted her head as she lay on the grass with a small wild cat curled on her stomach. At her words, the cheetah's ears pricked, and it looked up at her face, blinking. "The sun is getting low. I've got evening duties," she murmured, sighing, and let her head fall back on the grass. She didn't want to go. But she knew that if she stayed out too long, her mother would send Kono, or worse, Lokni, after her. If it was Kono, she'd go back to camp joking and laughing, maybe even able to climb a tree or two on the way. If it was Lokni, she'd have to return in immediately, in silence as he reprimanded her--though she might be able to distract him by asking about weapons so he would talk about that for the entire walk home. The girl stirred, and with a disgruntled chirrup the cheetah scrambled off her belly as Howi stood. She gazed at the cheetah for a time, sad to leave. Who was to know if she would ever see her again? Sure, they'd made that weird...almost spiritual? connection when they first met, but....with a sigh, Howi decisively turned on her heel, her long braided hair swishing as she started walking away at a fast pace. The cub behind her let out a startled, distressed sound, and she heard it come padding after her. She ignored it, hoping that by the time she'd made it closer to home that the cheetah would give up. She didn't. Howi got as close to the Kebaran tribe's temporary home as she felt comfortable with a juvenile cheetah as her shadow. The girl turned towards the cheetah, who mewled and jumped about at the attention she was finally giving. Howi held out a hand as the cheetah walked forward to rub against her. "You can't come with me, they'll chase you away or kill you! I guess..." she thought, looking about, "We'll have to hide you." And so, Howi set about collecting as many thick fern fronds, sticks and grasses as she could. She set up a hiding cave for the cheetah a bit further from home, tying pieces together with grasses and weaving a cave that would keep out wind and rain. She made it big, but hidden. It almost looked like a mini version of her family's own home, she thought with a chuckle. Howi reached a hand forward, brushing aside the grassy entrance, beckoning the cheetah inside. She sniffed warily, and finally went in, curling up and mewling after having given the place a thorough sniff. Howi smiled. "Alright, you, now you've gotta stay there okay? Don't follow me," she whispered, hands up in the universal 'I surrender' or 'please stay' gesture. She let the grasses fall back into place, and the cheetah mewled in sadness and poked her head out through the fronds. Sighing, Howi patted her hands on herself, looking for something she could give. She decided to rip off a fraying piece of her dress near her knees. She kind of needed a new cloth dress anyway, this one was getting threadbare. She threw the cloth in at the cheetah, who sniffed it and happily took it in her mouth to bring to a corner of her new hideaway. Nodding, Howi stood and hurried off, hoping to the Great Gods that the little cub wouldn't try to follow her and end up a pelt in the tanning hut.

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  Zoketi on Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:12 pm

"Yah!" With a dull thump, her spear tip embedded in the tree, completely severing the green anole's head from its body. The latter of which fell to the forest floor, and immediately the pup darted to investigate. It gulped down the meat as Sapata pulled out her spear, using her other hand to pick the lizard's head. She stared at it for a moment, then offered it to the wolf cub, who gladly took it. "If you eat so fast you'll puke, you know," she told her new friend, peering down at the pup, who had demolished the meal and was sniffing among the leaves for more goodies. The girl pursed her lips and turned, glancing through the woods for a moment. She'd caught the lizard simply in passing; now it was time to hunt something a bit more substantial. Pacing forwards, she tapped her thigh for the cub to follow and began to search for tracks or droppings of small mammals, birds if she could.

A few hunts and one fire later she was happily licking her fingers, full of cooked squirrel. The rabbit she'd chopped messily and given to the pup, who was eating the final piece, a good deal slower than before. It reminded her of her siblings, who tended to scarf food too. Though, she herself was prone to that as well. Wiping her hand on her cloth wrap, she leaned back slightly and watched the cub chew and lick its last bite. When it had finished it looked her way, blinking in a satisfied manner. Sapata smiled, then gently fell backwards and propped up her knees. She rested her arms on her chest and stared at the canopy above, watching the wind blow the leaves. It was quiet and warm, and she felt sleepy after the meal. A cool touch to her arm made her twitch, but it was only the pup's nose. She glanced sideways as it sniffled over her side and gave her skin the occasional lick. Then it settled down next to her with a tiny grunt, laying its head down. Sapata turned her head and gazed upwards again, happy to allow the cub to nap at her side. She closed her eyes, telling herself it would only be a minute or two. Nothing would harm her out here.

Something soft brushed across her face, cold and tickly on her skin. The girl made a sleepy noise and lifted a hand to brush away the source, ruddy gaze reluctantly flickering open. "Ah, wolf!" She wrinkled her nose and sneezed. "Gerroff." She gently pushed away the puppy and sat up, wincing slightly at the light-headed feeling. The forest was still light, but it had that late-day feel. Late afternoon, most likely. She couldn't see the sun's position due to the trees. In any case it was time to go home. But what would she do about the puppy? Sapata stared at the cub as it circled around, investigating scents. She groaned and stood up, stretching and nearly loosing her balance. Lazily dusting off her pelts, she adjusted the spear on her back and stepped towards the she-cub. "C'mon." Tapping her thigh, she began to stride towards Zarzian lands. It wasn't long before she stopped again, frowning slightly. The wolf pup toddled around, tail wagging. The human girl scrunched her toes on the soft soil and sighed, making a face. She turned and squatted by the cub, reaching and lightly pressing its rear to the earth. "Don't follow." The cub blinked and attempted to lick her face. "Don't follow, pup." Sapata narrowed her eyes, straightened, and stepped back. The pup remained in place for a moment, then jumped up and bounced towards her. "No!" The girl made a hissing noise. The cub slid, ears flat. Sapata groaned, rubbing her arms. "I'll be back tomorrow. Stay here." She bent and tossed a small stone forwards. The cub scampered after it, and swiftly the girl turned and sprinted away.

She slowed upon nearing camp. No pawsteps sounded behind her, no rustling, no little whimpers. She glanced back regretfully, but then marched on, sulking as she stepped into the clearing of camp. No one paid much attention, so she darted towards the tent in which her grandmother lived - where she knew chores would await her.

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  WalkingWithBarefeet on Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:39 pm

Weeks passed, and the cheetah cub was growing. Howi had named her Ama, meaning water, because of how graceful the young wildcat was becoming, and the way her pelt moved and shined like water as the muscles contracted and released under her skin. Since Howi saw her cub at least once a day when she could, it was hard to notice a difference in the young cat, but Howi knew it was happening.

Every day, after chores, Howi would hurry out of camp with her spear and her bola and run to Ama's den. Once, Howi had arrived at the den to find it crumpled and broken. She'd raced around the forest in a panic, looking for signs of her friend--or, as she feared, her friend's mottled body on the forest floor--before finding the cheetah in a nearby small cave covered with moss and lichens on the outside, making it decently hidden. Ama had her scrap cloth from Howi's clothing on one paw, her head resting on it. Howi, breathing a sigh of relief and a few tears leaking out of her eyes, had run to the cat and slid down to hug her, the momentum sending them both sprawling, Howi's fingers firmly gripping the smooth fur that had become so familiar. Ama had been confused, but happy, and somehow Howi understood that Ama had just gotten a bit too big to stretch out in the makeshift cave, and had wrecked it as she slept, so moved here. It was probably better, anyway.

When Howi would arrive at the cave entrance every day, Ama would greet her. Sometimes this meant being sneakily tackled from above or from the side by a growing wild cat, but always it meant purring and head rubs and smiling. They would usually go hunting after that, both preferring to eat breakfast together. With a few times of Howi showing the cub how to be quieter on her feet, Ama had quickly become an adept huntress. They almost always had plenty of meat to fill their stomachs, and sometimes enough to bring back to Ama's cave for later or for Howi to bring back to camp. If her friends asked how the claw marks got in the kill, she would say she found it in the woods like that, uneaten. Usually though, Howi tried to only take the ones she felled back to camp, and not those marred by animal claws and teeth.

Howi's mother had started teacher her to weave cloth chords and leaves, and Howi made a flexible ball as her first project. Ama adored it, but after a few minutes Howi knew she'd have to figure out how to make toys that were more durable. Kono, she thought, might have started to feel left out, or like Howi was avoiding him. They still walked in the woods sometimes, but in the opposite direction of Ama's cave. She was always afraid that the cheetah would smell or hear her, and come to find her when she was out with her brother. Howi felt guilty about keeping her new companion a secret from her beloved brother, and it seemed like Kono knew something was up. He never said anything though, and Howi appreciated it. She promised herself she would tell him when she was ready.

When Ama's shoulders were up to Howi's hips, she had gathered enough courage to tell him. She knew Ama looked a bit more threatening now than she had several weeks ago, but Kono would understand, he would, if she told him! Right?
Finally, later that afternoon, Howi found her brother after lunch. "Will you come walking with me?" she asked him, trying to hide the nerves from wavering her voice. "Of course, little cub," he said happily, and grabbed his spear that looked much more dangerous than Howi remembered as they left their tribesmen behind.

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Re: The Only Law is Survival

Post  Zoketi on Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:53 pm

In all honesty, Sapata was surprised by how quickly the pup grew. From stumbling, weak baby to leggy, energetic juvenile. It was strange and fascinating, even though she never actually saw growth itself. It reminded her of how her twin siblings had grown. They too had changed a lot, perhaps not quite as much and certainly not as fast. The pup was already too big for her to pick up any more. At times she wondered if this was what motherhood felt like. It wasn't exactly charming, and definitely not easy, either. But it was fun and rewarding. The wolf cub was another friend, like the ones she had in camp. But different. Not so loud, not talkative, not argumentative. But with far more personality than imaginary shadow friends. Whatever the pup was, she loved it.

She'd named the pup Pamuya, which meant "water moon". One excursion in the wee hours of the morning she had followed the dire pup to a small pool of leftover rainwater. It hadn't been anything special or extraordinary, but the name had clicked in her mind as she'd watched the wolf step in the moonlit waters. The little beast seemed more cautious than Sapata herself, and this made a balance. It was mind-boggling to deal with at times, and even frustrating. The wolf had saved her many a bad experience - stepping on thorns here, falling down a slope there. She often marveled at the wolf's cleverness. It wasn't only helpful in those sort of situations, but as the wolf grew she began to hunt. It was rough at first, and sometimes Sapata would come to the woods and find the dire thin and begging for food. But then they would start hunting together, and swiftly the wolf became her deadliest weapon of all.

Sapata was careful with what she brought home. Anything felled by the dire would raise suspicion unless she made sure to tell them it had been a scavenged kill. Most of the time she brought back her own catches, though, even if Pamuya's help was more efficient. She still shirked from the thought of telling any other human. Her mother would make a fuss. She couldn't trust her siblings, as much as they respected her they were still but five years old and often willing to trade information for toys or treats. Friends - same thing, really. And any other adult would want to hunt the dire, rid it like a pest. She often sat brooding on what to do. Pamuya would grow big and eventually anyone experienced in tracking - any hunter really - who came to this section of the forest would be aware of the wolf. It wasn't exactly a secluded place. And then, what would happen when the air turned cold? Would the wolf follow?

Too many questions for the child now. She sat one sunny day with the dire's head in her lap, gently stroking as the wind gave rise to a leafy dance.

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