The Ranger

alareik and Paua 2The ranger left the inn in the wee hours. The need to hunt was upon him, as it had been since his puberty. It was almost like a thirst for the kill that he felt, as if he were a beast himself. His eyes adjusted quickly to the surrounding darkness, shape and sound informing him of his environment, his senses sharp, every one of them highly keyed.

No-one in the village stirred, the only sound besides the hoot of a distant owl and the wind in the trees was the sound of scurrying rodents going about thier nocturnal business. The ranger’s soft leather soles made no sound and left no impression upon the grass as he moved. He avoided the paving stones until he reached the bridge leading north into the wilderness.

Once across, he moved further into the forest, pausing frequently to listen for the sound of prey. As he listened and waited, his mind wandered to the various people he had met since coming to the area, all of them female. His only contact with males of the settlement had been messages sent and received through others.

Alareik and Paua 1The first female he encountered was young. She was both shy and clever, referring him to an alpha male of the group, her sire. Her wary eyes never left him until he left her presence.

The second and third females were both sleek and healthy. His nostrils flared as he thought of them. The dark one had skin like the night and had a power coiled within her like a panther preparing to pounce. Her pale eyes appeared to look through him, like a challenge. The fair one had hair like the setting sun, eyes like northern lakes, and her scent and milk-like skin had made him click his teeth together, holding back his instincts with difficulty.

He had come across the pale one again, Desire. It was a good name for such a creature. She had offered him food and shelter, which were mating rituals in his culture, but probably not in hers. He found himself affected by her presence and sensed a deep power within her that she seemed to hold within tight control. He has less difficulty handling his impulses this time because he was tired and the food had caused him to want to sleep.

alareik with boar_002 - CopyThe forest grew lighter with the approaching day. A snuffling noise in a clearing not far away roused him. He crept forward avoiding falling leaves and twigs. The wind was in his favor, blowing toward him, carrying on it the smell of wild pig. He controlled his excitement. It had been a long time since he had tasted the flesh of these animals. There had been few of them where he had passed on his journey south.

He dropped low behind a boulder at the forest’s edge, his prey within sight, its short sighted eyes on the ground where it was foraging. It was a female, good sized and less dangerous than the full tusked males. There were no piglets in evidence; he had no wish to kill a nursing sow. This one was mature, but had probably not yet mated. He drew an arrow from the quiver on his back and fitted it against his thumb and the bow he was holding.

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Crouching, he slid silently closer among the many boulders in the clearing until he was well within firing range of the boar. He stood slowly so as not to startle her and drew back on his bow, sighting down the arrow to the animal’s heart. She looked up at him as the arrow struck its mark and then fell over, her eyes glazing over with death as he approached her. He broke off the arrow, not trying to remove it, and slung the beast over his shoulder by her legs, allowing the blood to drain on the ground behind him.

His blood lust temporarily assuaged, the ranger made his way south toward the town once more. He would skin and clean his kill there. He intended to offer part of the meat to the local innkeeper for his keep and sell the pelt to the tanner to be cured for leather, or perhaps to offer some meat to the alpha males to better assure himself a place among them for as long as he wished to remain.

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