First Exposure

Description: for Kay

Syral Moon-son

    Green to Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Moon King
    Glacia Kaeleer
    6 Posts    98 marks
First Exposure
« on: June 12, 2019, 11:49:45 PM »
White fur on the outside, and thick brown against his skin. Hunting clothes that insulated Syral without making him stand out in the bleak landscape. From any distance he was just another snow drift. All the animals that had gone into its making were hunted by his own hand. Idony’s careful craftwork stitching them together until they were as protective as armor, and light as a feather. Which was good, since he was not hunting in tribe territory today. The icy rain that had trapped them all indoors for days had finally stopped in the night. As soon as dawn broke, he had taken his bow and headed out into the morning. Sky bright blue from one horizon to the other- it was time to hunt something that would fill his family’s bellies for days.

In recent years it had become necessary to stay close to the coast, or risk giving up another inch. So Syral had not wandered east into the flats for hunting as often as he had in the past. They stayed plenty fat with fishing. There were three hunters at home with expectant wives this season, however, and he could not fault them for refusing to go out on the open water. Especially now that it was ten times as dangerous to hunt seals.

So he went alone to bring home a muskox or two. The herd laid out in front of him as he reached the top of a low hill. Pace slow, shields high to keep them from catching his scent or hearing his approach. The only subtle sign of the hunter was the occasional puff of mist caused by his warm breath on the air. In the pocket of shields around him his boots crunched through the surface layer of packed snow. It went ankle deep. His strong legs did not notice the extra work it took to move him forward.

Crouching low he studied the herd carefully. Picking out the groups of slow, pregnant cows from the young and viral bulls. It would be months before there were newborn calves. He wanted to pick off an older, slower animal first. It’s sudden, silent death would be curious instead of alarming. Then, if he was quick and accurate he could pick off a tender young yearling for his own table before they made a defensive wall. Which would give him leave to kill a third before they stampeded off- if he was lucky.

There. First target chosen. A lumbering elder on the outskirts of the herd.

His fingers pulled the bow string taut, arrow notched into place. String released on an exhale. Without a sound it darted through the air, striking the beast in ribs. One short huff caught the attention of the oxen nearest. Who startled away a few steps when the old bull fell sideways but they settled quickly. Sniffing at his face they moved back to grazing. Syral came in closer. Something nagged at the corner of his vision, forgotten in the same instance as a soft breeze stirred the snow on the other side of the herd. Another target was chosen. The half grown calf that would simmer on his table tonight. Arrow notched. When it fell with a cry the herd rumbled into a defensive circle. Roaring cows beating the ground with their hooves as the males displayed their horns for the unseen enemy.

Syral threaded a final arrow through his bow. Lined up his shot, and watched his target fall a full five seconds before his arrow caught it in the head. Eyebrows tipping together he swept the power of his gray through the stampede of frightened animals. Trying to collect his kills before they were trampled. And searching too, for the hunter that had just ruined his hunt. They met over the body of the third beast. Growling through the knitwork that covered his face he waved the smaller person away. Posturing since words were difficult without unwrapping their heads. *Yuka?* He demanded. Surely none of his people were this stupid. This was definitely a Nukti woman, and his tribe were the only ones for miles. He recognized those eyes. He was sure. *What are you doing out here alone?!*

@kayndred

Valeska Spearfang

    Summer-sky to Green
  • hearthwitch
  • Played By:

    hunter
    Glacia Kaeleer
    2 Posts    82 marks
Re: First Exposure
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2019, 01:12:12 AM »
It had started off as a day with such promise. Up before the sun to fish and check her traps, diving in her sealskin to search for shellfish on the closer seabeds. The weather had been messy and cold, keeping her inside, worrying away at new arrowheads and and sharpening her knives. Free at last to escape the rookery and its slew of still-new scents, Valeska had seized the opportunity with both hands.

When she'd been alone her traps had been enough to keep her fed, and whenever her stores ran overfull or she found herself put off by something in her net she could trade it, keep her diet varied and robust. But now, with the rookery taken up around her and so many of them unused to feeding themselves in the colder weather, Val found herself pushing to pull in more. More fish, more crabs, more hare and sea bird. But even these weren't enough.

So, appraising her haul that morning, she'd decided to set out towards the flats and typical grazing grounds of the muskox, intent on bringing something of substance back to keep the bellies of her new neighbors full. It wasn't an area she preferred to frequent, especially alone, but there were few among the group who she'd trust to keep pace with her, let alone keep quiet and assist in taking down her prey.

She'd cleansed her scent down to the barest of flickers and wrapped herself tight in an aural shield when they'd finally come into sight, creeping forward either through or around snow drifts, working with the wind and the sunlight to stay hidden. Breathing deep, centering herself, thinking only of the blank white of the snow, the pale blue of the drift shadows. Hunting on land was much like hunting as a seal, when her prey was soft birds and their chicks. Look for the slow, the isolated, the sickly. Pick and choose and keep quiet, quiet, until she could spring her teeth like a trap on them.

Fish, of course, were much easier, but food was food and she would be taking something home.

She missed the first ox fall, although she saw the little commotion of the oxen around it, investigating. Not unusual activity, and disregarded because of it. Bow drawn, humming with the touch of enhancement, she knocked an arrow and scanned the herd, looking for a target.

The second one she didn't ignore, because it sent the herd into a rush of movement, females turning to shelter calves and males displaying their horns. Cursing internally she drew her string back to her cheek, eyes narrowed at one muskox displaced enough in the circle to present an opportunity. Fly true! she hissed to it mentally, releasing on an exhale. She held her breath as it hit and breathed deep in relief when it sank into its thick fur and the beast dropped to its knees, sending the herd into a frenzy while she vanished her bow.

Relief that was short lived when she saw another arrow sticking out of its head before it got obscured by the rush of hairy bodies. It was only when the muskox had left them in the snow-dust that she saw them, over the side of her kill, as camouflaged as she was, although the seems looked somewhat neater. Val had had an alright hand for sewing, but it had only mattered in as much as it could service her.

At their gesture away from the muskox body Val stood taller, calling in one of her long spears from her cabinet. She was short, but she wasn't some green child to be waved away from a kill that was hers. And she certainly wasn't whoever they thought she was. Yuka?

She slipped the buttons keeping her mouth guard wrapped around her face free from their loops, letting it drop enough that she could push her chin over it and answer, eyes narrowed, "I don't know you, but that," she jerked her spear at the body between them, "is mine."

Syral Moon-son

    Green to Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Moon King
    Glacia Kaeleer
    6 Posts    98 marks
Re: First Exposure
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2019, 01:47:49 AM »
In hindsight, the lack of instant recognition should have been a warning sign. Not only was Syral tall for a tribesman, he was one of very few that could don the fur of an isbyr. They were difficult prey, usually requiring the cooperation of a group, which meant the part were divided up between hunters. To have enough hide to make a left boot was a worthy achievement. Syral had lived many years, however, and he wore isbyr from top to bottom.

The spear was a much clearer signal. Mildly surprised he crossed his arms over his chest. Eyebrows disappearing into the low cuff of his hat. She rejected his psychic thread, which was admittedly not un-Yuka like. Sometimes a person needed to prove themselves. Out here it was easy to do simply by surviving. Carrying home a useful kill would be celebration worthy. ONe button at a time the face of a young woman unfamiliar to him popped into view.


Yanking down the scarf that protected his face Syral tipped his lips in almost apologetically. ”No. I mistook you for my friend.” He did not look down at the ox she gestured towards. It did not sit well, the big kill going to any place not his tribe. Rubbing his nose with the back of a mitt he said, ”These are not your hunting grounds, and my shot would have killed him dead just the same.” In fact, he could barely tell the fletching of his arrow from that of hers. They were very similarly made.

Curious.

”What tribe are you from?” He asked, bending down to thrust her arrow up out of the beast. Body language casual but eyes watching for movement at the edges of his vision. He had no intention of getting stabbed over meat he could replace with a seal or two. ”Hm.” Turning the projectile around in his hands he judged the quality of it’s craftsmanship. ”This is Ippik style.” He commented. The way the arrowhead was attached to the shaft was unmistakable. Notched in slightly to keep the stone or bone shard from slipping. Especially useful when using them arrows like a harpoon, because they could punch through several inches of ice.

Years before, before Syral had been born, his tribe had occupied the entire peninsula. There were villages all along the coasts, and inland too. Only the warriors traveled. Then they warred with Stavangar over land rights. Hundreds died. The tribe was pushed to the far north, but they stood their ground. A tentative peace was struck and held to the present day. The core of the tribe had returned to their nomadic roots, but Syral knew that fishing villages with Nukti residents had survived. They lived with the white people, alongside them, slowly losing their culture. This woman, he decided without knowing, must have come from such a place. He had thought them all died or bred out of memory by now. And certainly did not expect one to know how to form a decent weapon.

”I’m called Syral,” He said, holding out her arrow. ”from the Ippik peoples at the coast.”

Valeska Spearfang

    Summer-sky to Green
  • hearthwitch
  • Played By:

    hunter
    Glacia Kaeleer
    2 Posts    82 marks
Re: First Exposure
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2019, 06:27:00 PM »
That explained the concern in his psychic-thread, at least. Better to have been assumed a friend than an enemy.

"These are not your hunting grounds either," she said. Only the nomad bands would claim any residency of the muskox lands, and only in as much as they claimed the beasts they killed. "Then you should have shot faster." There had been two other bodies left by the stampede, and they hadn't been her kills, so it was likely that he wouldn't be hurting for meat.

She shifted at his assessment of her arrow, and longed to jerk it from his hands. Her mother and father had taught her how to craft her weapons, and knew that some nomad tribes carried similar work. When she did take them to market to trade it was always with the foreigners or the Firarlith that they sold best, weapons honed through generations to last the cold.

Spear vanished as she watched him, mouth tucked into the loose lip of her hood to warm her face. No memory of his face, although that was unsurprising, given her prior isolation. Proud in his furs, at least, and stronger than her, although she didn't want to try and find that depth.

"Valeska," she said, taking the arrow back cautiously, quickly following her spear. She shifted the curve of her bow across her chest. "My village has no name." Which wasn't a lie, considering Selka had yet to name her settlement, and Val wouldn't have claimed residency even if she had. What her village had been called, the one where her parents had lived, was beyond her now. She didn't know if he would have known it, or known that it was gone.

Looking out across the snow, she debated the time it would take to get back, and what she might catch or be forced into hunting along the way. "You are far from your people, Syral from the coast." She observed. Maybe as far as Val was, although that was a distance lengthened by death, and one she wouldn't cross for some time. Syral, at least, came from a people.

Syral Moon-son

    Green to Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Moon King
    Glacia Kaeleer
    6 Posts    98 marks
Re: First Exposure
« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 12:44:39 AM »
”Says who?” Syral grunted, one eyebrow raised in challenge. He was here. He was hunting. That was more claim than anyone else could lay. Even if that claim left with the meat the land provided. With a snort at her sass he tipped his head towards a rising shoulder. ”Next time I will be.”

Faser, and more careful to sweep for other hunters. There was a time when he would have been that thorough by second nature. Now those willing to come this far were few. Only Moon Warriors, mostly. Others happy to make their living on the sea’s wealth. Far from the dangers of the Cities. Still, it would have been sad to kill a pretty Nukti girl when it was easy to prevent.

A pretty, and well taught one. He admired her weapons. One from the palm of his hand, the other with a long gaze. Spear as well made as her arrow. He wondered if there would be a tribe in tow. Sometimes the reminenants came out of the big cities and tried to join up or share land with tribes that had never given theirs up. Syral would not be adverse to absorbing newcomers. But he would not welcome encroachment, not even from other Nukti. ”Valeska.” He repeated with some distaste. Not a name of the People. One of the Firarlith.

’Valeska of the nameless village.” How interesting. ”It’s been a long time since there were any villages near here.” The last three had fallen into the water. No one seemed to know how. Syral had suspicions, but there had only been one survivor. The same he had mistaken this Valeska for. It all begged the questions- who was this woman? She had a round face that reminded him of stories about Mother Moon. Dark, watchful eyes that were filled with distrust but not fear. Either she was stupid, or she was confident in her ability.

Following her gaze out into the snow he saw that they would leave in the same direction. That did not bode well. And his hopes that she was far from home began to fail. ”No. I am Ippik Nukti, my ancestors walk beside me and my sisters wait at home. I’m never far from my people no matter where I go.” He corrected firmly. She was kin. She should have known the same. ”Are you far from your people, Valeska?” Was she a woman at all? A spirit, perhaps, come to tempt or try his own. In which case it would not do to deny her on the petty assumption she would bring this meat to the seals.

”If you make arrows this way, then you may be Ippik too. Sometimes The People forget where they come from.” He offered helpfully before turning back to the real debate. Crossing his arms over his chest he knocked snow off his hat. Looking between the ox and the young woman. ”We could split it.” He tried, the corner of his mouth turning up.
 

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