The moonlight filtered
through the leaves of the forest trees, casting interesting shadows on the
mossy ground. The nocturnal wild life was going about their normal business,
unaware that danger was quickly approaching. A family of Tula birds were
scrounging for seeds on the ground when a dark shadow passed over. When the
shadow had passed, two of the five chicks were gone.
She had been hunting her quarry for several
days now. She was not sure when her prey would present itself, but she knew
that she was on the right track. She could smell him. He was close.
She wanted to get this job over with. She
hadn't eaten very well since she had left the Hallway, the two small birds that
she had snatched in passing had done little to assuage her hunger. The collar
she had to wear when she was away from the master hurt her neck.
The master had been very upset when the Ogres
had reported that the quarry had escaped them. This meant that the man that
they had been sent to destroy was now on the run. It was for this reason that
she had been sent out. To track down and dispatch this individual. She didn't
know what offense this man had performed for the master to want him dead, and
it wasn't her place to ask questions (even if she could). So here she was on a
literal man hunt.
Her lithe feline body moved silently through
the trees. He was close, she could smell his
fear. He must know that death was approaching.
As the sun began to rise, she found a shady
place to lay down and sleep. She was definitely in need of a rest after hunting
all night. She wished she was back at the Hallway where she could curl up on
the nice soft moss bed that the master had grown for her. The tree hollow where
she was taking shelter for the day was very uncomfortable. Not to mention she
was hungry. She hated the wild.
She arose as the first of the two moons was
beginning to rise. The second moon had waned new, so it would not be showing
tonight. That didn't matter to her. She could see as well in the dark as she
could during the day. As she climbed from the hollow tree, she stretched,
yawned a toothy yawn, and set out on the hunt again.
She had been searching for about an hour when
she had a break through. She happened upon a roughly hewn trail through the
underbrush. It was apparent that whoever had blazed this trail had been in a
hurry. The man's smell was very strong here.
She turned down the trail and hurried along.
After an hour of following the trail,
she came across a clearing with a fire burning in the center of it. A simple
camp had been quickly thrown together. Sitting on the far side of the fire was
her quarry. He did not look the way she had expected him to look. He was thin,
as if he had not eaten well in several weeks. His long blond hair was wind-blown
and there were grass and twigs sticking out of it. His clothes must have once
been very nice, but they were now torn and dirty. His face was scratched and
his hands were bleeding. Had these been any other
circumstances she would have almost felt sorry for him.
Without a sound she stepped into the clearing.
She slowly stalked towards her prey, preparing herself to pounce. She was
nearly a yard away when he looked up. His pale face drained of the little color
that it had left. Quickly scrambling to his feet, he began to back away.
"N... Nice kitty." He stammered.
She hated it when people called her a kitty.
Kitties were those disgustingly cute little domesticated animals that people
fawned over. She liked kitties. She thought they tasted good roasted over a
fire. She was no kitty, she was a tiger.
A growl began to emanate from deep in her
chest. The smell of fear permeated the clearing as he prepared to run. She
crouched low as she slunk toward him.
He turned and ran.
She was excited that her prey was going to let
her play with him. She bounded after him, quickly closing the gap. She swiped
at his leg, her claws cleaving his calf muscle with ease. He fell, screaming,
to the earth. Blood spurted from his leg, coloring the ground scarlet. The
smell was nauseating to her.
With a single claw, she slit his throat to end
A quick investigation of the camp yielded some
cooked scraps of meat, a pack of clothes that he had brought, and a small four
pointed star that appeared to be some kind of weapon. She quickly
devoured the meat and shredded the clothes. She dug up some fresh dirt,
flinging it onto the fire, it wouldn't do for the fire to burn the forest.
Curiosity got the better of her and she decided
to examine the little star. It looked as if two S shaped pieces of gold had
been fused together to form the star. A crystal blade extended from each of the
four points, each glowing a different color: yellow, red, blue, and white.
Several precious stones shifted randomly along the golden surface circling a
larger diamond that pulsed with a regular rhythm.
As she pawed at the strange object, a warmth
spread from her paw, up her leg, and into her head. The sensation scared her,
and she ran out of the clearing.
She did not notice the star rise from the
ground to follow her.
her a day and a half to reach the familiar surroundings of the Hallway. The
hallway was a grove of Taltha trees that had grown so
closely together that the trunks had fused themselves together forming walls.
The leafy canopy overhead was so thick that the inside of the structure was
cast into as constant state of twilight. Even when it was dark, the glowing
trees caused a twilight like effect.
"Narissa, you return." Dareth said
cheerily. "Were you successful, kitten?"
Dareth was the one person that Narissa did not
mind caller her kitten. He had raised her for as long as she could remember.
She purred in affirmation. The sound echoing
off the walls.
He smiled broadly. "I knew I could count
on you. You have never failed me. Come, let me remove that collar that you so
Dareth waved his hand over her neck, and the
black collar that had been bound there disappeared.
"There, isn't that better?" Dareth
As the collar disappeared, images began to
flood into Narissa's mind. A burning cottage. A screaming woman. A boy lying
dead on the ground.
As quickly as the flood of images had begun, it
stopped and all memory of it was wiped from her mind.
"Welcome home, kitten." Dareth said
sweetly. "I have missed you dearly."
Narissa walked over to where he was sitting and
laid her head in his lap. She purred as he absently stroked the fur on her
head. This always made her tired, so she stumbled to her mossy bed and fell
into it. A glint of multicolored light briefly caught her attention. She
thought about going to investigate, but she was just so tired.
"I'll look into it later." She
thought to herself before drifting off into a deep, dreamless, sleep.