Reaver’s Hunt: Chapter One


Lithe as a neika, she moved through the clearing, as for no reason, her walk became a dancing twirl. The motion riveted me. Her shape, pale skin, hair as gold as the delicate creature she moved like, the song she absently sang…

Never had I understood my friend Dakath’s fascination with his female, his mate, Sarra. She made him burn, made him surrender, yet at the same time strengthened him.

Watching this tiny dancer go about her daily tasks, I began to see.

And I could not stop my constant vigil.

She was like Sarra, even as she was different. I knew my duty was to bring my creature of gold and light to her tribe of women in the aerie.

Yet I could not.

I’d been content to observe her from a distance, to protect and watch over her, but I knew that time must come to an end. Winter would drive predators from the mountains, freeze her stream, bury her camp in snow.

Just a few more days, a few more weeks…

Why could I not break away from her?

The aerie had learned of creatures that were a threat. Creatures as big and lethal as Revers, yet unknown to us.

Even if the information came from an enemy clan, the presence of one of the human women in their midst made us all take notice.

I knew it to be true, somehow.

They needed to be investigated.

We needed to seek their subterranean homes. Learn what they wanted, what they were.

The situation needed to be delved into deeply.

And yet, here I perched.

The female wandered away from her camp, into the deeper woods. Swinging from one hand was a cleverly woven basket, while from her belt dangled a sling on one side, round stones in a pouch on the other.

The hypnotic motion of her hips made everything sway.

Once she was out of sight, I flexed my wings. Dropping silently to the ground, I moved to a boulder that served as one wall of her shelter.

Hargeisa had fattened up for the cold on autumn berries. Though the gliders were pests, at this time of year, they were delicious.

I set a package of their meat on the boulder was wrapped in their yellow- and blue-striped hides. The female could make use of that as well, I knew.

At the crack of a twig, I ascended back into the tree, my eyes scanning the game trail my female had taken. After a moment, I relaxed. She had not returned.

While I had not allowed her to see me, I knew she sensed my presence.

Why could I not reveal myself to her? This uncertainty was a feeling I’d never experienced before.

From my pouch, I removed the bauble. Over time, I had collected interesting items from the abandoned cities. Twists of copper wire, silver, stones of bright blue.

They were as blue as her eyes.

Inspired by her, I had attempted to make something. The necklace had a symmetry I admired, even now wondering how my own hands had fashioned such a thing. I thought about how it would look against her pale skin.

Did I dare?

Never before did I fear facing another. What was it about her? Perhaps our meeting could be slow?

Once again, I descended from a high branch. With reluctant hands, I placed the necklace next to the package of meat. A gift. An introduction I could not make myself—

Another crack, closer this time.

In a flurry, I leaped to the air, wings churning, losing myself above the high foliage. I was so lost in my nervousness, I almost hadn’t heard her approach.

Once over the canopy, I found a clearing under a high branch. It was farther away than before, but my eyes were sharp enough.

Basket full of berries, she lightly walked to her campsite. Anticipation made me shiver.

She saw my gifts.

What would she think of them?

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