The wind brings the scent of prey… sharp as dagger, strong and intoxicating. Filling his world with impatience, that can by quenched only by the hunt.
With his claws ready to tear the flesh, he observes the animal, as it runs through the green.
But he will be faster that it. He always is.
And as long as this can be given to him every day, this wild sense of freedom…
… nothing can be compared to be now and here, living.
He jumps, and falls on the beast, with oustretched talons, with blades in minor hands. Burying the fangs in the fur, sinking the steel into the skin. It gives a resistance, good, this is what he always hope for. Battling him off itself, the prey roars, filling his ears with pure thrill.
But even if wounded… he will win.
He always does.
Standing above the fallen beast, he inhales in the fresh air mixed with the scent of blood. Touching the animal’s fur, brushing it with fingers, and taking a hold on it. You were mine, always.
And now we are one.
The celebration. This and that, he can’t even remembers all the names skekZok gave them.
He celebrates second solstice in his own way. No need for fancy words, elaborated rituals.
Just him and the forest and…
… when the mystic appears. he is sitting by the fire, the flames reflecting in his green eyes. He is half naked, the rest of his clothes will follow.
“At last” he says, taking off his mask. In face of this rite, nothing is needed, aside of himself.
In the distance, a castle horn is heard. The sound rings in the deep darkness of the cool night and dies minute after.
He knew they will try.
In the future.
But he has his own ways of celebrating second solstice.
It was then when Rek’yr refused to guide him on the hunt anymore, during passage through the Crystal Desert depths.
He lunged on the animal like a hungry beast, throwing the blades aside, seeing red. Tearing its throat with talons and fangs, he didn’t even think. He needed to kill it, feel the blood in his mouth, bath in it, devour it before —-
He wasn’t always like that. Some things triggered him, like the scent, taste… something that was reminding him of the most traumatic hunts he ever had.
And he had few, he wanted to forget.
He was unbroken but he wasn’t unbent. He learned his title hard way.
Some knew. Some of them, he allowed to know and live. Some were long dead, their corpses decomposing in the ground.
Living alone had more merits than just being free. They didn’t see him wake up at night, talons dug up in the furs he was lying on, teeth pressed like he was about to break someone’s neck with them.
Rek’yr wasn’t a fool. But definitely couldn’t know anything from his hidden life…
… and skekMal didn’t want him dead either.
He sat by the entrance to the cave. The same one urVa gifted to him, locating all his abandoned trophies in it, which he thought one day will be swallowed by hungry forest. Herb in minor hand, the bottle of beverage in major.
The small clouds of smoke forming around him ghastly shapes, as he uncorked the brew with s strong pull and swallowed almost all in one gulp.
Sometimes, the peace was all he really craved for. There will be time for hunt, soon enough, there will be time for bloodspill. But now, it was just him, the intoxicating herb and not less intoxicating liquor.
And the night. The wind. The stars.
His. It was all his.
They never knew what he has done with the guard they sent with him. Probably he killed her as many others before. He never cared about the gelflng and when they were meddling with his hunt, slowed him down, or angered him, he always was getting rid of them.
But later, the joke they hoped to laugh from, turned into the unknown.
Only the rumors among Dousan. That they have seen the Hunter and the wild Stonewood, among the deserts, hunting together.
This was pretty excruciating.
But he… he simply did what he wanted. Nothing can stop the hunt.
He lived here, among Thra forests, when the skeksis reign started. Far from their eyes. Far from bothering laws and rules. They always waited for him to come, because he was unknown, someone they always wanted to be, but were too comfortable between luxuries, to get lost in the wilds. He knew that, trying at first to instill the hunger for freedom in them.
They tried but never liked it. It became a dream and a fantasy they never wanted to truly fulfill.
He gave up later than he should.
Your strength. It’s mine. You died to give me your inner power and your stamina. It all flows in my veins now. It will flow forever. You are immortal now.
His hand buried in the fur of the fallen prey. He still felt the life pulsing in it, just under his fingers. The fresh blood on his brow, marking his hunt. The blood on animal’s hair, when he brushed it.
Now we are one. Your life feeding mine.
I am one step closer to Thra.
SKEKSIL: Hmmm, Hunter is in good shape, Chamberlain admires Hunter, his strength and the way he instills fear in all, his wild eyes making all knees—-
SKEKMAL: You want something.
He hated skekSil. He hated his sly deceiving ways. But he also was fond of him. He still remembered him young, feathered, singing songs which were breaking everyone’s hearts. Even his own lies couldn’t kill that singing creature for good in him. So he despised him. Hated him. But was fond of the memory lingering in his voice, in his looks.
The Cantor still was there. Only maimed and mangled by the spiderwebs of his own misplaced, lost path, which never was straight.
He could never really forget the days of youth. Good day of carefree frolickling, a naive and really stupid times. But so tempting now when his trine counted in hundreds.
This will never return. But he still was seeing in those foolish creatures even more foolish younger selves.
He hated skekSil. Despised his lies.
… but. There is always a completely unnecesary but, which makes everything more complicated…
His eyes, green fireflies in the darknesss of the night, were piercing the mist. His moves fast, deadly, like even by the way he ran, he could cut through the heavy and thick air.
Give me freedom, his body seemed to shout into the void, as he jumped from heighs, to dunk onto the the fresh soil, his talons buried deep into the fallen leaves and dark ground, as he was taking next leap.
All skeksis were looking at him when he feasted. He returned from the forest, as he was doing every trine, if uncalled, to check on how much older and weaker they became. There was some typical skeksis ego in it, to show himself strong, sharp and untamed, and observing them tangled in rich robes concealing their bodies and doing everything to not fall into skekSo’s disfavor.
He didn’t care also for subtleties of eating. He just sank his teeth in the meat – which was delicious, touched by Gourmand’s handy set of spices – and tore in half, swallowing almost full portion. He felt the more decent ones looked at that with horror. He gurgled with laughter, sending them a knowing gaze, and seeing them turn away.
He didn’t actually care if they like him, are scared of him, or hate him with passion. He missed them, though. Despite himself, this was his weak spot, and showoff of his strength was only one of the reasons why he was always returning.
Pitiful, silly, impossible… still, his own kind.
He caught skekSo’s curious look and taking the cup of wine – he missed that too – he leaned in his chair, allowing his back spines flatten against the support and secondary arms lay on the sides.
It was lush life which he led when he was younger. The Archer definitely implanted him some sentiments, while they hunted together.
It was indulgent, he thought when the cold and sweet liquid trickled down his throat. But when he was young, he was not different from them.
He liked this court of fools, even if he would use even violent means to deny it.