The thick blanket of snow from that evenings fall had yet to settle on the land of Terumbra. The woodlands and snowfall left the visibility too low to make any sense of direction. Cold, hungry and tired, the young Laurena was out traversing the woodland, under the wing of her Venator mentor Mathias. She didn’t really know why they were out there, she didn’t really trust him, but the young recruit was to be trained on how to be quiet; a vital skill for their trade.
Today the rather novice Laurena could only hear her own footsteps, crunching under the think white blanket, they were so numb she could barely feel her toes. Frustration would have to wait while she learned to copy Methias in his stealth approach, through the twisted black bark and bare intertwining extremities; reaching out like wooden claws, wondering how his footsteps were so silent as his breathing.
“How long will we be out here?” asked Laurena impatiently, rubbing her crossed arms in a vague attempt to keep warm. Methias slowly cocked his head to the side.
“As long it takes…and lower your voice.” his stern reply just barely audible through his cloak’s hood. “..and ease the weight on your feet slowly…control your breathing…in and out the nose.”
Laurena tried her best to mimic her mentor’s movements, but it was in vain…then Methias shot his hand skywards.
“…Hold it!” he whispered. Both ducked down lower until they were almost buried under the snow.
“…what is it?” Laurena replied mimicking his level of voice, startled by his abruptness.
“…we’re not alone…don’t move!” He tried to explain as fast and quietly as he could. The falling snow added to their camouflage.
Through the trees was a vaguely visible shape. A large creature, much larger than anticipated, emerged, carving a path through the snow with its large paws. It’s furry hide swiftly shifted in colour to unmatch it’s surroundings. It rose it’s shallow feline head into the air and took several deep breaths in. It smelt something!
Laurena’s heart was pounding, even it didn’t smell the two of them, she was sure it would hear her heart’s thumping echo inside her chest. She covered her mouth with both of her frozen gloved hands, swiftly blocking the steamy breathing being expelled rapidly in and out. Her eyes narrowed and fixated on the beast, watching so intently, beyond the falling snowflakes than canvassed her eyes. Her feet remained firmly still, if the fear didn’t cause it, common sense would prevent her fleeing. She was too afraid to do anything else.
After a few terrifying moments the beast gave up, gave a strong snort as if out of frustration. It’s hide shifted back into the white landscape, into obscurity, wandering off through the woodland bored from it’s failed hunt. Mathias knew they were downwind from the beast and the wind and snow were too heavy for it to pick up their scent, something he didn’t tell his apprentice.
“Heh heh…that was fun wasn’t it!” lightly chuckled Mathias, as he looked back upon his young petrified apprentice.
Laurena gazed upon him with a mixture of disbelief and anger. It was the first time in the five years since she started her training she had heard him laugh. She certainly didn’t expect him to lead them both into danger.
“Not many get to see a ferapex and live”. He cocked a sidewards smile. “Come on…we should head back.” Mathias started walking towards Umbrianox, seemingly without the aid of stars or compass, but Laurena understood he knew the way. She knew she could trust him, albeit uneasily, and today proved why.
Laura Steel © 2014