Catch Me a Star

Have you got a game, book or movie you'd like to make a story out of? Want to expand on a story or plot that stopped? Have an original idea for a story that you want to post somewhere? Here's where to do it. Basically an RPG where one player controls ALL characters in the story.

Catch Me a Star

Postby Hopeflower » Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:28 pm

I.

The night was nearly still. No moon, but the stars blazed with cold silver light in the dark sky. Only the faintest breeze ruffled the undergrowth, causing the leaves of bushes and trees to whisper and sigh as they brushed against each other. If one pricked their ears, they would barely be able to catch the murmur of a small creek, meandering its way over stones and silt and passing under arching blades of grass and fern. Trees stood tall and shadowy, silent guardians of the world beneath their branches. It seemed there was no life to be found, aside from the plants – but things are rarely as they appear.

Ripple, freeze. Ripple, freeze. Careful, careful…

Eyes open wide, nose twitching as the scents in the area reached the crouching figure. Cluttered, but easily sifted through. She was focused on just one. Feline ears twitched as the wind tickled them. A long tail swished just above the leaf litter, making no noise. One foot, then the other. Stay focused. I’m so close…I can’t fail. What would they think?

Ripple, freeze. Ripple, freeze. One, two, stop. One, two, stop.

She set each bare foot down carefully, avoiding twigs and leaves that would crunch and give her away. If she made even one mistake…it was all over. And there wouldn’t be a second chance for a long time. She’d waited long enough – it was time to finally prove herself.

As quietly as possible, the hunter drew an arrow and settled it in place. Drew back the bowstring, raising the arrow to eye level to perfect her aim. Started counting breaths and heart beats. Her eyes, pupils dilated to the fullest – the better to see on nights like this – were zeroed on her target. A young, fully grown doe; it would feed the whole Tribe well for a while…if she caught it.

Her tail flicked in anticipation. She wouldn’t mess up. Her ears flattened, eyes narrowed. She pulled the string back a little farther, feeling the resistance and sparing just a second to be glad she was so used to hunting with a bow and poison-tipped arrow. She’d struggled many years ago, but now she used it easily. One arrow, maybe two…aim for the neck. It will kill it faster.

The doe was shifting, nervous. Maybe it knew there was something to be afraid of close by, but wasn’t exactly sure of what it was. You won’t get a chance to run! The hunter with the human form and a panther’s tail and senses held the bowstring for another heartbeat, another breath…then let the arrow fly.

Even if she missed her shot, if the speeding arrow hit the doe, it was as good as dead. The poison tipping the arrow acted fast, and after only a minute the doe would fall.

But she was lucky – or maybe the Great Spirits looked upon her with favor and blessed her with good luck, because the arrow struck the animal in the side with a thunk and its momentum drove it in deep. As the doe screamed, the hunter leaped to her feet and sprinted forward. Her tail lashed with the joy of the hunt, and a sound that was as inhuman as her own appearance and speed escaped her – a low, rumbling growl.

The doe didn’t get the chance to run, because as the hunter approached, she unsheathed a long, sharp knife, and leaped. Higher than any human could ever hope to jump; she came down on the deer’s back. The animal collapsed with the force of the hit, breathing ragged, still struggling wildly and letting out panicked noises. The desperate struggle between predator and prey was ended with the flash of the knife’s blade and a spurt of crimson blood.

“Thank you, Spirits, for leading me to this doe,” the hunter whispered, pulling her knife free of the still warm body. “She rests in your capable hands now. We, the Forest Tribe, will not waste any part of her body. We will never take more than we need from our land, and we shall give all that we can.”

“Well caught, Umbra.”

The voice made her jump, and she turned, baring her teeth in a growl that died in her throat when she realized who had crept up on her. She nodded. “Thank you, Ater.”

Ater was a lean young man with dark red hair and deep green eyes. His hair reached to his chin, framing his angular jaw. His ears and tail were that of a wolf, and he shared the animal’s senses as well. All in all, he was quite handsome, with dark lashes hooding his eyes and lightly tanned skin. It didn’t hurt that his muscles, while not overly large, stood out a bit. Many of the girls in the Tribe constantly swooned over him and giggled when he passed, commenting to each other in whispers behind cupped hands.

But Umbra met his gaze evenly, even as she swept a lock of black hair out of her face. She’d never really been attracted to him – though he often tried to win her affections by giving her gifts. Her parents thought it was cute. Umbra thought Ater needed to stop trying. To her…he wasn’t interesting. He didn’t see what she saw.

He didn’t understand why she often just sat, eyes closed, relaxing as she breathed in the scents and listened to the sounds of the wilderness. He didn’t see the beauty of it all, the joy of expanding her senses to the fullest and listening to what they told her was around her; though if she looked, she’d never see the things she smelled or heard. He didn’t appreciate her enough to listen as her friends did when she described the feeling. Clarus, Pluvia, Sol…they felt the same way she did.

Ater did not. He just saw a woman who was about to see her seventeenth year. A young woman who was the daughter of one of their leaders. Someone who, if they bonded, would put him in a position of power…which was all that Ater cared about.

“I’ll help you bring it back,” he offered, snapping Umbra out of her thoughts. She leveled a golden stare at him. Sometimes his persistence annoyed her.

“Thanks, but I can manage.” She had the strength of the panther to help her. “And anyway, part of my task was to bring my catch back without any help.”

“That hardly seems fair,” he said critically, cocking his head. One of his ears twitched questioningly. “After all, you are but one hunter. It takes a few to bring back a fully-grown deer.”

Umbra felt her ears flatten. “I said, I can manage, Ater,” she repeated herself, swallowing a growl. Her tail quivered in annoyance. “Stop treating me like I’m still a child. I’m nearly a full-grown hunter – I can handle it.”

Ater’s eyes widened slightly. “I see. I’m sorry if anything I’ve said has caused offense, naturally…” He blinked. “I was only suggesting you might have a little trouble…”

“I won’t,” she snapped. “Leave me alone.” She turned her back on him and started dragging the deer by the front legs. It was heavier than she’d expected…but nothing she couldn’t handle.

By the time the sun was just starting to stain the sky pale gray, Umbra was close to home. A few hunters were waiting for her and welcomed her with cheers.

“You did it, Umbra!”

“Nice catch!”

“Your parents will be so proud of you!”

She smiled and thanked everyone as the hunters helped her haul the deer to the center of the big clearing where the Forest Tribe made their home. She had a fleeting impression of streaming russet hair before her name was called in a happy shout and she was tackled. She and the younger girl fell to the ground in a tangled heap, both laughing and hugging tightly. “Hi, Pluvia!”

Pluvia released her enough to look her in the face, grinning widely. She had pale skin, bright, laughing blue eyes and the ears and tail of a fox. “I’ve missed you so much! What’s it been – seven days since you left?” Behind her, Umbra could see Clarus and Sol, both smiling at her. They were identical twin boys, both having dark brown hair and cinnamon-colored eyes, and cat ears and tails.

“Let her up, Pluvia,” a deep voice chuckled. Warmth spread through Umbra at the familiar tone.

“Father!” When her best friend had released her, Umbra flew into her father’s arms. Valens laughed and held her tightly. He murmured his congratulations, kissing her forehead. They were both hugged by her mother, Pennipes, and Umbra sighed contentedly. This was where she belonged – surrounded by friends and family, and Ater nowhere in sight.

“I’ve missed all of you,” she said, smiling.

Sol leaned forward. “You must tell us everything!” he said eagerly. He and his brother were about a year and a half younger than Umbra. They wouldn’t have their solo hunting mission for a while yet. Pluvia had already passed hers about a month before, having caught a young buck’s leg in a cleverly weaved trap and ended its life swiftly and mercifully.

“Yes,” Clarus went on, setting a hand on her shoulder as she was released by her parents. “Give us every last detail!” The twins and Pluvia led Umbra over to her favorite boulder, which was usually warmed by the sun and more out of the way than other areas of their home.

“I don’t know where to start,” Umbra admitted, as the four settled into their usual positions. She was sitting on the flattest part of the huge rock, with Pluvia and her leaning back to back. Sol was stretched out on his back and had his head in Umbra’s lap; Clarus was lying the same way, and had his head in Pluvia’s lap. She was gently playing with his hair. It was no secret, the way they felt about each other. They were constantly teased about it. It had started out as the same brother-sister bond they shared with Umbra and Sol, but then for Pluvia and Clarus it had changed into something more. They made no attempt to hide it – holding hands, cuddling, sometimes even kissing. Sol and Umbra often said it was cute.

“Just start at the beginning,” Clarus suggested, making no objection as Pluvia brushed her fingertips over his cheekbone and then gently grasped his hand in hers and twined their fingers together.

“Well, I found the deer tracks on the morning of the second day,” Umbra began. “They weren’t fresh, though – a few days old. So I followed them, figuring that if I found the animal that made them, I’d find the herd.” She looked up at the sky, watching the stars beginning to fade. Her ears flicked as she remembered following the tracks until she could pick up the scent. “Eventually, I did. And I found the doe a little way away from them, and straying further, I followed her until I could safely put myself between her and the herd and kept following. When I was close enough I got her with an arrow. And that was that.”

Sol snorted unexpectedly, his tail twitching. “Ater said differently.” Umbra felt her blood run cold and her mouth went dry.

“Has he been saying he caught that doe?” she asked.

“He’s saying you didn’t do it alone,” Pluvia murmured.

“And you know that you’re always supposed to hunt solo to prove yourself,” Clarus growled. “Here’s a thought – I say we get rid of Ater. No Ater, no problem.”

“Normally I’d agree with you,” Umbra said, looking down at Sol and twirling a lock of her dark hair around one finger. “But…”

“But Valens and Pennipes are your parents,” Sol finished for her. “And you don’t want to let them down. We know, and we understand. It’s just a dream we’d all like to fulfill one day.”

“I swear, Ater drives me nuts with his ‘Mightier than Thou’ attitude,” the panther-girl said through clenched teeth. Her tail lashed with fury every time she let herself think about it. Suddenly she was caught in a three-way hug, smack in the middle of her friends’ arms.

“He drives all of us nuts,” Pluvia whispered in one feline ear as if sharing a secret, making Umbra laugh.

“And when it all comes down to it…maybe one of us will end up braining him with a rock,” Clarus joked with a grin, poking her side.

“We can always hope, can’t we?” Umbra replied, gently swatting his hand away with a grin.

“That we can, my friend. That we can.”

TBC...

[Six and a half pages on Word! X_x It took more than a day to finish the first chapter - I can only hope I did a good enough job writing it.]
"Gotta have a little sadness once in a while so you know when the good times come."
"Talent is a pursued interest. In other words, anything that you're willing to practice, you can do." ~ Bob Ross

"The future is always uncertain and painful but it must be lived." ~ Unknown
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Hopeflower
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