Chapter Three

The Hunter and the Hunted

I jumped the fence with ease and hoisted myself over a large grey stallion. The fur tickled my ankles and I laughed silently to myself. The sun had yet to rise over the large barren pastures of the arctic wasteland, that the crowling's call their home. It was a boring place filled with the daily lives of stupid people that envy our superiors the Firebirds, the middle class Treelings, or the bottom class normal pea brained humans. I was not like them, I would refuse to sulk behind protection, I wanted to see the world and here was my chance.

Ok, I admit it, the elders forbid me to go, but their words do not rule me, and their warnings were harmlessly swept aside. I may be a fool, but at least I'll have the excitement that I've always wanted. Plus, what could possibly go wrong? The Firebirds were stupid, and power hungry, but they couldn't possibly be as low as they all say. Who could turn back the adventure given to them by a sprite?

I had been ridding for quite some time now, the frozen wasteland idly draining away showing the blooming spring fields and thick green forests. How odd these green things truly are. Why, I've never seen anything like it besides the few purple flowers that grow near Crystals brook.

I couldn't help myself; I wasn't in a rush after all. I slowed my horse down, she seemed eager to eat the buds that grew from the small slender trees that seemed so clustered in such a large expense of land. I jumped down from my bare backed stallion to land gracefully on the soft land below. The touch of the warm grass over whelmed me, I had long since abandoned my cloak from the heat and I knew that my shoes would be the next to go.

As I walked, the frost bitten fields crunched like the snow would after a long snowstorm. A tear unexpectedly dropped from my cheek and landed among a small flowerbed. As my tear reached the ground a small shoot peaked up from the damp soil and reached up towards the sun. Could this be the homesickness that I feared feeling?

I reached down to pick the flower, but as my finger touched their damp petals, I was suddenly aware of another presence near by, watching me. I straightened myself, and strung an elegant feathered arrow. I could feel the unease of my watcher, he/she fumbled with something and instantly I pinpointed my enemy's whereabouts. I stretched back the thin cord and let my weapon shoot past to hit a near by tree. A warning to my stalker that I knew where they were and that I wasn't afraid of them. (1)

"Come here," I beckoned now clearly excited for my first real battle. The spy showed no fear and walked out from the brush carefree, in his hands he grasped his own sword, in the other the reins of his large black horse, behind him road what seemed like a small band of men trailing behind them strong horses and sharpened swords and arrows.

He had rich brown hair tossed about in a curly mess, and piercing blue eyes that studied me thoughtfully. The etched scars of two narrow leaves, labeled him as a Treeling. He was a traveler, maybe a peddler of some sort. His clothing muddied and what looked to be a pair of expensive riding boots, now dirty and tattered.

"May I take up camp here? You've stolen the best spot," he remarked with a wry smile.

"You're here for other reasons aren't you?" I remarked coldly. "What do you want?"


(1) Crowling's are trained to hunt, no matter the age or gender. Picking up the watchers place was an easy task for me. If he/she meant to harm me, they will be very sorry. I don't like being watched

He seemed fairly disappointed, but his sloppy smile never changed. "Come now, what would I want with you?"

"Is that an insult?" she chanllengd.