“The Huntress”

326247-cats-cat-eyes-wallpaper-1024x576From behind the blind Djinaa marveled at the beauty of the forest. She was happy to be alive and to live in the Glynn Woods. Watching the bright rays of sunshine burn through the canopy of oak limbs overhead, creating golden pillars of light throughout the forest. Entranced by the beauty, she watched as birds flashed through the sunlight, from the shade, becoming emblazoned in light as they quickly flashed through the columns. They looked like miniature phoenixes in her minds’ eye. Feeling one with the forest she began reminiscing about growing up in these woods.  She had spent the whole of her youth here and nowhere else. What more had she need of?  Her friends were close, and her family closer still. Her father, though desirous of having a son, had been blessed with a daughter of strength. Djinaa remembered the first time her father had taken her hunting. The memory was of her mother chasing her father around their cozy home and shouting, nay, screaming at him, that no daughter of hers would act in such a manner. Loudly proclaiming that she would be raised a proper lady!  Djinaa had been gently disappointed at her declaration for her daughter. She loved spending time with her father. She marveled at the strength in his arms, his pride, but most of all, his love for his daughter. He worked from dawn till dusk, working the groves, seven days a week. Tenderly nurturing the fragile fruit from the limbs of the numerous trees his father’s, father’s, father had planted. As always, he managed to trade his crops for goods, coin and sometimes even labor. The less fortunate around them shared in his bounty, as he was always generous to those less fortunate. Her mother carried the dreams for the family. She was not too ambitious, but she firmly believed that a farmer, who had tended trees all his life, would be able to introduce her to “their betters”, as her mother had so often put it.

They managed to sneak out long before her mother would awaken. Her father was smiling mischievously the whole time. When her father had awoken her, she had almost squealed aloud as she looked at the chair next to her bed, but just stopped herself. She quickly threw back the thick quilt and leapt to hug her father, while quietly thanking him. He told her to quickly dress before they woke her mother. He left her to change from her nightclothes, slowly pulling the door closed, to dampen the squeak of the wooden hinges.

She turned to the chair and grabbed the clothes that been neatly laid out for her, and leapt onto her thick goosedown mattress. The mattress and quilt billowed out from the force of her landing. She rubbed the soft doeskin along her cheek, the feel of the soft leather awakening a primal urge within her. She held the shirt in front of her looking at the soft fringe strips that hung down in the front and back, angling to a point on each side. She quickly shifted out of her nightgown, quickly pulling the doeskin shirt over her head and onto her shoulders. She slipped her feet down the legs of the trousers, pulling them up over her hips. She slid down onto the cold wooden floor that had been worn down through the many centuries. She did a quick leap to the closet and pulled out her old doeskin knee boots. She attempted to pull the boots on, but her feet, though still small, were too large for the boots. She quickly undid the leather laces that ran down the length of the boot to the middle of the top of her feet, and again tried to fit her feet into them, but still they were too small. She sat dejected, looking within the closet for something to wear with her new hunting clothes. The only option she had were the soft moccasins that were well worn and left about five inches of her leg showing. She was young, but not too young to realize how indecent that would be!  She walked out of her bedroom and plopped down in a chair, next to her father at the large dining table.

Smiling, he looked at her and asked if she was ready to go. She quietly shook her head, tears nearly forming along the lower edges of her milky green eyes. Her father nodded towards the door and told her that she had left her boots by the door and she knew how her mother disapproved of that. Without a second thought she rushed to the door that led outside. Resting comfortably along the wall next to the door was a new pair of doeskin boots. She grabbed the short stool that her mother used to reach things her natural height would not allow, pulling it into the entryway, the feet of the stool scrapping loudly along the stone floor as she did. She quickly sat down, grabbing the boots and examined them. The doeskin boots were nearly red in color and the leather laces, a deep brown. She slid her foot down into the supple leather, tightening the laces from the bottom up to the cuff that ended just above her calf. She folded the cuff down, while the bell cut of the cuff at the front, left the bow from the laces visible, as they hung back down to the middle of the boot. A perfect fit!!  She quickly put on the second boot, leaping up from the stool. Her feet felt as light as her soul at this moment. She turned to rush to thank her father, but saw that he had been standing in the doorway watching her with a beaming smile. She saw that he already wore his green hunting cloak, his bow and quiver on his back. He handed her a new bow, made of ash. The wood of the bow was seasoned and well oiled. The quiver he handed her had carved reliefs of animals of the forest stitched onto the stiff leather. The quiver filled with a dozen arrows, the fletchings extending past the top of the quiver. She took the quiver and slipped it over her shoulder and took the bow her father offered. Her joy visible on her face she reached up and quickly hugged him. He kissed her gently on the forehead and turned her toward the door, she quickly grabbed her own dark cloak as they slipped out of the house, into the crisp morning air. Her father blew out the lantern in the kitchen, quietly closing the door behind him. He motioned for her to follow him. They moved towards the barn, the way easily lit by the bright full moon overhead. She watched as her breath formed crystals in the cold morning air as she breathed. They entered the barn, saddled the horses and quietly led them from the small building, past the clearing, into the groves. The light of the moon had turned the leaves on the trees silver, as they reflected the moonlight. She and her father mounted the horses and as they rode, they watched as the moon slipped into the rosy glow of the dawn. They rose for more than an hour, not saying anything, simply sharing the early morning joy of the hunt.

Her father motioned for her to stop and dismount. He too slipped from his saddle, onto the dew-covered grass. His soft boots left his footprints on the wet, dewy grass. They dropped the reins of the horses, knowing that they would graze in this small clearing and would be here when they returned. They walked hand in hand, a little further, enjoying the now bright fall morning. Her father had brought her hunting a few times and she understood what would be expected of her, and she knew that her father knew this also, so nothing was spoken aloud. She slipped her hand from his gentle, callused grasp and quietly began moving towards a draw that lay ahead, her father working, just as quietly, towards the opposite side of the draw. They had seen the animals’ tracks a few days earlier and knew that the buck and his family would be through sometime in the early morning. They took up their hiding places and began waiting, patiently.

She had sat in the blind until the sun had risen almost straight above her, not really concerned. Hunting wasn’t necessarily about the killing of the game, it was about being part of the forest. Communing with the spirits of the wild. She quietly rose, and began making her way to where her father sat. She moved silently through the woods, as silently as a soft breeze. She came upon her father, who sat with his back towards her, his shoulders slightly slumped forward. His bow was lying on the ground next to him. She stopped, the hair on her neck standing up. She ducked down, crawling towards her father, the smell of blood, thickly filling her nostrils. As she crawled nearer she saw that his green cloak was covered with bright crimson splashes of blood. A bloody dagger was in his hand. His eyes closed. Horrified, she knelt next to her father, taking his still warm hand in both of her hers. Tears began to gently flow down her cheeks, blurring her vision slightly. She looked to the ground and saw a deep set of tracks leading away from her father, but none leading towards him. She looked upward and saw that the bark along one of the branches had been broken, the white of the limb shining outward, like a beacon. Whatever had killer her father, had been within the tree when he arrived.

Furious that her father had been taken away from her she quickly nocked an arrow and began following the tracks. They led back down the draw and she followed them. She moved silently, as her father had taught her. She moved towards the clearing that was the edge of their home. The treeline kept her hidden. Djinaa had never actually seen a human, until now. She had listened to the elders as they had discussed them. They had spoken of them as though they were a nuisance, and she knew that they thought little of them.

She followed the tracks into the clearing, keeping low to the ground, and worked her way towards the short, clumsily built building that sat across from her position. The tracks led into the hut, so she crept towards the doorway. She looked inside by peeking around the corners and heard them speaking. As she looked in, she saw that her father had managed to wound the animal, his mate was dressing a wound to his chest. She stepped into the open doorway. The bucks gracefulness was remarkable, considering his shortness, his broad body, and the wound that her father had given it. He quickly dove for something, and he rolled into a kneeling position, releasing an arrow in her direction. She watched as the arrow flew past her. Failing to flinch, she drew back her ash bow and released the arrow. It flew straight and fast. It drove into the heart of the creature, knocking it backwards onto the soft bedding. She looked past the man, spying the female and two more, smaller creatures. It’s mate. She reached back over her shoulder and pulled another arrow from her quiver, and released this one, too. Twice more she fired. She walked further into the beasts’ shelter, noticing that the hut-like domicile had been made of straw and rope. She kicked the hot embers from their morning fire, knocking them towards the huts wall, and walked out of the hovel. A few moments later it burst into flames, sending a thick column of gray smoke high into the bright blue sky.

She was brought from her reverie by the sound of a twig snapping. She quickly rose and fired, her arrow striking the human in the throat, killing it instantly. She walked over to the body and pulled out her arrow. She looked around the forest once more, marveling at its beauty.

“It was good to be an elf”, she thought, but it saddened her that father wasn’t around to share this day with her.