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The Hunter becomes the Hunted
Tue Dec 19, 2006 00:59 (XFF:

The resonating twang of a bowstring split the silence of the wood. The sun was on its last legs and was slowly sinking behind the horizon. A soft pleasant breeze played across the wood as the young hunter shadowed the beast from tree to tree. Enjoying the sport of the hunt, Tain had totally forgotten about the time and with the kill this close, he was in a world far away from his duties. The wild boar he had tracked from the lowlands toward this forest was proving to be a hardy little beast. There were no less than three arrows peppering its hide, yet still it continued its climb up the steep forest path. Squealing and bleeding profusely, the animal was slowly beginning to tire. Stepping out from behind the tree he had ducked behind, Tain drew from the quiver over his shoulder an arrow and raised it to the longbow he held in his hand. Drawing bowstring and fletching to his cheek he sighted his target and released. The arrow flew true and took the beast in the back of the head. It collapsed to the ground and gave a final kick, before death took its toll.

“At last!” he muttered, trudging his way slowly up the slope, to where the boar lay. “Bloody thing was hard to kill!”

They had left the Tower not a day previous and already they had been assigned their tasks for the week. Tain was enjoying this new experience, even if it meant he had to bunk with Dante longer and work harder, he was enjoying the extra training he was getting.

“And the extra time with Faoelin cant hurt!” he smiled slightly as he thought this.

As he reached the boar he heard a sharp whistle over his shoulder and turned. Dante had been behind him, close enough to see, but now was sum while back, pointing at something that Tain could not quite see.

Bloody light! What does that boy want now? Tain thought in agitation, as he made to walk toward the younger man. Tain paused suddenly as he saw what it was Dante was pointing at. Charging up the side of the slope, at full speed, was a larger version of the animal that lay at Tain’s feet. Daddy isn’t happy! Tain thought with a small curse, as he fumbled over his shoulder for an arrow. Finding none in his quiver he dropped the bow to the ground and drew the long bladed knife from his belt, already making his peace with the Light and the Creator.

As the boar neared him Tain readied himself, prepared to do anything at all he could to prolong his life. He could see the beast properly now, running with a passion, froth dripping from its mouth, its large tusks gleaming in the dying sun.

Light! So close to the Blight and your going to let a measly boar kill you! Failure! Tain pushed all stray thoughts out of his head, as he seized the Void as tightly as a drowning man seizes a lifeline.

When the boar was a mere pace away Tain dropped into a defensive stance and was prepped to strike when, with a shrill whistle and a sharp grunt, the boar collapsed before him. It was down but not out and as it made to stand, Tain dashed forward and drove the blade of the knife he held, down into its skull. It kicked a final kick, then lay still.

“Im alive!” Tain, who had acted on instinct and adrenaline and who had had no conscious thought as to what he had done in that split second, whispered to himself, running his hands down his body in shock and glee.

“Tain! Tain are you okay?” Dante sprinted up the rise at full tilt to check if the older man was still alive or not.

“Light boy I am fine, thanks to you!” Tain slapped the younger man on the shoulder and laughed happily. “Let’s bring these back to camp! You grab the smaller one! We have done a good job today!”

A warm breeze crossed his face, blowing through the clearing softly. After returning back to the camp and reporting in with the Gaidin on duty, Tain had slipped away to this clearing to await Faoelin. He now lay on his back, head resting in the palms of his hands, staring up into the clear sky, awaiting the woman’s arrival for their usual training session. He heard a sharp curse and a rustle of branches and pushed up into a sitting position.

“Who is there?” Tain asked, getting to his feet slowly, easing the hunting knife at his belt from the scabbard.

“Light you bloody fool it is me!” Faoelin’s voice drifted to him from the other side of the clearing.

“Not like you to make any noise Faoelin!” Tain laughed slightly.

“Yes Tain I know!” there was something different about her voice, something was off. “Light, Tain please help me!” an unmistakable sob escaped her throat and Tain was across the clearing in an instant, dashing to her side.

“What is the matter?” he asked hurriedly as he made his way to where he had heard her voice emanate from.

“It’s this bloody bond. I’ve gotten myself wrapped tight in this bloody thorn bush! I was so distracted by what Haline Sedai was feeling to watch where I was going!” her voice was steadier but still tinged with pain.

He made his way to the woman, stopping just short and surveying the problem before him. Faoelin’s hands were pinned at her side, trapped by branches covered in thorns. She had obviously struggled when she had been initially caught as she had wrapped the briars firmly into her clothes and even into her shoulder length hair. He stepped forward and began to help remove the branches.

“Some of us should be so lucky to be bonded to an Aes Sedai, even if it is only a mock!” Tain laughed slightly, in an attempt to raise the Sei’Tar’s spirits, as he worked furiously to free her from the thorns. “At least you do not just have to train and do chores!” he sliced a branch free and as he tossed the length of briar over his shoulder a memory stirred in his mind.

“I swear Aethan’Tar if you cut me with that knife, even one hair, I will skin you!” Faoelin had her teeth gritted against the pain as Tain shook himself back to reality.

“Oh Light… Forgive me Faoelin!” Tain busied himself with removing the last branches, before stepping back and away from the newly freed Sei’Tar.

“Thank you Tain. That is better!” Faoelin stepped into the clearing properly and began to massage her wrists softly.

“No need to mention it! What else are friends for?” Tain made to step past her but Faoelin stopped him with a hand on his arm. He turned to her slowly and stared down at her.

Reaching up Faoelin placed a hand on either side of his face and, bending his head down to her, lightly kissed him on the lips. Tain’s arms instinctively wrapped around the slight Arafellin woman’s waist and he held her tightly, before she broke the kiss and pushed away from him.

“Haline needs me. Work never stops!” she laughed slightly and turned away from him, back the way she had come. “Meet me here later tonight, we will continue where we left off.” Without a good-bye or without even waiting for a response she walked away, back through the trees.

Light! What the hell happened there? Tain fell to his heels at the centre of the clearing, in a daze.

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