The birds sang their morning song as Jade walked towards Ecca's hut trying to stifle a
yawn. She had only gotten an hour of sleep before she was pounced on by her two
The weather was unusually warm and humid that day and the sun was hidden behind thick gray clouds threatening rain. The village was alive with movement. Villagers walked through the dirt streets busy with their morning chores. The autumn leaves danced between them, catching in Jade's hair. The younger children ran around their mothers, weaving in and out of the streets until their father's stopped what they were doing, scooped them up, and tickled them playfully.
Ecca's son, also Jade's friend, Cych, sat on the ground outside his hut working on a weaving, "Hello, Jade," he said without looking up. Jade smiled at her friend's awareness despite his concentration on the weaving. She had always admired his sixth sense of cognizant. Often he would join her when she practiced her hunting skills. He could always sense where animals were hiding. He had taught her how to walk quietly with stealth and to use all of her senses.
Cych's dark green eyes smiled as she sat down in front of him. She saw herself in his eyes, suspended in midair in the two single forests of his eyes. Her body suddenly clenched. He knows, she thought. He knows about the knife in my boot, the faint footprints I left in the woods, the tiny punctures on my hands, the swollen gash on my thigh.
Ever since the Ayoras began snatching playing children, no one was allowed out of the village at night and not to far during the day. Sleep was also mandatory for the village because of the work that was to be done to survive. Jade's parents, Yorgo and Sophia, also weren't too pleased when Jade had came staggering back cut and bruised after her encounter with the Ayoras.
He cocked his head, "Where did you go last night?"
Jade looked stunned then uncertain, "What?"
"There was a person, a dog, and a horse walking away from the village a little before midnight," before she could ask, he calmly answered. "The person's footsteps was a female's about your height and size. I can distinguish you from others by the way you walk. The dog was no doubt a young hybrid. The horse's steps were fiery yet more robust. I can also recognize Eleni by the way she walks." he let it trail off.
"I was taking a night ride. I needed time to think," Jade looked at him ready for him to challenge her answer.
Cych paused then took the hint and changed the subject, "I finished it," he picked up a dark quilt at his side that was laying on a hide.
Jade caught her breath, "It's beautiful." She tenderly stroked the soft fur. Cych had sewn together pieces of fur to create a quilt with the image of a laying silver wolf. Besides Jade, Cych was the only person from the village that had seen the mysterious wolf. The fur that made up the wolf's image on the quilt was the silver wolf's fur that was found on the ground and trees while he was shedding his thick winter coat last summer. "I don't know how to thank you enough," She said in awe. The quilt seemed almost alive to her. It shimmered with a kind of magic only known to Cych.
"My family could use some extra meat and I could use a little extra fur and hide for my weaving," Cych patted the weaving on his lap.
"Okay," Jade said smiling, "I'll hunt an extra rabbit for you today." A small splash of water fell on Jade's nose. She looked up at the cloudy sky as another one fell onto her forehead. The rain began cascaded around her head like a thousand tiny, silver blades building a tent around her. She felt a hand on her shoulder and look up to see her father towering above her.
Yorgo's face showed no emotion between the thick mane of black hair that framed his face. His deep-set, hard, brown eyes looked down upon her and the large spear that he held in his other hand gave a threatening image, "Come Jade. It's time to hunt."
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