The Hunting Hours
« on: September 06, 2020, 04:25:46 PM »
It had been one of those days. One of those weeks, really, where the call of the land warred with the call of the sky. She'd done her best - slept when her body wanted, ate when her body wanted, tried to sooth its hungers as they came rather than pushing them aside. Not her moontime, not yet, but maybe close enough to explain the itch that had her pacing the length of her yard, watching the sky, debating. Only its controlled chaos hid the fact that she strut naked, clothes already put away in her cabinet.

The sun was still a generous hand and a half above the horizon when she finally gave in, stepping into the treeline to begin the change.

Alight, wind in her feathers, wrapped in a Red sight shield, Shriewhy picked a direction and flew. Trees passed below her in miles of prickly planes before fading into the craggy, pitted faces of the mountain foothills beyond Lake District's borders.

It had been sometime since Shrie had gone hunting in the mountains, wary of the lack of cover and her own unfamiliarity with the landscape. But the dusky light, and her own sight shield soothed her nerves enough to let her attention wander. She traded the one for Blood Opal sight and sound shields, hoping to diminish her impression for any who might be looking, and leery of relying only on her tufted feathers making her flight silent. She resigned herself to the fact that it would take too much energy to maintain them, sweep for signs of life, and hunt if she didn't want to end up camping.

Angled, she circled the dusty rocks and narrow mountain trees. The sparse shrubbery worked to her advantage, allowed her to pick out the mountain goat making its way between boulders. Young, but not too young to be a meal on the return trip, even if she chose to fly a bit farther. It'd be easy enough to kill and pack up.

Locked onto her prey, Shrie flapped harder, talons beginning to reach in anticipation of contact while she tilted into the wind -

- and then a bolt of Sapphire power streaking toward her, twisting too late, a screaming pain lancing into the meat of her shoulder. A shriek tore itself from her beak, and then she was tumbling through the air, trying to angle away from where she'd thought the largest rocks had been.

Instinct told her not to call back the change until she was on the ground, that the vulnerability of the midshift state would cause more problems than the impact alone. She wrapped herself in a Red physical shield instead.

Feathers snapped and talons scrambled when she hit the ground, skidding in pebbly dust. Her heart raced. Shapes swam. She reached for the bobbing end of the spear, the smooth wood sliding from her grip. Blood slick. She shook. Moments of struggle turned breaths to whistling keens. Her grip kept, at last, tacky in the feathers of her feet. Head twisted, she snapped the shaft in her beak as close as she could reach. Less movement to widen the wound.

Craft racing she brought the shift. Tried to focus it - hands, mouth - at the same time as she scrambled for cover. Pushed herself back on wings shifting to arms, hands, fingers, feathers dragging in the dust. Unmistakable disturbances as she shoved with taloned feet to go faster, fighting the unnatural angle of it. A boulder met her shoulders, the scraggly branches of a wind stunted tree hanging over its lee. She couldn't fit all the way into the hollow, body too long, and pulled her feet as far up against her belly as they would go. There was nothing she could do about her tail feathers, but she wouldn't be caught brooding like a chicken when whoever had shot her down came hunting, even if the position was awkward in the moment. Body shaking, she sent a slowly sweeping probe out along the Red.

Searching.

Her heart had only just begun to calm when she caught upon a presence that rang in tune with the Sapphire touched spearhead in her shoulder. Her lips were still stiff with the memory of her beak, and she could feel the fine down on her cheeks where the breeze disturbed them, but she thought she looked mostly woman shaped. From the waist up, at least. She hoped the falling dusk would hide the wrongness that lingered in her face.

Belatedly she wrapped herself in Red shield layers. She wouldn't be able to erase her tracks or vanish the broken spear in time, but she could try to hide herself. Holding her breath, she waited, slowly attempting to pull herself further below the branches. Prayed, Mother Night, smile down upon your daughter. Don't let me die here, and urged on the change.

@Jones