The young girl, despite the admonitions by the elders, had decided that it was time she spread her wings a little, to explore beyond the borders set by the circle. “You simply aren’t ready, child.” said the one with white eyes, Talkar. What does he know, Zehnska wondered. Of course the world is dangerous for someone who can’t see! I know what to watch out for. Even the strong one, Khyxis, told her never to go beyond the borders, “The things that lurk out there aren’t something you can take on.” I know that, she thought. That’s why I stay far away. I can see in the dark anyway, so I’m not worried. She snuck out after dinner, after the elders had left her to do her evening meditations.
She picked up only the things she felt were necessary: her sickle, her belt pouch, and her waterskin. There shouldn’t be anything else that I need, she mused, wondering if there was something she was missing. I wanted to see and bring herbs from outside the borders and I won’t be gone for long. The sun was setting rapidly as she wandered further away from the circle’s encampment. She walked on for a few hours, stopping to study whatever new-looking flora she saw. The forest was quiet as she moved on for a while longer.
I wonder where everyone is. She stopped to listen for a while, still hearing nothing but the tree tops being rustled by the mild wind. I should turn back, it’s been long enough she thought and turned around to trace her steps back. The forest had become pitch black, but her exceptional sight allowed for her to see some fifteen metres ahead of her as if it was light as day, the rest dimming into complete darkness. Once she reached a small stream she had passed earlier, she sensed something closeby.
She immediately crouched to hide. I have to see what it is. After moving a bit closer, she noticed that it was a stag. Oh, just a deer. No need to be too worried. She got up and started walking slowly in order to not scare the stag away. As she was hopping over the stream, she heard a new sound getting louder. A flapping sound. The sound was soon followed by a loud bellowing and a thump, followed by the rustling of the undergrowth nearby, towards the stag. Zehnska froze and turned her head, slowly, only to notice a massive, hairy creature bending over the spot where the stag had stood.
What is that, she thought, almost speaking it out loud, barely keeping it in. It came out of nowhere. I need to get out of here. She started moving again, staring at the creature and keeping her pace even slower than when she had tried to avoid scaring the stag. Her steps were very light, barely making a sound. A snap. She turned her head to the source of the sound and noticed the twig she had stepped on. Her focus returned to the beast just as rapidly as it had moved away from it, finding it staring towards her, blood dripping from its large fangs. She caught a glance of the nearly decapitated deer it had been devouring now. She managed to hold in her scream until the monster let out an ear piercing screech.
She ran. Her feet taking her away from the gruesome scene as fast as they could, but it simply wasn’t enough. The flapping of the massive wings was growing louder, growing nearer. She was crying, thinking of nothing but getting back home safely. They were right! They were right! They were – Her thoughts were interrupted as Zehnska felt talons dig into her back and pushed her to the ground. The creature leaned in, as if to mock her as it screeched. I’m going to die! I’m going to die! I’m going to die! So deep in the thought of death was she that she didn’t even notice that the talons had let go of her and that a new kind of sound had joined the fray; that of an owl.
It took her a few moments to regain some of her composure and get up. The pain in her back was awful and the screeching had made her dizzy, so she started feeling weak after attempting a few steps. She leaned against a tree, sliding down back to the ground, with her eyes looking at the sky. The creature that she had finally recognised as an enormous bat was snapping its jaws at an owl. Bats can grow that large? The owl was large, but it was not even half as large as the leather-winged menace. This doesn’t make any sense. It all has to be a dream. And with that, she fell unconscious.
“She’s here, alive!” someone yelled. Elder? “Thank Gozreh that you are safe!” It was Khyxis. I didn’t know that he was capable of showing emotion, she thought. “Talkar! She’s bleeding.” he yelled again. Moments later the blind man got to her and started treating her. “We have searched for you all night, what happened?” What did happen? Talkar, despite being blind, suddenly turned to face the branches above them. Zehnska lifted her head as well and saw the owl, wounded. “Let’s get you back to the camp.” Khyxis said as he helped her from the ground. As they started walking away, Zehnska turned to look at the owl once more. It was no longer there.