Ruelash stooped on a ledge, staring moodily down the slope. The last trap he was supposed to check on was somewhere down there. He wasn't scared of the slope. He was a sure-footed rangery sort.
Of course he wasn't afraid. Nothing scared him. Not even blizzards and fanged things. They just made him feel exhilerated. Alive.
It was just that, if he got the last trap, he would have to return to the village. Returning meant having to listen to the twittery little whispers of the others there. It wasn't the content of the whispers themselves that bothered him, though they bordered on the insulting.
'I don't know why the elders let him stay here! He should be dealt with before he kills someone' was a common one. First off, they could TRY to deal with him! He could take them! He could take all of them!
Second off, they would know when he felt like killing someone. All right, so that was all the ******** time, but they would have plenty of warning when he actually felt like committing murder instead of imagining it. It wouldn't be fun otherwise.
No, it wasn't the content, but the annoying whisper-whisper-whispering. And the whining! Chi's breath, the people in his village whined a lot. It was so annoying!
He really was not looking forward to going back, but he had to otherwise they would send people after him. They might not be friendly.
Not a problem, he could take them. But then getting back to see his sister and nieces would be a ******** pain, and they might even be turned against him. Or hurt, though he would like to see the one to try! And rip his guts out!
Still. He was procrastinating before checking that trap, enjoying the sounds of Zena.
He looked down from his ledge to see a traveller wandering alone on the road below, her boots crunching on the small stones in the path.
He began to smirk, but it became a frown as he realized it was a woman. Sometimes he would mess with travellers, challenge them to duels. Whatever.
But a woman...
He began to climb down the ledge, nimble with practice, leaping to the path like a cat.
“Hoy!” he called out to her, “Don't ya know? 's dangerous to travel these parts all alone!”
Zena was not a place Shiri usually wandered. In fact, she generally avoided it like the plague she believed that it was. An inhospitable land, in her opinion, even on the fringes. Shiri, a young woman who could usually see the beauty in all things, refused to marvel at the glittering ice-crusted trees or the stark beauty of the snowy mountain peaks. This, after all, was the land of her father. Nothing good could come from here. Why, then, was she wandering so close to the fringes where Sauti ended and Zena began? There was no really good answer to that question, save for the fact that it was what she did - wander. Sometimes without path or purpose, just following the breeze wherever it seemed to want to send her.
She hadn't actually realized how close she was getting to Zena. She was used to the cold, the village she had grown up in was very close to the border and it was always colder than some of the other places in Sauti she had visited. So she hadn't consciously registered the change in temperature, merely wrapping her cloak closer to her slight frame and moving onward aimlessly. At the sight of snow she had started to grow uncomfortable and decided to turn back. Only she hadn't. Not back where she had come from. Instead she had taken a more sideways route, walking the border between the two places. The border between her heritage. Mother and father. Beauty and cruelty. The strangeness of it rather suited her mood, which had been odd for weeks now.
She had known that this was the land of the Ice tribe. She had registered that risk, but in her current mind set it hadn't really sunk in. Shiri was not usually the type to take risks she hadn't measured carefully before but something in her was being reckless. And she would soon have cause to regret that recklessness.
"Hoy! Don't ya know? S' dangerous to travel these parts all alone!"
The voice sounded out, a masculine clarion call. Shiri turned to see where it had come from and her pale skin grew paler. She knew what that dark hair and blue skin meant. She knew what a man of the ice would do if her caught her. She couldn't let him catch her. Without responding, Shiri turned and began to run as fast as possible across the icy ground.
Ruelash stopped his approach, momentarily perplexed. Normally, people didn't bolt around him. Even the ones that knew him and his reputation as a dangerous, explosive, violent individual mostly would just stand there, shaking in their fur-lined boots, hoping that he would just go away so they could get back to whispering. Or they stood their ground and threatened him. Or they avoided him entirely.
He didn't mind that.
He checked behind him in case something big and nasty lurked behind him.
Nope, it had to have been him that she was running from.
He caught a glimpse of pale skin and raven-black hair as she ran, impressively quickly, away. Pale skin meant wind tribe, but black hair meant ice tribe...
Huh. He'd heard of halfbreeds, but never seen one. Didn't particularly care either way. People were people, and wind tribe earthlings were just as annoying in a group as ice tribe earthlings.
He was mildly concerned as ms. Mystery halfbreed girl was running on ice in soft shoes. On a ridge.
He briefly contemplated turning away and letting her run, but it felt wrong. She was a girl, and could get hurt out here. There were lots of dangers about, and he had a bad feeling about the things that could happen to young ladies alone in the wilds. Thinking about some those things made him just so ENRAGED... He couldn't leave her alone here.
He checked his little kit of supplies. Not too many, of course, but some basic keep-you-alive-until-you-get-home-or-can-man-it-out-stuff.
“Hoi, slow the hell down!” He called, “Didn't yer momma tell you not to run on ice?”
He began walking quickly in her direction, his boots soled with a few spiky bones for traction and stability on the slippery ridges of his homeland. He'd modified them himself and was pretty proud of his work. But even still, he wasn't going to bother running on ice unless he needed to. He took risks, but even he wouldn't do something that foolish.