Aleine was running harder than she had ever thought possible, sucking in the warm air and exhaling with a hiss as she bolted across the open water. The water walk technique which was so embedded in her body over the past decade was taxing to her magic. She spun around on one of her steps and balanced as she froze more of the area. Feeling the heat rise up her scaled skirt and over her bare legs, the flush of warmth soothed the ache in her muscles.
She scanned the dense foliage for any sign of movement, keeping her eyes moving while she pulled her bow from her shoulders. She felt the worn grip of her recurve bow with a light metal spine in the wood. It was almost older than she was, but strong enough to handle the magically aided draw that she put on it.
Nocking an arrow, she caught the scent of burned flesh tinging the air and a moment later her prey burst forth from the tree line. Aleine had lured the Toridea towards the village so they wouldn’t have to carry it far. Now was her shot–the beast had taken a few arrows already, it was angry, and its acidic saliva ran like a river all its own. The great reptile outweighed three grown men and was able to glide through water silently when it wasn’t enraged.
This one was, however; its gills flared and eyes widened as it stared down towards Aleine. She drew her arrow back, the comforting sound of the strain filling her ear over the thrashing of the charging beast. In the span of a heartbeat, as the Toridea’s front feet reached the height of its step, she released the arrow.
The long thin head whistled as it sped through the space between prey and hunter. After years under the best marksman in the village, Aleine’s aim was nearly as good. In a spray of blood and saliva the beast fell into a forward roll from its interrupted momentum. With a second arrow loosed into the under belly the beast was fished, its few remaining breaths labored and wheezy.
“Good shot,” Hafwen called to her from the shore line, as a smirk cracked her stony face. She had raised and mentored Aleine for nearly two decades, all for the trials she would face tomorrow on her twentieth birthday.
The large wooden doors to the village opened and a group of men walked out nodding politely to Hafwen. As they approached Aleine, who was slushing through the river towards the shore, a few patted her shoulder and gave passing praise. Aleine looked over to Hafwen who was shaking her head and pointing to her kill. After all this time she hounded Aleine to keep up her basics, and now wanted her to retrieve her arrows.
As she lowered her head and turned to her task, one of the younger men was still beside her.
“Care for a lift?” his voice cracked a little making Aleine smile as she accepted. He hoisted her upon one shoulder and continued to the kill. The men in the Misten’s tribes where large mountains of honed muscle, their natural strength letting them maintain the villages. The men generally stayed at the village as defense and also building and repairing building, a task made much easier by their ability to work in chest-deep water.
With the day’s hunt done, Aleine returned through the gates of the Aquar Equian tribe’s Village, where the preparations for Aleine’s trials were already under way.