“...Hey.. Hey now…” He stopped any movement forward, instead turning his body and attention back towards her. His voice lightened up at the sight of her and the feelings it provoked within him. He now, with what seemed to be somewhat instinctual, he wanted to back up on the tension and instead reassure her. She seemed younger than him though he was ignorant of the truth. He felt the need to now explain himself.
“Hey I just.. Look. You just can’t be comin’ up on someone like that. Someone like me, ya’ know? I just.. Okay I just can’t handle it.” He admitted to the now seemingly timid and dissociated woman before him.
He noticed her attention focused on the tavern instead of him. He felt the need to check over his shoulder to confirm, but he was confident. There was something going on with her.
She did not seem to want trouble any more than him. She came to him and certainly could have owned him without any struggle. She was willing to leave him instead, for the sake of avoiding confrontation at such an extent? She seemed as though her skeleton had buckled.. as though she had nothing strong enough to stand on.
"Hey." His voice far more stern and direct to get her attention again. "What's... what's going on..."
With the feeling of awkwardness after this unequal exchange between them, Czelsc could not help but look above to search for Rhae, the small kestrel falcon hunting the skies. His attention was above with his focus on Rhae for just a moment.
Just one moment.
He brought his tired, dark brown eyes back down to view the woman again but instead was only looking at where she had been.
Where she had been…just one moment ago.
His face kept flat as he looked forward. Sure he was shocked, he was surprised. Somehow he even found himself a bit disappointed. Though the years of him showing free emotions faded long ago. His face would stay still as did his body while merely trying to have any guess, any understanding as to what just happened.
Where did she go?
He stood still with his attention straight forward. He had this moment of not knowing exactly what to do. That was not common for him. He brought his hands to his hips, bracing himself some while handling his confusion.
He forced his attention to return above once more in search of Rhae. He finally saw her hovering rather than circling. This was a good sign. This showed she was calmer and must have gotten some insects. That she had finally gotten a proper meal for herself.
He let out a loud whistle to call the bird to return. There had been a significant amount of training between them and it showed. Rhae circled a turn to dive right for Czelsc who held his hand out. With a dive then a swoop, she tossed her wings back for resistance to land on his hand carefully. Her little talons dug into his skin to perch. With his same dirty left hand he reached for another piece of the raw chicken and held it out for her in case she still needed it. Thankfully she was full at last. He tossed the chicken back into a small satchel he kept just for her. Then he brought the small falcon up closer to his face. His brown eyes locked with the dark eyes of the falcon as he stared.
Hunting was over.
It was time to work.
Certainly there was no actual communication going on between the two, but Czelsc took this moment. He wanted all the training to show for this moment. All the time spent together. His look at Rhae seemed to resonate along the lines of; “Don’t let me down, not this time. Or else.” to the small thing who merely looked back at him cluelessly.
He wrapped his hand around the bird again as he had done before. His fingers met around her body at her breast bone.
As he prepared to launch the bird again, the clueless bird, Czelsc recognized that he paused for a moment.
He looked once more to where she had stood not long ago. His face had the same demeanor besides a little more depth to the wrinkles. Signs of concern and of guilt that he could not hide.
His gaze returned to Rhae as he tossed the bird into the air once more. She took off with her wings flapping immediately to gain height. Czelsc waited until she began to stabilize before he let out a loud whistle that pierced differently than the one he used to call her back. The small falcon now seemed to steer sharply after hearing the whistle and began to soar.
She was hunting with him now.
Czelsc picked up his pack from the ground once more then fluidly swung it over his shoulder, then the other. Good to go.
He looked up again and watched Rhae; where she was, where she was facing, where her focus turned. This companionship between human and falcon was one of the oldest in human history. The benefits from this wild partnership were insurmountable.
And these two were about to prove it.
At least Czelsc hoped. He needed to be confident in Rhae. He needed to trust her.
Cutting through the air, Rhae gave out a loud call claiming she had spotted something. Czeslc peered up again as he followed by footstep through the forest which began to hug him tighter and tighter. He heard Rhae call again as he heard another bird call against her. Czelsc’s focus turned ahead with a flinch of his eye, subconsciously, to quickly think and determine what bird he just heard. A nightingale. Beautiful birds.
Silent moments passed as Czelsc continued to look up to try and find Rhae again. The canopy grew thicker as he followed where he thought she went.
Then another call, an echo. He quickly turned over his shoulder to face around to where he heard this new call from Rhae. Czelsc gave out a unique whistle very loudly to respond to her. His direction of travel now turned toward Rhae as he picked up pace. She had narrowed down on something. Then he heard another call of the nightingale. Rhae was telling Czelsc she had found something, or had gotten interested in something. Since she had followed this bird and had not attacked it meant Rhae was trying to relay something to Czelsc. She had not attacked it which they would do even if hungry to store a meal for later.
Czelsc tried to continue his travels through the forest, but where he began and where he was now seemed to be two different worlds. He had gotten so wrapped up in keeping his directions straight with Rhae and so focused on the smaller scale details of this forest that he had not realized how very different this place had seemed when compared to his entrance from the tavern.
He began to look up and around a lot more now. He knew which direction to follow Rhae so he took this opportunity to absorb this area. It was unlike anything he had seen before in all the travels of the world that one human could achieve. How could that be?
There was so much to take in. So much to get lost in. His focus kept upward as he traveled. It was difficult to set aside his bewilderment at what he was now walking through. There were faint lights, new smells so strong, there was something so different that he could not begin to fully understand yet. If he would ever be able to as a human.
Then he was finally through the thick. Through into some incredible open clearing, covered by the forest which could have felt like armor protecting the spot. It was a secret. It felt like one at least. A hidden gem that only the deserving could ever view. He did not feel like one of them.
As he was absorbing these new surroundings, these mystical feelings, he did all he could to maintain his focus. Czelsc viewed the tree line surrounding the area of which he had just emerged from. He followed the natural barriers to the shores and scanned along the soft banks. The signs of nature holding her own dear to her; the moss, the stones, the water, the flora. The smells of each were strong and earth-rich. There was so much beauty for him to take in, and just as he had that thought, he saw something.
A mound, no maybe not. But it was not natural to this spot. From the distance and darkness, his human eyes could not make the object out well enough at first. He continued to look around the area as he approached this unusual spot.
Then it moved.
He stopped and immediately crouched down what he could. There was not much to available to help him hide along. His body instantly pinched some pain at the sudden snap to crouch. He saw the, well, what he thought was just a mound of earth, seen it uncurled and sit back. This was the best he could describe what he saw until approaching.
Czelsc slowly stood back up and crept along, his body slowly adjusting to being up again. He moved slowly until he realized what it was. What she was.
There she was.
He kept silent, unknowing what to do next. He wanted to find her, but hadn’t thought of the “then what?”
His thoughts were short. Though they were deep, considered, they were also short. He jumped to action.
Czelsc stood as straight as he could. His right leg stood out a little ahead of him to brace. The bag, the rifle, everything was packed away. His right hand hung along his side while his left hand braced the straps in his grip. He was intentionally showing no signs of wanting trouble. Of any risk to her. That he had no motive. No interest in danger.
He was still naïve to her truth. He knew she was different but nothing beyond that.
The swaying, flickering lights bringing some reflections to the water, blurry to him. Seeing this soft glow coming off her hands held underwater. His attention came to her.
He gripped the straps in his left hand one more time before speaking.
“...Hey-you..." The lower voice, the accent and the haste caused this greeting to easily be mistaken for only one word.
He stood still in the clearing, looking ahead to the woman who left him not long ago.