......... This is why Skrik isn't at the top of the tree. I knew that if I put him in a high and exposed position, looking down, that he'd be attacked from above. Some cheap shots are hard to resist taking.
@Jangel13, ... ... um... I posted... and I think I might... have gone crazy a little bit. I hope it isn't too intimidating and that I didn't go too far with it. If any part of it is unclear, please ask and I will clarify.
Skrik had succeeded again. His hand closed on the horn rather than the body but it turned out well as he dealt a mortal blow with precision and a managed to avoid injury as well. He had hunted by stealth. Now, he had hunted mostly by knowing his prey and making it attack. He breathed deeply and slowly, calming his mind from his earlier distressing moment of instability. It was one more thing that he needed to think about… later. For now, he had urgent work to do.
He used the same method to skin, clean and eat this horned rabbit as he had used before. In the end, only a few of the less useful organs remained after he ate the rest. He had much to think about and an ever growing list of things he wished to try but the sun had moved in the sky. It would likely be night all too soon. He did not know if the wolves that he had heard mentioned would wander this particular part of the forest at night but it would be foolish to be out here unprepared. He worked in the water first, using the stream to help him in scraping off the residual fat and flesh from the two hides. He also cleaned the skull of this second horned rabbit and knelt to bury it in the pebbles by the river.
“Let your strength draw others to water. Never go thirsty. Thank you.” Skrik whispered his prayer as he placed the last pebble over the skull of the brave creature that had been his prey.
He used the remaining inner bark as well, smashing and grinding it between two rocks until he had extracted the numbing oil from it. He placed the organs and scraps in this oil before using them to mark the base of a tree that stood out from the rest of the tree line by a few strides, leaving the bulk of them strewn around the base. With this done Skrik knew that time was limited. He had to move quickly before the scent attracted undue attention.
He hunted the tree line for saplings, seeking ones that were about as thick as his thumb and almost as long as his arm. His knife was sufficient to cut them off near the ground in just a couple strokes, though he knew its edge wouldn’t last forever. He quickly gathered a dozen like this as well as two that were a little thicker and almost as long as he was tall, at the shoulder at least. He would need a new weapon soon and a stout spear would do nicely, though a proper tip for it might take some looking. He also gathered small pebbles into one of the cleaned hides and made the other into a simple set of strips that he used to hoist the bag and cut saplings onto his back. It wouldn’t be a mighty arsenal, but it would allow him to make himself into quite the dangerous annoyance, at least.
When he had these gathered, he approached the tree that he had marked, hoisted his goods on his back using the crude harness, and examined it. The tree was old, its bark was thick and deeply marked with crevasses and there were many knots that stuck out where old limbs had died in years past. There were also ample strong limbs up out of easy reach, tangled together in places and interwoven with those of the tree closest to it. He began to climb. He used his sharp nails and long reach to his advantage but still took his time. He did not take chances and successfully reached the lowest of the strong limbs.
Then he looked down. It didn’t make him feel safe. But, he knew that most ground predators would not be able to effectively hunt prey that was in a tree. This place was his best bet. Still, while he had trapped the base of the tree, he had also baited the base of his refuge. It would be bad if the nocturnal predators came and decided to stick around because they saw him. He climbed higher but stuck with the strongest branches until he reached one that came within a stride of a strong limb of a neighboring tree. He was out of breath, getting a grip hadn’t been hard but lifting his own weight along with his rapidly growing number of possessions up the tree had taken a toll. He stopped for a moment and took stock of what he had and his surroundings.
He had a rabbit skin pouch that held the cleaned bones of both of his kills, as well as about 30 smooth pebbles, held on his back by a crude harness that was also supporting two stout saplings and a bundle of light saplings. His knife was tucked into his left wristband to free up his hands and claws for climbing. It looked like he still had an hour or so before sundown. He hoped it would be enough time. There was still one thing that he needed to bring up here. He sighed softly. This climbing would be good exercise but he’d be pretty tired afterward.
He placed the saplings in a place where two strong limbs emerged from the trunk at the same level. He then placed the pouch on the saplings, using them like a shelf. The harness he kept wrapped around him closely as he descended the tree again. It was a lot easier without having all that to carry and he knew where the hand and footholds were this time. Still, he was more comfortable on the ground. It was a pity that the ground would likely get him killed tonight if he stuck with it.
He quickly walked to the bank of the stream, keeping an extra careful eye out for any dangers since it was now only an hour or so before sunset. Once there, he found the stone that had the remaining numbing oil on it and took it to the tree line. There were some plants among the undergrowth that had large leaves and he picked a few, using them to wrap the stone and contain the viscous oil so that he could climb with it. He looked around quickly, checking to see if there were any trees in this area that looked the same as the numbing tree near the cave entrance and marking their locations in his mind if he found any. Then he returned to the tree he had baited, secured his last remaining possessions and climbed back up. It really was getting easier every time. Still, he had to move to a safer tree.
He left enough saplings to keep his makeshift shelf secure but took some of them with him and made his way along the limb to where the limb of the neighboring tree came closest. With great care, he crossed at this point and came closer to the second tree’s trunk. The branches of this tree were closer together and a few of them were draped in moss and vines. He found a place where several branches were close enough together for him to sit on one and lean against another with his feet on a third. He made a shelf from the saplings, much like the other tree and cleaned the moss and vines from these branches, gathering them together and placing the bundle on the new shelf along with the light flat rock wrapped in leaves that he was carrying. It didn’t take more than a moment to return the way he had come from and retrieve his pouch and the remaining saplings, moving them to his relatively safe perch in the second tree.
The sun was starting to set. Skrik took the vines that he had cleared and wound them around a couple of branches that were about a stride further up the tree than where he sat, forming a loose hammock between them and giving it a floor of moss and small branches that he claimed from nearby limbs. Removing these young branches also gave him a better view of the ground. Into this hammock he transferred the stout and light saplings, his pouch, the extra leaves that he hadn’t wrapped around the rock, and rock with the last of his numbing oil. Then, taking one stout sapling and a large leaf he placed the leaf across his lap and settled in for a long night.
He tried to stay focused, sharpening one end of the stout sapling to a point without compromising its strength before setting it aside, being careful to catch the shavings in the large leaf to avoid revealing his hiding place. Yet, he found his thoughts drifting toward less physical things. Life was a thing to treasure. Death was a thing to respect. Living things passed their strength to other living things but while most of this happened during the course of their lives, the full gift of strength only happened after death. Because living things needed strength from each other to survive they could not live alone. He looked around his memories, putting things in order as he finished turning the stout sapling into a short spear and began to sharpen the light saplings as well. The stout saplings would make for solid short spears, once he got the rest of what he needed to bind the horned rabbit horns to the shaft, and the light saplings would make good javelins once he finished sharpening them and coating the tips in numbing oil. Of course, they wouldn’t be very powerful weapons without a better tip but Skrik wasn’t really planning on using them tonight unless his plan went very well indeed.
His thoughts dwelt on the flow of strength between living things, as he worked. He thought more deeply, almost meditating as his hands crafted javelin after javelin. He lost track of time but felt that he was getting close to realizing something on the subject of flowing strength. He had felt something in his meditation but he wasn’t sure exactly what. His concentration failed when he ran out of javelins to sharpen. He then quickly and thoroughly poisoned the javelins and wrapped up the shavings in the large leaf, binding it shut with a short piece of vine and setting it in the hammock. Then he turned his attention to the ground and stilled his body into silence. He had the javelins in easy reach as well as his new spear and he replaced his knife in his wristband, just in case something went horribly wrong.
It was time to wait and watch.
The base of the first tree was baited with meat that had been poisoned with numbing sap. If the wolves were attracted to the bait and ate it, there was a chance that the sap would make them vulnerable and slow. If that happened, he might be able to kill one with thrown javelins before it could get away. If not, he would at least get a chance to observe the wolves and see whether the numbing sap was effective on them. If they didn’t even eat the bait, then he would know that it would take a better trap. However, he had used the last of his numbing sap stores to make the javelins. There was only a thin smear left on the rock. He would need to make a better way to carry such valuable materials.
Starting Skill: Butcher’s Insight [Heightened ability to find vital points, predict movement based on physiology, and get the most out of a carcass.] Acquired Skills: Slash (claws)= The goblin has learned how to use his sharper nails to create a slashing attack making it effective in rending flesh. Has no effect on armor; can be upgraded Pierce (weapon)= The goblin has learned to pinpoint a spot on an enemy and use a sharp weapon to strike hard at it. This allows the goblin to strike a deadly blow with any sharp weapon and when upgraded can pierce through weapons and armor.
@Jangel13, Thank you. I should probably not go looking for the ocean just yet then. Heh. Oh well, I guess the pirate's life isn't for me. Maybe there's a deeper water area upstream too? A still pond would be nice... Maybe that's wishful thinking. It takes deeper water to be able to bait fish of any size anyway so I'll have to put a hold on that idea for now.