The night was chilly. Kuna shivered and rubbed her arm with one hand. It was hard to see, and various items cracked under her black leather boots. She would do this. She would show Floressa she wasn't one to be fooled around with. The other girl could no longer be seen. Jumping up onto a rock, Kuna relaxed in the moonlight and took out a map. She squinted, trying to make sense of it. Seeing a small clump of nearly invisible grass beneath her feet, Kuna bent down and picked it up. Lightshine grass, perfect. "Lux." She whispered, and the grass glowed. Holding it to the map, she tried to memorize the first few parts of it, and tucked the Lightshine grass in her pouch, saving it for later uses.
Taking out a better suited knife, she chopped away branches and leaves. Her tribe would be left behind when the Great Migration began, and it would be all Floressa's fault. What if her goddess inhabited her before she found the Pearl? Kuna took a route to her left and climbed over branches, careful not to scrape her bare hands. Luckily, to prepare for possible competitors, each tribe trained their members at the age of ten. They recorded every detail about the person, and which weapons they were most skilled at. Floressa was all about her slingshot, using all kinds of materials to shoot. Sharpened twigs, rocks, balls of leaves, bones, you name it. Kuna could easily deflect with her knives, and her skill in knife throwing aided her in means of food and defense. She entered a giant empty log, and set up a camp of sorts. A fresh wave of wind blew, but the fallen log shielded her. Wrapping herself snugly in her coat, she quickly fell asleep, dreaming of Vesla offering her the beautiful glowing aqua pearl.
Faint sunlight streamed through a slit in the log, pointed at Kuna's cheek. She woke up and rubbed her eyes, knocking her arm on the log in an attempt to stretch. It was early morning, from the look of the weak light. Kuna packed up and got out, glancing at her surroundings now that it was daylight. Trees spotted her vision here and there, but not packed like a forest. There must be prey around. Kuna took out a hunting knife and several small and razor sharpp throwing knives. Gathering some twigs, she prepared it for a fire when she caught something. She sheathed her throwing knives in her belt and stabbed the trunk with the hunting knife, using it haul her body up to the nearest branch. It was thick but leafless. Crouching on the branch, Kuna stilled, only daring to breath in very small movements. Dashes of colors caught her eye. It was merely a butterfly. She sighed and made herself comfortable.
It wasn't long until she spotted a young and lively squirrel, jumping up onto Kuna's resting log to nibble on a small stash of fruits and berries. They weren't any poisonous foods, Kuna knew, otherwise the squirrel wouldn't be eating it. She took out two throwing knives and aimed, a part of her feeling guilty for ruining the squirrel's perfectly calm morning. Birds chirped melodies and harmonies, offering the rodent music, and the sun shone on it's tail, providing warmth from the chilly dawn. She was about to let her knife go when she heard a howl. The squirrel pricked it's ears and ran away, leaving it's berries. A pack of rabbits flushed from under a bush, and other little creatures followed. Kuna slid off the tree, sheathing her knives and bringing out a bigger and more defensive one, and followed the animals. Whatever is is they were running from, she'd be no more stronger to defend herself against it.
The twigs snapped behind her. Her lovely hairstyle had come loose after branches snagging her hair. She couldn't fix it now, something was after her. The area was silent, her heavy breathing and footsteps filled the horrifying silence, completed with the pounding steps behind her. The monster howled again, this time much closer. Kuna knew she couldn't run any longer, she would have to hide or risk endangering herself to fight the creature. Just then, she heard another set of footsteps. Was it possible someone was hunting her? She hadn't even eaten yet, and now she wished she had scavenged the berries from the squirrel. Kuna began to wheeze a little after the lengthy run. Stopping for just a second, she scurried up a leafy tree and secured herself on a branch close to another tree, just near enough for her to jump and escape. She held out knives and waited for the creature and footsteps to pass.
A flash of blond hair entered her vision. It was Floressa, her white outfit recognizable as she shot random ammonitions from her well crafted slingshot. A large wolflike animal sprang out of the bushes after her competitor, completely ignoring the twigs and pebbles that were being shot back at it. She had a sudden urge to laugh and let Floressa be eaten. If the two of them worked together, they should be able to take down the wolf and be on their way as if they've never met. She jumped down and followed the wolf, keeping an eye on both the animal and Floressa, but staying behind to hide from the creature if it doubled back and attacked her.
She was feeling guilty now, for delaying her tribe's Migration and setting Kuna and herself in danger. But she promised her mother, although not biological; none of the tribes had biological mothers; that she'd at least become an Essence competitor, no matter the price. Floressa ran, her golden hair streaming behind her. She could feel the thundering paws of the giant wolf behind her. It's hot breath was almost at her neck. Floressa didn't dare look behind her. If only she had never even fooled the tribe. False Essences almost always never succeeded. Even then, Vesla didn't always choose to use that girl.
"I have to try!" She yelled, and gained a burst of speed. She'd never outrun this thing, but she could outsmart it. Her slingshot would never kill it. Seeing a tree up ahead, she got ready and jumped, grabbing a branch and swinging herself up just before the wolf's jaws snapped on her legs. She grabbed a thin branch and snapped it, quickly trying to shape it. The wolf was up on its paws and leaning on the trunk, nearly reaching her. She stabbed its paws with the branch. It whimpered, licked its paws, and continued, a bit less ferocious.
It was unfair to let her competitor suffer there and she continue on her own. Kuna took a deep breath and calmed herself. She took out two fighting knives and ran, leaping straight at the wolf. She could see Floressa's surprised face as she sliced the wolf, then dodged with precision as the giant animal took a swipe at her. Its body was massive, and scruffy black fur coated it. Something shimmered at its neck, and Kuna looked closer.
The wolf moved and jumped, revealing a woven collar with a branded tag on it's neck as its fur flew with the gravity. She hissed as it almost rip her cheek, and reached inside her coat, hooking out a smaller, sharper throwing knife. She backed away and flung it with force. It embedded itself in the wolf's side, but quickly dislodged when the creature moved again. She had barely touched it's skin, but a small droplet of blood blossomed on its impossibly dark fur. "Floressa, a little help here for your savior?" Kuna called, lunging to stab its neck.
Floressa hesitated, trying to work up the nerve to leave Kuna in the wolf's grasp. She groaned and took out a rounded stone to aim and shoot at the wolf's side. The stone entered the wolf's fur. It whimpered in pain and turned around, snapping its huge jaws at her. Saliva sprayed her face, and she coughed, smelling its breath. She chucked another stone at it. The stone bounced off its eye and it howled, completely ignoring both girls as they advanced to attack. It then ran, with a final warning snap at them. She watched as Kuna collasped in exhaustion. She placed a pebble in her slingshot behind her back. "Thank you, Kuna," She raised the slingshot. "but I have to go." She let go and ran. Floressa could hear the girl gasp in pain as the pebble knocked into her leg. She took a deep breath to try and make herself not regret it. She had only used a little pebble, not enough to bloody or break Kuna's leg. Floressa ran on, slowing down after a while to stare at the morning sun.