Morel aligned his body for speed and she could feel his predatory instincts override his hesitation. The filfish hadn’t seen them yet, but they soon will.
The jungle trees rustled all around her. She could smell the sweet scent of flowers on the air as the breeze rolled softly on her skin. It felt great to be out on a hunt. She could not let herself give into that sensation too completely, less she makes a careless move and give away her position. Her prey was the skittish filfish, and her village had high hopes for her. It is uncommon for a school of filfish to fly so low to the continents. Her hand gripped tighter on her spear and the scruff of her glyder as she recalled how the elder called for a “kindelhai,” a hunting party, and looked to her first when deciding who would go.
In her kindelhai, Maple was chosen to be the first attacker, a big deal for her since this will be the first time she has ever filled this role. Although, she could feel the pressure of responsibility this meant, she also could feel the calming feelings her kindlehai was sending to her, the feelings of trust and faith. She could feel them around her, and even though she could not see them she could sense their positions. With the exception of Kai the Huntmistress supervising from below them, she had known all of them since childhood.
Her glyder Morel still did not trust her though. While Morel was still a pup, at his most vulnerable age, Maple had carelessly dropped a torch onto his tail. His fur had never grown back and their relationship was never as strong as the other partners would prove to be. It seemed that Morel always questioned her moves, always hesitated when spurred to move against an aggressive adversary.
Maple’s reverie was broken from the sudden shadows of movement in the sky above. The filfish were here. She tugged on Morel’s shoulders, urging him to spring out of the trees. To her frustration, he didn’t. Panic setting in, she buried her face into his back, willing and pleading with him to feel how important this was for her, for them. She could feel him start to move and braced herself for flight. A second later he exploded out of the brush. Maple almost dropped her spear as the creature below her opened up his body to catch the wind. The ascent was swift, sudden and most importantly: silent.
They rose up above tree line, the clouds visible from above and the cloud ocean visible from below the edge of the continent. She could feel her kindelhai steadying her as they emerge from their positions. She was eager to make that first move that would send the rest of the school into the waiting spears of her companions. Morel aligned his body for speed and she could feel his predatory instincts override his hesitation. The filfish hadn’t seen them yet, but they soon will.
Out of the corner of her eye, Maple spotted a strange purple oval appear in the distance over the cloud ocean. A strange figure emerged from it and the oval disappeared. Willing her eyes to make out the shape she realized that it was a man, a very tall man, riding a strange creation. She saw him attack the creature, looking desperately at the small water jets streaming out the back of it. She could feel Morel pushing into her consciousness confused. Everything being pushed on her said to attack, but she knew if the man fell below the cloud ocean, he would not return. The hunting party must now become a rescue party. That thought made its way to Morel who for the first time in their partnership, did not resist her urgings.
Leaving her puzzled companions behind, Morel spiraled into a dead drop. The pair managed to catch up to the man and his creation, who seemed to have slowed their fall somehow. Maple called out to the man, who saw her and looked like he didn’t know what was more surprising, the sudden free fall or the girl clad in leathers riding a giant gliding mammal who has come to his rescue. He considered his options for what Maple felt was an irrationally long time and then jumped at them. Dropping her spear, she reached out just in time to clasp onto his outstretched arm. The temperature was rising rapidly as Morel outstretched again, desperate to find a current. If they have flown too low, there will be no winds to raise them back up. Maple could feel that her kindelhai had followed her, and their feelings had reached her granting her the strength to pull the man onto Morel’s back, and granting them the luck Morel needed to find a gust to pull them back to the group.
During the slow climb, Maple was focused entirely on what she was going to tell the elder. She had failed their village this day. She turned to regard the man she had saved who was two shades whiter than when she saw him during his fall. He looked her in the eyes and started to speak; “My name is LLoyd LLemar,” he said with a strange enunciation, “can you tell me where I am?”