TheHunter
there will always be the hunt skekMal inhaled the deep scent of the thick forest; the moss mixed with damp earth and the rain that just washed Thra. His tail thumped against the ground, with content, as last droplets fell on his unmasked face.
by skekMal

The competition idea started to grow stale for the Hunter. During the eighty trine of rule celebration, the skeksis were bold, young, agile and joyous… but also clumsy and lazy. He liked them enough as that. But as opponents in any competition, they were unworthy to raise the talon. Adding the gelfling competitors to it, it looked like a catching the wind with teeth. The teeth was this idea, the wind… skekMal.

skekSo managed to get the reluctant agreement from his beak, by very cohersive maneuvers, which included an inverbal plead of just making the Emperor happy – which he never dodged and always was willing to.

Now, during the race, which was of course skekAyuk’s idea (skekAyuk didn’t compete, but waited for all of them with a huge feast, along the one who persuade him and skekEkt, who felt the chase would destroy his newly sewn robes) – he didn’t even hear the other skeksis and gelfling which were left behind. He was sure he won’t hear them for a ,long time.

He almost heard a sensual murmur of skekSo in his ear.

“Who could ever beat the Hunter? Who would even dare?”

Oh yes, such a trivial thing, but in Emperor’s beak it sounded like a song.

Not that he didn’t have his own ways to disarm skekSo. Which worked even better than simply words.

He crawled on the first tree in a sight and looked into the horizon.

Here they were. All in mud, trampling. He almost heard curses¬† they tossed around. A jubilous laughter rose in his chest, he couldn’t not admire them a little. They were young and agile, but appreciating pillows, comfort and service. The fact they agreed to participate in this, worked on their behalf.

When he passed between the trees, breathing in the scent of fresh moss and summer breeze, he still wondered, how they can live without it. Without the hunt. Without the comort of sleeping under stars.

It felt… wrong. And unsafe, to be locked within the crystal walls.

The open space, the woods, the grains of sand between his talons and the dark misty mountains which asked him to take a chance with them, challenging him…¬† it was the life. It was the soul of it.

*

When the other skeksis started to gather at the finish, a large meadow adapted to it by… well, skekMal, because others would never know how to make a meadow safe enough to party, skekMal was sitting with dark and undeciphered expression near the Emperor, his chest dewed with slight sweat. He promised himself to bath in a stream as soon, as this ridiculous thing will end.

skekSo was leaning to him, saying something, but he was to restless to even notice, as much as he felt comfortable in Emperor’s company.

The skeksis cursed and cursed and gazed at skekMal with something not unlike fond jealousy. They knew he will win. But they liked him too much, they cherished his rare company too much, to really be jealous. And that he was most fond of today, their light agreement on the loss, which was obvious to them. They weren’t bad after all. They only had different habits and different views on what is good and what is unwanted.

The prize, a bow encrusted with iron, lay before him. It was skekSo’s idea, and he appreciated thinking of him. But he never used a bow, nor wanted to. He liked hunting with blades, with talons and teeth, then and only then, he felt he really makes one with his prey. Bow was a weapon he never considered, but he knew who did and that alone, was making him less annoyed and more assured that all of this won’t go to waste.

“Ah, skekMal, what a gorgeous sight it was, to see you emerge from the woods, all sweated and strong, like a god of the forest!” beamed skekEkt, handing him a cup of wine. “I should do a wall ornament depicting this scene! A very… stimulating one.”

skekSo observed the Hunter with narrowed eyes, which were all but mischievous.

skekMal sipped the wine and allowed skekOk and skekZok to drag him into a wild dance. Or at least what they considered wild.

*

This night, a bow appeared under the tree urVa occupied. The Archer didn’t need to wonder who lay it there. The ornaments were typical skeksis effort and only one creature would come up and leave it here without alarming him.

“Thank you, skekMal” he murmured fondly, examining the flawless iron and leather work.

The fact that the Hunter didn’t hand him it personally didn’t amaze him.

It was skekMal. And he appreciated him just as he was.

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skekMalthe hunt never ends
Mal. Hunter. Witch, forest spirit and a wild creature. Night enchantress and pagan soul. Loves slavic mythology and literature. Woods are her sacred place.
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