Zaina - Chapter 1 - The Valley Hunt
Zaina bent down closer to the ground, keeping a steady eye on her target. She slowed her breath and pulled back the arrow on her bow, taking extra precaution to not make a sound. Looking down the arrow she saw the lion that she had been waiting on for weeks now. A month ago she had caught a glimpse of this beautiful creature but was not able to catch up to her in time.
This was no ordinary hunt for food. This was a challenge hunt. This lioness was elusive, cunning, not to mention extremely fast, and Zaina had decided to call her Haraka. Zaina saw it as a test of her hunting skills, she needed this kill. After weeks of hunting in this valley, she finally found the beast: drinking from a small river running through the south part of the valley. Haraka was also very close to a cave in the mountain-side, somewhere she could run for safety. Zaina could not make a mistake if she wanted this to be a successful hunt.
Zaina took a small step forward to lean around the tree for a better view. As she moved forward she stepped on a small leaf that made a light crunch. Zaina flinched; knowing that there was no way Haraka didn’t hear it. The lioness quickly raised her head from the water, in Zaina’s direction. They both stood perfectly still for a moment, Zaina hoped that the shade from the tree was enough to hide her from view. That hope faded as Haraka quickly turned around and started running towards the cave in the mountain.
Zaina let out a sharp breath and quickly ran after her. I can NOT lose her again! Zaina thought to herself. Once inside the cave Zaina slowed her pace and carefully watched her steps as she wandered deeper and deeper inside the cave. It became very dark, so dark that a normal human would not be able to see. Luckily, Zaina was not human, instead she was a Troll. Trolls are somewhat human but have increased qualities that include: sight, hearing, stealth, endurance and much more. Being a Troll, Zaina could easily see in the dark.
Zaina paused for a moment, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. As she exhaled she opened her eyes and could see much clearer. She hunched down and listened for any signs of Haraka. She could hear nothing, but was not discouraged. Zaina knew that the lioness was cunning, she most likely was hidden and keeping very quiet.
Moving further and further into the depths of the cave, Zaina grew tense. She turned around a corner and saw a very steep ledge; she could barely see the bottom. Suddenly, she heard a loud growl and felt a crushing pain in her right shoulder. The impact pushed Zaina and caused her to fall off the side of the cliff. With extremely fast reflexes she grabbed onto the small edge of the cliff and took a deep breath. After regaining her senses Zaina pushed herself over the cliff and darted to the wall on the opposite side.
She looked around for a moment but was unable to see Haraka anywhere. However, she could hear a low growl coming from her left. Zaina focused her eyes for a moment and eventually could see these red glowing eyes of the predator she was hunting. Haraka was beautiful, and there was fire in her eyes.
Haraka leaped from the shadows at Zaina, but Zaina ducked to her right and was only barely grazed on her arms by the claws. She readied her bow and aimed at Haraka, barely being able to keep up with her speed. The cave was very narrow and had sharp turns. She would easily be able to miss with a bow.
Taking a few steps back, Zaina drew back the bow string and shot at Haraka, but it was a miss as the lion leapt into the darkness once again. It seemed as if hours had passed as Zaina waited for the lion to make her appearance again. She heard a low growl come from her left and automatically averted her attention to it and walked in that direction. Suddenly, Haraka jumped onto Zaina’s back and bit into her neck. She screamed in pain as she grabbed Haraka and threw her on the ground. Another lion came from the other side, must have been the one that made the growl earlier, and pinned her down.
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With one hand Zaina was holding the lions’ teeth away, just inches from her face. With the other she grabbed a knife that was strapped to her leg and kicked the lion off of her. Haraka jumped towards Zaina, Zaina ducked out of the way and tried to stab her with the knife, but only grazed her. The unidentified lion ran off from fear, and Haraka showed a hint of anger at this; she must have been depending on the lion to help her through ‘til the end.
Haraka gave one last leap towards Zaina, but Zaina did not duck this time. Instead she raised the knife up to the chest of the lioness.
For a moment, Zaina wasn’t sure if anything happened, not until blood started to fall down her arm. She felt the body of the lion go limp and laid her on the ground. She breathed a sigh of relief. She had felt a great sense of accomplishment, but almost felt remorse for killing such a beautiful creature. Haraka had fought bravely and was a very powerful creature. She would have made an excellent companion, but she had too much of a mind of her own to walk beside anyone.
Zaina grabbed the lion and walked back to her camp. Upon arriving, she saw her mate, Rajin, starting a fire to cook some of the fish that he had caught that day. He looked up and saw the lion, giving a small smile. She smiled in return; they would eat well tonight.