This excerpt from Charms of the Feykin is part of a hunt that a few of the heroes are going on. I’ll put up part of the other hunt that the other champions are on next week if I can get a good enough clip without spoilers. There is a slight spoiler in here that I couldn’t get rid of without creating some confusion. Hopefully, the scene still works and this hint only raises further questions.
Delvin delivers several rapid knocks to a tree, which tells the Feykin to walk toward their prey. Painted to blend into their surroundings, the naked hunters silently move through the bushes and spread out into several long lines. With two spears strapped to their backs and another in their hands, they know that every shot counts. Once the Feykin are within throwing range, the men and women calmly scan the area for the easiest targets. It is an old hunter on the right hand side that decides to start the attack and hurls his spear at a slumbering belraphi. The weapon strikes its target in the head as more projectiles arc into the herd. Rodent-like screeches erupt from the animals and many of them gather closer to the nest, their instincts telling them to protect the babies. The beasts that prefer to go on the offensive spit globs of reeking vomit at the hunters, the stench bringing tears to the Feykin’s eyes. One man takes a blob in the face and collapses, his body twitching from a fast-moving disease that dissolves his nerves.
Having taken a circular route to attack from the other direction, the champions jump into the fray and do their best to draw the belraphi’s attention. Carefully dodging and blocking the toxic projectiles, the warriors split into pairs and carefully choose their targets. Guarding each other’s flank, Timoran and Delvin work together to swiftly kill six of the fattest males. With their prey taken down, the pair hurry to help the Feykin get their shares back among the trees. Briefly shining like a torch and blocking disease-ridden blobs with a wooden shield, Delvin touches the three infected hunters to heal them. The display of power is enough to scare a few of the more aggressive belraphi back to the nest, but the herd is showing signs that they are about to stampede.
Dariana and Luke have a harder time as they find themselves among the mothers instead of those they have been told to hunt. All of the males and non-nursing females are too far away for the champions to reach without battling through the mob of screeching sows. Unable to fight through without killing the animals, the nimble adventurers leap and dive away from the flying vomit until they clamber into the nest. All of the adults inside are full of milk, which makes them docile and lethargic as the oblivious children sate their constant hunger. Avoiding the helpless babies, the champions are almost at the other side when a bellowing roar echoes across the valley. The belraphi stop attacking and huddle close to the nest, their vibrating bodies shaking the log structure. Hearing Delvin scream for the Feykin to leave their kills and retreat to the forest, Luke cautiously climbs into the open. He gestures for Dariana to stay with the babies while he stares at the predator that has interrupted their hunt.
With a jaguar’s tail hanging out of its mouth, the large beast waits at the far end of the valley. Short, blue hair covers its muscular body with a few bald stripes going along its ribs. Four thick, claw-tipped limbs flex on knees that can bend in every direction. A wide head swivels from side to side on a short neck, the creature’s amber eyes searching for its next meal. Hoping to startle one of the Feykin or belraphi into running, the predator roars to reveal rows of sharp teeth that curve inwards. It takes a hesitant step toward the hunters and stops to redirect its hunger on the solitary forest tracker who drops out of the nest and moves away from the terrified herd. The beast slurps up the tail in its mouth and salivates in anticipation of easy prey.
“Hey, Delvin! Is this thing edible?” Luke asks while spinning his sabers. Taking a deep breath, he answers the beast’s bellow with a roaring screech. “Sorry, guys, but I’m not going to change. This one is going to be all me.”
“I’m not sure,” the other warrior replies, slightly confused on what is about to happen. A few of the Feykin nod their heads, none of them wanting to draw the predator’s attention. “It looks like it is. Hunting belraphi too easy for you?”
“I’m in the mood for a challenge.”
“Then go for it.”