The orange orbs peered at her through the leaves for an immeasurable amount of time. The tracker sat as rigid as she possibly could, all efforts to comfort the injured man abandoned. Her only focus now was the lucien. This was a chance of life time. One small manuever, one small sound and her opportunity to have the strongest, most legendary guardian would be lost. Practicing the Eight Breaths her mentors had taught her, she calmed her mind and senses so that she need not feel the urge to blink.
A falcon cried high in the sky a distance off, possibly pinpointing a miserable prey. Still the lucien did not move. Like a statue, it stood set in the tree line, its eyes never leaving Elliera’s. Patience was a virtue, she repeated in her head. But she had never really contained patience, it escaped at every point that she felt a surging well of adrenaline build in her until the dam broke. Now, more than ever before, she had to learn to harness that energy and lull its ambitions.
The paw twitched. It was a minuscule movement that none but a trained tracker would have glimpsed. Still, Elliera kept her eyes on the creature. Even a shift of her irises might give her away. Another twitch of a paw and the lucien slid forward. It took all of her willpower to not gasp as the creature crept closer and closer. Finally, its dark nose was tip to tip with hers, its lantern eyes observing her with calm intent.
The creature blinked, nudged the man laying on the ground once and looked back at her. Then it let out a cross between a whine and purr that rumbled in its throat. There was a softness rimmed with bravado in its eyes that Elliera could not pretend to grasp. Their clan knew very little about luciens to begin with and having actually come across one would cause a great stir in the community.
Again, the lucien nudged the man and seemingly glared at her as if it did not comprehend why she was not helping the limp individual. It took her a few more moments to let the whole scene sink in and then she set about work. She foraged around the treeline until she found two sturdy, dry sticks that she could use as the railings for a stretcher. Grabbing the long, wispy grass that surrounded the river bed, she braided several strands and then ripped off a large piece of bark from one of the large red woods that was already deteriorating. Lashing it together between the two sticks, she made a makeshift stretcher that could be slid along the ground. She glanced down at the man.
“Well, at least I don’t have to lift you,” she muttered.
She bent down to pick up the man’s head first and lay it into the stretcher. She found his body rather light, which made it all the more disturbing in understanding who this man was. Having situated his body securely between the sticks, Elliera briefly looked around for the lucien. It sat not a foot from her, its eyes intently watching her. It came over just as she was about to try to call it. She had made a sort of harness that could be strapped to the creature, though she hadn’t thought it would be this easy. The lucien simply waited patiently until she had strapped on the contraption. Then it stared placidly at her and wagged the tip of its tail.
Elliera nodded, “I am either dreaming or barking mad.”
Then she turned, snapping her fingers for the lucien to follow, and made her way back to the village.