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Narrative/Thread: Time to find new game. Open, if you wish!
It had been too long since Hunter had actively made his trade. He'd been spending days looking for Red, looking for her so-called friend, the mute she'd met in the woods, being waylaid and subverted by faeries, searching again for Red, and playing spy to actively hunt and retrieve skins to sell. He'd filled his last orders, and no one was waiting on him, but he was running low on supplies and lower on money to buy them with.

After a brief encounter outside Estervale, Hunter headed back towards Camlann, back towards the Sleeping Woods. There was only the faintest trail of Red's scent, one he couldn't follow well enough in human form. And worse, the scrap of red cloth he had barely held any trace of her scent at all anymore. It had faded, so slowly Hunter hadn't noticed until now, and it put him in a foul mood. Unfortunately, not quite foul enough to bring out the wolf.

He couldn't find her, and he couldn't waste time trying now, not when he needed to hunt. He needed skins, furs, and the usual wasn't going to cut it. He headed back into Camlann, noting still the odd behavior going on amongst the guardmembers there. They were still secretive, still nervous, still heavily armed in iron. Something was going on, and though Hunter wasn't sure what, he knew he had something to report to Goodfellow and his king.

And he did so, seeking out the green-skinned fairy, and made his report. Almost as an afterthought, by way of thanks, the fairy made flippant comment about sources of wilder, more exotic game in the jungles to the southwest. Lions, tigers, exotic bears, and species Hunter would have yet to have seen in Pentamerone. Exotic furs fetched higher prices, Hunter mused, and he could make up lost time and money quickly.

He headed southwest, bypassing Ozland, though he knew he needed to visit Pippi once more, when he could spare the time. And after he'd restocked his supplies, maybe then he could search for Red again, and attempt to use the potion he'd bargained for. But for now, he was headed to the Rajani Jungle.

It took some time to get there, but it was worth the walk. The jungles were lush, full of plants and flowers Hunter didn't recognize, and he spent a good deal of time inhaling and familiarizing himself with their scents. It took little time to start distinguishing them, smelling each at a distance and knowing it for what it was. It took less time to find suitable game. A large tiger, its black stripes standing out against orange skin. It had eaten recently, and was feeling lazy, making the hunt all the easier.

An hour later, it was skinned, its meat packed to dry, and Hunter was on the hunt again, moving more like wolf than man through the jungle.

Tags: scheherazade, hunter

From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 11:10:46  

Scheherazade was stretched out on her carpet, having escaped for the day to her favorite spot in the jungle. Her viziers were seriously driving her patience as of late and it was better that she disappear for at least a little while before she was driven to having more than a few of them beheaded.

Rolling on to her stomach, she paused as she heard something moving through the brush nearby. Not sure if it was animal or man, she took no chances, quickly and quietly rolling up her carpet and tying it with the silk cord she always brought with her. Slinging the bundle across her back like a satchel, Scheherazade stood, weighing her options before deciding to investigate.

She moved silently through the lush undergrowth, tracking down her quarry. She was more than a bit surprised when she peered through the trees and found herself only a few yards from what appeared to be a man, a hunter, and, from the looks of him, definitely not from the area. Intrigued and curious, she decided to follow him, keeping herself carefully hidden all the while.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 11:17:09  

Hunter paused, only briefly, nose twitching like the lupine within, catching a new scent. He kept moving, and noted that it did as well. It was an intriguing blend of scent - honey, jasmine, and a faint, faint incense that was to scarcely-there for him to place. And woman. It was definitely a woman, and she was following him.

That alone was intriguing enough, but moreso was the fact that it was actually very hard to hear her, or see her, even with his heightened senses. Whoever she was, she was very good at keeping hidden.

He adjusted the tigerskin over his shoulder and kept moving, curious to see just how long she'd follow, not at all letting on he knew she was there.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 11:26:49  

Unaware that the hunter knew she was there, Scheherazade followed for quite some time, barely disturbing the animals and plant life around her as she slipped through the brush. This hunter was very good, she noticed, moving just as quietly as herself and finding his prey with almost unnatural skill. It didn't bother her, his hunting, nor did the skins. She knew everyone had their own specialty and this was his.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 11:32:55  

Hunter finally stopped when he'd accumulated two more large skins and a number of small ones. He came to rest beneath an overgrowth of flowers, putting away his wares. He was also waiting, because she was still following, and he wondered if she'd continue to hide and watch, now that he'd stopped hunting, stopped moving. Still no movement of his betrayed his knowledge of her presence; he seemed wholly absorbed in his task.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 11:45:31  

When the hunter finally stopped to rest, Scheherazade debated internally for a moment before deciding to reveal herself. She stepped out from between the trees, mouth opening to reassure the man that she wasn't a wild creature, but she noticed he hadn't paused in his task. In fact he didn't seem startled at all.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 11:49:38  

No, Hunter wasn't at all startled. In fact, all he said, rather mildly, was, "I was wondering when you'd come out." He looked up then, and saw her, the form that went with the scent. She was... striking. Very unlike any woman he'd seen before. Dark complexioned and dressed in clothes and style he did not recognize.

From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 11:59:28  

Well, she certainly hadn't been expecting that. Nor the mossy eyes that met her own. Definitely not from around there. A brow raised, but a small smile curving her lips, she asked, "You knew I was there? For how long?" She'd had no idea he'd been aware of her at all.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 12:05:32  

Hmm. She had a very nice smile. And eyes as dark as her hair. "I caught your scent shortly before you started following me," Hunter repsonded evenly, gaze unwavering. "Was my hunt that interesting?" His own lips quirked slightly as if he were holding back a smile of his own.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 12:56:06  

"You're a stranger in these parts," she said frankly. "That makes you interesting enough." At least it did as far as she was concerned. The little details about him was just more she was curious about. "What did you mean, you caught my scent? I bathed earlier, so I'm sure I don't reek." And it was certainly late enough in the day that her perfume was long faded by now.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 13:03:18  

Hunter stood then, suprised to find her close to his own height, maybe only three inches shy. "No. You smell very good actually. Honey. Jasmine." He stepped closer to her and inhaled. "Frankincense." That's what that third one was. It was so faint, probably near worn off. He didn't mention her own natural scent, which was really the strongest of them all. It smelled... golden. Like some excotic unnameable spice.

It might have been unnerving to some. Watching this large scruffy man with axe and knife, with animal skins, looming overhead, sniffing and naming the scents on a stranger. Hunter didn't seem to notice - or care - what effect his odd behavior might have had.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 13:19:37  

Dark brows flew up, surprised that he could identify the perfume she'd been wearing so accurately when she could barely smell it still on her own skin. It also surprised her when her heart skipped a little, not in fear at his nearness, but with something else entirely that she had yet to fully comprehend. "Impressive," she admitted as she adjusted her shawl around her and cast him an unreadable glance, stepping past him to take a seat on a most covered knoll. "I've never known anyone to have such a keen sense of smell."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 13:31:32  

"Few people do," came Hunter's reply. His lips curved more now. There was a little spike in her scent, and if she'd stepped a little closer before it happened, he'd have heard the skipping heartbeat and known it for what it was.

As it was now, she moved past him, and without trying her scent flowed over him. "I've rarely appreciated having it as much as now," he added, quite truthfully.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 13:59:13  

That surprised a little laugh from her as she brought her knees up to her chest, the bright fabric of her skirt settling over her toes. "I never would have mistaken you for a flatterer, hunter." She couldn't say it didn't please her, though. She cocked her head, dark eyes bright with intelligence and amusement. "How is it you were gifted with such a sharp sense of smell? I'm sure it's useful in your trade."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 14:04:50  

"Less flattery and more truth," Hunter responded, taking a seat next to her. He considered her words and then responded. "yes. It is quite useful. I didn't always have such keen senses. It was meant to be a curse, and in some ways still is. But I've learned ways to make it work to my advantage." That was far more detail than he'd given anyone on the nature of his 'condition' and still he hadn't said much. But it surprised him that it was so easy to tell this woman even that much.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 14:47:59  

She couldn't argue his comment without seeming either ungrateful or immodest so she just smiled, another small curve of lips, and said nothing on that point. Propping her head up with a hand, Scheherazade listened to Hunter speak with interest. "It's rare that a curse should benefit you," she quipped. "Good for you for putting it to such good use."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 14:56:56  

"It certainly wasn't meant to be any sort of benefit," Hunter replied. "And it took some time to find the good that came of it." He shrugged. "Now it's just who I am." And except for the small detail that he couldn't control his change, Hunter rather liked being a wolf. It oddly suited him, which he knew wasn't the intention of the one that cursed him.

It was rare that Hunter had conversation with women. Well, honestly it was rare Hunter had conversation at all. A large number of people never felt comfortable enough around him to talk long, and he wasn't exactly the most amicable of people either. But this woman seemed to be intrigued by what he had tosay, and that had him saying more than he usually would.

He didn't know her, and yet, he found he rather liked her. "And what of you? Traveling alone in this jungle, following a stranger?" He found himself starting to smile. "It's clear what I was doing here. What about you?"
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 15:28:23  

It was knowledge that Scheherazade sought, often and sometimes to the point of folly. But in this case, in the company of this hunter, she didn't feel the least bit in peril. "Being comfortable with oneself is all one can really hope for, isn't?" And it was obvious to her that the hunter was comfortable with himself. An appealing trait. "Me?" She grinned, as if caught doing something bad and not the least bit ashamed about it. "I was merely enjoying the jungle. I often come here when I have the time, just to sit and think with no one to bother me." She shrugged, an elegant gesture from one dressed so plainly. "You just happened along and I was...curious. Strangers don't often come through here if they don't have to."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 15:51:33  

"I suppose that's true," Hunter agreed. "I can see why you'd come here. The jungle is in fact quite enjoyable. And I mean aside from the game." All right, so maybe he did mean her company as well as the lush jungle itself, and maybe that was noticiable in the way his eyes lingered on her. Though for Hunter, it was more about catching waves of the exotic combination of smells that were her scent. "I suppose I didn't have to come through here. But then, aside from the hunt, there is more to this land I haven't discovered yet."
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 18:28:34  

"Indeed. It's my favorite place to visit when I don't feel like being stuck at home." She'd missed that look, her gaze distracted by the dart of a jewel-hued hummingbird across her field of vision. "You sound as if you've traveled far and wide," Scheherazade remarked, eyes settling on him once more. "What other places have you visited?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 19:13:57  

She may have missed it before but Hunter was still looking at her now, his gaze intent. "I suppose I have. Mostly north of Lake Raienia. Ozland, the Sleeping Woods, Camlann, Estervale. I haven't gone far into the Koude Reizen mountains yet - it's not the place to go during winter. But I heard the game was exotic here in this jungle. Apparently it's not the only thing that is."
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 20:11:12  

"I envy you your travels. I've been to a few places, but most everywhere else I've only read of in books." His eyes were intense, Scheherazade mused as she spoke, and she was sure many found his gaze disconcerting. Mostly she couldn't quite get beyond how green they were, unlike any eyes she'd seen before. They were striking that it took her a moment to realize the hunter's meaning behind that last statement. She blinked - and found herself blushing despite herself. "Flattery again. You only find me exotic because you're a stranger here. But in truth," she pointed out. "You are the exotic one in these lands."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 20:19:17  

"Then perhaps exoticness is as much in the eye of the beholder as beauty," Hunter replied easily. It would have suprised him to realize he was flirting. That was rare. In fact it had been quite some time since his last conversation with a woman - the last one he had wasn't exactly 'conversation' as it was 'business.' Her business.

"And it sounds to me that you should travel more. There are still places I have yet to see. Futher south, south east; I have yet to have traveled there, or any of the islands of Raienia." He tilted his head. "Where are you from? You said you come here to be alone. So where are you when you are not?" If he was considered exotic here, he must have been just as much so where she lived. Another place to visit perhaps.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 20:34:09  

"Perhaps it is," she murmured, her toes curling pleasantly under her skirt. Her gaze slid away as she collected herself, then back to the hunter as he spoke of more travel. "You speak of Mehrdadstan, the Southern kingdom. My homeland," she said in response to his questions and comments. "I've never been further north than this jungle or the shores of the lake, nor have I been any further east than the borders of my land. But I'm hoping one day that I will." Most likely on a diplomatic venture rather than for pleasure, unfortunately.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 20:44:24  

"Mehrdadstan." Hunter said the unfamiliar word, unable to replicate her accent. Which was another thing he liked about her. He couldn't place it - it was probably common in her homeland, but it was new to him. "Hm. Perhaps I'll travel there next. And maybe you will travel more. I wouldn't mind showing you some of the places I've been."
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 21:08:35  

"Perhaps," she said again, lips curving with a secret sort of smile. It was a single word and a blanket statement, giving nothing away - especially not about how much she would enjoy taking him up on his offer. Glancing up, she noticed that the muted slant of sunlight through the jungle canopy had changed considerably since she'd first arrived and a little frown marred her brow. "It's gotten quite late," she murmured and the note of regret in her voice was apparent.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 21:12:59  

"Ah." It was. Time had passed far more quickly that Hunter had expected, and it was nearing sunset now. "You should be getting home." An eyebrow raised. "Will you need an escort back to your home?" He didn't sound happy about her having to leave; he was rather enjoying their conversation. But he didn't think it wise for her to be out in the jungle after dark, even if she were more familiar with it than he, so really, for her safety, the sooner she left, the better.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 21:48:09  

Standing with fluid grace, she adjusted the carpet slung across her back and fixed her shawl. "Your consideration is appreciated, but I'll be fine, kind hunter." She reassured him with a smile. "I've been walking through this jungle for more than a decade and I know my way well enough. And how to be careful." Reluctant to leave just yet, Scheherazade had only taken a few steps before she paused, turning back to add, "If you come to Mehrdadstan, I do hope we'll meet again. Oh, and if you wish to sell your wares there, you'll need to seek an audience with the queen and get her permission to do so."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 21:55:22  

Hunter stood as she did, her movement setting her scent awash over him again. He couldn't help but inhale and exhale slowy before he responded, "I'll be sure to do so. We'll meet again." Soon. There wasn't a bit of uncertainty in his voice as he said it. Her scent was fresh; he could track her easily if he wanted. And perhaps he would.

It would be nice to attempt to open trade elsewhere, especially if Camlann continued to be suspicious and secretive. Mehrdadstan bore some looking into.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 04/05/2007 22:07:02  

"I look forward to it," she replied, her words completely honest - and perhaps a bit breathless. She didn't know why, but to have this hunter so close and - if she wasn't mistaken - breathing in her scent...Well, her pulse did that little jump again. Smiling, Scheherazade started to slowly back away. "Take care, hunter." She held gaze a moment longer before turning and disappearing into the jungle, her movements just as silent as they had been earlier.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 04/05/2007 22:12:20  

He caught the skip in her pulse this time, and the accompanying spike in her scent and grinned as she left, reciprocating her goodbye. It was only well after she'd left that Hunter realized they hadn't even exchanged names.

It gave him all the more reason to head into Mehrdadstan, if only to correct that oversight. And see - smell - her again.
Community: [info]pentamerone
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