Sticky, weary eyes dragged themselves open. Qit'ria sputtered, coughing, hacking violently, unleashing harsh, moist sounds. She looked all around her, confused, unsure of where she was. She felt the cold water over her thighs, the sticky mud seeping into every crevice and crease. She shivered and shook, goose flesh adorning her muddied skin. The woman groaned and leaned her head back against the earthy wall. It was coming back to her now. She was in an alcove next to a shallow river, in the woods west of Scalvoris Town, southwest of her cave.
And she hurt. Her shoulder throbbed. Reaching up to it with her opposite hand, she touched the inflamed flesh, feeling the seeping, crusting wound. The lightest touch sent stabs of pain shooting through her and she hissed loudly, before stopping herself. She was here because she'd been hunted. And she didn't know how long she'd been passed out. It could've been just moments or breaks. She had no wait to tell without moving and looking to the sky.
Then a grumbling filled the alcove. It was from her stomach. She was absolutely starving. She'd last eaten the previous day. Or was it the previous day? This could be a whole new one for all she knew. No, her hunger is still hard and gnawing, aching. It wasn't the dull thud. She'd been maybe... it felt like a full day without having eaten. With that assumption in mind, she assumed she'd been out of it at most a few breaks. But no way to know for sure.
But she did feel that it had been enough time that her ruse had worked. She'd escaped. There was that at least. But now it was time to get out of this pit. Groaning she sat a bit more upright from her slumped position, and that's when the pain shot through her leg. She'd forgotten about that one. The wound of her own foolishness and incompetence. A lesson she'd not soon forget. She'd ensure that she wasn't such an amateur ever again. She'd never be so unprepared. It was clear that while she was a predator, she wasn't at the top of the food chain. But she'd change that. And never again would she allow herself to be prey. Never again would she be weak, scared, and injured as she was now in this stinking, muddy hole.
Qit'ria reached up and gripped the arrow she'd mindlessly nabbed and later stuck in the earthen wall. Using it more as a boost to her confidence than an actual crutch, she pulled herself upright onto shaking legs. Falling backwards, she leaned there against her new cave, looking out at the river ahead of her. She could see her javelin sticking down awkwardly from above the entrance where she'd left it. The light seemed to be dimming, and Qit went over in her mind what she needed to do now.
Her wounds weren't severe but would need treated, sooner rather than later. Infection would set in, and while she was not a healer like her father, and his fathers before him, she had spent enough time with him to know that infections were not something to scoff at. Today. Tonight at the latest. Which meant getting back into town, she was not a healer. A weakness she'd have to shore up to continue with her plan. But she'd need money. Doctors don't work for free. And her money was in her pack.
And her pack was at the tree line near where she'd first been discovered by her attacker. It was a shame she hadn't seen his face. There was a javelin to the heart with his unknown name on it. Get to her pack, find her second javelin, get into town, find a doctor, go home, start searching for a new home, further from the city. A territory of her own. These places had too many people, and people were clearly too unpredictable.
Taking her first step on shaking legs, Qit'ria moved slowly, unsteady through the thick mud and shin high water, arrow in hand. Reaching the mouth of the alcove she grabbed onto her javelin, and for a moment she just stood there resting on its support. She was not strong enough to fight off civilization, to fight against it, to fight against the monsters that pass as people there. She needed to get back to her roots, to go to the wilds and become the true predator of Scalvoris. And after that, the true predator of Idalos.
The woman looked out over the river in the dimming light and knew she was a new creature now. She'd lick her wounds, recover, and become what she wanted to be. Needed to become, in order to survive this harsh world. She held the arrow out over the river in her muddied fist and let loose the most hellish of feline screams as she could. Never again was Qit'ria prey. Never again.
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