[Northern Hotlands] Need or Greed

72nd of Zi'da 721

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[Northern Hotlands] Need or Greed


72nd of Zi'da 721

Demda had many questions, and Majaea had answers. Telling her what it meant to be a skin-shifter, a Becomer. The basics of what she’d have to do in order to secure her first totem other than herself. Yet, when it came to the question of greatest essence, that of what to do next, her answer had an obnoxious turn of rhetoric, ”You know how to climb now. You have the basics that I have imparted to you. Now it’s yours to find the foot of a mountain, and begin climbing.”

Demda had furrowed her brow at that, ”What kind of totem should I look for?”

Majaea shook her head and laughed lightly, ”Many Becomers make the mistake of hunting an apex predator from the onset. This presents several issues, one of which ought to be obvious to the potential hunter. One, that the apex predator is a risk to oppose in its native habitat, with little but a strand of desert between you and it, and a bow to shoot off a few arrows. Maybe some of them will even hit, but I don’t think you’d stop the beast before it caught on you.”

Demda shuddered at the thought, of facing one of the beasts down alone. Then she tilted her head at her mentor, ”But what are the other reasons, not to take a predator?”

Majaea smiled, satisfied with her student's curiosity, ”The apex predator has spent years honing its hunting instincts and abilities. You are but a whelp. By making a totem, you are not reproducing the skills needed to wield such power. You will be clumsy, slow, weak, and vulnerable in your new shape. You need to learn its manner of living first and in shorter order than the animal had to hone its particular adaptations.”

Demda nodded, as she packed the last of her things. There, she left Majaea behind in the Rahkrii foothills, the cave they’d claimed for their own. She was confident that the witch would be able to fend for herself on her own, without her own help. She was slightly less optimistic about her own chances, however. She looked over her shoulder, as she rode on Monk, off into the Northern Hotlands. Majaea caught her glance, and smiled encouragingly at her. "But, you know? Listen to your spark. When you hear the call of your first totem, often it will choose itself. Don't listen too much to my conventional wisdom. The spark has a wisdom all its own, and it may guide you to the object of its desire."

Demda gave her a furtive glance once more, before turning around to kick Monk into a light gallop, off into the more fertile areas of the Northern Hotlands. She made tracks toward the outskirts of those deserts, where there were fertile lands and oases, and the barest shade of greenery.

89th of Zi'da 721

It was remarkable in the Hotlands, how the different portions had a character all their own, quite unilke that of any of the others. In the Southern Hotlands, there were the scattered settlements and rustic folk of the Kankaro sky caves. There was the Emerald Scimitar, a fertile valley full of fruit and life. There was the devastation of the Eastern Hotlands, where rumors had it great giants had fought wars in the past, only to disappear leaving nothing but devastation behind in their folly. The Western Hotlands were of course known for Nashaki, the trade routes, the Slaver's Corridor that led from Athart all the way up toward the Imperial Heartland. Then there was the North. A land full of hilly terrain, with scattered greenery at the outskirts, and scorching drylands in the center. There were perils untold in the midst of those central basins, perils that Demda wisely thought to avoid, keeping to the outskirts, hoping to try her luck with the wildlife.

As she forged further north, she found her way to the destined locale where she was to set up her stalking of a catalogue of various creatures, and potential totems. Majaea had advised her that due to her mixed blood, her soul would fill the vessel of eitehr a mammal or an avian, since she was part human, and part avriel. In truth, Demda was surprised Majaea had sussed out her heritage. But then she supposed her teacher had ways of sensing such minutiae, whether it be animal sense of smell, or some preternatural instinct. But it did occur to her to try and hunt for birds. The only problem with that, she wasn't the best shot with her bow. She would likely waste many missiles in the trying.

And though she understood her limitations, it was easy to get stuck thinking about that very moment in time, choosing the 'now' instead of reflecting on how far she had come. As it was, she only ever dealt with the now. Looking back wasn’t a valid survival tactic, as Dimza had taught her on the journey south from Korlasir where the desert kalba had chased their caravan down. They’d left many skeletons in the dust that day. But ultimately, it was Demda and Dimza, among a few others who didn’t make the mistake of lingering in their tracks or looking over their shoulder at the ones they left behind.

She resolved only ever to look forward from that day. She'd reflect on where she'd been and what she'd done when she had the luxury of time and safety. For now, there was no looking back.

Thus she began spreading out, and lowering herself from Monk's saddle. This done, she began setting a few traps around areas where creatures had been stalking. She baited the bamboo cages and fall pits, some of which were easy enough to dig out, with strips of meat she'd saved from an earlier hunt. Once she'd set enough traps in one locale, she moved onto the next, following what tracks she might find, to suss out the stalking grounds of the nearby predators, all the while keeping her eyes on the horizon, looking out for birds.

At times, in the high desert, it was hard to tell what was the movement of prey from what was a mirage or a distortion of the heat upon the air, rising from the sands on the distance. But now, by now, Demda was well used to distinguishing between the two. The mirage tended toward the rhythmic, with some variation based on how the images played upon drying eyes. In the case of a prey animal, the appearance was much more animated, crossing into assymetrical images.

She spotted just such a movement at the crest of the sandy hill, to the northwest. Having spotted it, she thought ti best to get down from Monk, and approach on foot with her shortbow. As she got closer, she saw the dying desert wolf, being fed upon already by carrion hawks. She got low behind the dunes, her eyes fixing upon those distant birds, about thirty yards from them. She slipped a few arrows from her quiver, and knocked the first to her bowstring. Taking careful aim, gauging the direction of the wind with her eyes, she took aim at the carcass rather than the hawks. Hopefully it would hit something.

She aimed, leveling the arrow at the wolf's neck, and then letting loose. With a resounding SHUNK! the shaft stuck in the wolf's neck, ending its misery. Several of the birds scattered, but some of them weren't smart enough to take flight. Demda swiftly knocked the next arrow in her hand, taking aim and bringing grazing one of the snacking hawks.

The first one ruffled the creature's feathers, nearly winging it. It took flight, albeit sluggishly. Its slow flight allowed Demda to take the last arrow in her hand and knock it, then loose upon the craeture as it floated away from its prize. Demda held her breath for a moment, and took careful aim at the fattest part of its body, correcting for distance and wind direction. Then, she brought it down.

The prey dispatched, she whistled for Monk, who obediently approached from behind, coming to her position.

In a few moments, she put them out of their misery, and then trussed them up once she was confident they were down and dead. She inspected her catch. The wolf was lean, and looked slightly sickly, but hte hawk was healthy. Demda was confident that Magaea would approve of her catch. And if she didn't, it was still worth it to see about making her first totems! Magaea had assured her that she need only dedicate them. Transformation was not compulsory to becoming, contrary to what many believed. It was simply a matter of preference for most mages of thier ilk.

Demda slung the bodies across the back of her thorned horse, Monk, and then rose to the saddle, riding off toward their hiding place in the Northern Hotlands. The caves on the western border of the Hotlands had proven a convenient shelter for them, as they clawed their way back to themselves.

Last edited by Demda on Tue Mar 29, 2022 12:16 am, edited 3 times in total. word count: 1546
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Re: [Northern Hotlands] Need or Greed


Hunting: x 3
Combat: Ranged: x3

Loot: Sovereign substances of a desert wolf (Female), and a desert hawk (Female)
Lost: -
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: I really enjoyed the scene with Demda and her mentor at the beginning of the thread. Majaea is an interesting NPC in my opinion, and she seems to be very wise to me. I also like how different she is from the Becomers I’ve read so far – she seems wild and spiritual!

You made the Hotlands sound like a truly fascinating place – you conveyed the atmosphere very well in my opinion. I found Demda’s hunt for a totem and how she went about choosing a totem interesting to read. I wonder if the wolf looking slightly sickly will affect things – and what Majaea (or Magaea – which spelling is correct?) will think.

I look forward to Demda making her first totems!

Enjoy your rewards!
word count: 160





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