Chapter 1: [ARPG] Hunting | Foggy Plains, Mammoth
Venus wasn't sure what to make of the creatures that were accompanying her to the foggy plains. It was unsettling to walk alongside Sabers - creatures she would have otherwise hunted in another time. Yet these ones held a hint of intelligence in their eyes... And by the way they were staring at her, watching her every move, she could only assume that they also knew she once hunted their kind.
Brychan's long tail trailed behind him as she walked alongside his daughter with the snowy Saber taking the lead just a little ahead of the Tokota, Venus. When the four of them had met up, he could see Venus tense and ready herself to attack. He had moved to stand in front of Nightshade when Venus hesitated at the sight of the Raptor coming up behind them - another beast neither he nor Venus was aware of.
"Yo," Woody had greeted. Whether or not he could sense the tension between Tokota and Saber it wasn't clear, but he was cheery and then grinned, "whispers in the wind told us you were hunting mammoth - we came to help."
As if on queue, Venus, Brychan, Nightshade and Ghost looked up from the Raptor to see other giant birds fly overhead and swoop to land on the ground, dispersing some of the fog that blanketed the ground and bowed their heads respectively towards the hunting group that seemed to get bigger by the second.
Woody introduced himself to the group, along with the other dragon-birds, Hrera and Hireath.
"Judging by the direction you are all heading, it's safe to assume you're hunting the mammoth herd up ahead." Hrera looked down at the creatures in front of her and saw that Ghost and Venus were the only ones to nod. "Then you should also know that the herd is many; there are six closest to us with another four coming to join them. It is a large herd - hunting on ground will be difficult."
Brychan and Nightshade looked to one another. Though they didn't say it, they were glad that there had been eyes in the sky to see the danger. One mammoth is easy, but ten together would be... almost impossible. There was a chance of success, however, since there was also a snowy saber with them who had to survive on their own hunting the mammoths in the frozen wastes of the North. Her skills would be key - at least for Brychan and Nightshade.
For Venus, numbers had always been better for her and rarely hunted mammoth unless she had spotted one that was weakened and on its own. Ten mammoths would have made her turn away - but with these sabers and Stryxes...
"If you on the ground can distract the mammoths, perhaps use the fog to your advantage and make yourselves appear as many rather than a few, we may be able to swoop down and take down a mammoth or two," Hireath looked down at Woody who nodded in agreement with the corva's plan.
Ghost eyed Venus warily when she stepped forward and looked up to the two giant birds with just as much distrust in them. "In that case, would you be able to scout the area for us? Find a good place for each of us to hide in and ambush the mammoths?"
Hrera and Hireath glanced at each other and tilted their heads. It was something they had never done before and, being fliers, weren't sure what would class as a good place to hunt.
Woody sensed their hesitation and cleared his throat, "You'd be looking for bushes or tall grass; something we can hide in or under. If the mammoth are too out in the open and there isn't a place to hide... Then find where the fog is thickest so we can spread out and lunge at the mammoth from all directions."
Hrera nodded and Hireath said, "This, we can do."
Ghost, Nightshade and Brychan took a step back when Hrera and Hireath took to the air, watching them fly towards where they could hear the faint trumpeting of mammoths before lowering their gazes to the Tokota, Venus and the Raptor, Woody.
"We'll wait here until their return," Venus stated and sat down. She didn't want to assume how far away they were from the mammoths with this thick fog blocking their view for several feet, just on the off-chance that they walk into a leg of the mammoth and spoil the surprise.
Brychan stuck close to Ghost and Nightshade, watching Woody and Venus before looking up at the sky to wait for the birds' return.
What felt like hours was mere minutes when Hrera and Hireath returned, landing on the ground in front of the land-striders with care. "There is only one area where there could be a potential ambush." Hrera was the first to speak this time and looked to Hireath for him to explain to them the layout of the area.
Venus, Brychan, Woody, Nightshade and Ghost watched the Stryx as Hireath spoke, "From where we are, the mammoths are in this direction. The other four still have a few miles to go before they join the herd. So it would be best to strike as soon as possible while the numbers are on our side.
"From here, there is only forest and taller grasses to the left. Beyond that is just an open field. As we could see the mammoths' feet, we can only assume the grass there is short. A few of you may be able to ambush the mammoth from where the trees are but the rest will have to slip through the fog to attack the mammoths from the other side."
"I'll take the fog," Venus suddenly said and looked to the three Sabers behind her. "You lot can take the forest."
"Perhaps I should take the fog and you take the forest with Brychan and Nightshade," Ghost huffed, "as the one with the lighter pelt, I would blend in with the fog more than you darker pelts."
Hireath nodded. "The white smilodon has a point."
Venus pulled a face, "You'll need others on your side of the fog."
"I can go with her," Woody piped in with a chirp, "I may not be white, but I am grey and that blends in well with the fog."
Brychan and Nightshade agreed to go into the dense forest to hide and wait in ambush and then looked over to Venus who begrudgingly agreed to join the two sabers in hiding within the forest.
With a plan in mind, Hrera and Hireath took to the sky to wait for their turn while Ghost and Woody lurked in the thick fog towards the mammoths.
Brychan, Venus and Nightshade headed towards the forest, ducking through the thick bushes and under low-hanging tree branches to get as close to the mammoth herd as possible.
Unaware of the hunters closing in, the mammoth herd was standing around to rest after a long migration. It was unclear as to whether they were aware and waiting for the smaller herd to join them or if they were simply standing in a spot that was frequented by many migrating mammoths.
Ghost and Woody kept as low to the ground as they could while still being able to move around silently, skirting the fog that kept them hidden from sight. Ghost scouted the herd and her skilled eyes finally settled on a young female mammoth. She was no baby but just as easily frightened - this would be the target.
Woody saw her staring intently and looked to the herd, nudging the Saber with a claw and then nodded to the herd to see if she would point out what she was staring at.
"The mammoth with the blond streak at the shoulders," Ghost mumbled under her breath and then watched Woody look upwards to look for Hrera and Hireath.
When he was sure they were watching him, he dragged his beak across his shoulder and back to signal the target.
Hrera was confused at first - until she looked at the mammoth herd below and saw what he had been suggesting. There were only two mammoths with something at their shoulder and back. Two females - one larger and older the other small and young. A mother and daughter with blond at their shoulders. Hrera told Hireath the two possible targets and he nodded - he would take the smallest and Hrera was to take the bigger one.
Woody nodded at Ghost, as if this meant anything to her, and squinted to peer through the fog towards where the forest was supposed to be. But he couldn't make it out due to the thick fog surrounding them and the mammoths standing and swaying in the way.
Brychan, Venus and Nightshade were at a loss. Thanks to the dense forest being in the way and the fog becoming an issue with picking out a target, Venus was getting irritated at a lack of intuition at the sudden problem.
How were they to signal to start?
A gust of wind from behind the Sabers and Tokota made them turn to see a black corva's head poke through the trunks of the trees. Hireath.
"There are two of them," he whispered, eyeing the mammoths warily as they had also felt the unnatural air and were a little wary of the area now, "with blond at their shoulders. Woody pointed them out to us so we assume they're the targets."
"We can't see them, then," Venus muttered, "none of the mammoths close to us has blond."
"Fear not, your job isn't to catch but to spook and send them running." Hireath nodded to the sky, "Hrera and I shall be the ones to scoop them up or knock them down."
"So we're catching two?" Brychan looked almost thrilled at the idea of dining on two mammoths. Every hunt they did where mammoths were involved they were only to catch the one. And even one was a feast... Two was... Well, it would be something.
"I assume so - there are plenty of us that need feeding." And with that, Hireath hobbled away and took to the air once more.
"He could have also mentioned when we ambush the mammoths," Venus muttered and looked back at the mammoths."
"Maybe that's up to us," Nightshade eventually said and took a step forward. "We're the closest to the mammoths than Ghost and Woody... If we split up along the forest and attack from different sides the mammoths will get spooked and run from the trees - then Ghost and Woody will no doubt follow the lead and take them on from the fog.
"Being attacked from all sides might drive them into splitting up and hoping for the best."
Venus thought about it and played the scenario in her head. There was a risk the mammoths might strike out if they attack from the forest, but should it go well then the second issue would be them running in the same direction and not splitting up.
"I don't see why not," Brychan eventually said when his daughter was met only with silence, "Ghost and Woody would be spotted quicker than us."
"Then split up, count to five, and then run out," Venus said and nodded at the two to get a move on.
Ghost and Woody waited in the fog for something and high above, Hrera and Hireath were growing worried about the slightly panicked mammoth herd and a lack of action from those in the forest.
But after a few seconds, Hrera could have sworn she saw movements that the mammoths were quick to notice. "Get ready," she called to Hireath.
The mammoths trumpeted in a panic and began to back away from the forest and towards Woody and Ghost. The two also split up and charged at the herd that was seeking the plains to flee from the invisible attackers from the forest.
The herd did try to swing their tusks and trunks at their attackers that ran around them, appearing and disappearing within the rolling fog, and many began to panic and split from the herd.
Once Hireath and Hrera saw the two targets also split, the two swooped down at the fleeing mammoths while Ghost, Brychan, Nightshade, Venus and Woody kept the rest of the mammoths busy running in opposite directions of one another.
The massive thud as Hrera landed on the mammoth and knocked it prone to the ground startled the rest of the herd that tried to remain to fight into fleeing with the rest of the herd. Being attacked by ground had given them some hope of fending off the predators - but attacks coming from the sky hadn't been a thing up until now.
Brychan, Nightshade and Ghost were quick to help Hrera with the mammoth she had felled while Venus and Woody chased down the younger mammoth and watched as Hireath dove onto the mammoth with talons outstretched.
When the second fell to the ground, Venus and Woody were quick to descend on the mammoth to keep her pinned while Hireath dealt a quick and final blow to the mammoth.
The fog that had been swirling and dispersed from being disturbed was now starting to come back, rolling over the legs of the fallen mammoths and obscuring the hunting party's vision once more.
"That went rather well," Woody chirped with a smile in his eyes, unsettled by the tense silence that hung over them once more.
Venus could only nod in agreement and wondered how the two mammoths would be divided between the group.
Brychan, Ghost and Nightshade grouped up once more to look at the other species in front of them. Then Ghost nodded to Hireath and Hrera. "You may have the first pick of the two as you were the ones to technically bring them down."
Hrera and Hireath shared a look and Hireath nodded at Hrera for her to go ahead. She tore open the mammoth she had caught while Hireath did the same for the one he stood on and with their beaks, they took what they desired from the mammoths.
"We shall wait until you finish," Hrera suddenly said, "as we also wish to take some bones with us."
The sabers nodded and Woody soon took his turn; taking the toughest of the flesh from the mammoths before running off into the fog without a care for the bones - scraps of fur and the tough meat more than enough for his little figure.
Venus watched and then felt a little surprised when the sabers gave her the second pick. She went to the smaller mammoth of the two, "The bigger one for you three," she said and took her time taking what she wanted from the mammoth.
Brychan, Nightshade and Ghost dove onto the mammoth, taking and eating what they wanted - and needed - and allowed Hrera and Hireath to occasionally come in to take some of the exposed bones they picked clean of meat.
It was growing dark when Woody returned for seconds and it was only until he questioned where the Tokota had gone that the others realised Venus had snuck away without saying goodbye.