Chapter 1: #1
It was nice to finally get away from Sanwell's stables, Kalina noted as she made to get everyone ready for the trip. Just a little excursion. Nothing more. An opportunity to just get away from having to deal with her employer, who'd been sniffing around recently, suspecting that one of his top riders was once again secreting her money away like some squirrel with its acorns, and he wasn't wrong. She had been, but this time, Kalina was making sure to not hide all of her "acorns" in one cache, and not just in one, either. Multiple stashes hidden in places beyond the property, so as to ensure that the greedy man could not use his lands as an excuse to justify taking all the tigress' hard-won earnings.
Which was another reason she needed the break. Much as she enjoyed racing, having to work extra-hard for the purses she collected was tiring, and even Veraz, her beloved black-bellied tyto wasn't as up for a race as she usually was, which was saying something. Both were competitive, and if even love of competition wasn't enough to get them onto a course, then a respite was desperately needed.
A few days earlier, exhausted from her labours, Kalina presented her request of a vacation to Sanwell, who was—at first—dead set against letting the tigress do anything away from the stables, but when he realised that he'd been given an opportunity to not have to deal with this sprouting thorn in his side, finally relented, gave excuses for why he didn't need her around for a while, and rudely sent her on her way. No doubt he'd be using this opportunity to sniff out Kalina's larders of money while her back was turned, and the tigress was grateful for having learned from her past mistakes regarding the safe care of her money. Sanwell couldn't be trusted to do anything other than to snuffle about then dig up any treasures he could find like some pig seeking out the savoury fungi that grew underground amongst the roots of trees. Which, Kalina noted, was to a pig what money was to Sanwell. All the more reason to be careful in hiding it. Grateful for the foresight that comes from learning the hard way, Kalina set off to go find her bird and get ready for the trip...
It wasn't Veraz that Kalina found first, though. It was Sahari, the flight-shy daughter of Kalina's beloved bird, and at present she was following behind,,, Kalina couldn't guess what at first, for what the long-legged tyto was trailing was rather small, and the tigress had to crouch down to get a closer look at the dirt under their feet. Ants. Carrying off their latest plunders to their nest, much to Sahari's rapt fascination. Silently sighing inwardly, Kalina got up, dusted herself, and stared into Sahari's very close eyes. She gave the young tyto a scratch and a pat, told her that her rider needed to get ready for some trip away from the stables, then sent Sahari on her way to find more ants to study intensely while Kalina went looking for Veraz again.
Sahari watched Kalina go, her interest in ants now gone. Kalina was going somewhere? And Sahari hadn't been asked to come with? She made a sad chrrrrrrrr sound and blinked slowly. If she wasn't being asked to come along, then it was likely that the tigress was going far away. Too far away to walk. That made the long-leg sad. She was being left out of something. Sahari didn't like being left out!
Chrrrrrring again, Sahari set off to find some way to get her rider to take her along. Going places usually meant that you brought something along. Yes. That's what she'd do to convince the tigress to take her with her. She'd go find something to take, then go out on a trip. But what to bring?
"I think we've got— Yes. I think that will do," Kalina told Veraz as the second saddle bag was affixed to Veraz and was being tested by the tigress to ensure that the weight in it was balanced against the other one. Satisfied that it wouldn't affect Veraz while flying, Kalina turned at a hwooooo coming in from the stable door, which had been left open while the pair got ready. They'd intended to leave before the sun went down, but Sahari had other plans, apparently, judging from the rake she held in her beak.
"Sahari, what are you doing?"
The young bird stood in the doorway, and tilted her head to the side. Going away meant that you had to take something with you, she knew that much, and Sahari had picked up the rake hoping that the tigress would take the hint. It was a something. Just not the something one would need to take for a trip, but she didn't understand that. Unfortunately, Kalina didn't get Sahari's intentions. It was a rake, after all, and utterly useless for excursions.
"I ... really don't need one of those right now," Kalina told Sahari patiently. Sahari was sensitive, and even if Kalina never intended to upset the long-leg, one wrong word or intonation would cause considerable upset, and a distressed tyto was a difficult thing to deal with. "But I'm sure someone else will."
Then she turned her back to secure the saddle bags again—just in case, before heading inside for a quick supper while Sahari gave sad looks and noises. The trip was long, and a full belly would make flying more comfortable...
Sahari was waiting outside the door when Kalina came out, startling the tigress. In her beak was a rag. Rags were useful, right? In her expression was the hope that maybe her owner would take the hint. Bring something with you. Go on a trip.
All she got was a scratch against the side of her head. Not an invitation to come along.
"Sahari I really can't right now," Kalina told her, not really getting the message before setting off in a near-run to where Veraz was waiting patiently. "But maybe someone else will need that. Be a good girl and go find someone?"
Her rider just wasn't picking up the hints Sahari was giving. She'd have to try again. Find something else to take.
"Sahari!" Kalina exclaimed in surprise when this time, the bird had followed her into the stable where she and her mother stayed at night. She was digging through her stall, trying to find something that would make her intentions clear. Especially since she was very close to being left behind and thus become very upset over being left alone back at the stables while someone else was having a great time somewhere else. "I'm about to go!"
The long-leg turned around, and in her beak was a small, stuffed ... something that was covered in dirt and detritus that always managed to accumulate despite all efforts to keep things tidy on Kalina's part. The thing was utterly disgusting to look at and even more to smell. It needed to be thrown away.
This time Kalina sighed audibly. She was clearly not going to be going anywhere until Sahari let her.
"All right. What is it you want?"
Sahari whrrrred. Finally her rider was getting the message! She was going to come along!
She dashed over to her mother, and tugged at the saddle. Sahari had Kalina's attentions now.
"Sahari, I can't really..."
Sahari looked like she was ready to kick up an almighty fuss, and if she did, Kalina wouldn't be going anywhere until the long-leg had been calmed down.
She stared at her feet. All her plans were about to be changed last-second. If Sahari was coming along that meant walking. She wasn't exactly adverse to a walk, but where she'd been planning to go was a place best reached by air. If they were walking it would take most of the month to get there.
Sahari didn't seem to think this was a problem, as she waited next to her mother to be saddled up.
"Sahari... What am I going to do with you?" Kalina sighed as she removed one of the bags from a hook on the wall and began gathering up more things to take with her.
Take me along, seemed to be what Sahari wanted to say, as she made excited noises.
She was going to go on a trip!