The Hunt

It hungered.   The soft breeze carried the scents of the forest to its nostrils. Light perfumes mingled with the smells of fresh growth and damp decay. Not-Food. But together they signaled the height of the growing season, the days when Small-Foods crawled from their dens to announce their presence before making more Small-Foods.   It listened for the telltale signs of nearby Foods, angling its peaked pinna to triangulate each scratch, squeak, and rustle. The Small-Foods were active today. It inhaled again, savoring each flavor of future Foods while noting the staleness of the scents of fellow Kin. A small pack of Young-Kin had passed through many days prior, but had not returned. Good. It would have no competition today.   It selected a Small-Food, stealthily tracking its quarry through scent and sound before spotting the delectable Small-Food digging through refuse on the forest floor. It carefully drew closer before the Small-Food spotted it too, puffing up tail fur and preparing to call out to the forest in warning.   But the Kin took control then, using its mind-powers to command the Small-Food to stay still, keep silent. It felt the Small-Food's fear in its mind fighting to regain control, fighting to resist the command to come closer. And it felt something else... This Small-Food had already found a friend. It claimed that mind too, commanding both to approach.   Both Small-Foods walked directly to its waiting maw. A quick snap of the neck, a tear through the bone, and the first Small-Food disappeared down its gullet in two bites. The second followed quickly. A tasty snack. An appetizer. Nothing more.   It still hungered.   Small-Food was tasty and easy to catch, but there was never enough to sate its appetite. Outside their dens Small-Foods did not travel together, keeping enough distance from each other to remain outside of its mind-power range, requiring a new hunt for each portion of its meal. A Kin would need to hunt for a whole sun to catch enough Small-Foods to feel full.   It sniffed the air again, this time searching for the signs of Big-Foods. Big-Foods were slightly larger than Kin, strong with sharp teeth and long claws. But Big-Foods were no match for its mind-powers, if it could get close enough without discovery. Most importantly, a Big-Food had enough food to last a Kin for several suns without more hunting. It could sleep, conserve energy, guarding its prize from within its den.   It twitched its ears, listening for the telltale snorts of a Big-Food shuffling through the forest. Nothing. It tilted its head, seeking the musty smell of a Big-Food. Nothing. No nearby Big-Food today.   It sneezed suddenly, an involuntary reaction to its repeat inhalations. But what was this? It smelled again, mentally separating each scent before finding the intruder-smell, of clean and danger and Foods consumed by The Burning. The Kin smelled again, to be certain.   Smart-Foods were visiting the forest today.   Smart-Foods were rare. When they came they brought packs too large for its mind-powers, with loud calls and stabby Not-Foods and control of The Burning. Smart-Foods were dangerous.   But Smart-Foods were also delicious.   It rotated its ears again, searching for the pack of Smart-Foods. There. The Smart-Foods were making loud noises and shouting loud cries. They were not afraid. Good. Smart-Foods did not know it was here.   And the Smart-Foods were not alone. It heard hooves on hard dirt, and a soft knicker, betraying the presence of a Fast-Food. It paused. Fast-Foods did not listen to its mind-powers. The Fast-Food would run, let Smart-Foods know it was hunting. Then Smart-Foods would hunt too. It could not let Fast-Food know a Kin was near.   It had to be careful. Quiet. Smarter than Smart-Food. But how to get close enough to use mind-powers?   "Utsüdhaohïm!"   It tensed its muscles, startled by the happy squeals of the Smart-Food cub, grubby hands outstretched, waddling towards it at a surprising pace. It bared its teeth, eliciting a happy squeal from the cub.   "Vodüg Utsüdhaohïm!"   It pulled back, light steps silent on soft earth, its eyes watching the Smart-Food cub's relentless approach. Its Kin instincts demanded it seek higher ground, flee the assault until it could assess the situation, but it hesitated. Smart-Food cub was alone. And Smart-Food cub smelled good.   The cub was upon it then, the cub's golden mane now draped against the Kin's dark blue hide as the cub wrapped arms around its neck. Its skin felt suddenly damp, the Smart Food cub's mouth pressed against its neck. It pulled itself backwards, struggling to escape the cub's grip, concentrating to apply its mind-powers before the cub could deliver a killing bite.   But the Smart-Food cub did not bite, and let go easily with another happy squeal. "Thaïm Utsüdhaohïm!"   From a safe distance it watched as the Smart-Food cub reached a furless paw within the cub's colorful hide and pulled out the source of the delicious smell. "Vüdhaohïm waop? Darla nü chutsit!"   It inhaled in the direction of the gift, breathing in the scents of Food eaten by The Burning. It stepped forward carefully, cautiously. The cub stepped forward too, holding the gift towards the fearsome Kin, showing teeth. It bared its teeth in return, and again the Smart-Food cub let out a high pitched shout before throwing the Burned-Food in its direction.   "Alches! Alches chutsit!"   It sniffed at the Burned-Food cautiously, tentatively consuming a portion. The Burned-Food tasted even better than Big-Food. It ate the rest quickly before approaching the Smart-Food cub, sniffing the cub's colorful hide to locate any other Smart-Food parts eaten by The Burning. The cub made shrieking noises again, pulling at its ears and scratching lightly at its hide as it circled.   "Darla?"   It stopped its circling, ears twitching, at the distant call. The Smart-Food pack was growing restless. They were calling even louder than before.   "Darla! Darlaaaa! Bi waïb utsütüdh?"   It crouched in front of the Smart-Food cub, staring intently. The Burned-Food had distracted it from using its mind-powers. The Smart-Food cub batted at it playfully, like a Young-Kin, breaking its concentration and preventing it from taking control. It attempted its mind-powers anyway, ordering the cub onto its back, and was surprised when the cub obeyed.   "Waïl hü ülubiwäng, Utsüdhaohïm?"   It still hungered.   Smart-Foods cared for their cubs. It wondered if it could use the Smart-Food cub to separate a bigger Smart-Food from the pack. Grown Smart-Foods were more filling than cubs. Did these grown Smart-Foods have parts eaten by The Burning, too? Did they taste as delicious?   "Yaï käamiktü umtüdh? Yaï shal sil ülubem yeïk!"   "Lej̈ bidüs shal igün mï j̈is shatsaïvwo!"   "Nol! Le j̈e lej̈ jutcho biwop yaï? Lej̈ yob yaï shal j̈ek faïb thaïm dhois duspoj̈ yaï shal dok. Yaï ra zaowis ash theïp bagag ash utsütüdh!"   "Kaotsap dhaohwif, bäk bi. Alahaïrup hudaï deïyoiptu. Yeïk iki fao. Hü dok yeïk."   "Darlaaaaa!"   The Smart-Food pack was agitated now. Did they know it was here? It shook its head to clear the cub's mane from its eyes, listening to the calls of the other Smart-Foods come closer. Time to hunt? Or to hide?   "Päm woi Utsüshedh, Faowip!"   "Ram dhois now yok yaï, Darla!"   "Alches lan, Darla! Hü käyos ram nulchel!"   Kin perked its ears. This pack had bad hunters, the Smart-Foods were splitting up. It commanded the Smart-Food cub to hold on, waiting to feel the cub's arms hold tightly around its neck before bounding towards the closest Smart-Food voices. It would eat Smart-Food today.   It heard the Fast-Food panic in the distance, realizing its mistake too late. It had forgotten about the Fast-Food. Now the Smart-Foods might know it was here.   "Yov! Zancig."   It recognized the Smart-Food word for Kin. Smart-Foods knew. The Hunt just got harder. But Kin could be patient. Kin could be clever. It could still eat well this sun.   "Waïl, woi?"   "Chuj̈ utgä käpädh Darla, lej̈ neïngäw-"   "Darlaaaaa!"   The Kin crouched in a nearby bushy Not-Food, using its mind-power to order the Smart-Food cub to keep still. It felt the cub's arms pull tighter, felt the cub's breath against its neck. Good. Now, to wait.   "Sivwu! Chuj̈ huv Mitsïsdhaohïm ngeïwung yeïk dhoip. Lakwu waodhew bi aspim."   "Chuj̈ hü agato hü ap yeïk hü daï Darla."   "E chuj̈ ap bäk j̈em theïmï ram tüdh shaf yeïngam."   It listened as the four voices drew closer. The Smart-Foods were looking for it as a pack now. There were too many Smart-Foods for its mind-powers, especially if it wanted to keep the cub. It needed to separate them again.   It crouched deep in the bushy Not-Food, waiting, until the voices passed. It was now between the Smart-Foods and their Fast-Food. The Fast-Food was still stomping at the ground but had not moved. Smart-Foods did like to stop Fast-Food from being fast. Maybe the Fast-Food could bring some of the Smart-Foods back?   Or maybe it could eat the Fast-Food. It had never caught a Fast-Food but Smart-Foods liked to bring them everywhere. Delicious Smart-Foods did not seem to eat other Smart-Foods. Maybe Fast-Foods were more delicious than Smart-Foods?   It turned back towards the Smart-Food camp, following the sounds of the Fast-Food. It felt the Smart-Food cub shift on its back and commanded the cub to keep still, keep quiet. It waited to feel the cub comply before continuing, carefully slipping through the underbrush. It imagined the bright hide of the cub on its back was easily visible, but more importantly the cub's scent would help mask its own.   Hopefully.   The Fast-Food did not appear to notice their approach, maintaining a heightened level of unease but without any changes as they drew closer. Good. It could see the Fast-Food now, mane disheveled from pulling against the restraints binding it to a tall Not-Food, dirt filing the air from the stamping of uneasy hooves.   Fast-Food was too dangerous for it to approach. But maybe the cub...? It used its mind-powers to direct the cub into the camp to calm the Fast-Food.   "Utsüganfeï!"   Once it was certain the Fast-Food was focused on the Smart-Food cub it crept towards the tall Not-Food where the Fast-Food was restrained, carefully climbing high into the branches above the pacing Fast-Food. It relaxed its mind-power grip on the cub and waited, preparing to strike.   "Darla? Darla! Deïnlew yaï! Yaï daï deïpteï?"   A Smart-Food entered the camp, taking it by surprise. The Kin studied the short-maned newcomer warily as the Smart-Food inspected the cub. It had not been discovered. Good. It began to focus its mind-powers on the New Smart-Food.   "Darla, Faowip, yaï daï foik ät. Ram dhois now äkäpaov!." The Smart-Food stood up and began waving its arms. "Äwoi! Kädoc yeïk! Yeïk bisha j̈em akifaïng!" The big Smart-Food crouched in front of the cub again." Waïl käshät yaï? Be yaï käj̈e?."   "Lej̈ kädok Utsüdhaohïm!"   The Kin crouched carefully in the tall Not-Food. It knew some of these Smart-Food calls. Soon all the Smart-Foods would return to the camp. It needed to act quickly. It tightened its mind-powers over the Smart-Food cub, directing the cub to run away from it and the Fast-Food, into the forest.   "Deïnlew Utsüdhaohïm! "   As it hoped, the short-maned Smart-Food ran after the cub. "Darla? Daï bikä... Päm u Darla!"   The Kin took its chance to strike from its perch in the tree, easily snapping the Fast-Food's neck between the strength of its jaws and the weight of its body. The bindings holding the Fast-Food to the tall Not-Food broke easily in the fall, already frayed from the doomed animal's attempts to escape earlier.   "Yov! Zancig!"   The Kin looked up from its kill to see the pack of Smart-Foods had all returned at the calls. Too slow. It prepared to slip into the surrounding forest, commanding the Smart-Food cub to stand between it and the rest of the Smart Food pack. The cub complied.   "Darla! Hil dï iptä!" The largest Smart-Food shouted angrily, waving a sharp Not-Food in its direction.   "Durkeng!" the cub shouted angrily, planting front paws on hips. "Bi daï deïpteï vü Utsüdhaohïm!"   " Darla..." A different Smart-Food was advancing now, the bottom of the Smart-Food's face covered in fur, this one ignoring it and instead focused on the cub. "Ram utsüdhaohïm? Utsüdhaohïm ap yaï gew?"   "Deïnlew!" The cub ran up to it, arms wrapping around its neck, face burrowing into its fur. "Chug Utsüdhaohïm."   It kept its attention on the big Smart-Foods, directing a snarl in their direction and ignoring the sudden wet on its neck.   "Bej̈ ävwaginghes jü! Yaï dhoi jü dhois ävwäyeïthol."   "Hü bidüs daïbayeïngam tuptä hu mï j̈em yeïk huv. Du waomitsïs dhaohïm ävwäyeïthol."   "Yeïk shall ap vü tüdh u gew. J̈em yeïk j̈is äj̈ipüp foiv! Yeïk utsäwüaop."   It watched as the face-fur Smart-Food reached inside the Smart-Food's own colorful hide and pulled out a small chunk of something, tossing the item in its direction. It sniffed before consuming the offered gift. Burned-Food. The Smart-Foods must all have delicious Burned-Food pieces.   "Le yaï ipaïrdos du vüsh? Yaï no yeïk alchesyaï?"   "Yaï shal dhoi Zancig giwïk j̈em hü ähï üluwaïb theïtwu. Lej̈ biwäng gew, j̈em lej̈ ap um tüdh. Ädaï bisha sen yaï." The long-maned Smart-Food reached for the cub.   "Ädaïmïnunfoihew. Dï Zancig aginghes Darla, yeïk ähï j̈ibisha dü shaf äfaothoijo!" The face-fur Smart-Food bared teeth. "Lan lej̈ ït urküj̈ dü vü muyam shafe udh. Faïm lej̈, dï ga ävwäyaïrarvo Daïhunvu Nuchi!" It watched as the face-fur Smart-Food stopped to stare down the long-maned Smart-Food. "Yaï daï ijü ju zäj̈ shafe j̈is ganfeï, rash."   "Päm woi, Darla. Thaïl dï dhaohïm tunfe."   It watched the Smart-Foods call to each other loudly for several moments before shaking the Smart-Food cub loose. The Darla-Cub looked at it questioningly.   "Utsüdhaohïm?"   It imprinted the Darla-Cub's mind with pieces of its own before relinquishing its current mind-powers and nudging the cub towards the Smart-Foods pack. Darla-Cub watched it curiously as it grabbed the Fast-Food in its jaws and began pulling the carcass into the forest.   "Utsüganfeï? Utsüdhaohïm?"   "Waïb? Ädaïmïnunfoihew. Yaï äpaov."   "Yeïk shall yeïthol vü ganfeï!"   "J̈em yeïk shal j̈ilchaosoi um Darla. Lej̈ hudaï abeï yeïk j̈is theïplo ges du. Best yeïk. Äj̈ipüp dhaohom."   The Kin kept its muscles tense, watching the Smart-Food pack warily as it pulled the dead Fast-Food towards the surrounding forest. To safety. The Smart-Food pack continued to call to each other and gather around Darla-Cub but did not follow it into the forest.   By the weight the Kin estimated this Fast-Food would last it two whole suns. It would eat well.   Then it would return. Darla-Cub could help it hunt the Smart-Foods. It would teach Darla-Kin to be a good hunting partner.   It always hungered.


Thaïj̈
Language | Feb 4, 2020

Thaïj̈ is one of the many dialects of the Andisol Valley. It is most prominent among cities along the outskirts of the Ashgrove Forest.

Zancig
Species | Jun 5, 2020

Also referred to colloquially as a "Demon Cat," the Zancig appears to be an oversized wildcat with a dark blue coat, a single low-profile horn towards the back of its head, and the ability to command its prey via telepathy.



Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
20 Jan, 2020 08:16

That's a really cool take on the story and perspective! I wasn't sure where it was going, but sounds like the kitty's got a new hunting tactic.. Haha   Awesome stuff :D

25 Jan, 2020 00:27

The opening really confused me, though I suppose it did well fit the story as a whole. A lot of the perspective is strange as it sounds to be third person but also has the ideas of first. Considering the opening paragraph, skipping the hook, the introduction of unique terms like Not-Foods and Small-Foods could possibly be worked in a little more clearly to have more meaning. It takes a few paragraphs and a rather long time for the reader to identify these to mean actual things in the eyes of the reader. This may also be intentional, in which case, it does have a nice air of suspicion.  

It selected a Small-Food, stealthily tracking its quarry through scent and sound before spotting the delectable Small-Food digging through refuse on the forest floor.
  Pretty sure that "quarry" isn't the work you are looking for here. Quarry really means a pit from which materials have been mined or the process of doing so.  
Small-Food and mate walked directly to its waiting maw.
  Mate is used in a weird term here. It doesn't act like a proper noun without capitalization nor does it act as a modifier like seems appropriate.   As well, a little more description of these creatures would be welcomed. However, I also understand if you don't want to do that given the mindset of the hunting creature.  
Small-Foods required a whole sun to eat well.
  I might be missing the reference here, but I'm not certain what you mean by having prey like that need to eat "a whole sun". That really threw me off.  
It sniffed the air again, searching for the signs of Big-Foods. Big-Foods
  You could probably separate these into two paragraphs. One is commentary and one is description, meaning it would be better suited as two ideas.  
Big-Foods were strong with sharp teeth and long claws but were no match for its mind-powers if it could get close enough without discovery.
  You may find a comma works well after "mind-powers".  
Most importantly, a Big-Food had enough food to last a Kin for several suns without more hunting.
  Is the character a kin? Is that the name of a species? Is it a unique term used by the central character or is it referring to the species like before? I wasn't really sure here as it seemed out of place.   I now, and only now, get what you meant. Perhaps, in reference to two quotes up, you should say that the Small-Foods require a whole sun to feed, as eat makes it sound like they are eating a sun.  
It tilted its head, seeking the musty smell of a Big-Food, usually a mix of damp fur from fishing for Water-Foods and sweet breath from eating Not-Food.
  I know semi-colons are frowned upon in the writing community, for a reason I don't understand as they serve a purpose when used with intent, but it may do you well to add a semi-colon and slightly rework the "usually a mix" section from the previous part as these are, once again, two separate ideas with a similar connection.  
It sneezed then, an involuntary reaction to the repeat inhalation, from the scents of Not-Food mingling with the flavors of Small-Foods.
  Wait. What caused the sneeze? The mixture of scents or the repeated inhalation? As well, the "then" could probably be replaced with a stronger transition as the "then" could even be fully removed.   Gosh. All of a sudden, from out of the blue, we go from two or three terms to five in like two paragraphs. Did you have a list of terms to work with? It seems like there are lines between the types of food but then there are also some that maybe are getting too exessive. If you had these in mind before, that's fine, but you need to watch the line with the number of terms you use.  
"Utsüdhaohïm!"
  This struck me as interesting. We have yet to know anything about size, but can assume that it is around the size of a tiger based on the eating habits. However, kitty is a term that usually connotates small. Perhaps a few other mentions of size to solidify the reader's imagery before this would make it seem more like a term a toddler would use.  
It bared its teeth, eliciting a shrill squeal from the cub.
  Shrill seems like the wrong adjective. While it does logically make sense, there does come the question of whether or not the connotation matches. With the sentence phrasing considered, shrill makes it sound like terror but the next line makes it sound like excitement.  
concentrating to apply its mind-powers before the cub could deliver a killing bite.
  Is this creature not capable of knowing whether or not a bite could kill? It has seemed smart so far, but this kind of puts those elements into question. There is whole name for humans yet it doesn't know anything about them? It just seemed a little out of place.  
From a safe distance it watched as the Smart-Food cub reached a furless paw within the cub's colorful hide and pulled out the source of the delicious smell. "Vüdhaohïm waop? Darla nü chutsit!" It inhaled in the direction of the gift, breathing in the scents of Food eaten by The Burning. It stepped forward carefully, cautiously. The cub stepped forward too, holding the gift towards the fearsome Kin, showing teeth. It bared its teeth in return, and again the Smart-Food cub let out a high pitched shout before throwing the Burned-Food in its direction.
  I suggest breaking this section apart a little more. It is a lot of content for a single paragraph, especially compared to the rest of your story.   The dialogue in your story lacks tags. It is a long list of words, translated, but it can only be assumed who is talking. While understanding the central character may not care that much, it may know enough about reproduction to detect a difference in the species as far as genders and such go.  
"Yov!. Zancig."
  This is the first instance, through the use of the tooltip, where I finally get a true image of the central point of the story, a link towards the top or some other manner of description would do well. There is also a period after the exclamation point.  
but more importantly her scent would help mask its own.
  This brings up an earlier point. The creature knows about gender, though it has also yet to mention it. With that as well, you could use this or alter it to fit into what you have already built up about the creature.  
Yov! Zancig!"
  You had this before, but the tooltip was different.  
Dï Zancig
  You don't use this as a link? In the previous two mentions, it gets used as a link, but in this conversation, it is not.   The ending is a little dis-satisfying as far as the character goes. You tie the plot up as well as can be expected in a limited word situation, but the fact that the character is still thinking about being manipulative and has no change after the situation -- despite the new name for Darla -- is a little disapointing. Even just a consideration of kin, such as the Young-Kin you mentioned would be nice to see a little character growth.   Overall though, your story is interesting and has the content behind it to back it up.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Ekkalis
25 Jan, 2020 03:43

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I have made a bunch of updates, and adjusted wording in places where it became apparent my intentions weren't well conveyed.   This includes the ending btw. Hopefully it feels a bit more fulfilling now.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
25 Jan, 2020 03:53

Incredible work.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Ekkalis
2 Feb, 2020 05:08

Wow! I really enjoyed this. Excellent hook. I like the way you get us into the mind of the Zancig with its own terminology.   I'd have liked to have the the expletives not censored, as I feel they are most warranted in this situation and would actually add to the tone, severity, etc. Though, I totally understand why you'd censor.   The emotion in your writing is very well done.

2 Feb, 2020 06:49

Thank you so much! The perspective on this story was a really tough exercise for me. I'm glad it came out well.   Regarding expletives... I honestly don't personally use them, but I do recognize that different cultures have different swear words. So a part of me wanted to sort of invent an actual equivalent swear word for them, while the other part of me just has no clue what I am doing. :x At some point I hope to figure out my own swearing methods, but not there yet.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
Venerable Grandmaster Tris
Tris (necromancertris)
4 Feb, 2020 07:12

This was so much fun to read! Great job!

4 Feb, 2020 21:22

Great story! I love the look of your conlang, it honestly seems to bit rare to find a conlang with more than 5 vowels lol. And I like dotted vowels (might be because I'm Finnish lol). It's cool how the language looks very foreign, but is similar enough to English that it can be followed with a translation only.   You have a couple of 'ɔï' written here, and if I read the spelling guide correctly, I think it should be 'oï'?

5 Feb, 2020 03:14

Thank you!   And regarding the spelling... You are right. I used VulgarLang which also generated the spelling rules in addition to the vocabulary, and it didn't get its own rules right so I am going to have a lot to fix. Thank you so much for pointing it out!

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
5 Feb, 2020 05:03

And done. They actually should have been oi. Thank you so much for pointing those out.   I am sad to lose the ï (I love all the dots too!) but oi is much less intimidating to read than ɔï. Thank you!

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
7 Feb, 2020 20:28

The overall flow of the story and the concept are unique and interesting enough to keep me engaged. A couple of areas that I found pulled me from the story were: 1) The repetitive use of "IT" after reading It so many times in a story it gets hard to really immerse in the story as you keep stopping and thinking ok what is this "IT" this time. 2) The flip flop and overuse of smart-food and fast-food were confusing at times as it appeared so often in the text.   Other than those two areas I was able to stay immersed in the story and it felt as the story had a solid flow.   Great work and cool concept!

7 Feb, 2020 20:31

I definitely set myself a tough perspective with this one. Ha!   Regarding the use of "it" - are you saying there were places where it didn't mean the cat? (Thought I had fixed all those). Or just because it usually means other things in most stories?

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
7 Feb, 2020 20:41

like here for example : Did they know it was here? It shook its head to clear the cub's mane from its eyes,   in this short space, you have the word "it" four times. when you read It that many times the text can be hard to read.

7 Feb, 2020 20:46

Then if you scroll through your page and check the start of your paragraphs "It" is the start of I would say 50% or more of your paragraphs. For me reading It over and over makes it hard for me, I know you're going for a perspective that is from the cats' mind, just reading It that many times can be hard.   In school, I wrote a paper for an English teacher and I remember her telling me that I used too many " it" throughout my work. She said re-read your work and go through and fix every It and describe what it actually is. That lesson stuck with me even till now so I may be biased and might be why it was such an issue for me when reading.

7 Feb, 2020 20:55

Thank you so much for the update! I will dig into "it". LOL

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
Powered by World Anvil