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Prologue

Prologue

A Chapter by L. Barnes

The Jungle awoke to the shrieking of flocks of birds bursting from the canopy as they fled their nests and perches they had occupied during the night. Hornbills, Toucans, Macaws and even the majestic Harpy Eagle took to the skies in a flurry of feathers and beating wings as the first trees began to fall, crashing down into the forest floor as they ripped through the undergrowth. Branches seemed to clutch at their neighbouring trees as they fought the pull of gravity, biting into the bark until either they gave way or tore the other down with them. Animals who had sort refuge nearby for the night darted away from the carnage screaming in terror.


A fawn found itself suddenly stumbling to the ground as  its leg was swept up from underneath it, caught in the loop of biting wire. It cried out pitifully for its mother who pottered about it helplessly, tugging uselessly at the trap. Ears twitched nervously as the two-legged creatures moved steadily towards them, not yet  within view but closing in quickly.


The doe shrieked and darted away when something leaped out of the trees, landing crouched on two legs beside the faun, thin, striped tail outstretched to keep its balance. It unsheathed a bright blade from its side and began sawing through the thin chord wrapped around the deer's leg. The faun kicked out in fear at the predator and bounded into the forest as it felt the constraining grip of the trap give way, bellowing for it's mother.


The predator watched it disappear safely back into the forest before turning back to the chaos behind it. It moved forward slowly, keeping to the shadows provided by the weak beams of the morning sun, stalking silently towards the voices that yelled orders to muttering mouths and clumsy hands. Clawed hands pulled branches apart to get a better view at the invaders.


"So you'll be able to follow the expected timeline?"


 Slit pupils flew to take in a large man standing at a crudely constructed table staring down at a piece of parchment unfurled and sprawled across it. Another man, thinner and more muscular, evidently someone who laboured physically for his work, stood next to him and pointed down at it.


"We shouldn't have any problem with this area, but further south is pretty uncharted and even the locals very rarely venture inside. If we can get their cooperation we should be able to map and fell it in good time but without it will take a few months to properly plot the entire thing."


"You think they won't cooperate?"


The thinner man stood up straight and looked the larger man square in the eye.


"These people are a suspicious sort, Sir. They still believe in Beastials who roam these lands and won't do anything to upset them without good reason."


The large man snorted, "foolish simpletons. Creatures that are half man, half beast? What a preposterous notion."


"Not to them."


The large man hummed consideringly, rubbing his bearded chin with fat fingers, "double the price for anyone willing to help if they need extra incentive. That'll be more coin than any of them will have ever seen."


The thin man nodded but looked sceptical, obviously doubtful as to whether it would be enough to make such fearful people to go against centuries of belief. They moved away from the table still conversing.


Amber eyes rested intensely upon the table. Keeping low the creature prowled on hands and feet towards the parchment, sliding it carefully from the table top and rolling it up before disappearing silently back into the jungle. Once it was a fair distance from the unnatural destruction it unrolled the parchment and eyes roaming over it, scowling.


"Syrn."


The creature looked up into the keen eyes of a man nearly eight feet high. Atop the mans head sprouted two bear like ears and had he turned around a small brown tail could have been seen poking out from above his breeches.  Claw like fingers rested against his side as he stared down at his half man-half tiger companion with dilated circular pupils.


Syrn looked back down at the map he held in his hands considering, tongue gliding over razor sharp fangs within his mouth. "I think its time Aran. This can't be put off any longer."


Aran nodded, "I'll send out a message to the Clans immediately." He made to turn away but stopped half way during the motion. "How bad?"


The half man - half tiger looked back down at the map in his hand, eyes focused on the area of the Clan territories shaded in dark red. "Worse than we feared."




© 2017 L. Barnes



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Added on November 5, 2017
Last Updated on November 5, 2017