Anerin's watch had been long and uneventful, so much so that a one point he'd begged the Great Lady to send some fool down to him so he might a least get a good fight out of it, or have the pleasure of watching an idiot get torn to bits by Sharizad, who sat next to him in his kennel looking equally as bored out of his wits. They were forced to listen to the drinking and merriment behind them, where the light and warmth and mouth watering smell of roast buck from of the camp awaited their return.
As was their punishment.
The massive black gryphon scowled out through the kennel bars, glaring at the forest as it was it's fault he was parted from it and the never ending navy skies.
This was not true however, Anerin thought irritably, smacking the cage and scowling down at his gryphon.
"I told you not to bite him, you silly pigeon" Anerin spat, slouching further into his make-shift couch.
Sharizad Squawked back at him in equal irritation, turning swiftly to smack him firmly in the back of his head with his tail. With a huff, Anerin snapped up and reached into the cage to swat at the disobedient bird, but Sharizad simply snapped at him with his massive beak in annoyance, knowing full well that his master's attempts were barely half-assed at best.
And they were, a moment later Anerin sighed and slumped back into the fallen logs he'd been lounging on with grumble, reaching over to grab a rather large hare from his pack to toss to his feathered friend as an apology. However before he could, Anerin froze. The sharp sound of a twig snapping in the empty night air catching his attention.
Instantly sinking in to the a dark shadow's guise, Anerin's bow was in hand strung and nocked and pointed in the direction of the sound.
To his surprise, however, it was not some rowdy drunken moron who stumble from the foliage.
When the leaves parted to delicate dark hands, a white cloaked gown and bare feet Anerin's only guess was he was witnessing a Nymph on her nightly travel through the dense forest. And that like the men in legends, he would soon befall some terrible fate for witnessing her divinity, for her cloak seemed to glow in the milky moonlight.
Anerin watched in entrancement however, rather than wariness as the nymph's eyes caught Sharizad's where his steel kennel lay in plane sight.
A small gasped broke cut threw the night air and the nymph's hesitant and yet eager footsteps closed the distance between her and the cage.
"Hello, gorgeous," the nymph's voice was soft and soothing, and sounded as if I was said with a smile.
Anerin remained unmoving, arrow still aimed; ready and waiting, to shocked to move.
Sharizad squawked and preened under the nymph's praise, and she giggled softy in response.
"What are you doing in a cage?"
The Black gryphon squawked loudly, stomping an shaking his hand and snapping in her direction, trying to tell he the story.
The nymph's hood nodded in apathy, and she giggled a little once more.
"I'm sure they deserved it," She laughed.
Sharizad huffed in agreement, glaring in Anerin's direction only for a moment.
Anerin glared back at the silly beast, it hadn't been his choice to put him in a cage, it'd been the tribe elder's, his father's, as punishment for his misbehaviour.
Anerin agreed quite adamantly with his feather friend though, that half-wit had deserved it. Still, it hadn't been worth watch duty during the summer solstice festival.
"You are so beautiful," she whispered, hesitantly reaching towards the bars. Anerin flinched, waiting for the snap and scream, but none came.
Sharizan rubbed against the bars affectionately making Anerin shook his head in confusion, especially when he allowed the girl to rub his feathered head with equal amount affection.
Suddenly she swept off her hood, and Anerin's eyes grew wide. She was no nymph, she wasn't even an elf.
The human girl's black curls cascaded down over her shoulders like each strand was polished onyx in the pearly rays of moonlight. Her dark almond eyes were intent on Sharizad with a joyful smile on the plump curve of her lips.
"I think I have something you may like," she said glancing about. Anerin remained as still and silent as the grave.
She reached into a pack that Anerin hadn't noticed was slung over her shoulder, rummaging around in it for a long moment, before she pulled out a large blood-red fruit.
Sharizad's eyes grew wide and with one sniff he was hopping eagerly around his kennel.
She snorted but brought her finger over her mouth to hush him. Sharizad complied quickly sitting next to the bars, tail wagging and twitching in keenness instead.
Eyes narrowing, the elf held back a sigh of irritation of how quickly the feather beast cooperated with her bidding.
"I read gryphons loved eperus Fruit and saved some just case," the girl explained with a warm smile.
Anerin suspected seeing the restlessness in Sharizad's eyes was the reason the girl intuitively choose to roll him the fruit rather than attempt to feed it to him by hand and risk loosing a few fingers in the process. He was sure Sharizad wouldn't have cared if she thrown it at him, for the bird gleefully torn the ripe fruit apart, not wasting even a drop of the juices that splattered the bars.
The girl smiled and patted his feather head when he calmed.
"I have one more," she whispered earnestly.
Eyes bright, she reached into her pact once more. However her rummaging came to an abrupt halt when three burly human men stumbled loudly into the clearing from behind Sharizad's cage.
She turned in surprise dropping rather large eperus fruit to the ground when one of the men cursed in pain as he stumbled over an uprooted stump. The red fruit hit the forest floor with a loud thud, effectively alerting the drunken men to her presence in an instant.
"Oh, ho, ho, loo-Look at that g...guyss," the largest of them slurred, pointing at the girl.
Though the massive fruit rolled right into Sharizad's talon but the gryphon paid the fruit no mind, his attention stuck on the young woman.
"Aren't you a-a...a sight for ssore eyes," another grinned.
The girl backed away from the kennel and further into the clearing, glancing behind her so she wouldn't trip.
Sharizad stood and squawked viciously, pacing restlessly at the bars when the three men neared her laughing like jackals
"Thank you sir, but I must return to my tent, it's late and I've lost track of time," she said, Anerin praised the firmness of her voice, there was barely a hint of fear.
The men didn't take the hint though, and spread out around her like wolves cornering a they prey.
"Camping, with the soldiers?" asked the third, he seemed less drunk than the rest, but wore a wicked grin, and didn't wait for her to respond, "Good, we've been looking for the whore's camp but you'll due fine."
"I'm no whore," the girl cut-in quickly.
"'Cor...Cour-courtesan' thenn, whatever" the burly one sputtered, reaching for a jingling pouch of coins at his hip and tossed it at her, "We...we can pay you th-the rest in the-the m-morning."
The girl glare down at the pouch in disgust, before she kicked it back at them crossing her arms of her chest.
"I'm not a whore, courtesan, concubine, lady of the night, or whatever the hell else you'all call prostitutes here," she hissed, "So no, I'm not fuck you or suck your cocks for money."
The least intoxicated one stepped forward, with an even wider grin. Sharizad shrieked furiously at the man but he paid the caged gryphon no mind, stepping even closer.
"So you'll do it for free then."
Though the girls eyes narrowed and she pulled a bejeweled dagger from her pack, an almost sweet smile pulled at her lips, "No, but I'll cut your balls off for free."
If Anerin hadn't been so furious at was unfolding before his eyes, he'd would have laughed long and hard at just how gloriously deliver her threat had been, with such sweet bitterness and promise of pain.
For a moment the man eyes grew wide but then a ugly sneer settled on his face and he reached for the battered sword at his hip.
Anerin's arrow whizzed through the night air and the man let out an agonized howl when it struck home in the fleshy muscle of his shoulder. He stumbled back into one of his comrades but instead of coming to his aid they dropped him glancing around the clearing in panic.
"Who's there? Wh-where are you?" The burliest of them yelled, tripping over his own feet to look search around.
When no answer came, the fear in the eyes doubled. The two left unwounded nearly smacked heads when the apprehension got the best of them, and they drabbed their injured friend and took off back towards the camp.
Anerin remained well hidden in the shadows when the girl was once again the only other person in the clearing.
She turned, glancing about only for a moment before sliding her blade back into the hidden sheath on her thigh. How she had unsheathed it without his noticing it in the first place, he did not know. Maybe it was the warm brown of her eyes or the soft smile that placated him to the point that he hadn't expected her to be armed.
She patted her gown back down, and wandered back to Sharizad's kennel, soothing him into calmness until he finally was at peace enough to notice the fruit at his feet.
Before she left she glanced one last time around the meadow, folding a few curls behind her un-pointed ear.
"Thank you," she said, just loud enough for Anerin to here, before she too retreated silently back into the dense foliage that'd birthed her.