Ranger and Rico
The Targus Forest has long been a favorite vacation spot for visitors and residents of the Kingdom of Valoran: predators can rarely be met here, but not the landscapes of incredible beauty. In the shade of centuries-old beeches it was cool even on the hottest day, and water could be drawn from the stream.
However, as of now, only a few dare to enter the Targus region. After the Mixing of Spheres, Shards often began to be found in the forest. And now not the loving couples were hiding in the bushes…
Jim seemed to be asleep. Dangling his leg from the massive bough on which he comfortably settled down, at a height of no less than 15 meters, an experienced ranger seemed like a standard of serenity and tranquility. In fact, Jim was as tense as a bowstring tighten. Jim listened to the forest.
He was not a hunter in the usual sense of the word. He was no longer interested in ducks, martens, or bears, oh no. He became a hunter for the Hunters.
Jim opened his eyes and instantly assumed a fighting stance. A simple person would barely hear footsteps a hundred meters away, while Jim spotted the prey half a kilometer away, accurately determining the direction and the quantity of people. Rico landed on his outstretched arm with a whistle and chirped softly.
- Understood. There are three of them. Any archers?
Rico chirped again.
- No archers? Are you sure, buddy? Really, one of them has a noticeably softer step, which means he is not in armor and chain mail, and it is important for a good archer to maintain mobility.
The falcon chirped more insistently.
- Well, I believe you. After all, you haven’t let me down yet.
Jim moved to the coming Hunters, soft and flexible as a cat, moving from tree to tree.
He picked up Rico a few years ago as a baby bird in this very forest. Someone destroyed Rico’s nest, but the little falcon miraculously survived. The ranger came out of it, and when Rico got stronger, it suddenly turned out that he did not want to fly away. Since then, they began to go hunting together and understood each other perfectly.
The group advanced cautiously, in a semicircle. Each kept his flank “on sight”, and with a single gesture made it clear when he saw or heard something suspicious.
Gotcha! — Jim thought with excitement, silently pulling an arrow from his quiver.
He always set the bar high for himself. Having decorated his house with trophies of every possible animal, Jim was one step away from depression — he lacked a truly difficult challenge. However, as soon as the hysteria over the Shards began, the taste for life returned to Jim — now the Hunters became his target.
A good archer would cope with the presented task in 5–6 arrows. Great for three. Jim expected to use just one.
The monotonous movement stalled as one of the Hunters found something. For a single moment, the semicircle turned into a line — those who came up wanted to look at the find. This curiosity became a fatal mistake for them.
The birds, silent spectators, roared from their perch, signaling the end of the fight. The arrow pierced through two guys, but stuck in the helmet of the last. Jim squatted down and looked around. The arrow tip was smashed from the impact with the metal.
“Well, there’s always room to grow,” — the ranger concluded philosophically.
After collecting a couple of bags of gold and even a few Shards from the bodies, Jim and Rico moved on. The hunt continued.