“Oh hold still will ya?” Alvis growled as he strapped down his pack to the back of the large Tokota who would not stop squirming.
Ryu couldn't help it, it felt like there were fleas in her pelt when he handled her like this, she was not a fan of wearing all this junk. Why did they need to go so far out in the first place? It's not like there wasn't prey closer to home. “Oh stop it, I know how that mind of yours work. We aren't going fishing if that's what got you all in a huff.” It wasn't, but it was nice to know that he wasn't going to try and force her into water.
She hung her head with a grunting groan, could this trip be over with already? “Alright we're ready to go.” Noticing her glum outlook Alvis scratched below her jaw. “Hey, cheer up. It won't be so bad.” She shifted brown eyes to him reading the truth in his own.
Mounting up the man settled on her back with an affectionate pat to her shoulder, the grey toko sighed but fell into motion at his tap to her sides. It would take time for them to reach where they needed to be in the heart of the wilderness, and if those dark heavy clouds were heralds of coming rain Ryu did not want to be caught out in the open. Quickening her pace the pretty female headed for the forest paths, if she had to go she was going to make damn sure she was at least somewhat protected. “It's not supposed to rain for two days and by then we will be out from under the cloud cover. Don't worry I wouldn't take you out just to get you soaking wet, I know how much you hate it.” Alvis said ruffling the fluff on top of Ryukona's head.
As she cast her eyes skyward she gave a grunt of disbelief, it was mostly definitely going to pour by tonight. Alvis chuckled, he did love the stubborn creature, even when she had days where she wanted to be a complete and utter brat and then do a one eighty and be a playful pup again. It's an adventure every day with a Tokota like Ryukona that was for sure. Leaning forward he clicked his tongue and the large female bounded forward at a brisk canter. The trees swallowing them whole and muffling the sounds of their passing with the thick layer foliage covering the ground. Alvis knew the general direction they were traveling but he let Ryu pick the course to get there, the heart of the wilderness was where they needed to be. With caribou season over the next option was deer, but they were quicker and harder to track with their circular moving patterns. The buggers had a tendency to show up behind you and run into brush the large toko's generally couldn't follow into. However the other large game out in the wilds was moose and bear, they both were rarer and more aggressive but well worth the effort when brought down.
The pair loped for over an hour hoping to stay ahead of the foul weather that ruin both of their moods and Alvis' time line for travel. Luck favored them and those heavily pregnant clouds held off on the water works, though they threatened with low rumbles of thunder. The sound reminding Ryukona and Alvis of an angry Tokota guarding it's food or a kill. An involuntary shiver slithered down her spine and put more speed on, her quick step putting more and more distance between the two of them and the storm. The gloomy atmosphere set the mood of the duo and silence surrounded them like a thick blanket, no bird song, no insects, no small wildlife scampered about. Just the huffing breath and thudding pawsteps of a running Tokota and her handler. It was almost stifling. Finally a loud crack of thunder broke behind them, startling the pair and most of the creatures of the woods. Lightning was beginning to flash in the darkness above and Alvis bit his lip wondering how the weather report could be so wrong. He had checked the bloody thing before they'd left and it wasn't supposed to start until at the earliest tomorrow morning, damn weather man lying again. With a sigh he dug his cold fingers into Ryu's ruff, this was going to be a difficult start if the sky opened up before they were even a few hours into their expedition. What was that saying? Don't like the weather? Just wait ten minutes, it could change.
As the day wore on Alvis prayed that the rain would hold off for awhile longer, he wanted to make a few more miles before setting up shelter and setting down for the night. The darkening skies would no doubt make them have to bunker down sooner than expected. “Keep an eye out for a good place to stop.” He said leaning low over her neck.
Ryu slowed down a little as she paid more attention to the trees around her, the tall pines and cedars made a good place to hunker down but not with the threat of lightning over their heads. Looking for a squat maple or oak would be better to sleep under in this coming storm. It was another half a mile before they found a good one that suited their purposes. Coming to a stop under it Ryu nearly swept Alvis from her back when a low hanging branch caught him in the gut. “You could have warned me brat.” He huffed rubbing at the sore muscles of his stomach. “No one enjoys getting the wind knocked out of them.”
Ryu gave a rather unapologetic look back at him as he dismounted, growling at her Ryokona's brown eyes blinked slowly and she yawned in his face at the display. “Am I boring you?” The sarcasm in his tone did nothing to the toko and she shook her massive frame rattling the tack still strapped to her.
“Is that your subtle way of telling me you want me to get this off?” He asked moving to her back to remove his belongings and release her from the saddle and harness.
Ryu sneezed and leaned against the tree trunk rubbing at the leather around her chest and ribcage. “Oh hold still, I can't really get this off you if ya keep moving.” Tugging on the girth strap the stubborn buckle gave releasing Ryukona, who stepped out of the harness with a grateful shake.
Stretching her back the toko groaned in relief, Alvis shook his head as he took the saddle and other supplies to set up camp. It was going to be a long day tomorrow and if they didn't get some rest and an early head start the rain would force Ryu to stay under the trees until it stopped. The next morning was a challenge, not because it raining so much as the air was so heavy with moisture you felt the need to do the breast stroke to move instead of walking. “Alright darlin' time to get moving.” Ryu glowered and shook her thick pelt feeling as if she been shoved into a lake.
Alvis ran a hand down her shoulder carding the fur there. “I know this sucks, but with any luck this will pass and you'll be able to snag a nice treat for yourself later today.” He promised.
The glare she sent he read loud and clear. We better. Mounting up the two headed out, keeping to the east they cantered for most of the day before the humidity started to lighten.
Feeling better now that the air it wasn't so soupy Ryu loped a bit faster and let the scents fill her nose, when her belly rumbled she began to filter them properly. Bits of information creating a full image in her mind, a small creek bubbling merrily along a quarter mile away, day old tracks of deer, an owl nest above, and the stronger musk of bear overpowering the rest the closer they came to the water. Slowing her pace Ryu chose stealth, she could use a drink but if that water source was guarded then she was not going to go in blind. Nose in the air, steps precise, muscles taunt, Alvis hunkered low over her neck taking the bow from it's place and stringing it. Taking the cover off the quiver he drew an arrow and notched it, thinking maybe she had caught the scent of a prey animal. He wasn't entirely wrong, she did smell something, it just happened to be a large female brown bear not a deer. Changing direction so she would come out of the brush down stream from the strong scent markers Ryu kept silent, large paws splaying out to muffle sound, claws digging into the turf feeling for tremors from heavier clumsy footfalls.
Dropping to almost a belly crawl the toko could see the backs of the creek and there was no trace of any animal bear or otherwise near them. Remaining cautious she broke from the reeds and sent her brown gaze up and down stream searching for threats. There she was, up stream head sunk beneath the surface of the water looking for fish in a shallow pool. Alvis spotted the bear as well and tensed, “Oh boy, she is big.” He commented quietly to himself drawing back the string on the bow.
“I suggest you wait for that drink unless you want to try the sow on for size?” He asked.
Ryu swallowed, she could wait but she was up for a challenge. She dropped her shoulders even further and Alvis dismounted eyes trained on the still distracted bear. “I hope you know what you're doing.”
Me too. With her handler safe on the ground Ryukona stalked forward.
When the large head of the sow lifted from the water, she caught sight of the Tokota coming at her and growled a warning. This was her spot and she wasn't interested in sharing, too bad for her that's not what Ryu was after. When she charged, the sow met her by rearing up and roaring a challenge that was answered by Ryukona. Avoiding the water she snapped the bears flank dodging the swing the female made at her, a twang behind her and a resounding thump as the arrow hit it's mark in the bears shoulder said Alvis had her back. Bellowing in anger the sow swatted at Ryukona again this time hitting her side with a glancing blow, though knocking the wind from her with the force just the same. Rearing up herself the Tokota latched onto one of the paws crunching down as hard as she could, feeling satisfied with the breaking of some bones. The cuff she received to the side of the head however knocked her loose and a little senseless as the hit drew blood. Shaking her head Ryu felt the jaws of the bear lock on her shoulder. Crying out she snapped at the sows head just out of her reach, only managing to nip the ear.
Alivs drew back again and aimed, this time hitting the bear in the armpit and hitting deep. Releasing Ryu to roar in agony the female set her sights on the human attacking her from a distance. She charged, albeit slower than normal with the broken paw, trying to reach him before he could loose another arrow. Ryukona recovered and chased after her, attacking the haunches and back legs like she would a deer or caribou. Snagging a solid mouthful she yanked back and shook hard, letting go when the sow twisted to return the favor. Alvis aimed once more but missed, only grazing it's neck, cursing he quickly took another arrow and tried to place his next shot better. Only now Ryu was in the way as the two titans grappled with each other going for the kill. The grey and pangare toko raked her claws across the bears face going for the eyes as the snarls and growling grew to fever pitch. When the brown bear landed a hard blow to Ryukona's side she nearly buckled from the strength behind it. Breath coming in huffs Ryu danced to the side and launched a new attack, the spine was always vulnerable she just needed to get to it through the thick layer of fur, muscles, and fat protecting it. Making a kind of pseudo choke hold she hung on trying to reach the sensitive area, knowing that if she got ahold of what she was looking for it would be the end.
The sow knew this as well and doubled her efforts to dislodge the stubborn Tokota, jerking and trying to shove Ryu off balance and off her feet to get away. The plan failed when she repositioned and bit down with all the force she had, the crunch of vertebrae and the dying groan of the bear sounded the end of the battle. Ryukona held on even as the sow slumped to the ground, she waited for the soul to leave the animal before releasing. Blood filled and dripped from her mouth, staining her coat even more as she howled a victory song to the skies celebrating the life of the bear. Alvis watched with satisfaction as Ryu bayed to the ether, it had been a good fight and he couldn't have been prouder of his girl. When she finished she turned her brown eyes to her handler who couldn't stop smiling, he waited for her to approach him and ran his fingers through a clean section of fur along her face. “Well fought Ryu, you did good.” Moving to her wounded shoulder he gently parted moved her pelt checking how bad it was.
He flinched. “It's not too deep and neither is the one behind your ear... but you're going to need me to clean them.” Ryu snorted and backed out of his reach.
“Oh come on, you just took on a bear! You telling me you can't sit still long enough for me to clean those cuts?!” Ryu backed further away then bolted further upstream to lick her wounds herself.
“Get back here!” He shouted trying to chase her but stopped after a few steps. “Fine! Just don't come whining to me when you get an infection!” That stalled her in her tracks.
With the bitterest glare he'd ever seen, Ryukona sulked her way back to him sighing in his face to show her aggravation. “That's what I thought, now stay put and I'll be as quick as possible.”
Taking a rag from the supply bag he dampened it with the clean water from his canteen and began to take care of the wounds on the now very unhappy Tokota. When he finished she shook her body so hard she nearly fell over trying to get the dampness out of her fur and off her skin. Alvis chuckled at her antics then headed to set to work cleaning and dressing the bear.