“You did well,” Zephyrin murmured in approval as Vesper caught her breath, the two having just finished their trial in the grove.
“Thanks,” she huffed as she gripped her side.
“So, how was it without your magic?” He inquired, raising a brow. Vesper smiled.
“I quite enjoyed it actually,” responded, looking down at the bow in her hands. “I think I might be good at archery.”
“Yes, except for the one time you hit me in the arm,” Zephyrin muttered, rubbing his bicep.
“Yes, except for that. I’m so sorry,” Vesper apologized with a small wriggle of her nose.
“Quite alright,” he said with a friendly chuckle. “Anyway, let’s get you home. I know you and Drazken are anxious to leave.”
Before Vesper could respond, a booming voice echoed in her mind and the world went still.
“My child…” It said. “Thank you.” Vesper looked around and found no one, but instantly knew it was Jhebbal Sag. “You and many others saved me, as well as my home. I wanted to impart a gift upon you, something that nobody else can give you.” Vesper felt nervous at that moment, but nodded. “I have seen all who come and go in my grove and undertake the trial. So many faces and names, so many stories. There was one who passed the trial years and years ago, who held herself and her bow the way you do. She took the trial with her mate Roch, another child of mine named Anwyn, and Anwyn’s mate Felix. Her name was Gani.”
Vesper’s eyes went wide. “My ancestor.”
“Child,” the voice continued, “You have a natural affinity for the bow, and the instincts of a true hunter. Practice, and all of your hunts will be great.” Vesper nodded as the voice went quiet, and the world came alive again.
“Vesper? Are you coming?” Zephyrin asked.
“Yes, sorry.” Vesper responded.
“This is everything, right?” Drazken asked warily as Vesper gave him another satchel.
“Almost.” Vesper answered, packing the last satchel to the brim with food before handing it to Drazken. “No telling how long we’ll be traveling, and we need to eat.”
“You more than me,” He murmured as he strategically slid the strap of the satchel over his large shoulder. Vesper smiled and stood on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek.
“That’s everything. Clothes, camping, food, and oh! Books!” Drazken groaned as she grabbed her two most important items, the book handed down through her family, and the book of stories her ancestor Gani had written. She smiled fondly at them before slipping them into her own satchel and looking out the back door. “Give me a minute, please.” She requested. Drazken, looking rather helpless at that point, nodded quietly.
The air of the jungle was sunny, warm, and had slightly less moisture to it than usual as she looked at the two ravens that sat on the bath’s rim. She sighed and kneeled in front of them, and they hopped closer, tilting their heads at her.
“I haven’t given you any grace.” Vesper murmured softly to the two. “I hated you both for a long time.”
The ravens looked at each other, then back to Vesper with small croaks. Vesper took a deep breath. “How you raised me wasn’t fair. The blood magic, the elarikan, and this beating into me that power was all that mattered. I lost everything for a long time because of your teachings and influence. Despite it all, I forgive you. But I also have something to ask of you.”
The two ravens nodded.
“I know, because of this book,” She tapped her satchel with her hand, “That you know where my sister is. Please take me to her.” The ravens looked at each other before looking at Vesper and nodding again before quickly taking flight. She watched them circle overhead and upon hearing a loud purr, gazed at Ashira. She smiled and stood, patting her leg in invitation. Ashira came close, nuzzling her, and Vesper chuckled as she scratched the large tiger between the ears. “Of course you can come, but you cannot eat my mother and grandmother, not only out of principle, but also because they’d be too gamey.” Ashira purred even louder before following Vesper back inside. “Drazken? Are you ready?”
“I’ve been ready,” Drazken responded with mock impatience. “Geez, woman.”
Vesper laughed, “Excited to meet Quinn?”
Drazken winked, “Oh yeah, I’m very excited to meet your twin…”
Vesper rolled her eyes with small amusement as she slipped her hand into his and intertwined their fingers. “Okay, take it easy.” They both laughed and didn’t look back as they left the house and began their new adventure, with a tiger in tow and two ravens soaring overhead.