The Hunt for the Doomcry

-

Sen moved silently through the blanket of night's darkness. He was searching for someone, but he didn't know who exactly. Morgalis had
told the group to try and find this 'Doomcry', but the description of the Raveen was vague. Claws of a Demon, moves like the wind, and has
a mane of blue. It was a description that could fit a large number of Kats, and Demons, alike.

Luckily he wasn't on his own for this search. Uunagari and Kiya were both with him, although just barely within view as they branched off to
either side. Uunagari was searching the left, Kiya the right, and Sen was to keep looking on ahead. They'd meet back here in just over an
hour and return to the cavern whether they found this 'Doomcry' or not. At least, that's what they had agreed on.

"Good luck, Sen." Kiya had said as she took off, easily vanishing in to the darkness. She flashed Sen a smile before completely fading from
view.

Uunagari held back just long enough to shake his head, exchange a look with Sen, and leave to the left with a muffled: "See you soon."

Now Sen was on his own, just moving across the black forest floor with his eyes fixed on the area around him. He was alone for the
moment, but had a feeling that wouldn't last long. Kiya had warned him that Demons were more active at night, and it would be likely for
him to come across one or more. Uunagari had said if that happened to either engage them in battle, or turn tail and run. Two bodies in
one day was more than enough. Nobody wanted it to become three.

Twenty minutes passed calmly as Sen continued his search. He had found nothing more than a rat gnawing at a long dead bird so far, and
was beginning to think this whole hunt was pointless. These mercenary warriors didn't have enough information to go on, Sen was more
than old enough to know that. They should have hung around the cavern and waited for all of the other warriors to return with information,
but Morgalis had persisted that they go out now - the sooner they had this 'Doomcry' in their midst the better.

After forty minutes Sen was wishing he hadn't volunteered to help out. Not only was this search pointless, but he was becoming bored with
the monotone atmosphere. It was too quiet, too calm.

Ten minutes later and Sen was still wanting to be back at the cavern, resting his weary paws. But he was out in the middle of nowhere, still
looking around for any sign of anything. And still finding nothing. It was time to start back, and Sen did so without hesitation.

Halfway back to the meeting point was when Sen finally spotted something.

He dropped down in to the tall grass, his dusty lilac eyes taking in the scene before him. Just off to his left there were two Demons and a
Raveen attempting to converse. The Demons were small, about the size of a domestic cat, had the lower body of a crawler, and the upper
body of a humanoid snake. They were hissing nonsense at the Raveen, whose face was hidden behind a hood of deer fur. Red eyes
blazed like flame through the shadows of the hood, while silver markings glowed red upon the rest of its body.

It was a Neophyte. A type of Demon who took on the form of a Raveen, and was most loyal to the Great Evil. They were summoners, and
sacrificed themselves in their powerful rituals. Their Element was to blame for the awakening of The Seven and the release of the Great
Evil.

For one of them to be out here... Sen didn't know what to make of it. All he knew was that She was definitely up to something if She had her
personal servants in the area.

The Guardian sunk closer to the ground, attempting to make his glowing mane as invisible as possible behind the wall of grass, while still
being able to get a good look at the Demons. The hissing was continuing, and Sen could just barely pick up mumbled replies from the
Neophyte. He wasn't close enough to hear them clearly, and it was too risky to get any closer.

Damn. Sen curses in his mind. If he attempted to move any closer he knew he'd be spotted, and attacked, without gaining any clues. And
he also knew that from way over here he wouldn't be able to gather any real information either.

He continued to watch the exchange between the Neophyte and Demons, his ears failing to pick out any details. For ten minutes he stays
perfectly still, hidden in the grasses, just observing from afar. The summoner was now leaving, the other Demons following behind.

It would seem the Neophyte had been gathering them, but for what purpose?

As he headed back to meet with Uunagari and Kiya, his mind was racing with possibilities. And none of them were good. Where the Great
Evil was concerned - nothing was ever good.

...*...*...*...

Tarvuulf inhaled deeply, relishing in the cold touch of the night. The scent of Demons was thick on the air, but Tarvuulf was skilled enough
to sort through them all. He could detect two foreign scents upon the wind; one he recognized as now belonging to Sen, the other was an
unknown.

His ears swiveled back, and his slit yellow eyes narrowed. The scent was new - it hadn't been here last night. With a twitch of his upper lip
the Raveen began to track the scent. Whatever, or whoever, had entered these lands tonight would soon find themselves crossing paths
with him.

Tracking was his specialty. He could track anyone for miles, following their scent or trails they left in their wake. It gave him pleasure to hunt
different prey, and he usually jumped at the chance to tackle his next quarry. The hunt provided a thrill that nothing else could. It was
dangerous, but that was what Tarvuulf found so addicting about it. Living on the edge, following after death and chaos, was precisely what
he lived for.

His Father had been much the same way. A skilled hunter, who could track anything across any kind of terrain. He had passed his skills on
to Tarvuulf, but not his reckless nature. Where Tarvuulf's Father would have rushed the hunt, and thrown himself in to the thick of battle
without a second thought, Tarvuulf would lag behind just long enough to sort out a plan. Perhaps that was why the old hunter had been
killed when the Demons first appeared. He hadn't thought, just blindly entered the fight.

Tarvuulf had, true to form, stayed on the side lines. He had studied the Demons from afar, and gauged his chances of survival. When
those chances seemed minimal, he had left the South to seek more worthwhile prey. It was only when Morgalis had sought him out that he
returned here with the rest of them.

And even then, it was only because of a promise that he had even stepped paw back on this land.

Now he was tracking that foreign scent, silently moving through the grassland. He had exited the trees some time ago, when the trail of his
quarry had veered off in to the grass. The scent was stronger now, and Tarvuulf knew he had caught up to his prey.

He slowed his pace, and stilled to allow for absolute silence. His ears circled forward, and he listened.

He could hear the sound of the grass being shifted by the wind. The sound of the lake a few miles west. Even the hushed squeal of a rat
as it was taken in the air by it's hunter. What he didn't hear was anything that his prey may have been responsible for.

His eyes roam around the grasses, peering through every space in the tall yellow stems. If his prey wasn't moving, then his prey knew it
was being hunted. He would have to be silence itself if he didn't wish for this hunt to be turned around on him.

For an agonizingly long pause Tarvuulf stayed perfectly still, the only part of him moving being his yellow eyes. His breaths were shallow
and silent, his heartbeat muted. Even in the dangerous moment that he knew he had been spotted by his prey, he was the perfect picture
of calm.

Off to his left emerald green eyes were taking in his appearance, sizing him up. Tarvuulf knew without a doubt that he had just met his
match in skill. He hadn't heard the other moving, hadn't even seen him until the chilled feeling of being watched tickled his spine. He would
have to congratulate this Raveen on his skills if he had the chance.

But the other was just as skilled as his Father was. He shared the same flaw. Instead of hanging back and studying Tarvuulf for a moment
longer, he had lunged at the bleached Raveen.

Tarvuulf had easily pulled out of the way and whirled to face the Raveen. In the few seconds before the next attack he had taken in the
Raveen's appearance - green eyes, black mane, tan body. Not the Doomcry.

The second attack was dodged just as smoothly as the first, and Tarvuulf put a little more space between himself and the other hunter.
"You are not what I seek," he announced, his voice dull and lacking interest.

For a moment the other Raveen was poised for another attempt, but relaxed visibly and nodded a truce. "Funny you should say that.
You're not what I'm after either. What is it that you're hunting?"

Tarvuulf settled his customary frosted gaze on the other hunter. He did not relax, not trusting of the proposed truce. "I seek the one they
call the Doomcry."

A large grin spread across the other Raveen's scarred face, and he let out a low chuckle. "Looks like we have that in common."

He may have been shocked, even suspicious of this, but Tarvuulf didn't show it. He kept the cold edge to his features, looking completely
uninterested in the revelation. "You seek the Doomcry?"

"All my life. My family's been hunting the bastard since the day he was born." The Raveen had relaxed completely now, no longer seeing
Tarvuulf as a threat. "What reason do you have for hunting him?"

"He killed two of my allies." Tarvuulf answered coldly.

"Sounds like him alright." The Raveen nodded, grimacing. "I had hoped he stopped doing that by now. I've been on his trail since he
showed himself in the North. Killed a few Raveens up there as well. I thought I taught him a lesson by scarring his face up - but I guess not."

"You have hunted here from the North?"

"Yep. Long way to track a bastard, right? I wouldn't have kept up with it for so long, but my Brother was one of the Raveens he killed. I'm
the last Hunter. Got to make sure I get a chance at dishing out vengeance before my own time comes." The Raveen paused, his emerald
green eyes focusing on the bleach Raveen. "Name's Kruuzanji, but everyone just calls me Reaper. Perhaps we could help each other out?"

Tarvuulf silently observed the Raveen, trying to gauge whether or not he could be trusted. "Perhaps."

...*...*...*...

Hours later found Sen, Uunagari, Kiya, and the others back at the cavern. By now most of the other mercenary warriors had returned to
share their knowledge with Morgalis, but nothing was of great importance. No one had anything dramatic to report, no more deaths to
announce. Just mentions of having seen hooded Raveens moving about the area.

Sen was one of a number of Raveens who reported seeing Neophytes in the region. Apparently this wasn't a normal occurrence, and the
summoner Raveens had never once been seen in the South before. Yet Morgalis shrugged it off for now, not knowing what to make of this
information. No one had said why the Raveen Demons were in the area, or what they were doing when the warriors witnessed their
presences.

No one had been close enough to hear anything. It was as if it had been on purpose, and every Neophyte had appeared just out of reach
of all of the warriors. Sen wasn't impressed, and was beginning to think there was more to this than he had even imagined. If She had a
large group of summoners in one area it meant disaster was looming on the horizon.

It was before dawn the next day when Tarvuulf entered the cavern, with a sandy colored black-maned Raveen in tow. The unknown warrior
was clad in brown leather armor and white feathers, with a rather grotesque scar that stretched all the way across his face. It was three
deep gashes, long healed, that started from one eye and trailed over to the other. Sen didn't want to know how he got it.

"Who is this?" Morgalis asked, his voice easily carrying over the murmur of conversations taking place in the cavern.

Tarvuulf glanced back at the other hunter before locking his gaze with Morgalis. "I came across him during the night. He has information on
the Doomcry."

Silence fell over the cavern's occupants like a thick sheet as every head turned toward the newcomer. The sandy Raveen offered a
lop-sided grin, "Call me Reaper, please."

Morgalis sat up straight, now studying the Raveen closely. Or as closely as one could from halfway across the cavern. "You have
information on our killer?"

"That I do." Reaper nodded in confirmation as he made himself comfortable on a vacant rock. "Just tell me what you what you want to
know."

"Tell us everything." Morgalis answered.

"Everything? Well now, that's a pretty big request, but I'll try my best." Reaper smirked. "How about how he looks? Do you know his
description?"

"We only have a vague idea of what he looks like. Neither of the deceased was willing to share much." Morgalis replied with an upper lip
twitch.

"Well, then. I best not leave out the important stuff then." Reaper paused momentarily to take in the group of Raveens. He was surprised
that there were so many - he had been expecting just a small group of wannabe warriors, not a whole slew of them. Tarvuulf had obviously
left out some details.

"He's got a lithe build, but isn't small by any means. His body's mostly black, except for his shoulders, neck, and half of his face which are
marked red. He's got a dusty blue mane, and wears polished bone armor on his forelegs and a mask on his face. There's a few scars on
his hide, but not many, and his most notable features are three deadly blue claws on both front paws. Trust me, this guy's got skill when it
comes to fighting and he's not afraid to-"

Whatever else Reaper was telling the group was tuned out. Sen's blood was running cold, and the voices in his head had even hushed
themselves without his prompting. The description for the Doomcry..

He had seen that Raveen before.
.The Downward Spiral.