Don't worry about the length too much XD The tree branch, only just thicker than her arm, dipped slowly and quietly as she shifted her weight onto it's rather flimsy strength. It swayed only slightly and held her weight admirably, a good choice. But she ceased her musings on the thought, as the soft shuffle of hooves in the grass reached her ears and the soft brown eyes of a doe watched carefully from below. She'd been tracking her quarry for about an hour in total, carefully evading their gaze and choosing the doe she would take back to the settlement. She'd chosen an older doe, with greying fur and no fawn to see and obviously beyond bearing age. It wouldn't collapse the herd overly much, there would still be others to breed and this way, she made a minimal impact on the balance here. Balance must always be maintained after all. Settling her recurve bow against the edge of her hip, she began to apply the draw weight to the bowstring and notched an arrow quickly, before letting the shaft fly into the clearing behind. The deer scattered as the old doe hit the ground and Akila swung down, quickly striding over to where the deer struggled and attempted to flee, even as the shaft of the arrow dug deeper into it's chest. Drawing a dagger out of it's sheath, she deftly sliced across the thin skin of it's throat and the doe stilled almost immediately as the life slipped from her. "May the All-Father bless your spirit, so that your sacrifice is a eternal reward. Your body is gone but your spirit feeds the forest." The old ritual was muttered softly and reverently, a sacred part of the hunting ritual, one that many hunters now ignored. Moving fast, she strung the doe up from a branch and began to skin it as the blood made its way out of the dead animal's veins, so that the meat would not spoil. She then gathered what meat she could from the doe, then wrapped them in the skin to cover them from the flies. To dispose of the entrails, she dug a small hole nearby and dumped them in, not wanting the teeth of scavengers to desecrate the corpse. Grasping the bundled up meat in one hand, she made her way over to where her horse, Sulmandir, was tethered to a grove of trees. He nickered as she approached and she scratched his nose before tying the bundled meat onto the back of her saddle and after untying the reins, swung into the saddle with the ease of long years of practice. She made it back to the settlement within the hour, as she called out to the guards and the gate swung open in response, welcoming her back to the village. "Marn, where's your brother? I've got some nice venison for him for the festival tonight!" There was a brief silence, before a young girl swung down from the ramparts with a laugh. With laughing eyes and bright red hair, Marn was easily one of the more cheerful youngsters in the settlement. Her eldest brother, Mero, was the butcher/cook for the village and had been since he was in his mid teens. "He's over at the great fire but I'm heading over there as well, I've finished my shift at the gate!" With a skip in her step and a bubble of laughter, the fiery headed girl was of towards where the great festival fire was being built in the centre of the meeting grounds. Dismounting Sulmandir, she followed after the junior gate-keeper at a slightly more sedate pace. As she saw Mero heading over towards her, she began untying the bundle of meat and placed it on a cooking table, laying out the meat cuts she had taken for the chef's appraisal. "Well, you got some fine venison today then! I thank you very much for the bounty of the spirits! Amet and Hast brought venison as well, as well as a brace of geese, so it shall be a fine feast tonight for sure!" She'd always loved the chef like a brother, with his chortling laugh and great humour, as he was one of the more genial members of the community, though all were kind in their own ways. The festival crept closer and closer and by the time the moon was high in the sky, the feast was drawing to the highlight of the night, after the cooking of their fabulous chef. The ritual was starting and a thrum was going through her bones. The drums were a mere faint beat in her ears but her blood was roaring, as the rituals of their people called on the ancestors and the spirits of the forest. The great tree was alight with the ancestral lights, and the thrum in her blood was strange. She awoke in the morning with a headache the size of Kansas and immediately, she was alerted to the fact that something was seriously amiss in the village. Namely, the three Heavenly Treasures had been stolen from within the shrine and within the hour of her waking, she was off on Sulmandir, dust flying from his iron shod hooves. Which led to her current position, leaning against a hard wall and watching the citizens of this human town wander by, as the sun set on the horizon and she waited for somebody, anybody, to finally accept the off she had posted out all across town.