"What's your name?" I asked as I sat down next to him.
"Shikari," he replied. "No need to ask your name. Princess Avariella."
"Call me Ava," I replied.
We began to talk. He told me himself. He was 17 - a year older than me - but lived a completley different life. He told me how the humans and Powers had driven Shifters out of the towns and villages long before either of us were born. He was amazed at how little I knew.
"So do you have your own villages somewhere?" I asked.
"No. Well, we used to. But it was hard for so many Shifters to live in one place. We tend to inherit the characteristics of our animals, and everyone was so scared to leave the village, there was no freedom, so it created a lot of friction and tension between people. It was a bad idea for a cat and dog to live next door to each other. The more aggresive animals -like me, or bears or tigers - fought constantly, for dominancy, or just to settle arguments. More often than not, someone would end up dead before anyone gained control. That was a long time ago. Nowadays, we mostly live alone or in little groups. Some of the docile Shifters - like the deer and birds - still live in small villages or communities."
"So where do you live?" I asked, eager to know more about him and his life.
"Well I sometimes spend some time up in the mountains, in the south. There's a little group up there. People come and go, like me. I've been travelling for 8 months now."
"That must be lonely. What about your parents? Family?" I asked.
"My parents died. My dad was killed in a fight with another Shifter, and my mum was killed by a Power," He said, looking away from me. I felt ashamed all of a sudden.
"What animals were they?" I asked, eventually.
"My dad was a lynx, my mum was a wildcat,"he said.
"Is it okay if I ask more questions?" I asked tentativly.
"Yeah," he said, "It's nice to talk about them."
I smiled. "So what was your dad fighting?"
"I polar bear," he said with a laugh, "He always bit off more than he could chew."
"How old were you?" I asked.
"Thirteen," he said.
"Do you have any brothers or sisters?"
"One sister. She's fifteen now."
"Where does she live?"
"In the mountains, with our aunt."
I was about to ask more about his mother, when i heard a little noise from behind us. Shikari heard it too. He jumped to his feet and turned to look. It was silent for a few seconds. I was about to say something, until I heard a great ear splitting roar, and a huge black mass exploded out of the trees. Shikari sprang forward, bursting into his wolf form. In one bound later, and the two forms collided. I saw it was a black bear he was fighting. I'd never seen anything like it, it was captivating, yet horrifying. The bear was bigger and heavier, with claws as well as teeth, but Shikari was quick and skilled. They clashed and ripped at each other. It was clear Shikari was winning. He used the trees to rebound off, and seemed to be everywhere at once. He was careful to dodge clear of the bear after each attack. Eventually he leapt in with enormous force, straight for the bears throat. It roared again and stumbled around. Shikari clung on to it's throat, his jaws like a vice.
Finally the bear fell, with a great thud and a cloud of dust. When the dust cleared I saw the huge black bear, lying completley still and silent, but Shikari was nowhere to be seen.