The quiet of the forest was broken by the heavy heedless footfalls of someone on the run. The snap of twigs, the curse that accompanied the loud thump of a fall, and the branches and bushes that had been pushed aside were all signs of one who was not familiar with the ways of the forest.
It is in an environment like this, that one who is familiar with his territory can catch an outsider, regardless of the length of his legs.
The man knew this, but he was panicked. His best chance of outrunning his pursuer was to stick to the easiest path that he could manage, but the fearful man is not a rational man. In an effort to throw off his hunter, he turned off the path and charged through the untamed wilderness of the forest.
He had sealed his own fate.
An arrow flew past his head to thunk into the tree trunk just ahead of him. The man cursed again and fear lent new reserves of energy to his fatigued legs. He began to veer left, but another whizzing arrow dissuaded him of this course and he charged ahead. He could see light ahead and with a final effort, he burst through the tangle of vines and tree limbs into a clearing.
He stopped gasping long enough to listen for sounds of his pursuer. He could hear nothing. With the smug grin of one who had cheated death he turned to continue on and jumped back in surprise.
Standing in front of him was the halfling.
All thoughts of success fled, and the man spun to run in the opposite direction. He made it two steps before a shape leapt from the shadows and tackled him to the ground.
The man froze. It was a lupynx, one of the most feared non-human beings in the land. On a scale, a lupynx would be ranked slightly below a dragon.
The halfling came to stand over the man, obviously enjoying the reversal as he looked down on him.
"Are you deaf?" asked the halfling.
The man shook his head.
"Are you able to read?"
"Then you have no excuse for being here in these woods."
"Pl-please... I... my family..."
"Your family. Would they perhaps be the gang of thieves that you came in with? The conversation that you held prior to entering these woods made no mention of a family."
"You... you heard?"
The halfling gave a small laugh. "You are in my woods human. I make it a point to hear and see everything that doesn't belong here."
"Wh-what are you going to do then?"
"Well you've already had two chances to save yourself. You wasted one when I told you to stop, you wasted another by running into my friend. You have one final chance. Let him up Pyne."
The animal, growling softly, took its paws off the man and allowed him to stand.
"You're letting me go?"
"If you can make it, yes. You will have thirty seconds to run before I release Pyne here. During that interval, I will be shooting at you with my eyes closed. You will have a five second head start. Go."
The man was up and running before Trest finished speaking. After his mental count reached five, Trest closed his eyes, pulled an arrow from the quiver on his back, drew, and fired.
He heard Pyne dash off to mark where the arrow landed. Eyes still closed, Trest shot once more. A moment later, a picture came into his head. An image from Pyne through their mental link, showing where his first arrow had landed. A few seconds more, and another scene of the forest faded in.
Trest fired once more as the count neared thirty, using the sounds he picked and smells that he picked up from Pyne. The man had tried to double back around. It was a wise idea, but it brought him closer to Trest's range. Eyes still closed, he drew one more shot and was rewarded with a cry of pain. He had hit the man, but not killed him.
Pyne returned to his side and waited, glancing up at him after a few seconds.
"Alright Pyne. Go."
And Trest's companion dashed off. Eleven seconds later, he heard screaming, and knew that Pyne had caught his quarry. Seeing through Pyne's eyes, Trest watched as the beast nipped and bit at the man. As usual, Pyne was only playing with this man, with the intention of letting him escape back to his friends.
Eventually Trest called Pyne back, and the two made their way back to their home. Speaking silently to each other.
"I dont believe we'll be seeing him or his friends again." Thought Trest.
The sensations sent from Pyne led Trest to believe that he was ultimately unconvinced.
"Maybe you're right." Trest answered. "Humans are pretty foolish. If we see them again, we will not be as forgiving."
Satisfaction and anticipation flooded the link. Pyne was ready to see them again.
It was a normal day or the two of them. Poachers and thieves showed up frequently, and it was Trest and Pyne's duty to keep them away. Soritton Forest belonged to the halflings by right, and every animal that was taken by an outsider made it more likely that a halfling family would miss part of a meal.
"What I find funny is that this man and his friends didn't seem to be here for food. They were searching for something, but not for any animal."
Pyne nudged Trest's hand and tilted his head as if curious. It was the very hand that bore the symbol-
"From the rune!" Thought Trest. Pyne's head dipped in a nod, then he went rigid, as if listening for something. In the next moment, he was gone. Trest followed after as best as he could, but was no match for the feline hound. Pyne's thoughts led him back to their house, where Pyne was pinning someone to the ground. Someone who was dresed too fine to be another huntsman.
"Oi! Get off me ya-"
"Pyne! Let him up!"
The other halfling was grumbling as he stood up and brushed himself off. When he was satisfied, he turned to Trest and handed him a letter.
"Mister uh... Mister Trest!"
"I'm here on official business. The council has summoned you."