Ben peered through the branches, his target not in sight. He'd lost sight of the swine earlier that morning, when his line of sight was blocked by the sudden appearance of an immense hawk. He dove for cover the second he'd seen the bird, not wanting to spend the last few minutes of his life being tracked by the skilled predator. Unfortunately, in the time until the bird had launched back into the air, his objective had gone to ground, evading him with surprising ease. He curled his tail around the branch in annoyance. He couldn't lose his quarry. Nothing less than his sisters life was at stake. The oaf had been seeking her out ever since the fiasco over Guardianship had occurred a month ago. Ben had thought that he would have given up when Night had left for the surface, saying that it was high time someone went to see what condition their former world was in. But of course not. Cal had dissappered within a day of her leaving.
Ever since then he had tracked Cal.
Cal had proved surprisingly difficult to track however. He must have had excellent training in woodcraft, a skill that had almost been forgotten in recent ages. Ben normally was a great tracker, trained from an early age with his sister. He'd been able to almost completely catch up to Cal in recent days. He had been hoping to catch Cal later on in the day, but had lost sight when the hawk had landed. And so here he was, hoping to get back on Cal's trail before Cal figured out that he was being tailed. Last thing he needed was a knife in his back when he slept at night.
Strangely enough, he hadn't caught site of his sister either. He had hoped to catch up with her so that he could give her warning that she was being hunted. He had thought that Cal would have caught up to her faster than this, he had certainly been determined enough last Ben had seen him. Perhaps Cal was after something else. Her Guardianship certainly wouldn't pass to Cal if she were murdered. It would automatically go to the next most qualified, and Cal wasn't even in the top ten. Even Ben had managed to get closer to the top. He wasn't quite as skilled, and couldn't bend the world to his will quite like Night had managed. She was a rare prodigy. And so she had become one of four Guardians.
Ben climbed up the last few branches blocking him from the open air. Quickly, he made sure that both of his swords were secured against his back. Looking around, he made sure there were no imminent threats, and launched into the air. A few powerful thrusts of his wings and he rose quickly through the air. He flew for one of the higher branches from the ground. Landing as fast as possible, he got behind one of the massive leaves and finally got a good look at the surrounding forest. Past the bushes at the forest floor, he could see a huge clearing in the trees.
Just then, he saw a huge man enter the clearing from the other side. Ben was so shocked he almost lost his grip on the leaf. He'd know that those people existed, but hadn't ever suspected that he would be unlucky enough to be in the same area as one of them. The guy put down a bag as big as a house next to a massive fire pit that had already been there, and walked closer to Ben's side of the trees.
Ben heard a rustling at the base of his tree, and looking down he was shocked to see his sister Night dive under one of the bushes. Following close on her tail was a massive looking rat. It was as big as an elephant, and fast. His heart jumped into his throat when he realized that the were both heading straight for the giant. Disregarding safety, he tossed aside the leaf and ran along the branch. He saw Night jump out of the bush, without even seeing the giant she was leaping towards, and the rat suddenly leapt at her, slamming into her back. It landed heavily on her back. The giant leapt back with a startled cry, and Ben saw him draw a knife from his belt.
Losing hope, Ben reached the end of the branch. There was no way for him to reach his sister now before she was killed by the rat, and without attracting notice from the giant. Thus he was shocked when the giant used his knife to simply flip the rat off of his sisters back. The rat gave a surprised cry and dove back into the bush. Ben saw it sniffing along the bottom of his tree, as though it sensed another easy prey. Looking back at the giant, he felt the breath leave him when he saw the giant take his sister into massive hands. She looked so helpless, laying there motionless on a palm large enough for Ben's bedroom floor.
The giant bent over the tiny girl, looking over her body. As far as Ben was away from her, all he could see was red against her right wing. The rat must have gotten a hold of it at the last moment. He leaned forward on the branch, wishing that he could reach her and take her back home. If only he'd found her earlier! He cursed Cal under his breath with all his might. If only he'd been able to catch up with his sister today, and hadn't been worrying about losing sight of Cal, he might have been able to help her!
The giant gathered up a few sticks in his other hand and went back to the fire pit. Ben watched with trepidation as the giant dropped the branches on the ground and dug through his bag until he found a blanket. Laying the blanket on a stump next to the fire pit, the giant gently laid Night down on it, making sure she wasn't laying on either of her wings. Ben settled back against the branch, slightly less worried since the giant showed no sign of harming his sister. He watched as the giant built up a massive fire, and sat down to eat what looked like a ration bar. Afterward, the giant folded the blanket over Night's tiny form and settled under another blanket for sleep.
Resolute, Ben looked for a good landing place. He had to find a way to get to Night before the giant woke up in the morning.
The morning found Ben diving for cover when the giant woke up.
He had almost managed to get to the stump Night was lying on. He was close to the massive backpack, just about to jump into the air to fly to the stump when he heard a huge yawn from the other side of the fire. Caught off guard, he stumbled before managing to run over to the backpack and dove into its shadow. He peeked out just in time to see the giant walk over to the stump Night was on. Ben leaned out of the safety of the shadow he was in, hoping to see if he could spot Night.
And there she was, standing in the giants shadow. She was looking straight up, in order to see the giants face. Ben could hear the giant speak to her, and heard her faint voice, a tiny stuttering compared against the booming voice of the giant. Though he couldn't make out what Night said, he caught that the giants name was Chad. Listening closely while he crept along the ground trying to stay under cover, Ben heard Nights startled cry and turned back around to see Chad scoop her up into his hand, raising her to his face. Ben flinched when he saw his sister looking so helpless, she looked so vulnerable when held in such a massive hand. He missed the next few moments of the conversation, trying to come up with something he could do to help her.
He tuned back in right when he saw Chad lower her back down to the blanket. Night jumped off, flinching slightly when she caught her balance with her injured wing. That was about all the warning that Ben got before the giant suddenly stood up and walked over to the backpack Ben was hiding under. A massive boot landed less than six feet from him. Coughing, Ben stumbled backwards toward the bags front pocket as a huge cloud of dust was kicked up toward him. He flinched away from the boot and dove into the buckled pocket right when the massive bag was lifted up into the air. There were a few moments of panic in the darkness, until the bag was lowered back to the ground. Ben found himself searching around for the opening. It took longer than he thought since he'd gotten flipped about, losing his bearings. He finally managed to get out, collapsing on the ground outside.
Turning back towards Night and Chad, he saw that they were both peacefully eating one of Chad's rations. Figuring that Night was safe for the moment, he decided it was a good time to get away from the massive bag. Looking back at Chad, he saw that the giants attention was diverted from his direction. He searched around for a good place to hide. Noticing the rocks placed around the fireplace, he saw that one had fallen away from the others and had created an excellent place to hide that was blocked from outside view. The giants attention was still distracted, so Ben took his chance.
Diving forward, he ran for the rock. Once he was under, he found a place where he could keep an eye on Chad. After about ten minutes, Chad rose to his feet. He towered over everything in view. Night and Ben both warily watched Chad pack all of his possessions back into the pack Ben had been hiding under. When he was finished, he went back over to Night.
"Now, I'm not going to leave you here to fend for yourself with a broken wing." Chad said, his voice echoing around Ben.
Ben found himself worrying immensely. Her wing was broken? No wonder she hadn't been trying to escape! She didn't even have a way off the stump without her wings. Never mind the ability to escape someone over two hundred feet tall. Ben doubted he could get more than a few feet from the giant before getting caught, even with functioning wings.
Turning his attention back to his sister, he saw her agreeing with Chad. Worried, he realized that the giant was going to take Night with him. How was he going to be able to track Night if she went with the giant? He would never be able to keep up with them. Slipping out from under cover, he crept towards the stump a few feet, and was just in time to see Chad stand up with his sister standing on his hand again. He froze, watching the giant move his hand over to his shirt, and let Night slip into the pocket.
"Dammit!" Ben cursed under his breath.
Chad grabbed the bag again, packing the blanket Night had been on inside. He then slipped on his coat, slung his bag over the opposite shoulder from where Night was. Stretching tall, Chad walked towards the edge of the forest. His long legs easily covered ground that would take Ben hours, even if he were to fly most of the way.
Ben watched helplessly as the giant left with his sister in possession.
Walking for most of the afternoon, Chad found himself glancing at his pocket often. The girl was so tiny and seemed so helpless. He found himself thinking protectively about her. He didn't want anything happening to her, she was so delicate. If he concentrated enough, he could occasionally feel her shifting about inside of the pocket.
He was glad that he would be able to get home before nightfall. It would be easier to keep her safe inside his house than out in the wilderness yet again. He was lucky that the night before had been eventless. It had been hard enough saving her the first time, he didn't want to worry about her getting injured more from him rescuing her. Her size was going to make it very difficult to interact with her without worrying about accidently injuring her.
He let out a sigh, hoping that he was doing the right thing taking her to his house. Warren wouldn't mind, he had always been one to just go with the flow. However, Chad didn't want any other scientists he was working with currently to find out about her. He knew that they would want to study her, and that would be dangerous for such a small girl.
"Is everything alright?" He heard a tiny voice from his chest ask. Looking down, he saw the tiny girl looking up at him from his pocket. He gently opened up the pocket more so she would be able to see better.
"Why do you ask?" He said, softer than normal so he wouldn't hurt her ears from so close.
"I couldn't help notice you sighing. I was just curious." She had to shout to be heard clearly.
"Everythings fine. I was just thinking about explaining this to Warren. He's going to get a pretty big surprise when we get there."
"He won't...mind, will he?" Night still sounded nervous, and he couldn't blame her. He could imagine how he'd feel if he ever found himself at the mercy of giants he didn't know anything about. Any nervousness would take longer than a day to go away.
"No, of course not. He'll be curious about you, but thats about all. He's used to seeing strange things, and he'll definitely want to help you." He looked around at the forest. "In fact, we're almost back to my place. Do you want to come out?"
"S-sure" She couldn't hide the nervousness from her voice again.
He smiled down at her. "Nothing's going to happen to you while I'm around, I promise you."
He lifted his right hand to the pocket, pulling it farther open with his left. Gently as possible, he lowered his forefinger and thumb into the pocket on either side of Night. She clambered onto his fingers, with her tail wrapped around her bag. Night looked up at him. "Alright, I'm ready."
He lifted the tiny girl up out of the pocket, and gently placed her onto his outstretched left hand. She looked around at her surroundings, "Where's your house?"
He nodded in the direction they were traveling. "Just past those trees. We'll be there in a few moments." He resumed walking with the tiny girl on his hand. He cupped his fingers slightly to prevent her falling off.
The house came into view, a small two story painted soft greens that blended into the background. Reaching the door, he knocked. "Warren, you home?"
A few seconds later, the door opened up. He felt the tiny girl stiffen with anticipation on his hand.