The shot rang out and echoed between the mountain peaks, the bear was not hit but frightened. The bears of the region had been wary of hunters for hundreds of years, learning to avoid them at all costs. It knew that the taiga would be its best hiding place since it was thick barely penetrable even for the bear. No sooner then the shot was heard the bear bounded off for cover. The hunter lowered his gun dismayed at his near hit. When it hit up and right of the bear’s head he realized it was his own error. Father, you missed, cried Sayvet. Not looking up Ivrun quietly spoke, indeed I did. The words revealed no emotion, no concern, they were words spoken not in shame but a firmness as a teacher would with a student. Lifting his sky blue eyes from the sights of his gun he gazed upon the glen in the valley below searching the tree line for signs of the bear. We will follow the bear, but we must be careful for this one is very clever, father said. Sayvet now eight, matched his father gaze down below. Yes father, we should be very careful, he replied. The glen below was not far from Navprayav, the tree of life. It was in the legend of Nvai people that when they arrived in this land, Navprayav was their guide, she could be seen for miles. No tree stood as tall as she did. Her trunk was tall and branches stretched out wide. The foliage of the tree never lost its needles nor did it ever drop a single cone. Everyone knew she was the center of life, the entire tribe survived its first winter beneath her loving branches.
Sayvet was not your ordinary eight year old, he was a good two heads taller then any other child his age. His gait could almost match his father’s as they descended from the ridge down into the glen, remembering as they went that even though they were the hunters, it could change and they might become the hunted. Coming out of the darkness of the taiga itself they both rose up on their hands then stood and cupped their eyes. Squinting they peered into the glen both seeing the event reoccurring in their minds, “shot fired”. They saw bear heading for the woods, with these thoughts and a few more steps they stood at the spot where the bear had been. Again they scanned the forest, looking for clues. Sayvet was the first to see the broken branches and even trunks of smaller trees that had been mowed over by the bear. Looking for a bearing they looked up, they could see Navprayav standing majestically above all the other trees.
Ivrun spoke to his son, you are to head to Navprayav. There you will be safe.
But father, you brought me on this hunt to bring down the bear, Sayvet asked questioningly.
I did, but this bear is very cunning and it would be better for you to be in a place of safety, replied his father.
Obedience was to never be argued, it was a hard fast rule of the people. Their lives depended on it. Without another word he left heading on a course that would lead him straight to the tree.
No words followed from Ivrun, he took the route that would lead him to the bear. When he stepped from the light into the shadow of the canopy, he stopped to allow his eyes to adjust. The moments passed again he took up the trail of the bear. This was a huge bear, it could be seen in the telltale signs of the carnage it created as it barreled through the taiga. An hour passed, then a second of tracking the bear, it was smart pulling the tricks Ivrun had seen so many times before. It was at the end of the second hour he realized the bear had changed direction. It was heading for Navprayav. Always being a steady person never reacting, this change of events caused a new emotion from him. Sayvet was at the tree, he knew Sayvet was armed and could defend himself, but he had never dealt with a bear before. Other boys had tried a time or two to pick on him, but his size quickly stopped them. Sayvet never struck any of them but could keep them at bay with just the length of his arms. This would not work with the bear, and he knew it. Changing his pace from a slow trot, to a sprint he began to run. The taiga would never allow an all out dash, the brush was too thick. Dodging and jumping when necessary he sped along the already beaten path created by the bear. Silence filled the woods, but not his mind. What would he find when he arrived at the tree. His mind saw a vision of blood and body-parts , his son torn to pieces. He could see the tree it wasn’t far now, he could hear nothing. The birds were silent, nothing moved. He went from running to stalking again, knowing the bear could be anywhere. When he saw Sayvet, he stiffened. The bear was only a few feet from him. But something was out of place, he could detect no fear in Sayvet’s eyes, nor could he see the bear’s face. He refocused, Sayvet was speaking to the bear, were his eyes deceiving him? He strained but couldn’t make out what was being said. Ivrun didn’t dare move, if he startled the bear it might attack. The bear’s head rose up and sniffed the air, it began to turn its head. Ivrun quickly reacted, lifting his rifle and began to aim. It was the cry from his son that stopped him.