A figure cut through the night, fleeing the pursuit he knew would inevitably follow behind him. He gasped, having known that eventually his turn as hunter would have had to end, that he would become the prey he so usually chased down. Marian ran on, skirting the edge of the apple trees that towered into the night and shielded him from the gaze of the stars as they mocked him, only the moon watching his progress with any hint of approval. The light was with him tonight, his brown tunic and green slacks only betraying him as they reflected movement when he ran. The stars could have their fun; he had already proven his endurance at their expense, and the expense of another.
His strides long and powerful, he imagined himself a sleek shadow amongst the trees, motions less frantic and more controlled as he slipped from one pool of moonlight to another. This night was his; he smiled, spying another, softer, harsher light ahead. Stepping once more from the dappled moonlight he sprang forward, ready to make his escape when the light ahead vanished behind a tousled spread of light red mane, green eyes beckoning darkly as they swallowed whatever brightness tried to illuminate their gaze.
Marian turned with a twitch, unsure how he could have gotten caught so off guard. His hunter had gotten better, but she would not get the better of him, he was sure. Ice blue eyes met the moon once more to soak in the calm light and steel his suddenly shaky nerves. A rustling in the brush to his right made him pause, perched uncertainly on his toes as he peered into the shadows. Twin orbs of darkness found him again and his own eyes widened, how could she have discovered me already?
He twisted and fled once more, his heart racing alongside him as he tried to lose his pursuer. Instincts were beginning to take over as the knowledge that he was prey began to sink in.
More leaves began to dance without wind to his left and he pivoted right, uttering a small curse, "She's close."
Not willing to lose any further pride in his ability to measure the forest, he darted through the brush, avoiding the thicker stubs of thistle and thorn that would lead him towards the cliffs. He would not risk the rocky bluffs, no matter how his urge to flee had heightened; it would only lead him to more danger. Never mind the prey before him that had gone so close to the edge.
I can do this, I can do this, I can do this, I won't lose, his thoughts began to circle, growing louder in an attempt to drown out the pulse that had begun to pound through his ears, breath hitching somewhere between his throat and his stomach as he failed to quell the adrenaline that demanded he begin to move, dangit.
He became more aware of the forest around him, the gentle glow of the fireflies that lit the path ahead, the slope and curve of the trees as their sweet blossoms tickled his hair in passing. It was peaceful, yet deceitful. She was there, somewhere, lurking deeper and darker, more intent than she had ever been before. Somewhere in the back of his mind, charging forward more recklessly than his own legs would allow, he recognized the danger he was in.
"No," he grit his teeth, ducking as he spun around another tree trunk, this night was supposed to be his. She would not take it from him so easily.
His bearings come loose, Marian ground to a halt at the edge of a clearing. Peering left and then right, hesitating only briefly, he slung himself forward and dove through the gap, enjoying the reward of seeing the familiar yellow glow ahead of him once more. He chuckled softly to himself, ignoring the chatter of the excited stars above him as the moon enveloped what could be seen of the sky through the darkened leaves. No notice was taken of the menacing features the stars cast upon the tree bark at his sides.
There, green eyes flashed through the branches, so close, he thought again, closer than she's ever been before. He bolted, feet flying below him while his arms pumped wildly, fighting to keep his balance as the trees which once caressed him with their blossoms now tangled his gold-brown locks in their clutches. Why they had betrayed him he did not know, he knew only that the light was ahead of him and the ragged breathing of the hunter was slowly but surely gaining behind him.
Fatigue finally forced itself upon him, a feeling which he did not intend to let take over his already unsteady gate, small roots and stones clutching at his feet in much the same manner as their limbs attacked his hair. He stumbled onwards, determinately encouraging his legs to go faster, faster, just a little farther.
A hand was outstretched towards the brass gleaming in the lamplight, grasping the small knob with an almost manic grin as the victor turned towards their competitor to soak in the moment. Ice blue bore into silver green and just as it had before the tides were jarringly reversed, in one instant hunter and hunted swapping places before the words were even uttered. The grin widened and let out a laugh, "You're It!"
As Marian met the eyes of the hunter before him and felt the small hand at his chest push him away, his mouth slipped open in surprise, "How did you get here before me?"
"Does it matter?" Jiess laughed, her shadowed features alight with glee, "I don't expect you to give me a head start this time, either!" She was off again, with a grin that matched Marian's newly acquired smirk as he leapt up to continue the pursuit, the night half over at midnight, but still very much young.