by The Crazy Cat Lady

Chapter 1

Sable's legs swung back and forth as they hung above the thick branch of a brawny oak tree. The sunlight filtering through the hanging rich foliage caught the young woman's suntanned skin. Her long black hair was tied back by hemp string, and her soft brown eyes, shaped eloquently like those of a cat, shined vivaciously. Deerskin leather that was worn from winter traced the ranger's lean body, and white rabbit fur boots snuggled her feet comfortably. Her back carried a full quiver of arrows and a sturdy shortbow that was handed down by her "grandmother."

Sable was the huntress of the Ajar Forest, but she was not the only one for there were non-human animals that bested her in the hunt without the use of tools. They were the alacats—half leopard and cougar. These wild felines roamed the depths of the Ajar Forest where the trees towered to the sky by the rocky mountains. They were adapted to both forest and mountain environments which had given them a greater advantage to hunt than other animals. Alacats were solitary hunters, and Sable was careful not to tread their territory after dusk. They became the hunters of the night, and she respected that.

A light breeze brushed Sable's cheeks, making her feel glad that winter was over. Surviving in the winter was harsh in the forest, but it was bearable; it was the price to pay for freedom. Like an alacat, Sable did not live in "packs;" she did not live with other human beings. She loved her independence and self-sufficiency. She did not have to feed, take care, and especially obey humans. Sable controlled her own life.

However, if it wasn't for the old woman who had become her mentor, she would had never been here. The origin of Sable's birth was unknown, but the old woman told her she took her in when she found her abandoned as an infant inside an empty bear den. Eventually, she became her grandmother as she raised the child and named her "Sable."

As a great huntress, grandmother taught Sable the skills to survive in the forest during those years. She taught Sable the art of hunting, tanning leather and fur for clothes, and identifying edible plants, and drying meat and herbs for culinary and medicinal uses. The old woman taught all she can to the child until she reached fifteen years old. Sable still remembered her grandmother's last words before she slipped away to death:

Sable, do not mourn for me when I am gone. My spirit will always be with you and watch over you in the forest. Use the knowledge that I have taught you to survive.

After her grandmother died, Sable buried her by the cottage and wept for days. Of course, she knew her grandmother was in the spirit world watching over her. The ranger left the cottage after a month to journey to the Ajar Forest, a large forest ahead in the north, taking only a few supplies. It had been four years now thinking back on the memory.

Sable slid off the tree branch and landed on her feet. The height was quite high, almost seven feet, but she was adapted to jumping down from such heights. She planned to return home someday, but only temporarily as a visit.

Patting her deerskin clothes, Sable unstrapped the bow from her back. The huntress closed her eyes for a few seconds, dusting the past away from her mind. She inhaled the air, filling her nostrils with the dusky scent of earth. Her soft dark brown eyes reopened, and the shortbow gleamed under the sunlight. It was time to warm up for the hunt.