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Too Rare For Extinction

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The hunter walked quietly through the forest, ears trained for even the quietest rustle in the leaves from prey hiding. His bow was out, but no arrow rested against the string as he walked, eyes scanning the forest.

It was a cold evening, his silent breath coming out in silver puffs. He wasn't sure what he hoped to catch in the late hours, everything was tucked away and asleep.

As he should be, now that he thought about it.

Yuuichirou sighed and glanced up at the darkening sky, the stars starting to glisten and twinkle in the growing evening light. In the far distance he could hear a bird cry out quietly in the dying light, probably searching for its mate or children to bed down for the night.

The humans lived in a small village on the outskirts of the forest, tucked in close to a waterfall. The village was small, everyone being linked closely with the neighbors. They had been there for years, but their numbers had dwindled down.

Many left, speaking of searching for another village, while others left to start a new life. Yuu stayed though, claiming to not want to hurt the promise he had said to his family long ago.

“I'll protect the village, Akane.” He promise to his sister, the other children fast asleep in the wagon.

The girl stared at him, chewing her lip. The children of the orphanage were being transported to another town, saying it was to “promise the future generation”. Yuu being the only left behind as he was dubbed “to old” to go.

“Do you promise?”

“Of course! Down to the last chicken!”

The last chicken, at that time, had recently passed and now lay as dinner on his table.

Yuu was 18 now, Akane and the other children having left 5 years ago. He had never heard from them again, and he was left alone.

Now, here he was, trying to find a sleeping animal to bring home dinner for the town.

“Those damn elves!” Guren had snarled at the meeting earlier, Yuu frowning at him. “This is their doing, sending us into this damn famine.”

How the elves would be doing it, Yuu had no idea. His best guess was they were warning the animals away from their hunting grounds.

He wasn't sure when this war with the elves had begun, and he wasn't sure he CARED. It seemed petty, one trying to make it harder for the other constantly.

The only problem being that the humans had no idea WHERE the elves were located. Now and then they would spot them in the forest, or find traces of their arrows, but that was it.

“You're being rash, Guren.” Yuu had crumbled at the meeting.

“Rash, brat? Bring a damn deer home then, and don't come back until you do.”

Now here he was, hunting in the wee hours with no such luck.

“Am I ever going to find one?” He growled.

“Not with how loud you're walking, I say. You're not to have any luck.”

Yuu jumped, quickly yanking an arrow from his quiver and pointing it at the voice behind him in the tree. What came to his view surprised him.

A set of indifferent, sapphire eyes stared down at him, lounging in on the tree branch.

“Who’re you?” Yuu snapped, arrow trained on the others chest. They frowned.

“Humans, so brutish… all I did was offer advice.”

“You elves? Offer assistance to a human? Pish posh.”

The young man in the raised a delicate eyebrow, his face the same mask of indifference.

“Who's to say I am an elf? I could be a mere boy in a tree, offering his assistance.”

Yuu raised an eyebrow at the blonde in the tree, lowering his bow a little.

“The fact that you noted me as “humans”, and separated us from others.”

The blonde in the tree scoffed and waved a hand out.

“You've caught me, human. I am an elf, and dare I say you are a loud and obnoxious human.”

Yuu blinked and glared at the blonde, fully lowering his bow.

“We haven't been able to hunt well, I've every right to be obnoxious and rude, as you are all to blame.”

The elf glared at him, his dainty features going from indifferent to that of slight annoyance.

“All drawing the long bow, you lot are. We’ve done no such thing, my people are having a hard time as well and you are all to blame in our eyes.” The elf said, voice tearse. “Over hunting to feed your ever hungry children, what little time you give the forest to regrow.”

Yuu blinked at the elf and put his arrow in the quiver and replaced his bow.

“My names Yuuichirou, what’s yours?”

The elf raised an eyebrow and walked closer to him, lowering the hood of the cloak he wore.

Yuu blinked or surprise at how the elf's hair seemed to glow in the now growing moonlight.

“....my name is Mikaela.”

Yuu bowed slightly, earning a soft snort from the elf.

“Well, Mikaela, why've you traveled from home?”

The elf raised an eyebrow at him once again, Yuu deciding this was one of his preferred facial reactions now.

“The forest is my home, I sleep and live where I please. Why’ve you traveled from home?”

Yuu scratched his head a bit and laughed nervously.

“I opened my mouth and was sent off to catch a doe… I'm not to return until I do.”

Mikaela scoffed, brow knitting.

“That seems a bit harsh.”

“They've deemed you elves the problem, I spoke up, now here we are.”

Yuu watched Mikaela shrug .

“I've little to do with the others, they may or may not. If you're to find a doe, the closest is quite a ways off, around the bend and past the tip of the river.”

Yuu groaned loudly, glaring at the sky.

“Just my luck…”

He glanced at the blonde elf, just in time to see a small smile grace his lips for a second.

The two stood in silence, watching each other as they waited for the other to speak. They didn't expect one or the other to say anything, but the waited as if wanting the other to break the silence.

Yuu rubbed his arm and shivered a bit before glancing up at the moon and frowning.

“I should set up camp… if I'm to return without a doe, Guren will have my hide.” He mumbled, teeth chattering.

The elf blinked at him suddenly, reaching a dainty hand out slightly then yanking it back under his cloak.

“Are you cold?”

Yuu shrugged and looked back to the blonde, emerald irises meeting blue before he mumbled “a little”.

He blinked in surprise as the elf removed his navy cloak and threw it around the human's shoulders, closing the clasp under his chin.

“I would like it back, but you can borrow it for the evening. It's elven thread, and it should keep you warm.” Mikaela said, words coming out soft.

Yuu blinked and watched the elf start wander off in his loose shirt, pants and boots. Now that his cloak was gone, he could see an arrow and quiver hung on the blondes back.

“Are you sure?” He called out, the elf only waved back in response. “How will I find you to give it back?”

“I will find you myself, Yuuichirou.”

And as Yuu watched him disappear into the forest, he believed him.

                         -----

Yuu awoke the next morning in the tree he had fallen asleep in, tucked against the trunk and between two branches. He was safely hidden from view amongst the leaves, the elf’s cloak wrapped around him.

Surprisingly, the thin material had held in the warmth through the night and had warded off the chill.

“Yuuichirou?” A voice called from below the tree. He blinked the sleep from his eyes and glanced down, being greeted by the indifferent elf he had met the evening before.

Yuu blinked down at him.

“How'd you find me up here?”

“Your hiding spot is quite obvious.” Mikaela responded, his voice flat as if it was obvious.

Yuu carefully climbed down and removed the cloak, shivering at the morning chill before handing it back to the elf.

“Where do you come from?” He asked as the elf replaced the cloak on himself.

“You ask the wrong questions, Yuuichirou.”

He wasn't sure what the right ones would be.

-----

Yuu grinned as the doe fell down on the river bank, Mika humming from his perch in a tree as he watched it fall.

“We got it! This will be enough to feed the village!” He gasped out, grinning.

The elf hopped down and walked over to the fallen creature, running his fingers across its face and neck, mumbling something as his sad gaze followed his fingers.

“What's wrong?” Yuu asked after a moment.

“It’s saddening to see such a beautiful creature’s life end.” He said, voice terse.

Yuu blinked and knelt by him, glancing at he dead doe.

“...I'm sorry for needing to kill you to feed my village, Miss Deer.”

Mikaela blinked beside him and Yuu blinked when the elf giggled and started laughing.

A grin spread across his face as the elf laughed and for the first time in awhile, he laughed as well.