He glances up as the small bit of sky visible through the curtain of leaves flashes briefly with a rush of panicked sparrows. Huffing out a breath, he sends a dark look to the abnormal that had startled them, but the drooling ten-meter pays him no heed, instead continuing to violently throw itself into a tree trunk. A growl begins to rise in his throat, ready to broadcast his displeasure only to cut off abruptly when a familiar sound draws his attention.
The stampede of hooves, the clatter of wooden wagons, and the panicked shouts could signal only one thing.
He wastes no time, sprinting through the forest in the direction of the inevitable battle. Humans rarely left their walls in anything but a large herd, which never failed to attract a horde of Titans. He smirks. It’s been much too long since he's had a good fight.
As the trees begin to give way to grassy fields, he catches sight of them. They truly were tiny creatures, and yet so clever and willful. He watches with rapt attention as a 12-meter falls, tendons in the feet sliced through with two clean cuts. In almost no time at all, another descends on the titan’s nape with a flash of razor-sharp metal, a burst of steam announcing its victory.
He turns his gaze from the disintegrating corpse to watch a group of three humans take down a 14-meter in the time it takes gravity to seduce the large body to the ground. An exhilarated rumble bubbles in his chest as he watches the little creatures. They fought like wolves, taking down much larger prey than themselves with only the strength of their pack to protect them against certain death. He could feel the rush of adrenaline well up inside him just watching them.
A whirring sound draws his attention and his eyes widen as he sees one of the humans hurtling through the air on thin cables, hooks embedded deep in the flesh of a 15-meter. It was the one thing humans did that never failed to take his breath away. That those tiny wingless creatures managed to defy the pull of the earth and fly.
A small yearning sound escapes him before he can smother it. He would give anything to feel that kind of freedom.
This human doesn't disappoint, either. He watches as the tiny thing spins in a graceful whirl, carving through two titans at once with an unmatched elegance. He wonders briefly if this one had been there on previous excursions, but he can’t be sure. Not for the first time, he wishes that humans were easier to tell apart. Their tiny faces all looked the same from his height. He thinks this one might be a bit smaller than the rest.
The human's movement however, that was a whole different story. He's never seen a human move like that before. It didn't look like precarious swinging on thin cables. It looked like pure, effortless flight.
As the last Titan falls, and the herd of humans and horses continue uninhibited across the planes, he follows them from a safe distance, hoping to pick off some of the Titans that will inevitably be drawn to them.
He hopes the small one doesn't get eaten.
He needn't have worried. The small one was strong.
He sees the human many more times since then. It seems as if the herd doesn't venture out without it. He wonders if that one is the pack-leader. It seems logical, but humans are not always creatures of logic.
He forces back memories of that one, and continues to shadow the herd whenever it ventures out. He makes a habit of waiting in the small grouping of trees near the gate so as not to miss one of their outings. Eventually he learns to distinguish the small one from the others even before it takes to the air, and he feels proud of this accomplishment.
Months later, only hours after the humans had returned behind their walls, everything changes.