"You couldn't have been more quiet, could you?!"
"I was quiet as a mouse! It's not my fault I had to sneeze! Plus she can hear us coming miles away!"
"All the more reason to be more quiet and sneaky!"
"What do you want me to do, hold my breath?!"
"That's a start!"
"Both of you quit bickering or we're never gonna catch her!" Esteban's voice boomed over theirs to get their attention.
The three werewolves, Esteban, Andy, and Charlie, along with a couple vampires, Tony and Benjamin, ran through the forest at an extremely fast pace to try and catch up to Aurora and nab their prey. She wasn't actually in danger of course, it was just a harmless game of Predator vs Prey that they all played from time to time. She always played the prey, rather enjoying the chase. The only rules were that they had until sundown and that there was to be no use force that could cause harm to anyone, otherwise the game was over. Everything else was fair game. Though while they were always able to catch her when they first started playing their little game long ago, she had become such a pro at avoiding them that nowadays they'd be lucky if they got close to catching her at all.
They had almost gotten her this time, managing to be quiet enough to sneak up on her as she meditated at one of her favorite spots in the woods. Unfortunately, a massive amount of pollen in the air had gotten the better of Charlie and he couldn't stop himself from sneezing. Their position in the trees and bushes had immediately been given away and the Queen of Nature ran off with the gracefulness and speed of a gazelle.
"We would've gotten her this time if Charlie hadn't sneezed." Andy leaped over a log that was in their path, his pace never faltering.
Charlie glared at the other werewolf as he kept up. "You walk into a cloud of pollen and try not sneezing!" It had been an unnaturally large amount of pollen now that he thought about it, as well as millions of flowers everywhere. That led him to think that maybe Aurora had anticipated their approach and purposely made dozens upon dozens of flowers grow around her to create all of that pollen. Wouldn't be surprising if she did. She was pretty clever. A lot more clever than she ever let people know.
Benjamin sighed as he flew through the trees alongside Tony, both covered from head to toe in dark clothing to ensure they weren't hit with any sunlight. "You werewolves really should stop bickering." He smirked down at them. "Honestly, all that energy could be better used for the task at hand." Charlie and Andy only gave the vampire an angry glare in response to his comment.
They all kept going for quite a while without stopping as they tried to spot any sign of their prey, unfortunately not finding anything. There weren't even any light footprints on the ground. Without a single sign of her in the direction they were going, they began to question if Aurora had even gone that way in the first place. She might have simply turned in another direction at some point to throw them off.
Just as they were thinking about turning around, though, Esteban halted and they all stopped as well in response to his action. The werewolf sniffed the air as he tried to catch a faint, but familiar scent, finding that the sweet smell of a mixture between a flower and fruit was in the air. He then turned his attention to Benjamin and Tony, who hovered overhead in the branches. "She was here. I think we're getting closer, now."
Benjamin closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his lips curling into a big smile as he caught her scent as well. "Oh yeah, we're getting close."
Tony folded his arms and leaned against the trunk of the tree as he took a good whiff, too. "It's a shame Lilly and Damien couldn't join in our game today." Those two werewolves would have made it much easier to track Aurora and anticipate where she might go instead having to run every which way. They would have caught her scent much sooner, too. Sadly, they had other business to attend to. The vampire gave a little shrug as he dismissed the misfortune of not having those two tag along. "Oh well. Maybe next time."
Charlie took a turn at sniffing the air and turned his head to the right, pointing towards a far off meadow that could just barely be seen beyond the ocean of trees that surrounded them. "That way."
"Come on." Esteban gestured for them to keep going, not wanting to lose the Queen of Nature's scent. "Let's not stop now, now that we've caught her scent." They all nodded and started running towards the meadow.
Aurora bolted through a meadow with a herd of deer she had come across while escaping her friends' grasp. They had gotten pretty close to catching her this time. If it wasn't for Charlie sneezing from all the pollen made by the hundreds of flowers she had grow around her while meditating, she might not have snapped out of her meditative state in time to get away. Though now that she was far away from them, she had plenty of time before they caught up to her, so she decided to have a few moments of fun running with the wildlife before continuing with the game. The wind blowing through her long blonde hair as she kept up her pace with the deer felt heavenly. As they ran and galloped across the meadow and closer to the outskirts of the woods, the herd began to slow down their pace to rest and feed.
Aurora slowed down her pace with them and panted hard as she tried to slow down her fast beating heart, giggling a little. "Well, that was a fun run." She sat down on a nearby tall stump and kept her ears tuned and eyes wide open for any sign of her friends while she caught her breath.
One of the young fawns pranced over to her and sat by her side. "Could you join us more often? It's fun having you run with us, your Majesty."
The young Queen smiled softly and gently patted the little fawn's head. "I don't know how often I can, but when I can, most certainly will."
Aurora smiled as she watched the deer eat and little fawns frolic and play with each other in the vast meadow. The tall grass bent and swayed in the gentle breeze that blew while nearby birds sang their sweet, soothing songs in the trees, the afternoon sun getting closer to setting. Aside from having to stay alert the whole time, it was all rather peaceful. Relaxing even.
At least it was for a few minutes. In the distance the sound of feet hitting the ground and branches bending and cracking under the weight of someone leaping through the trees made its way to her ears. Her friends were close. And by the sound of it, she didn't have much time before she was in their line of vision. There went her moment of peace. Now she'd have to move fast if she wanted to keep the distance between her and her friends.
Sliding off the tall stump, Aurora smiled softly at the herd of deer and waved to them. "Sorry to leave so soon, but I've gotta go or else my friends might win this round." All the deer nodded in understanding and bowed their heads, bidding her goodbye as she darted towards the wall of trees.
Looking over her shoulder, she could see the small group of werewolves and vampires running through the meadow she had just previously been in and straight for her. Her eyes then moved to where the sun was in the sky as she tried to spot it past all the trees. It was extremely close to setting. She just needed to bide her time for a few more minutes and the game would be over.
A playful smile formed on Aurora's face as a plan formulated in her head. Even though they were starting to close in on her, she knew exactly how to keep her friends from catching her before sundown. She'd just need to get a little deeper into the woods. She picked up the pace as she heard them catching up behind her and leaped as high as she could into the air, reaching her hand out to grab a vine as she made it grow towards her and swung herself upwards into the canopy above.
Unable to contain herself, she let out a little shriek of joy at the thrill of being launched up in the air. "Woooooohoooooo!" Her feet landed gracefully on a thick, sturdy branch and she ran along it. The young Queen then jumped from branch to branch through the trees as she listened to her werewolf and vampire friends hollering at each other.
"There she is!"
"Don't lose her this time!"
"Hey, we might just win this one after all!"
Aurora smiled mischievously to herself as a little chuckle escaped her throat. "That's what you think!" Their premature victory would be short-lived.
She kept running along the branches, making more rapidly grow behind her to slow them down, until she spotted her desired destination just up ahead. A little clearing along a ledge in the woods with a nice view of where the sun would soon be touching the horizon. Aurora jumped from the tree she was in, her heart pounding in her chest, and gracefully landed on the ground before continuing forward, getting closer to the ledge and never slowing down. She knew she couldn't stop just yet or they'd catch her a few seconds before time was up. She knew what to do to keep that from happening, though.
She'd have to jump.
The moment Aurora reached the ledge she jumped off and let herself fall for just a few seconds, the sound of her friends' screaming bewilderment ringing in her ears as they reached the ledge right after she did. Before she got any closer to the ground, though, she made a whirlwind form underneath her, making it last just long enough to push her back up and launch herself high above them. She smiled down at her surprised friends as she descended to the ledge, close to the trees.
Aurora grabbed onto a branch and swung into a loop before letting go and landing at the base of the tree with ease. Smirking, she placed her hand on the trunk of the tree for support as she leaned on it and waved to them. "Hey guys."
"Wha-!?" Charlie waved his hands from Aurora to the ledge she had just previously jumped from, trying to process her little stunt. "Why-!? How-!? How is that possible?!"
Aurora couldn't help but giggle a little at the werewolf's bewilderment. "You forget who your prey is." His surprise wasn't really that unexpected. She didn't use a lot of her powers when they played their little game, aside from trying to slow them down by making plants grow or the ground rise to block their path. Mostly because it would make the game WAY too easy for her and much harder for them if she used her full powers, at least harder than it already was, so when she pulled stunts like this with her powers it would often take them by surprise.
Esteban folded his arms and shook his head, but couldn't help but smile at Aurora's clever little trick. "Bit of a crazy stunt, though, don't you think?"
"If I didn't know what I was doing... Maybe. But it worked, didn't it?" The Queen of Nature gestured her hand towards the gorgeous sunset behind them, the sky filling with a lovely mixture of pink, orange and yellow, with a hint of red.
"Dang it!" Andy angrily punched the air with his fist, disappointment in his tone.
"Aw, don't be that way, Andy." Aurora smiled softly at them. "You guys did get pretty close this time." Much closer than they had gotten in a long time. "Now, let's just enjoy this beautiful sunset, shall we?"
The group stared at her for a moment before giving in to her suggestion and sitting along the ledge to watch the stunning sunset take place before their eyes as they rested from their failed efforts to catch her. It truly was a beautiful sight to behold as the previously bright blue sky slowly darkened to a dark lavender and cetacean blue, the final rays of light fading beyond the horizon. Slowly, the night sky was filled with millions of twinkling stars. Yet another beautiful sight to behold.
Tony sighed and leaned back on his hands. "That was a pretty stunning sunset."
"Yeah, okay, it was." Andy grumbled under his breath as he sulked, still pretty disappointed at their failure to catch Aurora.
"We're never going to be able to catch you, are we?" Benjamin asked, taking off his hooded cloak now that the sun was finally gone.
Aurora smiled and shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not. There are still all sorts of tactics you guys can try to use that you haven't yet."
Esteban raised his eyebrow at her curiously as he turned around to face her. "Like?"
"Oh, I'm not telling you." The young Queen giggled. "Then it wouldn't fun and rewarding when you think of it yourself." Plus it wouldn't be very fair or smart to give them ideas on how to beat her in their fun little game. "I'm sure you'll think of a good tactic one day, though."
"Whether we do or not," Tony said, standing up and pulling his hood back. "it's still pretty fun and challenging. Keeps us on our toes and our senses heightened."
It certainly did help keep them all alert. A very beneficial result of their friendly game that would prove useful if any of them were ever truly in trouble. But now the day was over, and so was their game. For now, anyway. They'd probably play another round in a week or two. Maybe even tomorrow if they had time. Though a more pressing matter made it's way to the front of Aurora's mind, which was the fact that none of them had eaten since lunch and were all most likely pretty hungry at this point.
Aurora enthusiastically clasped her hands together as she gave them all a big smile. "Alright, now that that's over, why don't we all go and get some dinner? My treat." It was the least she could do for her friends since they had been such good sports. They all happily agreed to her offer and together headed back through the woods to town to have a much deserved dinner after such an exhausting day.