Little Bird the Unstoppable
Young Love Press
Little Bird ran, sword in hand, as fast as she could. The thin branches scratched her face and neck as she flew by, but she didn't notice. Her attention was focused on her feet.
Don't trip on that branch. Step off of that rock, it will be a harder surface to push off from. Around the tree, watch out for the roots.
The roar of the bear behind her was almost deafening, but she didn't let it distract her. Running full speed through a dense forest was a dangerous thing to do, and if she tripped or twisted her ankle, she would be done for.
10 more yards...
The beast was gaining. Even injured, the animal was faster than she. She worked her legs harder, pushing every ounce of strength into gaining speed.
5 more yards...
Little Bird could feel the unhindered primal ferocity of the animal cut through the air like a physical force, about to overtake her.
The animal was nearly on top of her.
The giant bear lunged forward with its giant claws reaching to claim her life. Little Bird heard a 'Snap!' and ducked and rolled suddenly to the side. The bear let out a surprised grunt as his claws swiped through thin air. Just then a giant wooden spear came hurtling from the trees ahead. The sharpened log hit the enraged bear in the right shoulder with so much force that the bear was thrown onto his back with a bellowing roar.
The petite girl scrambled across the dirt and leaves to escape the thrashing monster. When she reached a distance she thought safe, she stood up with her back against a tree. Clutching her sword in both hands she watched, her soft brown eyes full of awe and pity, as the big bear struggled in vain to extract the offending spear.
The spear had impaled the bear's right shoulder and jutted out of his back, covered with gore and meat. The bear's right arm hung limply and after a few seconds of struggling the big animal was starting to lose energy rapidly.
Two arrows both hit their mark at the base of the bear's neck, and with a final tired groan the bear went limp.
Little Bird's heart was pounding and her hands were shaking. Slowly, she sheathed her sword and leaned over, resting her hands on her knees. That was a little closer than is comfortable.
"LITTLE BIRD! LITTLE BIRD!!" a boy's voice shouted through the forest.
Little Bird watched Marten come running through the trees. As he approached he gave the bear a wide berth, making his way over to where Little Bird stood panting.
He checked her up and down for wounds. He was wide eyed. "That. Was. Amazing!!"
"Possibly. Not the choice of words I would have used, but-"
"ARE you kidding me?! You just outran a Giant Bear, which I think may have been the legendary Bjera the Terrible, and then speared him with... what is basically a tree-sized spear! You killed him with a tree." Marten tended to speak with his hands, and at this point his excitement level exceeded the threshold required for sensible gesturing. His arms flailed wildly as he reenacted the grisly scene of the bear's death.
"Well, you were pretty quick on the quiver yourself." Little Bird smiled, knowing that this compliment would get Marten to flail even more.
"I know! You were all like, 'Marten! Bear!' and I was like 'Bam! Bam!' arrows to the ankles!"
"Textbook Giant Bear counterattack."
"Textbook my dear. That's the way we do it. Though, I don't think they covered setting off giant animal snares in the book we read."
"Well, it pays to improvise doesn't it?"
"Genius, as always."
Marten, smiling, took a broad bow and extended his hand to Little Bird who lightly held it and bowed in return as if they were meeting on the floor of the ballroom. Letting go they both plopped down against the tree with a laugh and proceeded to discuss what to do with the multiple tons of bear meat in front of them.
Now, what were these two doing out in the forest all alone? It is hardly appropriate for a 14 year old girl and a 15 year old boy to be in the wilderness, what with Giant Bears and deadly traps about and absolutely no adults in sight. But these are no ordinary adolescents.
Little Bird is actually Princess Little Bird of the Kingdom of Apricots. Her father, The King, is one of the most loved kings in Apricot history. Little Bird herself though, is one of the strangest Princesses in Apricot history.
She is called The Odd Little Princess, behind her back of course, and for just a few good reasons. Not too many, but enough. Of course, the Princess is very aware of this nickname, as she is a very observant person. Here are the most commonly talked about reasons for her unrequested title.
One, she doesn't like to talk very much. The other women of court love to have parties and drink tea (with a spot of brandy if no one is watching) and talk, talk, talk, but Little Bird much prefers the quiet of the woods to the chatter of a parlor room. Her silence can be unsettling to some, especially when her soul-piercing gaze is fixed upon you. It is very strange to see someone observe you without voicing their opinion.
Second, she always carries around her sword which, as you can imagine, can estrange you from the finer folks of society. The Kingdom of Apricots is not a violent or hostile land, with wars being short and few. Little Bird thinks, however, that it is better for her to be comfortable with it when she needs it. And, being a tiny, quiet teenage girl, the sword gains attention to her where otherwise she might be overlooked.
Lastly, she is extremely intelligent. You may think this would cause her to be popular, and in the end most will love her for it, but currently her skills of observation and her striking intuition makes those around her feel naked and very vulnerable.
As you can see, the Princess is not an extremely strange or eccentric person, but the little nuances of her person, and the fact that they differentiate her to such a degree, speaks to the 'normalness' of the Kingdom of Apricots. In this Kingdom, most everyone has the same interests, the same likes and dislikes, the same favorite foods and favorite holidays. In Little Bird's mind, the normalness is very boring.
Marten is one of the few folks in the Kingdom who sees Little Bird as remarkable. The pair met at a party where Little Bird and he were the only two of their age. Forced to sit together, Marten's unabashed enthusiasm was a perfect complement to Little Bird's all-seeing eye and quick remarks. Since that day years ago, the two have been inseparable.
Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, what are these two doing in the forest? Little Bird was on a self-enforced training regimen that included a trek into the wilderness every Thursday. And Marten, being her constant companion and never one to miss an adventure, accompanied her without fail. Together they practiced hunting (hence the conveniently located snare), tracking, survival skills, and their theoretical battle tactics. Though the two had never actually been in a battle, they thought very highly of their 'sharpened skills' and steely manner. And come to think of it, they may be not be far off, as today's spontaneous test against Bjera the Terrible came to show.
Soon though, their cunning and intelligence will be tested in a much more difficult, and dangerous challenge.