ABY 853
Kashyyyk - 'The Shadowlands'
Thirteen Days from Northayyk

Minstyngar, by habit and rule, exercised strict territorial rights handed down by millennium of rudimentary familial and clan structures. Breasting a head taller than adult Wookies, composed of scaled flesh, calcified mumps, and coiled muscle, they were forthright belligerent and understood nothing of circumstance or intent. Should one fail their unknowable tests, entering through their tract of stomping grounds, they would get a fast, hooting scream - then leaping shadows would blot out their vision momentarily before hefty clubbing limbs broke in their sternum and shattered them into the ground. Then whatever wasn't pulped into thin gore would be devoured, digested, and then unceremoniously shat out. The bones would be put to use wiggling bits of errant skin free from their hanging lower jaws.

Lof couldn't well see the boy. The long moss-tunnel which they peered through hung with too much creeping vines, stuffy with Notherworld dolor that washed out colour and detail. Save that there was a fast tussle as ten minstyngar tried to pin down something too short weaving about their legs. Lof bade her guard forward and tried to train her bowcaster for a shot. Motion and flying earth spoiled her vector, padding as swiftly as they dared along through the natural tunnel. Heavy hind-paws squelched through water-logged sod, catching purchase on bracken shale. They held a meter out from exiting the yawning tunnel mouth; five bow-sights lined up a cone of killing fire in the case that the underbrush 'monkeys' would switch their attentions on these newest intruders. But by now, Lof could see their efforts were totally fixated on a ragged-clothed haze.

[...Jedi...] She trilled in a whisper.

Five minstyngar were felled already, dead by wounding trauma, unable to clutch at their seared, cropped shoulders with broken arms laying about, severed. The last ten became nine, with one barreling in too fast, overreaching and relieved of its head with a blurring X cut. Their small capacities for deductive reasoning had underestimated the 'little thing' they'd encountered skinning a trapped bolotaur. It seemed small, pitiful and a fast route to an effortless snack. Before they could blink, before they could finish their howls of challenge, it produced rods of unheated light that cleaved through skin and bone effortlessly. The ninth fell to its bone-capped knees, chest punctured with a trio of ragged, burned holes. The eighth swatted at an inky apparition stepping left, then right, then right again in front. One light-rod twisted, spinning and slicing through knuckle meat. Fingers flew past its ducking shoulder before the minstyngar was plowed off its feet by a brunt, physical tackle. But the blur didn't kill it. It left that to its 'mates', who blindly clubbed their rocky hands into its chest and belly in a mad scramble to stop their feller.

Then it ended, in perhaps less than a handful of seconds. The seventh dived forward in a low leap, but met a sweeping uppercut that opened it wide from groin to brow. The sixth and fifth tried a combined haymaker but lost their arms for the effort, then their spines to impossible quick cuts. The fourth raised a calloused hand to limply pat at the hole gored through one eye and out its skull, toppling forward. The third tripped across the fourth in its scramble and had its baying silenced by a knee-jab that snapped its throat collumn. The last pair bellowed hunting cries, chattering in indecipherable grunts, charging on all fours with long jaws clenched in anticipation for blood and meat. The figure caught between their separate gallops quickly squatted and leaped high, turning his momentum into a spinning dual-cut that flashed downward. Lof winced as she observed the final minstyngar's chests opened and ribs cleanly severed through to their shoulder blades.

[Remind me not to spoil that one's hunt...] One Vaazyyc murmured.


[Well met!]

Seroth Ur-Rahn replaced the steel-caps of his hilt-blades back upon their belt-catches. The familiar growl of trade Shyriiwook interrupted his examination of what would have been a prized bolotaur catch. Good hide for crafting skin-materials into water proofed ponchos and heat retaining fat insulators, with strong, stringy meat that made for efficient salt-jerky, and bone for primitive scale-plating. ...All ruined by the mad palm-stamps of enraged minstyngar simians. The boy had been certain the snare had been placed a good five clicks out from their usual haunts. He supposed, however, the scent of a fresh carcass may have drawn them to investigate and possibly scavenge. The sight of competition might just have been enough to bring on one of their infamous killing frenzies.

He turned and adjusted the ride of a tattered belt-loop holding across his chest. The clearing was crowding with the languishing monkey corpses and now five Wookies dressed for a war hike. Save for their lead, a tall female with butterscotch fur and cyan eyes that looked over him with unabashed curiosity. Seroth replaced the translator bud into his ear, sighing, shrugging, gesturing in quiet frustration to the scene.

"Not all that well," He said. "I underestimated the minstyngar's sense of smell. I'm out a good trap catch. The next one is maybe an hour's hike, south and west."

[Nature is as is,] The female growled, poking her bowcaster into a still simian, scaled backside. [Down here, we all become part of the ebb and push of hunting and hunger. Happenstance can give and take away in equal capacities.]

"Seroth," The boy greeted, proffering his hand.

Lof's vast mitt of fur clenched around his and shook once. It was skin to being gently jostled by a hose vice. [Lof, aide to old, mighty Kerriissh. We should have met under less dangerous circumstances.]

Seroth grinned. "Maybe. But it is good this way. ...But there's no coincidence in running into five Wookies, armed, down these trails." His expression sobered. "What's your Chief want of me?"

[Perceptive,] A guard gnarred.

[That business is between you and him,] Lof explained. [I'm simply here to retrieve you.]

"I think I can gather what's up," The Jedi sighed. "...And I was just enjoying myself too. Well?"

He tucked in his tattered rag-shirt against his belt-waist, kicking mud from off his soft boots. "Shall we?"

[What about your camp?] Lof asked.

"The Shadowlands will take it," Seroth said simply. He sidled past Lof's immense stature, treading with light, practiced eased over exposed rooting and churned pools of sticky mud. The boy was then fast ascending up the moss tunnel, leaving the five Wookies in his wake to shake their hoary muzzles. Jedi were rumoured eccentrics, no two ever truly alike and at times fiercely independent. This one looked young enough to still be caught up in school studies, yet was pressing his strength against the savage graces of Kashyyyk's underworld. Willing. For what appeared to be... idle relaxation.

[Oh come on,] Lof called to her Vaazyyc guard, starting after the lad. It'd be another thirteen day hike before they'd be home under stone and plank thatched roofing.