Sweat staining his leather jerkin and breeches, the old warrior moved quietly through between the potbellied drum trees. Not silently; silence took longer. It was the eternal balance of the predator: silence is slow and speed is not silent.
It was, after all, how he had become an old warrior rather then finishing his course on earth as many young warriors did: prey rather than predator.
Any creature which noted his passing would be confused, smelling the rottenness of death, the sweetness of overripe fruit, and the encyclopedic scents revealed in the droppings of the largest of the prey animals.
Those smells, moving through the trees, made no sense. Any creature he might fear would avoid confusion.
Unlike men, who most often rushed toward it.
He sought no prey on this quest. His objective was talk, to find a particular man and teach him an important truth.
When the ancient one gave him this quest, there was a solemnity about him unlike the ancient one’s usual relaxed, bright-eyed interest, interest especially to see that you were paying proper attention to whichever story he was repeating for the eleventh time.
This quest was of the greatest import. It was not a hunt for better meat nor a search for a milder climate to move the village, now far too large to be moved anyway.
The ancient one, when the warrior asked his goal, the purpose of the quest, said only one word.