Sarah was a little worried when she woke up that morning. Her father was more than a trifle absent-minded, but it was not like him to be out of touch for several days. She had to do something calm and productive to soothe her nerves.
She quickly dressed into a long flowered skirt, tan blouse and her trusty boots. She wrapped a green sash around her sun helmet. Finally she checked that her revolver was loaded and belt knife were firmly in place. She stepped out of her little thatch covered shack and began to look for Reginald.
Much to her dismay, nobody had seen Reginald for several days either. It was time to do some chores and take her mind off her two favorite people. She asked around the camp and got a general diretion of where they had gone a few days before. On the pretext of picking some berries, she made her way out of the little settlement following the creek deeper into the jungle.
She did find a nice berry patch and picked a handful to break her fast. She filled her canteen in the cold rushing little brook. As she got a little further away from normal settlement debris and muddied trails, she started looking for her father's rather distinctive footprints. His right foot tended to point inward quite a bit. She lost track of time.
"Has anyone seen Lady Sarah?" asked Private Ian Baird of the 213th Worchestshires. "She has been gone several hours and I cannot find her. The Sergent-Major will have my hide if anything happens to her."
"She told me she was going to pick berries, but that was several hours ago." replied Alicia Dorne, wife of Corporal Thomas Dorne. "I never saw her return though, she was following the creek inland."
Roughly one half of a split second later, Private Baird had gathered his rifle,canteen and some provisions. He shouted at two of his mates to follow his trail as quickly as possible. He set off following the creek, looking for signs of Lady Sarah. Within about 5 minutes his buddies had caught up with him. and the trio began a search in earnest
Sarah had found some tracks that could have included her father, they were several days old. However it was the only lead she had, so she decided to follow them a little further. There! This time she was positive her father had come this direction. With little regard for caution, she moved forward, tracking the barely dicernable markings. The creek was now well behind her as she moved inland. The light was becoming became more murky as she went further under the jungle's canopy.
Pitrok had been following the panther's track for some time. It was very frustrating because this creature was proving to be so elusive. It had killed one of the villages prime stud bulls and it must be destroyed.
Moving silently forward, he heard the low deep rumbling growl of the panther. The animal had stopped moving and was staring intently at something just out of Pitrok's vision. Pitrok took the opportunty to dip a spear in his deadly frog venom pouch. A very quick death awaited the target. Quietly, oh so quietly, Pitrok stalked closer and closer to the panther.
As Pitrok moved closer, he could finally see what had caught the panther's attention. He had never seen anything like this before. A hard cone shaped shell, flying a green banner, topped a red head with a white face and green eyes. Obviously female, her body was dressed in some sort of two piece gown. White hands and arms protruded from the top of the gown. At the waist several accessories attached. One that he did recognize was the belt-knife. Pitrok could not understand why the goddess or maybe a witch had not heard the panther yet. Her focus was only on the ground in front of her.
Sarah heard a rustling in the underbrush. She looked up and several things seemed to happen at once. She noticed a small tattoed dark skinned man holding a spear. She noticed a panther in the act of pouncing directly at her. And she noticed that time seemed to have slowed to a stand still. She pulled her revolver knowing that it would be too late.
The panther was in mid-leap, the spear was in the air, and Sarah pulled the trigger on the revolver. It went off with a great roar. Time froze.
Will Sarah survive? Is the superstitious Pitrok friend or foe? Why had she not been aware of the panther earlier? Her father had taught her survival skills better than that. Stay tuned.