As usual, I'm posting early. I seem bound and determined not to grasp this "timed posting" thing of which you speak.
This is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Project NaNo, titled Peacemaker at the moment. It was one of those scenes I didn't plan on; it kinda gave birth to itself out of no where, and I loved it. It still gives me chills.
A bird called somewhere above him, the first sound of forest life he’d heard since entering the trees. Another answered it, directly to the south. It dawned on Caleb that he’d left the homestead behind in his search, so much that he could no longer hear the men’s voices behind him. The bird called again, to his right this time. Two careful notes, low then high, as if the creature was questioning.
And he knew, suddenly, that it was questioning. It was a signal, asking what to do about him, the stupid white man all on his own in the wilderness. He froze, waiting for the answer. The forest was eerily silent and seemed to hold its breath along with Caleb.
They were watching him. He could feel their eyes on him, imagined he could hear the hum of bowstrings held taut. From the south, the bird called again, the same two notes. “Low-high?” The nearer one answered with a cheery trill, “High-low-high!”
The runes on his staff flared to life as he channeled into it, markings of blue glowing against the dark wood. They provided a path, forcing the chaotic power into patterns, logical forms that could be used with exquisitely fine control. “Schild,” he murmured.
Like the tumblers of a lock clicking into place, he could feel the air around him solidifying into a shield, crystal clear and impenetrable. Only the sight of a few bushes curling their branches against an unseen surface indicated where the boundaries of his bubble were. His breath sounded tinny, as if his head was inside a large jar, and he knew he had a limited amount of time before his air ran out. Impenetrable meant that nothing got in, not even air.
Something moved to his left, and he snapped his head in that direction.
She sat not ten yards distant on the back of a painted horse, the animal’s brown and white markings seeming to be more of a pattern cast by the leaf-dappled sunshine than anything meant to be seen on a living creature. Her raven hair was twined into twin braids, hanging forward on each side of her neck, and her garments were clearly of supple hides, decorated in subtle patterns with yellow and green quills. Her black eyes held no animosity as she stared at him, her head tilted slightly to one side.
Caleb stared at the Indian woman, the first one he’d ever seen in person. He could see her tanned legs, bare between her high moccasins and the hem of her dress, muscled and strong. Her hands were clenched in the horse’s mane, and the animal’s ears were perked forward, obviously waiting for some command from his rider. Where the sun touched her face, her skin glowed like warm honey.
They gazed at each other for long silent moments, two worlds touching for perhaps the first time. She didn’t seem angry, or even afraid, merely curious. And the longer he looked, the more a glint of humor crept into her dark eyes. She found him amusing.
Abruptly, her head jerked up, staring over Caleb’s head in the direction of the Anderson homestead. A heartbeat later, he heard the voices too.
“Peacemaker?” “Agent Marcus?” They had come looking for him, finally.
The southern bird called again, the question taking on an imperative tone. “Low-high??”
The Indian woman hesitated for one moment, glancing between Caleb and his would-be rescuers, and something in Caleb’s chest clenched. Go! Don’t let them find you here! Almost as if she heard him, she pursed her lips, whistling an answer. “High-low-low.” Nudging the horse with her knees, she backed him into the underbrush and disappeared.