Rahena stood a short distance from the dozen of others, in part waiting, in part scanning the terrain ahead. The ground nearby was fairly flat, dark-splotched with the sparse turndra-moss and the occasional yellowing clusters of low, coarse weeds, farther away becoming first increasingly gray-toned with light snow and darker partially-frozen eyes of water, and then starting to rise and fall in broken snow-covered hills. On the very horizon the nearest of the Northern Peaks were barely discernible, darker than the hills before those with the mountainsides being too steep for gathering snow, and giving the line where sky and land met a fanged look. Towards the east, the line was blurred - chances were that it was snowing there.
Strange as it might have sounded to a sky-dweller, but those mountains were far closer to being her home than the tundras or - let alone - the civilization, cities. She had barely spent any more time in the cities than had been necessary to grant the sky-dwellers a share of her kills, and as for the tundra... She did not like the plains' openness, or the wet sponge-like ground tundras had during the short period of warmth...
She did not like the herbivores, either, nor hunting them - and the tundras were the only region where plant-eaters could be occasionally encountered. Herbivores killed unchoosingly, slaughtering anyone not of their own kind, since almost any other being in existence was either a competitor for the meager vegetation they needed to eat for surviving, or possibly a predator that might come to desire their flesh. And thusly it was that predators only killed those which they would eat or in self-defense, and herbivores simply killed everyone they could kill... Herbivores were opportunistic killers, not killers of need, like predators were.
For a moment, the female hunter's eyes flickered onto something off the horizon, in the sky, tracking it - a tiny black speck in the distance, visible for a few moments, and then disappearing entirely as it drifted yet farther. Too far away to be of any concern to them, but had it been much closer, it would have been more than enough of a reason to pay attention, for this being - an enormous bird of prey with its wings spanning almost six meters from one tip to another - was more than capable of slicing a human to bloody ribbons or, alternatively, simply throwing someone into air and letting the gravity do the rest. Their beaks were terrifying, but during hunting, they generally did not use those - they used their talons instead, and left their beaks for cracking bones and surgically extracting every scrap of flesh from their kills. No doubt the specimen she had spotted in the distance was likewise on lookout for a prey.
Rahena herself almost took pride in knowing how different creatures hunted - and simultaneously, it was the kind of knowledge that had let her survive to this day, and make her own kills. Now, with the quest she was about to undertake, it was entirely possible she would come to encounter creatures she had never seen before, reach places not even she had visited during her life - which was already longer than that of many, if not most hunters. Thirty-four... To think that the sky-dwellers could reach eighty and above if they were lucky enough. A wry smile wanted to creep back onto her scarred and weathered face in where only the eyes seemed to have been untouched by the harsh conditions, and even those seemed oddly wary.
"And may the most skilled predator win," she muttered in a low, rasped tone, slowly and fumblingly, as if she had a hard time recalling how speaking was supposed to be done. Hearing her own voice was strange, as normally she barely spoke, even to herself. Especially to herself.
After a short while, she turned to look back at the outpost, and the people still there.
"Who wants to come with me, come," she stated, bluntly, much louder, the vapor in her breath immediately condensing into white mist as she exhaled. It was nowhere as cold as during the winters, but Alrugard had never been a warm place, not even on the equator and at the peak of the summer. At most, it was just slightly less cold.
She was already prepared; she was always as prepared as she could make herself. She did not mind people traveling with her - it might even stave off a few lesser predators -, but she felt no need for company. Solitude was a natural state for her. If someone wanted to come, they could, but if no one chose the option, she would embark on her own. And if they took too long to prepare, and were not ready yet, she did not even need them... Being slowed down did not belong into her plans, and if she could avoid having to constantly wait for someone, she would.
Whether someone had taken up her offer or not, Rahena soon took to facing the north again, and pulled the hood over her dark hair as she set off. On the background of snow, her light gray speckled white coat became barely visible, and even then only due to the fact that she was moving, and snow was currently not falling. She moved low and quick, watching both the sky and land. She knew where she was going.