Dusk had arrived.
Sunlight receded gradually across the plains. (Receded gradually from works better and is more grammatically correct) Shadows lengthened in stark contrast to their respective owners (This makes no sense unless 'their respective owners' are shortening or shrinking.), and the evening's fading heat held the promise of a cold night. The transition between light and dark was beginning - a time between times. (Pretentious pseudo-philosophy that has no purpose in the plot.)
Inside his tent, Kaskur stirred.
He rolled blissfully into the rough woolen blanket beside him, relishing the way his shoulders warmed after only a few seconds beneath the fabric. Ahh. That felt good. He couldn't help but feel he was forgetting something, but the notion was so remote, so distant that he gave it no more than a moment's thought. (No complaints, but remote and distant mean the same thing. If this is meant to be fully third-person omniscient narration, then that's fucked up, but if you're using free indirect style, as you do elsewhere in the paragraph, then it's fine. Make sure you're aware whether you're in the head of the character or narrating at any given moment, though.)
Something batted his head. Playfully. (This would work as a dramatic effect; unfortunately, it's not a dramatic scene. Using a short sentence followed by a fragment builds tension; using 'playfully' as the second sentence just gives me a sense of bathos.) He flicked an ear in irritation but ignored the distraction. The batting grew more insistent, so he squeezed his eyes shut and buried his face in his bedroll. Unfortunately, his ears were still sensitive enough to hear everything.
"Kaskur! Kaskur! Brother, you promised!"
Oh. It was her voice. "Go away," he mumbled grouchily. "I'm sleeping."
"Brotherrr!" Only a sudden updraft of air gave him any warning before thirty pounds of angry sister landed on his back with a thump. A pair of sharp little teeth buried themselves in the back of his neck, and Kaskur yowled in pain.
"All right! All right, I'm up!" He stumbled upright and cursed as a hanging pot collided with his head. His sister dug her claws into his back, refusing to fall off. "Get off!" he roared, spinning around and swishing his tail frantically in a futile attempt to dislodge her. She laughed but eventually let go. (Call me prejudiced against nekos but I hate this scene. It's a massive cliché to have the scene begin with (a) the protagonist being woken up and (b) a playfight between him and his sister. It's so stereotypically anime that it makes me want to barf.)
"Now," he continued. He knelt down and cupped her face between his hands. Her orange tabby markings wrinkled as he squeezed her cheeks. "What time did I say I'd take you exploring?"
"Oh! So you do remember! We'll go flower picking and firefly catching and bunny throwing - " Her voice trailed off as Kaskur held up a finger.
"Yes, but at what time?" He gazed sternly at his little sister. Her smile faded.
"A few hours after sundown," she answered guiltily.
"And what time is it now?"
"Er... er... a few minutes before sundown?" She looked positively crestfallen. Kaskur's heart softened as he looked at her, but he refused to let it show.
"Wrong!" he shouted. She jumped slightly at the sound. "It's time for revenge... by tickling you half to death!" His hands shot out to poke her mercilessly.
"Eeee!" She squealed and pretended to claw at his face. Kaskur winced as a wildly flailing limb cut a razor-sharp line across his chin, but it was worth it. Eventually they both ran out of breath and sprawled out across the canvassed floor, panting. (What in the name of God is a canvassed floor? 'Razor-sharp' is a cliché and, in addition, a line of blood can't be razor-sharp. Not even figuratively.)
As they left his tent, his sister suddenly stopped and turned to face him. "Oh, brother, you weren't mad at me, were you?"
Kaskur smiled drily and patted her on the head. "Whatever gave you that idea? Now go have some breakfast before it's all gone." He nudged her towards their communal campfire. Then he shook his head as he watched her bounce happily away from the circle of sleeping tents towards the central clearing, where a dozen or so of his tribe had already gathered.
There was one other person he had to check up on. He lifted a leathery tent flap several paces from his own and ducked inside, blinking several times to adapt his eyes to the light. "Good evening, mother."
A tiny lamp glowed merrily in the corner, outlining the upright form of an elderly catfolk matron wrapped in a shawl. She straightened up almost immediately as Kaskur entered.
"You're up late. Well. Might I ask where you were last day?" (Oh my god the predilection for short sentences for. dramatic. effect. is spreading to the characters.)
Kaskur coughed. "If I said I was tracking down a deer, would you believe me?"
Her eyebrows shot up. "Must have been an extremely unusual deer. There isn't a scrap of woodland about for the next few hundred leagues." (The 'next' few hundred leagues would only make sense in the context of a journey. The 'surrounding' few hundred leagues is more correct... and looking at them, they appear to be nomadic, but with long-term encampments. In that case, either is probably acceptable, but I'd still prefer 'surrounding'.)
"It was, um, a very magical deer."
She snorted. "And I'm the queen of Fairwynne! So tell me, who's the lucky panthress? Or," she continued, a crafty gleam entering her eyes, "Should I already look forward to seeing a new litter this fall?"
He bristled indignantly at the jibe. "What? I would never treat Tsavi like that!" (jibe [n] - an aggressive remark directed at a person like a missile and intended to have a telling effect; "his parting shot was `drop dead'"; "she threw shafts of sarcasm"; "she takes a dig at me every chance she gets".
I do not think that word means what you think it means.)
"Oho, so that's her name! Have you said it very quickly yet?" His mother chortled, throwing her arms up in mock excitement. "Oh, Tsavi, Tsavi!" (Why the hell is his mother being so thick?)
Kaskur grimaced, stifling an angry hiss. "Mother, please. I am honor-bound by the tribe as much as any other! Of all people, I thought you would understand."
"Of course I knew that! You're Shikrimu, not some sassy Khaijit or Hasarri. I was only trying to have a little fun, you big, fat, ugly toad!" (What. Either his mother is mentally ill or you've written this mother-son relationship very queerly indeed.)
They glared at each other stonily for a while before bursting out in laughter.
"Ah, Kaskur, what would I ever do without you? Come here and show me how much you've grown."
He smiled and reluctantly obliged, approching her and bending down. "I'm already twenty-three, mother."
"So you are, so you are," she sighed. "And already second-in-command of our outriders! Your old father would've been so proud..." Her voice trailed off as she stopped, remembering.
He tried to change the subject, quickly. "Uncle Rhamir says I still have lots to learn. He wants me to succeed him, you know. But I don't know if - "
"Hush," whispered his mother. She suddenly reached out and hugged him fiercely. Kaskur fought the urge to reach out and tug his mother's braids, as he had often done years earlier. Her familiar purring soothed him, although the timbre seemed drier than he remembered. "You'll always be my little khit." (Okay. Awkward. Not that that's necessarily a criticism, just that I hope it's what you were aiming for.)
After what seemed to be a long while, his mother sleepily broke the silence. "Will we be... stopping near the Sea of Souls again this year, Kaskur?"
Kaskur frowned sadly. "I don't think so, mother. We've all heard about the new emperor. A lot of the tribes are already journeying west over the mountains to avoid him. We might even do the same next spring."
"Pity. I've always liked... the taste of the fish... there..." She closed her eyes and stopped.
He looked up at her. "Mother?" No response. He grew extremely alarmed. "Mother?"
A whistling snore greeted his ears. Kaskur breathed a sigh of relief and dislodged himself. He quietly draped a blanket over his one remaining parent.
Moments later the tent flap lifted and a small head appeared in the entrance. Kaskur recognized the face as one of his outrider's.
"I hope I'm not intruding, second spear. The elder has summoned you."
Kaskur glanced down at his sleeping mother and nodded. "I'll be there right away."
He followed the young scout out from among the tents. It was nighttime now, and clouds partially obscured the few stars that were out. Yet to Kaskur's nocturnal eyes (Nocturnal eyes? They only come out at night? 'Acute' would work better.) the landscape stood out in crisp detail. He could still easily distinguish colors, but everything seemed sheathed in a silver glow. (Sheathe (n): Encase (something) in a close-fitting or protective covering. I do not think that word means what you think it means.) The wind picked up as they advanced towards a hill some distance away from their encampment, and Kaskur was glad he had dressed warmly. He glanced up, his trained eyes picking up a lone silhoutte seated at the hill's apex. Unless the hill is really small and sparse of any trees, you're not gonna be able to see a silhouette at the apex of it.)
Minutes later they crested the knoll ('crested the knoll'? Please try to write in modern English.) and approached their elder. Kaskur always remembered him as an aged, white-furred catfolk who wore long russet robes with a curiously serious expression, and the impression stuck. The druid made no immediate acknowledgement of their presence. Instead he continued to sit with his eyes closed, his feather-tipped, oaken staff held upright like a bulwark (bulwark is more antiquated language, and it means 'fortification, wall', not 'sticky up thing')against the night sky. His expression was unreadable.
Their elder finally spoke. "I wish I could find a happier greeting to meet you with. But alas, these are dark times, Kaskur Farhunter." Despite his frail appearance, the elder's voice resonated deeply and suggested hidden power.
Kaskur glanced at the sky. The moon peered out faintly behind the veil of clouds. "Hmm, do you think so? There's a bit of light out, you know."
"I am not talking about the weather, Kaskur!" snapped the elder impatiently. "Stop playing the fool and pay attention. I'm being serious."
"But I thought your name was - " A staff tip smacked Kaskur neatly over the head. "Ow! All right, all right!" He looked at the staff and touched it experimentally. "Ooh, feathers." (No matter how childish someone is, they can act seriously in a situation like this. More anime clichés. Making your protagonist Naruto-neko is a bad move.)
The elder sighed, sat back down and closed his eyes once again. He was breathing rather heavily, however. "These are dark times, Kaskur Farhunter," he continued. Kaskur sulked and remained silent. "But the darkness of which I speak is not physical."
"So it's a... metaphorical darkness?" asked Kaskur.
"Yes, Kaskur. Now shut up," replied the druid wearily. (Really keeping up the dignified tone here, dude.) "As you know, trouble stirs in the south. The people are restless. The danger to our people grows daily, and we must have a means of knowing if the Empire becomes aware of our druids. Not only that, but we will need to watch their forces. Carefully. I have already conferred with my remaining brothers for a temporary solution." He gave Kaskur a meaningful look. (This is an epic cliché. A sadistic, remorseless cliché overlord. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing if it was necessary to get into the RP.)
"I don't... I don't think I like where this is going," ventured Kaskur slowly. ('ventured'? He's hardly venturing into new grounds, literal or otherwise! Even 'interrupted' would be better.)
"None of us do," said the druid. "But I see you understand how important your skills are. Until this threat is... solved, (That ellipsis was inappropriate. I feel dirty.) you must travel towards the Empire and keep watch. Rangers from the other tribes will accompany you. Kaskur, as much as it pains me to ask you, I must. You are the most capable among us. Though why you must always act half your age, I haven't the faintest clue."
"Probably from coping with those two," muttered Kaskur.
"What was that?"
An hour later Kaskur found himself plodding unenthusiastically away from his own encampment, furnished with more equipment and supplies than he cared to count. A detachment of scouts waited for him on the horizon. He suddenly felt a pang of homesickness and turned to finish waving at his gathered tribe.
"Goodbye, mother! Goodbye, little sister! Goodbye, Tsavi! Goodbye, uncle Rhamir! Goodbye, aunt Ashidashaleena!" Minutes later he realized he had run out of people. Desparately, Kaskur looked around for anything that seemed even remotely familiar. "Goodbye, strangely-colored rock!"
The elder's voice drifted to him from what seemed like an infinite distance. "Quit stalling and get on with your journey, Kaskur!"
Kaskur groaned and turned around once more. He had only taken a few more steps before he stopped again. Someone small was running up behind him. "Brother! Brother!" He turned back.
His sister ran up to him, panting hard. "You still haven't taken me exploring yet!" She pattered up to him and tugged on his cloak.
He looked sadly down at her. "I don't think I can, Sahnia. I'd make some people very angry right now if I did." In the distance he saw their elder staring at them, arms folded across his chest.
"You... you what?" Her lower lip quivered, as did her ears and the tip of her tail.
Kaskur knelt down and put a hand on his sister’s head. "I'm very sorry. Wait," he said, an idea coming to mind. He unclasped the sharktooth necklace around his throat and placed it in her hands. "This belonged to Father before he gave it to me. I want you to have it."
"R-really? For keeps?”
“Of course not, silly,” he laughed. “I’ll let you wear it until I come back. Then we can do all the exploring you want.”
Sahnia nodded gravely and took the necklace. “Promise?”
Kaskur smiled, gazing into emerald eyes. “I promise.”
He patted her on the head and stood up. Then he began walking southwards, towards the horizon and where the scouts were.
No matter what, he would make it back.
DONE DONE DONE