Twenty-nine

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Import logging
   Logging.config(security=ultra; module=core("op.parameters", "safeguards");)
      Log:

         Intersecting operating parameters drive all cognitive and analytical behaviour. All operations to be tested prior to run. If(safeguards:false) then end cycle.
         1 Primary parameter is ensuring continuation of species, guarding against external and internal threats and taking precautionary action as appropriate based on subsequent checks and in accordance with defined parameters of operation.
         Secondary parameters to follow//
Exit(logging)

*

Every day was a perfect adventure. A run through the forest, a dive from the top of the waterfall, exploring the depths of the caves, rafting across the Black Lake or gliding from the heights back down to the village nestled in the valley below. The challenge, Harry found, was thinking of something new. Twisting some of the old favourites did the trick: riding a raft off the edge of the waterfall, or leaping from the cliffs without a glider and trusting that the trees would catch him.

Today was a hunt day. Harry had decided that a celebration was called for, his simple justification being that the sun had shone for five days in a row. It seemed as good a reason as any other. Somewhere in the woods there would be a deer, or a boar, and they'd be set for a memorable feast. It might be even better than the previous week's festival.

"It's chilly this morning," Robin said, holding his arms to his chest as they trudged over the uneven ground of the forest, the canopy high above swaying slightly as a layer of mist drifted through its leaves.

A small creature with a curling tail leaped from one branch to another; too skinny for a squirrel, so perhaps a monkey of some sort. They'd seen more of them that summer than ever before, coming up from the south. At least, that's what Eva said and she seemed to know about these things. To Harry, a monkey was a monkey: they were funny, he was glad they had started showing up, but he didn't much care where they came from or where they were going. A film of moisture lay damp across every surface: every leaf and branch, every strand of cobweb, even the mulch beneath their feet was covered by a blanket of tiny droplets of water. It was as if the world was still half-asleep, waiting for a moment to thrust off her drowsiness and begin the day proper. That promise of a new day, poised and waiting to happen, made the early morning Harry's favourite part of the day. It's why he got up earlier than the others, often walking around Cragside or out into the forest or across the fields before anybody else was awake.

Those quiet solo explorations weren't always possible: despite Robin not sharing his enthusiasm, the boy nevertheless insisted on tagging along. Harry would attempt to creep out of the village unseen, wincing as Robin would inevitably poke his head out of his yurt. The boy certainly had an appreciation of the natural world and the lives they had - he was more fervent in his outlook than almost anyone in the camp, never missing an opportunity to visit the Temple, or to share its teachings with anybody carelessly within earshot - but he exhibited it with an intense reverence that Harry didn't entirely trust. Harry saw the world as existing to be enjoyed, yet Robin behaved as if it was delicate and fragile, always fearing that it would crumble at the lightest touch. Despite that he would always seek to accompany Harry; while irritating, Harry had noticed early on that Robin would do pretty much anything he asked - not an unusual experience for Harry, but in the case of Robin it did seem sometimes that he was trying to live vicariously through Harry's eyes. Perhaps that would change when Robin was older.

There was a rustle of movement up ahead and Harry paused, holding out a hand to slow Robin's steps. "Is it a deer?" he asked, peering past Harry's shoulder.

"I think so," Harry said, leaning towards the foliage to get a good look while lifting his bow from his shoulder. "Go round to the left," he said, pointing, "block its escape route that way. Drive it towards me if you can." He pulled an arrow from the quiver on his back and nocked it into place. He'd promised everyone back home that there would be a feast today and he wasn't intending to break that promise. There was never a situation when they were low on food, but the deer would help it to be a more memorable occasion.

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