Fish trudged through the deep and thick snow, keeping his head down and smelling the twigs as he went. Kody watched the Tokota from underneath him and smiled, petting the playful toko’s male. Dusk was nearing and the cold was starting to set in for the night, as clouds swept across the whole sky. Kody was always on the move, looking for wild Tokotas to watch and new slopes to snowboard this time of the year; never staying in one place for too long. He’d heard from a nearby village that there had been a small pack of wild tokotas that migrated into the snowy forests and fields nearby and he was keen on finding them. And among them few tokotas? An Atoka. Kody had only seen very few dozen in his lifetime but he knew they were stubborn and very strong headed; a challenge he would like to take on. The TCA had flagged the Atoka Kody called Hades for a reason; he was too dangerous to be wild.
Fish perked up his head, looking around and pivoting his ears around, sniffing the air. Kody looked around too but found nothing out of the ordinary, but, of course, Fish would have a much better grasp on all the six senses than he had.
“What is it, boy?” he asked his toko, leaning towards Fish’s mane to whisper it, fearing he might scare something off. The Tokota turned his head again to look through the trees, staying still. “Are they that way?” he asked another question and Fish wagged his tail slightly, trotting forward.
Once the two of them came out from the edge of the forest, they looked down upon the snowy meadow with a small group of Tokotas laying around.
“Would you look at that?” Kody breathed to Fish, though he was mainly talking to himself. Kody jumped off Fish’s back into the shin-deep snow and unclipped his snowboard from Fish’s tack. He sat down in the snow and clipped in; knowing it would be easier on the small toko to make it down the slope without him on his back. Halfway through tightening his bindings, he looked up and saw the Atoka, pointing to him for Fish to look.
“Here he is, Fish,” he said as the beast lazily lumbered around. “He’s got to be at least seven feet,” he continued to his tokota to his side, who already started the first few steps down the slope. Kody rode down the hill quite easily, as he was used to treacherous terrain. Fish followed a bit behind him but grouped back up at the bottom.
Fish happily stuck out his tongue, panting with excitement at all the new friends. Several of the tokos looked up at the two newcomers and a few walked away from them. These big animals, in some ways, were like horses; seeing things smaller than them as dangerous and hesitated before making a move.
Hades on the other hand was full of headstrong confidence. He continued to walk slowly, not even looking at the two.
"Hey, big guy,” Kody said, suddenly a little hesitant with the Atoka standing at a rough eight and a half feet tall. How could something this massive actually be tamed? That was his goal anyway; Kody didn’t want anyone to kill the massive beast. It was either to be tamed or killed, there was no way the TCA would allow Hades to stay wild.
Fish being on the smaller side of the average Tokota and felt very hesitant about approaching the beast all of a sudden, especially with the tusks in the Atoka’s mouth each about the length of Kody’s finger. Fish had become very interested in the snow and pushed his nose into the frozen water, flicking it up into the air.
Most of the flakes of snow landed on Hades’ face, causing him to look at the two for the first time since they had arrived. He looked calm but slightly annoyed at Fish, letting out a huff of air to make the snow fall off his nose. After that, he just went back to what he was doing, as if the two were not even there.
Normally, Kody would bend down and sit on the ground to show tokotas he was no threat, but standing next to Hades was that equivalent; if he sat, he would probably be the size of an ant compared to the beast. Kody had tremendous respect for this beast, as it was completely unaffected by how close he was to him. Being so close, Kody took a closer look at the Atoka’s eyes and paints. They were both gold colors and Hades’ eyes glowed faintly. He wondered who had applied the paints and if it meant the beast wasn’t so hard to tame afterall. He was probably wrong about that last bit.
Kody worked up the courage and slowly took a few steps towards the beast that still seemed indifferent. “Hey there,” he started softly and the Atoka’s ears turned towards his voice, though he didn’t turn his head. The moment Kody slowly held out his hand, however, was the first time the Atoka turned to him, his snout starting to crease, looking at Kody’s hand.
Kody put his hands up in a surrender position as the Atoka nearly gave him a heart attack. “Okay, okay,” Kody said softly, taking a few steps back as he didn’t want to make Hades too uncomfortable.
It took about an hour of Kody trying to show Hades that his hand did not mean danger before the Atoka reached out his low hanging head and sniffed Kody’s hand.
Though he’d been trying to get this to happen for almost an hour now, it still made his heart pound faster in his chest as his instincts told him to pull away from the tusks and teeth. But he stayed put, knowing any sudden movement would set off the Atoka. The Atoka sniffed his hand, his exhales weighed his hand down.
“That’s it…” Kody said, probably trying to reassure himself than the Atoka. Finally coming to the conclusion that Kody did not have any food, the Atoka pulled away and went back to what he was doing.
For the next endless period of time, while Fish slept peacefully to the side, Kody sat fairly close to the large beast, thanking himself for bringing his warmest gear as he sat in thick snow. Hades had bunkered down in his own pit of snow and fur, his eyes closing as the minutes passed.
Kody reached out his hand slightly, knowing he was within reach of the Atoka, but hesitated and looked at Hades’ closed eyes. Very slowly, he reached out his hand and touched the Atoka’s mane. It was the thickest mane he had ever felt. It seemed like it would just keep going until he suffocated in the dark fur. He gingerly patted the fur, as to not make Hades too grumpy and move.
He smiled to himself and looked back at the Atoka’s face to see him looking right back at him.