The Hunter



By Scott, 2002


The huntress ran with her pack, howling her lust for the death of the branch horn that they had bloodied.  Leaping a fallen tree, she reveled in the hunt and the company of the others.  Grey eyes shone with joy.  She attacked again – hoping to finally bring down her prey but regretting that the chase should end – and missed.  Snarling, she and her pack continued the chase.

                Suddenly ahead of her she saw something – a creature that appeared to be in its final death throes.  The huntress slowed a little, knowing it was not her quarry; that could only mean that something else was possibly hunting in her pack’s territory and that until she knew what that was it paid to be more careful.  It also meant that another hunter had provided her and her pack with another meal, unless the dying creature was sick.  She could smell fresh blood not of the branch horn, though, and that was a good sign.  Signaling her pack to continue the chase, she slowed to finish off this unexpected bonus and crept through the underbrush that was by the game trail.

                The breeze shifted, making the blood smell stronger.  It also brought with it another scent, one the huntress had never forgotten but thought she would never know again – a smell that caused her to stop.  Shaking her head, she breathed out sharply through her nose to clear it and took a deep breath, trying to separate the smells the wind brought her.  This time there was no mistake; she knew that smell as well as her own cubs’ and she crashed through the brush to reach it because it was tinged with death.

                What she saw caused her to stop again.  Her grey hunter – or what she believed was him – barely alive, a pool of blood slowly spreading out from where he lay.  Cautiously she went to the hunter, all of her senses alert for any danger. 


                Fernglade couldn’t believe it.  He was a mess – new scars covered old ones, limbs were warped slightly from broken bones not healed properly, covered in dirt and blood, his hair lank and encrusted with dirt and leaves – and he was dying from the arrow she had fired at the branch horn and missed with, the arrow now protruding from his stomach.  Mistwalker!  It was, she told herself; scents don’t lie.  Weeping, she reached out to him.


                Nothing responded.  Her mind touched nothing but emptiness and pain.  She reached out a second time, this time softly touching his shoulder to make sure he was real, to prove to herself that she was not somehow dreaming.  Her fingers could feel the warmth of his skin but again there was no response.  Quickly she tore strips of leather from her tunic to bind his wound as she did her best to remove the arrow.

                ::Wildblaze!  I need you!::  Fernglade needed the wolf badly to bring Mistwalker back to the holt.  She was near frantic at the thought that she would lose him again, to deal with him dying a second time.  Carefully she lifted him, noticing for the first time how gaunt her lifemate was, how much weight he’d lost. 

                Wildblaze arrived snarling and growling, having felt the fear in his bond’s send and fearing she was in danger.  He stopped when he noticed that there was no threat but she had something familiar in her arms.  He stretched out his neck to sniff what it was she carried and barked happily, but could also smell death and knew what was needed.  Fernglade placed Mistwalker on the wolf before jumping up herself and the great wolf ran as quickly as he could for home….