Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Travelers Gap|
I rode out following the path towards the distant mountains. I had purchased a detailed map and glanced at it until I had memorized the way I needed to go. I had thrown the bridles for the horses away and replaced them with halters. I rode slowly and the horses fed on grass as we went. I stopped beside a small stream a couple of hours before nightfall.
I placed the horses on a long picket line and ate a warm meal by a small fire. I was up with the first hint of sunlight and saddled the horses. It was noon before we passed the first real tree. I wasn’t worried about time and continued slowly. I watched everything around us as I rode and a few hours before the sunset I saw the perfect spot to stop.
I dismounted and watered the horses from a nearby stream before leading them into the enclosed boulders I had seen. I picketed them and then went out to cut several thick thorn bushes. I used them to block the one other entrance into the boulders. After gathering enough wood for the night, I sat to eat. I stripped and went to the stream to wash before changing into clean clothes.
I started a fire in the one opening before relaxing with my bow beside me. I fed the small fire every so often to keep it going. It was late when the horses stirred, I hadn’t really heard anything but stood and moved back towards them. I stopped when the thorn bush seemed to slide out slightly. I stepped closer and pulled my sword as I saw two wolves on their stomachs pulling on the bush.
They growled and I spun as two more wolves came passed the fire. I sliced across as one lunged towards me and drew a dagger as the other leaped. My sword cut the first wolf’s throat and I side stepped and struck up into the chest of the other with the dagger. The night quieted as any other wolves retreated into the darkness. I moved to calm the horses and then cleaned my weapons.
I pulled the bodies beyond the fire and quickly skinned them and pulled the carcass to the side. I began cleaning the skins as I relaxed by the fire. When the sun came up, I rolled up the two skins and saddled the horses. After letting them drink, I climbed into the saddle and started off with my bow in my lap. It wasn’t long before I noticed the wolves.
They seemed to watch me as I passed but stayed at a safe distance. A single howl made the horses dance and the stallion snort almost angrily. I patted his neck and kept watch as we rode. It was noon before they seemed to disappear. I stopped beside a clear brook and let the horses drink. I filled my water bottles and swung back into the saddle.
I turned to leave and stopped as a bush that wasn’t there before sat close beside the trail. I looked at it and then looked around before lifting my bow and fitting an arrow. The wolf fled as I aimed at the bush and howls rang out from the brush and small trees. I watched as the wolves moved away and put a hand on the stallion’s shoulder as he snorted and jerked, “Their just testing us.”
I led off thinking about what the wolves had just tried to do. They seemed more intelligent than other animals. I found a large cave an hour before the sun set and dismounted to check it. The horses snorted and at first didn’t want to go in but I had seen that it ended a short way in and the roof was blackened from many fires. I unsaddled and picketed the horses before moving out and looking for wood.
I saw a few glimpses of wolves as I brought several arm loads of sticks back to the cave mouth. As it started getting dark I started the fire and ate. I pulled out the wolf skins and went back to working on them, out of the night came a low growl. I smiled showing my teeth, “You don’t like it, stay away.”
A huge grey furred wolf moved into the fire light to glare at me. I looked back calmly, “You don’t like me killing your kind then find other game.”
The wolf lay down and watched me as I went back to work on the skin, “Normally I hunt other men.”
The wolf’s ears almost flicked at that and then he was still. I shrugged, “I think you understand me wolf. My name is Quillan. Like you, I am hunted. My clan seeks my death for leaving.”
The wolf watched as I finished one and used ash to rub the inside down before rolling it up. I glanced at the wolf as I heard the faint click of claws to each side of the cave, “So you don’t care if I kill more of your kind.”
His head came up as I tossed a couple of sticks onto the waning fire. He growled and turned his head left and right before standing and walking off into the night. I kept working on the other wolf skin as I heard the retreating wolves outside the cave. I finally rolled the skin up and placed it with the other one.
I added wood to the fire before relaxing in my half sleep. I stirred during the night only to add wood to the fire. With the hint of dawn I was fully awake as slight scrapping sounds moved closer. When the wolves leaped out of the dawn’s light I was on my feet with both swords drawn, one plunging into the chest of one wolf and the other slashing sideways to cut the throat of another.
Even as they fell, two more took their place. I stabbed through the mouth of one and into the throat of another, as sudden as it had started it was over. I looked at the four dead wolves and then went to reassure the horses. I saddled them and then went back to the mouth of the cave. I quickly skinned the wolves and dragged them off to the side.
I rolled the skins and placed them on a pack before leading the horses out and climbing into the saddle. I held my bow as I headed up the trail, it wasn’t long before I came to the huge grey wolf sitting off to the side of the trail. I stopped the horse as I looked at it, “I warned you wolf.”
It looked around and I saw others hidden in the brush. I shook my head, “How many die before you start seeking other game?”
The other wolves moved back as I started on but the grey wolf rose to trot along beside the trail. It disappeared before noon but was back in the early afternoon. A few hours before the sun set I came to a thick walled log cabin. One look inside told me it had been long abandoned. It didn’t have any windows but there was a back door that was barred with a thick beam.
I watered the horses before leading them into the cabin. Since the floor of the cabin was dirt I didn’t have to worry about the horses falling through. I glanced at the wolf before closing the door and moving to start a small fire. I cooked a hot dinner and then began to work on a wolf skin.
I heard a wolf on the roof but it wasn’t there long before jumping down. I smiled because the roof had several feet of dirt on it and the smoke from the fire would drive the wolves away. I slept against the front door and woke early. I listened carefully before saddling the horses in the dark. The sun was rising when I opened the door and led the horses out.
The grey wolf was laying a dozen feet away and rose up. It turned to pad away but stopped at the edge of the brush. I ate some dried fruit as I rode, twice I readied my bow and pointed at a hidden wolf. I stop beside a tall waterfall for lunch and a dozen wolves lay across the pool at the foot of the falls.
I watered the horses and then led them as I ate some of the smoked meat I had bought. I absently tossed a huge chunk towards the grey wolf and it snapped the piece out of the air. I swung up into the saddle to start off again. It was only an hour later that I came to the slaughter, I shook my head and rode wide around the grisly remains. After that it was every couple of leagues that I would find more.
That night I stopped early under a large overhang. I gathered wood after putting the horses in the very back. I had just started the fire when a small group of men appeared on the trail. It looked like they had been having a hard time and a few saddles were empty. They hesitated before coming closer. A thickly bearded man was in the lead and he nodded, “Mind sharing the fire?”
I shook my head, “No.”
They led their horses in and began unsaddling while I finished making a stew with some of the smoked meat. There were six of them and they told a tale of wolves hunting them and ambushing them. They went out in pairs and brought in more wood for the fire, I let them rest while watching.
When the grey wolf appeared to lay on the other side of the fire one man started to reach for his bow. I held a hand up and tossed a softened chunk of smoked meat, “Ignore this one.”
I was working on another skin and the man slowly set the bow aside. He watched for awhile as the others sat down and ate a cold meal. I worked on three skins before relaxing into my half sleep. I woke fully a few hours before the sun came up. The grey wolf stood and turned to walk into the night. I glanced at the man tossing a few sticks on to the fire, “Get your sword out.”
I didn’t hear them until they drifted out of the night. They were six very large wolves that were not normal. I surged to my feet as I pulled both swords, “I have warned you enough times. Leave or I will kill you.”
The pony sized wolves were in a semi circle facing the fire. They snarled and one stepped closer, I didn’t hesitate and walked towards them. One lunged and I shifted sideways as I slashed through its throat. I stabbed into another’s neck hitting the spine as it leaped over its dying pack mate. The other three started to circle me but I just walked into one breaking the circle.
There was a yelp from one of the wolves as I cut at another. A glance showed an arrow sticking out behind the shoulder of one of the wolves as it turned to snarl at the men standing with drawn bows. I stepped and lunged to stab a wolf behind the ear as it turned away from me and started for the men in camp.
I spun back to the wolf I had been attacking and jerked aside. I stabbed up into its chest as it leaped through the place I had just stood. As it fell to the ground I looked around to see all six wolves dead or dying.
I looked around and then absently started cleaning my swords as the men went to calm their horses. I knelt at each wolf and skinned it before dragging the carcass away. The other wolves stayed away as I worked. I rolled the skins and packed them away before toasting bread and cheese to break my fast.
As dawn’s light woke the forest around us I saddled the horses and swung up, I nodded to the men before riding out. That day I rode through the pass with the grey wolf trotting along beside me. I saw a few other wolves but they stayed back from the trail. I also saw the remains of many men and animals.
I actually stopped a few times to check torn packs. Just before it got dark several wolves started closing in but I found a log travelers way station. Way stations were nothing more then log enclosures with a covered area to get out of the weather. I unsaddled the horses and headed out for wood.
Dark was creeping in when I returned to the entrance and two wolves growled as they slowly moved away. I left the entrance open and made the fire right there. I made a stew with smoked meat and several plants I had found during the day. I pulled all the skins out and started working on them and several wolves growled from the darkness.
I only glanced across the fire once as I worked and it was when the grey wolf came out of the darkness to lay down across the fire from me. I fished a large chunk of meat out of the stew pot and tossed it before going back to work. After that the other wolves seemed to quiet or leave. I actually finished all the skins before relaxing that night.
I started down the other side of the pass early the next morning. The stallion seemed calmer and moved with a relaxed attitude. His head was up and his ears flicked at distant sounds. I didn’t see any sign of wolves other then the grey one that trotted along beside us. When its ears came up and it turned into the brush I was alert and ready.
The man that stepped out of the bush in front of me wore a long fur coat. I could hear wolves inside the forest on both sides of me as the horses became alert and bunched up. He looked at me calmly, “So you’re the one that as been upsetting my plans.”
I continued to look at him and he frowned, “My beasts…”
I held up a hand before letting it drop back to my belt, “Move out of my way.”
His face reddened in anger, “You dare!”
He stepped towards me and started to gesture and my hand pulled the spike and threw in one smooth motion. His head snapped back and something that looked like a black cloud enveloped him and started consuming him. I waited as the wolves around me howled and then started moving away.
The horses began to calm down as I started moving forward around the shriveled up corpse of the mage. I glanced back to see the grey wolf in the middle of the trail and nodded before turning in the saddle and the trail ahead.
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