The moons were thin crescents of light in the sky that illuminated the forest with a pale silver glow. Snowfall sniffed the air as her eyes scanned the trail before them. At her side, Slychase waited somewhat less than patiently.
**Heart pumping…ground passing beneath our paws…quick prey…quicker wolves…**
The wolf sent less in words and more in impressions. From her bond, Snowfall felt the thrill of the chase and the call to run down their prey. For a long moment ,she let herself be lost in the sensation of riding down a large buck, of feeling its life end under her fangs and tasting the good, blood-red meat. Then, finally, to sleep with a full belly in a happy pile with her pack mates. It was only with some reluctance that she called herself back from the images her wolf sent in his longing and replied.
**Not this time. We hunt alone tonight, so will use stealth instead.**
Slychase, in the wolf equivalent of a grumble, padded about beside her restlessly. Snowfall couldn’t help but have some sympathy for him. He loved the chase; loved it so much that he chased not only their prey but even sometimes the spears they used to try and bring it down with. Too often of late he had had to hold back from his natural tendencies.
It couldn’t be helped though. Kestrel was with the word-hunters and True Edge was helping to fill in for her regular scouting duties. Someone had to be in the Holt for Fadestar’s sake and she meant to do just that. Her mothering instinct was stronger than the call of the hunt but she still missed it.
The first chance she got she would have to go with the hunters on an extended trip before poor Slychase lost his mind entirely.
For tonight, though, she had ventured out beyond the Cattail Marsh to the edge of Goose Pond in search of some meat and some sport. Giving mental direction to Slychase, she shifted her stance and began to sneak along the tree line towards her quarry. They had spotted a nice buck drinking from the pond. The wind was with them, for the moment anyway, and he had not sensed his danger. This one would supply enough meat to feed her family and tribe for a few days as well as a good hide for their sleeping furs. All she had to do now was bring him down.
Ever so slowly, she worked with the wind and available cover to get into position. A mental touch from the petulant Slychase informed her that he too was in position, albeit begrudgingly. Once they were both ready she sent the signal to begin. Now, though he still would have preferred to run their prey down with the pack, at his side, her wolf-bond obliged her wish and sprang from hiding some distance from the deer. He ran toward it at a full tilt, making certain that the deer could see his death approaching. As Snowfall anticipated, it turned to flee along the little stream that fed into the pond. When it did, she struck.
Coming out of her own hiding place, she took her aim and let fly with the spear. It struck true, biting deep into the fleeing animal's side and lodging itself in its belly. With a start, and not yet knowing how badly it was hurt, the deer turned away from this new threat – but Snowfall had chosen her spot well. The deer couldn’t flee into the pond itself and the stream was too wide and deep to be an inviting avenue of escape. With a wolf on its heels and the snow-haired huntress to his side he turned instead towards the elevated slope that lead toward the deeper woods.
She had realized that if her initial attack didn’t kill it immediately, then they would have to give chase. With the prey herded in the direction she wished, the direction that would tire it out and make it bleed out that much more quickly, she was making the pursuit mercifully short for them all. The buck pressed on, heedless of anything save the threat now bearing down on him. As Slychase ran by, Snowfall matched his pace and then, with a deft jump, got onto her wolf’s back to continue the hunt.
**Chase now,** Slychase sent to her, pleased to finally give in to his desire.
**Yes… tire it out and then we feed.**
Both wolf and elf were now lost in the ancient dance of the hunter and the hunted. It was a brief dance, though, as the deer was losing a lot of blood and his strength was fading quickly. The spear in his side was caught in the ribs apparently and refused to be knocked out as he passed by the close-set forest trees. Instead it only served to cause more damage as the stone blade cut more deeply into his guts. Soon he lost the strength to run and, blinded by fear and fatigue, crashed headlong into a small gully.
Slychase and Snowfall came upon him seconds later as he lay breathing his last. The buck tried one last time to rise from the ground, but only had the strength for a feeble snort as he turned to face his hunters. With that, his head settled onto the ground and he waited for the end to come. Snowfall approached him cautiously, stone knife drawn, and seeing that he didn’t have the strength to kick or run anymore, finished him with a quick swipe across the throat. That done, she gave in to her more primal urges and howled her victory for all to hear. Slychase gladly joined her in the howl, knowing that soon he would get to eat. All was as it should be to his mind. The hunters were victorious and all was right with the world.
Not long afterwards, after she had spilled the buck's guts onto the ground to make it easier to carry, and after allowing Slychase to pick at the choice bits, she opened her mind and sent back to the Holt. She was a strong enough sender to reach that far easily and didn’t want to have to carry this all herself.
**I have meat by the Goose Pond. Come help me carry it while it’s still warm.”
Now she would eat her fill and wait to see who would make it here first.