It was a good day to lay in the sun. There was a gentle breeze blowing and the air had just a hint of the coming winter's bite to it. For now it was still warm while the sun was shining but come the darkest part of the night a thin layer of frost would form. Everything was just as it should be in Branch's estimation.
She didn't think these things in words as an elf might. Elf thought could sometimes leave the wolves of the pack confused, even if the mind touch was from their one special elf. No, she thought instead in memories of images, scents and emotional impressions. It was simpler that way with less to distract them and of course more time to enjoy the sun when it was shining.
Some commotion from the rest of the pack had disturbed her slumber and she glanced down from her perch, a wide branch in a tree above, to see what the problem was. As it turned out it was only a small scuffle as one of the more dominant wolves pushed a weaker pack mate out of a nice sunny spot to lay in. Nothing important then, just a moment of growling and whining till it was sorted. The one thought she did entertain was a certain smugness of sorts that she never had to share her chosen resting spots in the trees.
Now awake though she became aware of an emptiness in her belly. Thoughts of hunting and good red meat filtered into her awareness. Fortunately this was a problem she knew how to rectify. Hopping down to a lower branch and then still lower to the ground above she made her way through the once again dozing pack and set off. Fortunately she did not have to go a long distance.
Her Elf was often sitting under a tree he favored during the day banging rocks together. Why he did this she didn't know but somehow, by banging these rocks, he made smaller rocks that would cut like claws. This was curious to her but only one example of the strangeness of the elves who lived with the pack. At least hers was more wolf like than most.
Sure enough he was there, sitting under his tree, a pile of small rocks close at hand. Branch made her way to his side and, without further comment lay herself across his lap. Opening her mind to his she shared with her Elf the desire to eat....to run....to taste the blood of the prey. It was a good thing hers was so wolf like. He bared his teeth in the odd way that elves do sometimes, the way they do from happiness instead of the growl that usually comes from a wolf doing this. He understood!
It didn't take any more convincing on her part. The Elf, her bond mate, gathered his rocks and wrapped them in an old deer hide which was then laid to the side. Branch cared not a bit about the rocks. There were rocks everywhere after all. What she did care about was when he gathered up his hunting weapons and set off on a trot towards where the pack was napping.
She did spare a momentary thought of pity for the elves. They needed tools to hunt unlike the wolves. While she had been born with strong teeth to tear the flesh from prey the elves were not quite so lucky. They could do a lot with their bows and spears of course, though she didn't know them by that name. It just seemed needlessly complicated to her.
He paused at the edge of the pack and, though the mind touch was not directed at her, Branch could still feel the power of it. Her Elf often took some of the un-bonded wolves when he hunted. It was a good idea she supposed. More mouths to feed of course but they could bring down bigger prey with a few working together. She would just have to remind the others of their place. It was her Elf's hunt and as his wolf she would let them know she was above them......at least for this brief time.
After a moment Murkfur and Pounce came out to join them. Branch gave the wolf equivalent of a shrug and then took a minute to greet the two new wolves. Neither of them seemed to question either her dominance or that of her Elf so all was good. They set off within minutes on a casual jog towards the lake.
Badger's Lake, again a term she didn't know in words, was a favored feeding area for the deer who inhabited the area. The plants they fed on grew in great abundance on the shores of the lake and there was plenty of water for all. True, a lot of them died there but it was all part of the Way. There were lots and lots of deer. To find enough food, especially with winter coming, they had to become more daring. The strong and the lucky still prospered. The weak or the unlucky wound up as food for the wolves and the elves or other predators. This too was the Way.
As it turned out they didn't need to go all the way to the lake. They jogged on in silence, running at a fair clip, with her Elf keeping pace with his long strides by her side. Soon after nightfall a shift in the wind brought a familiar scent to them all. There was a deer nearby....a male by the scent of him and old enough to provide a good meal for three wolves and her Elf.
The three wolves all turned to her Elf who had paused, testing the air with his nose and seeming to study the wind. They were all well acquainted with this area and the lay of the land. His mind touched theirs and he explained to them, mostly in images, what was to be done. Pounce and Murkfur trotted away then, moving to circle around and chase the stag from the top of a little rise of land nearby. Branch followed her Elf then as they chose a spot to ambush the prey.
Soon they caught sight of the beast. He was a fine figure of a stag to be sure and was certain to be fast and strong by the look of him. There was also a fierce looking rack of antlers upon his head, surely sharp and powerful enough to maim anyone who got too close to him. This would be a worthy hunt!
A commotion could then be heard as Murkfur and Pounce charged towards the beast. Looking up in alarm the stag did what deer do; he turned to bolt away from the threat. When he did he only got a couple of dozen strides away before nearly running into Branch and her Elf. Hers had been prepared for this and let fly two of the deadly arrows that the elves use. Wounded but not dead the stag turned and fled in yet another direction.
Had she thought in such a way Branch would have marveled at how far a wounded deer could still run before blood loss and exhaustion took their toll. The Elf and the wolves took off in hot pursuit when it fled, easily following the scent of fear and blood it left in it's wake. Over a small embankment they went, then across a meadow. Finally they came upon the stag, half dead by this point, laying on his side and kicking hard in an effort to regain his feet or hit his hunters if they got too close.
The four of them stopped and watched for a moment at this point. Sometimes the prey could come up with on last rush of energy if the hunters were too anxious. Wolves and elves alike had been badly hurt by a kick or goring with the antlers if they didn't give the prey enough time to be fully weakened. When finally it seemed he had no strength with which to fight her Elf stepped forth and, with one of his little rocks slit the stag's throat, ending his struggles and putting him out of his misery.
Then they howled, both to honor their prey and to celebrate their victory. As leader of the hunt her Elf continued with his rock and opened up the belly of the beast, exposing the nutritious internal organs for the wolves. He himself cut off long strips of the still hot and bloody fore quarter and settled in at the base of a tree to eat.
The ways of the elves where odd she thought but still Branch was glad that they lived with the pack. She couldn't understand they way they did things but at least the instinct to hunt and eat fresh game was there. There was just enough wolf in them to be tolerable and hers seemed to be the pick of the litter from that perspective. With that happy thought in mind she settled in to eat her fill. Life was good.