Forest Wolf

A wolf lay on the earth, staring restless at the sky. The moon was covered with the sky-fog, and the pack was distant. Restless, the wolf licked its lips and began to pace back and forth, growling and whining at the sky, but that moon would not show, and he felt lost. His stomach clawed. He had not eaten for days, save a rabbit, which was not enough.

Slowly and quietly, he padded low through the brush, his hackles raised as he smelled ill humors on the air. The moon was hidden from him, but he knew this forest. He was stalking to the nearby spring. His mouth was dry with thirst, and he hoped to see deer, even at the hour. If there was a sickly elder, he could perhaps surprise it.

The forest wolf smelled the sweet smell of the trees near the water and slowed as he grew closer, stepping so low and quiet, not even a hawk would see him move. He smelled prey, and he licked his lips. He slowly stalked the small herd by the water, none old or sick, but there was a fawn, and it was wandering by the spring.

As the wolf stood at the edge of the brush he stopped and waited. He was just feet away from the fawn; he was about to pounce. The wind changed. The doe stamped her feet, and the small herd, fawn and all, bolted. The wolf leapt and ran, but he had lost the moment and the nimble deer were soon gone deep in the forest. He whined as he approached the water, drinking long, and then he lay down on the ferns. He looked up as the water began to shine and saw the sky-fog drift. The crescent moon revealed itself.

Quickly rose the wolf, and he howled loud and long so it echoed through the valley, but there was no response except the anxious twittering of the birds. He was lost and hungry and alone. He missed his pack and his mate. For all the scents the wind carried, none were their presence.

A fitful sleep of men with their ear-breaking sticks and lost prey and a moonless sky came across the forest wolf. When he awoke, the sun was creeping over the valley, painting the grey-blue over the trees, but it was not the morning that woke him. It was a smell: the smell of his mate.

The forest wolf bolted to his feet, sniffing at the wind that carried his mate’s scent. With it was something unfamiliar. Finally, as he stood still by the spring, his mate emerged like a spirit from the forest She had a groundhog in her teeth. She dropped it at his feet, and they feasted together. After, they licked each other’s snouts. They were smelling the stories of the other while they greeted, and the forest wolf knew what the unfamiliar smell was. She had run with another pack, and she smelled of far away. She padded a few steps towards the forest, away from the rising sun. He whined, but she barked.

The forest wolf had run with other packs but had grown used to his own, the way they hunted and worked was hard but familiar, and he was a great hunter among them. His mate had found a new pack. She seemed calmer, more at ease. She smelled the air and her tail wagged, and the forest wolf’s tail did not. He licked his lips and shook the feeling from himself, and his mate urged him onwards. He had been found, but now he had to find a new forest. He had to learn to hunt in a new pack, but better that than be lost. He was a great hunter. He could stalk the new forest with his mate in time.

As the mates walked through the forest, the forest wolf looked up, and he saw the moon dipping behind a mountain as the blues and yellows of the sun emerged to bring alight the new place.

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