Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Chapter 14-2

Almonihah walked north, deep in thought. When he’d discussed going on a Vision Quest with Owl Talon, he’d asked where he would go on it. The old shaman had answered only that he would know. The odd thing was, somehow, he did. He didn’t know where exactly he was going or what he would find, but the half-dragon was certain that for now, he was supposed to head north.

Just living was harder as he traveled. Zithrandrak wasn’t exactly a good hunting weapon, and there weren’t a lot of plants on the plains that had edible parts. However, Zrathanzon had taught him some techniques for situations in which he’d lost his equipment, and if though they were difficult and slow compared to bow-hunting, they still worked well enough.

Almonihah was just looking for a spot to lay down for the night several days after leaving the Griffon Tribe when he saw a big, gray wolf looking at him. He paused for a moment, trying to decide if she was a threat, and decided she was not. He was about to turn away when he realized that she was still looking at him. There seemed to be an almost expectant air about the wolf, as if she was waiting for something.

He met her eyes. They held each other’s gaze for a few moments, then the big wolf turned towards the north. Then she looked back over her shoulder at Almonihah, as if to see if he was following. He stood for a moment, then started after her. Once she was satisfied that the half-dragon was, indeed, following, she started walking north, towards the nearby forest. After a minute or two, her walk turned into a trot, and then a run, and Almonihah found himself pushing himself as hard as he could to keep up.

She didn’t slow when she reached the forest.

He lost sight of the wolf not long after entering the forest. Almonihah kept going the way she’d been heading, hoping he could catch up again, but there was no way he could plunge between trees and under fallen logs the way she had. His pace was just starting to flag when he felt something bump his back. He turned just in time to see the wolf shoot past him, flicking him with her tail as she passed. Almonihah grumbled under his breath as he chased after.

The half-dragon wasn’t sure how long he followed the wolf, sometimes losing sight of her, sometimes catching sight of her looking back at him with an expression that he was sure meant she was laughing at him. Finally, she darted through some thick undergrowth. Almonihah growled mentally, since he was too out of breath to do so out loud, and broke through it.

He came out into a large clearing to find himself ringed by wolves. The one he’d been chasing was standing next to an even larger male, looking at the half-dragon with that same amused expression. The wolves surrounding him seemed… expectant, somehow, as if they’d known somehow he was coming and were now waiting to see what would happen.

The big male, however, wasn’t waiting for anything. He stepped forward, growling low in his throat, as he sized up this creature that had entered his territory. Defiantly, Almonihah growled back, crouching down a bit, poised to move in any direction. Slowly, the wolf circled him, and he started circling as well. As he did, the half-dragon’s mind worked furiously, trying to figure out what he was supposed to be doing here. It was clear the female had led him here, and that was not an ordinary thing for a wolf to do.

He thought back on the tales of Vision Quests Owl Talon had told him. Most involved animals behaving in unusual ways… often, the quester would speak with the animals, and the animals would speak back. Somehow Almonihah knew instinctively that this was not the case here. What was he…

The wolf leaped forward, jaws snapping. Almonihah sidestepped, but didn’t strike back. While the tales sometimes involved fighting beasts, they were always animals or monsters that were tainted or evil somehow, and while this wolf had just tried to bite him, that didn’t make him evil. Instead, it seemed he had more just been testing Almonihah, as he returned now to his slow circling.

So what was he supposed to do? He’d obviously been led here, first by just a feeling, and then by that female… hmmm… what was the purpose of what was going on now? It was kind of like… the big male wanted to establish… dominance over him? Almonihah knew something of wolves, and he had a vague idea that the lead wolf did that to other wolves in his pack. So was this whole thing to establish Almonihah’s place in the pack?

“Hey,” Almonihah growled at the wolf still circling him, “I’ll travel with you, hunt with you… but I’m not one of you. You will not command me. Got it?”

The big wolf seemed unimpressed, instead lunging again at the half-dragon. Again, Almonihah dodged the attack, but did not strike back. This time the wolf tried again, and then once more, to bite him, but the half-dragon was too quick, and his teeth snapped on empty air.

And then, suddenly, the wolf relaxed and quit growling. This time, he approached Almonihah slowly, his eyes watchful, but with no intent to harm. Slowly Almonihah relaxed as well, allowing the lead male to near him. He neared the half-dragon, and then sniffed him, taking in the creature’s odd scent, the dry smell of a lizard, with a faint trace of ozone, and a hint of man. Suddenly it seemed that the whole pack joined in, and Almonihah found himself surrounded and jostled by a number of eager wolves and their noses. He supposed this meant he’d been accepted, and the pack was getting to know the smell of its newest not-quite-member.

Well, all except one. As he was twisting and turning, trying to keep his feet as some of the more enthusiastic wolves pushed their way around him, Almonihah noted the big female still standing apart from the bustle, watching him.

She still looked like she was laughing at him.

******

So, perfectly ordinary wolf pack, right? Okay, not really. Exactly what was going on with these wolves, I’m not sure. I have my suspicions, but… *Shrugs*

In other news… I’m going to try to update regularly from now on. Once a week on Saturday, to be exact. But, I’m more likely to hold myself to that if someone else lets me know they’re holding me to it. So if I miss a week, bug me about it!

One other thing. I think I’ve forgotten to mention that Almonihah does still have that symbol of Naishia with him.

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