Skanodonwah: Chapter 2
Approaching carefully, Skanodonwah sneaks towards the clearing. He doesn’t smell humans, which he had expected to have detected where there was a fire. Instead his senses alerted him to a different scent. It was an animal for sure, but maybe it wasn’t quite as wild as the others he had met. Maybe it was a friend of the humans? He stalked around the underbrush quietly, curious but also nervous.
A shadowy figure laying by the fire catches his attention. A large black lump of fur curled up by the fire pit is murring softly as it breathes, barely audible above the crackling fire. He sits and watches for a while, as the fire dies down. His eyes barely visible through the dense underbrush on the edge of the clearing as he watches from between a few broad leaves. The creature is obviously sleeping, but what type of creature is this, he wonders.
Eventually the creature stirs, and rises to its feet. Large black feline body, large padded paws, and a thick tail. Skanodonwah also noticed that this creature is wearing black leather bracelets around each of its ankles, and a leather collar with metal studs. The fire, mostly just coals, is just smoking enough to mask the cats scent from Skanodonwah.
The large cat sniffs at the air, and looks around carefully. Skanodonwah, suddenly aware that he has been sitting there for a while, becomes nervous but stays put. Prowling around the clearing, the cat begins to sniff towards the underbrush. Approaching his spot the cat pauses for a minute and sniffs towards the area where Skanodonwah lay hidden. continuing on, it seems like the cat has lost interest, lazily sniffing around the rest of the clearing, before slipping away on the far side of the clearing into the brush.
Relieved, Skanodonwah comes out of hiding, and creeps into the clearing to sniff the area where the cat had been sleeping. Interestingly the scent was the same bitter-sweet scent he had encountered the night before. Looking around, he ponders how safe it is to stay here very long. He walks over to a rock and sniffs it. Strong with the cats scent, he decides to test his luck. Lifting his hind leg he sprays it with his own scent, then heads towards the edge of the clearing.
Pausing and turning, he senses he is being watched. Sure enough, across the clearing, the cat is prowling out of the underbrush hissing at Skanodonwah. Tucking his tail, he lowers his stance, growling. He watches as the cat prowls over to the rock He just marked, and sniffs it. The cat looks up at him and hisses again.
"What gives you the right to claim territory within my territory little wolf?"
"That wasn't my intent... I am just looking for friends, I am alone." Skanodonwah replies.
"Likely story" the cat replies.
The cat prowls around Skanodonwah's right flank, as he begins to prowl around the cats side. Circling they seem to be at a standoff, sizing each other up.
Skanodonwah trips on a root in the ground, and stumbles just enough to distract him for a second. The cat strikes, pouncing towards the wolf with all its strength. Skanodonwah is unable to move, and is struck by the force of the pounce, knocking him down on his side. Growling he snarls and snaps at the cat, but the cat is quick and dodges. The cat pins him down with ease. He looks down at one of the cats large paws, near his head. The leather bracelet shiny and polished.
The cat sniffs Skanodonwah. "You are a young one, aren't ya?"
He nods, shakily "29 moon cycles".
"Ha!" The cat replies "Just a pup. So where is your pack, young one?"
"I told you I was alone. I have no pack."
"Oh no! A lone wolf. What shall I do?" the cat says sarcastically.
"How about you? I have never seen a cat so large? What are you?" Skanodonwah asks.
"Really? You dare ask me that, when I have you pinned?" The cat says, pushing him harder into the ground. "I ask the questions around here, got it?"
Skanodonwah grunts at the extra force, and growls as he looks up at the cat.
"Oh, a tough one eh?" The cat says, before lowering her head to bite him hard on his shoulder.
Wincing at the pain, Skanodonwah yelps, and kicks his hind legs, knocking the cat a little off balance, but not enough to free himself.
"Nope, you don't seem too tough to me, little wolf. You have to try harder." As she bites him again, not breaking skin, but pinching his shoulder quite hard.
Skanodonwah lunges at the cats head and bites the side of her neck. Applying a great deal of force the cat loosens its grip on his shoulder. He eases off his grip on the cat letting her go, and growls harshly.
"That is what I am talking about..." The cat replies, coughing for air as she lifts one of her paws to rub her neck. Grinning down at him, she continues, "... that was great little wolf! Maybe there is some hope for you yet!"
Curious at this response, Skanodonwah gives the cat a curious look. "I thought you'd be a little more upset about that."
Grinning the cat replies "I bet you did!" Purring a little, "But I liked it, shows you got what it takes to make it around here."
The cat steps off of him and lets him get up on his feet. "Oh, and I am a Panther."
Skanodonwah gets to his feet, his fur all messy as he begins to groom it back into shape. "Ah, I have heard rumors of Panthers." Skanodonwah mumbles.
"I hope their all good," The Panther replies, "...Or bad. Either way really. So what is your name little wolf?"
"Interesting. Mine is Luna" The panther says, circling around Skanodonwah, and flicking her tail in his face.
Skanodonwah sniffs at the tail as it passes his nose, and then looks over at her, who looks away, pretending to be distracted by something in the underbrush.
"Well, I must be off. I'll see ya around" She says.
"Uh… See ya?" Skanodonwah replies, raising an eyebrow curiously, as the panther trots off into the woods.
Wandering towards the fire, Skanodonwah examines it, and then blows on the coals to relight them. The smoke curling up from the fire pit slightly, but it for sure isn't a raging fire. He wonders who lit it? Did Luna? How did a cat light a fire? He looks around the small clearing. The grass was low here, seemingly grazed or even cut by humans? Deer perhaps? So many scents in this little clearing. The fire masked a lot of them, but as he explores it he begins to figure out that this is a sort of cross roads for the local animal population. He did also detect humans - perhaps here the night before. But they were not well manicured humans like he expects. They stunk like animals.
He studied Luna's scent some more. Something was oddly interesting about her. He wasn't sure she was an enemy. But how much of a friend could she be? He pondered the thought of joining forces with her and hunting together. The odd arrangement of panther and wolf would be unheard of. But seeming as Luna was somewhat approachable and strong, it seemed like a tempting idea to Skanodonwah. After all, he had no one else to hunt with yet. And her playfulness, if that is what it was during their encounter, aroused some curiosity in Skanodonwah.
But Skanodonwah shook his head, telling himself that that was a silly thought. He needed to find a wolf mate to start a pack. There was no future in forging a relationship with a cat. He shrugged and began to follow a game trail that led from the clearing, with the freshest scent of deer he could detect. However, before traveling far down the trail, he stops to mark his scent on it. Glancing around as he does, knowing he is now openly and boldly marking his presence. He thought about Luna’s reaction to his marking earlier and shrugged. It could of gone worse, he told himself.
The trail took him on a path along the lake. Hopping over downed bleached trees, and around reeds and marshes, it eventually climbed back up a little bit and followed glacier polished rocky outcropping. He was stopping to sniff at the scent of the deer as he traveled, and it wasn’t too stale. Some droppings he examined were still moist.
Eventually he slowed his pace, and began to prowl slowly. He could smell them in the air! The wind was luckily blowing their scent towards him, and thus it was also masking his own scent. He sneakily began to stalk up along the trail. Approaching another clearing, he slowed. He could hear them munching on grass. He waited for a moment and studied the sounds, listening intently before creeping forward more, but staying hidden.
He detected one deer which seemed to have a breathing issue. He could hear it slightly pant as it ate. He sniffed the air again trying to determine just how many deer there were. He was thinking three. But he wasn’t sure. He crept forward again, staying as much in the shadows as possible, but attempting to position himself to spot the deer and begin planning his attack.
There were indeed three deer. One older female and 2 others – one a grown young buck, and the other a yearling female. Likely it’s offspring. The older female was closest to him browsing on the wild flowers that were growing in a patch in the clearing. There appeared to be a trail on the far side, and another trail exiting towards the lake just to the right of him. The rest of the clearing was surrounded by thick underbrush.
He calculated that if he darted in at speed and attempted to cut off the path to the far trail, maybe the deer would be forced to retreat towards the lake. He was already familiar with one of the trails along the lake. His logic seemed to make sense, and just like that he darted in.
With a flash all four animals were in motion. Skanodonwah was able to cut off the older female deer from escaping through the farther path – but the younger female did escape down that path. The male and the older female were cut off. The younger male was more agile and was able to recover and change his direction easier, darting back down the trail that Skanodonwah had snuck in on. But the older deer was not able to change it’s direction quite as quickly, and it’s easiest route was down the other trail along the Lake.
Kicking up dirt and moss and twigs as it ran, the deer navigated the trail well. Skanodonwah was unfamiliar with the trail, but was able to keep up. And he knew that was all he needed to do. The deer was only a hundred or so paces in front of Skanodonwah and now it was just a matter of time before the older deer ran out of stamina. Skanodonwah on the other hand was casually running behind the deer, and seemingly wasn’t pushing himself to exhaustion.
They crossed a creek bed, and the deer ran up it, following the shallow water, but this proved to be a bad idea, as the deer’s hooves began to slip on the slimy algee covered surface of some of the rocks in the creek bed. This allowed Skanodonwah to gain some easy ground, but he also slowed as he carefully judged his steps in the stream.
The deer attempts to jump up an enbankment, but slips and fails, stumbling. Skanodonwah then pounced, attempting to bite the snout of the deer and wrestle it down onto it’s side in the water. The struggle was intense, and water was splashing everywhere, as Skanodonwah growled and danced around the paniced deer, biting at whatever flesh he could while avoiding kicks and headbutts. Eventually he was able to latch his jaws onto the deer’s snout and force it to the ground, his powerful jaw crushing the snout.
After a moment, Skanodonwah relaxed and released his grip. His prey was lifeless. He attempted to drag the deer off to the bank of the stream as much as possible, before he digs in and begins to dine on the vitamin rich organs in the deer’s chest cavity. Finally, a healthy meal, he thinks, relieved. And he did it himself! He was feeling quite proud and accomplished.
Having had his fill for now, he made his way out of the stream and up to dry land, where Skanodonwah laid down to groom and clean himself, while he digested his food. The forest was quiet. The struggle had spooked off all the smaller critters. It was mid afternoon and he decided a little nap would not be a horrible idea. But he got up and moved a fair distance away from the kill, finding a flowery bush to hide under while he rested. Today was a good day, he thought to himself.