Chapter 2: By The Campfire
Approaching carefully, Roady sneaks towards the clearing. A shadowy figure laying by the fire catches Roady's 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. Roady sits and watches for a while, as the fire dies down. Roady's 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, Roady wonders. Eventually the creature stirs, and rises to its feet. Large black feline body, large padded paws, and a thick tail. Roady 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 Roady. The large cat sniffs at the air, and looks around carefully. Roady, 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 Roady's spot the cat pauses for a minute and sniffs towards the area where Roady 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, Roady 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, Roady decided it was best to leave, although the warmth of the campfire was inviting. Roady walks over to a rock and sniffs it. Strong with the cats scent, Roady 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, Roady senses he is being watched. Sure enough, across the clearing, the cat is prowling out of the underbrush hissing at Roady. 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 Roady 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." Roady replies. "Likely story" the cat replies. The cat prowls around Roady's right flank, as Roady begins to prowl around the cats Left side. Circling they seem to be at a standoff, sizing each other up. The sun lowering, making the clearing dark enough that the small campfire casts some flickering shadows of the two animals on the trees. Roady 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. Roady isn't able to move, and is struck by the force of the pounce, knocking him down on his side. Growling Roady snarls and snaps at the cat, but the cat is quick and dodges. The cat pins Roady down with ease. Roady looks down at one of the cats large paws, near his head. The leather bracelet shiny and reflecting the flickering fire in its polish. The cat sniffs Roady. "You are a young one, aren't ya?" Roady 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?" Roady 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?" Roady 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 Roady hard on his shoulder. Wincing at the pain, Roady 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. Roady lunges at the cats head and bites the side of her neck. Applying a great deal of force the cat loosens its grip on Roadys shoulder. Roady 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, Roady 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 Roady and lets him get up on his feet. "Oh, and I am a Panther." Roady gets to his feet, his fur all messy as he begins to groom it back into shape. "Ah, I have heard rumors of Panthers." Roady mumbles. "I hope their all good," The Panther replies, "...Or bad. Either way really. So what is your name little wolf?" "Roady." "Interesting. Mine is Angelina, Angel for short" The panther says, circling around Roady, and flicking her tail in his face. Roady sniffs at the tail as it passes his nose, and then looks over at Angel, who looks away, pretending to be distracted by something in the underbrush. "Well, I must be off. I'll see ya around" Angel says. "See ya" Roady replies, raising an eyebrow curiously, as the Panther trots off into the woods. Wandering towards the fire, Roady blows on the coals to relight them. Curling up, he lays down to rest. Roady contemplates stalking the Panther, but decides to stay put for the night. He isn't used to all this distrust. Even his old wolf pack was better then this. But then, that was family. The night is fairly bright, as the full moon rises through the clouds. The fire flicks its last few tongues of flame out from the coals, and Roady closes his eyes and drifts to sleep. It seems like only seconds later, that Roady is awoken abruptly by the sound of a howl. In the distance, an erie howl rings out, echoing across the valley from the North. Roady's ears perk up as he pays attention to the howl. Soon, more wolves join in. Roady can hear 7 distinct wolves all together. He wonders if he should chime in, but how would they react to him? he asks himself.