Chapter 3: The Golden Feather
Unable to resist the temptation Roady stands up, stretches, and howls up at the moon. As he finishes, he awaits a reply. Silence falls for a moment. Then a single howl rings out from towards the hills to the North. He howls back in response, and listens. Nothing. Curiously intrigued, Roady feels completely renewed with hope and energy. He darts off quickly to the North, following a well traveled game trail. Roady wonders if this is the Scajaquada pack. Will they welcome him? Maybe the rumors of them are false? Hopefully the rumors of them are false! Roady enters into a small glen in the forest. The game trail widens to a lush grassy patch. Steam rises from a small pond. A big weeping willow hangs over the water, its branches drooping almost as low as the ground. The grass seems lush and smells fresh. Roady discovers a shallow, almost beach like, entrance to the pond. Standing on the wet sand, Roady feels its warmth on his paws. Looking around the pond in the pale moonlight, he notices that the rest of the pond appears to be bordered by a rocky wall for a shore. Bare earth often hanging over the edge with grass and small plants clinging to the edge as if they were afraid of the water. The churning water flows down a small creek away from the pond, towards the lake. Enjoying his surroundings, Roady marks a small tree nearby, and continues on his primary mission. Determined to return here at a later time. The game trail begins to follow the edge of some small cliffs along the side of the lake. Roady stops to notice a small rocky ledge peaking out from the cliff over the water. A cool wind blows some mist up from the waves crashing below, as Roady steps out onto the ledge. Shivering, Roady shakes the cool air off, and regains his posture. Looking up at the moon, he howls again. A long lonely howl "AwooooooooooWoooWooOooo" bellows through the cool night air. Steam rising from Roadys mouth and nostrils. Roady stands there, his ears perked, awaiting any reply. A little while passes, and Roady sadly lowers his head. He begins to slink back to the game trail, but his ears perk up again as he hears something in the distance. Some rough barking and yipping, along with short yelps. Standing at attention again Roady tries to determine where the sounds are coming from. He figures that most of them seem to be coming from the North West, and begins to head that way quickly. Following various game trails, he begins to pick up scents of other wolves. He thinks he must be entering the Scajaquada's territory. Suddenly, he realizes, maybe he is being hunted. What if the other wolf pack is being silent because they do not want any other wolves in the area? Roady decides to play it safe and ducks into the underbrush. Prowling quietly, he scans the area. Shadows play tricks on him as he moves slowly, but he hears nothing to indicate a pack of wolves. The yelping from earlier fell silent long ago. The scent trails he is picking up become slightly stronger. Carefully reading the scents Roady can distinguish 4 wolves, and one other creature he is unsure of. The scent of this other creature becomes stronger the further North West he travels. Roady steps on a twig which snaps, and nearby the underbrush shakes as an animal darts away quickly. The scent is strong from this other creature, and Roady decides to follow carefully in order to figure out what it is. Maybe the wolves were hunting this creature earlier? Maybe that was what he was hearing. Obviously they wont howl when they are stalking prey. Roady ponders this as he prowls through the underbrush, stopping short of a small meadow. Peaking through some bushes Roady observes a small flash of orange fur dart across the tall grass, and disappear. Deciding that he would be too exposed out in the meadow, Roady turns back and travels further into the brush, giving up on the chase of the unknown creature for now. Carefully making his way back towards the glen he had found earlier, Roady is still deep within the Scajaquada pack's territory. Having lost his bearing somewhat, he is relying on his relation to the lake to guide him back. But traveling in the rough, avoiding game trails, is not very easy. Roady struggles his way up a hill full of thorny vines. Only to find out that the top of the hill is the edge of a long rocky ravine. Sniffing the rock at the edge of the ravine, he can tell that this ravine is part of the wolf packs normal route. Hearing some leaves rustling across the ravine, Roady turns to look. A lone female wolf, appears from the brush, and instantly notices Roady. Stunned, Roady double takes the sight of the other wolf, blinking. The other wolf, dark gray with some silver highlights, appears to be as stunned as Roady, and begins to back up, tripping over a branch clumsily. Looking carefully, Roady can see some fresh scars on her side, blood matting her fur near her left hip. She appears scared, and turns to run. "Wait!" Roady calls out. Turning quickly, she replies hesitantly "I can't... I must go." "But..." Roady calls out, as she dives back into the brush, disappearing into the night. Unable to quickly chase her, Roady felt useless. Frustrated, he follows the edge of the ravine towards the lake, hoping to find a crossing nearby. Crossing on a large fallen tree trunk, Roady hurries back to the place where he had seen the female wolf. Sniffing the ground he memorizes her sweet scent. Following it, he discovers a large eagle feather on the ground. Golden in color, the feather has a small drop of fresh blood on it. Sniffing the feather he is sure that the blood is hers. Roady picks the feather up, and tucks it behind his right ear. Continuing on, he finds that the scent trail ends at the lake. Standing on the rocky shore, consisting of small pebbles, Roady looks out over the mostly moon lit lake. Clouds roll across the sky blocking much of the moons light, and like curtains falling over the lake, the darkness approaches Roady from across the lake, and eventually envelops Roady. Hanging his head low, he sulks back along her scent trail. Back at the Ravine, he marks his scent near where she saw him. Maybe she will be curious, he hopes.