From that day onwards I always checked to see if there were any wolves nearby. I did so by sending my conscience out in every direction. This was quite useful for scouting an area, because you could ask other wolves if anyone or anything had passed and when. This wasn’t always easy as wolves didn’t call people ‘people’, instead they called them ‘tall-ones’ and they called people on horseback ‘tall-ones on big dogs’. Wolves could smell evil people, and so called these people ‘Shadowrunners’, because it was said they could not stand in sunlight. Wolves would go out their way by miles just to kill shadowrunners, but it could kill half of the pack to do so, because these weren’t normal thieves or criminals, their souls belonged to a daemon named ‘Dazkar’.
Most of the time Kaon would not leave my side when we were hunting in case something happened. Sometimes I would go hunting on my own because I liked the quiet and liked to have time to think. When leaving I would sneak silently to the mouth of the cave where I would stop to make sure Kaon was still asleep. If he was I would leave the cave and walk for a while and then climb a tree and wait with an arrow notched to my bow ready to shoot down anything that crossed my line of vision.
One day, on one of my solo hunts, I was up in a tall thick oak tree when I heard snow crunching under hooves. With my sensitive wolf hearing I could estimate that it was about 50 lengths away. I drew back my bow until the string was tight, and waited to see what would appear. When the horse finally came into view I could see that it had no rider or saddle but it had reins. I sniffed the air for the scent of humans, but I found none.
Slowly I lowered myself from the tree and crept soundlessly towards the big black mare. She had a big chest, long legs, four white feet, and her back was straight. She was not frightened when I approached so she must have been a warhorse. She had big brown eyes that watched my every move. As I moved closer to her, I unstrung my bow and put away the string. I placed the bow in a belt loop and raised my hands so she could see I meant no harm to her. I stopped an arm’s length from her and reached out to stroke her head. She stepped forward and bent her head towards me. I moved around to her side and mounted her. I picked up the reins and directed her back towards the cave. I kicked her in the ribs to start her trotting, then again to a canter, and finally to a gallop. While galloping she wove effortlessly through the trees. When we reached the cave I had settled on the name ‘Starling’.