Over the next few weeks I left Starling tied up in the cave. I would bring her out to graze on the scarce vegetation that was available and then I would bring her for a short ride to a stream that didn’t freeze over in the cold weather. One day while I was out on a ride I spotted a deer drinking out of the stream. The deer didn’t hear or smell me because I was down wind of him. I slowly lowered myself from Starling and took my bow from its protective case. I strung the bow and notched an arrow. I drew back the string of the bow and was about to release when waves of panic and fear cascaded through the bond between Kaon and me. I jumped back onto Starling and spun her around to face where Kaon was. I set off at a neck-breaking pace through the forest towards Kaon, uncaring for my life, I just had to get to him! I hurtled through the forest never slowing up.
When I reached the clearing where Kaon was I saw why he was so scared. There was a ring of about fifteen wolves surrounding him. Kaon felt my presence and stopped panicing. He visibly straightened his spine and stood taller than he had before.
I stepped off Staring and grimaced when the snow crunched under my boots. That took all of the attention away from Kaon but it also took away my element of surprise. I sent Starling running back to the cave so she wouldn’t get hurt during the fight that was sure to erupt soon. I didn’t move from where I was standing, I just loosened my axe from its loop on my belt. None of the wolves made a move towards me. Maybe they thought I was no threat to them, which would be a big mistake on their part, or maybe they didn’t know how dangerous I was and were too scared to move towards me.
When I didn’t move I think they regarded me as harmless! As a ring they slowly closed in around Kaon. One wolf stepped forward out of the ring and bared his teeth at Kaon. Kaon didn’t move. He stood looking defiantly at the lead wolf. The lead wolf was enraged by this and lunged at Kaon. Kaon tried to move out of the way at the last moment as he had about a year ago, but he was too slow this time and got scraped along his shoulder. The lead wolf circled back around but Kaon still stood looking him in the eye. The wolf lunged at Kaon again, but this time Kaon didn’t try to move, instead he swung at the wolf and caught him on his snout. The wolf landed with a yelp and three other wolves charged Kaon. I removed my axe from its loop and jumped to intercept two of the three wolves. I bared my teeth and raised my axe. I swung it at the first of the two wolves and shattered his leg. He crumbled into a heap on the ground with a bark and the other wolf jumped over him at me. I raised my axe again. As he jumped at me I dropped to the ground and sliced open his stomach as he sailed over my head. Then all the other wolves make for me, leaving the lead wolf and the last of the three to finish off Kaon. I leapt back to my feet, but immediately had to duck again as a wolf had a swipe at me in mid-air. I turned and smashed his back with my axe. I dodged swings, I ducked under wolves, I blocked gaping mouths with the haft of my axe, I shattered bones, crushed skeletons, ripped off limbs.. I obliterated them.
After killing all the wolves who went for my and turned to see if Kaon had survived the ambush. I found him lying under the lead wolf’s body, the other wolf was lying a couple of paces away with its throat torn out. Kaon had taken a lot of hits and was bleeding profusely from various deep wounds on his back and legs. I lifted the wolf’s body off him and picked him up. I called Starling through her mind and when she arrived I tied chopper to her back and ran alongside her.
By the time we got back to the cave Kaon’s breathing had become fast and shallow, but some of the bleeding had stopped. I brought Kaon into the cave and started a fire to boil some water to clean his wounds. I put him lying on my makeshift bed and took a look at his cuts. None of them had hit any organs or arteries, but they had ripped some muscles into two or three pieces. When the water was hot enough I ripped a bit of cloth off my cloak and dipped it into the water and started cleaning out his wounds. Every time the cloth touched his cuts Kaon whimpered in pain, but allowed me to continue cleaning them because he knew it had to be done. Eventually Kaon fell asleep with exhaustion. I soon followed.