The human's camp had been swarming with activity since the strange, new elves had been spotted. The new Shaman, in his rage, had decreed that they would wipe out the pointed-eared-ones. Until then the tribe spent their time preparing for the looming battle.
Even now the Shaman strode through the camp, surveying the work of his people. A woman kneeling on the ground watched him and noted the tense set to his shoulders, the suppressed fire in his eyes. After his mentor's throat was pierced by the elven archer's deadly arrowhead the fiery hatred for the pointed-eared-ones that was built by his mentor now raged since his death. The woman turned her eyes away from the Shaman, and back to the spearhead she was sharpening for the warriors' use.
That night the sky was clear and the stars bright above the human's camp. The woman rose from her work, feeling her muscles protest as they were forced out of the position they had held for the last few hours. The wind whistled in the leaves, gently teased her hair, and brushed her bare arms. Most of the tribe was already asleep, worn out from the long days of work. The woman looked at her hut with a sense of foreboding. Light and voices flowed out of many of the other ones, but hers stood incongruously dark and silent. She remembered the time when she had shared the hut with her "Man," Tabak. She had been so proud that such a strong man would choose her as his mate, and then had become prouder still as he had distinguished himself over the other hunters and was given an honoured position by the Shaman. But that had all ended at the slice of a sword in his ribs. Now she was alone, and since she had no children she had no one to protect her, and because she was barren, she did not think that another man would choose her again. She had spent every night cold and every day alone since then. Now the thought of returning once more to her empty hut filled her with grief. The idea that the rest of her life would stretch on, lonely and lorded over by a hate-filled Shaman was to much to bear, and with a low cry she turned and ran from the camp, into the forest.
Under her bare feet twigs snapped, leaves crunched and small stones were sent flying. Branches caught on her hair and animal-skin clothes. Desperate, the woman continued to run for kilometers, unaware of her direction. Above her an owl soundlessly took flight, and beyond her the river rushed in the distance. The night was still and clear, so still that keen ears could have heard her flight from far away, and sharp eyes could have glimpsed her figure through the trees.
**She comes too close.** Treestump's eyes trailed the woman as she ran nearer. From his hidden perch in the tree he subtly slipped off the leather skin that fit around his axe head, exposing the sharp metal beneath. The woman had nearly reached the edge of the human's hunting grounds. Soon she would be entering the Wolfrider's territory and moving on towards the Holt.
**Do you think we could get her to turn around somehow, without alerting her of our presence?** Redlance sent from beside him, loosely holding his spear. His stomach clenched as he thought, If only my powers had come already, then I could do exactly that.
Treestump looked thoughtful for a moment. **She seems quite distressed. The humans never wander during the night, rarely go places alone, and she makes no attempt of secrecy…** Treestump's sending was cut off as something else moved in the brush below the two elves. As stealthily as an elf, a lithe figure slipped out into view. The moonlight illuminated the creature's long, ivory teeth. Four paws carried the beast forwards and a long, feline tail followed behind.
Redlance felt a stirring of memory pierce the "Now." **A long-tooth!** Treestump's eyes narrowed.
The cat was obviously hunting. It's hungry belloy driving it to latch on to the scent-trail left by the unsuspecting woman. It had not yet noticed the two elves watching from above it.