Spring turned into summer, summer into fall. She passed the seasons as she had been now, helping the mother bear and her cubs, providing them with what she wouldn’t use from her kills. As the time passed, she began to slowly understand their language, and even employed it on occasion, when she felt like ‘talking.’ She wasn’t sure if they actually understood one another, or what they were ‘saying,’ but having some form of communication with her newfound family helped her, if only a little.
As fall began turning into winter, her bear family were insistent on using her territory as their hibernation spot. Granted, it was indeed big enough; she had cut down trees and built a little hideaway for them, as her tent was still doing her just fine. However, the bears had other plans; they knew winter was coming, and they wanted their den mother, as they saw her, to pile in with them. She sighed in exasperation and dragged her tent closer to the bears, so it wouldn’t get ruined in the winter storms to come, and then laid down with them.
While her bear family slept, she’d wake in the mornings and go about hunting, gathering, and checking the various traps she set around her territory. It was one such morning, a couple weeks after they went into hibernation, that she found a young-looking wolf, caught up in one of her ropes. She sighed and let the poor beast down, making no move to attack, continuing on with her daily chores. She did, however, toss some meat off in the distance, and smiled softly to herself as the youngling, though hesitant, went after the piece.
Night was falling, and she had just snuggled up with her bear companions when a howl went up through the forest. She sighed in annoyance at having to get out of ‘bed.’ She grabs one of her spears and steps out, growling in annoyance as one by one, a handful of wolves stalked out of the forest, wary of the girl who ‘owns’ this territory.
The girl assessed the situation, and sighed, lowering her spear. She turned her back, though did not drop her spear, her ears ‘perked’ as she listened to make sure they weren’t following for an opportunity to attack. She dug into a box she made, pulling out some of the meat she cooked that night, and tossed those pieces far beyond the wolves after making sure they caught the scent.
She turned away again, going back to bed after making sure all the wolves, including the scout leader, had left. She fell asleep almost instantly, the day’s events, and having to appear in control against several wolves, having exhausted her.
The next morning, she woke up with the sun, and saw snow beginning to fall. She sighed before getting dressed, glad to have prepared for the weather, as she began her daily chores. Today though, even with the snow falling lightly and barely beginning to stick, she noticed something... odd.
While there weren’t many animals out and about during the winter, she heard nothing; neither insect, nor bird. The air, she noticed, felt frozen and stiff, as if time itself had stopped. As she was going about her daily chores, she eventually noticed one sound: footsteps, or in this case, paw steps.
She sighed in annoyance and turned, spear at the ready. Only to see one of the wolves from last night; as she turned and they recognized each other, the wolf turned away and started padding off, before turning to look at her again.
She nodded in quiet understanding, and softly followed along behind. She was watching the snow fall as they padded softly along in the forest in near total silence. It still felt as if time had stopped, but as the two passed by, what wildlife was still awake during this time of year had slowly started making noise again. Eventually, though, she noticed that three pairs of feet had multiplied, and had seen more flashes of gray, white, and black in her peripheral vision.
She held her spear tighter, closer, ready to strike, if need be, but no attacks came. Wherever she was being led, or whoever was leading her, she decided, seemed to be important, at least among the forest life.
She soon figured out where she was being led, when all of a sudden, the wolves around them stopped, save the one who was guiding her.
She came to the conclusion that the others were merely guardians, making sure nothing would attack them during their trip.
With the exception of her Guide, the others seemed to disperse and sit amongst those already gathered; some of the wolves, both already gathered and those who joined later, even ‘bowed’ to the wolf pacing in the center of the clearing she’d been led to.
While she stopped a few feet into the clearing, her Guide kept walking, until they met with the one in the center. The two sat together, and as their attention turned towards this weird, two-legged guest, a youngling came out from the cave beyond.
The girl’s eyes lit up with recognition, having helped that wolf out of one of her traps the day before. She realized, to some extent, why they brought her here: because she not only helped the Alpha’s child, but also, less more so, because she fed the scouts the night before, instead of contesting them for her Territory.
As she recognized the youngling, the youngling also recognized her, and ran up to her without warning. She put one hand down in return, to let the youngling sniff, while the youngling’s parents’ fur stood up straight, and assumed an attack position, ready in case this weird creature were to try anything.
Noticing this, she sighed and made a show of tossing the spear behind her, before sitting down as she let the youngling continue acquainting itself with her scent. The alphas in front of her settled down a little, though they still seemed displeased with how quickly their child took to this beast.
She looked up at the sky after a chill ran through her body and sighed, shaking her head. She bowed to the Alphas as she stood up, having lost track of time with the wolf pack, and needing to get back to her territory.
She had begun to leave the clearing as some of the wolves began piling into the den, while others she hadn’t yet seen were coming out, probably the night watch.
She heard a noise behind her as she grabbed her spear and sighed, turning her head to see the youngling staring at her and tilting its head as if to ask “Where are you going?”
She shook her head and pointed back the way she came, the snow still falling and having begun to pile up hours ago, though it still barely covered her knees. The Alpha grunted at one of the wolves who just woke up, and nodded towards the… well, it smelled female, at least, as she would need another Guide home.
The second Guide nodded back, though this exchange went unseen by her, as she’d already started walking, though vaguely, in the direction of which she came.
The Guide snort-laughed and shook it’s head, before getting ahead of the girl and leading her along. She nodded thankfully as the Guide passed her by, leading her back through the frozen white of the forest, as the snowfall began to stop.