Clan of the Wolf(7)

By: Avery Kloss


“Who are the people by your fire?”

That seemed odd. “What do you mean?”

“The woman and her daughter.”

I sat a little straighter. “They’re my family.”

“She’s too young to know what you’re asking,” said Enwan.

“Do you remember anything before?”

I licked a finger. “Before what?”

“Coming to live with those two.”

Searching my memory, the things I found there remained hazy. “No.”

“Who your real family might be?”

I pointed towards the fire. “They’re there.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Enwan got to his feet. “She’s found her place. I have to relieve myself.” He stalked off towards a line of trees.

Ronan ran fingers through his hair, the strands hanging down his back. “They must’ve found you somewhere. You don’t seem to remember.”

Kia and Ara were the only family I had ever known, my mind not recalling any others. “Where are you from?”

“That way.” He pointed behind me. “The land far away.”

“Why are you not with your clan?”

“Something sickened them, and they died.”

My eyes widened. “All of them?”

“Many.” He nodded, staring absently into the flames. “My family, my mother and father and sisters and brothers. All the ones I cared most for.”

“And Enwan’s your brother?”

“In spirit, yes. He came from another clan. I met him on the walk.”

“The walk?”

“There was nothing left for me, so I ventured over the great grass plain. It’s not a journey I recommend. I met Enwan there. His people were victims of an attack, and they scattered.”

Something about what he said triggered a memory, but the image drifted as quickly as it came. “Then you decided to travel together.”

“Yes,” he grinned, “it seemed like a sound idea.”

“And you roam from place to place?”

“Until I find paradise.”

I eyed him askance, never having heard that before. “What’s that? Is it near here?”

“I don’t know, but I’m forever hopeful.” He stared into the darkness, lost in thought. “I’ll stumble upon it … eventually,” he murmured.

Enwan returned, tossing a fatty portion of meat to the dogs, two of them snarling for it. “I’m sleeping now.” He lay back, eyeing the sky.

Hints of light remained, a swath of red lingering on the horizon. Most of the camp had settled down, although talking could be heard, a dog barking annoyingly. Feeling weary to my bones, I yawned.

Ronan patted the pelt. “Will you be staying here tonight?”

I considered it, feeling the fur beneath me. “No. Mine’s better. Yours is too thin.”

“It’s old.” He nodded, accepting my refusal with stoic charm. “You’re right to sleep where it’s nicer. One day, I shall have layers of pelts for a bed. Then I’ll roll another just for my head.”

That appealed to me, finding it a sound idea. “I would like to see that.”

“Perhaps, when you find a mate, you’ll sleep in luxury.”

I hadn’t even considered that, being far too young to have a mate. “Maybe.”

“You have some time,” he chuckled, moving aside the spear that lay on the edge of the bedding. “I wouldn’t want to cut myself turning over later.”

“Yet you keep it near.”

“Indeed.” His smile faltered. “One must always be vigilant. We’re out in the open.”

“Two seasons ago we lived in a fine cave. It had several caverns.”

“Why did you leave?”

I searched my memory, being too inexperienced to understand the behaviors of adults. “I don’t know. You should ask Lascox. He was with us then.”

A yawn escaped him, as he settled in, Enwan on the fur next to him. “It’s of no matter. I’m sure it had everything to do with following game. A comfortable cave is worthless if there’s nothing to eat.”

I got to my feet, holding the empty wooden bowl. “Goodnight … Ronan.”

“Sleep well, little girl.”

Strips of meat hung from sticks near the fire, the smoke curing them. They should have meat for days, although dogs loitered nearby, desiring to steal the tasty morsels. If they did, there might not be any left come morning.

Chapter Four

Ara and I rarely foraged alone, but Kia wished to stay at camp and tend to domestic issues. The clan having made several good-sized kills lately, we now possessed an abundance of animal hide, mamma wanting to make clothing, sewing pieces of leather together with antler needles. She only recently learned this skill from a clan woman.

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