Beginnings 6

Neoma crouched in the twilight shadows, the breeze bringing her tantalizing threads of scent. Owl, deer, rabbit… no trace of Kieran’s, he was too canny to let the wind betray him in a hunt. He knew exactly where she was, though. She only needed to wait for either his howl to announce a kill, or for him to drive his chosen prey in her direction if his initial lunge failed. Their strategy meant quick hunts, minimal suffering for prey, and minimal disruption to the rest of the wildlife. Now some five years old and fully mature, Kieran still refused to …

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Beginnings 5

Neoma set the last neatly-tied bundle of fresh herbs in her deep narrow basket, and reached for the basket’s lid, lying on the ground next to her. Before she could settle it in place, it was yanked out of her hand. Neoma sighed, watching the half-grown amarog cub dance backwards a couple of steps, powerful jaws locked onto the basket lid; his tail was up and his shoulders down, inviting her to chase him to get it back. “Kieran, give that back!” His only response, though she knew he understood the often-used phrase, was to growl and shake the basket …

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Beginnings 4

Neoma lurked in the forest between Hickory and Chipmunk, watching the human village in the valley below them. From here, though they could see little detail, they had a reasonable view of the cluster of a score or so buildings that made up the core of the village. The communal pens that held livestock were on the far side; most of the animals were outside their shelters, enjoying the end of the cold snap and the break in the spring rains. Cultivated land spread out on all sides in small to medium patches, some approximately rectangular, some odder shapes worked …

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Beginnings 3

The forest-spirit joined her moments after Neoma roused at moonrise and changed to human, and she looked pleased. “I think I found a good solution, as far as digging. Come and see?” Neoma tied off the last wrapping around her leg, and followed her to the hole. Hickory held up a flattish, curved, pale, vaguely triangular object. “It’s the shoulder-bone of a deer,” she explained. “I know where one died and I thought these might still be intact. They both were, so there’s one for each of us. We cleaned them up as much as we could, so they wouldn’t …

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Beginnings 2

Neoma paused to twist her hair back out of her way yet again. She was going to have to see if she could find a village or something and try to barter for a few things—like a sharp knife so she could cut her russet hair off. Having it down to her elbows, when she lacked a ready way to confine it, just wasn’t practical with the amount of heavy physical effort that she suspected lay in her immediate future. Although how she was going to trade with a village when she had nothing to wear and had no idea …

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