SPIRIT

There was no magic in what he did. The snow made it easy to track the footprints. So long as it did not snow again before nightfall, he would find his prey.

The creek had not frozen over yet, the bubbling water still trickled through the land on it’s journey to join the mighty Yukon. The running water was the only sound apart from the crunch of his steps.

He followed the paw prints away from the creek, up into the bare trees of the surrounding forest. The sun had begun to drop behind the branches. Soon he would have to find shelter for the night.

A flurry of wings broke the serene atmosphere, a loud squawk and a dusting of snow fell on him, knocked from a branch above. He looked up and saw the Raven. Unlike his Hän ancestors, he could not take seriously the mystical stories handed down to him. The coal black spiritual trickster hopped on the branch, an inquisitive eye looking at the young warrior. In return he raised his small axe and shouted. The Raven took flight.

He found the tracks once more but a few paces later they abruptly stopped as though the animal had disappeared into thin air. He looked around the darkening woods. Dusk changed the landscape, new shadows and dark spaces appeared. The sound of the creek grew fainter, the stillness intensified. He could sense the eyes watching him.

From behind a tree the yellow eyes appeared. The wolf crouched and growled. He mirrored his prey, his axe ready to strike. It was not personal. The wolf understood this. He had to eat to survive the Yukon winter. An adult wolf would nourish him for a week.

The second growl came from behind him. He spun around. It couldn’t be. The second wolf padded towards him with menace. Then a third materialised to his side, and a fourth.

Breath crystalised from their mouths as they circled him, the cold steam adding a cloaking mist to their shadowy presence. He wished he could believe in his ancestors spirit world now. It was too late to change. The first wolf pounced. He swung the axe and felt it sink into the flesh. Then he felt the sharp teeth clamp around the back of his neck, another set dug into his thigh. Red blotches

Above, the Raven flew into the night sky.


leafless

This is a response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Magic curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

29 thoughts on “SPIRIT

  1. Wolves do hunt in packs. You’d think he’d know that.

    I’ve never heard of treating a wolf as a game animal. Typically, ranchers will kill a wolf because it’s been preying on their livestock. However, I did come across an article from right here in my home state called How To Cook A Wolf : You can shoot ’em, but can you eat ’em?.

    Seems it’s really uncommon to eat a wolf, but it’s not impossible either. They just aren’t particularly tasty, so a hunter would choose other game if it was available.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks James. I was hinting at a the more spiritual nature which native Americans imbue animals with. The Raven is a revered animal for the Han tribe, the wolf is often seen as a spirit animal. The clues are there in the disappearing footprints and the raven. His pursuit was not so much a matter of culinary taste so much as survival – which the wolves were also thinking of. Although, of course, there are very few known examples of wolves attacking humans.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve heard of one or two, most having to do with cornered animals. A wolf will attack if threatened, but most of the time, they’ll do almost anything to avoid the encounter.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Always respect the ancestors… they usually know more than we do about the inner life of earth.
    To eat an animal was to partake of its spirit. I wonder what that did to the wolves…
    Great piece of writing, Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A bad omen with the raven, perhaps a last warning toturn around now. But I think while he was tracking, he was the one being tracked and you get the sense just as it was not personal for him, it was not personal for the wolves, they need to eat too. Grizzly but also had me caught early on so I had to keep reading.

    Liked by 1 person

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