Wolves at the Door (part 78)

Over the next few days, Gil roamed farther and farther afield, getting the lay of the land.  He found a more sheltered camp site, and got a sense of which areas would be the most promising for hunting or trapping wild game.  He caught a few fish – hardly enough to live on, but a welcome change from the tasteless dried fare.

While setting up his new camp site, Gil almost got the rock Alfvin had given him mixed up with the ones he was collecting to build the fireplace.  Sometimes a stone with some flaw in it would crack into pieces if heated sufficiently.  He had no idea what would happen if a magic-infused rock was subjected to the temperatures of the fire.  It would probably be imprudent to find out.  Regardless of any danger the process might pose, he would need that rock when he returned to the other world, as he still intended to do eventually.  He scratched a rune on its surface with his fire-flint, so there would be no danger of mistaking it again.

He became familiar enough with the terrain to venture out at night, taking the spear with him in case of defensive necessity or hunting opportunity.  Gil might not be catching much prey, but Hati’s belly was still being filled each night with little bites of the moon.  After a few nights on the prowl, the moonlight was growing so weak that Gil dared risk it no longer.

The first time a small animal got itself caught in one of his traps, Gil was elated.  Cutting the little thing up to find the scraps of meat within almost certainly used up more energy than he gained from eating it.  Still, any variation in his diet was a good thing.  And more than that, it was the principle of the thing.  No matter how modest the game, he had caught it, and that made him a hunter.  He began to feel as if he might make a success of this venture after all.

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