Each day, the new moon grew a little larger and each evening it set a little later. Once more Gil began returning to camp after dark, trusting the moonlight to guide him home. Occasionally a cloudy night upset his plans, but by nightfall he was usually on familiar enough ground that he could feel his way slowly back, even in almost complete darkness. He feared the night less: the wolf pack he had encountered were one member short and knew he was not easy pickings. They would likely give him a wide berth for the near future. He was not sure if he was still in their territory or if he might meet another pack, but even if he did, he felt confident. Close to home, he always felt like he had more options. And as the moonless portion of the night shortened, he was less likely to be cornered and helpless even if he strayed farther afield.
There was still no sign of Alfvin. Gil had not been concerned about missing him while out hunting during the day. One thing was certain: if he did come, if would be at night. Gil worried slightly that spending more of the moonlit hours away from home meant their paths were less likely to cross. Still, he hoped that if Alfvin did come to the camp, he would leave some indication, even if he did not stay. There were no fresh markings on the trees near the new or old camps, nor anything out of place.
As the moon rose later and later in the day, Gil had to make plans. He really should have been counting the days, but it was too late for that now. The full of the moon could not be more than two or three days away at the most. He began returning to camp well before dark, packing away his gear and waiting naked for the moon to rise. Once it had been up a while and he felt no effects, he would dress again and continue as he had on previous nights. He did not want to risk losing another set of clothes or weapons. If he felt restless while waiting, he would roam the familiar ground surrounding his base, taking only the spear for protection. It, at least, would be relatively easy to spot in the morning. Unlike the clothes, he would most likely drop it before he had gone far.
By the third evening of this precautionary routine, the suspense was becoming unbearable. He knew it was coming, why wouldn’t it just get here already? He quickened the pace of his laps around the perimeter, jogging to burn off the frustration. That helped, but it was not enough. The spear was just slowing him down, so he cast it aside.
Running naked through the forest had always felt good once he started, but for the first time, it was not something he had dreaded. Tonight, it came as a relief.