Wolves at the Door (part 87)

In the morning, Gil was relieved to find himself in familiar territory.  He was still tired, but had almost the whole day to rest up after returning.  There would be no need to go hunting for a couple more days at least.  By evening he felt ready for another active night.  He just hoped he would not end up too far away.  It wouldn’t be quite so bad if he didn’t have to make the return trip naked.  Try as he might, he had been unable to think of a way to take even a pair of shoes with him.

Perhaps he should try a rope harness of the type that had tethered him to a tree in the village.  That at least he had been unable to shed in the night.  But he worried that if it was loose enough to let him move freely, it would get caught on the undergrowth as he darted through.  If he could rig something around his neck like a collar, it would not get in the way.  On the other hand, there would be a very small difference between a collar loose enough to fall off and one tight enough to choke him.  It was impossible to judge what the right size would be, and the consequences of getting it wrong could be dire.  Eventually he decided to experiment with a basic loop around his waist, like a belt.  There was every chance he would would wriggle out of it once the moon rose, but it would be no great loss.  If it somehow stayed with him, then it should not impede him too much as he ran.

The following morning, he woke up cold, weak and blood-smeared, but technically not naked.  The belt had held, though it had certainly been annoying.  It had been far too loose as he ran, but had only really restricted his movement once, catching momentarily on his foot as he crouched ready to pounce at small game.  He had missed his mark that time, but luckily there had been others.

The belt worked, but needed modifications.  If he drew it uncomfortably tight before the moon rose, that would help.  Just so long as it didn’t cut off his circulation in the morning.  It wasn’t until after he had made these plans that it struck him as odd how much of the night he could remember.  Not a lot of detail, but a few of the most prominent events and feelings stayed with him.  It was even clearer than the night he had first been chased through the doorway in the woods.  Then, he had woken with a jumble of images that seemed like a half-remembered dream.  Now, what he remembered of the night seemed like a natural extension of his own history.  Perhaps this was an effect of his growing acceptance.  He had begun to think of the beast as part of himself, rather than an intruder who stole his skin in the moonlight.

He could even remember what direction he had come.  He had a pretty good idea of roughly where he was, even before he got up and looked around.  That would definitely be useful, if it was more than just a one-time thing.  He actually felt disappointed that he would likely have to wait another month before finding out.

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