Where were we? I couldn't recognize a tree a stone, not even a scent, except for what we were spreading around.
"What're we doing?" I asked finally after we'd been around in circles several times. "We can't search the entire Great Wood for this thing."
"At this rate, we might have to," Gunnar said. "I'm getting nothing!"
"Me neither," I said sitting down in agitation. "Your Shadow Master certainly knows how to give an impossible mission."
"It isn't impossible," Gunnar said. "I just can't remember where the former Shadow Master went on his retreats! I know it is there somewhere."
"Then what are we doing sniffing aimlessly around this field?" I asked. Gunnar looked at me and sighed out of his nose.
"I don't remember where he went, it seemed a good place as any to start," He said. I rolled my eyes at him.
"Think, what kinds of scents did he have on him when he came back, you were only a puppy, but those memories are in your head somewhere," I said. I stood up and began circling him.
"Strong scents of pine, I remember fresh water too, and damp earth," Gunnar had his eyes closed in remembrance.
"There is a pine grove down at the Kurn River where there are caves with clay floors," I said. "We might as well try all our options."
"I agree, lead the way, I have never been there," Gunnar said. I sniffed, lifting my nose to the sky, trying to get a scent that would lead me in the right direction. I was so turned around as it was. I caught the scent of the Kurn River. I took off after the scent trying not to lose it, and I heard Gunnar's heavy feet shake the ground as he ran behind me.
The moon had passed over our heads quite a bit by the time I led us to the Kurn River. It was getting close to dawn, and I would have to return to my Worf soon to avoid suspicion. But this was our first real lead, so we had to follow up on it.
"This smells familiar," Gunnar said. My tail began to wag as we approached a set of caves by the river's edge. Great pine trees grew tall around us. This met all the memories Gunnar had. I prayed to the moon that we wouldn't have to look much farther!
"Let's check out those caves," Gunnar said. I let him lead us into the darkness. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim light, we only had moonlight and starlight to use and it was outside.
"There isn't anything here," I said once my eyes adjusted.
"You don't think he would leave it out in the open, did you?" Gunnar asked lowering his head until his nose was almost touching the ground. He began to sniff. I followed his lead. I didn't know what I was looking for. I supposed any odd smell, or smell that was different than the clay. At the back of the cave I came across a small mound of clay that smelled...off.
"I found something," I said calling Gunnar over. He ran his nose over the area.
"It definitely smells different," He said. Gunnar began to dig in the soft clay, mud flying everywhere.
"Looks like I'm getting dirty," I muttered to myself. I dug my front paws into the claw and scooped out heaps at a time. We only needed to dig down a few feet until there was a lovely hole in the ground and a small pile of rocks at the center.
"Look, you found rocks," Gunnar said slightly teasing. I pushed past him and carefully moved the rocks aside with my paw. Buried in the rock pile was an old rabbit skin. It had pictures drawn on it in what smelled like old, rusty blood. It has soaked into the hide and would probably never fade.
"Look, I found the scroll," I said teasing Gunnar back. I carefully snatched the rabbit skin up in my mouth.
"We should get it back to Silverneck, he will know what to do next," Gunnar said.
"I'm assuming it has something to do with hiding it again," I said in a mouth full of rabbit fur.
"Come on, we better hurry. You need to get back to your Frawn before they wake up," Gunnar said. I nodded. At an easier pace now, Gunnar and I trotted back to where we had met that night. Once there, I passed him the scroll, and I left to go back to my Worf. I arrived about an hour before dawn. That would give me just enough time to rest up!
"You stink of mud," Greyback said by way of greeting when he called me to see him.
"Have the other Shadow Groups gone on killing missions?" I asked ignoring his insult.
"Why would you think that?" He asked.
"Rumors fly," I said. Greyback eyed me suspiciously. "When a few dead bodies turn up, things get said."
"I had to take more extreme measures," Greyback said. "They were moving in on us."
"I'm not concerned about why they were killed, and more concerned about why such measures were taken to hide this from me," I said.
"Durga, I have to protect you from the darker side of the Great Wood," He said. I gave him a blank stare and then walked away.
When had Greyback ever been concerned about protecting me? He had practically handed me to the Moon Frawn the other night to save himself. Rafe approached me, and I growled at him to stay away. He didn't back off.
"You smell like mud," He said.
"I was out," I said shortly.
"You also smell like another male," He said. "One I don't recognize."
"I'm not your Mate, I can spend time with whoever I want," I said uttering another growl that was meant to make him leave me alone. Again, he persisted.
"You have been fraternizing with the other Frawn." He said accusingly.
"Tell Greyback, he'd be more interested in you theories than me," I said. I snapped at him, and finally he left me alone!
It was late by the time that I decided to sneak off again. I was careful that no one followed me. I wanted to sneak off and go see Gunnar and Silverneck. I was almost there when I heard a rustling behind me.
"Who is there!" I snapped with a warning growl. If it were any other animal, they would have come out of hiding immediately and face me. It was not another animal, it was a wolf. I could smell them! I was so close to the Moon Frawn's Worf that whoever had followed me would be able to locate them by scent and sound.
"You've been lying to me, Durga," Greyback's voice said as he emerged from the brush.
"What do you mean?" I asked. "You haven't asked me anything I've needed to lie about."
"Lying by the omission of truth," He said. He was now circling me. I had to turn to keep him in my sights.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I said.
"Don't think me a fool!" Greyback snapped. "I could smell the scent of another wolf on you, one that didn't belong to our Frawn!"
"You kept things from me father, about killing other wolves, I will keep things from you," I said.
"Take me to the scroll!" He said with a vicious growl.
"I'll die first," I said. "I can't allow you to rule the Great Wood!"
"Durga, do what I tell you," He said with menace. I was ready to stand against him, but all the Shadow Hunters and Shadow Leaders appeared behind him, including my Shadow Group. They all looked at me with gleaming hatred, and most of them curled back their lips to show their teeth. I was extremely outnumbered, and not even I was fool enough to take all of them on. I turned into the woods and ran! Ran in the opposite direction of the Moon Frawn!