This chase is almost over., thought Il'leth as she raced through the forest.
The deer bounded frantically through the thick foliage, trying to escape the approaching wolf. The Ryu-Urufu behind it barred it's yellowed fangs in a canine smile, pure predator confidence. This is what she lived for! Il'leth, Chosen of the Clan, was on the hunt. Through the forest they ran, the deer's strength flagging as the chase wore on. The Urufu faired little better, but was driven on by the primal hunger that grips all, and the scent of fresh blood loose in the air.
The prey finally collapsed in a heap next to a small brook, too worn out to move anymore, consigned to it's fate. With a snarl, the white/gold fur on the she-wolf glistened as she stepped into the glade. Biting down into the weakily spasming deer, Il'leth sniffed the air to make sure that she was alone. She had been without food for days, on her ongoing exploration of the land outside of the Khalkist Mountains.
Sensing no immediate threat, she lowered herself into a crouch and ate. Blood welled around her paws as she consumed the life-giving meat, the bones cracking nicely under her jaws. When she had finished, she would return to the moutains and report on the land to the east of her Clan.
::In the name of our Reifuijii, I greet you, Il'leth, Moonshine.::
A dark black wolf with a extremely odd golden stripe running from the top of it's muzzle to the base of it's tail appeared in front of the feasting wolf. She did not raise her head, having recognized the scent-mark of her mentor and leader.
::In the Moon's glow, I welcome you, Kumori, Ancient. Does the Council require my presnece?::. Wiping her blooded muzzle on the clean fallen leaves near her, she perked up her ears. If the Elder's requested her presence, personal sating came second. In the Clan, the family is first, the one, second.
::Indeed they have. Our Reifujii has come to Kamahl in a vision this morning. It is time for your search to begin.:: The elder wolf was in fact the same Kumori of the priesthood. Through the blessings of his goddess, he had immortality, and bore it well. All Ryu-Urufu owed him absolute respect, both because of his history, and the fact that he was the Alpha Urufu- the Head Male.
Il'leth had known the time was close at hand, but this soon was unexpected. She dashed after the now leaving leader, heading towards Oobejobee, the ancestral home of the Ryu-Urufu. The wolf community was very close, due both to the Dragons of eons ago, and the dwindling population. The removal of the aura was depleting their men greatly. Nobody could safely mate, and so everyone was slowly dwindling away, afraid of the future and the ghosts of the past. Hopefully, Il'leth, with her close communion to their Radiant Lady, would find some way to halt and reverse the downward spiral. So, she was to be sent exploring the lands beyond, among the Human race.
As they padded softly inside, the Clanmates fell silent, ushering them without word to the Elder Council. The bright wolf was touched by this, though it's purpose was mainly ceremonial. All Urufu knew the way to the Sama te Nulan, the Room of the Heartblood. Barring that, the scent-markers along the wall could guide all- refreshed often by male wolves, the smell was like nectar to Il'leth's nose.
::In the name of our Reifujii, I greet you, Il'leth, Moonshine.::, said Sally. Head Bitch of the Ryu-Urufu, the Elder was renowned for her wisdom, ganrnered by an early life among humans. Bereft of the Dragon Aura for forty years, Sally looked prematurely old. Her name was given to her by the Humans, and she carried it with pride, to the confusion of many. Forestalling continuation of the formal greeting ritual, Kamahl, a blueish male said, ::Il'leth, you have lived among us for nigh on a century. our Reifujii has told me that it is urgent that you begin your search immediatly. You will have to travel alone - I know not the reason, but who truly understands the mind of a god?::A few muted laughs echoed, then were quickly silenced.
::I understand, Elders. I shall perform to the best of my ability, Mahaji Reifujii willing.::, The crestfallen she-wolf said, saddened that she would be alone. No Clanmante desires true isolation on another.
::Yes, I know you will, Il'leth, Moonshine...::, sighed Kumori, his normally hard expression softening for a fleeting instant as he regarded her. ::Come here- we shall give you our blessings.:: Il'leth lowered herself down to a sitting position, then fell down on her front paws so her body was flat, her muzzle under Kamahl's chin.
::In the name of Mahaji Reifujii, Radiant Lady, Patron of the Ryu-Ufuru, I beg a blessing upon this loyal beast.::, he intoned in a reverant voice, echoed by the other elders. Lowering his mouth so it was laying on the top of Il'leth's muzzle, he made a single, straight lick from the tip of her nose to the junction of her ears. He also slipped an amulet around her neck- a small amethyst stone hanging by a silver cord.
::By the light of our Reifujii, may your thoughts be clear, your pads be swift, and your claws strike trely. May Mahajii Reifujii bless you, Il'leth, Moonshine.::
Awed by the feeling of intensity and divine love in the cavern, she turned and followed Kumori and Kamahl to the entrance of her home. In utter silence, the Ryu-Ufuru took her outside and knelt, paying her homage for her sacrifice. Warmed by the affection clear in their actions, she wagged her tail in farewell, and left her home. Il'leth's only companion was the Moon, watching over her, even now.
On the ridge behind her, her Clanmates began to howl.