Stupid Snowshoe Hares...

It was the Snowshoe Hares which ultimately ended Amdir and Naurfast’s silent stalk. Two had been hiding in the snow from the big wolf, and for some reason Naurfast was too distracted to notice them. Both suddenly sprang up and took off as the wolf closed. They gave Naurfast a start, and she stopped to watch them go. The party were only 75 yards distant after Amdir had decided to close up the distance, and the hares were heading right towards them. They would have made a fine snack, Naurfast thought. But, as much as her instincts screamed to give chase, the Winter Wolf was too well disciplined to do so.

As she also watched the hares go, Amdir realized they had been given away. She sighed. Even a total idiot would now know someone was behind them.

Naurfast dipped her head slightly as the hares dashed away. Amdir knew this gesture well even though it rarely happened. It was equivalent of a human saying “damn it, I screwed up.”

“It’s ok,” Amdir said, reassuringly rubbing the back of the wolf’s neck to cover her own frustration. “The hares were bound to see us eventually.”

Amdir and Naurfast now had a decision to make. They could back off and disappear before anyone saw them. Or they could reveal themselves at last. Amdir was still trying to decide when she saw a straggler loom out of the snow. He was lagging quite a bit behind the rest, and had stopped to tinker with his armor.

Amdir could see he was distracted and unarmed for the moment, and they could probably get close enough to catch him off guard. This was the best opportunity they were going to get to get some questions answered, and Amdir decided to take it.

“Come Naurfast,” Amdir said. She spurred the Winter Wolf onwards into a slow trot towards the individual, a warrior of some kind. Naurfast was still remarkably quiet even at this pace, but suddenly the warrior rearmed himself and turned towards them. Some sort of battle instinct, Amdir figured. But it was too late to turn back now.

The two appeared out of the softly falling snow about 10 yards away like a ghost. As they came into view, Amdir held her sword arm up at a 90 degree angle, her hand balled in a fist. This was a traditional greeting of her people, showing she was unarmed, and here in peace.

“Greetings, stranger,” Amdir said in trade language clearly accented by her own peoples' tongue. “We mean you no harm.” The two stopped about five yards away. Amdir put her arm down and returned it to Naurfast’s right side near her blade.

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