Chapter 1: Little Dreamer

"Shanku! Shanku!" Nari walked through the Nyre calling for her missing daughter. Now where has that cub gone? She pushed aside a low-hanging limb of an old oak. Nari shook her head as she searched through the bushes. Shanku was prone to wandering off, especially to places she shouldn't be.

"They've done it again!" came a furious cry. Nari jumped in surprise and looked quickly around. She saw her mother angrily stomping towards her.

"That infernal council has run off your cub! Just like they did my mine!" Misen roared, shaking her fist. Her wings were arched dangerously behind her and she looked fit to be tied.

"What?" Nari asked, shocked. "Mother, please do not joke like that."

"It is no joke," wailed Misen as she threw her head back and pressed her wrist to her forehead. "Shanku is gone! Just like my Turai!"

Nari gasped and covered her mouth with both of her hands. She stared at her grief-stricken mother for a moment before asking in a voice barely above a whisper, "She was the reason for the dragon earlier, wasn't she?"

"Of course," Misen sighed.

Nari shivered. Not only did Shanku often wander far away, she also had a habit of befriending creatures the Sylvans feared. The Council had been growing steadily angrier with each of her antics. It seemed this had been the final straw.

"Ol' Zanzen is trying to repeal the Elders' decision. Waste of breath. They didn't listen to us and they won't listen to him," spat a ragged old Kurach. Misen nodded to her husband, Haro, as he joined them.

"Perhaps if you had spent more time with your family and less in the woods, we would still have our granddaughter!" growled a second, older male close behind the first.

"Bibot, you..." Haro growled a multitude of curses at Nari's sire-in-law. "You should be up there with your son since you actually are on the council!"

"Stop it! Both of you! Like I told our sons, fighting will not help!" scolded Haro's wife, Ysu.

"For once, I agree with you, Ysu," grumbled Misen.

"Bibot, Ysu," began Nari, hoping to diffuse some of the continually building tension between her and Zanzen's parents. "Can't you influence the Elders? Make them change their mind? She's too young to be on her own."

"We've already tried, Nari. You know that their decisions are always final," Ysu said sadly. "At best, they're claiming that her coming-of-age ritual has begun early."

"Fat lot of good the council is," Haro hissed.

"Haro!" Misen snapped in warning. Her wings flared behind her as she placed her hands on her hips.

"Somebody has to keep you peasants in line," sneered Bibot, his arms crossed over his chest and his wings arched defiantly behind him.

"Bibot!" Ysu gasped.

Nari slipped away quietly while the parents argued with each other and traded insults based on class, career, parenting, and goodness only knows what else.

Moments were always tense when the upperclass citizens mingled with the lowerclass of the clan. Bibot held a position on the Council and a very high rank among the Scissortail clan. His son, Zanzen, chose the path of a prestigious warrior. Nari and her family held a very low rank. They were Hunters, those who sought game and scouted territory, a mere step above the Gatherers, who collected plants and other resources for cooks and crafters.

Zanzen had taken a chance years ago when he decided to court Nari. He had taken a stroll in the forest one day and happened across her in the middle of a hunt. He was captivated by her stealth and grace. He surprised her by offering to carry her kill back to the clan for her. She obliged and he took advantage of the opportunity to spend time with her on the way home.

Nari smiled fondly at the memory. Zanzen had always shown her the utmost devotion since. Every day they had spent together after that had ended with long fights throughout the night between him and his father. In the end, Zanzen won, and he took Nari as his mate. It would have been a greater shame for his son to become a lowly Hunter and wed a Hunter, than to keep his status and wed a Hunter.

Nari stopped for a moment and placed her hand on a tree. She closed her eyes as she remembered what had happened next. Her brother, Turai, held no love for the Council or any of the higher ranking members of the clan. He had challenged Zanzen to a duel to prove he was not good enough to have her. Turai was much younger and less experienced. He had lost the fight. Bibot, furious, had him exiled from the clan. That action had permanently destroyed any hope of Zanzen's and Nari's parents ever becoming friends.

Even though exile only lasted for ten years, there were very few who ever returned from it. Most were eaten by the dreaded minocentaur bull-like monsters within their first year. Those who survived them barely made it past rival clans.

Nari said a silent prayer that her brother would somehow find her daughter and watch over her. She tucked a strand of her long, black hair behind her furry ear and returned her focus back to the present. Nari continued walking through the forest.

The trees became older and more twisted the further she went. Vines dangled from branches somewhere far above and tangled bushes strove against one another on the ground. The air became heavy and still. Not even the usual hum of the insects could be heard. The other Kurach avoided this place and held many fears towards it. But to Nari, this was her second home.

Deep within the ancient grove was a little pool surrounded by gaily colored flowers of all shapes and sizes. She knelt beside the still waters for a moment. Nari dipped her fingers into the pool and pulled them slowly across the surface, sending little ripples dashing throughout the water.

"Spirits, I have a question for you. Is my daughter alright?" Nari paused and then dared a second question. "Will she return to me?"

The waters were disturbed again and not by Nari's hand. A green face appeared and rose from the water. Long, thin ears and flowing hair adorned the face. "Hello again, Nari," the naiad greeted her warmly with her silvery voice.

"Greetings, Danæ." Nari smiled sadly.

"We warned you about our gift of Wonder," Danæ laughed a laugh like music as she rose from the water. Flowers and vines decorated her body. A blooming lily pad perched above one of her elongated ears. Her hair seemed to continually be pulled and swayed by an unseen current.

"I know. I do not regret it," Nari sighed. "I think." She pulled her wings close to her body.

"Come," Danæ gestured to the pool below her. "Let's see about your cub."

Nari braided her hair and removed her tunic silently before she stepped into the cool water. Danæ slipped below the surface and Nari followed. Down, down, deep into the pool they went. Danæ held onto Nari's hand and led her to the bottom. Nari held onto her without fear. For so long as she trusted the naiad she would not be allowed to drown. Nari breathed the water in and out as easily as she could air. It was both frightening and exhilirating as her instincts constantly feared the water in her lungs.

At the bottom of the pool was a mirror wreathed in vines and flowers. It seemed to be a part of one of the many boulders lying on the floor.

"Let's see what has become of Shanku." With a wave of Danæ's long, spindly fingers the reflection in the mirror swirled in on itself. Nari leaned in, holding her breath, as the reflection faded from view and soon refocused itself.

"Ah, there she is!" Danæ cheered gaily. There was little Shanku, clinging tightly to a branch as large wolves circled the tree below her. To make matters worse, a squirrel was making it known he did not appreciate her presence.

"Oh dear..." Nari gasped.

"Squirrels can be so unfriendly," Danæ laughed her musical laugh. "She may attract trouble, but the predators will never be able to reach her."

"I'm relieved," Nari sighed. Shanku was alive. For now. "But will she come home?"

"Ah, now, Nari..." Danæ clasped her hands together before her and looked at the mortal with a sad smile. "You know I cannot divulge the future's secrets." She smiled slyly. "Well, not in detail, anyway."

Danæ lifted Nari's face with a spindly finger. "She is your daughter and she is herself, for all that entails. She will feel joy. She will feel pain you couldn't understand. And she will do what has not been done for a thousand years."

Nari found herself fully dressed and back on the shore again among the multitude of flowers. She looked into the pool. Instead of her reflection she saw the face of the immortal naiad.

"Now, go. Comfort your family. We will watch over your daughter as we have your people for centuries."

Nari nodded as the naiad disappeared back into the eddies of magic that inhabited the ancient grove. Nari left the quiet pool and returned to her mate and her remaining cub.

Feather Divider

"One of the cows has been straying from the herd lately. I do believe it is almost time for her to bear her little one, Jakko," Dai said to his canine companion. The husky loped along by his master's side with his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth. Today was a warm spring day. Barely a cloud was to be seen in the crystal blue sky. A light breeze danced gaily across the prairie and spread the sweet scent of wildflowers over the rolling hills and dells.

Jakko was a good dog. He had the characteristic stocky body and thick fur one would expect a husky to have, complete with a bushy tail kept curled just so over his hindquarters. While this made life a bit uncomfortable during the summer on the plains, it was quite welcome during the cold, snowy winters. Jakko was usually very mild-mannered, but a scent caught his nose that he did not like. Jakko gave a low, guttural growl and broke into a run.

Dai chased after the dog and arrived to find him standing between a calf and a rivercat. Rivercats were nasty animals that had preyed many times upon their herd and many other unfortunate creatures that did not see them when they stooped to drink. Thankfully, this one slipped below the water of the river and swam away.

Jakko growled at the retreating form of the rivercat until it was out of sight.

"Good job, Jakko," Dai praised his dog as he hoisted the calf onto his shoulders. "Now, it's time you two came back to the herd." The calf bellowed to its mother and she lowed worriedly to him.

"You really should be more careful," Dai continued. "You lost an uncle to a rivercat, you know."

Jakko barked excitedly, which agitated the calf, and thus the mother as well.

"Kindly do not bark, Jakko. The calf is excited enough and he keep swatting me with his tail."

Jakko made a whining groan and fell silent as he trotted along near the cow.

Dai lived simply as the guardian of a herd of Urych cattle. It was his duty to drive them back to the main herd in the south where other cattle herders would join him each autumn.

The Urych were a very gentle breed. Dai's grandfather was one of the first to breed them. They were a cross of the ox and the local bison, and had the characteristics of both. It was possibly a gamble or bet that had led to the creature's existence. Before, none knew if the pairing would work. But it had and there was now a small business of it. The Urych made good work and meat animals. Every spring the herders would set off from their home city of Wynfall to the plains for the herds to graze and raise their young. After the seasons begin to shift to autumn and before the cold winter set upon the land, the herds were driven back to Wynfall for shelter and for the bloodlines to be monitored.

Jakko's job was rarely to herd the cattle, as they were quite docile. His main purpose was to chase off predators and generally keep his master company. He had been in few fights. There were no wolves this far from the forest and the vicious rivercats that lived in the water were easily chased off with a few piercing barks. There were also coyotes, but they were content to yip at his passing and scamper off. His master always lavished attention on him and Jakko had an easy life.

Dai usually spent the winter months with his mother, who lived in Wynfall, after gathering his wife and child in the autumn.

Zihna, his wife, was not native to Wynfall, much less was she the same species as her husband. Zihna was a nomadic Kurach, native to the rolling hills of the prairie. Kurach were creatures that resembled a man, yet had ears, tails, fangs, and claws like that of a wild canine, and had large, feathered wings. Like the others of her tribe, Zihna possessed the ability to change her form from that of a bestial creature to that of a human being.

Dai sighed as he thought of his beloved companion. He had met her out in the open years past. One of his Urych had been injured and would have died had Zihna not treated it with a concoction known to her people. Dai had offered her one of his best milk cows in gratitude for her help. She led him back to her people, the Heyen clan. Since then, Dai had changed the territory he usually had his herd roam to that which would follow the wanderings of the Heyen clan so as to see her more often.

The two started courting after a few short weeks. Within a year of their meeting they had wed with the blessing of her clan. A few years later after that they had a son, who surprisingly bore none of the obvious Kurach features.

Dai continued to follow the clan so he could be near his wife and son. When winter came the Heyen clan would take their usual journey into the forest to escape the harsh winter on the plains, and Dai and his family would enter Wynfall.

Life continued uneventfully this way for him for years and he was never away from his family for more than a few days while he was out in the plains. He had few complaints, all of which pertained to calves wandering too close to predators. His life was peaceful, and he couldn't have asked for anything more.

But one day, a little visitor arrived in his life. As Jakko was out roaming as was his wont while the cattle grazed lazily in a shallow valley, he had caught sight of a jackrabbit. As he had prepared to give chase for a bit of midmorning fun, a girl dove from the sky and killed the rabbit. She was a Kurach, with grey, furry ears and tail, sharp black nails on her fingers and toes, and black wings arching from her back.

The girl was hungry and had been stalking the very same jackrabbit as Jakko. He was not aware of how hungry she was and wanted to play. He lunged forward and grabbed her rabbit. She pulled back, trying to reclaim her supper. Oh, but what fun Jakko was having! He tugged back, wagging his tail and growling playfully. With a skilled yank, he broke the jackrabbit free from her grasp and began to run away.

The girl ran after him, yelling threats and curses as he pranced away. His master heard the shouting and was quite surprised at what came huffing and panting up beside him. It was a young Kurach cub unlike any he had previously seen. Her hair was brown with blonde tips and forelocks, unlike the Heyen whose hair was either solid brown, red, or black. Her wings were pure black like raven wings, instead of like the Heyen's wings whose resembled that of one of the many hawks that glided overhead. She was considerably paler and was much more temperamental than the gentler Heyen. She ceased chasing the dog when she came across Dai.

"That dog stole my dinner!" she growled to him in an accent much closer to his own than the Heyen accent.

"It's a bad habit of his," Dai said. Jakko had been raised in the wilderness and often seemed to think he still had to struggle for his meals.

"Rats," she huffed and placed her hands on her hips. "Well I'd better get on the wing and far enough away I can keep the next one." She glared out over the hills, her ears have cocked in concentration.

"Jakko's my dog, so perhaps I could make it up to you?" Dai ventured. It was so strange for her to be hunting alone at her age.

"Seriously?" she asked, dropping her arms and some of the hostility.

"Of course. I don't have another rabbit, but I have some salted pork."

"Bleh, I don't like salt. Can you cook?"

"Jakko prefers my cooking to his hunting," Dai said tiredly. Jakko had also stolen Dai's dinner many times. Although her dislike for salt surprised him. The Urych especially loved salt and often licked at his arms and neck on hot days.

"I saw some tasty antelope a bit ago. I prefer those over rabbit any day!" she said excitedly.

"Do you need help catching one?" Dai asked, curious as to how she planned to obtain an antelope.

"Help from who? Jakko would probably steal the kill and you don't have claws or wings," she said skeptically.

"I have a bow and a good horse. I've hunted antelope many times that way," Dai said as he stood.

"Prove it," she said simply with a smirk.

"What?" Dai was shocked. She was one of the most brazen cubs, or even children, he had ever seen.

"Show me!" she grinned. "Show me how you hunt! I've never seen one of your kind before and I want to know how you catch your dinner."

I must say I have never seen one of her specific kind either, Dai mused. "There's nothing special about my hunting. I just aim and let the arrow loose..."

"Hey, I'm eight!" she interrupted hotly. "Do I look like I've seen much hunting before!? Teacher took me on one, one, real hunt!" She held up a finger for emphasis, her wings flaring angrily and her ears completely flat by her head. "For a goat! A crippled goat! An old crippled goat that didn't even bother to run away!"

It took a great strength of will on Dai's part to appear to take her seriously at that moment. He wanted to laugh at her childish indignation.

"Katari and Hilael got to hunt deer!" Shanku began to pace. "Stags, with huge antlers! On their own! I didn't even get to touch that stinky old goat before teacher offed it!" She continued to vent. "I'm not gonna be some ol' middle-aged cub-bearer with beaded hair and dyed feathers when I grow up. My sire is a warrior, my dam is one of the best hunters! Hells, my great-great-granddam was a legend! I am not gonna sit on my claws doing nothing instead of doing what I'm born to do!"

Dai listened patiently and let her calm down. He was not sure who the people were she mentioned or where they were, but this cub for the most part appeared alone and he felt it was his duty to see after her.

"What are you doing out here if you haven't been fully taught how to hunt yet?" Dai asked.

"Don't change the subject," she snarled as she laid her ears back and pulled her wings around her. "I need a grown-up to teach me how to hunt. You gonna do it or no?"

"Come on," Dai nodded. "We'd better hurry before we lose daylight."

Shanku's face lit up in delight.

Such an odd situation. She shows no worries of being missed or anxious of her clan wondering where she is. I'm not even sure what clan she could be from. Dai pondered as he saddled Sage and asked her where the antelope were that she had seen. He proceeded to explain the strategy he would use and her part in taking one. Despite her quick temper, she was an avid listener and seemed to comprehend what he said.

Dai rode out on Sage with Jakko following and the cub flying high above them.

The cub glided steadily on past the man below her. Over the next hill she could see the thin frames of the antelope. She gestured below to Dai and made a wide arc to the other side of their game.

Jakko was given his cue. He ran down the hill barking furiously. The antelope ceased their grazing and sprang away.

Above, the cub saw the herd begin to turn away from where Dai was lying in wait for them.

Stupid dog is driving them the wrong way! She fumed and tucked her wings in for a sharp dive. As she came to the front of the herd just a few feet above the ground, she spread her wings full to break her speed, held her hands up to her ears, wiggled her fingers, and blew a raspberry at them to frighten them.

The foremost buck hunched onto his heels and prepared to quickly change direction.

With the twang of a bowstring and the solid thwock of the arrow connecting with its target, the buck never changed direction and instead collapsed to the ground.

The cub cupped her wings to break her flight and land. She poked the protruding arrow curiously.

"A feathered stick?" She mumbled to herself. She had been trained only to hunt by her claws and was not familiar with any weapon. The Sylvan saw it as a disgrace for a young and healthy Kurach to hunt with anything other than their own bodies. Aside from the occasional ceremonial knife awarded to the most capable hunters, she had never even seen a weapon before.

"Cub?" Dai rode up to her and the fallen game quickly. "Are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine." She looked up to him. "Why do you ask?"

"You dropped out of the sky so quickly I was worried I had shot you instead."

"Nah, you missed me," she said absently as she watched him gather the buck. "When can we eat it?"

Dai suppressed a grimace at the calloused nature of her inquiry. "I will dress it tonight," he said and draped the buck across the saddle of his horse. "Why did you dive?"

"They were going the wrong way," the cub said hotly. "I had to fix it."

"No, they were going the way I needed them to go," Dai said patiently. "It's easier for me to hit their broadside and know they will die quickly rather than take a chance missing them from the front or causing them to suffer."

"Oh," the cub muttered.

Jakko came up beside her with his tail wagging, obviously pleased with his performance.

"Quit rubbing it in, Jakko," the cub grumbled.

"Would you like a ride back to camp?" Dai offered her.

"Yes!" She chirped and hopped up onto the backside of the horse. Her footing quickly became unstable as she remained on her hands and feet instead of trying to sit down. "How do you keep your balance on this thing!?" She yelped before tumbling off the back end.

The horse turned his head towards her, obviously annoyed.

"Are you alright?" Dai asked.

"I think I'll fly back instead," the cub growled from her position on the ground.

"Would you like to try again?" Dai asked politely.

She glared up at what part of him she could see above the horse's rear. "Ask me again when the view is better."

"Suit yourself," Dai shrugged and nudged the horse into a trot.

The cub spread her wings and leaped into the air. As she glided along she took note of Dai's position atop the horse. She dove and landed with a loud fwump behind him.

"I thought you were flying back?" Dai asked skeptically over his shoulder.

"The view was better! I figured out how to sit on this thing," the cub said proudly.

"This 'thing' has a name. Speaking of which, what is yours?"

"Shanku! Your name?"

"Dai, and the horse's name is 'Sage'."

"You named him after a bush?" Shanku asked incredulously with her ears half laid back.

"That's what happens when you eat the neighbor's spice garden!" Dai laughed and patted Sage on the neck. "You don't have a normal name either, Shanku."

"I was named after my great-great-granddam. She was a magnificent huntress," Shanku boasted proudly. She cocked her head to the side in curiosity and asked, "Do you have anybody like that in your family?"

"Well, my grandfather was one of the first to breed the Urych that I'm watching over," Dai said simply.

"Where is he now?" Shanku asked. They had arrived back at camp. She remained atop Sage as Dai dismounted and removed the buck.

"Knowing Grandpa he's probably flirting with an angel. He was never very reverent. Grandma was always fussing at him to mind his manners in life," Dai said wistfully.

"No kidding," Shanku mumbled, eyes wide.

"How about your grandparents? How are they?" Dai asked.

"Um..." Shanku paused and remembered back to one of the last meetings she had with her grandparents. Her mother's sire never seemed to remember she wasn't male and was always warning her to never marry as "dams are nothing but trouble", with her granddam all the while scolding him and reminding him that his opinion was very different when they were courting.

"As well as can be expected, I guess," Shanku muttered. "So your grandsire raised those things? What about your sire?" She asked before Dai could ask about her family further.

"He helped Grandpa with the herd until he passed on, and I helped my father with the herd until he also passed on. Likely my son shall continue the tradition with me," Dai said as he gutted the buck.

"The herd sounds more like a death warrant than a tradition," Shanku shuddered then suddenly sat up. "Wait, you have a cub? Do you feel sick?" She asked worriedly.

"Don't worry, it's not my time to go yet," Dai laughed.

"Ma was right. Humans don't live very long if your sire and grandsire have already died," Shanku laid back down on Sage and propped her chin in the palm of her hand.

"You haven't been out much, have you?" Dai asked. Unlike men, Kurach were known to live well past a century.

Shanku scrunched up her face and crossed her eyes, her ears and wings also askew. "'Under no circumstances do good little Kurach ever leave the forest'." It was a lecture she had been given many times and had long ceased to have any respect for it.

"I take it you're not from the Red Wing or Long Ear tribes then?" Dai ventured.

"Do my wings look red to you?" Shanku barked and gestured to her black feathers. "Speaking of long ears, your thieving dog is about to do what he does best," she growled as she glared at the husky.

Dai turned to find that Jakko was trying to sneak part of the meat Dai had cleaned from the buck.

"Jakko, patience!" Dai snapped as Jakko whined, flashing big, pitiful puppy eyes. "You'll have your share, now drop it!" Dai turned back to his work.

"Now, where are you from?" Dai asked the cub bluntly. There seemed to be a forest on every edge of the plains and he wished to narrow down the general direction of the particular forest she came from.

"Jakko!"

Dai looked up and felt very confused.

Shanku had leapt off of Sage and tackled Jakko to the ground. Apparently he had been in the process of sneaking more meat.

"'Drop it' does not mean 'skulk off with it'!" She barked at the pinned dog.

"Good job stopping him, but you startled Sage in the process and made him bolt," Dai said tiredly. Sage was standing on the other side of the herd, snorting loudly.

"Oops," Shanku blushed and dismounted from Jakko. The dog looked up at her submissively. His tail thumped slowly against the ground and he ventured a questioning whine.

"Go into my pack and get my skillet. I'm going to go retrieve Sage," Dai sighed.

"Bad luck follows me!" Shanku grumbled and huffed off.

Jakko raised his hackles and growled indignantly at her.

"Not you, Jakko," Shanku rolled her eyes.

"But not forever! My luck'll change, I just know it! And then I'll do something really great," she said dreamily as she dug around in Dai's saddlebags in search of the frying pan. "And make Gramps and Granny and Ma and Da proud, eh?"

Jakko barked encouragingly. The sooner she left, the better.

"I guess I'll just have to stay with you guys until I figure out how to do that," Shanku said confidently.

Jakko yipped at the thought of keeping company with the volatile cub for an indefinite length of time. He had a long road ahead of him now. He flopped to the ground and gave a mournful howl.

Dai returned with a wary Sage and began to build a fire as Shanku helped him prepare their meal.

"Hey, he dropped it!" Dai said happily.

"Yeah, he wanted to take a nap instead," Shanku laughed.

"Lazy dog," Dai shook his head and began to cook their supper.

And so Dai gained a new cub and Jakko had a new friend to torment. Shanku helped them guard the herd and occasionally would hunt their dinner, even Jakko's.

Feather Divider

As the sun broke over the prairie, Jakko arose and stretched. He gave himself a good shake and trotted merrily through the grass.

Long, quick strides carried him with purpose. He had indebted himself to the girl by stealing and later eating her jackrabbit and he intended to have that debt repaid. Jakko did not expect to have trouble doing this. Jackrabbits were as plentiful as the pheasants and silly little prairie dogs. All he had to do was wait for a fresh scent.

The sun made its slow climb into the sky. Jakko had roamed over a few knolls before finally sighting his target. A nice, plump jackrabbit was nibbling on the grass, if it ever could be said that a jackrabbit was plump. Jakko readied himself and with a yip he launched himself after the jackrabbit.

Immediately frightened, the jackrabbit fled, zigging and zagging in the fashion all rabbits are taught by their parents to lose predators with. Jakko sprang happily behind the rabbit, gaining ground. He had chased jackrabbits many times and it was much harder for them to shake him than when he first came to the prairie.

The gap closed, faster and faster. He was mere inches away from his prize. Jakko opened his mouth wide, preparing to catch the jackrabbit. Suddenly the rabbit was pinned to the ground by an arrow and Jakko tripped and tumbled over the poor thing. Dazed and confused, he sorted himself out and gave himself a good shake.

A cheer rang out from the ridge. Jakko looked to see Shanku jumping up and down with glee at having shot her first rabbit with his master quite taken aback. Dai had been teaching her how to use a bow and scolded her roundly for taking such a risky shot that could have hit the dog instead. She quickly apologized and came up to claim her game.

Jakko snorted and sat sullenly to himself. So much for that rabbit! He had to start fresh on his debt.

Shanku gave him a rub on his ears. "We're even now, Jakko."

Jakko raised his head and barked. Wagging his tail, he followed his master and Shanku back to their camp on the ridge. Shanku helped Jakko guard the herd in the following days and was often tasked with finding their supper to further her huntings skills.

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