Later, Timmorn ran through the darkest part of the night, through the deep woods. His eyes, yellow as twin moons, saw the world swirl mistily by him in the starlight as he ran, his breath and blood singing, the wolf high within him. Somewhere, behind the trees in the deepest shadows, he knew the wolf-pack was with him, though they still ran their own path, black and fluid in the night. Not true elf, not true wolf, Timmorn was both now, instead of neither. That knowledge lived, secure, in his blood.

Back in the camp, the one who had been Valloa slept, her wounds attended by the healer. Among the others, there was some little confusion, for they did not understand why she went by another name now. No matter. The new name, the Murrel name whispered in his mind with a voice no one else could hear or share, and it called to him. The two had not joined this night as the voice had gently urged, for she was

still weak, but Timmorn knew that matings-and cubs-would come. There was a something, a bond, a feeling he had not experienced before. It was a feeling both fresh and new, and incredibly ancient. It warmed within him.

(And as he ran and turned the new thing over and over in his mind, tasting it, Timmorn also thought of the other one, Seilein. He grinned, wolflike, lips tight over sharp teeth; there would be joinings there too, if he had sensed her own mind and scent correctly…)

It is life, he realized, slowing to a gentle lope. He went in his mind to the place that had been so troubled, to the empty hole that had been gouged there by the death of the wolf days before. The new thoughts filled the hole and soothed it, and they were the shape and color and smell and feel of life.

Timmorn had seen death before, and he knew he would see it again. The world was full of death. But now he could fight it and not scamper aside from its fangs and claws like a frightened wolf who only knew self, and not others.

He did not yet know if the new feeling meant much or little to the others, the ones who slept and tried and succeeded or failed, but at that moment, in the now that filled him up, it meant all.

The young elf-woman's face showed the effects of an eight-of-days spent eating poorly and sleeping worse. Dark bruises clouded her green-and-gold eyes, and her gestures, as she slid down the tree trunk to sit amid its roots, were weariness personified. Even her hair, normally full of sunlight and curls, fell limp around her face.

**I don't know what to do,** she sent to the elf hidden in the branches above her.**Could it be Recognition?**

The leaves rustled and Longreach leaped to the ground, agile for all that Bearclaw was his fifth chief. 'If you have to ask, it isn't Recognition,' he said with a sly smile.

'Then what is it? Finding my soulname was nothing compared to this. No matter what I do there's an ache somewhere inside. I wake up from a sound sleep knowing that I've dreamt something awful but not being able to remember it. Sometimes I just go to the tall grasses and run until I collapse. Not even my wolf-friend can help me.'

Longreach loosened the laces of his tunic and produced a small, lumpy pouch from which he removed a handful of wrinkled berries. He offered them to Nightfall, then poured them into her hand when she refused to take them.

'A story? I don't see how a story can help me.'

'There are many stories you've never heard, little one.' The storyteller leaned against the tree as a farseeing look came over his face. Longreach no longer needed the berries

to find the treasure trove of Wolfrider memories. 'Some stories, I think, wait for generations until the right pair of ears is born to hear it.'

'I don't want to hear how Darkwater quested for two turns of the season before she found the secret of setting the feathers in an arrow's tail,' the adolescent warned. 'I want my answer now.''

Longreach frowned in feigned offense. 'I wasn't even thinking of that one. And anyway, she was looking for something while you've been found by it.'

Nightfall relaxed. They all came to the storyteller, sooner or later, when there was no one else who would understand. And his wisdom was already soothing her thoughts; she'd been thinking something was missing instead of noticing something had been added.

'The high ones' blood runs strong in you, child. Your mother's mother had almost no wolf-blood in her. But Timmorn's blood runs strong too; you get that from your father who would have been chief if Mantricker had died before Bearclaw found his name. You mustn't be surprised when the bloods rest uneasily against each other. It's a hand of generations or more for the rest of us, but for you it is as it was near the beginning of the Wolfriders.

'I'll tell you about Rahnee the She-Wolf, and why she'd understand how you feel.''

Coming of Age

by Lynn Abbey

The spear flew from her fingers as the great stag rose on its hind feet, ready to leap from the quiet clearing. The sharp stone tip struck deep, but not in heart-flesh where it would have dropped the stag in its tracks. Hidden in the bushes, the silver-haired huntress heaved a bitter sigh and took up the chase again.

Cursing inwardly, she followed the wounded beast deeper into the forest, tracking it by the smell of its fresh- shed blood. She need not keep it in sight nor exhaust herself in matching its early pace; its wound would kill it soon enough- though it was not her way to let her prey die of blood-death and exhaustion.

Burdened by the height and breadth of his antlers, the stag kept to well-cleared trails, not like smaller game which went to ground in briars or swamps and, like as not, became a meal for scavengers rather than hunters. No, the danger now was that the blood would draw other hunters who would reach the dying stag first and who did not need shaped stone to make their kills. She should have called her brothers and sisters to her aid, but they would have seen the poorly placed spear and mocked her skill as a hunter.

She pressed on, beyond the hunt's boundary, head held high and her mind tingling with the scent of blood. There were sounds on her left and a breeze brought wolf-smell mingling with the blood-true-wolves, whose friendship could not be relied upon. Without breaking stride the hunter brushed her hand along her thigh and felt the knife that rested there, slung down from her waist. A metal knife, ancient beyond

belief, with an edge sharper than any wolf's tooth or cat's claw, and her most prized possession.

She howled as well-a warble that would tell any wolf or other predator that this prey was claimed. The one running beside her held tongue and kept pace. A loner, then, who answered no pack and would attack her as soon as the stag. Gulping air, she ran faster and shed her pride to send an image of the trail into the minds of her huntmates.

Perhaps the lone one caught her image. It happened that way, sometimes, when the hunt had blood in its nostrils and the true-wolves were close by. Whatever, it dropped back and she ran alone, setting the images in her mind so she could find her way back when it was over.

Her breath was fire, but it was worse for the stag. She heard it crash into the underbrush and found the strength to sprint the last distance. Knife drawn, the huntress threw herself across the fallen, gasping beast and ended its agony. It had begun to cool before her breath came easily again and she levered herself up to her elbows.

And into her father's yellow-blazing stare.

**Who are you?** he asked with mind alone.

Not that he didn't know, in a general way, that she was one of his. All the hunt was his; what wasn't other, elfin, was his one way or another. The hunt was his children, his grandchildren and beyond-down to those who neither spoke nor sent but were long and sharp of tooth.

'She-wolf,' she replied, daring to sit on her haunches as the fire in his eyes ebbed back.

She was not the highest among his children-and the hunt reminded her of it. Names were for the ones who mattered; the ones who had earned them. And of late there had been very few of Timmorn's first-born like herself with names.

The hunt had mated within itself and back to their yellow-eyed ancestors. They'd become peerless killers and regarded the first-born as failures. Strength and success were what counted within the hunt, and it did not matter that their offspring were often misborn and did not survive their milk-days.

The crossbred hunters lived longer than the true-wolves and scorned the others with whom they shared space and food. And the others, the elves, had grown wary, seeming content to take only what the hunt wished to give. But she was first-born; her mother was one of the others. It showed in her eyes, in her hands and in her teeth, but mostly it showed in her loneliness: neither hunt nor other.

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