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The howling died and the wolf attack did not materialize. The mules relaxed, and even Iola, the homing pigeon, tucked her beak into her feathers and went to sleep. But Alastor kept watch, dozing off and waking in starts, until the first glow of dawn lightened the opaque fog.

He lost six hours but, with some good fortune, could still reach the trading post before sunset. The path ahead was a narrow rocky slope made slippery by wet dew. He secured his three pack animals in a single file with ropes and knots that would easily unravel and come free under a sudden and sharp tug. If one of the mules lost its footing and plunged down the hillside, it will not pull the other two after it.

Alastor set off in a steady pace, his eyes constantly roving the heights on the right and the ravine to the left. He ate on the move, and planned to water and feed the animals at the brook, the one he would have reached by dawn if not for the wolves. 

It was almost noon when the path eased into the flats. Turning a bend on the road, he came upon a small party of armed and mounted men. They looked weary and wary, and eyed him with some suspicion.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

Context: When a wolf pack, chased away from its usual range, seeks new habitat near human settlements, it is a recipe for bloody confrontation.

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