His name is Stronghammer.

Gray eyes surveyed the land.

The ground was covered in a sea of brown. Deciduous trees had lost their leaves while evergreens remained standing in cold passing winds. With the darkness of thick canopies it should be menacing.

But such a sight was familiar. He was used to it. And as much as he has only lived a short life, knew it. It was home. It was where he had grown up.

His master taught him all that was to live in the Spine. That seeing tracks in the dirt meant an animal was nearby, and judging by the disturbance, meant that it had either been running or looking for food. Large tracks usually meant predators, while smaller ones were prey (sometimes that wasn't the case).

He knew that if he wasn't careful then he could lose his life. That if he didn't treat the land with respect, it would retaliate. The forest was alive even though it didn't show it. It could be just as gentle as it could be relentless and unforgiving.

He lurked in the shadows where he would stay hidden. Dark leaves matched the color of the furs he wore. As long as he wasn't seen, then he knew he would be okay.

He traveled some more. Perhaps he could find a deer this time. They were wily and nimble, often making it hard for him to sneak up on. But they were also bigger and would provide more meat for the weeks to come.

He didn't get far as he soon began to hear a sound of someone struggling. He listened intently from where it was coming, strode through the brush, and on the other side, found a boy.