Eimhir Mòr Sidheag was disgraced, and she knew it.
She took her name from the clan's totem animal, the great plains wolf. Strong, tenacious, and cunning. Eimhir was all of these, the fiercest and most skilled of the warrior-women in her tribe.
For all the good that did, she thought bitterly.
It was raining. The gods' tears, she recalled the old shaman Artair Taog saying once, a long time ago. Icy rivulets ran down her bone-filigreed armour, dripping down her hair and into the collar between armour and neck, pooling before she shook her mane of fiery red hair.
The ground had long turned to mud, treacherous and slimy. It clung unpleasantly to her bare feet. Eimhir unsheathed her greatsword and let its leather scabbard fall to the earth. Duine Saoibhir, she had named it. Bringer of Death.
She gazed at the practice field before her. It consisted of a dozen poles, each mounted with a thick head of wet hay, spaced at random locations. Overhead, thunder boomed, as if in challenge. Eimhir threw her head back and screamed back at the heavens in helpless rage, denial, and sheer despair.
The greatsword weighed over forty pounds, a difficult burden to bear at any time, and even more so in combat. But Eimhir had wielded Duine Saoibhir since forever, and she knew the sword. She knew how to use its own weight to counter the momentum of a swing, how to check a slash before it came dangerously uncontrolled; in her hands, Duine Saoibhir came alive, became an extension of her will, an outlet for her fury.
Twelve targets. One for each of those she had failed. One for each cry of the Remembrance, the Chorus For The Fallen. Eimhir would never forget their names, not as long as she breathed, and she chanted them as she flowed through the sacred forms of the Saltair cu Claidheamh, the sword forms taught to every Sessair child of age.
Cailean, with the booming laugh. From the faicill guard position, Duine Saoibhir came up and slashed through a head of hay. The way poor Cailean had taken the blow that sent his guts spilling out on to the bloody ground.
Donnchadh, who was the sweetest lad a woman could wish for, save when he was enraged. Eimhir spun a circle, took two steps, and decapitated another stack of hay. Donnchadh had been taken from behind. She could still remember the surprised look on his face as he died.
Tearlag, who always wore a garland of flowers around her neck, even into battle. Eimhir could remember the way the flowers took to the air when the blade bit through Tearlag's slender neck.
Dearbhail, with that insanely stupid giggle that never failed to get under her skin. She would never irritate Eimhir again, not with eight lances buried in her.
And the rest.
Eimhir cried as she recited their names, cried as she never had before. Pain tore at her heart. If only she had not insisted on taking the path through the forest that day. If only she had listened to the tracker Grainne. If only …
So many ifs. So many dead.
Because of her pride.
Slowly, she became aware that all the targets had been destroyed.
And someone was clapping.
The sound was dulled by the pouring rain, but it was applause nonetheless.
The shaman. Artair Taog. The Living Embodiment of the Wolf.
Respect warred with the pain and anger inside her. Respect won.
Eimhir planted the greatsword in the ground, lowered herself to her knees in deference to the aged, powerful sorcerer. At eighty summers, Artair had seen almost everything there was to see, and had outlived two sons. His daughter, Morag, had also heard the Call, and showed great promise of becoming a great druid like her father.
Artair shuffled across the muddy ground, seemingly enjoying the ice-cold droplets of rain that pelted him. He came before Eimhir, and laid a hand on her head. She accepted the spoken benediction, then rose.
"Athair Taog," she greeted him. Bitterness edged her voice.
The shaman raised an eyebrow.
"This behaviour ill becomes you, Eimhir."
"I … I apologize for my rudeness, shaman. But their spirits! They call to me …"
" … for vengeance, aye. I hear them, too. I have the Sight, do I not?"
"What can I do? What must I do?"
"Come with me."
He did not lead her back to the village.
Instead, Artair took her to the Paths of Spirits, where the Sessair clan laid their honoured dead to rest. It was a cave not far from the village. Nobody was allowed here except the druids of the clan.
Like all Sessairs, Eimhir had a healthy respect for the dead.
"We should not be here," she shivered. "This is a sacred, holy place."
The shaman ignored her, took her hand, and walked on. Reluctantly, Eimhir allowed herself to be led.
They stopped deep inside the cave, where the only light came from the phosphorescent fungus and glow worms that were so prevalent underground. It was a great chamber formed from countless aeons of running water, lined with mineral crystals and gave it an eerie, shiny appearance.
Eimhir peered around shortsightedly and caught her breath when she saw what was in the middle of the chamber.
Hung upon a pair of stalagmites rising from the ground was a great skull. And behind it, a spear with its butt end thrust solidly into the ground.
It had been stained a light shade of purple from the years underground, the porous bone absorbing minerals from the cave. The skull was the size of Eimhir's torso, its fangs the length of her forearm.
She had no trouble recognizing it.
"Athach Fael-chu," Eimhir breathed.
"The great wolf himself," Artair agreed. "Whom our ancestor, Coireall Coinneach, slew with this …"
So saying, the shaman walked to the spear and reverently lifted it from its resting place.
"The spear of Coinneach himself, that he used to destroy Athach Fael-chu and win the Mark of the Wolf …"
Unbidden, Eimhir reached out. The shaman gently placed the ancient relic in her hands.
Its shaft was smooth and polished, untouched by the many years spent languishing underground. She could feel the runes carved into the wood beneath her fingers. They were the names of those Coinneach had held dear, but had passed from this world before him. This was the first Remembrance, the Chorus For The Fallen. She wept as she traced the names and found Meadhbh.
His wife. Coinneach's beloved wife. When she had been taken by the plague, Coinneach had braved the Underworld itself to save her soul. Confronted by his courage, touched by their love, Death had given Meadhbh back to Coinneach.
Dioghaltas was weighted at its butt end, allowing the spear to be planted firmly to receive a charge. At the top, a razor-sharp blade fashioned from volcanic obsidian capped the weapon. Runes were carved on upon the length of this. They spelt out the oaths that each Sessair warrior took upon taking his or her first weapon.
Courage. Humility. Tenacity. And above all, Honour.
Speiread. Iriosal. Righinn. Eanach.
Eimhir whispered them as she touched the cold obsidian. She ran a finger lightly along its edge, letting the blade taste her blood.
The spear was not her weapon of choice, but as she took a step back and spun the ancient artifact through a few paces, the rightness of it flooded her being. Satisfied, Eimhir hefted the weapon in both hands and looked at Artair, understanding what she needed to do.
Artair smiled his approval, and said it anyway.
"You will go out into the world, and find the beasts that destroyed your hunting pack and your honour. Then, you will take Dioghaltas, and redeem yourself in their blood.
Many of the clan had observed her passage with Artair to the Paths of Spirit, and a small crowd had gathered at the mouth of the cave. When the pair came back out into the rain, a respectful hush befell the watchers when they saw that Eimhir carried the Spear of Coinneach.
She raised the weapon high above her head, and shouted out.
"I am Eimhir Mòr Sidheag, fianna of the Wolf Clan! Today, I ride out in search of vengeance against the beasts that killed my pack! I shall return victorious, or I shall not return at all!"
The crowd responded with a gusty cheer. Eimhir had invoked the Chorus For Vengeance, and none present would ever doubt that she would go back on her word.
As the roars died down, a quiet voice spoke. "Eimhir Mòr Sidheag, you ride out on a most worthy quest, but even you cannot do this alone."
Bristling at the comment, Eimhir turned to face six Sessairs, obviously armed and ready for the ride. "Who dares speak so?"
"It is I, Ròidh du Gilleathain." The speaker was broad-shouldered, with eyes that twinkled. He wore no armour, and carried a longspear and the traditional javelins of a hunter. "And I know you, lass."
Eimhir broke into a smile. When she had returned, bloodied and disheveled, and others of the clan had shunned her, Ròidh and his pack had taken her in and nursed her back to health. He alone had stood fast to the unspoken vows of friendship that bound them together.
"Come then," Eimhir invited. "The day grows ever shorter whilst we stand here idling."
"Spoken like a true Sessair!" Ròidh laughed grimly. "Let the hunters become the hunted!"
Artair Taog watched them go. With his Sight, he knew that he would never see them again. He raised one aged hand, and spoke his benediction to the wind.
But he also knew they would not dishonour their clan.
And that was enough.
The shaman smiled through his tears.
"Ride far, brave ones," he whispered. "Ride far, and hunt well."
It took them six days of hard riding before they found the tracks.
They were unmistakable: an imprint with four large toes, balanced towards the front of the foot, and large claws angled towards the front. Ròidh dismounted, and crouched down, gently running his callused fingers around the circumference of the print.
"We have found them," he breathed, hoarse with excitement. "No more than two day's ride ahead of us."
The Sessair hunter moved in the half-crouch taught to all of his class, following the tracks effortlessly through the fields of tall, wild grass. It took him barely five minutes, and he came back, grinning in satisfaction.
"A score of them," Ròidh declared. "A full raiding party, armed to the teeth."
"But they don't usually travel in the light of day," the other hunter, Brìghde, pointed out.
Eimhir shrugged. They were prey as far as she was concerned, to be hunted down and exterminated.
"Something is amiss," Ròidh agreed. "They draw their strength from the moon, after all. But we shall find out what only when we meet them, not before. No point thinking about it now."
"Let's go, then!" Eimhir shouted, and spurred her horse forward. The others followed.
It was barely mid-day when they found the first signs of battle. It did not take a hunter to tell them that it was a hard fight. The grass had been stained crimson, and broken weapons were strewn around.
But there were no bodies.
Brìghde knelt down in the churned mud and fingered a massive blade thoughtfully. "It's them, no doubt about it. I doubt anyone else would use such a blade."
The weapon she indicated was fully half the height of a tall man, and as thick as two hand-spans. A single handle had been welded to the front third of the weapon, protruding out at right angles to the blade. It was obviously meant to be grasped there, the blade slung under a forearm, and used in a slashing motion.
"A reaper-blade." Eimhir glanced around involuntarily. "But where are the bodies?"
Ròidh joined them then. Despite the heat, he kept his hunter's cowl drawn over his head. He gestured around them. "They were ambushed. The attackers buried themselves in the ground – you can see the shallow trenches, but only up close. They never even saw who killed them."
They all knew how odd this was. One of the characteristics of the creatures they were hunting was an exceptional sense of smell. The other was excellent night vision. The combination was what made the foe so formidable.
"Not all, though," the hulking warrior Conal rumbled. He pointed east. "I found tracks – you don't need to be a hunter to see that something, or somethings, were dragged that way."
"I missed that," Ròidh grimaced, chagrined.
"Idiot," Eimhir hit him affectionately on the shoulder, but quickly turned serious again. "Shall we go find out just exactly where they went?"
It was another five miles and an hour to dusk before they heard the clash of weapons and the howls of the foe. The grassy plain here did little to hide the conflict, and they could all see that the leaping, slashing silhouettes of the hunters.
Eimhir did not care who they were fighting. She only knew that her moment of vengeance had come. Lifting her greatsword, she spurred her steed into a charge, screaming wildly.
"No! Eimhir, wait!" Ròidh shouted vainly. Swearing, he followed her, and in turn, the rest of the troupe followed him.
The battle fury singing in her veins, Eimhir rode down on one of the great beasts. Eight feet tall, all of it muscle, it was a wolf that walked upright. In one hand, it held a blade that a strong man must surely have struggled to lift with two hands, let alone use as a weapon. Its yellow eyes glowed balefully, even in the dusk light, and even without its sword, its teeth and claws were most definitely weapon enough.
Duine Saoibhir split the air with a lethal whistle and clove down towards the Wolfen warrior. Already beset by two other human opponents, the beast nonetheless noticed her charge. For something that large, it moved remarkably quickly.
The Wolfen warrior accepted a stinging hit from one of its foes, but spun in a blindingly-fast half-circle, sword-edge leading, to deflect a wicked cut from its other antagonist. Its momentum unabated, the beast smashed its blade into Duine Saoibhir with enough force to knock Eimhir completely off her horse.
A skilled veteran, the Sessair woman willingly let go of her greatsword and fell off her mount. She tucked and rolled, ending in a back-flip that would have put a trained acrobat to shame, landing neatly on her two feet. Reaching behind her, she yanked out the Spear of Coinneach and held it out horizontal before her, in the traditional ùrlaim guard position.
To her amazement, the Wolfen spoke.
"No fight! No fight!"
It fell back away from her, dodging the blades of its opponents by bobbing and weaving in a curious manner that would have been comical in any other context. Abruptly, it twisted from the waist and swung its blade. The keen edge sheared through the arm of one combatant, sending it flying through the air.
The horrific injury did nothing to slow the attacker. With a lurch, the man snarled and charged forward …
Ice gripped Eimhir's heart. "Cailean!"
In the heated rush of combat, Eimhir did not recognize her friend.
Her dead friend.
She knew he was dead. Cailean had taken a Wolfen's reaper-blade clean across his stomach. As he had doubled over, trying to stuff his guts back in, the Wolfen had taken his head with another sweep of its blade. Eimhir remembered.
The one-armed monster rushing the Wolfen warrior only vaguely resembled Cailean. Its face was twisted in a vicious grimace, and its eyes were wide, empty sockets. The gash across its belly spewed forth maggots and decaying innards with every step, the result of weeks of putrefaction.
But worst of all was its neck, where Cailean had taken that final, decapitating slash. Eimhir could see the careful, precise stitches that attached Cailean's head to his neck.
"Cailean!" Eimhir screamed. "NO!"
The last word was directed at the Wolfen warrior. With one clawed hand, the Wolfen grasped Cailean's face. Muscles bunching, the bestial creature wrenched sharply. The sound of breaking bone was audible even above the din of battle, and Cailean stumbled drunkenly to the left.
The Wolfen growled and swung its blade in a wide arc.
For the second time in three months, Cailean lost his head. It went spinning through the air, mouth agape and screeching soulless shrieks.
His body kept on coming.
Somehow, without eyes, ears, nor any type of sensory organ, Cailean knew exactly where his opponents were. Neither had he lost any of his skill and strength.
Shocked beyond words, Eimhir just stood there dumbly as the Wolfen fended off several of Cailean's classic moves – the arrested half-thrust with the sword Cailean called cutach caisg, the half-crescent slash eayst cheyl …
She came back to life abruptly when the Wolfen warrior screamed something indecipherable and shouldered her aside.
Cailean buried his blade in the Wolfen's shoulder.
With nary a grunt, the beast tore his shoulder free and rammed his reaper-blade into Cailean's body. The Wolfen extended the claws of his free hand next, and thrust this in next to his buried blade. In a terrifying display of sheer, brute strength and power, the Wolfen simply yanked with hand and blade, and tore Cailean's body asunder.
Eimhir heard someone screaming, dimly realized it was her when the wounded Wolfen grabbed her and flung her aside. A dazzling flurry of axe blows clove through the air where she had been a moment ago.
The Sessair woman stared blankly at the axe-wielding maniac.
Her friend was as blank-faced and dead as Cailean. Again, the stitches holding neck to head. Tearlag smiled expressionlessly at Eimhir as she raised her twin axes for another strike.
"Help! Need help!"
It was the Wolfen warrior. Despite his wounds, he still fought on. The desperate plea somehow brought Eimhir back.
Tearlag had been famous for her ambidexterity and speed. While she could never have hit as hard as Cailean, the razor-honed edges of her axes ensured that she never needed to. Eimhir had seen the woman toss a dozen coins in the air, then grab each and every one of them before they had fallen to the ground, all done in barely the span of a breaths.
Death had not been kind to Tearlag. The natural decomposition of her flesh had robbed her of a great deal of speed, but she had the devil-gifted strength of the damned now. With so clumsy a weapon as the two-handed Spear of Coinneach, Eimhir was not entirely sure she could stop Tearlag.
She opted for the next best thing: dodging, bobbing, weaving, and blocking with the staff, watching carefully for her turn to strike.
It came soon enough. Tearlag lashed out in a left-right combination designed to take her defense high, then swept around with a lightning-fast slash that should have cut her legs from under her.
Eimhir knew this pattern, it had been one of Tearlag's favourites. With the opponent flat on the ground, the fight was as good as over.
But Tearlag was no longer fast enough.
Just a fraction of a second slower than she had been alive.
It was enough.
Eimhir responded with the lightning reflexes that had been drilled into every Sessair fianna since young. As Tearlag lashed out with her left axe-hand in the low cut, Eimhir had time enough to launch a solid hit against her chest with the blade of the Staff of Coinneach.
Thunder boomed, although the skies were clear.
The spear shuddered in Eimhir's hands.
Eimhir cried out as chunks of diseased, rotting flesh came raining down all over the place. She eyed the Spear of Coinneach with new respect. Unbidden, the truth behind the power of the spear appeared in her mind.
Earth arises once more, to reclaim the dust that rightfully belongs to her.
The Wolfen warrior bared his fangs at her in what might have been a smile. "Good weapon! Use well!"
Eimhir nodded, and was just about to speak when an un-horsed Ròidh stumbled his way to her.
"Do you see what I see?" He gasped, slightly wild-eyed. "Did I see what I think I just saw you do?"
"Aye." Spinning the Spear of Coinneach, Eimhir deflected a strike aimed at the rattled Ròidh. She twisted the weapon smartly in her hands in a left-over-right motion, and retaliated with the weighted end of the spear. The attacker took the blow to the head and reeled, which gave her time enough to ram the spearhead up between its legs.
Again, the nauseating explosion of undead flesh.
"What is that thing?" Ròidh cried. Having recovered his posture, he discarded his longspear – far too unwieldy for close combat – and went with his second favourite weapon combination of axe and knife.
"The Spear of Coinneach," Eimhir replied simply before rushing off to engage another undead Wolfen soldier.
An undead Donnchadh came at Ròidh then, greatclub swinging. The weapon was simply a massive chunk of iron-bound wood, with nails driven into it at irregular intervals. Among the strongest of the clan when he was alive, Donnchadh was now gifted with an inhuman potency.
The greatclub came at Ròidh, and he did not even try to block it. Ròidh ducked under the arc of its swing, and rammed his knife into his attacker's arm. A deft twist ripped what little flesh was hanging from Donnchadh's arm, and Ròidh spun smartly away.
The wound mattered little to the undead Sessair, but wielding such a enormous weapon required a great deal of balance and strength. The few shreds of skin and muscle Ròidh had torn away weighed less than a pound, but proved enough to unbalance Donnchadh.
Suddenly heavy on one side, Donnchadh faltered for a moment, the upraised club staggering even him with its sheer weight. For barely an instant, the monstrous Sessair warrior was immobilized in a comic pose with arms above his head and one foot lifted off the ground.
The moment came to a crashing end as Ròidh dropped to his knees and hewed viciously at his former friend's knees. Brittle bone and muscle came apart as Ròidh powered his axe through, and Donnchadh collapsed helplessly to the bloody ground.
His greatclub followed, and crushed the undead Sessair across the chest.
Ròidh lost no time in taking axe and knife to the fallen warrior, slicing and cutting in a manner that had nothing to do with honourable combat, but was more akin to the butchery of a pig.
"Rest ye in peace, Donnchadh," Ròidh panted when he was done. No amount of stitching was going to put Donnchadh back together again.
Ròidh lifted his fouled weapons and went looking for more trouble, his heart aching.
Eimhir found herself back-to-back with the wounded Wolfen warrior. The enemies they faced were not only her undead comrades, but also those of the Wolfen. The encroaching twilight did much to hide the snarling visages of their undead assailants, but did nothing to mute their twisted, soul-rending cries.
Hurt, but nonetheless game, the Wolfen warrior growled as he slashed his reaper-blade through the air and knocked aside questing blades.
"Useless! Must find undead master! Necromancer – KEY!!"
The Sessair fianna nodded, then grabbed the Spear of Coinneach firmly in both hands. She swung the weapon in an ungraceful double-arc, using the sharp obsidian spearhead like a slashing knife. Where the blade touched the undead warriors, they exploded. Giblets of undead flesh pelted Eimhir and the Wolfen warrior, but for a moment, there was a clear way out of the melee.
"Come on!" Eimhir shouted, then lowered her shoulder and charged ahead. Heavy footsteps behind her told her that the Wolfen warrior was following. She crashed into one undead warrior after another, roughly shoving them aside. In a surprisingly short time, they were free.
That was when she saw him.
The necromancer. There could be no mistaking.
On a nearby knoll of grass, he stood, tall and foreboding. Energy crackled around him, dark and evil. Eimhir could feel the sheer wrongness of it pulsing out in waves. Clothed in tattered, yet rich, robes, she could feel his penetrating gaze even from this distance.
Unmistakably, she saw the figure raise one arm and make a 'come hither' motion. With the other, he drew a sword.
"I am Arkaoth the Liche!" The necromancer laughed. "And soon, you, too, will serve in my undead armies!"
With that, he gestured.
An invisible force slammed into Eimhir and the Wolfen warrior, bowling them over. Unhurt save for their pride, Eimhir took a moment to dust herself off.
"I'm going to gut him," Eimhir swore.
"Not if … I get first!" The Wolfen warrior panted, right beside her.
Startled, she stopped for a moment. The Wolfen warrior shot her a grin full of teeth, and charged forward. Growling, she re-doubled her efforts, and together, they bolted across the killing grounds to the waiting necromancer.
The faster, stronger Wolfen warrior got there first. Reaper-blade met the necromancer's shadowsword with a resounding clash. Despite the Wolfen's superior size and strength, the necromancer easily deflected the stroke, then turned the parry into a slash that clove through the Wolfen's side.
Blood sprayed as the bestial warrior howled in agony.
Contemptuously, the necromancer reached out with his free hand and shoved the Wolfen aside. It fell, scrabbling weakly in the dirt.
Eimhir got there then, and sent the Spear of Coinneach spinning at the necromancer. As skilled as any swordsman she had seen, the foul sorcerer dodged the blow and punched out with his sword hilt. It connected solidly with Eimhir's chest, and with a startled oof, she staggered back a step.
The shadowsword came in at her, the necromancer seizing the advantage. It dipped and slid in at her from impossible angles, nicking her here and clipping her there. It was all Eimhir could do to protect herself.
Where did he learn all that? He doesn't fight like a mage more using to studying dusty grimoires – he fights like a master swordsman!
Bleeding freely from a dozen minor wounds, Eimhir was forced to retreat for a moment under the relentless assault. The taste soured in her mouth as she realized that the sorcerer was really only toying with her. She knew that she could never beat him this way.
"Tiring, little one?" Arkaoth grinned, his emaciated, skeletal features hideous to behold. "You cannot defeat me – I can draw upon the knowledge of a thousand warriors I have slain before!"
To demonstrate his point, the sorcerer danced in and stop-thrust with his sword, a tricky blow that Eimhir had only ever seen dead Cailean perform. The feint caught her, and when he drew back and leaned into a renewed thrust, she was helpless to parry it.
Eimhir screamed in agony as the razor-sharp shadowsword punched clean through her left shoulder. Relishing her pain, the necromancer took a step forward and drove Eimhir to her knees. The Spear of Coinneach fell from her nerveless fingers to the ground.
"You are a strong warrior – your soul will serve Acheron well."
So saying, Arkaoth began chanting in an unknown language. The words roiled through the air, taking on a dark substance, and Eimhir could feel her soul recoiling from the unholy power.
She had to break free before the spell took hold.
Desperately, Eimhir reached out blindly for the Spear of Coinneach. Miraculously, she found it almost immediately.
"Serve this," she spat at Arkaoth.
And rammed the butt end of the Spear of Coinneach into the necromancer's groin.
The results were predictable enough.
Arkaoth choked off the spell in mid-chant, his eyes bulging at the uniquely male pain. As he doubled over, gasping, a great black shape rose up behind him.
Coughing blood with every motion, the Wolfen warrior nonetheless raised his mighty reaper-blade for one last strike.
"Yes," it hissed. "Serve this."
The long, distinguished career of Arkaoth the Liche came to a crashing end that night, and with it, those who had been forced to serve him beyond death were finally granted rest.
Much later, their wounds bound, Wolfen and Sessair worked side by side, laying their honoured dead into proper graves. The grim work done, the Wolfen each faced the moon, and gave voice to their grief while the Sessairs spoke the Remembrance. The howls echoed in poignant counterpoint to the sad intonations of the Chorus for the Fallen, alien yet somehow appropriate.
The huge Wolfen warrior who had fought Arkaoth beside Eimhir walked up to her then. The fianna tensed, but the Wolfen merely leaned in and sniffed her nose delicately.
"Cloud-Walker remember forever you," it growled, and dipped its head in respect. "You do much honour to the Moon Goddess."
"You killed my pack," Eimhir returned. "It is not over between us."
"Was necessary. Your pack marked by necromancer. To turn into zombies, like our pack."
"We, Wolfen, outcast. Repentant. Hunt and give rest to peoples marked by necromancer. Will do this until all of us are dead. As penance for sins against Moon Goddess."
Towering over her, limned by the moonlight, Cloud-Walker looked like some awful specter of death. "Will not allow marked peoples to be dishonoured by necromancers. Will give marked peoples honoured rest."
He stretched out a huge paw towards Eimhir, and laid it gently on her shoulder. "You strong. Worthy of joining hunting Wolfen. Will remember forever you."
Cloud-Walker smiled then, all teeth and fangs. But there was a sadness in his face that touched Eimhir.
"Hope fianna remember Cloud-Walker and pack. When we die, hope fianna tell Moon Goddess of our penance so Yillia give us rest.
"Farewell, fianna. Hunt well."
With that, the massive Wolfen turned away.
Within moments, they were gone.
The Sessairs had all made it through the fray alive, although everyone sported cuts and bruises aplenty. Ròidh looked uncertainly at Eimhir.
"Do we go home now?"
She hesitated, then spoke. "Well, I suppose we could. Our work is done."
"But where would the fun be in that?" Conal rumbled. A huge grin split his face. "I can tell what ye be thinking, Ròidh."
"And I can tell what you are thinking, too, Eimhir," Ròidh laughed.
Feeling like a great weight had lifted from her shoulders, Eimhir joined in the laughter. "Well, then, what are we waiting for?"
Amidst a chorus of cheers, Eimhir and her new pack started out after the Wolfen.
"Hey! Cloud-Walker! Wait up! Save some for us! Plenty of necromancer to go around!"