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1.1 PAWS TO THINK : In which Tikum proceeds to steal his own child-A falling out with a manghihiwit happens- And a cat and mouse chase begins

"You can't run forever, Tikum Kadlum!" the manghihiwit cried as she stood in the middle of the forest. For a moment, her lean, sharp features looked more pallid as a column of emerald light brighter than the last rays of the dying sun shot out from her blackened finger in a blinding flash. The ground shook as the solid shaft tore through the underbrush, uprooting everything on its path. Then, the air began to ripple as it narrowed into a fine needle-thin rod of super-heated beam, felling a tree in half.

The robed woman smiled as she extended her arm to steady the spear of luminescent energy, directing it to the opening where her foe awaited. After half a breath, her wicked spell spiraled down towards Tikum the Black dog Kadlum with deadly speed.

But seeing its glare from a distance, the broad-shouldered timawa leaped away from it, landing in the gray muck chest first. "Is that all you can do?" he said. Then he rolled down a trench to evade the succeeding strike, yelping as pulverized rocks showered all over him. After seeing that he still had all his limbs intact, he hesitantly peered at the edge of the ditch.

"Think Tikum, think," he said to himself as he bide his time in the hole he was in.

"Come out, where I can see you!" the manghihiwit shrieked, one hand poised to release an onslaught of evil enchantments. She walked out of the tree line and stopped a couple of feet from a jutting sentinel rock made of worn out limestone. Her long loose cloak trailed like a shadow behind her. "Are you a dog or are you a mouse?" she said, one brow arched.

Tikum ignored the witch as he looked for a quick exit, a seed of panic growing in his heart. He was in a disadvantage being out in the open and the little cover he had now would work against him if the witch gained a higher vantage point. The square-jawed timawa wiped the clay off his face. He wouldn't have chosen this bald spot of a place to do his deed. The dark forest around them was a better place for his ambush, for his traps. He sighed in disappointment. It was simply too late to pray to his gods for a do-over. And so, like always, he had to settle with the fate he was dealt with, reminding himself that this was all for Ukok.

He let out a series of curses as the ground shook with the witch's powerful magic. "What the---"

"Are you afraid?" the manghihiwit said as she held her attack to let the smoke and dust settle. "If not, then show yourself!"

Tikum raised his head at the edge of the trench. "Ha, I'm not scared of you!" he said, scanning the area for openings he could exploit. "But I'm not that stupid too." Before he could say more, a dark spell burst out from the witch's hand.

"Giatay...," he said as the eerie witch-light passed a couple inches short from taking his ear away with it. The hex struck the dead trunk behind him with a bang, immolating it to ash in seconds. "Hey, that was close!" he added, bolting from his concealment straight out in the open as the debris fell before him.

"Run fool!" the sorceress said as she saw Tikum dash like a headless chicken, falling a couple of times in the slick ground towards the trees. "Run like a coward!"

"I ain't no coward," Tikum Kadlum said as he stood up like a spring to snarl at the witch. His mane-like hair plastered on the left side of his face, bound by a black 'putong'.

"Your actions betray the truth!" she said. "Keep fleeing and you're only gonna die tired."

"Ha, I can do this all day," Tikum said, trying to catch his breath as he circled his enemy using the treeline for cover. Another wicked stream streaked towards Tikum but like a spine-tailed swift he dived behind a huge rock.

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