Chapter Three

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     The wolf was still following her, the distance between them slowly closing

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     The wolf was still following her, the distance between them slowly closing. The wolf was large for it was no ordinary wolf. It was a direwolf, one of the most fearsome creatures the forest and mountains had to offer. It was possessed of an uncanny gaze, its bright blue eyes following her every move. Other than the intensity of its stare the wild creature made no aggressive motions, no teeth bared or ears back and no menacing growl. It was almost completely silent except for the soft pad of its feet on the forest floor.

      Could this direwolf not be of the mortal realm? Was it perhaps a harbinger of the gods? A wraithe sent to punish her?

      Meruself palmed the dagger from her belt. How meager it felt, lacking of any magical enchantments or otherwordly powers, yet should she have to defend her life against gnashing teeth it would have to be enough. Meruself had known she risked the anger of the Norns if she went against their wishes and meddled in the affairs of mortals. Yet she had done it anyway. Disobedience was disobedience. The reason did not matter. It seemed she had not learned to honor the Norns after all. With the decision to embark on this quest of folly she flaunted her defiance in the faces of the Nornir. What could she expect if not punishment? What meaning did her atonement have if she continually defied the Mother Norns?

      Meruself raised her eyes to the sky and the roiling pewter grey storm clouds that filled it. Even though she could not see it she knew that the sun was at its highest point in the heavens. This foul darkness was as unnatural as it was unwelcome and could only mean one thing. The Norns were angry. Hella Wood was a Feldark forest, it's atmosphere affected and determined by the will and whims, consciousness and emotions of the ruling gods and goddesses. The bright dawn had changed so quickly to a vexed and turbid grey that pitched the enchanted forest into an eerie gloaming. Now caught under the forbidding canopy of hushed leaves, foreboding seeped into Meruself's skin. The familiar boughs and reassuring trunks of old growth trees now held threat and condemnation, and it left her feeling as uneasy as did the presence of the direwolf.

      Yet despite the evidence that her journey was Felcast, and the as yet unknown intention and presence of the formidable and large direwolf, Meruself resolved to carry on. She couldn't let anything deter her from her purpose. Defiance sprang to life inside her. If the gods were against her so be it. Come what may she would weather it, and overcome it. Or die. There was always that option, though one she wouldn't dwell on.

 There was always that option, though one she wouldn't dwell on

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