By the time they bundled up and left the slums the sun was already throwing out its last rays. The shadows were already long and the forest was shrouded in darkness from a distance.
The path was empty everyone had long since returned to the village. The two entered the forest and Chu led the way to the group of trees he had seen during the day. It was during this walk that they fell into danger.
The grey wolf was treated as a skilled hunter. Before winter they moved alone and by instinct and animal behaviour, separated their hunting zones. A skilled hunter, it stalked the areas around the lumber camp to pick off individuals venturing to far. When darkness falls, they would venture brazenly into the camp area, sniffing and reclaiming their area.
As a modern-day individual this would be a standard narrative in wildlife documentaries. Unfortunately these memories were not at the forefront in Chu’s mind.
“Hey! What the heck was that?”
Chu grabbed Ming shoulder and asked. The latter turned his face slowly and stiffly like gears badly in need of oil. His face had an eerie forced smile.
“What do you mean, WHAT was that? Isn’t it the sound a wolf makes?”
Chu felt Ming’s reply was demeaning. Ming felt he could have held this idiot and bitch slapped him back into sanity.
“Holy s#@T! it’s getting nearer, did you hear that?”
As a virgin trapper being in a dusk lit forest accompanied by those howls was an exquisite experience. The only thing missing was a bladder release.
“Hey. Think about it. We are probably the only two crazy idiots in these woods. Top it off, we are carrying a pot of blood and those fat pills you concocted. We should just put out a sign saying eat me.”
His companion looked down and gave him such a philosophical speech. If it wasn’t for the blissful face as some pressure had been lifted, or the yellow liquid puddle forming at his feet Chu might have taken him seriously.
“Quick let’s run we are nearly there.”
They quickly reached the area Chu selected. It was here another small problem surfaced.
“Hey. What gives. Why are we stopping.”
“Hurry, we need to climb. You go up first and I will hand you the spears and bag.”
“Hey Chu. I can’t climb.”
Couple seconds later they were both on a tree branch.
Chu had placed three pellets on the ground and scattered the blood liquid on it before shimmering up the tree. Both of them were on the tree with the spears resting on a fork on some branches. They were silent peering into the shadows.
A little while later a grey wolf stepped out from the darkness. The creature sniffed around and made its way to the tree they were on. Sniffing the blood stained ground it wasted no time in licking and swallowing the pellets.
It continued sniffing around until its gaze pierced the branches falling on the occupants. A growl escaped the throat as it lunged onto the tree barring its fangs.
“NOOO! It found us. S$#@, S%$$## I knew I shouldn’t have listened to you. If you wanted to die why drag me along.”
Ming was half screaming holding onto the tree trunk for dear life.
“Hey hey it’s all part of the plan. We just need to keep it here until the poison takes effect.”
Those fat pellets should be melting in its stomach releasing the mushroom poison. It made sense to try to keep the wolf occupied until the concoction took effect. Chu grabbed a spear and handed one over to Ming. After the couple of minutes facing the creature, he had become used to it. They had the advantage on the tree.
Chu stepped on a lower branch that gave him the opening of striking the wolf with a spear without it reaching him even by jumping. Every so often he would hit the trunk so as to keep the animal in a state of rage. Ming would switch when he became tired.
This routine went on for near half the night. Only by the moonlight could they make out their surroundings.
“Hey Chu. Did you really feed that wolf poison?”
This was the tenth time Ming asked him that question. The wolf showed like if it had eaten steroids instead of poison.
Chu remained focused on the wolf that was starting to tire. Foam was spitting out its mouth as he constantly baited it. Once he even gave a yelp and pretended to fall of the branch when it had started to turn away. This caused it to remain on the hope of them tiring out and falling.
Another hour passed and the wolf movements finally started to become sluggish. Like a drunken man it tottered and swayed as it walked. In a crazy manner it jumped and pawed at the tree. In the moonlight the eyes had a dazed look.
Seeing this Chu decided to act. If they waited any longer the wolf might decide to leave. Together they started raining the wolf with the makeshift spears. Under the howls two spears were accurate enough to stab the wolf in the back. With the last two remaining spears they jumped of the tree as the wolf tried to leave.
“Hurry and kill it!”
Ming was busy beating his spear on the wolf that had tottered and fallen on the ground.
“Stab it you fool! Stab it! it’s a spear!”
“But its a branch, who says I can’t use it as a club?”
“Why the heck do you think we spent half a day sharpening the point? Don’t make me mad, STAB IT!!”
The wolf seemed to poisoned to retaliate. In the beginning it snarled and lunged but these were clumsy and unfocused. The two of them slowly took advantage of the weakened creature. If not for the mushrooms causing it to hallucinate, it would have already killed these two idiots. Not only were they totally uncoordinated and leaving themselves open for attacks, they apparently had zero skills in weaponry.
Which sane warrior would switch from beating to stabbing and then beating again. Worse yet they sometimes prodded it with the blunt ends of the spears, only switching after their reasoning overcame the adrenaline rush.
Under a howl of remorse and denial that the gods allowed it to meet such characters it died. If it could have cursed these two idiots who were still beating the carcase the anger may have ceased.
“Ming I may not be a doctor, but I think its dead.”
Ming continued to walk around the wolf prodding it with his spear.
“Whats a doctor? Wait I know a way to tell if it’s pretending. Get ready Chu”
Ming moved to the back of the wolf and speared the wolf in the ass. Feeling satisfied he smiled and gave Chu a thumbs up as if that was a normal action. Chu stepped back in a reflex action with one hand moving to cover his ass.
“Oh…OK good job there Ming.”
With the mission being accomplished they gathered their spears and returned up the tree to remain until dawn. It was too risking for them to be hauling a dead animal in the forest at night.
“Hey Ming, if it’s so easy by climbing a tree, why don’t hunters use bows and simply kill these wolves like we did?”
Ming looked at me with a wry grin.
“Do you really think this forest only has wolves?”
White bears come down from the north during middle of winter. Human meat is a delicacy for them. Wildcats are frequent raiders and change their coats from brown to white during winter. Last winter saw the arrival of a demon beast that stalked the slums, it was fast like a wolf and had a body strength like a bear.
Ming recalling those tales woke Chu up. No wonder hunters a fearful to spend the nights in the forest. In a stroke of bad luck they could easily lose their lives. Tonight was lucky but what would happen if they encountered a bear. By the time the poison acted it would have climbed the tree, picked them like a fruit and had enough time to clean its teeth in contentment after the meal.
Chu even vaguely recalled memories of humanoid tribes who clashed with hunter parties deep in the forest. If he was to continue making money with this line of work, he had to be better prepared.
Taking turns they settled uncomfortably between some branches to sleep. In the cold air and under the excitement and success of the night it was hard to fall asleep.
Under the light of the morning sun, they viewed their surroundings before jumping down to secure the prize. Chu waited until mid morning before carrying the carcass to the Trading post. Most of the villagers would be in the forest and the path would be empty. A dead wolf was worth much more than a rabbit or even a wild boar. It would not do for them to be robbed, after all who would believe two slum children killed a wolf?
Just like that they sneaked their way to the Trading post. Leaving the wolf behind hidden under the watch of Ming not too far away Chu made his way to the collection post.