He crested the hill, and found himself on the edge of a road that stretched to the east and to the west. From what he could see, the road was clear. He looked at the surface of the road, sniffing it briefly and then sniffing the air as he pondered the notion of continuing east on the road. It would certainly be a much smoother trip, with far less rocks, roots, trees or brush to have to maneuver through. But then, a wolf traveling on the road would look suspicious. Malagan had sensed his magic before; the shaman didn’t doubt the human would see through his “disguise” if he laid eyes on him.
His pondering on the decision was interrupted by the startling sound of a horn, coming from the west. He looked in that direction, but could not see far enough down the road to tell what might be approaching. He shut his eyes, slowly inching off the road as he mentally uttered a call which, to his surprise, still worked. His vision came in his mind, and drifted westward on the road. The first shapes he could discern were that of nightsabers approaching fast. That realization was enough for him to stop moving his vision forward. He recognized the group of night elves riding these large cats; it was the same group that had been pursuing him, and Malagan was at their lead!
Kaeev ceased his call abruptly, fearing that the human may have drawn close enough to his vantage point to sense his magic like he had before. Frightened into action by the thought that he may have been spotted, he turned and ran back down the hill, which quickly became more of a dangerous slide. Reaching the bottom in a skid, he leapt off his hind legs into a run to the east, maneuvering through the rocks and roots as quickly as his speed would allow. The brush was so thick at times that he could not even see what was ahead of him.
Suddenly, after breaking through another wall of brush, Kaeev found nothing but empty space in front of him. He had reached the edge of another ridge, and his momentum was carrying him over once again. He let out a distressed yip at this, trying to turn around as he skidded off the ridge, his blunt claws making a vain attempt to hold on as he slid down the steep incline, making plenty of noise in the process. Rocks and bushes buffeted the shaman relentlessly as he tumbled down the steep side of the ridge, while he futilely tried to slow himself down with his paws whenever his claws met the earth. As he neared the bottom he managed to get on all fours facing downward, just in time to see numerous jagged rocks at the base, and a large, fallen tree on level ground just ahead of the base.
None of Kaeev’s efforts to slow his descent had worked, and the rocks at the base were rushing swiftly to meet him. If he didn’t act quickly, he would face serious injury or even death. His thoughts raced on what to do, and the idea that came to him sounded risky, but he took the chance anyway. As his momentum brought him to the edge of a large rock close to the base, with a great shove of his hind legs he launched himself off the ridge. He barely landed on the fallen tree, and as he landed, one of his hindpaws slipped and struck the wood hard while he tumbled forward across the top, falling over the other side onto the grassy loam with a ‘whump’.
With the wind knocked out of him, Kaeev drew in ragged breath as he lay on the ground for several moments, his breath coming out in soft whines. When he mustered the strength to get up, he howled in pain as he put weight on the hindpaw that had struck the tree. He pressed onward in a slow stumble for some paces, limping badly, when his ears then pricked at a growling sound he heard behind him.
Kaeev turned to see a bear-like creature emerge from the fallen tree that was apparently hollow. The creature had the look of a bear, but it stood on its hind legs like a humanoid, with various beads and feathers woven into its fur, and a loincloth around its waist. It snarled at him with an angry look in its eyes, and it was brandishing a crudely-made spear in one hand.
Kaeev had only heard tales of furbolg in these parts; this one was the first he had actually seen. His wolf ears wilted, and an exclamant he rarely uttered in his native tongue came out as a soft, accented ‘woof’.