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The day was coming to an end in the Wolves’ Den, and they had replenished some of our rations from their stores, even if it was only meat that we got, we were rather happy with it. In addition to that, I had spent over an hour in their nursery, having the wolf-pubs crawl all over me, sniffing around and generally enjoying the simple attention they were getting.

I had even taken a video of it, although I was not sure if I wanted to actually post it and hoped that the algorithm for Highlight-reels wouldn’t flag it, taking the decision from my hands. The reason for making it was simple, if I wanted to make a go at it as a full-time streamer, once the game officially launched, I needed to present as someone you wanted to watch. The normal, magical mayhem wasn’t bad, but having more diverse content might be a good idea and playing with puppies, even wolf-puppies, would likely get a lot of views - after all, only absolute monsters didn’t like puppies.

 

After dinner, Swiftstrider joined us again, asking all of us if we would join him. When we followed, he used small tunnels and soon, we stood in front of Sirius, who looked rather grim.

“I need to ask a favour.” he opened, his voice serious and filled with concern. I had a feeling that it was quite hard for the proud wolf to ask us for help, even if we had demonstrated to be friends of the pack. I simply waited for him to continue, letting him say his piece.

“We told you that the Centaur-attacks got worse and you posed a potential reason for it. While we can’t know if you are right, I fear that you are. And if you are right, I’m not sure if we can hold the Den, not in the long term.” he explained, causing me to frown. While I felt a certain amount of compassion for them, I didn’t want to stay in the long-term, I wanted to try fulfilling the quest regarding the Soul-Prison, hoping that it would give me a reward that carried over into the actual game. Helping the wolves might be a major undertaking but I doubted it was on the same level. Still, I simply waited for him to ask his favour.

“What I want you to do is join one of our hunting-packs, helping them to push the centaurs back for a couple of days, keeping them busy while we prepare the surroundings to our advantage. There are a few things we can do, but we need to make sure that we aren’t disturbed during that time.” he explained and a blue quest-window opened for us to accept or decline.

 

Quest Alert!
Buying Time - Pack of the North Wind
Quest Difficulty Hard
Push back the Centaurs, buying the Den ten days to work on their defense.
Quest Reward Increased Reputation with the Pack of the North Wind
A Magic Item for each party-member, the quality depending on your success.

 

I looked at the quest and felt my eyes widen a little, magic items had been rather rare and here we had a chance to get a few of them, four or six, depending how they counted Lenora and Ylva. Sure, we would have to fight a small guerilla campaign for them, but, looking at Sigmir, she would have agreed to it anyway.

Not wanting to show hesitation, I gave Sirius a solemn nod, telling him that we would work with his hunters, driving back the centaurs. Sirius told us that he would gather the pack over the next two days and until then, we were invited to stay in the den, enjoying their hospitality. Swiftstride instantly volunteered to lead the attacking pack, only to get growled at by his father and told that Sirius knew about Swiftstride being grounded by Still and that he shouldn’t try to get them both in trouble.

I had to hide a laugh at that, both big, bad wolves were under the paw of the healer, at least when it came to medical decisions.

 

“And now, there is another matter.” Sirius said, his voice sounding a lot less, well, serious. “I deliberated and decided what present our dear cousins, whom we have greatly missed, should get for venturing into the Den of the North Wind.” he explained, his voice dripping with sincerity. I had a feeling that the old wolf was rather sly, that the presents we essentially got for saving Swiftstride’s life and absolving him of paying back the life-debt were also meant as a bribe to motivate us on our quest. If we hadn’t agreed, I was quite sure we would still get a present but now, it was much more likely that he would give us something good.

“That is most gracious of you, Alpha Sirius.” I nodded, playing diplomatic and inscrutable elf.

Sirius let out a loud bark, calling another wolf whose name I had never heard before and couldn’t translate. It took a minute or two and then another wolf came trotting in, carrying a few items on its back. It looked like they would topple down any moment, but a glimpse through Lenore’s sight told me that they were held in place using magic.

“Rai, Disciple of Morgana, step forward to receive your gift.” Sirius solemnly growled and a moment later, after I had translated for him, Rai did just that. One of two bottles, looking like they were made from crystal, floated forward, towards Rai who accepted it with a bow and a word of thanks. He was unable to understand what was said, but I thought he acted well.

Next, Adra was called forward and got another bottle filled with a liquid that changed colour from teal to light-blue, depending on the light. She, too, gave a bow and words of thanks before returning to us.

“Sigmir of the Giantblood, step forward to receive your gift.” Sirius intoned and now it was Sigmir’s turn. He handed her a small, crystalline looking ring, making me tremendously curious what it might be. I would have to ask her to show it to me, later. She thanked him and returned to stand behind me, but as she did, I could see that she looked quite impressed.

“Morgana, Traveller from a distant place, step forward to receive your gift.” he called and now it was my turn. Stepping forward, the last item from the wolf’s back floated over, for me to take. Taking it and looking closely, it was a small, almost simple-looking gem but I had a feeling that it was everything but. Using inspect showed me a blue window.

 

Crystal of the Northern Wind
A rare gem with an affinity to both Wind and Ice, making it a great material to empower equipment of those types.

So, I had been given a material, something that might make for great equipment, but for now, it was useless. Nonetheless, it was a rare item, so I gave a bow in thanks, before returning to the group.

 

“With your leave, we would return to our quarters.” I told Sirius, having nothing more to discuss. He had given us the quest and, more importantly our rewards. He gave a nod, sending Swiftstride with us who got us safely back to the chambers we had been assigned.

Once again, I had to hide a smile, watching Rai and Adra head into one of them, while Sigmir and I had the other chamber. When the wolves had asked earlier how many we wanted, the two of them had decided to stay together.

 

“Swiftstride, do you think it would be possible to have a talk with the Fresh Snow’s master? She mentioned that she studied under the wolf who is responsible for your architecture and I would love to learn more about the snow-like covering you use.” I asked, pausing for a second before explaining further, “You see, I’m primarily an Ice-Mage, so it would be quite the boon for me to speak with an experienced user of the Element.”

“I can ask him, but I will make no promises, he is an old, cranky wolf.” Swiftstride answered, not sounding too happy.

“Maybe ask Fresh Snow to act as an intermediary, she seemed quite friendly to me.” I suggested.


“That might help. And yes, she seemed to be fond of you.” he allowed, sounding even more unhappy. There might be some sort of rivalry between the two of them. Still, if I got to talk with the local magic-guru, I was quite happy about it.

“Again, thank you.” I told him, before we wished each other a good night and Sigmir and I headed into our room.

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Tsaimath

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