She first heard the call as a child, as do all who are drawn by the untamed land. She could not sleep for dreams of running on fleet deer feet, of croaking crow cries high in the snow laden pine branches. Her lungs swelled with the wolf’s harrowing howl and her ears, nose, fingers twitched at the thousand sounds, scents, sensations of the ancient earth. And so the girl forsook blood kin to venture out alone into the world of stone and ice. There the forest darkness taught her to see without light; the winter silence to listen without sound; the myriad dangers to act without hesitation, trust animal instinct and gut reaction. She grew hard and lean in that frozen land, a wordless creature of the wilds which skirted night watch fires but never drew close. The cold did not touch her. The beasts did not frighten her. She braided the bones of her trophies into her long hair and wrapped her muscled limbs in the skins of predators which, in hunting this lone creature, had become the prey themselves. The land nourished her with its blood and spilled her own in turn, and in doing so forever entwined the two as one.

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