Someone asked me for page two. You don't have to ask me twice to inflict... er, share... pages with willing readers. So here is the rest of the first scene, which is only about 3 pages total.
“It’s possible. But we had an early start to winter.” Faldur gave him what he hoped was an encouraging smile. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.”
“Well, there’s food and drink inside when you’re through. I’m much obliged.” With that, the farmer turned and trudged away, the light of the lantern bobbing ahead of him.
Faldur addressed his men. “Harth, you and Brilward take the southern side of the ridge. We’ll go north. Stay in sight, follow the tracks, signal if you need help. Keep an arrow strung.”
The Rangers split up, following on either side of the nightstalker’s prints, keeping a stone’s throw between the two pairs of partners. Harth and Faldur’s partner, Romer, both had their bows ready, knowing the black lions would be visible against the snow, even at night. Faldur preferred a sword for this kind of work. Brilward, the new recruit, was also a swordsman.
They entered the trees warily, following the tracks that wound up along the ridge and then plunged into the neck of a shallow, thickly overgrown ravine. Faldur motioned for Harth and Brilward to circle around to the other side and see where the tracks came out, while he and Romer guarded the spot where the lion had gone in. They did so, their gray-green cloaks fading into the gloom. Faldur stared down into the bushes, trying to discern the outline of a nightstalker or the reflective gleam of feline eyes.
A soft hooting sound caused him to look up. It was Harth, indicating that they had found the tracks. Faldur and Romer were moving around the ravine to join them, when Faldur saw a black shape leaping up behind the other two.
He yelled, signaling them to jump left. They just barely dived out of its way, and Romer loosed an arrow which lodged in the beast’s shoulder as it overshot them. It turned to attack again, snarling with pain and fury. Faldur surged forward through the encumbering snow as the lion pounced on Harth, who was reaching for an arrow to shoot it at close range. Before he could get there, however, Romer landed a second shot, this time in the nightstalker’s temple, and it fell dead. Harth’s legs were trapped under the body, and Brilward moved to assist him.
Then Faldur heard a rustling noise from the ravine. He could just see out of the corner of his eye that a second nightstalker was emerging from the bushes. He heard Brilward shout, “There are two of them!” as he turned to face the lion, thinking that this was too close, that unless he timed it just right and was able to use the lion’s own weight to impale it on his blade, he was dead. Then, as the nightstalker pounced, he heard the snick of a bowstring, and an arrow whizzed past his cheek, landing in the animal’s chest. Harth had shot it from the ground while his legs were still pinned.
Faldur felt the spray of hot blood on his face, then the sharp sting of snow at his neck and wrists as he went down with the lion on top of him. He fell backwards into more than a foot of powder. As he strained for breath under the nightstalker’s hulking weight, only two thoughts came to mind: how grateful he was to be alive, and how much he hated going down. There were a thousand and one ways to get knocked to the ground in this business, and he was sure he had discovered at least half of them by now.
Romer didn’t assist him right away, which was as it should be. Faldur knew that he had strung another arrow and was waiting for any other nightstalkers to appear. Only when he was sure it was safe did he haul the carcass off of the Captain and help him to his feet.
“They were hunting together!” Romer said.
“Two males,” Faldur gasped, still catching his breath, as Harth and Brilward joined them. They all knew what that meant. The nightstalkers were hunting in teams again. Their numbers had increased, and they were hungry.