tagNonHumanThe Red Cloud Pack Pt. 01

The Red Cloud Pack Pt. 01

byPoisonkitten©

Elizabeth

I was excited as I grabbed my gear, ready to let my creative side loose, out in the reservation which few outside of the local residents had access to.

I was an artist, a photographer and a painter. I had sought permission to go and capture the rugged beauty of that unspoiled land for a while now. I had written several letters requesting permission to photograph and paint on the Red Cloud reservation and finally I received word that they would allow me access for one month.

I packed up everything I would need and left a note for my roommate so she wouldn't worry about my absence. She was currently backpacking in Canada and wasn't due back till next week.

I needed to hustle, I was meeting up with a tribal representative at 10.30am. I was informed in the letter not to be late or they wouldn't unlock the gates for me.

I drove down the long open road and left civilization behind me, nothing but big open skies, scrub brush and those majestic red mesas surrounded me. This was exactly what I needed to get my creative juices flowing again. I had been struggling lately to come up with inspiration for a new series and this was bound to do the trick.

I arrived at 10.20am and sat in my truck while I waited for the person to show up. I didn't even see a puff of dirt from any vehicles approaching my location and you could see out for miles. I hoped they hadn't forgotten about my arrival.

About 5 minutes later I saw a woman riding a big paint horse approaching me.

She waved for me to follow her and I drove up slowly till I reached her side. She didn't dismount, instead she reached inside my window to shake my hand.

"Hello my name is Sky Dancer, you must be Elizabeth Parker. Welcome to Red Cloud." I shook her hand and greeted her and she explained to me that I should follow her to where I could leave my truck and set up for my stay.

She took off at a canter and I drove after her down the dirt track.

We stopped some 20 minutes later. I surveyed my surroundings and saw a small hut and a crude corral standing off to one side. There was an old well to the right of the hut and that was it, basic but absolutely perfect for my needs.

She dismounted and tied her horse to the fence post. I was impressed that such a small women could mount such a tall horse without a saddle.

"This was my grandfather's old hunting cabin. You may use it for your visit. You'll find all the basic things you should need in there. I will also mention that we would prefer it if you didn't drive around in your truck too often while you are here because it scares the game away and game is scarce enough to come by as it is. We will provide a horse for you to use instead." She looked at me and scratched her head. "You can ride, can't you?"

"Um, yes but not very well if it's bare back."

She smiled. "I'm sure we can find you a saddle so don't worry. We will also give you a tame horse that's easy to control."

I thanked her for her kindness and started to unload my truck. She got back on her horse, with what looked like very little effort at all. She just leapt up in one graceful movement.

"My brother should be round with your horse pretty soon. If you need anything our settlement is about 15 minutes further up the track we came in on." She waved as she trotted away.

I had just finished unloading all my gear when I heard the sound of hooves approaching. I came out of the hut to see a large, bare chested, man astride a stunning palomino stallion. He was leading a pretty black mare behind him.

I stared at him like a dumbstruck idiot. He was really handsome with sharp, striking facial features and a body like a sculptured masterpiece. His long hair was braided down his back with a leather string.

I made myself close my mouth as he dismounted. He looked at me with piercing grey eyes, almost the colour of wet slate with specks of silver surrounding his pupils. He had the most unusual eyes I'd ever seen.

"My name is Grey Wolf. My sister sent me here to bring you a horse and to ask you if you needed anything." He looked me up and down and his nostrils flared. I sniffed my shirt in confusion. I didn't stink, in fact I still smelled the faint perfume from my favorite soap as I breathed in my scent.

I extended my hand to him but he ignored me as he walked the horses over to the corral and let the mare inside. He proceeded to undo the straps securing the worn saddle she had on her back. After placing the saddle over one of the poles he grabbed a bucket and headed to the well. As he filled the trough he spoke to me.

"There is grain for the horse inside the hut. You can gather some water grass for her to eat too. It grows on the banks of the creek about a quarter mile that way." He pointed out the direction and I made a mental note to remember where to go.

He jumped up onto his horse after he filled the trough and turned to face me. "There are predators in the area so don't stray too far from this place. I wouldn't recommend going out after dark either. There is wood to make a fire behind the hut. My sister will come by tomorrow to show you where it's safest for you to go. Good day Miss Parker."

I waved at him as he rode off but he didn't turn round to see it. I shouted my thanks to him and hoped he could hear me.

I could tell he didn't want me here.

I spent my first night huddled by the wood stove in the little hut. It was rather cold here at night despite the long hot day. I moved the rickety old cot as close to the stove as I dared and went to sleep. I was used to a large, soft bed and I found sleeping in the cot rather restrictive. I also wasn't used to turning in so early but the long day and the fresh air had left me yawning by around 8pm and I was in bed by 9. After spending a couple of hours tossing about I finally fell asleep.

Around 2am I was roused from my sleep by the sound of howling wolves. They were pretty close to the hut from what I could tell and I got up to latch the door.

I found it strange to hear wolves around here, I expected coyotes and foxes but this wasn't wolf territory. I got back into bed and tried to go back to sleep. The wolf song finally fell quiet and I closed my eyes in relief.

I was woken early the following morning by the sound of the mare snorting and whinnying outside. She obviously wanted breakfast so I pulled on my coat and grabbed a jug full of grain to feed her.

She was a little weary of me at first but when she smelled the food she trotted up towards me to be fed. I stroked her silky black mane as she ate. She really was a pretty horse and obviously very well taken care of. I was looking forward to going out for a ride when Sky Dancer arrived later today. I would have to ask her about the horse's name too as Grey Wolf had not mentioned it. I wondered why he seemed so displeased with my being here. I hadn't come here to be a burden on the tribe. I hoped to make friends with some of them while I was here so there was a chance I could return to Red Cloud another time.

I decided to take a walk to the creek to pick some grass for the horse. I grabbed an old grain sack and headed out into the crisp morning air. The sun hadn't made it over the Mesas ahead of me yet and the horizon was starting to glow, covering the area in a myriad of pinks, oranges and yellows as the sun rose higher in the sky. It really was a beautiful morning. I loved being out in the wilderness with no one in sight and the only sounds being the morning chatter of the birds and the wind rustling through the shrubs and grasses. I drew in a deep breath of fresh air and sighed contently.

The creek was narrow and rocky and the river bank wasn't too steep so I could reach the water with relative ease. The brisk walk had left me rather thirsty so I dipped my hand in the cold, clear water and brought it up to my lips for a drink. It was cool and sweet and I went in for another handful after the first. The water that you got out of the taps in towns and cities never tasted this good. The chemicals that were added to it in order to pass all the health and safety regulations always left behind that telltale chlorine flavour and smell. This water was pure, unadulterated and untainted just like the land itself.

There was an abundance of river grass so I had the bag filled in no time.

I was heading back down to the hut when I spotted what appeared to be a large wolf in the distance. I stopped and strained my eyes to get a better look but it had disappeared into the brush and rocky outcrops. I would have to ask Sky Dancer about this because it made me rather uncomfortable that these animals appeared to be comfortable enough to venture so close to human habitation.

The horse picked up her head and snickered as she saw me return. I'm sure she could smell the grass because she trotted up to me as soon as I reached the corral. I emptied out my bag and she went to work devouring the lush, sweet grass I picked for her.

Now that the horse was content I set to work to feed myself. I got the coffee pot boiling on the wood stove and I warmed up a couple of pastries and sliced up some melon for my breakfast. I ate my meal outside, looking out at the beautiful morning sky.

Grey Wolf

"I don't care if she's paying us! She shouldn't be here it's too dangerous for us to risk it." I ran my hands through my hair and glared at the other tribal council members.

"I could barely control myself around her. Damnit, she smells like sex on a stick! If I find it hard to deal with, imagine the younger wolves. She needs to go and soon before they pick up her scent and it drives them crazy with lust."

"Grey we can make this work. We could use the money to be frank, we rarely get an opportunity like this. We will give her a 2 mile perimeter that she will need to remain within. If she wants to go out further she will need to go with one of us as a guide. I'd suggest Sky Dancer or one of the other women act as her guide and liaison. I will personally take the younger members of the pack out on hunting and scouting missions far away from here."

"Fine, Black claw, but this is on you if it ends badly. If she finds out about us we cannot let her leave and the last thing we need is her people filing a missing persons report and sending the authorities our way." I sat down, my hands bunched into fists as I tried to erase her from my mind. I had never been so close to losing control around a woman. I never reacted like this and towards a human woman, no less.

"Make sure you keep the younger wolves far away from her. In fact keep all unmated males away. Make sure they understand what punishment lies in store for those that disobey me."

I got up and left the longhouse. I needed to run off some of this steam and get my head together.

I changed into my wolf form and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I had to distract myself so I didn't end up back at the cabin, putting myself, Elizabeth and my pack at risk. A hunt would help me focus my energy and that was exactly what I planned to do.

Elizabeth

I gathered my camera equipment and put it all in a rucksack. This way I could ride the mare without trying to hold onto anything other than the reins. It had been a while since I'd been on a horse so I would have to concentrate on riding. The last thing I needed was to fall off in front of Sky Dancer and look like a complete idiot.

I was busy saddling the mare when Sky Dancer arrived mid morning.

"Good morning Miss Parker. I trust you slept well."

"Please call me Elizabeth." I smiled up at her. "I slept well enough considering it's a new environment. I was startled by wolves howling in the night and I could swear I saw a wolf while I was out walking this morning."

She looked at me as I was speaking and stuck out a her hand out to stop me from carrying on. "Elizabeth this isn't wolf territory. We keep Wolf dogs for hunting purposes and to keep our small livestock safe from coyotes. That is probably what you heard and saw. Now come I will show you the area we have marked out for you to wander around and take pictures. We have marked the border with yellow flags. Please do not cross those markers. One of us will check in on you daily and if you want to explore further you will need one of us to guide you. We are a very private people and I trust you will respect our wishes." I nodded at her as I clumsily pulled myself into the saddle. The mare turned around and looked at me. I could swear that horse looked amused. Well that wasn't very graceful but at least I was up in the saddle and ready to go.

I was enjoying my ride and I soon found out the markers had been set in a wide circle. There was plenty of area to explore and lots to photograph so I wasn't too put out that I had to stay with the perimeters set out for me.

"Sky Dancer, your brother never gave me the mare's name. You wouldn't happen to know it by chance?"

She turned around and smiled. "Her name is Raven. Grey took care of her since she was rejected by her mother as a foal. He bottle fed her and slept by her side at night until she was weaned. They share a strong bond and I'm surprised she is the one he brought for you to ride."

Well that was odd, I thought. "He really gave me the impression he wasn't thrilled about my being here. Is that true for the entire tribe? I really don't want to put you and your people out, I just want to capture the beauty of this place."

"Elizabeth please don't take this personally. We are, as I mentioned earlier, a private people and we like to live our lives by our rules. We really do appreciate the the funds you are giving us. We don't have much use for money but it helps with the few things we do need to purchase and it allows us to send some of our tribe to school. They bring back the knowledge and teach the others."

I smiled at her and nodded my head. "I'm glad the money will help your people. Education is important and can open many doors for you if you so choose. I will not be a burden on you and I will respect your wishes and remain in the area you've marked out. If it is at all possible I would like to meet the rest of the tribe at some point and thank them personally."

"We shall see Elizabeth," she said as we headed back to the hut.

I spent the rest of the day taking photos around the vicinity of the hut. I would start painting tomorrow, in fact I knew the perfect place to paint. The creek and its surroundings would provide me the inspiration I needed.

I was just finishing lunch when I saw Grey Wolf approaching me astride the same stallion he was riding the day before. I felt my heart hammering away in my chest as I watched him come nearer to me. I rarely experienced this reaction towards a man and it made me feel like a giddy school girl again. I hoped he got over his dislike of my being here because I would really like to get to know him and have him share some of the history of his people with me.

"Good afternoon Grey Wolf. It's good to see you again," I said shyly. I could feel a blush creeping up on my cheeks as he dismounted. I mentally told myself to pull it together.

He walked up towards me and stopped about two feet away, staring down at me like I was his next meal. I swallowed nervously and stepped back a little.

He closed the distance between us and he reached out to touch my hair, pulling his hand back at the last second as if he had been burned. He exhaled sharply and turned around, walking briskly away from me and headed to the corral and Raven.

I followed him, puzzled about his behavior towards me.

"Have I offended you in any way?" I asked him. "If that is the case I apologize."

He turned and looked at me, a strange hunger in his eyes.

"No Miss Parker you have not. I'm not used to being around strangers and I'm sorry but I'm not very social around people I don't know. I'm not comfortable around you, please forgive my manner."

I smiled at him as I went and stood next to him. "It's ok Grey Wolf, I'm not usually comfortable around strangers myself so I know how you feel. Please call me Elizabeth. I hope we can get to know each other better while I'm here. I'm sure after a while you'll see I'm not that hard to get on with. I'm really grateful that you and your people granted me permission to come here." I don't know what came over me but I placed my hand on his arm and squeezed lightly. A dark look crossed his face as I touched him and he placed his large hand over mine. "You shouldn't have done that beautiful," he said as he pulled me into his arms and crushed his mouth against my lips.

My mouth opened to him in shock. I wasn't expecting this from him. His tongue dueled with mine in a passionate kiss and I moaned slightly at the honeyed taste of him. He was addictive and all my resistance melted away as he drank from my lips. No man I had ever been intimate with had me so completely disarmed.

He broke the kiss and looked deep into my eyes as he panted.

"You need to keep your distance from me in future beautiful. I find it hard to control myself around you." He pushed me away from him and walked off towards his horse. He was galloping away from me by the time I managed to break out of my stupor. I lifted my fingers and touched my lips as I wondered what had just come over me.

Three days had past and Grey Wolf hadn't returned to the hut. I really wanted to see him to discuss what had happened between us. I was getting Raven saddled up and readying myself to go out exploring beyond the perimeter with Sky Dancer.

We were enjoying our ride. The warm sunshine basking us in it's brilliant light.

"Sky would you be able to get word to your brother to come and see me please?"

She frowned as she answered. "He has been away hunting the last couple of days. He left rather suddenly and that's unlike him. I will ask him to come and see you when he returns, but you really should stay away from the men in my tribe Elizabeth. They aren't like the men you are used to and their manner can be rather blunt. I wouldn't want you to get offended."

I could tell she was hiding something but I didn't press the issue. I merely nodded and changed the subject. I was enjoying spending time with her. She had a keen mind and a pleasant demeanor. I hoped we could grow into friends while I was here.

I spent the next few days painting and taking more photos. My creativity had blossomed since I'd come here and the art I was creating was, to my knowledge, probably my best work to date.

I was busy with the final brushstrokes on my latest piece. I had set up my easel by the sparkling creek and Raven was happily munching on fresh river grass as I painted.

I heard someone approaching and I turned round expecting to find Sky. A strange man whom I hadn't met before dismounted and ran towards me. It all happened so fast that I didn't even have time to stand up before he pounced on me, knocking me to the ground.

I screamed and clawed at the man as he tried to get my arms above my head. My mind reeling as I fought him.

Suddenly I heard hooves thundering and the man on top of me was flung over my head.

"Get out of here Elizabeth. Get on Raven and go back to the cabin, now!" Grey ordered me.

I scrambled and ran over to Raven. I quickly climbed up onto her back and galloped in the direction of the hut. I didn't even look back as I tried to get away as quickly as possible.

As soon as I got back I put Raven in the corral and went and locked myself in the hut. I tried to calm my breathing as the whole ordeal washed over me. I was shaking from the shock and I hugged my arms around me and rocked back and forth as I sat on the cot.

I was still sitting like that when I heard a knock on the door, sometime later.

"Open the door Elizabeth, it's just me." Grey said softly.

I got up, on shaky legs, and went to undo the latch.

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