The tracks were quickly disappearing, but that mattered not to the huntress. The route to Sweetvine was an obvious one. As her partner in crime had stated, she'd traveled it herself many times. But as she went along, she saw the little person's tracks, presumably the girl's accompanied by first one set of canine tracks, and later several. Wolves. She scowled. Qit'ria had never liked wolves, or dogs in general, especially after that run in with that hunter, his stupid dog, and mean dragon bird. She cast a glance over her shoulder, seeing now that the rest of the search party was organized and heading out, albeit slowly.
She studied the tracks closer, seeing that these wolves were rather large, certainly several adults, and well fed, not scrawny, starving ones. That meant they probably wouldn't be desperate for a meal. And that was a very bad thing. Desperate predators were predictable. They made mistakes going for the kill. But this pack, they would be careful and cautious in their hunt, she was sure of it. And the little girl was the meal.
Qit'ria touched her opposite hand to the Aye-Aye mouse totem bracelet upon her wrist as she continued to stalk along the trail, moving a bit quicker. She reached out to the power within the totem with her own inner magic, sending a single tendril into the precious relic of hers. Once within the totem, she didn't pull upon the form of the mouse, but rather, called to it to aid her nose and ears. She knew from her days as the mouse that both of those senses were much stronger than in her Sev'ryn form, and knew how to Echo them. Or rather, she knew how to Echo one at a time.
But she called on both, and felt that shadow within her heart stir hungrily. It was pleased by her feeding it, she could tell that. The hunger was so strong, and it asked for more. But she refused it, for now. And soon, her ears twitched as sounds she couldn't hear before became readily available. Her nose could pick up unrecognizable scents dancing among the winds. Qit'ria could feel the drain of having called on both, but knew she'd need them. Too many odds were stacked against her in this case. She'd need both speed and stealth, and in order to use those she had to know where she was going. She had to hunt the girl before the wolves could.
And that's when the howl rang out through the darkness, her ears able to pick the direction, and she began jogging off toward it, drawing a javelin into one hand, keeping her other free. She continued to sniff the air for a scent that wasn't simply wet dog or her own clothes, trying to find one that may belong to the girl. Thankfully, even with the winds, being Cylus, there weren't a lot of ambient plant smells. Snow did a wonderful job dampening down the others. She continued to keep her ears perked for her own protection.
As she followed the pack's tracks, she realized something that disturbed her. These wolves weren't in any sort of hunting formation. She'd followed enough tracks to know that pack hunters liked to split up and ambush from multiple sides. It was prey that traveled together heavily, for protection. It meant one of two things to the huntress. Either this pack was much larger than the ten or so she found here, with many others spread about. Or these wolves were being coordinated by someone or something. She knew wolves could be trained and controlled, as that hunter a few seasons back had made her realize.
Qit'ria picked up her pace, both trying to close the distance between her and the pack, and distance herself from the search party. Her trained eyes followed the tracks, looking for any that broke away from the main trail. She also knew the route well enough that she was confident in her ability to leave the trail and get ahead.
"You can use those following. They don't know these wilds like you do, and serve no use to you darling. Make them useful, whether they like it or not."
Qit'ria knew what Kashehino was meaning, for the thought was there in the back of her mind. She broke off from the tracks, heading on a more direct southern route, picking up her pace, focusing on her strides and breathing now. She was on a beeline for Kura's house. It was an ugly structure, didn't fit in with the pleasantness of her woods. But Qit was fairly certain that Kura was not a grandmother. She didn't even look old or saggy yet. Which meant her cabin wasn't the destination.
So she hoped to draw the others into following her shortened trail for a couple of reasons. The first was to hopefully lead them to a false destination, so that they'd investigate the Councilor's home to no avail, slowing them down. The other was if Qit'ria was looking to cut off the wolves, she'd need something other than a young girl, or herself, to distract the wolves. A handful of foolish people that stumbled instead of stalked through the wilds would make a perfect bait for a hungry pack. After all, there was more meat among them. She pressed on, focusing on maintaining her quickened pace, and searching for smells and sounds that stuck out.