His head cants slightly to the side and he stares intently at your mouth. One of his ears twitches noticeably. A sudden mis-step momentarily breaks his concentration, but he rights himself instantly. Once you are through he stares intently at the ground ahead of him, one hand scratching under his chin, deep in thought.

Looking around, you notice that you seem to have arrived. For a village it blends surprisingly well into the landscape. Low rounded huts alternate with peaked and branching conical structures. The entire village is surrounded by a wall that appears to be grass at first, but proves to be hide stretched between poles. The hides somehow have been imprinted with a grass-like color and pattern. Both the huts, and conical structures, though differing in shape, are built from similar methods. The huts are thatched with actual grass, increasing the resemblance to the surrounding rolling hills; the conical structures have a multitude of branches with cloth tied to them fluttering in the breeze, reminiscent of the occasional copse of trees you have become accustomed to seeing.

Directly in front of you is a break in the hide wall. Stretched between the two gate-poles is a rope from which hangs a large number of skulls. They appear to be of some carnivorous animal with which you are not familiar. The skulls depend low enough that they brush the shoulders of the leading members of your group, who simply bow their heads and push through the line of skulls. Loud greetings of women and children are heard, and you swiftly see a crowd of felinoids appear from the huts and structures to greet the returning party.


Hearing the noise, Keenly-Scents snaps out of his preoccupation, and lays a guiding hand upon your arm, drawing you off to one side. He calls to the others, something about seeing the shamen first, and not making him cranky. The leader turns and acknowledges with a brief wave, before returning to the mob of little ones plucking at his arms and legs, wanting to be swung. Cries of delight from the little ones being swung, and the women folk shouting, drown out any further words.

As you approach, you feel a curious resistance building against your movements. The eye sockets of the skulls seem to bore into you, and you notice that there are lightly engraved symbols on the foreheads of the skulls. As Keenly-Scents draws you off to the side, the resistance tapers off, and as you walk along the hide wall around the village, it fades and disappears.