The cat moved carefully but quickly through the night. Although a path down from the canyon wall would be much easier to negotiate, it required a lengthy easy walk through the trees along the top of the lip of the abyss. He knew right away that it was the night wind close to that lip, and the fact that his own passage made so much covering noise, that had made him unaware of the pursuit until he was very close to where he wanted to lay in wait for dawn, to make his way down to the river below. That the human warriors could be so diligent, conclusive and then fast to react to his attack near their encampment, surprised him.
The forest floor vibrated with the bustling presence of the warriors, as they beat the ground with the bases of their spears. The cat listened to the performing line of warriors approaching. He hazily recalled seeing the same group behavior during daylight hours long ago, when other human warriors hunted some of the forest herbivores. However, it was only now occurring to him, and surprising to him, that he understood that witnessed event’s purpose. That understanding hit him like a small mallet on the top of his head. He was being driven toward waiting warriors silently placed downriver for him to pass by. Their death spears, thrown from the silent waiting brush, would never be seen. The cat breathed in and out, testing the air, taking a few seconds to consider.
There would be no attacking into the pounding spear line. That was too risky, and then he’d have to head back toward the encampment and be caught between two sets of hunting warriors. There was no traveling further down the canyon wall to make the crossing in an easy, more accommodating, spot. The hidden warriors in ambush along the way would not be discernable. The danger was too great. There was only one place to go, and that was right at the lip in front of him. There were no other choices.