The three sister-moons rose from their sleeping place and into the clear winter sky.
A rustling came from the bracken near me. If I hesitated, I would fail my test. I would disgrace my family.
That was not the way of a Lupine. I drew my knife. Two feet of serrated steel slid silently from its leather sheath. My ears flattened.
From the shadows crept the ebony-furred, low-slung shape of the panthorr. Fearsome eyes gleamed in the dark.
Mawla, the young Lupine warrior of the Ett of the Grays, takes her tribe's test to ascend to the role of High Priestess. But a completely new surprise awaits her this night.
For her destiny lies not with the defeat of a deadly predator. Instead, it involves the rescue of a pair of aliens. Aliens who travel among the stars, ones whose offspring will forever change Mawla's future.
"Vala Staffwielder" is a short-story prequel to the sci-fi western novel The Adventures of Amanda Love.