Been feeling relatively horrible this weekend so I have not be writing as much as I had hoped. I did roughly 2000 words yesterday and honestly if I can do that this morning I will be “happy enough”. Both my wife and I have some crud that has made us feel relatively miserable. Needless to say neither of us have much drive to do anything. So long as I can keep up with the curve I figure I will be just fine.
As always here is the story so far if you want to catch up, and once again it is all unedited.
16 – The Pack
No matter how hard she tried to push away the thoughts, there was just something about this Merowyn that Kale did not trust. From the cross looks that she would catch from “the lady” she could tell the feeling was mutual. She had been tasked by the queen to protect her son, and she still did not really understood why she said yes. While slightly older than her, Jace seemed so much more naive. She liked him, he was kind and gentle, but she simply could not picture him as this powerful prince that people make him out to be.
Kale had always felt protective over those weaker than her, she felt honor bound to defend them. She guessed that she had always considered Jace weaker, and despite trying to see this power all she could see was a scared boy. He was kind and gentle and all the other things that she was very much not. She blushed slightly thinking about him, and the blush turned to frustration and embarrassment. She had not had much experience with boys, at least not kind ones, so I guess it was natural that she was developing a little bit of a crush.
She brushed away the thoughts. It was certain that he didn’t even notice her, or at least not in that way. He was focused on the mission ahead and saving his mom, and I guess she would be too if the tables were turned. She too would focus on the mission, she would protect Jace at all costs. Then maybe afterwards… no she couldn’t think like that. What would he want with a gangly mess like her? He was a prince after all and she was just a cast off half ort…. part of the thing he is fighting against. She sped up her pace to get ahead of Jace, Mero and the band of sprites so that they could not see her face and the few tears that had formed.
Once she was at the head of the pack she allowed herself a moment to sniffle slightly. How did she get herself in this mess? I guess it was better than living on the streets, not knowing where her next meal would come. She missed the sun, she missed its warm glow. Everything in the shadowlands was just that… cast in permanent shadows. To her left she saw a warm amber glow as Dimcy flitted up and rested on her shoulder. The little firesprite nestled in against her neck making an almost cooing noise. The little thing had been extremely good about predicting her emotional state and coming to comfort her. She was thankful for that, and thankful for her warmth.
She turned to look at the little sprite who had drifted off to sleep suddenly she was struck by a force from her left knocking her over. She fought hard to get to her feet but something was pushing her down, when she managed to orient herself so she was staring up at the thing she noticed that it was what appeared to be half man half wolf with massive dripping fangs. From behind her she heard Mero yell “Reavewolves! Ready your arms!”. She wrestled hard against the powerful shape, never quite able to get any force behind her punches. The blows seemed to be absorbed by the mass of fur covering every inch of the attackers body.
She was wrenched to the side as a great blow struck the wolf knocking it off of her. She turned to look and it was Jace. He had apparently shifted into his armor and transformed his staff and lyre to sword and shield. It looked as though he had slammed into the wolf with the shield and quite a lot of force behind it. He reached down offering her a hand up and as she got to her feet he moved off to the right intercepting an oncoming wolf with his shield, bringing down the sword on top of the wolf’s skull causing it to erupt in a spray of red. She rifled around the ground, finding her pack and pulling out the mirror.
Within moments she had transformed it into the great silver hammer and was charging a wolf that had leapt towards Jace. She brought the force of the hammer down upon it, and there was a crunching sound which she took to mean she had shattered bone. The reavewolf let out a mad yelp and turned on her flailing its thick paws trying to slice her with the talons at the tips. With a backhanded swing she caught the wolf in the jaw sending it sliding into a nearby shroomstalk. She turned around to watch as the Dobin and his sprites took down another wolf.
Surveying the scene she saw Jace finishing up another two, and Merowyn standing in the middle of all of it doing nothing. It was as though she was simply watching the events with a bored gaze. She did not once lift a hand to try and help her, jace or the sprites. The wolf from treeline was crawling towards her so she brought the force of her hammer down upon its head ending its misery. As quickly as the fray had started it was over. None of that made any sense, why would pack of any sort of wolf attack travelers that had a clear number advantage on them.
Jace came running up to Kale frantic. “Are you okay? Did they wound you?” he said with genuine concern in his voice. “They seem to have only wounded my pride. Where did you learn to fight like that?” she remarked because the Jace she had just seen was every bit of the warrior they expected him to be. He was not nearly the weakling she would have liked to have believed. Had he not shield slammed that wolf it might have gotten the best of her. “Uncle Benj made sure I could use a sword. At the time it made no real sense, but I guess in the end he was training me for this. The shield… it just seemed to come natural. I tried out for football one year, and it felt like slamming into a tackling dummy.”
She wondered if they had better keep their weapons out for the rest of the journey. She took out her own cloak and let it meld onto her as armor. “Just in case we get attacked by more.” Jace nodded and he slung the shield onto his pack and slid the sword down in it as well without shifting it back to a stave. He walked over to Merowyn who was still in the midst of the chaos in touched. “What were those things? Why did they attack?” he quizzed. She sensed he also found it was a little odd that she announced the attack but did nothing.
“Those were reavewolves, what happens to a werewolf when driven mad with hunger.” The look on her face finally changed to one of concern “They normally live beyond the wall. Something must be happening to stir them up and get them to face the pain of pushing through the wall.” She pointed at the fur and finally they noticed it was singed in places with little scarred patches of exposed flesh. “They were burnt by the wall as they passed through. The wall was not really sure if they were peaceful for not, so it only partially stopped them from moving across it.” She began moving forward again “It is surprising to see them this far from the wall however. I am sure when we reach the wildfae they will be able to explain further.”
Jace this time joined Kale at the head of the pack. He commented “I want us to be ready together, if they strike again” She smiled widely, she didn’t care if this meant what she hoped it meant, she was just happy to have him by her side. Within moments Dimcy had joined them and was flying slow circles around them as though trying to protect them both. The little fae had said very few words, but her actions always spoke volumes. It seems as though the firesprite had adopted them both, and Kale was completely fine with this.
They continued walking together like this for several more hours when Dobin buzzed up between them. “Kale, it is nearly high shadow, the Lady is tired… I can see it even if she says nothing. We should stop for the night.” The little sprite said with deep concern. “We can make it to the wildfae enclave tomorrow, we are not far now. There is a cave up ahead, I think we should camp there in case there are more reavewolves to worry about”. Kale and Jace both nodded in agreement and Dobin buzzed back to the other sprites to tell them the plan.
It did not take them very long at all to reach the cave. It was dry and had a narrow entrance which would allow for the sprites to guard against anyone approaching. This would also act as a bottleneck allowing them to defend against anyone in large force. It felt wierd for her to be thinking like that, but there was a part of her to which it just felt natural. She could tell that there was war in her blood, and to some extent she understood why her Ort kin craved battle. She felt the most alive when she was in combat. When she hit the wolf and she heard its bones shatter, it sent shivers up and down her spine.
She nestled into a corner of the cave, placing her hammer against the wall beside her. She was surprised at just how tired she was, and she slowly found herself drifting off to sleep. Throught closed eyes she sensed the presence of another up against the wall beside her. She felt the others hand wrap around her own and squeeze it tight. She recognized the hand, it was Jace’s and she wrapped hers around it tightening. Things were going to be okay, she would be completely happy if she lived in this moment forever. With these thoughts warming her she drifted off to sleep quickly.