The Lupine Saga 93

The cold air was pierced by the sounds of hooves tearing at the ground. It was a steady and calming sound. The dirt road’s only illumination was the light from Sendes, the great blue moon.

On a road was a covered cart pulled by a few horses. They were moving at a quick pace, but weren’t being overly hurried by the driver. The cart passed through fields and forests, across smooth and then bumpy roads. The wooden wheels shook as the unpleasant ground made its displeasure known, but the cart wasn’t going to let itself be damaged. It remained sturdy and held together, though its occupants must have been troubled.

A bump made the cart jump. His head hitting the floor of the cart woke him. The shock had forced his eyes open, but there was overwhelming confusion plastered over his mind. He couldn’t make out what was happening, where he was, what he was doing, and even who he was. The shock of being woken so suddenly was having strange effects, but they gradually subsided as he let the world around him come into focus. It was dark, but his eyes adjusted quickly.

The smell was different. It was familiar, containing all the smells of life and nature, but it wasn’t something he was used to. As he gradually regained sense after sense, his awareness sharpened, and his memories screamed at him with newfound clarity.

“Where am I?” Va’il asked while he sat up. He immediately brought a hand to his throat. He could barely hear his own words. His voice was hoarse and his throat was dry. He then noticed an overwhelming sense of hunger. He looked around and saw Ruby, asleep. He felt a wave of drowsiness come over him, but he didn’t succumb to the feeling. He tried standing, but he fell over when a small bump was hit.

The cart stopped while the horses grunted. Va’il looked up from his fallen position and saw the driver stand and turn.

“You’re awake, finally?” the bearan asked.

“Yeah, what’s happening? Who are you?” Va’il asked, his voice stronger now that some saliva had formed. He gazed absently for a second, but his eyes soon focused on the bearan in front of him. His memory didn’t fail him, for he recognized the bearan. It was the same bearan from before. As if the current reality wasn’t enough, Va’il looked at his chest and arms to see if anything had been cut or bitten. He was in fine condition, not counting the dehydration, hunger, and dry skin. He also felt annoyed at the dirt on his claws on his left hand that had dried and stuck to him.

“You!” Va’il said, and then scrambled to his feet. He hunched over and extended all his claws, ready to attack.

“Wait, wait. I’m not going to harm you,” the bearan said.

“I don’t believe you! You drugged us and tried to kill us! Tried? Ruby better only be sleeping! You better not have done anything or else!”

“Hold on, I said,” the bearan said with a booming voice. “If I was going to kill you now, why wait until you’re awake? It’s been a while since the day you first passed out, and I could have easily done you in while you were asleep.”

“A couple days? A few days? That explains the hunger. But I still don’t believe you. Why didn’t you do away with us? You were going to! Right? Was that just an act? No, it doesn’t make sense.”

“Yes, I was going to kill you. As I was ordered. But I ended up saving you instead.”


“I don’t know.”

“What? Who told you to kill us? And why wouldn’t you know your own reason?” Va’il stood a little, relaxing the aggressive posture. He was still ready to move, should the need arise.

“I won’t say who ordered me.”

“What? But you’re saving us from them, betraying them, right? If not, then this is all just an act to gain my trust. I’m not so easy to trick.”

“No. Honest truth here. I didn’t want to save you. I just had to save you. That’s all. Asking me to explain it won’t help. I’m not going to go any further than that, like tell you about my superiors, who I’d like to think I’m still loyal to.”

“That all doesn’t matter anymore! You’re not making sense! Saving us because you had to? That’s wrong. Didn’t you want to?”

“No. Come on, I just do what I have to do, I cannot explain it better.”

“Geh. Fine. Nobody would use that excuse for a lie. And I’m still alive. Still won’t trust you. But I guess that’s fine. So, where are we?”

“Leaving Farrow.”

“We left Rising? Farrow? No, go back!” Va’il felt a rush of emotion when he realized they were no longer in Rising. He briefly turned to look out at the forest behind him. He realized it wasn’t one he knew, and the area was different from the areas of Rising he knew.

“I can’t do that. You’re supposed to be dead. I can’t be saving you if you go back there and end up getting killed. Forget about Rising,” the bearan said while crossing his arms. His uncaring, exasperated look was annoying Va’il.

“I can’t do that. Turn back. Or I’ll just jump off and go anyways.”

“And leave that girl? Or get her killed by returning? She’s a noble. Even I know that. The moment she returns, the people who ordered me to kill her would find out. She’ll be gone soon after. You might be able to hide. She can’t. Am I wrong?”

“But, this isn’t right! None of this! Why us?”

“That’s just how it is. Be thankful you’ll be saved at all.”

Va’il glared at the bearan. He considered his words, but decided he wouldn’t be able to go back to Rising that night. Va’il had not given up on the idea of returning to Rising, but did consider it prudent to wait until some time had passed. He thought of Mai’ou, and felt strings of attachment tug his heart in various directions. He wanted to see her, to tell her he was all right. All he could do was look up at the blue moon and hope that somewhere out there, she was seeing the same thing he was.

A while passed while the cart was driven a few more miles. The bearan eventually stopped it in order to sleep for the night and rest the horses. Va’il considered waiting for the bearan to fall asleep and taking the reins himself, but a second thought dashed that hope. He didn’t know where they were and how long it would take to get back. And his hunger, soon appeased by the stores of food the bearan had packed, told him that going somewhere without proper preparation would be foolhardy. He was soon distracted by something more important.

About James Ashman

I write books of the fantasy, heroic, and adventure types. So far. I'm an author who loves fantastic stories.
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