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The Wolf

Dodge left, feint right. Sweat poured over my brow into my eyes, my breath heavy. My feet moved into a defense stance, my hand whipping to my hilt just in time. The dull sword had almost cleaved it off. My foot came up to kick, driving him back. I raised my sword, about to hit with the death blow.
“Page Alex, halt! Page Canden, get up! My lord is about to set off with the party, and you not even washed! Now, off to the wash rooms with the both of you!” Sir Rogers ordered. Canden waved, placing his practice sword back on the rack and following Sir Rogers. I copied him, my emerald eyes narrowed. I pushed black hair out of my eyes, frowning.
Oh yeah. The weekend outing, I thought, my legs aching slightly. A bath would actually be welcomed. I hated the idea of this weekend outing, this change. I hated change. And this would prove awful. All third and fourth year pages would go to the Royal Forest, each with a partner Lord Garret would choose. They would travel; find a place to stay, hunt and find water, and all without supplies.
It was just one hour later when I was riding in the forest. Star, my black gelding, tromped through the brush. He was large, for a gelding, and midnight black. A white star shined on his forehead, the end running down his muzzle. And, ahead of me, rode my…my partner.
Domitan. He was a self-centered jerk who I detested. And he hated me, probably for many reasons. The major was that three years ago I became the first female page since the decree twenty years ago that woman could become pages. Snow drifted around us and I hissed. I hated winter, absolutely hated it. I pulled my cloak out of my saddle pack. It was all I was allowed to pack.
“What’s wrong? Too cold for the lady?’’ Domitan taunted. I glared daggers at him, thinking of the ways I could destroy him. I was good with the sword, and knew many stances that would be new to him…
“No.” I answered him icily. “I was just worried that the snow might damage your precious skin. We wouldn’t want the wittle baby to get hurt.”
Domitan hissed something that was drowned out by the howling wind. I hissed again, my eyes narrowed to slits. It was dusk.
Darkness settled in, so I stopped by a river. I decided not to tell Domitan, so he spent about twenty minutes looking for me. By then I had stripped Star of his tack and brushed him down. I was tying his reins to a branch when Domitan arrived.
“What did you do that for?! I could have been eaten by a bear, and we’re supposed to stay together!” Domitan’s rage was obvious, and I liked it. I was vengeful, and not very forgiving.
“Sorry, I forgot to tell you I was stopping.” I lied. He hissed and swung out of his saddle, getting to work on removing the tack.
The snow was high, almost to my waist. I dug a burrow into snow, climbing in and covering the opening with snow. The walls of my burrow seemed to press in, my breathing increasing. I wheezed, poking holes for air. The walls pressed tighter, my oxygen running out.
“Will you stop the infernal wheezing?!” Domitan roared. His voice calmed me, pulling me away from the thought of the walls. They pressed closer still, and if I hadn’t been so tired I would never have got to sleep.
Scratch, scratch. Scratch, scratch. I stirred, suddenly cold. Morning light pierced through my eyelids, preventing my return to sleep. I opened my eyes and saw a large hole in my cover. Two tan paws with sharp claws were stretching toward me. I gave a yelp, fumbling for my sword.
“Oh, a fluffy little kitten!” Domitan called from above. “I wonder where Alex is, she’d love to see this!”
We’ll see who’s laughing, I thought angrily as his laughter rang from above. I pulled my sword out, unceremoniously stabbing upward. A tan mountain lion fell on top of me, smothering me in the already pressing space.
“Ugh! Get off!” I complained, pushing against its weight. I flipped it over and scrambled out of the pit, my hands dripping with melted snow and blood. I glared at Domitan, then at my ruined tunic. “Why didn’t you help?!”
“Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t know you were down there.” Domitan answered innocently. “Really, sorry.”
I spent the day easy, first skinning and then cooking the lion. I smoked it, and then dried it. The meat was delicious and easy to eat and tasted better then tree bark. And the river was crystal clear, so I could clean my tunic. It would always be stained red, but I got some of it out. And then I fished salmon and trout, which I also cooked.
Domitan refused my begrudging offer of dinner, eating the few berries and nuts he found, and then got to bed by a tree trunk. I wrapped myself in my cloak, staring at the hole wearily. I really didn’t want to go back in, feel the pressing walls. And climbing up a tree was not an option. I could fall, I could die. I hated heights.
“Grr…” a growl sounded behind me. I spun, the cloak sliding off my shoulders and onto the snow covered ground. A large wolf, about two times the size of a regular wolf, hulked over Domitan. Its tongue flicked out, licking its grey muzzle. It had a white belly, the rest varying shades of grey.
“I am so stupid!” I growled, finding my belt was in my hole. The wolf stopped, looking up at me. It stepped over Domitan, now hungry for me. I fell back, scrambling to my hole. I drew my sword, pointing it at the wolf. “Get back!”
The wolf hissed, stopping. I stood, my feet taking a defensive stance. The wolf started to circle me, but my feet moved with his, never letting him at my back. Tiring of the game, he lunged. I dodged left, avoiding his jaws. I feinted right, nipping his eye when he fell for it. He howled and howled, then lunged forward.
His teeth bit down on my calf, tearing my skin. I knew better than to try and shake him off, and let him pull me to the ground. My sword flew from my hand, spinning and stabbing a tree. The wolf dropped my leg, staring into my eyes. I saw the hunger in his eyes, realizing he was ready to eat me. And eat me now.
“Get away from her!” Domitan yelled. I stared in shock as he made a stab for the wolf. I heard a howl, and then my eyes glazed over. The pain hit, my leg on fire. My nails dug into the frozen dirt under the snow, chipping and breaking. I breathed deeply in and out, trying to ignore the pain. “Alex, are you okay?”
“Yeah, just a bite.” I answered him. I looked past his shoulder, seeing the wolf on its side, dead. I didn’t know what blow killed it, but it looked like he had hit it several times. I looked into Domitan’s eyes, suddenly not despising him so much. Was it possible to despise someone who risked their own life for yours? “Thank you, Domitan.”
Domitan was silent. He helped me stand, even letting me lean on him. He took me to a tree, propped me up, and cleaned my wound. He bandaged it and helped me to my awful burrow when I asked. He was kinder, maybe hating me less. Did he know that I was the one that distracted the wolf from eating him? Was he awake? Well, we both were even. We each saved each other, and it wasn’t like we were the best of friends. But I might have actually wanted to go on another weekend outing with him. At least, I could trust him. That day proved that I could trust him with my life.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

RoyalCorona said...
Feb. 2 at 10:11 am
I loved this! I love fantasy stories and novels so much and this one made me want to write my own! There were a couple awkward phrases in there but it was really good! Great job!
 
LordHelen replied...
Feb. 4 at 12:13 am
Wow...really, thanks! That means so much, and yeah...I wrote this a few years ago, and I've been getting better with it. But thank you so much.
 
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