“He’s done it again!” Alick thundered, hurling a full glass of wine into the fireplace. “He’s not back two days and he does it again. ..., I hate that Wolf.” He cursed loudly and turned to where Onri was standing with a cloaked figure.
“What of Tabea?” the wizard snapped.
“The usual,” the dandy said in a surly mood.
“That girl always has the best of you, doesn’t she?” the cloaked figure laughed.
“Oh, shut up!” Onri nearly screamed. “I’ll get her yet!” With that he turned and stalked out of the room.
“Poor girls tonight,” the man in the cloak sighed.
“Never mind about that, do you have anything to report?” Alick interrupted.
“The meeting is set for the full moon, as you wanted, sir, but the old man wanted to pick the place himself, he’s not going to tell anyone until the night when we go.”
“If that’s the way it is. At least take a watcher with you.”
“No, sir, if I do that, then they’ll know. Roche is not stupid. He doesn’t believe in magic, but he has eyes in his head.”
“Then I’ll take them out with his hook when he’s in my dungeons,” the wizard said with relish. “Go now.” The cloaked man bowed and left the castle. He didn’t notice the wolf that was lying among the high trees near the road. Suddenly it sprang on him. He tried to free his dagger, but his arm got caught in his cloak. He heard a tearing and the wolf darted away, part of the sleeve of his tunic in its mouth.
There was much laughter in the Tavern that night and Will noticed with great satisfaction that the drinks were really being bought.
“So, master barkeep,” Roche growled, tapping his hook on the counter top, “what is the latest news on the Wolf?”
“They say the Gray Pack freed a whole company of slaves being taken away to be sold!” Pulleny laughed.
“What makes you so happy, Stev?” the old man asked, brushing through his short white beard.
“My mother and sister happened to be in that company,” the young man returned.
“So tell us about it, Stev Pulleny!” someone cried. The young man grinned from ear to ear and began his tale...
...Twilight was coming on and the slaves were being pushed along at a great speed. The leader constantly looked into the woods to his right and to his left.
“I don’t like this at all,” he muttered. “Specially since the Gray Pack came back.”
“Don’t talk about them!” another soldier whispered. “It’s bad luck.” In the same instant some fifty gray shadows leaped from among the trees. There were only seven soldiers tending the slaves. One of them was able to get his gun around before one wolf locked its jaws on his wrist hard. Blood spurted. The man screamed and tried to get loose. The wolf let go and he ran down the road, still screaming. The others just split the place, except for the leader and his companion. Two huge wolves leaped at them from behind, pinning them to the ground. All the leader could see was two wolf feet coming at him, then a loud sniffing. There was a quiet yip and growl and the weight vanished off his back. He jumped up and ran away. The other soldier got the same inspection, but stayed on, much to the awe of the people. There was something in his eyes. He walked towards the biggest Wolf.
“Sir, I want to stay and help, if you don’t mind,” he said. The Wolf bowed his head slightly and then his pack went among the slaves, their sharp teeth making quick work of the ropes. Prisca Pulleny collapsed, only to be caught by the wide back of the Wolf. He sniffed at her and licked her cheek lightly. She opened one eye and squeezed it shut again, before looking at him again. Did he look friendly or what? Slowly the little girl stood up and put one hand out. The Wolf didn’t move. She touched his shaggy head and stroked it, as if he was a big dog. He gently took an edge of her dress in his teeth and pulled.
“Shall we go?” she asked. The Wolf didn’t answer, but turned and trotted off down the road. Prisca ran to catch up with him and put her hand on his large neck. It didn’t seem he’d noticed her. The slaves followed his slow jog until they were too tired to go on. The Wolf let the little girl climb on his back for a while, then he stopped in a clearing. His bright howl split the night and they all settled down, the Gray Pack keeping watch.
“They’re nice wolves, aren’t they, Mommy?” Prisca asked as her mother wrapped her arms around her.
“Yes, Prisca, they are the lord’s wolves.”
“The Lord Dylan’s?” Her mother nodded, not knowing that their lord was right near them...
“Well, that big one brought Mom and Prisca home safe and sound this morning,” Stev Pulleny finished his story.
“Oh, he did, did he?” Roche laughed. “You must be dreaming.”
“Well, my Mom is safe at home and my sister is safe at home and I happened to see them coming down the lane with Prisca riding the Wolf!” There was loud murmuring in the Tavern. “You can ask my Mom if you want,” the young man cried.
“All right, all right, kid, I believe you,” the old man said. He looked around at the people.
“Say, Will, where’s Tennek?”
“Haven’t seen him yet today. Told me yesterday, he had some business to tend to.”