SheWolf

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Chapter 2

"We'll camp here for the night." He said after we had walked for a few hours I was too tired to respond, I had been up since dawn. I just curled up near the fire he had built, and went right to sleep.

The next morning I started awake, thinking I must have slept in and someone was probably standing over me with the beating stick… But when I opened my eyes all I saw was white, white snow and a huge gray wolf. At first I thought I was dreaming, but then the wolf howled, I started and started in at it in fear- thinking it was going to attack me. But he just stood there making a sound that was so mournful and dark it pierced me to the heart, like an icy dagger. I covered my ears trying to drown out the sound of pure misery but I couldn't; it echoed in my mind. Just when I thought I couldn't take the noise and sadness any longer the wolf shut its mouth and ran away. I collapsed with relief and looked around me in confusion- ot took me a few minutes to realize why I was sleeping out in the middle of nowhere in the snow. But as soon as I remember I was free I forgot about the wolf and went to sleep again.

The stranger was back when I woke up the second time, I almost screamed when I saw him at first. Not only has I surprised to see someone there when I woke up, but he was covered in blood! I just sat and stared until he asked me if I could help him get his coat off. I scrambled to my feet and ran to help him. I kept reminding myself that he had some reasonable accuse as to why he was covered in blood and it wasn't because he was a murderer. Then I remembered wolf from the night before,

"Did you get attacked by the wolf?" I asked as I helped him sit down.

"Of course not!" He chuckled as if I had asked a stupid, childish question, I glared at him- why did he think it was stupid of me to ask about the wolf? That was a perfectly reasonable question…maybe he was crazy. Maybe he was a murderer…

"I was shot with an arrow while I was hunting, some else must have mistaken me for a deer or something." He explained. I looked into his eyes, trying to fiure out if he was telling the truth. I saw nothing that made me think he was lying so I nodded and tore some strips from his ruined shirt to use as bandages. Soon I had managed to stop the bleeding. Luckily for him, the arrowhead came out easily and there were not splinters missing from the shaft.

It was late morning before we set out again but I was just glad to be moving, I still did not believe I was free; I kept waiting to hear soldiers coming to get me and bring me back. But I they never came. I was just one slave- I doubted they even realized I was gone yet… We walked silently onward, mostly because I was afraid to say anything to my strange companion. He looked so brutal walking purposefully beside me, I should have been scared but it comforted me a little bit, maybe just because I knew if anyone tried to hurt us he would end them… I thought it was kind of comical that I trusted this man more than most of the others who I had lived with for all my life. I didn't even know his name.

The next few days pasted and nothing new happened, we just kept trugging on toward some unknown goal. I was content though, I didn't mind walking silently, lost in my own thoughts. I had a lot to think about now that my soul had woken up and I was free. What would I do with my life now? There was so many options that when I thought about them all I felt overwhelmed, I was content to relax as much as I could now and wait to make a decision until it was forced on me. Another thing that stayed in my thoughts was the gray wolf, I started thinking it something supernatural. I mean I had been seeing a lot of gray wolves lately doing unnatural things- like the day I left the Riberians, why was there a huge wolf in the middle of the city? And what was a wolf doing howling at me in the middle of night then just running away, and I kept catching more glances of it as we travelled. I asked Ranulf, he's the stranger I ran off with, about it and he just laughed at me saying I was crazy and there were wolves everywhere in the country. But it still seems weird to me.

Ranulf is definitely the strangest person I have ever met; he can be so nice one minute and the next it's as if he doesn't even know I exist. He also acts much older than his is, he can't be much older than me but sometimes he talks like he's been alive for hundreds of years and has seen only the evil and pain. He can be so depressing sometimes but then again I shouldn't complain- he did rescue me. I might just be reading to much into things but there's something really different about Ranulf. Maybe he's a highly trained assassin or a spy or something else crazy like that- it would explain his dangerous look.

"What are you thinking about?" asked Ranulf one afternoon, as we walked along the road.

"Nothing." I said, I always hate when people ask you that. It always seemed like it would take me ten minutes to explain what was going on in my head or I was thinking of something highly inappropriate or rude.

"You are so boring."

"Thanks, you're so charming." I answered sarcastically, smiling that was coming from the guy who would be brooding silently for a whole day and not say a word to me…

"Do you ever show any emotion?" That's a rude question, I thought to myself.

"Everyone does, everyone except you that is." I replied.

"I show emotion."

"Definitely not, you just stare at everything like you want to smash it all the time."

"That's an emotion- anger. But I don't do that anyway. And I'm showing emotion right now, when have you showed any emotion whatsoever?"

"When we left the town I was obviously happy about it," I countered; I decide that even though the silence was boring I liked it more than his conversation. Maybe it bothered me so much because I knew I had a problem showing or having any strong emotion. But I knew Ranulf wasn't trying to hurt me or make me angry. He stopped talking after that and just stared off into the distance. I wondered why he had brought the subject up, was he just curious or was there something else going on in his head? Maybe he was bored and just wanted to annoy me- boys always seem to get so much entertainment from that…

Last night I dreamt of wolves, it was the most extraordinary dream I have ever had; it was one of those dreams where you think you're awake and going about your normal routine until you really wake up. In my dream, I woke up in the middle of the night, I felt that there was something urgent I should have been doing so I stood up. I looked around and Ranulf was gone, I followed his foot prints but in the middle of a meadow they because wolf footprints. I looked around me for any sign of Ranulf or a wolf but I saw nothing. I decided to go back to the camp and on my way I looked up at the stars, as I look for familiar constellations I say two bright stars I had never noticed before; as I looked at the more closely I saw them blink, I rubbed my eyes and when I opened them the two bright stars where gone. I shook my head and headed back towards camp but somehow I got lost. I was roaming around in the dark woods when I saw the wolf, he came up to me time. I was paralyzed with fear and amazement as he ran up to me and stopped; I was just waiting for him to leap for my throat when he gently took my hand in his mouth and led me through the wood. I was too surprised and scared to realize what he was trying to do until we reached the camp. When we stopped, I turned and looked at the wolf more closely,

"Thank you," I whispered and the wolf actually nodded! As he turned to leave I saw at least six other wolves in the forest watching. I went back to my blanket and curled up. That's the last part of my dream I remember, the next thing I knew I was waking up to Ranulf warming up some breakfast. It seemed so realistic I was tempted to look for my tracks in the snow but I didn't, I just pretended nothing happened. I've never had such a realistic dream before.

"What are you looking for?" asked Ranulf as I scanned the ground as we walked down the road. I know, I said I wasn't going to look for wolf tracks but I couldn't help it- it was just too tempting. I did control myself enough that I didn't look for tracks at our camp but I could help looking now as we walked along the road, I mean what if it wasn't a dream? That would be so amazing!

"Tracks," I answered, I didn't see any reason to lie to him. Besides, if he thought I was just looking for tracks he might leave me alone. I didn't need to specify that I was looking for tracks from a crazy dream I had.

"What kind of tracks? You're not looking for wolf tracks are you?" he asked with a laugh, he seemed to think it was hilarious that I still wondered about the wolf, but who wouldn't wonder about it when the animal had been following us for days? And now was visiting me in my dreams? Way to weird…

"And what if I am?" I asked with a smile.

"Are you serious? Why?"

"Because I want to," I replied, wishing he would just let it go.

"Come on, tell me." Ranulf gave me his best try at a puppy dog look which didn't make him look cuddly or innocent at all. I burst out laughing and he started to laugh too. He could be such an idiot.

"That's your best puppy dog look?" I asked.

"Hey! At least I tried! So why wolves, again?"

"It was just a dream I had." I managed to say after I finally stopped laughing, but as soon as I said this Ranulf got very serious.

"A dream?" he asked looking me straight in the eyes, it was a little scary.

"Yes, I had a strange dream last night. It seemed so real I was trying to convince myself that it was just a dream. But it's nothing, stop looking at me like that, Ranulf." I said nervously.

"What happened in your dream?" He said in a voice that didn't allow for anything but the truth. I sighed, then explained my dream to him. His reaction startled me, he seemed angry about something but when I asked him about it he said that it was nothing. I mean I could see the anger building in him and then he just started walking faster and looking at everything hatefully. I don't know what's up with him, how can he be mad about a dream? It's not like I control what I dream or anything, he's so strange.

We continued the rest of the day without talking, we were walking fast and had to save our breath. The weather has gotten so cold and raw lately, it is early spring so it should be getting nicer out not worse. This weather makes traveling much harder then in normal circumstances so that doesn't help with our moods. Especially Ranulf's, he's so moody sometimes. Every time I try to ask him what's the matter he just brushes me off or completely ignores me, he might be some crazy trained killed but he's definitely not trained in social skills. You know it's bad when I have more social skills then someone…

I saw the wolf today, and this time I saw another wolf with it. The other wolf has a little smaller than the first wolf and has jet black fur. I saw the wolves when I went looking for fresh water this morning; they seemed to be watching me as I went through the forest. Which I have to say is creepy, they were so close so being my curious self, I decided to try to touch the grey wolf. I know, a wonderful idea but who said I always made the best decisions? The grey wolf looked like he would have let me touch him but the black wolf pushed him away from me, it was so strange. I have never seem animals act like that but then again I never tried to pet a wolf before because that's a ridiculous thing to try to do. That dream's going to get me killed since I go around like I'm friends with wolves now. I tried to tell Ranulf about the wolves and he yelled at me,

"Do ever think of anything but those wolves?"

"I just thought you would like to know." I mumbled. I didn't understand why he had to act like such a jerk sometimes. He didn't even let me finish what I was going to say.

"They're just animals, let them be."

"But they're different! They don't act like normal animals- one almost let me touch it!" I insisted.

"You tried to touch it? Are you out of your mind? You could have been killed!"

"But-"

"Just shut up." I gasped, how dare he talk to me like that? I glared at him and started walking even faster until I was far in front of him. I was so angry with him, I mean he was right about me getting hurt- it was a stupid idea to try to touch the wolves but I was fine. Why did he get so upset? I mean he was really angry before I told him about that part- what did he against wolves? I started to think there was something behind this that I was completely oblivious to.

"I sorry Darcie, I shouldn't have talked to you like that." Ranulf said quietly, as he moved up beside me.

"Go away; I don't want to talk to you right now." I was my angry, childish response.

"Darcie please forgive me, I'm just really tired. I shouldn't have blown up at you like that. It was stupid of you to try to touch the wolves, I mean who does that? But I shouldn't have been so rude…"

"I forgive you but I still don't want to talk to you right now, and just because you're tired doesn't give you the excuse to be a jerk." I said, refusing to look at him.

"I said I was sorry, what else do I have to do?"

"Leave me alone for a while." I replied trying to walk faster than him but he easily kept up.

"You're impossible!"

"You're the one who is being impossible! I asked you to leave me alone because I want to be alone and you will not leave!"

"Fine, if you want me to go then I will. You will never have to see me again!" He exclaimed, stopping and glaring at me. I stopped to and rolled my eyes,

"Stop being childish! I didn't say go away forever; I just want to have a few hours to myself, is that too much to ask?"

"Whatever," He muttered.

"And you think I'm impossible…" I said to myself, and then I looked straight ahead and started walking again. I ignored Ranulf for the rest of the day.

By the time we started to make camp for the night all my anger had disappeared and I was fine. I even had a short conversation with Ranulf about the different ways of cooking wild game, but even though he talked to me he seemed remote and distant. I was afraid at first that he was still angry at me but as the night went on I saw that it was something else completely, he seemed almost nervous.

I was woken in the middle of the night by the clash of metal on metal, as I went to sit up I felt a cold knife at my throat. I froze and tried to figure out what was going on, at first I thought it was my old master come to take me back but the men around me looked like trained warriors.

"Who are-" I started, but was silenced immediately when the knife pressed into my neck. I squeezed my eyes together and tried not to panic as I felt a trickle of blood run down my neck. It's only a scratch, I repeated to myself.

"Tie her up and gag her," commanded one of the men, probably the leader. My hands and feet were roughly tied and an old rag stuffed into my mouth; Ranulf was being tied up a few feet away from me but for some reason he kept fighting even though it was useless. I guess it's just stupid male pride; they don't want to go down without a fight but I wished he would because it was horrible to see him hit again and again.

One of the men slung me over his shoulder and followed the others deep into the forest, away from the road and our camp. I think I must have fell asleep or passed out because the next thing I remember is sitting beside a huge fire in a large cave surround by my captors. I tried to free my hands but they were tied too tightly, next I looked around for Ranulf but I didn't see him anywhere.

"Hey look, she's awake!" observed one of the men and gave me a creepy smile. I tried to give him the death stare but that's hard to look threatening with a gag in your mouth.

"Untie her hands and take out her gag, it's not polite to keep a guest tied up." The leader said, the other men snickered at his humorless joke. I just looked at him with all the hatred I could manage. One of the men came over and cut the rope that held me hands; I yanked the gag out of my mouth and threw it with the ropes into the fire.

"Anything to eat or drink?" asked the leader, acting the part of gracious host. I shook my head and glared into the fire trying to decide whether I should talk to the men or not. I knew it would be completely hopeless to try to escape, but I wasn't sure what else I could do. Should I ask about Ranulf? I was afraid if I did they might hurt him or something…Besides I didn't want them to tie me up and gag me again for talking. I decide to stay silent and wait to see what would happen.

"Now, tell us were you come from," commanded the leader. I stayed quiet; I definitely was not going to tell them I was a runaway slave and I didn't know if Ranulf had told them anything. If he had made up a story I didn't want to contradict it.

"I thought as much," mumbled the leader, "Bring him out." Two of the men left and came back dragging Ranulf; his shirt was gone and his back was covered with welts. I couldn't help but stare, horrified. I has been whipped and seen it happen to others but this was much worse, Ranulf was just sagging between eh two men carrying him like a rag doll.

"Now my dear, if you do not answer my questions he will be beaten more. You don't want his death on your head." Their leader said with an evil smile. I swallowed and tried to think of what to say. I looked at Ranulf and he stared back, looking at me so intensely, like he was trying to tell me something.

"I'll answer your questions if you let him go." I said, sounding more brave and confident then I felt.

"Are you bold!" chuckled the leader, "I like your courage so I'll grant your wish, release him." I sighed with relief and rushed over to where Ranulf was. I gathered him in my arms and looked over his wounds.

"Don't tell them!" he whispered into my ear. One of the men growled and kick Ranulf in the stomach.

"Stop!" I yelled and held Ranulf close, trying to protect him.

"Answer my question now, or I will beat him myself." commanded the leader angrily. I nodded.

"Don't!" cried Ranulf. I looked down at him,

"Ranulf dear, we have no choice. We need to tell them the truth." I said in a comforting voice, "We ran away from our town because we wanted to get married, my parents didn't want me marrying my Ranulf but I wouldn't have anyone except him so we left." I lied. I must have done a good job because the leader seemed to believe me.

"Please sir, don't make me go back!" I cried, trying my best to act like some young, foolish girl in love.

"Stupid girl!" the leader said with disgusted and turned to the man on his right, "These must be the wrong ones; we must have gotten here too late! You idiots!"

"How were we supposed to know?" Exclaimed the man.

"You could have questioned them BEFORE we brought them all the way back here! We've lost a lot of valuable time!" The leader raged.

"We can catch up to them if we use the horses, my lord." One man volunteered.

"Of course, if we use the horses we will have time to set up a proper ambush for them. Come, we must leave now!"

"But what about the prisoners?"

"Just leave them." Said the leader and he walked off without a backward glance. The other men followed and soon we were all alone in the giant cave. That was easy, I thought to myself.

I pulled Ranulf closer to the fire then looked around for something to use as a blanket. After a few minutes of looking I found a bunch of old blankets. I used some to make a bed for Ranulf and the others I used to bandage his back. I tried my best to clean his wounds and make him as comfortable as I could but he seemed so restless and upset I didn't know what to do. He was only half conscious most of the time and kept mumbling about "his brothers". He finally fell into a deep sleep and I left him to explore the cave a little bit.

The cave was massive, my bigger than it even appeared, there were hundreds of little passage ways branching off in all directions. I stayed close to the main room because I was afraid I would lose my way in the labyrinth of passages. While looking around I found what I thought must be the pantry and armory. I took a small sword and some knives from the armory, I had never used weapons before because it was forbidden for slaves to own or use weapons but I figured they would come in handy sometime soon. I also took all the food I could carry back to the fire. I had no clue how long we would be staying at the cave, but I knew we couldn't stay long and would need to leave as soon as Ranulf was able. Thankfully the main cave we were in was close to the entrance and exit of the cave so if anyone was coming we would see or hear them in time to escape through one of the numerous passageways.

It was almost dawn when I finally had calmed down enough to sleep. I was in the middle of a wonderful dream when I was jerked back to reality. I couldn't figure out what woke me at first, and then I realized it was the fire; it had burned low while I was asleep and just been blown out by a blast of wind. I waited until my eyes go used to the dark then I got up to check on Ranulf, on my way I tripped over something. I got up, feeling around, trying to figure out what had tripped when I felt something furry. I yanked my hand back in surprise, and then I felt for it again. I was kind of hoping it was just a fur coat that I hadn't noticed before but when I felt it again it felt warm, then it moved!

My heart jumped and I clapped my hands over my mouth to keep from screaming, I froze and waited for the animal to do something hoping that something didn't involve ripping my throat out. After a few minutes, I realized I had been holding my breath and let it out. Whatever was beside me didn't seem to want to hurt me so I decided to leave it alone praying it was just some sweet, cuddly animal who would do me no harm. I kept moving to where Ranulf was, he was still asleep and seemed to be doing fine. I was about to go back to my bed but I changed my mind and curled up next to Ranulf, telling myself I was doing it to keep him warm. But to tell the truth, I just didn't want to risk angering whatever animal was lying close by.

The morning was fresh and beautiful, I couldn't help feeling hopeful when I woke up and saw the sun shining happily down through the trees outside the cave. Ranulf woke up and seemed to feel a little better than last night but it was obvious that he wasn't in shape to travel, this worried me because we had no idea when the men would return. I wanted to as far away from this place as possible when they got back, I knew if they caught us a second time things would probably go very badly for Ranulf and I.

I got up and started the fire again and started making something to eat, I was starving. As I was waiting for the pot of water to boil I noticed some tracks by the fire ring, I looked closer and say they looked like big dog foot prints- wolf prints. I almost laughed at the strangeness of all this, why would my wolf, yes I had begun to call the large gray wolf mine, come into the cave? And he didn't even do a thing when I tripped over him, or when I touched him. There was definitely something strange going on, I had repeatedly been giving this wolf opportunities to kill me but he never did anything about it. Did I have a animal protector like some of the heroes in the old stories?


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