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Chapter 21

Trixie drifted in and out of sleep. She found herself sitting at a huge banquet table. All her friends were there. Julia, Kyte, her friends from the Mage Institute, and even Cur was there. The banquet table was filled with delicate foods. Hams, sweet dishes that reminded Trixie of the winter holiday, and elaborate glasses full of sweet wines.

Everyone was dressed in elegant but elaborate costumes, just like the ones from The Elf Queen’s crowning ceremony. Everyone was happy and talking quietly to one another. Trixie realized the Elf Queen herself sat at the head of the table.

Suddenly, there was a huge crash. Trixie turned in her dream to see Grunt, her Goblin jailer bashing the banquet table with a huge club. Goblins appeared out of nowhere and began killing everyone. Trixie gave a silent scream as she watched all of her friends struck down, even the Queen.

Thalon’s bloody and battered face filled Trixie’s vision.

“Save my Queen!” He cried before falling to Grunt’s club.

Trixie sat bolt upright with a yell. She was confused , groggy, and ... hungry?

She reached out to find soft fur all around her. A great golden eye opened in that fur. Trixie yelped.

“You sound like a wolf pup, morsel.” Cur said.

His body bounced a bit against hers.

Trixie realized he was chuckling.

“Now I know why you haven’t eaten me yet. You need someone to laugh at.”

Trixie looked around and saw that Cur had lain down where she had collapsed crying. The day seemed to be turning to evening, judging by the light outside.

Looking down, Trixie yelped again and pulled the wool blanket about her tightly. She had never gotten dressed from the morning, although she felt warm lying next to the giant wolf. Her hair fell across her face a bit and she glanced at Cur.

“Hey look, our hair is the same color.” She said, trying to find something to break the awkward silence.

“I don’t have hair, morsel, I have fur.” Cur blinked.

Trixie could have sworn he was smiling.

Trixie stood up somewhat unsteadily, reaching out to Cur’s side to catch herself.

“Do you have any more of those berries?” She asked as she made her way to the pile of clothes.

“Yes, you are much like a pup. I can show you where to find more berries. I also have some deer, do humans eat meat too? ” Cur tilted his head again, expectantly.

“Yeeug. Humans don’t eat raw meat. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you are just fattening me up.”

Trixie gave Cur a half smile. She turned suddenly serious as she slipped on a dirty, yet serviceable over shirt.

“What was her name? Your - your daughter.” She looked into his eyes.

Cur made a half - growl.

“I’m sorry! Please don’t be angry!” She said softly.

“I’m not angry. Not with you. The memory is full of pain. Her name was Wren. She had fur such as your hair, as well. And the true hunter’s spirit.”

Cur looked away, remembering the night the human hunters came to kill his pack. They had poisoned the deer around their den, as a trap. His pack did not have a chance. Cur growled deeper.

Trixie tried to change the subject, walking around to where Cur was facing. She had managed to cobble together some breeches, an overshirt only a size or two too big, and a leather jacket that had seen better days.

“What do you think? Do I look like a proper hermit? ” She pirouetted.

“What is a her-mit? Do they like berries too?” Cur’s head tilted quizzically.

Trixie laughed. “Yes, they like berries.”

She reached up and touched Cur’s cheek. This time he did not flinch, but gave her that disconcerting stare. Trixie shivered.

“Listen, Cur. I have a feeling that Thalon’s spell didn’t misfire. I think perhaps I was meant to find you. Cur, I need your help. The Elf Queen is dying, and I have to get to her as soon as possible. Many people have died to get this antidote. Rath is evil! He wants to enslave this land and destroy us all!”

“What do I care about humans, or elves? All they have done for me is to kill.” Cur bared his teeth. Trixie cringed, but stood her ground.

“Because, Cur, that Queen must have a father, too. A father that is watching his daughter die before his eyes. I know Wren is gone, but what if, what if you could save someone else’s? She- she’s the pack leader. Would you abandon your leader in a fight?”

Cur huffed. Trixie knew she was pushing her luck, but if she could not convince Cur to help her, then the Queen would die, and Trixie would have failed Thalon.

Cur stiffened suddenly and ran to the cave entrance. He began to growl deep in his throat as he looked out toward the valley.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Trixie said as she came up alongside the giant black wolf. She was half afraid he was going to attack her, as angry as he looked.

“Smoke. Goblins. They are setting fire to the forest. Rath must be seeking you out.”

“I- I’m sorry Cur. I’ll go right now, so they won’t find you. ” She turned, but inwardly she was terrified. Her dream of the banquet came flooding back to her memory. She would never survive those Goblins alone, but she would do whatever she could to keep them from Cur.

She only made it two steps before she was face to huge furry face with Cur. His teeth were bared, and a wild look was in his golden eyes.

“Morsel, even a pup knows not to abandon the pack. You dishonor me. I am tired of hiding, waiting for humans, or Rath, or goblins to finish killing me. We of the pack stick together. We of the pack fight together. We will give our lives for the pack. You have helped remind me of who I am!”

Cur let out a howl so loud it shook the trees nearby. Trixie could now smell the smoke from the Goblin’s attempts to flush her out.

“Quickly morsel! Climb on my back! We shall see if I am faster than the flames!” His eyes were wide and his ears back. A thrill coursed through Trixie and she felt something within her fall into place.

She was not alone any more. And neither was Cur. With a yip of her own she climbed up on Cur’s back and the wolf thundered away, just as the flames began to appear in the distance.


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