For a moment, there was no sound in the forest. No sound provided by any living creature, at least. Only the rusting of the leaves in the faint eastern wind.
Then, out of nowhere, there was the sound of footsteps in the cold snow, a growl, and a scream, after which it was silent again.
One-eye carried the rabbit he’d caught in his mouth, blood dripping from his black lips. He licked it enjoyably.
A half year had passed ever since One-eye had killed Norder, and, with that, accidentally orphaned Lynn. It hadn’t exactly been a pleasant six months for him-- One-eye had gone into a deep depression.
Before he had killed her father, he’d lived his entire life holding onto one oath: Killing Lone Ones without family in order to protect his own from the Clan that had taken him prisoner and had forced him into becoming an assassin.
And, although he’d had nothing throughout the years, being feared by most for his ferociousness and ridiculed by the rest for his hump and deformed front paw, he’d had the thought that everything he was doing wasn’t in vain: He was protecting his own family.
However, his entire world came crashing down when he realized that he killed a pup’s father a half-year ago. He’d broken his precious oath, the only thing he’d clung onto for almost his entire, lonesome life. Everything was gone.
This realization had driven him mad for a while, yet still he’d taken the pup with him because he felt it was his responsibility. However, she being present didn’t exactly help him: She was the daily reminder of what he had done.
This, together with his hysteria and slight madness, had driven him into a deep depression. He hardly looked after the pup apart from feeding her, and talked as little to her as possible. When he did, he often screamed at her in frustration, and often sat alone outside the den, mumbling to himself. He continuously had nightmares and mostly just tried to distract himself by walking aimlessly and endlessly through the small territory he had. Still, this didn’t really help his depression; it just helped him pay a little less attention to it.
One-eye sighed and dropped the rabbit. The snow around the carcass instantly became crimson from the blood leaking out of its body.
The old wolf shook some snow out of his ruffled, pale wintercoat. He panted and looked through the trees. He was near the edge of the forest, and, beyond those trees, he saw the meadows. In summer, these would usually be either empty or filled with a farmer’s Cattle, but now, in winter, the fences got removed, the drag lifts that were never utilized in summer became active, and people were either skiing or snowboarding massively on the snow-covered fields.
One-eye wasn’t really used to this, as he’d lived the entirety of his life in a deep forest, where there was no option to winter-sport due to the amount of trees and plants, but the small territory he currently had included the meadows.
The old wolf watchedthe people sliding by on their skis for a bit. Some made laughing noises, others were just quiet. Their skis all made slashing sounds through the snow.
Freaking people, One-eye thought, as he slowly walked past the edge of the forest. He didn’t want to make any rapid movements, which could risk the humans seeing him.
A few steps later, he grabbed the rabbit again and moved away from the noises of people having fun.
As always, Lynn waited under the strange, umbrella-like branches that covered her “den”. They’d lost their leaves, but the thin branches still kept most snow from falling down, so they still gave some form of protection.
The she-wolf yawned. Now that she was a little older than six months, she’d lost her pup coat, which had been replaced by her brown winter coat with one or two gray hues in it. Her pale blue eyes had gained their permanent color: Dark reddish-brown. The nicks in her ears had healed a bit, but they would always be scars.
Lynn sighed. She was bored, as always. Each and every day went the same: She woke up, after which she would find One-eye somewhere near the den, mumbling some kind of nonsense to himself while leaning against a tree. Then, he’d usually give her a short and genuine “Hi” as a greeting, and maybe even some other words, and would go hunting, only to return at dusk, at times even without even having caught something. Then they’d have some form of a conversation, though it never really felt like an actual talk, more like a stale one, after which Lynn would go to sleep and One-eye would follow soon.
This life bored her. By now, she already should’ve been taught the basics of hunting, fighting, tracking, killing, and so much more, but by the looks of it One-eye had never even considered doing so. And, even though she could leave the den to explore, Lynn never did.
Despite her boredom and the feeling that she just had to leave one day, she couldn’t. The last thing Norder, her real father, had ordered her that one morning, was to stay in the den. She hadn’t done that, and what had happened to him? He’d died. She was too afraid that, for whatever reason, maybe the same thing would happen to One-eye. Even though he didn’t treat her good, she had still grown attached to him. He was the only wolf she knew, after all, and he still did look after her, albeit in a bit of an unorthodox way.
She yawned. It was late, almost dusk. He should be back soon, she thought, mentally preparing herself for either being ignored or being shouted at.
She heard the faint sounds of the final few winter-sporters on the ski slopes. Soon enough they’d leave, and the drag lifts would close, which would give her some silence...until the Pisten Bullies would come to flatten the slopes for the next day, which made even more noise than those stupid drag lifts and people during the daytime.
Will stuff ever get truly quiet during this endless winter? Lynn asked herself. It was really hard, getting your rest, when there was almost constantly some noise going on.
One-eye suddenly appeared in front of her, a bunny dangling fromhis mouth. He looked at her with his default expression, which seemed to be a mix between anger and disappointment.
“Hullo,” he mumbled as he dropped the rabbit without even giving the young she-wolf a slight glance.He sighed and sat down in front of the den.
Lynn immediately ran out. “You’re back!” she said with her usual joy.
“I am,” he growled. He never trusted her whenever she saw him. She couldn’t possibly be happy with him returning? And, even if it was genuine, One-eye wouldn’t have known--he didn’t trust her, or anyone, for that matter.
“Just take it,” he growled. He’d eaten part of the rabbit on his way to her already, so she could eat the remains, which was enough for her.
Lynn nodded with her ears set back and ate the rest of the rabbit.
After she was done, she sat down and licked the blood off of her muzzle, something One-eye never seemed to consider doing. “So...seen anything unusual on your patrol today?” she asked, trying to spark a conversation.
“Mmpf,” One-eye said as he got up and walked away.
“Oh...okay,” he heard Lynn say softly, trying to hide her disappointment.
Stupid kid, he thought as he sat down beside his trusty tree and leaned against it with his shoulder and hump.
Lynn sighed. “Yeah...I didn’t want to talk anyways...” she whispered. She sat down with her back towards him, ears drooped. She hated this loneliness, yet she didn’t hate him. Even though Lynn wasn’t smart enough to think through what it was, she knew that there was something off about him that wasn’t physical, but mental. There had to be a reason for those mental breakdowns on their way to this territory, there had to be a reason for his distant and often hysterical behaviour.
But Lynn didn’t know what it was. She just assumed that there was also something mentally wrong with One-eye, which there was, but she didn’t think more of it.
That evening, both One-eye and Lynn went to sleep.
Lynn often slept at the left side of the den, while One-eye slept on the right side of the trunk, as far away from her as possible.
“Goodnight!” Lynn said, always keeping her spirits up.
“Night,” was the annoyed response from One-eye.
NO! Nonononononono! Dangit! Dangit! One-eye, wake up, you moron!
The old wolf instantly woke up, panting. His eyes turned around in their orbits like crazy. Nonononono! He shook his head, trying to get it to clear.
A nightmare. Another one about killing that pup’s dad...great. You know, past, I’d love to move on and all...SO PLEASE STOP SHOWING UP IN MY DREAMS, DANGIT! He shook his head once more and looked at Lynn. Have I awoken her? But she still slept. Good.
He panted for a moment and looked around. In the distance, he heard the Pisten Bullies flatten the slopes, which made a buzzing noise. Can’t these dang humans cut us some slack for a while?
He sighed and put his head down on his front paws, listening to the sound. He didn’t feel like he was going to fall asleep again anytime soon.
Suddenly, he smelled something odd. It was really vague, and the faint, very faint wind carried it with it, but he’d smelled it.
The old wolf lifted his head. He sniffed again. The scent was gone. He looked around for a moment and then started up his cyborg eye, which he always shut off during sleep.
It made a few buzzing noises as it finally started to work. At first it glitched for a bit, but then it worked again. One-eye put on the heat-vision mode on the eye.
Come on, stop glitching for a moment and WORK! He waited as the eye finally shifted to heat-vision.
One-eye closed his real eye to see properly. Alright...dark forest...dark forest… He looked at Lynn, who glowed purple, dark blue, and even orange or yellow at some parts. At least the stupid heat-vision still works.
He got up and walked out of the den, looking around him. He saw small things like birds or squirrels pass by as multicolored dots. But he was looking for something bigger.
He sniffed once more. Still no scent. Darnydarnydarn! Show yourself!
But he didn’t have to ask that another time, for in that exact moment, a pack of eight hunting dogs stepped out of the bushes, in a half-moon shaped formation.
One-eye disabled the infrared mode on his eye and growled. “This is my territory!”
One of the hounds let out a bark of laughter. “The bosses won’t be happy with him, lads. A misshapen wolf isn’t worth anything, eh?”
“Yes!” Two others agreed.
The crescent moon-shaped formation slowly turned smaller as the dogs neared One-eye, who stood there with his yellow teeth bared, tail up high, fur on his hump and neck pointing up.
“What are you doing here? Get out, now!” he growled.
The dogs continued to get closer without breaking step.
Meanwhile, Lynn had woken up as a result of One-eye’s snarls. She yawned for a moment and then saw the dogs nearing One-eye.
Her tail went instantly between her hind legs, and she hid behind the tree trunk of the den, hoping that they wouldn’t see her.
“Where are your humans?” One-eye snarled to the dogs. The formation had stopped in front of him, and the middle dog, the first one that had spoken, stood in front of them.
“Our humans? They are where they need to be,” the dog said, smirking.
In return, One-eye let out another snarl and he was about to leap on the dog, but then one of the other hounds said, “Boss, look, there! Under that tree! There’s a pup!”
The boss dog looked up and saw Lynn's short tail, which was sticking out from behind the trunk.
One-eye growled. “If you think of laying a tooth on her, I’ll rip your throat open, rip out your arteries and force your minions to eat them!” He felt the desperate urge to protect Lynn, no matter how much he saw her as a constant reminder of his past--the only thing he had to live for now was her, since he’d made a vow to protect her.
“Oh, I’d love to see you try!” the leader said, and without any warning he attacked One-eye.
The old wolf didn’t see this one coming, and fell over, as he heard Lynn cry his name from behind.
He tried to fight back, but the leader plus four other dogs were on top of him. However, they didn’t go for his throat like One-eye expected. They went for stuff like his legs and ears.
He struggled and finally managed to free one leg, which he slammed the nearest dog with on the head. The hound growled in return and bit his paw again. DANG!
One-eye kept struggling, but then he suddenly heard a scream and more barking. Lynn!
With the greatest of efforts, he managed to see the final four hunting dogs go after her as she fled.
“NO!” he cried and in a small moment of rage he managed to free himself from the dogs that were holding onto his hind legs. He shook his head until one of the dogs released his left ear, which was now torn to shreds, and he bit the dog that was holding his other one. The dog didn’t let go, but One-eye released him for a moment, and then quickly went for the throat. The dog finally released him, just before he died.
One-eye had now freed himself, one ear and two hind legs bleeding. Why don’t they just kill me? And their friend just died! Why don’t they flee? The dogs stood in front of him, until finally the leader attacked again.
But this time, One-eye, now berserk, was prepared. He dodged the leader and the second dog and instantly went for the third one’s throat. The dog struggled, but One-eye had an entire life as an assassin behind him, and the hound was soon dead.
One-eye instantly went after Lynn, who was being pushed to the ground by the four dogs. Strangely enough, they weren’t hurting her much, either. What are these dogs doing?
He leapt and knocked over two dogs, killing a third one in the process. The last one bit his right ear, but the old wolf pulled himself free and tore his ear at that. He stood over Lynn, defending her. She sat with her paws covering her face, shivering and whimpering in fear.
“NO ONE! NO ONE OF YOU SHALL HURT HER!”
The dogs that were left approached him. The boss barked: “Get him away from that pup,” and the others followed his orders.
They lunged for One-eye, but the old wolf was too quick. He dodged their
attacks by dashing away at the right moment, and went for the leader.
“Wilson!” one of the dogs cried out, but the leader dog was fast. He simply stepped backward a bit, which caused One-eye to crash into the rocky ground in front of him with a loud groan.
Wilson smiled. “Not so fast, are you?”
One-eye slowly lifted his head, whimpering. His upper jaw had hit a rock real hard, and his mouth hurt terribly in that spot. He tried to lick up some of the blood that was coming from his gums, but yelped in pain. Dangitdangitdangit! How come my mouth can be so sensitive? I’m supposed to kill things with this!
He closed his mouth, which hurt, but tried to ignore the pain. He noticed that his big, deformed, extra tooth, that has always been crooked, was in a slightly different position now. It wasn’t covered by his lips anymore, like it’d always been. It was now crooked in a way that none of his lips covered it, and it was visible even with his mouth closed.
“I’m maybe not the fastest, but I am the strongest!” One-eye snarled. He didn’t go for Wilson, however. He bolted back towards the dogs that were going for Lynn.
They had driven her into a corner of a big tree, where she was stuck.
One-eye was about to tackle them one-by-one, but a warning bark from Wilson alerted them. They were prepared for his attack and simply dodged him, knocking him over.
Fudge! One-eye rolled over the mossy ground and instantly got up. He did notice that his body was slowly going numb, however. I’m growing old, he realized with some shock. Why am I growing old? UGH!
He got up and pinned one of the dogs to the ground, but the others instantly went for his hind legs and shoulders, except for Wilson, who slowly walked up to Lynn.
NO! One-eye thought. He saw the hound near her, but he couldn’t free himself, especially since the dog he was pinning managed to escape and sat now on top of his shoulders.
“NO! Get away from her, you moron!” he shouted at the leader. “Run, Lynn, RUN!”
The pup looked at him with teary eyes, but she was frozen, unable to move.
“Come on, little one, stay here, otherwise we won’t be very nice to you,” Wilson growled menacingly. Lynn looked at him, then at One-eye again, shivering.
“Go!” the old wolf shouted. Then, Lynn decided to run for it. “Yes! That’s it!” One-eye said, victorious, until one of the hounds put their paw on his muzzle.
Lynn had no idea where she was going. She’d never been away this far from the den since the one day she and One-eye had first found this territory. She had no clue where to go. She only knew that she had to get away from these dogs.
Some loud barks behind her told her that the leader of the dogs wasn’t far away from her. “Come here, brat!” he barked loudly.
Where do I go? Where do I go? Lynn thought. She just kept running, trying to avoid random rocks, bushes, and trees. But she’d hardly ever ran before, and therefore her stamina was low. Very low, for a wolf, at least.
Suddenly, she heard more barks, followed by a snarl. The other dogs are after me as well… and…Dad? She turned around to see if One-eye was really running with or after the dogs. But she shouldn’t have done that, for suddenly the leader attacked. He tried to bite her leg, but Lynn, who was much smaller than most wolves he’d hunted, made a quick movement, which caused the hound to bite her somewhere else.
Lynn let out an enormous cry of pain as Wilson gouged out her right eye.
“Lynn! NO!” One-eye stopped running. He’d tried to keep up with the dogs to keep them away from Lynn, but he wasn’t fast enough. From where he was, he couldn’t see what Wilson was doing to her, but what he did see was that her yelping suddenly stopped and that she lay down, still.
“Nononononono! Lynn!” One-eye howled as he suddenly bolted past the dogs and knocked over the leader.
He looked at her. She was shivering, paws covering her face, tail between her hind legs. Not dead, he thought gladly.
He pushed the approaching dogs away from her, but then, suddenly, he smelled that sharp scent again. Humans.
The old wolf looked around. He noticed that the dogs weren’t attacking him anymore, only standing still and snarling in a half-circle around him. They looked and once in a while barked as if they wanted to tear him apart more than anything, but something kept them from doing so. He heard a voice coming out of the bushes.
One-eye looked up, away from the dogs. Two humans, both tall and wearing green and brownish clothes, stepped out of the bushes.
The dogs looked at their owners, ears perked up and eyes big, as if the people had them under some sort of control. The mere thought of that made One-eye shiver.
The humans stood still for what seemed like an eternity, and so did the wolf and the dogs, until one of the persons grabbed a Pang from his shoulder and pointed it right at One-eye, who slowly started to back down with his tail between his hind legs. As much as he hated humans, he knew better than to let his anger overtake him in such a situation.
The other person said something and made a gesture, and the dogs stayed still, except Wilson, who slowly backed away from Lynn and walked towards One-eye, stopping in between the wolf and his adopted daughter.
He’s going to keep me away from Lynn! One-eye realized with shock. He wanted to do nothing more than throw himself at Wilson and take out his artery, but the Pang that was pointed right at him kept him from doing so. Dangitdangitdangit!
“Der Welpe sieht gut aus!” the person who didn’t hold his gun was pointing out.
The other made an agreeing noise. “Das stimmt. Sie wird echt viel wert sein...wenn Wilson sie am Leben erhälten würde,” he said bitterly, not taking his gaze away from One-eye.
Then he slowly went back to a more relaxed pose and lowered the Pang for a bit.
One-eye felt the hair on the back of his neck and hump raise. What is he doing?
Out of nowhere, he shouted a command. Wilson, who had realized that his gums were his weak spot, grabbed One-eye’s muzzle between his strong jaws and dragged him away from the pup.
One-eye yelped, still not over the pain in his crooked tooth, of which the leader dog took advantage. He let go off of the old wolf for a moment, and signaled one of his followers with his tail. The other dog gave One-eye’s head a strong headbutt and the wolf was bashed to the same rock with his head and teeth, this time on the left side. He let out a painful yelp in the process. His cyborgeye fell off as soon as hit hit the boulder and fell into a thick bush.
One-eye tried to think straight, to keep himself together, but he just couldn’t. His head had hit the rock pretty hard, and just staying conscious was already so hard. He kept seeing black blurs in front of his eyes and wasn’t really able to make anything out anymore. Nothing but pain. Whu…What is…happe-- He couldn’t even finish his own thoughts.
Wilson approached the old wolf, who was now nothing more but a bleeding and whimpering creature, too much in pain and too paralyzed to respond. He barked and the two men walked up to One-eye, one pointing the Pang at him again.
The old wolf shook his head to remain conscious, and suddenly looked into the strange shiny end of a Pang, but he was too dazzled to make out what it really was for a few seconds. Then, the blurs behind the metal thing finally took the shapes of humans.
HUMANS? FUDGE! Gotta get out of her--OUCH. His head was aching so much, and so was his mouth and the rest of his body. And he was exhausted.
He just looked at the Pang and the people. If you really have to finish it…be done with it then… He finally submitted, and he lay his head down on the ground and closed his eye, preparing for the end. I’m so sorry I failed at protecting you, Lynn…
But the shot never came. It just stayed still. After half-a-minute One-eye dared to open his eye again. He looked for Lynn behind the humans, but they were in his way, still examining him. The Pang was no longer pointed at him. They know I’m too weak to hurt them, he realized.
He looked at the humans, and they looked at him. Yes, I look hideous, I’m a hunchback, I have only one eye. We- -OW--get it.
“Sieht sehr ungewöhnlich aus,” finally one of them said, scratching his chin.
The other shook his head. “Aber was können wir mit ihm machen? Diese Narben kan man nicht verschwinden lassen, nicht mal wenn man ihn ausstopfen würde, ganz zu schweigen von dem Fakt dass niemand für so eine Abnormität bezahlen würde!”
“Ich dachte sie würden gerade deswegen sehr viel bezahlen...,” the other obligated.
“Lass es sein,” said the other, and that seemed to be a definite decision, though One-eye had no idea on what. He noticed that they got up from their crouch, and the one that wasn’t holding his Pang in his hand patted Wilson over his head. “Gut gemacht, Junge,” he praised.
The other crouched over Lynn. One-eye suddenly was well-awake. “No, not her!” he barked, instantly yelping after his sentence because of the pain.
“Nicht gut gelungen, du meinst er ist auf ihr Auge losgegangen anstatt sie einfach festzuhalten!” he said angrily.
The man petting Wilson walked up to Lynn and started to spark a loud conversation with the one sitting beside Lynn, who still didn’t move.
“Dang you! All of you! How can you--OUCH MY EVERYTHING!” One-eye shouted, head raised high, fur bristling, at Wilson and the surviving hounds. They kept still, looking at him. Wilson had a slight frown upon his face.
“You’re of no use anymore, old man,” the hound simply said, as he turned around to his owners, who were now both crouched near Lynn, arguing in their strange human language.
“What--ow--what are they going to do to her?” One-eye whispered to the nearest dog, a brown animal. The dog walked away, following Wilson.“No…”
One-eye slowly lowered his painful head back to his front legs and lay it down. It was all too late, and even if it wasn’t, what could he do? He’d never felt as physically weak as now. Everything hurt, mentally and physically, and he still had trouble not losing his conscience.
The dogs stood near the humans, but the more-aggressive man that had been pointing the Pang shoved them away. “Hau ab! Wilson hat diesem Welpen schon genug Schaden zugefügt. Wir wollen nicht, dass du es noch schlimmer machst! Wer wird überhaupt irgendwelches Geld bezahlen, für einen einäugigen Wolf mit einer Narbe, die so schlimm ist, wie diese?”
The second man scratched his chin. “Also...he....Ich meine sie ist immerhin ein Rotwolf und noch ein Welpe, wir werden definitiv etwas Geld mit ihr machen.”
The Pang-human made a “tssk” sound with his tongue to his teeth and then grabbed Lynn off of the ground.
One-eye startled. “NO! You idiots!” he howled.
The old wolf tried to get up, but as soon as he even stretched out his legs to put them on the ground properly, another burst of pain and exhaustion overtook him, and he dropped to the ground.
“Komm, lass uns gehen!,” one of the men said, as he turned around. It was the one carrying Lynn, who lay still in his arms. Then, even if it was just for a millisecond, One-eye was sure he saw her ear twitch. Just a bit. But it twitched.
She can’t be… He still couldn’t see what Wilson had done to her from his spot in the grass, but she was showing a sign of life. He knew he couldn’t be imagining this, he had to be seeing it for real.
One-eye tried to wrestle himself to his feet once more, but it didn’t work. Instead he took the pose of a hunched sit, and stretched out his deformed paw. “No…please…” he begged, hardly even understanding himself.
Then he lost the final strength in the front paw keeping him up in his sitting position and fell down to the grass again with his head.
Still trying not to faint, One-eye furiously kept his only eye open. Stay conscious, don’t faint, don’t you faint, you idiot! He saw how the men and their dogs walked away, leaving behind the bodies of the dead hounds with some arguing, after which they finally started to vanish into the thick woods.
One-eye fought, but the leaving silhouettes got blurrier and blurrier, until he finally passed out and everything went black.
“WHAH? HUH? AAAAAAH! OW!” Lynn woke up with a big shock and instantly stood up…only to hit her head on something hard above her and fall down again.
Puzzled, she lay down in her spot for a few seconds, coming to terms with what had happened, even though she’d remembered little. She recalled pain and dogs and One-eye… One-eye! No! Dad! But she knew he wasn’t here…wherever she was.
But something else caught her attention even more than her strange surroundings. Why do I have this tight thing around my neck? What is wrong with my right eye…why do I see…different? She shook her head, thinking that it was maybe the side effects of her hitting her head. But it stayed the same. The colors she saw with her right eye were much more different than the ones she saw with her left: She hadn’t even seen some of these in her life before, she didn’t even know they existed. However, gradually, the unknown colors started to fade, until her right eye had somehow adjusted itself to her left, though the bright colors she saw with it still seemed more vibrant than before.
What she also found strange was this feeling near her right eye. It hurt a bit, but also felt really cold and unnatural. What is wrong with me?
Lynn got up again and wanted to pace to and fro, but whatever strange and pretty dark area she was in would hardly allow her to even stand without having to hold her head low.
Where am I?
She sat down, hunched to spare her painful head, and looked around. She was in some kind of unnatural-looking (and -smelling) area that she couldn’t get out of. It was long on two sides, and short on two others. One of the shorter sides of the thing wasn’t dark and without holes like the rest, however, and there was a strange, wiry structure blocking the way. Light fell through the wires. Lynn first expected these things to be bendable, but as she pressed her paw on one of them, they didn’t bend. They felt strong, way too strong for any wolf paw or even jaw to manipulate, and they somewhat reminded her of the material One-eye’s fake eye was made of.
Lynn sniffed it, inhaling the sharp and strange scents of the area around her, and looked through the things that also reminded her slightly of a fence.
She was in a space that was sort of like the smaller thing she was in, but much, much bigger, big enough for a human to stand up in, and there was no sign at all of a natural light source.
The area was filled with strange structures and things Lynn had never encountered before, and all smelled of humans. She backed off with sudden realization and tucked her tail between her hind legs. A human den? I’m in a human den! She started to pant and her hackles rose. Oh no…how am I going to get out of any of this? I can’t even get out of this small den. What am I going to do?
She sat down, afraid, and whimpered. Where is One-eye? Where am I? Am I far away from home? AND WHAT IS UP WITH MY EYE?!
She felt with her right front paw over the area where her right eye was…or had been. With a yelp she withdrew her leg. That didn’t feel like my coat at all!
The young she-wolf looked down. On the bottom of the smaller area she was in lay some strange, flat and thin white things with black markings on it that made crackly noises as she moved. She ignored those, but there was also a small, round object.
Lynn smelled it. There was water inside of it, and it reminded her an awful lot of a small, really small pond, hardly bigger than two average-sized wolf legs together.
I’m so thirsty…and water is reflecting…so I can see what’s wrong with me…but this is human water! It must be poisonous!
But…surely just looking in it won’t kill me?
She bent for her head wards over the circular-shaped item and looked, but she instantly pulled back her head. I’m…no…I can’t be…
She felt tears appearing in her good eye. She was maimed…she’d lost her good right eye and now it was replaced with this.
I’m like a small and brown clone of One-eye, minus the deformed paw and hunchback! Why does this have to happen to me?
“WHY?” she barked out loud.
“Hey, hey, keep yourself together, will you?” a light voice with a strange accent said.
Lynn stiffened and tried to sniff up the air, trying to identify what was talking to her, but there were so many unfamiliar and unnatural scents in the stinking air that she couldn’t make it out.
“Up here,” the voice pointed out. Lynn looked to the top of the space she was in, but saw nothing but a dark-colored side of the area.
“Here!” Lynn followed the voice and suddenly saw a small, black paw, coming from above the upper part of her area. Whoever it is, they are on top of me!
“Uh…hello,” Lynn said shyly, ears laid back. She’d never been allowed to talk to anyone. One-eye had told her how dangerous strangers could be, that they might be after her like someone had been after her dad.
The paw pulled back. “Good, you’ve found me. What is your name?”
They will take you, they will make you feel at home, they will cherish you, and then they’ll stab you in the metaphorical hunchback and show that they’re just like ANYONE ELSE IN THIS BLOODY WORLD.
Lynn heard One-eye’s often-spoken words when she asked about strangers ringing in her head. She suddenly felt stupid that she’d spoken already, otherwise she could’ve pretended she had some form of speech impediment.
There was some sound of claws moving and fur ruffling above the young she-wolf, but she kept her mouth shut.
“Come on, I know you’re there.”
Lynn didn’t answer.
The voice spoke again, but it didn’t seem angry or bothered at all. “Then you don’t speak. Your choice. I’m Leyta, by the way. I’m a vixen.”
Vixen? That’s like a she-fox, right? I don’t think I’ve met a fox before. Well, unless you count that furious one that attacked us when One-eye and I discovered our territory for the first time.
“You’re probably wondering what you’re doing here, right? You sound like nothing but a pup to me. Shame.”
I am. And where I am? And what’s wrong with my eye? And what is this thing around my neck?
“Well, sadly enough, I can’t help you much, either.” Leyta moved around in her area above Lynn’s some more. “But I do know that we’re in the lair of a poacher.”
“What’s a poacher?” Lynn said, instantly placing her paws on her jaw after she was done. One-eye is going to be so mad, stupid! And she’s just trying to deceive you into thinking that she’s alright!
“So my sudden presence didn’t turn you into a mute,” the vixen said, rather sarcastically. “That’s good. A poacher is…well…they’re kind of like human hunters…but they hunt stuff they’re not supposed to hunt, often outside of hunting season. They captured me, and you, as well. And tons of others, though sadly enough they’re all gone.” There was a small hint of sadness in her voice, but since Leyta seemed like a rather sarcastic vixen, Lynn wasn’t sure whether to believe it or not.
“Gone where, you want to ask? I don’t know. Some, mostly the ones that might not raise enough money when sold alive, will be killed and mounted. Others get sold alive. I’m not sure when it’s my turn, and, when I get sold, in what state. Brrr.” She shivered.
Lynn hesitated. Leyta didn’t seem as bad as One-eye had claimed all strangers were, but maybe she was just trying to lure the she-wolf into a false sense of security. Still, she couldn’t do much. Lynn suspected that she was also in a small space she couldn’t get out of. Leyta wouldn’t be able to hurt her if that was the case.
“Are you in a…thing like this, as well?” the wolf dared to ask, whispering.
“What? A cage, or a Käfig, as humans like to call it? Yes, of course I am. The humans only allow their dogs to run free in the den.”
Lynn forgot all of her carefulness. She can’t get out, and, even if, she can’t get in my…cage to hurt me. I might be locked up, but this is also a safe place to protect me from strangers, at least.
“What is this…thing around my neck? It feels so tight and it just…doesn’t belong there!”
“That’s a collar, silly, how come you don’t know what that is? All animals that get brought here wake up with one around their neck.”
“But a collar is for dogs! Tame dogs!”
“Or for prisoners like us. Tell me…pup, which I assume you are, are you a wild dog? One of these runaway mutts? There’s been so many leaving their homes to go live in the wild the past years, it’s crazy. Almost drove me out of my territory.”
Wild dog? I’m not a stupid, worthless dog! I’m a wolf! But…my sentence probably made her think I’m one…great.
Lynn puffed out her chest and perked her ears up. “I’m a she-wolf,” she said proudly.
“Are you now?”
Leyta made more noises above Lynn’s head.
“Will you quit that? Your claw noises are annoying,” Lynn complained.
“Tell me your name, and I might just stop,” the vixen replied.
Lynn hesitated. “Joney,” she lied, using the name of her long-deceased sister.
Leyta seemed to fall for it, however. “Joney, huh? Well, nice to meet you, Joney. Glad to have some more company in this eerie place.”
“But…is there a way out?” Lynn wanted to know.
“There is a way, but there is also no way. No way you’ll make it out alive or without being sold on the black market. Wolf pups are valuable, you know.”
Am I valuable? One-eye sure didn’t treat me like that. But I can’t be mad at him…there’s something he’s not telling me about his past that causes him to act like this…I just know it.
“So don’t worry, I don’t think you’ll be made into a taxidermy mount, then.”
That’s good news…but I don’t want to live as some kind of pet or zoo animal or whatever they’re going to sell me to, either! I’m a wild wolf…I have to get out of here.