Speaks Softly of Healer's Holt

                                        By Sharon Go (c) 2001


(NOTE: I have been reading Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter 
stories; and Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children Series. These have influenced my writings. 
There is no intention to infringe on either writer's copyrights, or steal their ideas.)

She'd wandered alone and nameless.  Her ribs stood in sharp relief on her brown-mottled black coat.  She raised her nose to sample the wind.  The faintly familiar scent filled her with anxiety.  She whimpered and searched for a hiding place.  She crouched at the base of a small tree. 
     Greymist halted, ears cocked.  He thought he heard something.  He was hungry and hunting had been poor.  Curse the five-fingers!  He sniffed the air, and sank to his haunches in surprise.  It had been a long time since he's sensed another of his kind; he could smell her fear strongly.  He rose to his feet and deliberately tracked down the scent.  He stopped and looked at the cowering, barely grown she-wolf.
     She heard the padding paws halt near her.  She now scented the male wolf and raised her head.  Shyly topaz eyes met the calm black eyes of the male towering above her.  She crawled forward, and shyly rubbed her nose along Greymist's jaw and licked his ear.  Greymist was surprised by her cubbish act of submission.  He in turn rubbed his nose along her jaw and gave her a soft nip on the neck.  Instinct compelled the young female to lie at his feet, her throat showing.  Greymist touched his nose to hers and looked deeply into her eyes.  His mind brushed hers, and he sensed her  mind.  Her mind was clouded with fear, and hunger.  He gently sent, **I am Greymist, lone wolf.**
     The female shot back from him, her eyes wide and hackles up.  Her scent and mind were spiky with fear.  Grey settled on his haunches, his ears cocked as he considered the situation.  The female watched the male settle and for some reason she could hear him.  She sat at a loss of how to act.  Then the memories rose; a dark snug place, the reassuring presence of her mother, and the wiggling bodies of her littermates.  The flare of light blinded her; the smell of smoke choked her.  The sounds of growls, whimpers, and shouts deafened her.  She'd slunk into the rear of the den and cowered in a crack.  When the cacophony had ended and the terrible silence had fallen, she'd crept out of her hiding place. She found the unmoving body of her mother.  Her littermates were gone, the bodies of the adult pack members littered the clearing.  There was a body of one of the attackers, it was large fairly hairless, and it's front paws had five long toes.  Its back legs were covered with a different smelling fur, its back paws were also encased.  The mental image washed through Greymist's mind.  His ears fell back and his hackles rose.  His rage tinged his send, **five-fingers!  Killers! Thieves!**
     His fury didn't frighten her, as she was too happy to find another of her kind.  One who understood.  She'd been alone for so many cycles that she's lost count.  He'd told her he was Greymist.  She had no name she could remember.  The two sat, noses touching.  Greymist sent, **You will be Lupus.  First of the pack, we'll be alone no more.  We will find our own territory and begin our own pack.**  Playfully he licked her nose, **But first we hunt.**

     The pair spent many moon cycles evading the treacherous five-fingers.  Their hunting skills improved, and Lupus filled out and grew strong.  They had found no living members of their kind during their search.  One day Lupus was feeling out sorts.  She felt as though her very blood burned with the forces of life.  Greymist came to her, cooling the burning inside her.  They stretched out side by side.  Grey nuzzled her, **We must make a den soon, beloved.**
     She leaned against him sleepily, **humm.**  He gently nipped her ear and let her sleep.  The following day, they set off at a ground-eating lope.  Their search for a den had become imperative.  Greymist sensed them first; a small group of wolves.  He glanced at Lupus, **Three females, a male and a cub.**  Greymist stood tall and Lupus fell in at his right shoulder.  They deliberately entered the clearing.  The male was elderly and lay on his side gasping for air.  A wooden shaft stuck out from his side.  A large female barred their path.  Her hackles were raised, and her teeth were bared.
     A deep-throated growl came from Grey's right side.  Lupus walked stiff legged, ears back and fangs bared.  She stood before the growling female in this challenging stance.  Lupus reached out for the threatening female's mind but touched only rage.  She waited.  She didn't really want to fight, but she wouldn't allow herself or Greymist to be attacked.
     The leader of the wolf pack's  agony was physical and mental.  The two smaller, younger female's minds screamed with fear.  The cub's mind, Grey was surprised to discover, was revealing a lively interest in the proceedings.
     The large female accepted the challenge and lunged for Lupus' throat.  Lupus lightly dived for one of her opponent's forelegs.  She caught the near paw in her strong jaws.  The female screamed in pain and rage as her foreleg shattered between Lupus' teeth.  The female lurched, her shoulder bumping Lupus, as she tried to balance on three legs.  The sudden movement forced Lupus to lose her grip and sent her reeling to her side.  As the pack female leaned in to hamstring Lupus, she put weight on her broken leg.  She went down with a sharp yelp.  Lupus was on her feet, jaws locking at the base of the other female's skull.  She merely forced the female to the ground, her teeth firm.  The pack female refusing to yield, snapped at Lupus' nearest foreleg.
     While the fight was going on, Greymist touched the pack leader's mind.  He answered making a request.  Grey agreed.  Greymist rushed forward  and ended the elderly wolf's suffering with a quick bite through the spine.  He whirled and grabbed Lupus by the ruff and with a violent jerk of her head sent her rolling away from the wounded female.  **Stop you are Lupus.  Alpha female, my mate.  She is under our protection.**  Lupus sank to her belly and waited.
     Grey stared down at the whimpering female.  He still could not reach her mind.  With a mental sigh he allowed instinct to take over.  He waited  She could acknowledge his dominance.  If she refused, he would have to kill her.  It would be cruel to cast her out with a broken leg to fend for herself.  She made her choice by rolling on her back, throat and belly exposed.
     Lupus came forward and licked the female's jaw and took her throat into her teeth and gave a soft warning growl.  The female cowered at Lupus' feet.  Lupus released the female and nuzzled her onto her side.  Greymist touched his nose to the wounded female's nose, and she relaxed. 
     The male cub came up to sit at the female's head, **Mother?**
     Greymist looked at the cub in astonishment.  **Young one, this female is your mother?**
     The cub looked up, **Yes, she is known as Slate.  She was our alpha.  They said she could once hear and talk as we do, but was hit in the head when the five-fingers attacked many years ago.
     The young cub impressed Greymist.  It was as though the cub could read his mind.  He'd been wondering if the female had a name, and why she didn't talk.  He got an amused twinkle in his eyes before sending, **that answers all but one of my questions.  Can you guess what the other is?**
     The cub sank to his belly, and put one paw over his head, one eye on Greymist.  Suddenly, he bounced to his feet and danced over to one of the young female with the soft gray coat and brown eyes.  **This is Lark.** He gently nuzzled her toward Greymist.  He approached the other, a smaller she-wolf with fawn coat and topaz eyes.  He gently licked her neck and gave her a firm nudge with his nose.  **This one was a lone wolf.  She is known as Sparrow because she is shy, and can run as fast as a sparrow can fly.**  The young one pranced back to Greymist and sat down, looking up at his new pack master, tongue lolling, and a saucy gleam in his silver eyes.  Lupus had come to stand at Grey's side and watched the cub's behavior with wide-eyed interest.  She leaned against her mate, **cute little pup.  He's going to give his mother silver fur.** 
     Slate lifted her head and gave a soft woof of agreement.  Her ears dropped comically, her mouth open, clearly showing pained amusement.  The cub dropped to his haunches and gave his mother an innocent look.
     **Thank you for introducing the pack, puppy.  You left someone out, I believe,** was Lupus' amused send. 
     The cub looked down, his ears and tail slumped, **They call me brat.  I don't know my real name.  He looked Lupus in the eye and quietly sent, **I was whelped after my mother was injured.  I know not if she named me.**
     Lupus went back to Slate and touched noses with her, **Mother of this cub, the cub's makings make me think of the bright lights of evenings.  His energy and wit shine.  May we call him Nightstar?**
     Slate looked at her cub, which was giving her a hopeful look.  Love of her offspring overcame her hatred of Lupus.  She gave a yip of assent and went back to licking her injured leg..  Her cub bounded over to her and began covering her face in energetic licks.  Gently she nudged her cub aside.  She struggled to her feet the broken leg dangling painfully.  She looked at the new pack leader and barked impatiently.
     Greymist understood.  It was not safe for them to remain in the open for too long.  He looked to Slate, **was the pack going back home when the five-fingers attacked?**
     Lark answered bitterly, **They attacked our Holt  We were fleeing.  Sparrow and Slate whined in agreement.
     **Then we travel until we find a new home,** Greymist stated matter-of-factly.
     Sparrow timidly approached Lupus and touched noses with her, **Young to come.  Must find den soon.**
     Lupus reassuringly rubbed her nose against the shy wolf, **pack daughter, we will whelp together then.**
     Greymist suddenly felt the weight of his small world.  He had a small pack, homeless, one crippled and young on the way.  He turned north and raised his nose and howled in defiance of the five-finger's hunt of his kind.  The rest of the pack raised their noses and joined their voices with his.


to be continued on part 2