Episode 2:  Sad Death

Graywolf’s weight planted on the front of his large hind paws. Through the gray fur, muscles twitched. Graywolf’s right front paw, which looked eerily like a hand, hovered over the dirt floor. Fangs poked out of his upper lip. His lips were dry. Graywolf wasn’t hungry, he hunted to kill. Noshee was sent to investigate Graywolf’s murderous rampage.

Noshee stepped back toward the massive tree. His wings shook. Blood drained from his webbing, his wing’s membrane. They felt cold against his back. Slowly, he reached above his shoulders and pulled out dual broadswords.

A dozen wolves sealed any possible escape. They weren’t snarling because Noshee was trapped. Many prepared to use their incredible jumping ability if Noshee chose to fly to the forest canopy.

Noshee swiped with the left sword, feinting.

Graywolf didn’t flinch.

A smaller wolf on the left charged in. Noshee swung down and hit the ground, stopping the charge. Another leaped from the right. Noshee dodged, tumbled into the center of the wolf pack, and was suddenly surrounded by growls and barks. Wolf breath threatened to dull Noshee’s senses.

Noshee starved for fresh air, swung his swords at any wolf that came close. Noshee swung forward, a female wolf attacked from behind. Unable to throw another strike, Noshee ran and jumped, beat his wings hard.

Graywolf jumped and sunk his rear claws.

Noshee’s chest stung. The ground struck his back, crimping his wings. Shards of pain sliced up his wings. A dull pain ached inside Noshee’s head. Opening his eyes, Noshee found himself under the immense weight of Graywolf.

The wolf pack’s patriarch snarled, opened his jaws.

All Noshee saw were the large, sharp teeth that were about to tear him apart. He didn’t think about the pain. He only thought of his Harton wife who’d just given birth to their baby daughter. He never knew he could love anyone as much as he loved his daughter, Rena. Her joyous smile flooded Noshee’s mind.

A screech like a cub’s howl echoed through the forest floor.

Graywolf’s attention turned to his pack. His eyes darted from one to another. Immediately, all of them rushed toward the screech. Graywolf stood on his hind legs and tore at the ground as he sprinted off. Noshee's wings cringed in.

Noshee rolled on all fours, shook his wings. Aside from blood pouring out of holes in his chest, and knots in his back, he’d be able to fly. Ragged holes in both wings from Graywolf sprinting off needed to be stitched. Noshee stood and grabbed a sword.

A guttural sound vibrated the back of Noshee’s wings.

A dark brown wolf, in the morning of his life, stalked him. Why didn’t he rush off like the others? Noshee gripped his sword with both hands. The wolf’s hind paws splayed out. It feinted in. Noshee flinched. The juvenile wolf lunged in. Noshee fell back, swung up, and a great weight fell on him.

Noshee wrenched the dead weight off. Warm blood soaked his black silks. Saddened, Noshee peered into the eyes of the dead wolf. He'd never dreamed his love and fascination of wolf packs would include killing one. He placed his hands over them, another over the silent heart. May you find your way home.

Was that a cub’s cry earlier? With no natural predators, and meat too tough to consume, wolves dominated Nashoba Forest. For another wolf pack to attack Graywolf’s so deep in his territory would be suicide. And why didn’t Graywolf finish off Noshee, while his lieutenants rushed off? To leave prey alive was uncharacteristic of any wolf.

Choose your poison: Should Noshee attend to his bleeding wounds, or follow Graywolf's pack and see what happened?

100% of the readers voted to follow Graywolf