It had been months since Delmar had left her. She busied herself with collecting and crushing herbs and healing and trading for supplies that would last her through the long blizzard season. It was in harvesting some lola root during dusk when she felt herself being watched. Turning she found herself staring into the yellow eyes of a wolf.
Her heart thudded against her chest, it was much bigger than her and very much capable of tearing her to pieces, but then she saw it move to lick its right hind leg that had been injured.
She crouched down slowly before the animal it watched her intently.
“I’m not going to hurt you. “Looks like you got into a hunter’s trap, “she whispered, reaching out to let the animal sniff her. Then moved closer, letting her touch it. Her hands immediately stroked the animals soft thick fur. The wolf closed its eyes for a moment as if enjoying the attention.
Adra was able to get a better lock and the wound it was red and possibly infected.
“It’s not far to my cabin, there is some food and water and I can bandage you properly there.”
The animal seemed to understand the offer and moved away from her turning as if waiting for her to follow.
It led her straight to her cabin, she let it in. While it was sniffing around, she got some cloth bandages ready. It settled in front of the fire stretching out. She kneeled down before it slowly and began to dress the wound with some of the lola root paste and then wrapped its leg so it would not fall off.
When she was done she brought it some dried met and a bowl of water.
“Sorry this is all the meat I have.” She apologized as the wolf looked at her for more.
She settled into her cot watching the fur of the now sleeping wolf rising and falling.
When she woke up the next morning the cabin was cold and the wolf was gone. Going outside to get more firewood she managed to start another fire and made herself some hot tea. Deciding to venture out to the market for a few more supplies she overheard the chatter from several of the local hunters talking about a wolf that was seen near the cattle at dawn that morning. One remarked to the other how unusual it was that it had a bandaged leg.
When she returned and unpacked her few items she decided to venture out in search for the wolf that afternoon. Knowing it would be killed by the hunters. Its not long into the woods that she hears cursing, running towards the sound she finds a hunter with the wolf in sight of his crossbow.
“Are you mad? It’s been murdering cattle.”
“Don’t you do the same when you butcher it for food?”
“but it feels the village.”
“And the wolf is hungry, how are we so different?”
“We’re not covered in fur and prowl on all fours. I’m going to kill it.” He turned from her the wolf closed its eyes and braced for its fate.
Desperate she did the only thing she could and shoved the hunter. He grunted landing in the snow. The wolf yelped catching the arrow to its upper thigh. She ran to it ignoring the hunter’s curses.
“You’re a crazy woman trying to save that animal. It will eat you alive. It’s a killer do you hear me?”
“Who gave you the ability to choose which animal lives and dies?” she shot back before kneeling before the animal.
She said a quick prayer to the Goddess in hopes that the hunter was wrong and lifted the animal up, surprised by how light it actually was.
Getting the animal laid out on her cot.
“This will hurt.” She cautioned getting a cloth putting it near the wound and gripping onto the arrow with the other hand and pulling. It popped out with ease and she put pressure on the wound to stop it from bleeding so much. Once that was under control she turned to dispose of the nasty arrow. Turning back to her patient she gasped seeing the animal’s fur stretch to skin turning slowly into a human male. She quickly gather blankets for him upon seeing the goose bumps on his skin.
She finished bandaging the wound and covered him with the blankets.
“Thank you.” He managed.
“Rest.” She said, he closed his eyes.
She waited for a moment and waited for his chest to rise and fall slowly with the onset of sleep. It was then in looking at him she noticed the markings along his lower arms. She reached out to touch them cold fingers startled him awake.
His lips moved but she could no longer hear him as darkness invaded her mind.
She came to slowly reaching for her head. Yellow eyes filled with concern and worry watched her.
She tried to sit up, “What happened?”
“You’ve been out for two days.”
To her quizzical look he explained, “You tried to cure me by taking in the darkness.”
“I’m sorry.” She said suddenly feeling guilty.
“If it wasn’t for you rescuing me the last time from that hunter I would have been dead. It was time to return the favor. I’m Kanjyor .“
He nodded “Of the Corthaen. “
“We shared memories long enough for me to know that. Here,” he eased the pillows behind her so she could sit up with support, “Hungry? “
It was then that she smelt the stew that was cooking on the fireplace.
“While you were out I took the liberty of doing some hunting. “
She blanched, remembering her dream of the wolf chasing her with teeth bared.
“The hunt wasn’t as violent as what you saw earlier, that’s the darker side of the wolf. During the day he’s pretty tame. I caught a wild hare to put in the stew.”
“How did you get those markings?”
“I ate a cursed animal and became marked and exiled. It is said that the only one who can cure me is one who is able to harness the darkness itself. “
“Only a krisna could do that.”
“One would think, but I hold to hope. Did you not feel fear when you approached the wolf?”
“I did but I saw no anger, just pain.”
“Then you saw what the villagers could not.” He walked towards the door.”
“You are safer here than out there.”
“Don’t worry, I am only getting more firewood. You have not yet recovered your strength.”