Mace Black, Page 400-405 by Wolfenshire ()
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Mace Black, Page 400-405
“They’re having fun,” said Maseth, lifting a foot and stepping on the panicked rabbit as it tried to flee past them.
“It’s about time, and let that poor creature go, you’re not hungry,” replied Tarabeth. “Other than his practical jokes, Gaevin is always so serious about everything.”
Maseth lifted his foot and the rabbit bolted. “I think they’re a good match,” said Maseth.
Tarabeth kicked at a pinecone. “Maybe, she seems wild.”
“Gaevin is just as wild,” replied Maseth. “All he’s ever known is this forest.”
“Do you miss it?” asked Tarabeth.
“You mean civilization? I miss hanging out with friends, and sleeping inside when it’s raining, and the food dispenser stores,” said Maseth.
“True, having to hunt for food was a hard thing to get used to,” said Tarabeth.
“I miss the easy food, but there is something about the hunt I like,” said Maseth.
The two young tiger siblings walked in silence until they caught up with Gaevin standing on Rieka’s back and waving a stick at a bee hive. The two tigers decided to take a wide detour around Gaevin and the wolf.
“We really need to talk about something,” said Tarabeth.
“I don’t want to,” said Maseth.
“I died before you and waited on the Path of the Dead for three days before you showed up,” said Tarabeth. “I want to know what happened.”
“They didn’t kill me right away, they…it was bad, okay, that’s all,” said Maseth.
“It took almost a whole day before all the cubs showed up,” said Tarabeth.
“They made me watch, can we not talk about this?” said Maseth.
“It’s messing with your head,” said Tarabeth. “You know, that Darai school teacher has been helping the cubs deal with what happened. You need to talk about it too, but if you’re not going to talk with me, at least talk with Grandfather, he can help you.”
Maseth leaped into a run. Tarabeth let him go. She was worried about her brother, he was getting more withdrawn every day. Tarabeth heard a shout and turned her head in time to see Gaevin and Rieka run past, the buzzing sound of an angry swarm of bees not far behind. She took off at a run and caught up with the fleeing trouble-makers. Gaevin began to fall behind, Tarabeth slowed to let Gaevin mount the saddle, but Rieka was already crouching to allow him on her back and he chose to ride with her.
Tarabeth hadn’t seen any variation of the signal giving Gaevin permission to get on Rieka’s back, they were doing it naturally, a sort of instinctual understanding of what each other needed. Rieka and Gaevin’s movements were natural, raw, and wild.
“Come on,” shouted Gaevin racing past on Rieka’s back. “You’re going to get stung.”
Tarabeth raced after them and quickly out-distanced both the wolf and the pursuing bees.
They caught up with Maseth lying motionless in a sunny patch of the forest as if he’d been calmly waiting there for hours. Maseth liked to show off how fast he could run. Tarabeth leaned against her brother and purred as she rubbed the side of her head against his. She wanted him to know she loved him. Maseth returned the affection by nipping at his sister’s ear.
“Everyone is going to flip out when they catch the scent of a wolf nearing the ranch,” said Maseth.
“I’ve got an idea,” said Tarabeth. “Let’s head back to the road.”
Rieka’s scent was hardly needed to alert the ranch they were coming. A group of cubs and their partner hatchlings playing on the road saw Gaevin riding the large wolf and fled back to the ranch shouting and roaring at the top of their voices.
Maseth and Tarabeth walked in front, with Rieka and Gaevin behind. “Here goes,” said Maseth.
The ranch mobilized instantly from long practice into a defensive line across the road, with Batheba squarely centered in the middle of the road. Batheba crouched low to the ground growling as they approached. Gaevin slipped down from Rieka’s back and whispered into the wolf’s ear. “Now.”
Rieka’s form blurred and shifted to the form of a Darai, though, it would have been difficult to identify exactly which race of Darai she was - it was as if she were a mixture of all the races of Darai. Gaevin took Rieka by the hand and calmly walked past Batheba, sill crouching, but no longer growling.
“Hi, Uncle Batheba. Hi, Papa, nice day,” said Gaevin. “This is my girlfriend, Rieka.”
“Hello,” said Rieka.
Robert, Bobby, and Mara, in a secondary defensive line behind Moeth and Raen, fell on the ground laughing.
Boae crossed his arms and watched as his nephew and the wolf-girl walked past. Boae looked at Roael and smiled. “Isn’t that adorable, Gaevin has brought his first girlfriend home to meet the family.”
“This is not humorous,” said Roael.
“What did you expect?” asked Boae. “You raised him as a wild forest boy, just be grateful he didn’t bring a grizzly bear home.”
Roael glared at his brother, then turned away and chased after Gaevin. “Hold on, son, we need to talk.”
Moeth sheathed her talon dagger. “We were so concerned with Koael being Aestar’s next target we never considered Gaevin might be on his list as well.”
“I don’t see a night tattoo on Gaevin’s arm,” said Raen. “Perhaps there is still time to prevent this.”
Moeth shook her head. “Do you recall how you reacted when you were courting me and someone tried to interfere?”
Raen raised a brow and cocked his head to the side. “Umm…I recall it was you that courted me, and that you knocked two teeth out of that girl for calling me a filthy Hawk.” Raen looked over at Batheba. The massive tiger was still frozen in a crouched position on the ground. “You okay, buddy?”
Batheba shook his head and slowly rose, as if forcing himself to contain a great anger. “My father is involved in this somehow.”
Raen shook his head. “You can’t blame Kabath for everything, we’re being targeted by a Being three and a half billion years old, and he’s running circles around us.”
“We need to interrogate the wolf,” said Moeth. “She may give us a clue as to why Aestar has taken such an interest in our group.”
“Lost your romantic fantasy in the Creators yet?” asked Raen.
“Oh yes, I’m very much over that,” replied Moeth dryly.
“Did you notice how big she was as a wolf,” said Boae. “Batheba, have you ever heard of a wolf that big.”
“Yes, I have,” said Batheba. “Canis diras, the dire wolf. They became extinct from the universe over two-hundred thousand years ago.”
“This is the Land of the Dead,” replied Boae. “Nothing is extinct here.”
“Can you defeat her if she turns violent?” asked Moeth.
“One or two of those beasts, yes, but if there is a whole pack of them nearby, that could be a problem,” said Batheba.
“But we have two full grown saber-tooth’s, two adolescents, and twenty-five cubs,” noted Moeth.
Batheba glanced out at the trees as if expecting an attack any moment. “Kabath and I together might be able to deal with four or five, Tarabeth and Maseth could probably take down one, and if the cubs stick together they might be able to take one as well. But you need to know, those wolves evolved to take down much larger primordial predators then even me. I’d also be concerned about the hatchlings, they aren’t ready for that kind of fight.”
“I think it’s time we make it a priority to find a Wingmaster,” said Moeth. “The hatchlings know to go up a tree when threatened, but eventually something is going to come along that can climb. I want all the Darai to be able to take to wing, that’s our natural defense against predators.”
“The Trader is still here at the Ranch, I’ll go talk to him,” offered Raen.
“And I’ll go have a talk with this wolf-girl,” growled Batheba.
“Did it work?” asked Maseth.
“I think so, but Gaevin’s father is coming,” said Tarabeth. “So, what now?”
“Well, we’re not using Grandfather’s plan,” replied Maseth.
Tarabeth turned her head towards her brother. “What? But you said he was the best.”
“Oh please, Grandfather’s cons never work, I just don’t want to hurt his feelings,” said Maseth. “Let me handle this.”
“Gaevin, hold on,” shouted Roael, running up to the group.
“Hello, Papa,” said Gaevin, still holding Rieka’s hand. “Can Rieka stay for dinner?”
“Gaevin, just stop it,” said Roael. “Rieka, is that your name?”
“Yes,” said Rieka.
“Did Master Aestar send you?” asked Roael.
“We found her in the forest, she doesn’t remember anything,” interrupted Maseth.
Roael held a hand up to the young tiger. “Knock it off, Maseth. If I want a fairytale, I’ll go find Kabath. Now I want the truth, from the very beginning.”
Tarabeth gave her brother a smirk and wiggled her ears. If a tiger could blush, Maseth would be doing so right now.
“The first thing I remember is my father reading to me,” said Rieka. Her voice had just a hint of a Falcon accent. “He read to me all the time, and played with me. I had a soft bed next to where father slept. He taught me to walk, and talk, and not chew things I shouldn’t. I had lots of toys and books with pictures to read. We took long walks together and he told me about everything. I was happy.”
Roael. “You don’t remember living in the forest, or other wolves?”
“No, I always lived with my father. I didn’t even know I was a wolf until I got older and asked why I looked different than father.” Rieka paused, there was sweat forming on her brow. “I can’t stay in this shape long, can I change back now?”
“Go ahead,” said Roael, knowing the energy it required to use Elemental energy.
There was a blur and the girl was a wolf again. She took a deep breath. “That’s better. Father says if I practice I’ll be able to do it longer.”
Batheba walked up. Roael held a hand up to him. Batheba sat and narrowed his eyes. “Continue with your story,” said Roael.
“I asked father if there were other wolves I could play with - he said there wasn’t. One day he started bringing me pictures of a tiger and a boy in the forest. He told me that not all children looked like their fathers and that the tiger was the boy’s father.”
Roael glanced at Batheba.
“You were just a boy yourself, Roael, don’t over-think it,” said Batheba, glancing at Roael.
Roael used the sign language of the Sherata and said: ‘I wasn’t concerned with that, but did you notice Aestar thinks you’re the father, his knowledge of us is incomplete.’
Rieka continued her story. “I asked father if I could play with the boy, he said if I did good in my studies I would be able to play with the boy someday. I studied hard. Father would bring me new pictures of the boy every week – sometimes he was riding on the tiger’s back, and sometimes flying in the sky, and my favorite was of him curled up asleep next to a fireplace with the tiger.”
Roael gave Batheba a concerned look. Batheba replied in the silent sign-language of the Sherata. ‘Yes, I know,’ signed Batheba. ‘He has the ability to watch us inside the cabins, perhaps even hear what we say. We must be very careful from now on.’
“I asked father again if I could go play with the boy,” continued Rieka. “Father said yes, and told me what to say so the boy would play with me.”
“And you didn’t think it sounded odd that you had to lie to get to play with Gaevin?” asked Batheba.
Roael signed to Batheba. ‘We need to stop now before she shuts down entirely. She knows it was a lie, and she knows it was wrong, but her only guide has been someone that does what he wants without care for the consequences. She may still be young enough to teach what is right and wrong.’
“You keep wiggling your fingers, is that a language?” Rieka asked Roael. “I like learning new languages, will you teach me?”
“Tarabeth and Maseth can teach you,” replied Batheba.
“Then she can stay?” asked Gaevin with a whoop.
“She can stay, but you are responsible for keeping her out of trouble,” said Batheba.
‘Good, we may still get some useful information from her,” signed Roael.
Batheba turned and headed towards the cubs where they were being kept in a protective circle. The cubs and their Riders were at least two-hundred feet from the massive wolf, but they were impressing each other with their courage by taking turns lunging out from the circle a few feet, roaring, and running back to the safety of the group. Moeth followed and walked beside him.
“What?” asked Batheba.
“All Gaevin has to do is flash those baby blue bird eyes and you melt like an ice cube,” said Moeth.
“Don’t make me have to eat you,” growled Batheba.
“I’m poisonous, you might not want to do that. Raen got sick for three days once nibbling on my ear,” replied Moeth, lifting a hand to her ear.
“I did not need to know that,” said Batheba.
Image Comments (14)
Once again you keep me guessing. Is Aestar a good guy, a bad guy or just someone with an agenda beyond a moral code? You have the ability to show us the same story from different points of view that make us think deeper about what is "The Truth". Clever Boy!