This is the second part in a short story. You can find the first part here.
But nothing happened. The pain that Eregar anticipated never came. The squire opened his eyes and the snout of the giant wolf still dominated his vision, the white breath of its nostrils rising above his forehead.
“Still awake, pup? Good. Maybe you’ll still serve.”
Did the wolf speak?
“I speak, yes, believe. And I want you to do me a service, in exchange for your life. Now to you life I give, and be warned that if you lift your sword against me, you will die like the rest of your pack.” With these words, the beast retreated a few steps.
“What are you? Are you a demon?” Asked the squire, as he got up, free from the animal’s immense weight.
The wolf shook its head in irritation.
“I do not know what that is. I am Shak-Urai, the pack is Shak-Urai. In times we were great, today you are strange to our speech, are accustomed to… dogs. Mongrels.” The wolf spat the last words. “Does not matter. A service for me, yes? And will you live, as your pack did not live? Fair?”
Eregar felt sick to his stomach. Certainly, a demon inhabited the body of this animal, and to accept the bargain would be to condemn his soul. And yet, the warrior feared for his life.
“What service do you speak of?”
“Blood disease! Blood disease. Everything is like the red moon and the chewed meat and I have to flee from the pack or hurt, hurt and rend and tear, as I did to yours. The hot-man gave blood disease. Sorcerer, yes? I can not approach, no healing find, much fire, fire that burns. But you, man like him, without fear of fire, bring healing, yes?”
Maybe he could lie? Run away and return with his brothers to hunt the beast? For sure, lying to a demon would not be a sin.
“Your face is as easy as a lake, man-pup. You can go, not help, but when the disease comes back, I’m going to hurt, hurt and rend, and then the guilt is shared, on me and the hot-man and also you, yes? Guilty, guilty, guilty! And blood running, from pups and men!”
Eregar took a few steps back. Could the devil read his mind? Or was his face so transparent? But alas, it seemed that he had been guided to a path from where he could now only move forward. Perhaps in time, the Goddess would reveal other options.
“Where can I find this… Sorcerer who cursed you?”
“In the mountains to the south! To the south and west, by the stones-red trail. Sounds of rabbit and sharp-trees. The cry of the owl guides you! Stone-man on top, yes! The bad man, the hot-man lives there, inside the stone man. Go! Go while the red moon and the hot blood do not come back!”
And with a roar, the giant wolf turned and jumped into the midst of the vegetation, disappearing as quickly as it had appeared, and Eregar was left alone amidst the corpses of his brothers.
Enjoyed this tale? Consider buying “A Silvery Moon,” my novel set in the same universe.