A thin female voice from the rear of the pack replied, “What you say is true, Drux. We could overrun your master, but those of us who survived would be so weak that we may not live long enough to recover from the battle. We have heard many stories about your travels and the strength of your friend; we’d rather be friends than enemies if that is possible. If not, we’ll leave in peace.”
Drux smiled, then said, “We don’t have much, the pickings on our last journey were thin even for one such as me, with the power to travel through the minds of the humans. Nevertheless, I am sure that if you come in peace, my master will be pleased to give you shelter from the cold and a little food to sustain you for a short while. Like me, he will be anxious to learn what has driven you to break the treaty set between human and wolfen, and in doing so, risk your lives.”
The pack rumbled as the thoughts of the past month came back to haunt them, too many were dead to risk a fight to take the cabin, and as she said, those who did survive would be too weak to carry on with their hunt for a new land.
In the cabin, Baal hadn’t taken his eyes of Drux for fear she would fail in her task, and the pack turns on her to feed. In the fading light, and through the driving snow Baal’s eyes began to strain. He felt for the twin axes at his side, he knew if the pack attacked he’d kill one or two with his gun, but the real struggle for survival would be hand-to-hand in the cabin. Baal may be old and weakened by hunger, but he still had the strength of an ox and the will to fight like a wounded animal.
He watched Drux anxiously, waiting for any sign that she was in danger, but none came. To his eyes, it appeared the pack was as tired and hungry as he was, he wondered what could have forced the pack this close to the edge of the forest? In all the stories he’d heard, the one constant was the threat of war if humans and wolfen crossed paths again. But, here they were, whatever had happened must have been devastating to the pack to force them from their homes, and safety.
Realizing the possibility of danger was gone, Drux said her farewells and turned back to her wolfen form for the dash back to the cabin. From inside, Baal never faltered in tracking the remaining wolfen, he’d made that error once, and only the interference of Drux saved him from a savage death. They may look tired and hungry, but at the back of their minds, they were wolfen and hunters, that is the thing you needed to remember.
Two meters from the door Drux changed back to human form, a moment later Baal heard a knock on the door, with an axe in his hand, he walked to the door and inched it open; he breathed a sigh as he saw his friend outside. “Come in, it’s cold, and you need to get warm,” Baal said as Drux walked to the fire. “I had my eye on you all the time, Drux, I learned not to take the wolfen for granted after the time you saved me.”
She smiled, then replied, “I never doubted you, master. The wolfen come in peace, all they wish is for a night’s peace from the cold, and a little food. They have information that I think you should hear too, what they told me sent shivers down my spine, as you know that rarely happens.”
Baal replied, “I did wonder what made them run from their homes? It must be something more than a beast; I know no animal a wolfen is afraid to fight, not even a stronger wolf.”
“Can I signal our new friends to come over?” Drux asked.
Baal replied, “If they come in peace, all are welcome at my shelter, Drux.”
Drux commented,”They realize that they could overrun us, but at the same time they understand that not many would survive, and those who do would be too weak to go on. Your prowess with guns and axes goes before you, master.”
Baal stroked his ragged beard and smiled, then commented, “I only use the weapons in defense, or to hunt for food for us. I’d never use them to attack an animal or a person.”
Drux warmed herself for a few moments; then she went to open the door to signal all was well for the pack to come out of the woods, and take shelter from the storm.
In the woods, Darian watched and indicated to his followers to move, all the time remaining wary of a trap. The further out they ventured, the more he kept waiting for other humans, but there were none to be seen.
At the door, Darian and his troupe returned to human form as they entered, he said,”We’re grateful for this shelter, Baal. We know the people don’t trust us, the feeling is mutual after the Great Hunt. That is why we have remained in the dark for eons, but now something is lurking in the shadows that threaten all of us I fear.”