(This story is a part of the "One-Leg adjusts to the loss of his leg" storyline -- see listing for related stories.)
Quiet. Hide. Wait. Chase soon. Eat soon. Spine straight. Ears high. Ready.
Weight on back. Knees close and firm. Breath strong. Confident. Ready.
Traptease and Axehand. Ready together.
Trembling ground touches paws. Traptease shows this to Axehand, Axehand shows the chosen prey. Sounds follow tremors. Hooves and bleats and flying ground. Sounds of the pack. The sheep flee. The pack chases. The sheep come near. Axehand kicks, Traptease joins the chase! Past leaves, past rocks. Shouts and howls. The scent of fear! The open path goes up and up and up. Not straight, and hard on paws. Another wolf hounds the other side. Must jump and turn to stay on feet! Move the sheep! Others ahead hide and wait. Ready to make the kill. Howls tell the way. Make the sheep go there! Traptease barks and snaps, Axehand shouts many strange things!
The sheep go. Big and fast and stupid and meat for many empty bellies! Run, run, run! Rough ground, unsure footing. A sound from within the herd, a sheep falls. The sheep go the wrong way. Too many, too close, too soon! The ground is wrong! Axehand shows Twist-tail-kin moving ahead. Rush of air and Twist-tail’s paws behind. A big wall of white in front! The path closes. Rushes of light and dark, wool and horns! Sheep too close! Going the wrong way! Unsure paws! Axehand shows forepaws high! Forepaws go high! Rush of fur against belly, a sheep passes too close! No weight on back! Sounds from behind! Two moons fly! Face in dirt!
Sounds of the hunt move on. The ground quiets. Traptease stands alone. The scent of fear. Dirt shakes free from eyes. Nose to ground! Ears high! Searching! Sniffing! Showing! Asking! Trail leads down, down, down. The scent of elf-blood! The path is straight. Unsure footing, slipping paws. Careful steps.
His scent nears. Axehand is on the ground, on his belly. Quiet.
Traptease raises her head, howls, calls for help from the pack.
Traptease presses her nose into Axehand’s arm. She licks arm, licks ear. Shows an image of Axehand standing up. Axehand is quiet.
Howls of answer. Twist-tail and Blackpaw come.
A low howl from her elf-friend. Harsh and hurt. Axehand shows to himself, but Traptease understands some. Wants to sleep. Wants to stay awake. Needs to stay awake! Arms shake, he tries to rise.
Traptease cocks her head, then buries her nose under Axehand’s chest, lifts him up. Hair on the back of her neck is pulled tight. He starts to climb — PAIN!-- Axehand screams! He pulls her hair, Traptease yelps in pain. His body trembles, his hands let go. Traptease has no answers, so she adds her howl to his. Axehand slides back down to the ground, rolls over to see his leg. It is not right! Not straight! Blood and bone show! Axehand says many strange things.
Traptease rises, stays near. She will keep her elf-kin safe! Axehand is quiet. He shows Traptease many faces. She-cub. Dark mate. She-cub. Light mate. She-cub. Littermates. Pain! She howls, to share his pain, to tell her pack where to come. Their elf-kin will know what to do.
Howls of answer, closer. Axehand is quiet. Axehand whimpers. Axehand is quiet. The howls are very close. Leaves make way, Twist-tail and Blackpaw appear! Traptease sees with joy!
Axehand’s breath is weak, his eyes wide. Elf-kin jump to the ground. They come for Axehand. They yap and yap. Axehand nods. He is quiet, tense, ready.
Elf-kin pick Axehand up, he says many strange things. Slowly onto Traptease’s back he goes. His hands dig deep into her fur. His legs are loose and sliding, he moves too much, uneven weight. Hard to keep him under, must move carefully. Traptease takes the path her packmates found. Together they go. Elf-kin yap and yap at Axehand, he is quiet but alert. In pain, so much pain. Nose to ground. Ears high, searching, sniffing. They go to the burrows, to the big trees with elf-kin who will know what to do. Traptease howls with Twist-tail and Blackpaw, tells the pack they have come. Wolves and elf-kin howl in answer, to welcome them home.
Traptease and Axehand. At home and safe together.