Howl of the Wolf

Approaching the boulder, Tempest jerked his head up in alarm.  He pawed the turf and snorted.  “What’s wrong?”  Donovan trusted an animal’s instinct for danger.  His eyes roamed the rocks with his hand poised over the hilt of his sword.  A black shape moved out from behind the boulder.  Donovan dismounted and held Tempest steady. 

It was not a wolf of earthly variety, but Donovan’s mind labeled the creature a “wolf” in honor of the animal it most resembled.  The lean well-muscled canine body looked similar to its cousin.  The head looked long and narrow with alert golden eyes and pricked ears that shifted with each new sound.  The eyes displayed an intelligent depth of expression.  

He noticed a marked difference between this wolf and its earthly cousin.  The creature stood on its hind legs, easily the height of a healthy grizzly bear.  Although it was more slender than a bear, its muscled limbs looked formidable.  With almost scientific detachment, Donovan noticed elongated front paws as the wolf extracted a deadly blade from a sheath strapped to its rib cage, a challenge on any world. 

Donovan met the wolf’s steady gaze, his thoughts racing.  An intelligent species, this wolf looked ready to fight.  What rotten luck!  I wish I could communicate.  How can I avoid bloodshed?

“Greetings friend,” he said in a nervous croak. 

The sound caused the animal to shift its stance.  Donovan thought he saw curiosity in the alert eyes.  If any creature on this world had the right to be called king, this regal animal was the one.                       

We accept acknowledgment of our superiority and spare your life.   The message formed inside Donovan’s head, not in words, but mental impressions that he translated into words.

The wolf sheathed his blade and “spoke” again.  We are Kriegen, leader of the Forest Guardians.  The wolf lowered his body to all fours.  Donovan sat—a fortunate choice as he later learned since a standing position offered challenge.  To avoid battle a weaker creature observed a subservient posture. 

Synopsis

Approaching the boulder, Tempest jerked his head up in alarm.  He pawed the turf and snorted.  “What’s wrong?”  Donovan trusted an animal’s instinct for danger.  His eyes roamed the rocks with his hand poised over the hilt of his sword.  A black shape moved out from behind the boulder.  Donovan dismounted and held Tempest steady. 

It was not a wolf of earthly variety, but Donovan’s mind labeled the creature a “wolf” in honor of the animal it most resembled.  The lean well-muscled canine body looked similar to its cousin.  The head looked long and narrow with alert golden eyes and pricked ears that shifted with each new sound.  The eyes displayed an intelligent depth of expression.  

He noticed a marked difference between this wolf and its earthly cousin.  The creature stood on its hind legs, easily the height of a healthy grizzly bear.  Although it was more slender than a bear, its muscled limbs looked formidable.  With almost scientific detachment, Donovan noticed elongated front paws as the wolf extracted a deadly blade from a sheath strapped to its rib cage, a challenge on any world. 

Donovan met the wolf’s steady gaze, his thoughts racing.  An intelligent species, this wolf looked ready to fight.  What rotten luck!  I wish I could communicate.  How can I avoid bloodshed?

“Greetings friend,” he said in a nervous croak. 

The sound caused the animal to shift its stance.  Donovan thought he saw curiosity in the alert eyes.  If any creature on this world had the right to be called king, this regal animal was the one.                       

We accept acknowledgment of our superiority and spare your life.   The message formed inside Donovan’s head, not in words, but mental impressions that he translated into words.

The wolf sheathed his blade and “spoke” again.  We are Kriegen, leader of the Forest Guardians.  The wolf lowered his body to all fours.  Donovan sat—a fortunate choice as he later learned since a standing position offered challenge.  To avoid battle a weaker creature observed a subservient posture. 

Diane Rapp became an entrepreneur when she started her own dog grooming salon in Santa Barbara, California. She spent the next thirty years as a small business owner; she sold real estate, started an office supply/copy center, and performed free-lance advertising design.