Asher shivered as the blue orbs passed over him. The pup had stopped right in front the the wooded door frame, a shaking racked it’s body, as if it was overly excited about something. Asher and Ingrid approached cautiously, although it was only a pup, its razor sharp teeth and claws could still inflict some serious damage. As Asher drew closer he could see the delicate features the wolf possessed, large almond eyes, and a thin snout carpeted in soft, fine, white silk fur. It could almost be said to be pretty, if it were not a wild beast. Asher stepped closer and the pup launched itself, landing at Asher’s feet. He jumped back, stumbling, and landed hard on his tail bone. He heard a sharp intake of breath from Ingrid, and the sounds of her feet scrambling back toward the garden. But looking at the little white wolf sitting impatiently at his feet he suddenly had the feeling that it would not have hurt him. Waving a hand at Ingrid’s disapproving sounds, and her insists that she go get help, Asher crossed the remaining distance between he and the wolf and held out a hand. The small pup sniffed his fingers eagerly then jumped again, lapping at his hand with a long pink tongue.
“It’s all right Ingrid” he said, standing between her and the pup, “I will deal with the dog, would you go get me some more tea? And maybe a hot meal? Some rice and beef perhaps?” She nodded but said, “Perhaps a meal isn’t a good idea? You do have the feast later…” She let the sentence carry off, knowing he understood her meaning.
“Yes Ingrid, I haven’t forgotten. Have them put the beef on the side will you? Bring it here in say half an hour?”
She nodded, and with a wary but curious look at the wolf she trotted off, retrieving the dropped tray and mostly shattered tea set on her way to the kitchens.
When Ingrid had disappeared around the bend of the garden trail Asher let out a breath he had not even known he was holding, and turned toward the pup who then sat waiting patiently but the door, head tilted to one side.
“And what shall I do about you?” Asked Asher, staring at it. Blinking lazily the wolf turned and sat facing the door, then looked back toward him expectantly.
“No” he said “No way, your are not coming in”
The wolf however did not seem to take his words to heart, even though the intelligence in it’s eyes made Asher think it understood him perfectly. It sounded absurd really.
Even so the wolf turned toward the door with a determined stare and planted itself in a position as to so it would be able to dash inside quickly no matter which way he opened the door.
Suppressing an aggravated growl he opened the door wide, allowing the pup inside without a struggle. The white mutt trotted inside, his triumphant gaunt souring Asher’s mood further.
The animal lopped inside, obviously pleased with it self, and jumped onto the large raised bed matt in the middle of the room. It laid down in the middle looking up from between his paws, it’s blue eyes starling against the dark fabric of the soft linen sheets.
Asher shook his head and made his way toward the bed, careful not to move so fast as to startle the wolf. To his surprise however, as soon as he had laid down on the edge of the bed, his feet still dangling off the edge, the wolf edged closer, it’s black nose almost touching Asher’s shoulder. It was disconcerting, wild animals were not supposed to behave like this, he thought back to the way the pup had brought the old wolf the hunk of meat, he had not taken notice then, but it was almost as strange as this.
Perhaps, he thought, it had not always been a wild animal, somebody had maybe taken care of it for a majority of its life, then left it out when it got to big. Or perhaps the wolf had even wandered away, knowing not the way back.
He shook his head, it didn’t really matter. Sitting up he glanced at the wolf, it had been washed clean of most dirt during its brief swim in the river, and although the wolf did no smell bad, the opposite in fact, as it smelled quiet pleasant, he thought perhaps he should bath the thing if he planned on keeping it.
Grasping the wolf around the rib cage, to which it made no objection, Asher carried it into the bathing chambers. He himself needed a rather thorough bath after his trek through the wild forests of Beores, and so, stripping and sitting on the rather bloated wooden stool, he began to scrub himself, dumping buckets of warm water over his head ever time he had finished lathering. When he felt he was clean he turned the to the wolf. The animal sat patiently beside him, awaiting it’s turn to be clean, and when Asher moved to dump water over its head the wolf did not growl or shy away as he would have suspected, but rather seemed quiet eager. And so, Asher tipped the bucket of warm soapy water upon it, and began to rub his hands up and down it’s back. Seemingly pleased with the contact, the wolf arched its back upward, pressing its warm body against Asher’s hand. The animal was a mystery, thought Asher, confused by the prospect of a wolf who seemed to have no problem with human contact. Dumbfounded still, Asher decided the wolf had been well enough scrubbed to dump one last bucket of clean water on the animal and be done with it.
The wolf shook, making it’s snow white hair stand on end. Asher smiled and moved toward a tub that had previously been filled with steaming water, and by the time he climbed in, it was a perfect temperature.
For a moment he had been afraid the wolf might try to jump in with him, however it seemed content to lay on the tubs edge and watch Asher.
Asher stared back, he felt strangely close to the animal, and although it seemed illogical to keep such a beast as a pet, seeing as it would grow in size, the thought of sending the thing back out into the wild on it’s own somehow horrified him.
“well” he said, looking away from the wolf, across the room. “I suppose if I’m going to do this the hard way I should give you a name yes?” out of the corner out Asher’s eye, he saw the wolf stir, moving closer to him, and sitting up. When he turned his head, he found himself nose to nose with the animal, its ice like eyes clear as crystal, and boring into his. It was as if the wolf was trying to tell him all about the world. Asher pulled back, startled, and the wolf tilted its head sideways, eyes wide, and ears up. Asher smiled again, amused by the expression on the animals face. He turned his mind back to the task at hand.
“So what should it be, Ido perhaps or maybe Devon?” the wolf made a sound, something akin to a snort of amusement, Asher shook his head, and stood up, dripping and stepped out of the bath. When he was dry enough he put on his clean tunic and went about binding his dark hair, using a this piece of leather, he tied the strands at the back of his head, then sat down on the floor.
It had been half an hour since he had returned to his room, and he wished Ingrid would hurry up with the tray of food, for he could feel his stomach grumbling. A strange sensation, hunger, he thought, thinking back to the first time he had experienced it. The first time he had snuck out of the castle, he hadn’t thought to bring such a thing as food. It had always just been handed to him, he never had to ask for it, and had never thought of it as an object of rarity among the inhabitants of the lower town, or that he would need money to have it given to him. He had been very young and naive then of course, no older than 8, and had spent his days watching his beloved older brother train and learn. A knock on the door woke Asher from his reverie, he stood and made his way to the door to opened it, knowing he had earlier locked it.
“Sire” said Ingrid, bowing her head.
“Ingrid” Asher said smiling, and moving aside as too allow her to enter. Asher moved to close the door, and turned to find Ingrid standing dead still staring toward his bed. It took him a minute to think of an object in his rooms that would have her so transfixed, but of course it was the wolf pup.
“It’s alright Ingrid” said Asher, stepping around her, “He’s harmless really. Bring the tray here would you?” The stricken servant nodded, and edged toward the table he had pointed out, always careful not to look away from the wolf, or move any closer than necessary. Laying the tray and a pile of what Asher thought might be robes on the table, Ingrid turned toward him, a look of frightened determination on her face. Before she could start, Asher gave her a warning look, but she ignored his obvious displeasure, as was her wont, and continued on with her chastising.
“Asher, you can not be thinking you will be keeping this animal, it is a wild beast! I am sure it could tear you to pieces in a matter of seconds if it so wished, and what would you father say?”
“Ingrid” he said slowly, looking at her from the corner of her eye, daring her to continue. “I will keep the animal if it so please me, and further more, it is far from wild and it’s but a pup. As for my father,” he said, looking at her again “He needn’t know about the thing does he?”
Ingrid made an indelicate sound of disapproval as she waved at the pile of linen, “Your robes for tonights feast, freshly washed and pressed.” she said, before turning and walking out, again skirting the edge of the room as too stay as far from the wolf as possible.
A strange sound came from the wolf, a sound that gave Asher the impression that the wolf was pleased that it had induced such fear in the woman.
It was only right the human be afraid, wolves are magnificent, fierce creatures. He imagined it saying, that is, if it had the ability to speak.
Sighing, he picked up the metal tray and carried it over to the bed, setting it on his lap and he settled onto the edge of the bed. With the smell of meat so close, the wolf perked up, inching closer as if it meant to snatch the meat right out of Asher’s hand. Smiling Asher threw a piece of the venetian in the air and the wolf snapped it up hungrily. Setting the rest of the meat on the floor, Asher picked at some of the vegetables as he watched the white pup devour the beef. When he wolf had finished, and Asher felt he was sufficiently full as to not gorge himself on the overly rich food at the feast, he moved to pull on his new robes that his father had obviously had commissioned. He speculated at what the feast was in honour of, what royalties visiting from far away kingdoms as to throw such grandeur.
He gulped down the remainder of the tea as he finished tying the sash of the robe. The robe was a deep blue colour, almost an indigo, and it had gold piping and rich embroidery up the sleves and on the edges. It was a beautiful outfit to behold, and again he wondered at the purpose of the thing. What could be so importance that his father would spend such money on clothes.
Shaking his head, Asher tucked his customary dagger into the sash, and after checking quickly in the mirror of polished silver that the dagger would not be visible, he turned toward the wolf.
What was he to do with it well he was gone, as he would be gone for quite some time.
Resting his hands on his hips, he looked around the room. His eyes fell on door far at the back of the room. It lead to a small inclosed courtyard, something akin to a yard of a house, but connecting to his rooms alone. It was cold outside, but the courtyard was roofed, and didn’t get much colder than his rooms. Besides, it was a wolf. It had spent the better part of the winter outside, and it was a wild animal, it was meant to survive such weather conditions.
Decided that this was the best corse of action, Asher walked toward the wolf. He tried herding the animal toward the door, but to no avail. The wolf seemed utterly unintimidated by Asher’s attempts to establish dominance. Well, he thought to himself, at least we know who is the alpha in this relationship. Finally, after a good quarter of an hour he resorted to desperate, foolish and frankly impossible alternative.
“I need you to go into the courtyard” he said, mentally picture the door as he did so, perhaps, he thought, with all of it’s other strange behaviour, the wolf could understand him. But of course the wolf ignored him completely, it simply laid curled up on his bed, seemingly asleep.
Finally giving up hope of ever getting it outside Asher conceited that it would be fine inside his rooms. As long as no one decided to venture inside, a servant coming to change the linens, or to set out a tea tray for when he returned.
Praying silently to whatever god was perhaps listening he wandered once more over to the mirror. He checked again the dagger, and straightened the tunic. There was a flash of white by his feet, and when he looked down the wolf was sitting there, looking at him, it’s big blue eyes flashing.
“What do you think” he asked, not expecting an answer, but it seemed only appropriate to ask anyhow. The wolf blinked, but Asher got the distinct impression that it approved.
Smiling at the thought, Asher moved toward the door, dreading the long night ahead of loud voices, and pleasantries and wine.