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Kalieth and Tasla

Chapter 2 - Scavengers of the Plains

© Copyrighted by Furryhart 09/02/2014 ©

Warning: This story contains content of a mature nature!

We awoke to a sound in the distance, a kind of low rumbling sound. We both got up quickly and climbed up on our rock, staying low and looking out on the open plains. We saw many animal driven carts heading eastward across the savanna, with riders on animals moving quickly around them to protect them. I looked at Kalieth and ask “Who are they, do you know?” He shook his head and said “Fools, just fools, who want to incur the wrath of the scavengers, in the name of a profit. They will only find a quick death here.” I looked at him and then back at them and said “Should we try to warn them?” He continued looking at them and said “They knew the risk of crossing the savanna, way before their journey began. News, about these scavengers, had traveled as far as the great city of Climan Sol.” I looked at him in astonishment and said “You both had traveled far to a lot of distance cities, haven‘t you and your rider?”

He turned to look at me with a smile, remembering better times with his rider and said “I have worn off more layers of skin on my paw pads then I care to mention. I had seen many things, even before I met my rider, but when I accepted him as my rider, I saw more wondrous things then I could have imagined. At first, my rider and I use to do, as those riders do, protecting merchant caravan and we traveled far and wide with them to strange and unusual places. Later, we traveled to other distant lands together, seeking fortune and adventure and were… inseparable… that is until…” then he lowered his head and I hugged him, feeling his pain of loss again well up him. I watched the carts and riders over his shoulders and then felt a yearning take hold of me, as it did when I decided to leave my village, long ago and said “Maybe we can go seeking adventure and visit faraway lands too.”

He looked at me and said “You’re not ready for such things. The world would swallow you whole.” I looked at him angrily and said “That’s what the village elders told me when I asked to leave and yet I have survived this harsh lands for over two seasons.” He moved up to me quickly, surprising me and looked deep into my eyes, sniffing me and then snorted in surprise and said “Yes… yes… you do have the fire of a Hestari wolf rider…” he then walked around me slowly and continued “but not the skills needed to survive battle yet.” He then stood in front of me and looked, as if coming to some great decision and said “Tomorrow you and I will begin our training, but for now we will go and meet with those merchants. Gather your things.”

I excitedly gathered my few possessions, putting on my top and loincloth, once more and mounted him and he looked back and said “Lesson one, always keep your eyes open. These merchants will be attracting a lot of attention to themselves, from thieves, robbers and worse, the scavengers, so be on your guard.” We then headed out quickly across the plains and soon we caught up with the slow moving caravan, as it stopped for the night, to set up camp. The guards on the animals quickly saw us and headed us off, then surrounded us. They all wore red leather armor, with a golden wolf’s head on their chest and banners. They were riding large cat like creature that roared menacingly at our approach. I was frightened of them, but Kalieth was fearless in their presents. A large humanoid warthog obviously the leader of the guards looked at me and laugh, saying “Now what have we here, a little doggy girl on big doggy.”

Kalieth looked at him and said “Say that again pig and I will make barbeque out of you and your little pussy cat and pick my teeth with your bones.” and gave him such a look that it made the warthog back his mount. Kalieth looked around and then said, in a commanding voice “We have come to warn you all to be on guard and watchful of the wild scavengers that roam these lands. They attack in large groups and are wicked foes to deal with if you’re not familiar with plains of Narda. My rider know this area very well and offers our assistance to you.” The warthog laughed and said “I’m not afraid of your scavengers, let them come and we don’t need help from… a…” he started to say something and then though better of it and said “you.” Kalieth turned and walked away saying “Fine… it’s your death… may Cajha have mercy on you.”

Suddenly another rider rode up and said “By Cajha! Kalieth is that you?” and he dismounted quickly, removing his helmet to reveal his grey wolf’s head. The warthog moved back to let him by, snorting in displeasure. Kalieth turned quickly upon hearing him and bowed deeply, saying “Prince Lumbard, a pleasant surprise, as always. So you are leading this caravan, I might have known.” Prince Lumbard looked at me and then back at him and said “Kalieth where is your rider, Sir Greggor.” Kalieth lowered his head and said “He has fallen to the very scavengers that we were trying to warn your guards about.” The Prince looked troubled and said “But yet you survived.” I looked at him and said shakily “I… I found him dying of his wounds… and the heat… and mended his wounds… nursing him back to health.”

The Prince looked up at me, smiling pleasantly and said “And who is this lovely creature?” Kalieth growled and said “This is Tasla my new rider and also my mate.” The guards drew their swords and bows, pointing them at Kalieth and me, but the Prince just laughed and raised his hand and they put them away, much to my relief. He walked up unafraid and patted Kalieth on his muscular shoulder and said “Sorry old boy, I did not know, you sly old Hestari wolf.” Upon hearing this, many of the guards began to talk among themselves and even the warthog raised an eyebrow. I began to feel privileged just to be riding on him, let alone being his mate. The Prince turned around and said loudly “This is Kalieth the most fearsome Hestari wolf known in the three wolf kingdoms and his lovely rider. Treat them both with the respect due mighty warriors.”

He then motioned for us to follow him and everyone moved aside to give us room. I felt ten feet tall, riding on Kalieth, as all eyes were on us both. The Prince led us to his tent and I dismounted, then we all went inside. I sat down on a pillow, brought to me by a beautiful she-wolf, as Kalieth laid down on a large soft mat brought and spread before him by another. The prince sat down on a low chair on the other side of a table and said “Tell me of these scavengers that could take on the likes of you and Sir Greggor.” Kalieth looked at him earnestly and said “They ride slitherlings, a very fast, agile and deadly lizard that roam the southern swamps and the riders themselves are cunning warriors. Other than that, I know very little, as they wore flowing robes and cover their faces. I was in a troop of five mounts, all as good as me and Sir Greggor and they just cut us down like we were nothing. I too would be dead now, if Tasla had not found me and healed me.”

Then he narrowed his eyes and continued “One thing we did discovered, but unfortunately to late, was that the slitherlings were tough against swords and axes, but are very susceptible to arrows and piercing weapons.” Kalieth then looked at him sternly and then finished “So mainly use your archers and lancers to bring them down and your fighters to finish their riders.” The prince was listening intently and then said “I will let my captain of the guard know all this at once.” and he got up and left the tent. We were brought a generous plate of food and drink and I look over at him and said “You are really famous and a great warrior.” He looked unimpressed and said “I have little need for praise and desire it not. My fierceness and strength on the field of battle is all I need, to makes my enemies flee before me, not words. Although I fell, that night, I killed many of them before their sheer numbers overcame me at last, while I stood atop a mound of their dead.”

The look in his eyes frighten me at first and then I realized he might be right in saying I was not ready for battle. He seemed to sense my thoughts and said “Only when you are tried and tested in the heat of battle will you know if you are truly ready for it. Have faith in your abilities, your strengths and trust in me, your mount and we will be fearsome and unstoppable together.” We then ate, but I ate very little and drank only water, knowing that it would only slowed me down, if I had to fight tomorrow. After we ate, we said good night to the Prince and Kalieth and I moved off a ways from the camp and laid down to sleep in the cover of the tall grass. He moved close beside me and whispered in my ear “I am able to sleep light and will hear anything coming, so sleep untroubled my mate, I will be watching over you.”

It was a while, however, before I finally fell asleep, watching him protect me and realized I was truly safe out here, as long as he was near. I awoke the next day to the sound of trumpets and shot up like a light, already Kalieth was awake, looking at the camp from just above the grass, grumbling to himself. As I approached him, I heard him say “Fools, they’re going to bring them all down on us.” He turned his head and looked at me and said “Are you ready for your training, my love?” I nodded and gathered my stuff and we went into the camp, as they were preparing to leave. Kalieth got some more arrows, some targets and some poles from the Prince’s supplies for my training. Then we went out on the plains and set up the targets, as the caravan began to move out.

I was then trained, by Kalieth on shooting my bow and throwing my spear while riding him. We moved quickly, changing direction through the tall grass around them, as I tried to hit the targets. We moved slowly at first until I got the hang of it and then he sped up. He was greatly surprised that I could even hit the target, if not always on the mark, which at least saved us looking for the arrows. I looked smugly at him and said “I can shoot a moving senar buck or doe while they are at full gallop, this is only reversed. The target is still and we are moving.” He smiled and said “What if both are moving?” The smugness of my face disappeared and he laughed and said “Not so sure about that, are you, my cocky little mate. Let’s go and find out.”

We left the targets and followed the direction the caravan was going, following their tracks. Kalieth said as we trotted along “The caravan will be frightening the senar, let’s see if you can bring one down while we are moving. We can then use it to barter for more arrows and things we might need.” After a while we saw a small herd of them running towards us and gave chase. Several times we got close and several times I missed and I was starting to get frustrated. Kalieth then stopped and stood there panting and said “Relax… your trying to hard… breath slowly and feel me… moving below you… follow the senar… and then lead it… then loose your arrow… as if you are lunging… at it yourself.”

We tried again and this time, when I got close once more, I calmed myself and time seemed to slow for me and I felt Kalieth’s great muscular body moving beneath me and took aim. I looked at the senar, as if it were me attacking it and then let my arrow fly. I saw it fall, as we passed it by and my heart soared. Kalieth stopped and let out a mighty howl of triumph, as I jumped off and went back to the senar. I was surprised to find that I had gotten a head shot and had killed it instantly. He walked slowly up to me and said “Now that was a great shot, my mate and rider. More shots like that one and we will not have to worry about the scavengers at all.” I tied it to Kalieth and hopped back on him and we continued to follow the caravan.

Suddenly Kalieth stopped, sniffing the ground and growled, saying “Scavenger scouts are tracking the caravan, we must hurry.” and bolted off after them. I held onto him with my legs leaning forward and set my bow, readying myself for my first test in battle, my heart already pounding in my ears. Kalieth moved swiftly and silently through the tall savanna grass and soon we were upon them before they even knew we were there. I loosed an arrow and caught one of the riders square between its robed shoulders, dropping it. The others, now aware of our presents, split off in different directions and then attacked us from all sides. I dodge a sword slash by one, but another one hit us with its slitherling’s hard chest, on Kalieth’s lift side and I was thrown off of him. I rolled some distance and came up quickly on my feet, drawing my short sword, as another charged me.

I dropped to my knees and slashed at the slitherling’s legs and managed to cut through one of them, bring it and it’s rider to the ground. Kalieth came out of nowhere and mauled the rider to death, as it screamed loudly. Kalieth turned his bloodied face to me and ran towards me, yelling “Get on quickly.” and I jumped back on him, as he passed and drew my bow once more. Kalieth headed in the direction of the caravan, while the other three scavengers gave pursuit. I pointed my bow back and shot another rider in the chest and it fell hard, trampled by the slitherling behind it, almost tripping that one up, but only managed to slow it down. I saw the closest one draw a bow and quickly grabbed the grip on Kalieth’s harness and motioned with my left foot for him dodge to the left and he did, as the arrow whizzed by us both. Kalieth turned again and charged him, before he could set another arrow and I undid my light spear from his halter and aimed it. As it started to fit another arrow to its bow, I loosed my spear, catching the slitherling’s head squarely, going through it and plunging deep into its rider’s chest, as well. Both hit the ground hard, as we passed them by and we quickly came upon the last rider.

It turned quickly and we gave pursuit and Kalieth growled menacingly and said “We need to catch it… before it can tell the others… about the caravan.” Its slitherling was fast, but Kalieth was faster and we quickly caught up, but just as I loosed my arrow, it veered quickly, being missed by my arrow and charged strait at us. I drew my sword, but it drove its slitherling right into Kalieth, instead of going past him. It hit Kalieth hard and I was once more thrown off of him, as he was thrown back and hit the ground. The rider also hit the ground, not far from me, but was on his feet quickly. The slitherling laid still, on top of Kalieth, its neck, clearly broken and Kalieth was not moving ether. The rider ignored me and picked up its long sword and walked over to Kalieth, raising it up to run him through. A rage welled up in me and I drew my hunting knife and charged it. I screamed with a wild savage rage, baring my teeth and causing it to hesitate and I jumped on its back and slashed at its throat.

Blood splashed everywhere and I fell with it to the ground and then stabbed it savagely, in the back, several times, until it no longer moved. I then I sat back, tears flowing down my cheeks, my body shaking and my heart pounding, looking over at Kalieth. Then I noticed him slowly moving and rushed to his side, helping him out from under the slitherling. I then held him tightly and crying and said “Oh Kalieth I thought you were dead.” He put a forepaws around me and in a soft voice said “Calm yourself my love.” and suddenly I felt at peace and sat back and looked at him, tears still flowing from my eyes and said “I thought I had lost you Kalieth and then it came at you with its sword to finish you off and I went mad or something and attacked it, slashing its throat and stabbed it furiously many times. It was horrible.” and I began to tremble again.

He whispered in my ear again “Calm yourself, my love… I’m unharmed… a little dazed, but unharmed, none the less. It was the blood fury that you felt. My kind often use it in battle, but I don’t know how it could have affected you, unless it was through our bond.” I looked at him still crying and said “All I could think of was stopping him from ending your life, nothing else in this world mattered to me, not even my own life.” I closed my eyes a hugged him tightly, nuzzling into him. He held me with his forepaws, until I stopped shaking and then said “You have done very well this day, my fierce mate, you would have made a fine Hestari she-wolf. But we must catch up with the caravan and let the Prince know of this, if he doesn‘t know about it already.”

I went over to the bloodied body of the rider and removed its helmet and gasped, finding a lizard like head beneath it. Kalieth came over, looking at it closely and I looked at him and said “What is it?” He shook his head and said “I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like it before, in all the three wolf kingdoms. We need to get to the caravan and tell the Prince about this at once. Then we will go to Salidar, the closest wolf kingdom, bordering these lands and let the king there know about this, as well. He will surely want to know about this evil new race pillaging on his borders.” I then gathered what I could find on it that would fit into my pack. I then climbed on Kalieth, holding him tightly and we were off like a shot, him feeling the urgent need for speed.

Thankfully we came upon the caravan, still moving slowly and unharmed. A few of the riders came up on us and looked at us in total dismay, as we were still covered in blood from the battle. Then the warthog came up saying “All right what’s going…” and stopped and looked at us alarmed. Kalieth then spoke “You were being tracked by scouts of the scavengers, I spoke of yesterday, but we were able to kill them all before they could tell their leaders. Their bodies are some distance back the way you came. Where is the Prince?” The warthog motioned for us to follow him and he led us to him quickly. He rode up looking us over and he said “What happened my friend?” Kalieth looked at him earnestly and said “We came upon a scavenger scouting party, tracking the caravan and fell upon them, killing them before they could escape and tell the others.”

Kalieth stopped talking to give the Prince time to absorb that, before hitting him with what he had to say next “We found out that they are some kind of lizard like race.” The Prince stared at him confounded and then said “Are you sure?” Kalieth nodded and said “The bodies are some distance back from where you came, if you wish to see them.” The Prince nodded and looked at the captain of the guard and said “Put the caravan on alert, I’m going to see this for myself, wait for my return.” We then lead the Prince swiftly to where we had battled the scavengers. The Prince looked them over and stopped at the ones pinned together, with my spear and looked up at me and said “You did this?” Kalieth laughed and said “Well, my friend, I sure didn’t do it.” and I giggled and jumped down and retrieved my spear.” The Prince laughed and nodded at me, saying “Quite impressive.”

After looking at the others, we came up to the last one we fought and the prince looked at the slashed and stabbed body and looked at me again “You did this too?” I nodded, and lowered my head, saying “He was going to kill Kalieth and I had to stop him.” I then turned away not wanting to look him in the eyes. The prince said “The King of Salidar, my father, must be made aware of this new threat, at once.” Kalieth looked at the dead rider and said” I was planning to take Tasla and do just that.” The Prince patted him on the shoulders and said “I knew I could count on you, my friend. I will go back to the caravan and you should head for Salidar as soon as possible.” Kalieth said “Will you be alright, my friend?” He jumped up on his mount and padded its side and said “No slitherling is a match for Allerax and you have shown us now what to look for, my friend. Go swiftly and may Cajha be with you both.”

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