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Tales of Orgonia: Chapter 3 - Whisper

Stunned, Rowan lay frozen too petrified to open his eyes. The strangers warm breath teased the inside of Rowans ear.

Without moving a single other muscle in his body Rowan steadily prised open his left eyelids and rolled his gaze towards the direction of the thing that had him anchored.

Dusk was rolling in and with it a somberness of light, enough for Rowan to peer over a dark wet nose to confront a pair of barbarous eyes; rimmed with hunger.

Rowan carefully tried to inch his head away from the feral face but in doing so the beast only clamped its teeth down tighter and warned with a carnivorous growl.

Rowan could feel beads of blood trickling down his neck and into his ear, the sharp pain of the bite matched with irritation of warm saliva passing over his eardrum.

Rowan had only ever heard-tell of wild beasts that roam the country of their own accord from wanderers passing thought the Fallows, all other animals that Rowan had encountered were born and raised in captivity, completely at the mercy of their owner and dependent on human beings for everything.

The beasts blue and brown eyes told of a life without limits, without rules and without permission. A wildness on four legs with nothing but primal instincts to fight, feed and fornicate. Everything about this creature was alien to Rowan, the man who had dedicated his entire life to pleasing others; to making sure that those around him were comfortable, happy and well looked after.

The hound was the complete antithesis of Rowan, it’s whole body was shaking with adrenaline with nothing in its simple head but the thought of consuming its next meal and of staying alive. Rowan lay utterly lifeless with the exception of a racing heartbeat and thoughts swirling round his head of failing both his wife and his father.

Rowan held his gaze with the beast, his small brown eyes working hard to armor his emotions, to mask his fear and to put forth the bravest part of himself.

You made a promise to her boy and by the Gods in the Garland you’re going to keep it Rowan remembered his father telling him just yesterday.

The beast was becoming impatient, it’s selfish body shaking as dominance set it. The fear deep inside Rowan was beginning to surface, breaking through his gaze.

And I want you to make a promise to me now, that you’ll bring her home Rowans body now trembling, the hounds growl growing more fierce with every passing second, hunger taking over.

Rowan fingered his mothers ring and his own primal instincts set in. He jumped to his feet with a scream as his earlobe tore clean off, blood splattering across the Taro leaves. He grabbed his staff as he ascended and with an almighty swoop knocked the creature across its face onto its back.

The hound whimpered as it rolled backwards but soon got to its feet again leaning forward; ears pricked; eyes wide revealing a sea of ivory white, lips pulled back to bare its impressive teeth.

The pair circled each other on the platform waiting for the next move.

‘Back off! I’ve fought bigger creatures than you you know’ Rowan bluffed ‘I wont warn you again! Go away!’

The brute pounced at Rowan who, with lighting speed, knocked the beast again with a deafening crack. His staff was fractured towards the bottom but the beasts front leg had taken a serious blow causing it to limp.

The hound looked over its shoulder and then back at Rowan, undecided whether to keep fighting or to retreat and go hungry. The gaunt lack of flesh allowed the creatures bones to lean visibly against its skin suggesting that it wouldn’t last another week in the Fens if it didn’t win this meal.

As it looked over its shoulder a second time Rowan followed its gaze and almost missed the beast snap its head back towards Rowan and pounce.

Rowan stumbled backwards and the rear of his head smacked the ground blurring his vision. He raised his staff along his chest as the beast mounted him. It’s claws dug into the top of Rowans chest piercing the skin and wrapping its paws around Rowan’s Collarbone.

Rowan roared with agony but still managed to keep the hound at arms length with its jaw wrapped around the staff. Rowans biceps were reaching their limits as the dogs head furrowed further and further down towards Rowans face, snapping at the staff and dropping splinters of wood into Rowans eyes.

With their noses almost touching the staff gave way and snapped in two. Rowan quickly rolled his head to the left and the hounds face clapped against the wooden platform with a crack, blood gushed from its nose as Rowan stumbled to his feet.

The creature collapsed onto its side, shattered face, broken leg, it lay helpless whimpering with blood staining its black and white knotted fur. Rowan towered above the creature with raised fists gasping to fill his lungs with oxygen, numb with adrenaline to the wounds the hound had inflicted.

Moments passed and the day grew lighter. Rowan stood and watched the beast as its breath began to slow.

Next to Rowans bag the creatures big black nose twitched and flared.

Rowan cautiously bent down and snapped his bag away. The hound barely moved but its eyes followed the bag.

This creature Rowan recognised. This creature Rowan had seen many times before. This creature Rowan could relate to.

‘Your tried to kill me!’ Rowan cried angrily ‘Look at me, look what you’ve done.’

The creature didn’t respond, where it had once held its gaze with Rowan, it’s eyes now belonged to the bag.

‘You can’t even look at me, can you?’ Rowan said.

The hound broke its gaze for a split second to make eye contact with Rowan but then straight back to the bag.

‘You must be joking, if you think i’m going to help you then you’ve got another thing coming.’ Rowan lectured.

He opened up his bag and pulled out his medicine pouch. With his right hand he used his thumb and middle finger to grind extracts of Yarrow leaves and Geranium root into his left hand which he had cupped and spat into. He then stirred the mixture into a paste with his index finger and applied it to his wounds, wincing as he did.

Rowan glanced over to the hound who was watching every move he made with huge vulnerable eyes. He wanted the beast to die, he wanted to take a sharp rock and bash its skull repeatedly until its brains spilled out onto the floor, or at least he wanted to want that to happen. But just in the same way that the hound had no control over his instinct to feed, Rowan had no control over his instinct to help.

‘You don’t deserve this girl, but then again I can’t really blame you for trying to survive can I’ Rowan reasoned as he applied the last of the paste he had made to the wounds of the beast. She closed her eyes and let Rowan do his work.

Rowan then pulled the dried meat that he’d brought with him for his journey and tore off pieces to feed her with, which she chomped down gratefully.

An hour passed and after Rowan had finished applying some White Willow bark to the beasts swollen face he prepared to continue on his way.

‘You’ll be alright sister, just need rest now’ Rowan said as he readied a little bed around the creature.

Rowan then used two strong branches of Black Ash to splint his staff together.

‘Well it’s by no means good, but it’ll have to do’ Rowan announced as he used it to get to his feet.

Rowan bent down to close up his bag when the wind carried in a delicate voice from the distance.

‘Rowan?’ the voice whispered ‘Rowan, are you there?’

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