Storm soldiers pull Callum, Sage and me from the wagon. Sage snarls and bites at the soldier’s hands, while Callum fidgets against their clearly stronger arms. I let the Storm take me, I can barely stand let alone fight against them. Maybe if I’d known where I was about to be I would have fought more.
There is a large pit dug into the ground, larger than anything natural. Inside the walls of earth are three tigers pacing back and forth in anticipation.
“You cant do this!” Callum shouts, digging his heels into the ground, fighting hard.
“I think you’ll find I can,” Arry sneers, walking along the pit’s edge. “I’ve got what I wanted and now there’s no more use for you.” He shrugs like it’s the simplest decision in the world, like it makes perfect sense to throw us away like garbage.
The soldiers hold us at the edge. I want to fight, but my muscles just won’t work.
“Throw them in,” Arry orders and the next thing I know I’m flying through the air only to hit solid ground.
I hear Callum moan next to me and Sage whine and whimper. I open my eyes and see the tigers staring intently at us. I’m not sure if they even know whether they are allowed to eat us or not. Callum grabs my arm and helps me stand. Sage guards us from the front, growling with teeth bared. He’s barely half the size of these tigers.
I manage to stand on my own, but fighting seems out of the question.
“It’s ok,” he cuts me off. “I know we’re not making it out of this.”
He clenches his fists, raising them to his face.
“I won’t go down without a fight.”
I can see something new in his eyes. He seemed down since Eos, like he didn’t really want to keep living, but now a fire burns within his eyes. A fierce will to survive has taken him over and it’s contagious.
I shift my body into a fighting stance, raising my own fists.
“Let’s do this together,” I say.
“ARHHHHOOOOOO!” Sage howls, louder than ever before.
The tigers pace, wondering which one of us to eat first. One of the tigers has a clunk taken out of its ear. It’s clearly the alpha of the three. It snaps at the other when they try to move forward. It’s asserting its dominance.
“Evade,” I whisper to Callum.
“What?” he replies.
“You wanted to learn how to fight, well here’s lesson one. Evade.” I keep my eyes fixed on alpha tiger. “We have no weapons, so we need to evade.”
Callum nods, but I can see his legs shaking in the corner of my eye.
“Lesson Two: leave fear behind.”
Callum takes a big gulp and breathes out. His legs slowly stop shaking.
The alphas claws twitch against the ground.
“Get ready,” I say and the tiger pounces. “Now!”
I jump and roll to the right, while Callum clumsily rolls to the left. The alpha slides along the ground but stops before the pit wall. Sage lunges at the tiger, sinking his teeth into the alpha’s rump. It roars loudly, but quickly recovers but swiping at Sage.
“SAGE!” I shout, as the wolf pup is thrown to the dust, blood seeping from his wounds.
I can hear the laughter of the Storms from above and I curse them for being so cruel.
It echoes through the air like a horn. The Storm’s laughs did and are replaced by confusion. Even the tigers have their heads in the air, ears twitching.
It sounds again and I know something is coming.
Continued on Day 49: Wolves