The Unprotected

Chapter 14

Joban opened one of his eyes slightly and saw the wolf still present. Joban was confused, the wolf was sitting just a few centimetres in front of him, its eyes fixed on him. He opened both of his eyes and dared to move. Slowly and unafraid, he sat up and took hold of the bow and remaining arrows. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the deer had been mauled. Joban nearly gagged, but controlled his stomach and thought about shooting the wolf with Brendor’s arrows. It was sure to pounce on him any minute. He shuddered at the thought of him being mauled like the poor deer he had killed.

‘I wouldn’t think of killing me, boy.’ A feminine voice growled in Joban’s head.

Joban jumped. He looked around but saw no one but the wolf. He noticed the wolf’s eyes were twinkling in what seemed to be amusement.

The voice chuckled, ‘I am Lansa. When I first saw you, I thought of killing you for my dinner, but I thought you were someone important. And I was right. In fact, I am probably as important as you, since I am going to have to save your life.’ Several moments passed, and there was silence.

‘No, I am only kidding. I would never have killed you. But thank-you for the lovely deer, just what I needed to gain back some strength.’

Joban winced, could this wolf – Lansa, as she called herself, read all of his thoughts? He decided to try to speak to Lansa too.

“Hello? Er, Lansa?” Joban laughed, “This is stupid, animals can't talk…”

‘Is that so?’ Lansa snapped, raising her growl to the point where it made Joban’s head hurt.

Joban clasped his hands over his ears, “Animals shouldn’t talk!” He cried squeezing his eyes shut tightly.

Lansa slowly picked herself up and prowled over to Joban, who was now cross-legged and leaning against the tree. Joban eyed Lansa suspiciously, maybe he was going crazy. Animals only talked in the magical stories his mother had told him when him and Rion were little. He shuddered when he glimpsed the deer again, and swore not to look at the mauled deer for a third time. Joban gazed at the skulking wolf in disbelief.

‘What does she want anyway?’ Wondered Joban, thinking to himself and forgetting that Lansa was able to read and hear his thoughts.

‘Well,’ Began Lansa, stopping next to a smaller tree, ‘Aren’t you lost?’

Joban slid back; he was starting to get nervous and unsure about Lansa.

“Let me ask you a few questions first,” Joban said, his voice wavering nervously.

‘Go ahead.’

“Okay,” Joban thought for a moment while Lansa settled down in some moss. “Well, how can you speak to me but not other creatures?”

Lansa cocked her head to one side, ‘Listen closely and I will tell you why, and maybe answer a few other questions that are floating about inside your head.

‘When I was very young, only a few weeks old, I got separated from my pack. I was wondering through the forest, quite near here I think, on the verge of dying when suddenly, I saw this strange man. He amazed me with the way he could speak to me, no human had ever spoken to me before, although I suppose, I didn’t really see many humans.’ Lansa’s soft laugh echoed inside of Joban’s head, making it feel light.

‘He introduced himself as Foron, and he even let me stay at his camp. I was fed and cared for, I was happy those few days. Until he had to leave…’ Lansa’s soft cheerful tone disappeared as if it were smoke left from a smouldering campfire, extinguished with no mercy.

Joban listened attentively, resting his elbows on his knees and placing his head in his hands as she continued,

‘I was very unhappy about him leaving, since he had been ever so generous. On the last night, I was too quiet and he sensed something was wrong. He read my thoughts, read my unhappiness. I felt so selfish and guilty when he decided to give me gifts. At first, I thought he was going to give me food or a shelter of some sort, like the soft, triangle-shaped cave he had slept in. But no, because he was a wizard, he gave me special gifts. Foron gave me the power to talk to any creature, and an immortal life, on one condition. That I help anyone who wanders through these trees lost or abandoned, just as he did for me.’

Joban lifted his head and gazed at Lansa with a new trust.

“Alright then, please take me back to my camp; I’m sure my brother’s worried sick about me. I remember when we were separated like this; I wanted him beside me so bad it physically hurt.”

‘Good. Please follow me.’ Lansa stood and began at a brisk pace toward the stream.

Joban followed, only stopping to sling Brendor’s bow over his shoulder.

(Is anyone really reading this?)