6 New Home
With the corpse of the wolf being carried by the father, Luis was able to relax as he followed the duo through the woods. He was quite pleased. That turned out much better than expected... He thought happily as he hobbled along after them. By passing himself off as harmless, he managed to avoid being killed. In fact, the boy seemed quite excited by his presence.
Although he couldn't understand a word of their language, their facial expressions and gestures allowed him to understand their intentions quite easily. Based on their similar features, it wasn't hard to assume that they were father and son. The boy looked around thirteen or fourteen years while the man appeared to be in his late thirties, maybe early forties.
From what he could guess based on their pointing, tones of voice, and expressions, the duo we're arguing about him. He somewhat understood their two points. The child wanted him to follow, while the father was much more reluctant. Luis prayed that the man would let him tag along and not simply chase him away. Between living among people or alone in the woods, the choice of which he preferred was obvious.
"Where are we going to keep it?" The father asked, as he maneuvered his way through the brush. He was feeling weary, not from carrying the wolf, but from his son's insistent pestering. He was mentally drained from refusing to sleep in order to keep an eye on the beast while his son slept, which turned out to be unnecessary. After watching the lizard snore peacefully for an entire night, the man felt cheated somehow, like he had been paranoid over nothing.
"I will keep it in the shed, or maybe build a new one! We need a new one anyway..." Came the fast response from Bryn who was tagging along a few feet behind him.
"How do you plan to feed it?" The father rebuttled. He had already decided to let his son keep the beast, but he wanted to heckle him so that the boy would understand the responsibility he was asking for.
From the wound left behind on the wolf, one thing was clear to him. This creature is definitely a magical beast of some kind... The father understood the possible dangers of raising one would be high.
Raising magical beasts was not unheard of, but he knew nothing about doing it personally. At most, he had seen beasts trained as tools of war or for hunting. However, those beasts appeared to be quite the few times he saw them in the city.
"I will catch extra fish for it every day!" Bryn finally responded after taking a minute to consider the question. Sensing his father's resolve weaken, he ran up and stood in front of him, forcing the father to stop. "Father, think about it. We both know this is some kind of magical beast. The dead earth wolf proves it," He motioned towards the wolf on his father's shoulder.
"Also, if I had to take a guess from its pudgy appearance, it's still an infant. If it was able to kill a rank two earth wolf in its infant stage, imagine how strong it will be fully grown. We could train it to hunt!" Bryn felt excited just thinking about it.
The father nodded at this. He had already considered everything his son had just mentioned, but there was one point his son was forgetting. "Yes I do believe the beast will grow stronger, but have you considered that its strength may be a double edged sword? What if it one day gets angry and goes on a rampage? How could we possibly stop it? Are you willing to risk our family?" The heavy questions hit Bryn like a ton of stones, and he deflated immediately into silence.
The father resumed walking, passing by his child. "Son, before making decisions, you must understand the weight those decisions carry. Only then, when you understand their full weight, will you be prepared to bear the consequences."
Bryn let the wisdom of his father's words stew for a little bit in his mind. Glancing back at the little white lizard that had been following behind obediently, he beckoned with his hand in a "follow me" gesture. The lizard happily complied. Bryn smiled.
Feeling reinvigorated, he caught back up to his father. "I understand and am prepared to accept responsibility. Besides, this magical beast is quite docile and obedient, I feel like if we treat it right, we can earn its loyalty."
The father sighed heavily. This boy understood the weight and accepted responsibility of raising a possibly very dangerous magical beast amongst our family...in less than five seconds? This boy's impulsiveness would be the death of them both...He shook his head. Still...He glanced back at the lizard who was following at the heels of his boy like a trained puppy.
His son did have a point, this magical beast was extraordinarily obedient and docile. He had seen many magical beasts before in auctions and rarely in the wild, but he had yet to see one, infant or no, who displayed such calmness and intelligence. He eventually smiled. I will trust my son's judgement and will put my faith in his decisions...He slapped the back of his son's head.
"Hey! What was that for?" Bryn protested.
"You will be the one to explain this decision to your mother..." The father smiled as he continued on.
Grimacing, Bryn felt dread building his gut. "Damn, forgot about that..." He followed after his father.
Oblivious to their entire exchange, Luis followed along after them. After many hours of walking, the endless snow covered woods finally gave way to snow covered plains. It was a very sharp contrast, seeing not a tree for miles. It was a vast, beautiful, empty expanse.
Pausing on the edge of the forest to take a break, the father dropped the corpse of the wolf and swung his shoulder to loosen it up. Bryn went to to rest by a tree. Luis, seeing better company in the boy, joined him. Laying down beside him, Luis tried once again to see if he could sense that strange energy he had unconsciously used twice before. Maybe it can cure my fatigue... A lack of a response answered his probing.
All of the sudden, he felt a touch. Luis lifted his scaly head and glanced over. The boy was rubbing the scar where his right limb used to be while saying something. Understanding his question, he used his claw to point at wolf then back to the scar. The boy grinned which then morphed into a sad frown, patting Luis' head with an unmistakable look of pity. Luis mentally shrugged at this. Could be worse, I could have been completely eaten...
Then out of nowhere the boy started scratching at the base of his neck. Oh god! Luis wondered if this was what it was like for a dog to have its belly rubbed. Pleasure radiated from the contact, and Luis uncontrollably collapsed into a heap as his leg twitched. The boy laughed while the father snorted and shook his head. I could get used to this...Luis thought while the scratching continued.
After the break, the trio continued on their journey eventually finding what was obviously a dirt road. After an hour or so more of walking along it, they had come over the crest of a hill and finally Luis saw where the two lived.
It was like a scene from a painting. The fading sunlight illuminated a snow covered log house that was built adjacent to a frozen stream. It had a stone chimney that was slowly releasing white smoke. Luis' strong sense of smell was telling him that the inhabitants were cooking something.
In the nearby stream, there was a stationary water wheel covered in snow and ice connected to a smaller building. If Luis had to guess, it was a grain mill of some kind. A small wooden fence surrounded the perimeter of the house.
Quite a nice home... Luis followed behind the boy until the boy pointed at him then to the fence post. He wants me to wait here? Luis complied, guessing the boy had something in mind.
"MOTHER! WE'RE HOME!" Bryn yelled as he ran up to the house. Opening the door, a petite lady with blond hair and a freckled face stepped out. She appeared to be carrying something bundled up in her arms.
"Welcome back sweetie! How was your hunt?" The mother smiled warmly, ruffling her sons head with affection. Wrapping her in a big hug, Bryn was careful to avoid the bundle in his mother's grasp.
"Mother, we have a couple of surprises for you..." Bryn began to describe to his mother exactly what happened, from how they felt the earthquake while hunting and decided to risk investigating. The father walked up right as his son arrived at the part about the wolf, said wolf slung in plain view on his shoulder.
"Oh my!" The mother audibly gasped at the sight of the large wolf slung over her husband's back like a sack of potatoes. Looking closer she noticed the green gem on its forehead...
She couldn't believe her eyes. "Is that... a magical beast? How did you managed to kill such a thing?" Worry colored her voice, afraid that the two most important men in her life could've been hurt from fighting.
The father smiled wryly. "That is something your son will explain."
After a glance from his father, Bryn mustered his courage and spoke. "We didn't kill it... he did" Bryn whistled right after he finished speaking.
I guess that's my cue... Luis assumed as he hobbled into view from behind the fence post.
The mother gasped at the sight of the creature. It was small, only slightly bigger than a dog, and covered with beautiful white scales. It had a a pudgy quality to its body that made it appear quite cute with its smooth head. As it approached, she noticed that it's scales had a pearl-like quality to them, reflecting many pretty colors.
They would make excellent jewelry... She looked at the beast with a glint in her eye.
If Luis could hear her thoughts, he would have shuddered in fear. He eventually stopped behind the boy, who he figured would be his best ally for negotiations.
"This creature killed the wolf? What is it?" The mother spoke after carefully inspecting the lizard from a distance. She wasn't impressed. The unknown beast was missing a limb and although its claws looked dangerous, she wasn't sure it would have been able to kill a larger predator like the wolf, especially if that wolf was a magical beast on its own.
The father gave his son a look, who nodded back solemnly. "We think... we think it's a magical beast too."
Luis was getting tired of not understanding what anyone was saying. As he sat there, their arguing voices started to increase in pitch. Peeking past the mom standing in the doorway, he saw a little girl with blond tufts of curly hair sitting comfortably by the fire and playing with what appeared to be dolls. It didn't seem she was that excited her father and brother had returned. She looked up and made eye contact with Luis, who recoiled from her sudden glare.
Luis watched as the little girl walked past her parents and brother, who were all too engrossed in their arguments to notice. She is heading right towards me... what's with that look in her eyes? Luis felt a sense of trepidation.
"What were you thinking! Bringing back a magical beast to our home? Have you lost your sense" The mother held nothing back as she berated her son. "George, talk some sense into your son!"
George, suddenly put on the spot, was about to speak before his wife suddenly screamed. "LILY! NO!"
George and Bryn jumped simultaneously at her shriek and turned to see that the little girl, who had snuck past them when they weren't paying attention, was hitting the lizard with a stick she had found.
Thwack! "Bad monster! Go away!" She adjusted her swing.
Thwack! "Leave us alone!" She started aiming for the head.
Thwack! "Don't hurt mommy!" She lowered her posture to balance herself.
Luis was crying internally. What did I do to suffer such abuse? Truthfully, her hits did absolutely no damage and they barely even registered on his scales. However to be attacked for no reason by a cute little girl that reminded him of his own grandchildren hurt on an emotional level.
I'm just a misunderstood old man... He felt like crying out. The reactions from the parents were not lost on him as well.
George had already dropped the wolf and was slowly reaching for the spear hooked to his pack. Although he knew the beast was docile, that didn't mean it couldn't be provoked into attacking, which was exactly what his daughter was doing. "LILY! Stop at once and get away!" Utilizing his commanding voice, George managed to snap his daughter out of her warpath.
Being yelled at by her father, the girl started sniffling and dropped her stick. "But dad, it's a monster! It's bad!" The injustice she felt for being yelled at for fighting off the monster made her start to cry.
Then something happened that stunned everyone into silence. The magical beast raised its head and licked Lily right across the face. The action caused her to uncontrollably mutter "Ewwwwwwwwwww" before she started to giggle.
Luis, sensing it was a good opportunity to make a good first impression, seized the moment. Being a parent and grandpa, he felt he understood children quite well. Children don't stay sad for long, especially if you provide a decent distraction.
"Hehehe. It's a good monster!" The little girl went right up Luis and hugged him, petting his head while apologizing for smacking him with a stick. From wanting to "slay" me to hugging me. Children were so simple... Luis internally smiled at her innocence.
Bryn, who had been tense as a board while watching the whole thing unfold, laughed uproariously, breaking the stunned silence. "See father, he can definitely be trained!"
George rubbed his head. Although it had been proven time and time again, he still couldn't quite wrap his head around the idea of such a docile magical beast. It didn't even attack after being hit in such a provocative manner.
Seeing his own opportunity, Bryn once again pleaded to his mom to keep it. The mother was still against the idea, but after witnessing the earlier display as well as the constant begging from her son and a nod of approval from her husband, she finally relented. Sighing heavily, she spoke. "Fine, but it is not allowed in the house!"
Bryn cheered. George carried the wolf to a shed located out back for harvesting tomorrow. The mother picked up her daughter with her free arm and carried her inside. Eventually, Bryn led the lizard to the shed where his father had deposited the wolf. Pointing at the shed, he bent down and patted the lizard on it glossy smooth head. "You stay here."
Hoping it would understand, Bryn waited for its response. The lizard pointed at itself before pointing at the shed. Bryn smiled widely as he nodded. This has got to be the smartest beast I have ever seen... Bryn was already looking forward to the future when it grew bigger for training.
Luis hobbled into the shed, and laid against the corpse of the wolf that had once tried to kill him, whose fur was softer than the cold ground. Quite weary from traveling so far on three legs, he watched as the boy retreated back to his own house, skipping merrily. Finally alone, he rested his head on his forearm, like a dog would, and began thinking deeply.
What am I going to do from now on? Luis kept asking himself over and over. Sadly, no epiphanies or revelations struck him no matter how much he questioned. Sighing in defeat, he decided to leave his future up to fate. There must be some reason I was brought here... a test maybe? Luis wasn't sure. However, one thing was for certain. For now, he would be living with this strange family. This would be his new home.