He awoke again to searing pain and jumped up with so much force that the wound on his face ripped open again and cause blood to stream down his face again. His eyes opened to the sight of his brother and another holding him down as a third dog held a burning knife to the wound in his shoulder. The wolf snarled and tried to free himself but he had lost a good deal of blood and didn’t have the strength to free himself from the two who held him. His head throbbed and he tasted blood in his mouth as he examined his surroundings. They were not at the palace of the master, it appeared to him that they were in a cave, but where? A large fire burned in the center of the chamber and he saw them, the rest of the dogs that had risen up to defend him, too few. many of them had died in the aftermath it seemed. The two holding him turned him over so that the third might sear the exit wound on his back. This time he did not resist but merely whimpered softly as the hot knife touched his flesh. When the knife man was done he squelched the blade in a pool at one end of the cave as the two holding him carried him to a rock on the other end. They propped him up against the boulder gently before taking places on either side of him. The one who had closed his wounds walked up and knelt beside him and offered him a vessel with some water from the pool. It was cool and he drank deep. His vision became sharp once more and saw that it was a female who gave him the vessel, but it was not her. As his strength began to return he looked about frantically at the faces gathered there. He did not see her, it would seem that she was unable to escape just as he was unable to save her.
Many of the slaves who had escaped the palace had stolen weapons before they fled the palace, and his brother handed him back the dagger he had been holding when he had been wounded. He took it in his hand and examined the blue iron blade. It was still sharp, that was good. He stood up too quickly for the wolves at his side to stop him. They both whimpered softly, pleading for him to rest but he batted them both away and stretched out his limbs, they had been idle long enough. He moved quickly to the bright entrance of the cave, the false night was not yet upon them. However it wouldn’t be long. The artificial moon the ancient masters had made long ago could be seen drifting slowly through the sky and was nearing the proper position. In a few short hours it would completely eclipse the sun, this was the perfect time to strike. From the mouth of the cave he saw the masters palace, an enormous pillar of smoke billowed from the courtyard and touched the sky. The sky. Again he looked up into the vast sky, as he always did in times such as these, and remembered what he was. A wild dog. A rabid beast. A wolf.
He could wait no longer, she was still trapped in the clutches of the master and would be devoured by him if he did nothing to stop it. The last failing rays of the sun shone down as hot as at any time of day. The wounded wolf slowly made his way down the cliffside taking great care not to move too suddenly and give away his position to the guards on the walls of the palace. A shuffling behind him caused him to turn on his heel with a vicious snarl, blade in hand. The other slaves who had fled when he was wounded were following him, his brother leading them. Each one of them was armed and their faces were solemn with purpose. When he turned on them they scattered and darted behind the heavy boulders of the barren wasteland, and when he turned back towards the palace and began his trek anew he heard the noise of them following him again. It seemed the wolf had gained a pack, and they were ready to die for him.
The sun seemed to grow dark with every step the wolf and his pack took towards the palace and by the time they reached the base of the walls it had finally been totally eclipsed and the false night had begun. Now that he was beneath the walls he made his choice. He looked to his pack and gestured roughly to the direction of the main gate. His brother whimpered in confusing until his brother pressed his finger to his lips then bared his teeth. The message was now clear, the wolf intended on climbing the wall alone in order to sneak past the guard. He would then make his way to the master’s chambers to find her and kill the bastard if necessary. Meanwhile his brother and the rest of the pack would circle around to the front of the palace walls and prepare to attack the palace by way of the slave entrance to the courtyard. As they prepared to go their separate ways his brother placed his hand on the wolf’s shoulder and stared long and deeply into his eyes. They had no words but his eyes revealed the message with astounding clarity. Good Hunting. We await your signal. With that he turned and began a quiet run away from their pack leader around the perimeter to the weakly guarded slave entrance. The wolf let out a sigh of relief as they faded into shadow, if he were to fail he would rather he be the only one to suffer the consequences. He looked up into the darkness looking for purchase on the crumbling walls of the palace, several crumbled bricks in the structure gave him the perfect path from the floor to the top of the wall. It was clear that the master thought himself so untouchable that no one would dare infiltrate his palace over the wall. He began his slow ascent, dagger clutched between his jaw, careful not to stir the shadows or cause any noise that might bring the guards down upon him before he was over the wall. His caution led to a slow climb but he managed to reach the top of the wall without incident, yet as he held on to the top ledge of the wall he heard a soft rumbling sound. Snoring.
He slowly raised his eyes above the wall to find the source of the sound and he found it on the opposite edge of the wall, a guard leaning on his spear, asleep at his post. The wolf pulled himself silently over the wall with all the control of a feral beast on the prowl. He inched his way towards the guard staying low to the ground, that other more responsible guards would have trouble seeing him. He crept within a hand’s breadth of the sleeping guard and released the dagger from his teeth. In one swift controlled movement he clasped the man’s mouth in his powerful hand and sunk his dagger between his ribs. The dead man let out a deep sigh and was still, but just as the spark of life was leaving his eyes, his helmet fell from his head and crashed to the ground below. A moment passed in complete silence, the wolf stood completely still, waiting for some sign, and he heard it, like a war horn sounding the impending wrath of an angry god. He heard a man’s voice sound out in the darkness and it was answered by another, then another until it seemed to the wolf that he was surrounded on all sides by the enemy. Torches began fluttering in the darkness. The guards were hunting him now! He knew he had to move now or be caught and killed, or worse. He pulled his dagger free from the dead man’s chest and turned to the direction of the master’s chamber keeping below the parapets to avoid further detection. He ran on all fours with the speed of a rabid beast, his blade once again tucked between his teeth. He ran along the length of the wall until he found a passage leading down into the main courtyard of the compound but just as he approached the narrow staircase one of the guards was finishing his ascent onto the wall. The two collided as the wolf ran headlong into the guard and the two fell back down the steep stone passageway limbs tangled together. Luckily for the wolf the force of his impact had knocked the wind out of the man so he was unable to cry out and bring more guards upon him. He quickly recovered himself and flung his whole body weight onto the man still lying at the bottom of the staircase. Just as he was upon the guard he began to cry out and the wolf used his hand to stifle his cries for help. The guard was prepared to fight with any means at his disposal however and sunk his teeth into the wolf’s hand. The wolf’s face contorted into a grim scowl as he suppressed the howl of pain welling up in his throat. He held his prey down with the weight of his body and muffled his voice with his hand as he pulled his bloody dagger from his teeth and sank it deep into his throat, forever silencing his cries for help with a low moan and a jute of warm red blood. As the wolf pulled his hand away from the clenched teeth of the dead man a small bit of the skin was ripped from it. The pain was terrible and it would have stopped any living thing in its tracks, but he had no time for pain and forced himself to stand. He glanced down one more time at the the man lying dead at his feet and just underneath his head he saw a reflection of the the torches which lined the narrow passage. He shifted the corpse to the side and lifted up the shiny object. It was the guards spear. He thanked the stars in the sky that he had noticed it and tucked the dagger into the leather strap which fastened his loincloth about his hips before entering the courtyard. His eyes had grown accustomed to the torch light so he moved with great caution into the dark night as he waited for them to readjust. He looked up at the opposite wall and saw torches moving across the walkways, soon they’d discover where he’d scaled the wall and the corpse of the sleeping guard and with it a trail that would lead them right to him if he didn’t move quickly. With that thought he began crossing the courtyard in long silent strides until he reached the bottom of the master’s dais. He looked up and felt a sudden rush of fear, if he managed to circumvent the guards in the palace, he would come face to face with the undying creature that lurked in the nightmares of all those who had lived their lives in kennels of this place. Just then a loud cry sounded from behind him, the guards had found his first victim. As quickly as it had come the fear was washed away with his purpose. He had no time for fear anymore. He sprinted around the dais and into the large building that served as the master’s private quarters. He thought it odd that there was no one standing guard outside and that the door was left open and unbarred but he had no time to ponder why the guards had abandoned their posts and ran full speed over the threshold. Into the mouth of madness itself.