Photo in the public domain by Jack Kurzenknabe
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Wolf Slave 20 – Alex Ankarr
‘Don’t forget to bring extra towels,’ he admonishes, hand to his eyes as he stares across the green. He’s hit a blinder: sometimes to Penn sports seem a piece of ridiculousness in relation to wolves. They all excel, all the time: what’s the point of even competing against each other? And to compete against humans is still more ridiculous, for an unequal match is no fun for anyone.
Of course, sometimes humans can win out from a greater resource of guile and craftiness. If they’re black-hearted and ruthless enough.
Penn wonders about himself, sometimes. But he’s pretty sure he’s ruthless enough to do anything, to a wolf.
Ree rests his hand on Penn’s back, as they finish the round and head back to the golf-house. It’s warm and hard and comforting: it shouldn’t be, though, he reminds himself. It shouldn’t be.
The pack run at full moon is busy, has a horde of visitors, and the pack itself is bigger than Penn had realised. There are aunts, uncles, cousins… Ree turns out to have little sisters Penn can’t remember at all from their childhood, perhaps still in the nursery or yet unborn. The visitors are from powerful packs, must be served and placated, though rather than directly serving them he has charge of organising and directing what are in practice lower slaves and servants. (Technically most of them are senior to him, especially a couple of freedwomen: he wonders if he’ll be made to pay for that later, however indirectly. Everyone knows his practical change in status, at this point. He’s pretty sure there are murmurs of what a pet and suck-up he’s become.)
Ree’s mother is there, the dowager of the pack, and is just recognizable as the hard-faced matriarch he remembers. She gives no sign of recognising him, but is civil, even in that she actually addresses and takes notice of him. Before the actual run, he notices she’s watching him, and wonders if she’s heard whispers. Word amongst the servants is that she’d like to see Ree mated, wants grand-pups already, yesterday. It wouldn’t do to aggravate her. He’d rather not end up drinking poisoned wine.
One senior wing-maid, with long service, has muttered to him before now that the woman gave up alpha status herself, with a clear understanding that Ree owed her grandchildren if she did so. That was five years back: and still no sign of any promise coming to fruition. Her eyes rest on Penn’s back, and he doesn’t turn around.
The servants and slaves hang back, before the steps of the hill cabin where the pack run usually begins from, while wolves of the Hotstaat pack disrobe, flinging down clothes, stretching with slightly grim looks before they throw themselves down to the ground too. (The change isn’t pleasant, but Penn at least knows what to expect. In some ways it’s not so bad to be human.) He tries not to watch Ree remove his clothes, stand nude foremost of the group and push his hands up over his head, before the change comes over him.
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2013 All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.