tagGay MaleThe New World Ch. 07

The New World Ch. 07

byCruel2BKind©

Roderick had gotten funding. The sight of the massive red wolf that broke out from the university had been more then enough evidence of his work. His dream, an expedition to the Americas, was finally realized.

The Americas were better then he could have possibly expected. The wolves were all Natives, and they lived in a single tribe. The tribe was far away from real civilization, but there were plenty of savages for hire that would lead him to his prize. Plenty of savages for hire that would use his exotic blowgun and hunt the creatures for him. Savages that were tired of competing with the wolves for game and territory.

The news just kept getting better and better, until the only thing standing in Roderick's way of gathering specimens, was the large numbers of wolves and warriors at any given time. And even that problem went away when one of his scouts told him that a handful of the wolves were going on some sort of raiding party. Just in time for the new moon!

Roderick was pleased, things were finally going his own way.

Now he had eight stellar specimens to bring back to the university. Each one was stuffed in a crate. He had one day left of the new moon, but he didn't take chances. The crates were all lined with blankets and straw, and on the heavy sledge they were covered with canvas to prevent the slightest ray of moonlight.

His guards walked on either side of the sledge, leaving soft footprints. Roderick had wanted to ride his horse, but the horse had gone into the team of animals pulling the sledge, so he just followed in the deep track that the sledge left, feeling slightly dispirited at having to walk at the end of the line.

The guards were a little tense and uneasy, but they were quick to reassure him that the moon wouldn't be full for another day or so. And Roderick planned to be within the town limits by then. Inside a walled and fortified settlement that passed for a city in this rough ungodly land.

---

At the same time that Roderick's party pulled into the walled fort at the side of the ocean, a scrawny limping little pup staggered into the Nipmuc camp. Warriors gathered. The little redhead reeked of blood, and he was wearing a buckskin robe that still smelled like the alpha.

The braves dragged him into the lodge. Abequa ran behind them. They dropped him by the fire and the little pup curled into a ball near the flickering flames. Matteo's eyes were swollen and red and his body was thorn-scratched and frozen and scarred.

"All... Gone." He whimpered. He babbled in french deliriously.

Abequa shoved through the braves and threw a trencher of succotash in front of him. Matteo fell on the food like an animal, shoving the warm mixture of beans and corn into his mouth.

It was impossible to communicate. None of them knew English, and Matteo knew less then a handful of Nipmuc words.

Instead, Matteo reached into the fire, regardless of the flames that singed his hands. He took out a stick with a nub of charcoal on the end and scrawled on the hide under his scratched and bruised knees. His drawings were rough, but surprisingly elegant. In a couple of scratches he scrawled a cave mouth and two figures within. He scrawled rough figures outside the cave, but pointed to the figures in the cave. He pointed to the smaller one.

They understood. He and Ahote, hiding in a cave. Matteo shivered and coughed, his vision greying out as he did. A brave kicked him, not roughly, a nudge.

He blurred the entire sketch with a few sweeps of his hand. The charcoal stick would no longer draw, he reached for another, his captive audience yammering with impatience.

He circled the two figures of himself and Ahote, putting them in the center of a group of figures. It took a little longer to puzzle this one out, but everyone figured out that they had been captured by the Alpha. Especially when Matteo drew one of the figures large and menacing, with a wolf-head instead of the simple circles he had been making before.

Now it was the hard part.

He kept the drawing, and he drew a sketch of a wolf head on each of the figures. Just three lines, an open mouth and a triangle ear. Then he made other figures circling the wolves, and he pointed to his arm, comparing his pale skin, and pointing to the figures.

"We need to save them." He whimpered, his yellow eyes glazed with exhaustion. "Roderick. Roderick has them."

---

Ahote woke up inside a crate with his head pounding and his body shuddering with cold. He was in a tiny crate lined with straw. His sharp nose was filled with the alien stench of the white man's town. Unfamiliar animals and foods and metal and cloth and chemicals. He caught the thick fear-scents of his pack. He could identify the Alpha and a few of the braves. Wolf blood filled his nose. They were wounded.

Ahote scratched at the side of the crate, and the wolf in the crate next to him scratched back.

"Where are we? Where is Matteo?"

The brave next to him was Ahmik, the young man who had been so cruel to Matteo from the very start. Ahmik had argued loudly for the little teenager to be executed. Now he could smell Ahmik's blood, and the pup was moaning softly.

"No." The young wolf snarled through his pain. "They didn't get your bitch-puppy. We're in one of their cities... My leg is burned... The bastard burned me..."

He didn't know if the boy was lying or not, but he couldn't smell Matteo.

There was no light. When he jammed his fingers through the cracks in the crates, he could feel the woolen blanket with his fingertips. It was so small in the crate, and Ahote could barely breathe.

He threw his shoulder into the wood. If the crate had been normal, it would have splintered under his assault, but the crate was bound with metal. It resisted his efforts.

"Give up Plainsman." The burned pup spat. "It's useless. You'll just drain your energy. We need to attack these bastards when they least expect. You know a little of their tongue, so listen when they speak, and tell us what's happening."

Ahote cradled his head in his hands. "Yes... Yes, of course." Matteo was free, but where was he now? A blue-and-ivory corpse in the snow? A bundle of sticklike limbs huddled in a cave? Prone in the snow with arrows jutting from his back? Torn by the bullets of the white men's guns?

Burned. Ahmik said that he had been burned. He remembered running his lips and fingers over the shallow half-healed burns on Matteo's chest and legs. The pocked sores on his legs.

Was this who poor scrawny Matteo had been running from?

Ahote groaned and curled up, trying to stay warm and preserve his energy. He needed to be strong, needed to get out. Matteo might be alive, and he needed to find his little red pup before anyone else did.

---

The town was surrounded by a wall of logs. The slim logs were sharpened to points, and though uneven, the wall was sturdy and reinforced with struts that dug into the earth.

Dark shapes wove through the trees. A raid of this magnitude had never been done before. And that is why it would work.

Matteo padded his bleeding paws through the snow, lifting his muzzle high into the air to smell at the cold wind.

The alpha's wolf-wife sidled to his shoulder, looking at him, baring her teeth.

The red pup looked up at her, she outweighed him by at least sixty pounds in this form. He nudged her shoulder and pointed with his nose towards the walled city surrounded by farms. Then he started to run, running in a wide circle in the virgin forests, going around to where the tree line met the ocean.

The wolves followed him, a silent toothed swarm.

---

The city had even higher walls facing the ocean, to protect against pirate attacks. What they also had were wide cargo doors.

The scrawny wolf at their head loped to the wall, hugging his skinny body to the logs, far from where the lanterns cast their glow at the gates. He waited ahead of them, with the pack slinking in the trees.

Matteo changed. He changed into a naked human boy. He ran to the cargo door and knocked on it, screaming for help in hysterical French.

The wolves in the trees shifted and snarled, the redheaded boy was betraying them. The wolf-wife lunged from the trees, ready to fun forward and tear the little palefaced boy in half.

The cargo door slid open. Matteo screeched a single syllable and suddenly he was changing. It had been a ruse all along to get the man to open the door. The wolf-wife changed her attack, she switched from running to the writhing boy in the snow and she darted into the cargo door, knocking the terrified watchman onto his back and tearing out his throat.

The wolves came from the woods.

A flood of them entered the town on silent feet. They followed Matteo, who's nose was more sensitive, and could find the subtle wood smells of their own kind in the midst of the harsh unfamiliar scents. Wolves who would never bow to the fragile pup under normal circumstances followed him, crouched with terror in the new and frightening environment.

Matteo was confident. He led the pack through silent deserted alleys. It was the witching hour, and the only ones awake were those who guarded the gate, and the singe watchman that they had allotted to the sturdy cargo gate.

He could smell them. He could smell wolf blood, wolf sweat, wolf scent.

The others were starting to smell it too.

The warehouse was a huge low building locked up with chain. The alpha and captured wolves were inside, but the wolves on the outside needed to find a way in.

Matteo was the one who climbed the stacked crates on the side of the building, sniffing and scratching at the heavily thatched roof. It was made of a hundred tightly-packed bound sheaves of hay, surprisingly strong and weatherproof. But not wolf-proof.

Matteo paced as others tore at the haywire with their teeth and paws, growling at the cuts on their muzzles and tender noses from the snapping wires. They dug holes in the tightly thatched hay, and scrawny Matteo was the first of them to squirm through the slit in the roof.

The warehouse was packed with crates of tea and liquor and stacked timber. Matteo navigated the narrow maze between tall stacks of crates. Fat wharf rats squeaked and fled from the shadows that slid in through the roof and sniffed around the warehouse. Matteo felt himself changing into his human form. He was too far away from the moonlight that diffused through the gouge in the roof. He continued on foot, running naked through the warehouse, smelling his lover in the stale salty air.

He came to the crates. Eight tiny wooden boxes, each filled to the brim with living cargo. He smelled his lover, and ran to the third crate from the left. "Ahote!" He gasped. "Ahote, Ahote."

He clawed his fingers between the boards, trying to rip them out with sheer strength. Ahote kissed his fingers where they clawed through the crate.

He glanced around, frantically. The wolf-wife ran to him, holding a sharp metal gaff in her hands. She prized the gaff between two of the boards in the crate and pulled up, making the square nails creak and squeal in the dry wood.

One board popped off. Matteo reached into the space to touch Ahote, touch his lover, his face. The wolf-wife pushed him rudely away and prized away another board.

Ahote squirmed out, his body cramped and splintered and bruised. He took Matteo and held the skinny pale boy tight to him, burying his face in the wild tangled mane of soft red hair.

"You came for us." He whispered, leaving a gentle love-bite on Matteo's neck. Matteo whimpered and squeezed him all the tighter, he had Ahote in his arms, everything was going to be alright.

The wolves convened. There was only an iron gaff and a harpoon between them to prize open the crates, so it took some time. The wolves in the crates were cramped and barely able to move. The alpha and Ahmik had been 'conditioned'. They had raw burns on their chest and arms. They moved slowly, in great pain.

The group moved through the warehouse, and as they got into the light, they each changed into wolves. They leapt up the tower of crates to slip out of the hole in the roof.

Then they slipped out of the city, as shadows. The only evidence of their coming was the giant footprints in the snow, and the mangled body of the unlucky nightwatchman.

---

Many of the wolves that had been in the crates were exhausted, too weak to go any further. But none were as exhausted as Matteo. He limped badly, whining each time his healing paw hit the ground. He fell twice, each time to be nudged gently to his feet by the lean mahogany wolf whom he had given his heart.

The alpha was also showing signs of weakness, and he led his pack to a village that wasn't their own.

Matteo saw the fur on many of the wolves back's ruffling. They were all uneasy. As they got closer, he smelled the differences of the village, the slightly different way they had of tanning their furs, the differences in the way they prepared their food, a slight undercurrent of difference.

When a scout spotted them, the alpha changed into a human and spoke to the man. Matteo understood a little of it. He was humbly asking for shelter. He was asking for charity, and it was killing him to do it. The scent of shame and discomfort wafted from his skin. Matteo felt a fierce joy for it. To see the alpha punished in any way for his crimes.

The scout welcomed him and the wolves. The wolf pack had a relationship with the other villages that was strained to say the least. The scout was bringing the pack in not out of charity, but for politics. If this village aided the wolf pack, the pack would be in debt to them. Both parties understood this.

Many of the stronger wolves went back to the main village. The wolves that were weakened by captivity, as well as a few of their relatives and spouses, limped along to the neighboring village. Matteo had lifted his wounded forepaw and was staggering on three legs.

The people in the village came out to stare. Stare as the large wolves crumpled and shrank in on themselves. As bones crackled and fur retreated into skin. They watched with uneasy fear and loathing. For a while, the wolves had been close to gods, but now they were just another tribe with the strength to destroy villages. A tribe that scared away game and had caused a rash of activity from the white men. To see them like this, vulnerable, and wounded, it was dangerous for both parties.

Matteo shrank from a limping wolf to a semiconscious human. He clutched his aching arm to his chest, mewling over it. Ahote was weakened and wounded, but he still had the strength to take the tiny wounded boy into the longhouse with the rest of the diminished wolves.

The Chief appeared. He was surrounded by his friends and his two wives, both the older and younger. He looked into the lodge and saw seventeen wolves. They were naked, some were scratched and wounded. One of them was white, shuddering and huddling into the arms of an outsider.

Matteo was so cold. His body had reached the limit of his endurance. For months he had been malnourished, cramped, abused. Here he had been wounded and abused. He had had two brief days of food and rest, and then his desperate escape. When he had gone to the village they had listened to him, let him lead them. They had only given him a single meal. His body was wasted and sick and slick with sweat.

He looked around. Ahote's powerful arms warmed him, bundled him up close. The older man was shaking, too. Matteo saw the chief. Saw the man with the sash and the greying hair.

Matteo tried to stand. He was too weak. Ahote stood with him, acting as a crutch. Matteo walked in small weakened steps to the Chief.

"Merci." The boy whispered to the Chief, showing the man his mangled arm. Recognition flashed through the elderly Chief's eyes. The half-starved white boy was the reddish wolf that he had freed from the trap. Matteo was shocked and happy when the Chief spoke to him in moderately fluent French.

"You are the puppy, the red one who had been captured by the iron trap. How is it that there is a white Wahyeh?" He used a word that meant wolf-spirit in Nipmuc.

Matteo smiled. "You know my language. Across the sea, there are many like me. We lived in the wilds, persecuted, hunted. We were hated by all. I ran to a tribe far away from my own land, and they accepted me, adopted me into their family. Then a man from the west, Roderick, came and slaughtered my new family. I was the only one who survived, and he kept me in a cage. I escaped in the moonlight, and I hid on a ship that would come here."

The Chief frowned as Matteo shuddered and nearly fell. The little red pup was nearly comatose. He barked a command to his wives. They ran to the storehouses.

"We will talk more, but for now, rest." To Ahote, he said. "Take him near the fire."

Ahote brought the skinny boy back to the fire, and tried to hold him close. Matteo curled up and nestled himself in his lover's lap. He rested his sweaty forehead against Ahote's chest. He felt the fire on his back and his eyes closed, and he fell into a state of semi-consciousness.

The Chief's wives came back with more women. The women brought blankets and dried meat. The women started cooking big clay pots of succotash. Ahote shook Matteo awake long enough for Matteo to gnaw a strand of dried venison.

As the sun rose, Ahote pulled a heavy fur wrap over them both and Matteo got to slumber deeply and undisturbed in his lover's arms.

---

The wolves arose sleepily one by one. They nursed burns and bruises. It was late evening, but the moon had yet to make an appearance.

The chief of the neighboring tribe didn't skimp in his hospitality. He made them a meal that could only be described as a feast. Dried apples and roots garnished an entire roasted wild pig. Succotash sweetened with maple syrup, and thick warm slabs of corn bread. The alpha frowned, knowing that the neighboring chief was trying to put him further in debt.

Matteo ate, stuffed his face. He ate until he felt too heavy to move, and then he rested lazily on the reed mat, leaning into Ahote's arm. He felt sleepy and stuffed. He rested his eyes.

He and Ahote had communicated. Through their limited shared words and through charcoal drawings. They knew what needed to be done. They needed to escape before the alpha tried to reassert his authority. There was always the chance that he would learn the errors of his ways, and try to live in harmony with them. But even if he tried to make amends, nothing could forgive what the alpha had done to them.

The moonlight hit their systems and the wolves ran out into the snow, their bones crackling and fur pushing out of their once-smooth skin.

---

Abequa was sad to see them go.

She helped them. She rolled up supplies, mostly dried meat and clothing, inside two massive hides. One of the hides was a soft ground-cloth with fur on one side and the other was a low protective roof-hide made of tough moosehide. She fashioned the hides so they could be bound shut with a simple knot of leather thongs. She fastened the heavy bundles so they could be worn by wolves, the thongs would go around the front limbs and the bundle would rest behind the shoulder blades.

She showed them how to tie and untie the bundles, how to put them on while they changed. Before they left, the skinny redheaded boy hugged her tightly, and Ahote thanked her.

She tightened the last knot. "Will it be good Ahote, to return to your original hunting grounds?"

Ahote smiled. "We will be alone. I am something of a freak accident. But as long as I have him, I will be content."

Abequa touched Matteo's skinny shoulder gently. "What do you mean?"

Ahote sighed. "I was bitten by a feral wolf. In the plains, wolves are feared and hated. They are hunted. But there are places with no people. There are places that we can thrive. As long as I have Matteo, I can go back."

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byCruel2BKind© 13 comments/ 15589 views/ 17 favorites

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