Why did I have a light feeling of dejá-vu?
Ignoring that feeling, I focused on the two wolves, especially the older, more powerful wolf.
“You told me to do right by my allies. These two-legs came to our aid when we needed it. They fought on our side; to do anything but invite them would be a disservice.” Swiftstride answered and I could hear the pride in his voice.
The alpha looked over us again and I felt the feeling of Observation again and despite it being rather unpleasant, I stopped myself from pushing back. But I was not willing to just sit there and take it, so I used Observation back, curious what I would find.
Wolf of the Winterstorm, level 207
The wolf obviously had felt what I had done and focused on me, his aura billowing out, almost pushing me to my knees. I held on, drawing upon every ounce of willpower and magic I had, simply to remain standing. It made me wonder if my impulsiveness had been a good idea, until, after a second or three, the wolf gave out a barking laugh.
“Curious, they certainly look like beings who run into danger, instead of away from it. And two of them even carry the blood of Loki. Introduce us, son, before telling me what trouble you found yourself in. I can see that you were wounded.” he ordered while pulling back his aura.
“These are Morgana, a Traveller, her mate Sigmir,, Ylva - formerly of the Frost Wolves and Sigmir’s bounded Spirit-companion - Adra, a dryad from a distant grove on her wanderings and Rai, the disciple of Morgana.” Swiftstride introduced us, one after the other. “There is one more, Lenore, a Spirit Raven who is bound to Morgana but she dislikes the cold and remains in her Hallow.” The big wolf gave a nod of greeting while Swiftstride stepped forward and turned to us.
“This is the Leader of my pack and my father, Sirius.” he introduced him, once again using the strange, indecipherable name in their own language first before giving a name that we could use. Knowing that Rai and Adra were unable to understand what was said, Sigmir had started to translate for them in a low voice and we all gave slight bows to acknowledge the introduction, saying our own greetings in return. I had to hide a smile at the given name, it might have been considered rude.
“About my troubles, the damned ponies were at it again.” Swiftstride had turned back to his father and when he mentioned ponies, all present wolves, but Ylva, gave off angry growls, strong enough to make my bones vibrate.
“I feared as much. Tell me in detail.” Sirius ordered and Swiftstride obeyed.
“We were near the edges of the windy plains, patrouling, when a centaur hunting- and raiding-party attacked us. As you ordered, we instantly turned, using the deep snows and the wind to cover our retreat, not getting into a fight with them. A few of my wolves took arrows and they gave chase, but I was certain we would get away during the night. I don’t know if it was bad luck or if the ponies managed to work with the bugs, but in the night, we ran into a group of the bugs.” He stopped for a moment and I got a feeling that news of such an alliance would be ill-received by the wolves.
“They attacked from below, managing to wound more wolves, mostly crippling their legs so they couldn’t flee or fight. We called for help and one of the first groups that arrived were these two-legs.” again, he paused, this time nodding to us.
“They managed to create a solid center that we could rally around, while keeping the bugs at bay. Afterwards, this one,” he gestured to me, “healed our wolves, including me. I don’t know how many would have died without them in general and her in particular.” he concluded.
“So, are you invoking the ancient rites of blood debt? Are you looking to dedicate your life to service to her?” the Alpha asked and I could hear that he was rather displeased with the idea. I got a feeling that trying to claim such a debt would be rather unwise, but maybe we could get something else out of it.
“Forgive my impertinence, but you said it yourself, we are of one blood. How could I call in a life-debt to a fellow child of Loki?” I spoke up, after thinking quickly. I was well aware that I would have to speak with Sigmir later, but for now, I wanted nothing to do with having another wolf tag along with us, not if it meant pissing off the powerful Alpha.
I could see that Swiftstride looked a little relieved at my interruption, making me think that he would have honoured the debt but would prefer to remain with his pack. At the same time, Sirius grumbled in agreement, before speaking.
“Indeed, it would be wrong to claim a debt for saving one you share blood ties with. But, as it has been a long time for our ancient relatives, the Firn-elves and the Giantblood, to visit our den, it would be wrong not to give you presents for the occasion. We will see to that later. For now, I extend my thanks and give you leave to explore the den at your convenience.” he announced and now, I had a hard time hiding my grin.
“What are we going to do about the ponies?” another of the wolves, this one sounding female, asked. “It has been six months and their raids have grown more and more daring.” she continued.
“Do you want to bring that up before the outsiders?” a fourth wolf asked, making me wonder why the previous report had been fine to talk about in front of us.
“He called them Blood-kin, so they are no outsiders. But it hardly matters, I doubt they are in league with the ponies, not unless they are hiding another set of legs somewhere.” the female answered, just before Sirius broke in.
“Enough. They are kin and maybe they have insight of the world outside of our plains. We hardly hear news, few of the so-called civilised people even speak our language. Tell us, travellers, what are the news in the world?” he asked, and I noticed that he called all of us travellers, as if not knowing the special meaning of the term. And with the time-frame, I had a rather obvious idea.
“There is one thing of note but first, would you tell me if the word Traveller has a special meaning to you?” I asked, first wanting to affirm my suspicion.
He cocked his head, which looked rather funny on the huge wolf, before asking, “It is one who travels, is it not?”
“So it is like that. You see, seven months back, the gods themselves decided to allow others, Travellers from another world, to visit this world. I am one of them and we take on a guise, an Avatar, if you will, to travel here - an Avatar made, I think, by the Gods themselves. That Avatar can be of most species, what you see is not the form I was born into, it is one I only use here, on Mundus.” I explained, causing the wolves to stare a little. But that was somewhat to be expected, I was declaring that I was a literal alien after all.
“I could imagine that some Travellers came here, using the form of Centaurs and started to hunt, trying to quickly raise their strength. It would make sense that they hunt on the plains, given what I know about Centaurs, I would expect them to act similar to cavalry, using hit and run-tactics and their superior speed in battle.” I continued and at the last part, the wolves laughed a little.
“Superior speed? They might be able to outrun us over a short distance, but once the sprint is over? Then they don’t have a chance to outrun a wolf, we run like the northern wind.” one of them spoke up, making me blush a little.
“But what you say sounds grim, indeed. Tell me, what happens if your form here gets broken? Your Avatar, you called it?” Sirius asked, sounding a little worried.
“My essence, maybe my soul, I don’t know, is sent back to my world, where I wake without harm. I have yet to experience it myself, but when other Traveller attacked us, and we killed them, it looked like their bodies vanished into the air itself, leaving nothing behind. Afterwards, their bodies are reformed two days later, at a safe location they chose beforehand or somewhere around the area of their demise - weakened, for a time, but otherwise hale and healthy.” I told him, causing him to growl in annoyance.
“Just what did the Gods think?! That makes them immortal, doesn’t it? So, the centaurs might have immortals bolstering their ranks, no wonder they got bold.” Sirius exclaimed, before focusing back on us.
“Swiftstride, go, show our guests the Den. We need to discuss things.” he ordered, sending us away.