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A note from Skwrepb

This is a multiple part section and part of an experiment, let me know what you think. Ideally, I'll be posting a chapter every day this week, wish me luck!

It had been sunset before the first council meeting of the evening and now the night was lit by a flood of stars and the bright face of the full moon. Girl didn’t seem willing to let Lucky out of her sight and was barely able to step far enough away that she didn’t at least have a hand resting on his head.

“Are you okay?” Lucky asked.

Quigley was gathering up the others and would meet Girl and Lucky in the dennings. She had a large ziploc filled with Granny’s treats and Lucky could barely handle the eager anticipation. Bacon cheddar. Peanut butter. Maple chicken. He licked his chops, tail wagging as they left the gate and headed through the wood to the coyote dennings.

“I almost lost you tonight, Luckaroo.” Her fingers tighten a little in his fur.

“I almost lost you, too.” Lucky steps a little closer to Girl.

She loosed a bit of a sigh. “I wish there was a way to be more careful. Safer.”

“I’m not sure safe and the End of the World really go together.” Lucky said, his tone dry.

A sharp chuckle escaped Girl. “Like peanut butter and pickles.”

Lucky tilted his head to one side. “I don’t think those go together.” He said after a long moment of thought.

This time it was a cheerful bark of laughter.

The broken sandstone hill and the pond below it came into view at last. “This was one of my favorite places when I was young. This is where the coyotes are? I don’t see any of them.”

“You don’t see them because they don’t want to be seen.” Clash said as she emerged from the shadows near the water.

Girl gasped. “I understand!” She yipped.

Clash ducked a little, tail drooping for a bare moment before lifting higher and wagging. “You taught your Girl to speak!”

“She got a class, Clash. I’ve called the dogs to come and talk so we can see who got classes.” His tail wagged from side to side in a frenzy. “Girl brought treats!”

“Treats?”

“Wait ‘til you see! Wait! Wait! Treats are the best things ever forever. And these are Gran’s treats. They’re better than best.”

Clash made a non committal sound and came forward to stand on the other side of Girl. “Scratch?” She asked, looking up at the much taller human.

Girl’s grin was enormous as she squatted down. The package of treats went to the ground and she scratched Clash’s ears with both hands. She had moved close enough that she was resting right up against Lucky.

“Were you offered a class?” Lucky asked.

Clash shrugged. “There were worms. They have no meaning to me.”

“We learned that we can share the words -- worms -- if we think about sharing them with one another.” Lucky said.

Girl gently scratched the coyote’s ears, her brow drawn down and her gaze distant. “Why would the System be unreadable for them?” She spoke English now, her tone thoughtful. “I wonder if it’s always in English or if there’s other languages. It doesn’t make sense for the System to be so unreachable for them. It makes no sense.”

“I don’t know that the system has any sort of logic to it,” Lucky observed quietly.

“Maybe it just has a logic that is so beyond us, we just don’t understand it.” Girl said.

Lucky snorted. “I’m pretty smart.” He bragged.

“Smarter than the average dog, for sure.”

Clash’s yellow eyes flicked rapidly from one face to another, not following the conversation anymore since Girl had stopped trying to speak coyote. “How can I share the worms with you?”

“Think the word ‘classes’ and then think about sharing your screen with us.” Lucky said.

 

Wily Lady of the Hunt

You make use of every advantage and your people depend on you to lead the Hunt.

When you open this class, you gain the traits [Enduring], [Hunt Leader], [Stalker], and [Nimble] as well as the skills [Tracking], [Pack Tactics], and [Hamstring]. Additional traits and skills may become available at later levels.

You will gain +5 Endurance, +3 Dexterity, +3 Reaction and +3 Wisdom per level.

 

Lucky read the screen out loud to Clash and considered class.

“Not bad. Others?” Girl asked as best she could.

“No. Just one.” Clash said. “A few of the younger ones had the worms. They can share, too. Do I have to choose now?”

“No, you can wait. You might get other classes if you wait.” Lucky said.

“I will wait then. I can always choose if I need to. I will gather the others to you, the dogs will be here soon, yes?”

“Yes.” Girl said.

“Good.”

Girl gave the little coyote one last, deep scratching behind her ear before Clash dashed off with a spring in her step. “It’s really not a bad class.” She said.

“No, but it’s not a great class either and she’s their leader, she should be great.” He settled into a bit of a lean against her crouched form and knocked her back onto her bum.

“Hey!” She protested.

“I think,” He mused, “That I need to learn a thing or two from her.” He settled down so he was laying partially in her lap. “She’s a good leader.”

“Worried about your pack?”

“She’s part of it and she’s a much better leader.”

“She’s been doing it for a while, I bet.”

“There’s so many of them. I’m supposed to lead the coyotes too.”

“Feeling a little overwhelmed?” She asked.

“Maybe a little.”

“What if you used her as a second? You could probably pick one of the dogs as another second. Then you’d be able to delegate things and have advisors, right?”

“That’s a great idea.” He settled his head on his paws where they hung over her knee. “Now we just need to figure out which one of the dogs to choose.”

“We’ll make sure we give it plenty of thought,” Girl said. “The right choice is more important than a fast choice, right?”

“Right. The others are almost here. I can smell them.”

Quigley led the others to the base of the broken hill, none of the dogs were moving quickly. It had been a long and wearying day. Lucky climbed to his feet with a stretch and looked over the gathered dogs. The coyotes were already circling around. Ro trotted up just as Lucky thought to look for her.

“Evening, everyone.” Lucky said. “I know it’s been a long day and you have all fought gallantly and I’m grateful for that. I’ll make this as quick as I can. Have any of you been offered a class? Clash, did you explain what your class selection looked like to your pack?”

“I did. There’s a pawful of my family that have the option. I’ve told them how to share it with you. They’re here.” Clash said.

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A note from Skwrepb

Thank you so much to Kieran Pierce for the absolutely wonderful cover.

I'd also like to take the space to thank my Patreon supporters: Diamondninja, Sams, Louie, Shazzer, HL, Thelon, Robert, Alejo, Dax, Klondike, Not Meep, Raycn, PrinceCorwin and the rest of you who haven't told me how you'd like to be named.

Please take a moment to rate or review! For those of you that have, thank you very much! I've been enjoying the heck out of writing this story and I'm grateful that you are enjoying reading it.

If you want to get a better idea of Lucky's looks, check the spoiler.

Lucky is based on three dogs that I've loved throughout my lifetime.

His coloration comes from Patches, an Australian Shepherd.

His eyes, ears, and tail come from Stormy, a siberian husky/german shepherd mix. (Though one of his ears has fallen and looks like Patches'.)

The final dog, Prince, I don't have a photo of because it was a very long time ago, but he was a Great Pyrenees. I found a good picture on this site . I don't own the image, but here's where Lucky gets his fluffy coat and large size.

Large white dog on a snowy field.

 


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About the author

Skwrepb

  • Iowa

Bio: Hi! My name is Skwrepb (pronounced Jen, I swear). I'm a stay at home mother of three with not enough time on my hands. I've been writing since I could hold a pen and I have so many stories to tell!
I'm an avid reader and The Wandering Inn is what brought me to Royal Road. I have been devouring stories here ever since.

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