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A note from Skwrepb

Hey all! I had such plans for this week and they all blew up in my face. I still finished my projected 5 chapters this week and I'm hoping to do a couple more. Nanowrimo starts on Monday and my goal is 2000 words per day, every day. Wish me luck! I'll post every chapter I get written. 

As far as the random POVs, there's two more to get through and that's it.  Those of you who aren't fond of the perspective shifts, rejoice, because I probably won't do it too often. I think I'll pick one or two of the dogs and use them a couple of times a month. Isobel might get a perspective at some point, but probably not very often.

As always, thanks for your support.

Jen

Her eyes, one the pale color of a winter sky just before it snows and the other a deep, rich, brown, turned away from the southern gate as soon as the alert was called. It was fortunate that everyone was still gathered in the dooryard outside the Big House from dinner, it would be easier to round everyone up.

She immediately went for the children, gathering them gently into a cluster and guiding them toward the Big House. Gran would take care of them when they were inside, but Calypso knew it’d be faster if she just herded them there. As the youngest of the children, hand held by an older sibling, toddled up the stairs, there was an urgent yap from over by the gates. She saw the small coyote leader with her yellow eyes pinned to Calypso.

Her mottled brown and white fur helped her to stand out as the sun sank slowly. The coyote’s eyes were definitely pinned on her. She hesitated for just a moment before she dashed down the stairs and sprinted across the dooryard. The coyote yapped again and nosed the first of just over a pawful of pups into the dooryard.

Those piercing yellow eyes were serious as they searched the border collie’s face, yapping several times. Calypso couldn’t understand a word she said, but the looks between her and the puppies was unbelievably clear. Calypso sniffed over each one of the pups, their wild scent made her sneeze. The yellow-eyes followed her as she guided the pups toward the stairs and the Big House beyond. One more trip through the dooryard and Calypso had a little bundle of dun-brown fur tucked gently in her mouth.

When she trotted into the home to drop off the fox cub, Gran was already there. “Thanks for bringing them in, love.” She said as she crouched down to give Calypso’s ears a quick scratch. “You’re a good girl.”

Calypso let herself enjoy the scratch and gave Gran a bump with her head. There are tons of awesome people out there, but Gran might be one of the best. A bacon peanut butter treat made a crunchy morsel before Calypso pushed her way back outdoors. She could see the skitterings in the distance, closing in on the fence.

The other dogs were closer to the fence, not right next to it, but closer. The coyote pack was still outside the fence, waiting. Some of the people, with their rifles, had climbed up the half finished watchtower. The rest were scattered throughout the dooryard, various firearms clutched tightly, ready to fire.

Combat wasn’t a thing that Calypso appreciated. In fact, she’d rather do just about anything than fight. She just wasn’t built that way. Sugar wouldn’t even pretend to really fight, but she had other useful abilities. Calypso? She was just a herd dog that had never had access to a herd. When the rest of the dogs charged into melee, Calypso went with them.

By the time it was over, her right flank had been scorched by an energy discharge and every muscle in her body ached. She had done her part, the young ones were safe, the battle was over for now. Calypso flopped over on her left side, leaving her wounded right side upward and closed her eyes. She was snoring before three breaths had gone by.

Quigley awakened her with a nudge to her neck. “Lucky wants us to meet him at the coyote dennings.”

She couldn’t stop the grumble that escaped her. Her right flank protested just as much as she climbed to her feet. “Right.” She turned and licked at the charred wound to her flank for a moment. “I’m not moving too quickly, I’ll get started out there now.”

“Be careful.” Quigley’s barked as he turned to gather up the last of the dogs.

Calypso only snorted out a breath in response. Her right hind leg was stiff and aching as she started walking toward the gate and the path toward the shattered hill. The muscle slowly loosened up, but the pain didn’t go away. By the time the sandstone rubble came into view, she was moving at a pace barely above standing still. The coyotes greeted her with happy yaps that meant nothing to the dog beyond tone. One of the smaller female coyotes approached cautiously and tended to the wound on her flank. She could feel the flesh knitting back together as the wound healed. She thanked the little coyote with a nuzzle, her tail wagging. Another coyote brought her a rabbit haunch. The pack leader wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but Calypso was made welcome.

She was sitting next to the little coyote that healed her flank when the rest of the dogs arrived. Lucky was with his girl, his head on her lap as he waited for everyone to gather. The big dog rose to his feet and stepped forward to speak to the gathered canines. There was such variation among them, small to large, fox to coyote.

The big fluffy dog greeted everyone and called the meeting to order. They would discuss classes. He called on Val first. The doberman spoke, her voice was calm and focused as she told of the classes she had been offered. She projected that calm and focus, but Calypso could sense something beneath the surface. It smelled like sorrow. Calypso could feel it wrapping around her, enfolding her like a blanket. It lived in every breath the doberman took, every word she spoke, every line of her body. The border collie could barely hold back a whine.

The brindle mastiff, his multi-hued brown form covered in small scars, stood firm before Lucky and the girl. Calypso’s heart trembled as she listened to him speak. She could almost see the waves of anger rolling off of him. Her breath came in short pants as she tried to hold tight to her calm. It was like nothing she had ever felt before. He was angry, but anger was usually a temporary emotion, boiling up and steaming off just as quickly. This -- this was something else entirely. An anger that smouldered and burned continuously. Finally, the brindle dog gave way to another and stopped speaking.

It took effort to tear her focus from the mastiff to the weimaraner. Intrepid’s gray coat was smooth and slick, his muscles well shaped and toned. He looked like an ideal specimen of his breed. Until the scent of fear overwhelmed everything else. His posture looked defeated as he spoke with Lucky. His ears were down, head low, tail curled about one hind leg.

Calypso was surprised when Lucky asked her to go next. She took a deep breath, wiped her emotions clear and stepped forward.

“I was offered a class called [Guardian of the Flock]. I have taken it.”

Lucky’s brows drew together. “Can you tell me more?”

The border collie tilted her head to the side. “I can.” She waited for a moment, ordering her thoughts. “It will help me protect the young ones, mostly. Almost no attack abilities, but I’m not so much of an attacker anyway. [Acute Senses] let’s me interpret emotion and intentions. [Calm] is pretty obvious. [Gather the Flock] is probably the best among them. It’ll let me bring everyone together rapidly when we need to. [Defend the Weak] is the last skill I got. It’ll help prevent people from getting injured.”

“It sounds like a good class for you.” Lucky’s head tilted to the left as he spoke, then back to the right. “Is there anything else you’d like to mention?”

“No. Not really. I’m not a fighter, never really have been. I can care for the young and the infirm. I can also likely help with negotiations and stuff, I guess.” She shifted her feet beneath her from side to side. “Is that alright?”

“Of course.” Lucky said. “Sugar’s next then?”

Calypso backed away from the front and watched as the golden retriever was interviewed. If Val was sorrow, Axel rage, Intrepid fear, then Sugar was pure joy. She was radiant with it. The warmth of her spirit washed over the border collie and her tail wagged behind her.

The final dog was Lobo and as the red husky approached the front, Calypso could feel a wash of ice roll over her.

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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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