A guttural scream suddenly jumped from Selantia’s throat, pulling Andillrian away from her thoughts.
«Elder tired,» Thraklauz murmured, his husky voice thick with concern.«Elder troubled.»
«Yes,» Andillrian agreed, not able to disguise the sorrow in her heart. «I have watched Selantia closely over the past six days. She has tried to hide her discomfort, but even a fool could see that she is suffering. She has fallen deeper into herself — battling whatever demons are at war inside her.»
«She strong. She win fight.»
The wolf spoke with such conviction that Andillrian could not help but believe his words. «Yes,» she answered with a small nod. «Yes, she will prevail.»
She met the wolf’s questioning yellow eyes, wishing he was not so perceptive. «Yes,» she finally admitted.«I am concerned for the future of this world. Darrak is strong, but there is much he has yet to learn and master. Thus far, he has been able to lean upon the rest of us, but there will come a day when we will not be here to lend our aid. I fear what will become of his people when that moment comes to pass.»
«Your strength give him strength. If he not ready, he not survive capture. When time come, he do what he must.»
Andillrian smiled and affectionately placed a hand on Thraklauz’s back. «You are quite right, my friend. Thank you.»
The unlikely pair sat quietly for a few moments, each lost in their own thoughts, before Thraklauz suddenly stood and turned to face the young warrior. «I stay with you,» he informed her.
«No Thraklauz,» she replied firmly, shaking her head. «You have proven to be an honorable companion and a trustworthy friend, but you belong here with your kin. They will need your protection in the times ahead.»
«I stay with you,» the wolf insisted. «Many kin killed by evil men. War no longer only human war. I protect wolf-kin. I join battle.»
Andillrian studied her friend’s yellow eyes before answering. «You answer to no one, Thraklauz. I can see you are determined to continue with us to Krémarra, and I have no right to force you to do otherwise. That being said, I want you to know that you are not bound to us by any oath — spoken or unspoken. Should you ever want to leave and return to your kin, you are free to do so. Do you understand?» She paused, as the wolf simply nodded. «You are a kingly friend, Thraklauz,» she continued with a smile. «It will be an honor to have you fight by my side.»
«Welcome,» she replied with a small chuckle. Nuzzling her cheek into his soft fur, she did her best to suppress a yawn. «I apologize, Thraklauz. It seems that fatigue has finally caught up with me.»
«I watch. You sleep.»
Nodding her appreciation, she wrapped the cloak around her body and sighed gratefully as she turned to her side, her eyes already tightly closed. She barely heard the wolf’s soft words flutter through her mind.
Thraklauz curled protectively against her stomach. «Dream good, Andillrian.» The thought fluttered through her mind like a leaf riding the currents of a gentle breeze. «I protect you. I keep you.»
The above text is taken from Awakening.
No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the permission of the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. Copyright © 2014 Andi O’Connor