Episode 1: Graywolf by Jimmy NgA basal growl rippled the forest floor. The afternoon sun didn't expose the wolf. A sharp musty breath glanced off Noshee's nose. His mind began to wander, fade. It was close. Worse, wolves were never alone, hunted in familial packs. They were twice his size when they stood on hind legs, their attack posture. He pressed his back against the massive tree trunk, cinched his wings tight, and flattened his arms around the rough bark. He hated being out in the field.
He'd declined the offer. When he got the assignment from the senior researcher, fear struck across his chest. Going out into the field wasn't his idea of fulfilling his fascination of wolf packs. And they despised Hartons encroaching in their territory.
Noshee looked around, had to keep his mind focused. Wolves' breaths were laced with a depressant, having ale like effects. Footpads scampered all around. By the sound of it, there were maybe half a dozen wolves positioning themselves to trap him. Flying up to the forest canopy would be the only escape. He should've done that when he first smelled their sharp musty breath. But curiosity got the better of him. Attempting to fly now almost ensured his death. Wolves had incredible jumping abilities. His instincts weren't honed like Harton warriors.
Noshee began edging around the tree trunk. Fingers crawled over the ridges of the bark. The burn of anticipation hampered his breathing. The rough bark scraped the skin of his wings, irritated the webbing.
The scampering stopped. Noshee stopped moving. The wolves' breath permeated the air, laid thick on his skin. His black silk clothes felt sticky. Sounds of breath through snouts proved there were more than half a dozen, twice as much. His wife was a skilled Harton warrior, but even she couldn't fight her way out of this.
Noshee peered around the wide tree trunk. Other giant trees sat peacefully. Noshee turned his head. More feet scampered around. He snuck a peek on the other side, more trees.
Where are they?
The scampering closed on Noshee. He faced forward, shook his head, saw nothing. His feet felt stuck to the ground, wings felt tied. Trees seemed to get denser. He didn't know what to do. But he had to do something now, or he'd never see his newborn baby daughter again.
Forcing himself, Noshee took a step away from the trunk and dropped his arms to his side. He extended his wings above and bent his knees.
Just then a wolf crept from behind a tree, the infamous Graywolf. Patriarch of the largest wolf pack, he was a known Harton eater. Bits of black marred the smooth gray fur. On all fours its long, powerful hind legs coiled under its weight, claws sunk into the dirt ground. Graywolf's arms reached out, long fingers ending in black claws slid toward Noshee.
Other black wolves, some male, some female, emerged from the trees like ghosts. The worst part was they weren't snarling because they knew. They knew Noshee was trapped.
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