Chucaro rushed to where Deathwulf lay. The bright light was from Deathwulf’s spirit.. it was almost blinding to look at. Gaergoth was still pulling the life-force from the nearly dead warg when he saw Chucaro near Deathwulf.
“You are too late. He will soon be mine. Go back to your young whelp, as she is yours… for now.” Geargoth said as he continued to work. The warg’s spirit looked at Gaergoth, then at Chucaro. She laid on Deathwulf, crying. The spirit looked confused. “Why do you mourn so for the body? There is no pain here in the spirit world.”
“You may be his spirit, but you are not Deathwulf! You don’t even know who I am! I mourn for him because he has so much more to live for… so much more to give… it isn’t fair that he be taken!” sobbed Chucaro.
The other spirits were gathering closer together. The warg’s spirit thought about what she said and tilted his head. “No, I do not know you. Memories have not come with me. But it is not going to change what I know… there is no pain, no sorrow… there is no feeling in the spirit world.”
Gaergoth laughed, “His spirit is nearly mine. Once I have him, then I will have you. It was foolish of you to come here!”
As Gaergoth spoke, the other spirits converged on him. “No!” the lead spirit said, “this was not the way you said this would go. It is not time for Deathwulf to join us.”
“No!!!” screamed Gaergoth as the spirits got in between him and the warg, stopping the transfer. “You fools! I was nearly done!” he said as he swung and clubbed a spirit out of the way. However, when one went down, five more replaced the spirit. “No, get out of my way! You won’t stop me from my goal!”
A spirit near Deathwulf and the warg’s spirit said, “It is not hard to see the warg means more to you alive than dead,” He looked at the spirit of the warg, “It is not your time… go back to where you belong.” He touched the spirit warg and the spirit was sucked back into the warg’s body. The spirit looked at Chucaro, “Take him to a safe place. Gaergoth belongs to us, now…” the spirit said as it turned to the mob and entered the fray.
Chucaro watched as the spirits first overwhelmed the guards and then Gaergoth himself… nothing could be seen but a mass of spirits.
Deathwulf’s body moved! A groan escaped his mouth. “Feels like I’ve been rolled under a rock, repeatedly…”
“Deathwulf!” Chucaro uttered as she buried her face in Deathwulf’s fur.
“Hey… it’s nice to see you, too” he replied as she looked up with tear-filled eyes and then buried her face again in his fur.
When Chucaro was sure Deathwulf wasn’t leaving, she lifted up her head and smiled at him. “Can you travel?” she asked.
“I think so… but it feels like every bone aches…”
Deathwulf slowly got up and stumbled against Chucaro. She braced him until he got his feet under him. She glanced back at the ever-growing mass of spirits. “We need to get out of here, fast!”
Deathwulf nodded and followed Chucaro out of the Delving. They didn’t encounter a single spirit, and, judging by the numbers in the chamber, didn’t expect to.
Chucaro led Deathwulf out of the Delving and into the fresh air. The sounds of the dead were replaced by the sounds of nature… the sounds of the ‘Moors.
“Are you feeling ok?” Chucaro asked in a concerned voice.
“Yeah, I am feeling a lot…”
He didn’t get the rest out as Chucaro back-handed him with her paw. Deathwulf went down on his side and looked at her questioningly, half groggy.
“Don’t you ever go off without me again!” Chucaro said as she again buried her face into Deathwulf’s fur.
“I promise I won’t” Deathwulf laughed. “It hurts me more dealing with you than it does with anyone else.” Chucaro looked at him in shock, but seeing his big smile, gave him a big smile of her own as she playfully fell on top of him.
Winterwulf was inside the wagon with Wargie, as well as Sophwen, Tracer and Tregoan. As Wargie was waking up, Winterwulf said, in a low voice, “Don’t question me now, but everyone else, get out. Tell Ellenroh to pop his head in, but that is all.” When the others froze with curious looks on their faces, Winterwulf added, “Now!!”
Winterwulf watched as Wargie stirred, hoping that he could talk to Ellenroh before the warg fully woke up. As he kept his eye on the warg, he sat with his back up against the corner. He heard noise outside and then Ellenroh stuck his head in the flap. Ellenroh saw Wargie waking up and almost let out a joyous cheer… until he saw the look Winterwulf gave him. Wargie was just opening up her eyes as Winterwulf began his conversation with Ellenroh.
“Make sure all the others are a safe distance away, including Elrond. When the perimeter is clear, put up a barrier around the wagon so nobody can get in and nobody can get out… no matter what you hear.” Ellenroh was going to ask a question but thought better of it, nodded once and left, just as Wargie was shaking the cobwebs off.
“Wh… where am I?” a confused Wargie asked.
“You are safe, and with friends.” Winterwulf replied.
Wargie got a whiff of the hunter and crouched down with a growl. “Why am I here, human, and what have you done to me?”
Winterwulf answered her with a calm voice, to try and let her know she was not in any harm, “You are with friends. We saved you from an evil rune-keeper and you were in a sleep-like state until now. Ellenroh was trying to figure out a way to get a collar off of you without killing you. The collar was controlling you.”
“I feel no collar… and I see no collar. I have no memory of you… or your ‘so-called’ friends, who I do not see. Why should I let you live?” she asked as her growl grew more intense.
“I can’t answer what happened to the collar as I wasn’t here at the time. If I were to guess, events happened that caused the collar to disappear… it seemed to be an item of great evil, and that evil seems to have been defeated,” the hunter surmised.
“Even so, as I have already said, I have no memory of you. We are mortal enemies as it is… and you haven’t answered why you should live.” Wargie growled as she slowly grew closer, as if moving in on the kill of her prey.
On instinct, Winterwulf drew his knees closer to his body. If the warg was to attack, he could keep her at bay longer while he figured out what to do. Wargie sensed this and seemed to smile… drool dropping down her jaws as she salivated. Suddenly, she disappeared. That momentary pause was enough time to cause the hunter to relax… that was the opening Wargie needed. She pounced on the prone hunter and stood over him. His arm against her throat was the only thing that saved her from ripping his throat out. With the warg standing on his legs, he couldn’t reach the knife he kept in his boot.
The others anxiously watched the wagon. They looked at each other, not knowing what to do, but wishing they could help Winterwulf. Silentknife cursed that he didn’t have time to enter the wagon stealthed. He couldn’t do so now… not with the barrier erected by Ellenroh. The barrier kept the sound in, as well… nothing passed through it. He kicked at a rock, getting angrier the more he thought about it and couldn’t do anything. Even Elrond had a worried expression on his face. “What can we do??” thought the burglar.