Tonunda ran along the edge of a sandstone wall bordering Caliet market. His hands slapped down on the overhanging branch of a stout tree. He kicked away from the trunk and pulled himself up and ran along the thick bough, bounding and rolling to his feet on a neighbouring roof.
He did not like this place of huge buildings, and stone paths. He recalled the comments of the dog pack of his upbringing. They told him he was a man. He growled at the thought. He did not belong here where men wore skins of other beasts on their bodies; where they needed to make huge dwellings to survive the cold.
He was different. He ran with the pack and was always the first to sink his teeth into the kill. He could not bring them here with him though. Dogs and men had always been enemies. They would scream if a dog ever trod the stone paths between their houses and throw stones, but he had to be here.
He loosened his neck, shifting his long, raven locks about his rippling frame and inhaled the air. There was dampness; the night would be a cold one. Something smoky, ah it came from a hollowed log pointing up from the roof. He loped to the source and inhaled. There was water. He breathed in gradually, able to detect the scent of other things… meat. His nostrils quivered… vegetables. In the past, he had seen men, more often their females, digging them up from scratches in the ground. He had never entertained the thought of eating them before, but the scent that filled his senses, mixed with the meat was appealing. Drool trickled from his lips.
No time to think of food. His female was here among this man-pack of thousands. He ran along the ridge of the shingles. A familiar scent halted him in mid stride. He pressed his nose against the squares on the roof; little sheets made of bark, how curious.
He resumed his sprint and bounded clear of the edge grasping hold of the rafter of a building across one of the stone paths. He kicked away from the wall and twisted onto the roof. A gentle breeze brushed his shoulders. A pleasant scent, salty this time, carried to him, instantly reminding him of the time he visited the coast as a “pup.” He looked in the direction and saw masts gently bobbing in Caliet harbour, but something else hovered in the wind. He sniffed audibly; it was her, faint, but Andessa was here. He would need help. It was the first time he sensed her for hours, but the scents of thousands of others could mask hers.
He snarled and growled softly. The musk of rats overpowered his brief connection. He ran to the other side of the roof, crouching over a large hole. No musk of man came to him. They had abandoned this house long ago.
A cat flattened itself with twitching tail, behind a rat. He wondered about the cat. Would he help him? Their senses were keen, but their moods were unpredictable.
The rat! Their noses were even keener than that of dogs. He dropped through the hole and swatted the cat from behind as his feet touched the floor. Rising dust burned his nostrils with its musty aroma. His hand snapped down through the cloud and pinched the nape of the rodent’s neck. It curled its feet as it dangled in front of his face.
Please do not eat me!
I will not, but I may feed you to him if you do not help me, he squeaked, nodding aside to the howling cat.
The sounds themselves were not a language, merely a conveyance for his thoughts, like a message tied to a rock.
I seek a female...
…there are plenty here. The rat said in a surly tone.
He dangled the rat in front of the cat. It hissed.
No, no, I will help you!
He brought the rat back.
I want my female. Pass the word. She will be easy enough for you and your brethren to find. She washes her hair in water made from the purple flowers in the hills. I know your scent now. Betray me and I will eat you myself, he growled, and snapped at the tiny head.
He placed the rodent down and smiled as it scurried off, having no doubt that before the evening was over, Andessa would be found.
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