13

Feb

by thefourpartland

This is an excerpt from the upcoming short story Wolven Kindred. The Wolven Kindred are a mercenary unit made up of men and wolven bound mind to mind, as well as some of each that are unbonded. Nietan is the human leader of the Wolven Kindred, and Ær is his bonded wolven.

 

Thus there was no hardships aside from the regular ones of military life for the Kindred as they passed onwards towards the Coastal Kingdoms. Indeed, compared to their prior existence it was one of some relaxation. There was food and drink, enough shelter to stay dry, and where once their discipline had been shoddy, it was now much better. Although given their small numbers, Nietan spent most of their training time on the art of skirmishing, of engaging from the flanks and retreating. They were too small for all but the most necessary of line warfare.

Especially after losing some men while stationed in Ceaster. Nietan had been forced to eject the worst troublemakers, including a bonded pair that would not stop arguing about the Kindred being allied with another mercenary company. The unbonded men could be replaced easily enough, most likely, but replacing a pair-bond was going to take time. And had upset both the wolven and the humans, but there had been little choice, so great was the level of disruption.

He refused to recognize what was good for Kindred.

“True, but to eject someone from his home and family hurt. He’d been a brother for thirty years.”

And in all that time, never learned wisdom or the ways of the pack. Whatever bitch whelped his wolven needs lessons in motherhood.

“Whoever it was is dead, Ær.”

Ær turned his muzzle to stare at the horizon for a moment. Why do you pair bond with us? Barring you dying in battle, you’re going to outlive me. And the next wolven as well. Why do you bind yourself to us knowing you will bury our corpses?

“Because what we get in return makes the payment seem a paltry thing.”

Is it really though? Some never bond again.

Nietan sighed. He wasn’t qualified to speak on this matter. Ær was his first companion.

“You’ll have to ask the Beastmaster. He has to know., as much as any one person can.”

The man who can bond us all, but never himself. I wonder how much regret he feels over that.

“A great deal, I should think. But in some ways, he is bonded to every wolven in the Kindred.”

And watches them all die. Burying the unbonded with his own hands. You humans pay too great a price for our support.

“We made our choice Ær. You’re going to have to live with that.”

Irrational to the end.

“It’s the only way to get through life.”

Ær whuffed quietly, then curled up against Nietan as they waited for the main body of their forces to catch them up.

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