It was three days after Astrid’s mother died that she walked her normal patrol route and found herself somewhere she’d never been before. For a few seconds she stood utterly still, allowing her nose to take in the scents of where she was. With her eyes closed she named each scent as she recognised them, until she got to the one thing she hadn’t been expecting: the scent of other Nox Gadael. She opened her eyes, remembering the stories she’d heard of Gadael who were believed dead because they had just disappeared one day, and knew that she had found them. They weren’t dead, any more than she was, but she would become another one of those stories, and she was grateful she had no family at home to worry about her.
When Astrid heard the sound of paws she sat down, wrapped her tail around her left hip, and waited. There was a part of her, the part that was always on alert, that screamed at her to run, but from the scent she knew it was a female Nox Gadael, which meant that she might get some answers to the questions she had. She had never before had any reason to be afraid of her own kind. It was the hunters that she needed to run away from, but she couldn’t smell a hunter, so she ignored the voice as much as possible.
The walker slowed as she got closer to where Astrid was waiting. It told her that there had been Gadael who hadn’t taken their unexpected journey well, but she wasn’t going to be one of them. There was something strangely calming about knowing she was no longer at home, knowing that there were hunters who wanted parts of her because she had magic, even though she didn’t know for sure that the new place was going to be safe.
Finally the other Nox Gadael female walked into view, around a corner that Astrid hadn’t realised existed until that moment, and wagged her tail. “Hello, Astrid,” she greeted, as Astrid blinked in surprise.
“Nerys?” Astrid said, unable to believe that she hadn’t recognised the scent of someone she had known for almost a year.
Nerys nodded. “I always hoped that one day you’d find the door.” Her tail wagged harder. “We’re safe here.”
“Where is here?”
“The world is called Taithmarin. We’re currently in the town of Little Hill.”
“How many other Nox Gadael are here?”
“Are you asking about the world or just the town?”
“Both would be good.”
“I’m not entirely sure of the world count, because there are already second and third generation Gadael puppies, but I’d say there’s between maybe six and seven thousand. In Little Hill, thanks to the puppies, we have a population of about four hundred.”
Astrid stared at Nerys. “How can there be that many Nox Gadael here? I heard that there were disappearances, but I can’t believe that we lost that many Gadael and there were only rumours.”
Mirrored from K. A. Jones Writing.