I need to stop making assumptions. Ryrk is…a good hero, I think.
I know, the exact opposite of what I was saying in my last post. But without Ryrk, I’d probably be dead. Tol, too.
I was in the courtyard—the private one, looking for an ancient statue of one of the ancestresses of the Woald. I hadn’t even known it existed, but I found mention of it in Alaun’s research, and I wanted photos of it—since my family is very unlikely to ever be given access to the private gardens at the hotel.
An ancient Woald had had the statue commissioned more than five hundred years ago and brought to Colorado all the way from South America, back when Dhar Rydere led us north in the Dardanos Great Migration.
My parents came north then. They were always filled with stories of the Woalds that came before. One day, now that I am getting more comfortable writing things out, I am going to write their stories down. For the Woalds that come after.
Maybe that will be my gift to the world. My contribution, so to speak. My name will go down in history, just like Alaun’s. Wonder what old prune-faced Maryin would think about that?
When they left the old tribe, the Woalds numbered three hundred and forty-two. My mother and father were not found by one another yet. They found each other in a moment of horrible danger for my mother—on the journey.
I have always loved the story. I will tell it to you sometime. It is so beautiful.
Every last Woald left the old tribe for the Dardanos Great Migration then. The former dhar was an Adrastos, and everyone said he was not well liked. Mother had said he was almost cruel—especially to those humbler tribes. Woalds have always epitomized humble in so many ways.
That is a trait that most Adrastos share, as far as I can tell.
I have met many Adrastos in my day, after all.
I miss my parents tonight. It would have been their anniversary today. I will never stop grieving them.
I have digressed, haven’t I? I should tell you about Ryrk.
He is an arrogant wolf. Of that, I am one hundred percent certain.
But without him, I would have been killed.
Demons attacked in the private courtyard today. The instant I touched the statue of Aerim that I found in the middle of the courtyard.
There was this horrible wailing sound—it almost sounded like a real beansidhe.
The sky overhead clouded instantly. It went pitch-black. It was like something out of a Harlos Trianu novel!
(In case you’ve never read him, he’s that horror author who thinks his books are soooo much better than Alaun’s. He’s made all sorts of comments about romance that is extremely rude. He’s good—but Alaun is worlds better. I mean, the demons in his book eat Dardaptoans! Not exactly something I want to consider…especially today!)
Anyway, I screamed. A demon was right there in front of me, hideous and fanged. He had actual horns and wings! Then there were others.
They seemed to be coming from the statue. From her heart.
I screamed and tried to run.
Then my cousin Uruses was there. He and Tol battled back the six or seven demons. One was coming for me.
I tried to pull myself to my feet. The demons weren’t super large. I managed, somehow.
Tol shouted at me to run. To get inside and go straight to the main security office.
I tried. I truly did.
But they had him on the ground. Uruses hit them with a garden hoe, but it wasn’t enough.
I couldn’t let them kill Tol. I couldn’t.
I had no real weapon, but there was a rake right there.
I did what I could.
Then…a dark wolf ran right by me.
The battle was over within moments. Then the Lupoiux shifted—not even two yards from where I stood. Ryrk. It shouldn’t have surprised me that it was Ryrk, but it did.
He had blood streaming down his muscled chest. He staggered.
I moved to him quickly, ignoring Uruses’s hiss to stay far from such an animal.
It wasn’t an animal in front of me bleeding, but a living, breathing male who had risked his own safety to save me and Tol. And Uruses as well, for that matter—grumpy old goat that my cousin is.
I didn’t listen to Ryrk’s protests that he could walk. I know Lupoiux heal exceptionally quickly, but… “L-let me help you to the healers. And…thank you. You and Tol saved my life.”
I looked at my guard. He was wounded, as well, but in far better shape than the wolf. He was brushing dirt off his Thurgis-olive pardus. “Are you ok, Jume?”
“Bruises. Terrified. But I will be ok. It’s the Lu—Ryrk who is the most injured!”
Couldn’t they see that? Ryrk was leaning heavily on my shoulders, and he was a big-enough male that I was feeling it. But I tightened my arm around his waist.
The Healers’ Hall was just off the justice hall. I knew the back way. “Hurry. W-we’ll get him to the healers.”
My hand landed on his strong chest. His heart beat against my palm.
My eyes met his. “The healers here are the best.”
His hand tightened on my shoulder, and he pulled me closer. I’m not certain if it was because of weakness or because he was taking advantage of the opportunity.
To be honest, I think it was the latter.
By the time we made it to the hall, he was walking more or less unassisted.
Uruses was trailing behind us, muttering about dirty dogs the entire time. I turned to him and told him to go away. That his prejudice wasn’t helping the situation at the moment, and it was inappropriate and rude. And painted him as completely bigoted and ignorant.
I didn’t stutter even once. Uruses had made me so angry.
Ryrk had fought to protect me, the least Uruses could do was treat him with the respect he was owed. That all beings were owed, regardless of what Kind they were.
“My little defender,” Ryrk whispered near my ear. “Thank you, little kitten. You will not ever be forgotten.”
Tol walked with us to the Healers’ Hall, though his own wounds were negligible. I didn’t have to ask—he wasn’t about to leave me to my own devices. Not now.
I still haven’t processed what had happened.
But…those demons had seemed to come straight from a statue. How could that have anything to do with me?