Chapter 48: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Read all the chapters here. Enjoy!
Previously: In Wonderland, Madnes and his group have split up in their search for the 7 crystals of the Terraforming Spell (a dangerous spell currently threatening to destroy their home on Earth, Okinala island). Cheshire is with Cosmic, Harrey is with the orphans, and Madnes with Alice. They now journey through their individual missions, but the Red King has his own plan to put a stop to them. Meanwhile, the story follows Harrey, Ash and Drisel up in the Floating Isles of the Baa people…
Thimble led the way, skipping ahead and pulling Drisel along by the hand, as they crossed a shorter bridge angling up to a neighboring island. Ash took careful steps on the inclining wood planks.
Once up on the higher island, a paradise of trees and bushes covered in berries and fruits met them. Ash eyed the strange long fruits, when movement stirred a cluster of bushes on top an outcrop ahead. Drisel paused from picking berries, noticing it too, and ignored Thimble’s tugs to keep moving.
Black furry ears poked out, followed by a messy head of hair and furry sideburns. Intense gray eyes took them in before the person crept away from the outcrop, a basket looped around one elbow.
Ash rubbed his eyes. Was that a long, furry tail? The person looked and moved like a dog, sulking away from them and toward deeper foliage.
“Hi, Wolf!” Thimble said and waved. The older wolfboy hesitated then turned, offering a timid wave back. “They’re safe,” she indicated Harrey’s group, “You don’t have to leave.”
One black ear swiveled and Wolf returned, slowly. His feet were like paws, fur running up his legs and under baggy green capris. His facial features human, though his nose was rather large. He observed each of them intensely, and Ash felt a chill—the kind you get around a predatory wolf, he supposed.
“Should you be alone with strangers?” said Wolf, not taking his attention off them.
Thimble flapped a dismissive hand. “Don’t be paranoid. I can take care of myself. My horns have grown another full inch!” she stated proudly.
“Bigger Baa than you have been disappearing.” Wolf’s voice was low and quiet, with the hint of a wolf’s growl under the edges. “Strangers can’t be trusted.”
Thimble’s cheeks pouted out.
“Wolf, huh? Convenient name, since you look like a wolf,” said Harrey. Wolf’s attention latched onto him, black ears turned back, he held the basket tighter. “What’s that odd fruit you got there? Is it sweet or bitter?”
Ash watched as carefree Harrey ignored the wolfboy’s defensive posture. Wolf took a step back as Harrey reached out to take one of the odd fruits. “What? I don’t bite. You’re the one who looks like a wolf,” Harrey pointed out with a grin. Wolf scowled.
Thimble huffed and got between them. “Look, I’m taking them into town and that’s the end of it. They’re just tourists.”
Wolf looked Harrey and Ash over once more before stepping back off the path with his basket. “There’s a Wanted post out for you,” he pointed a sharp-nailed finger at Harrey, “Traitor to the king. Good thing for you I don’t care about royalty.”
“Wanted poster?” Drisel and Thimble both mouthed.
“But if you hurt Thimble, I’ll find you,” Wolf warned, and slunk back into the foliage from sight.
“Pleasant fellow,” Harrey laughed, scratching his head. “Guess the kingy is out to get us then. I’ll need a Baa disguise!”
Ash grumbled at the image that drew up. “He didn’t mention me or Drisel. It’s only you the king knows about, so don’t think I’m playing dress-up with you.”
Harrey’s mouth puckered. “You’re no fun at all. I think you’d make an adorable Baa!”
“Exactly why I don’t want too.” Ash nearly gagged.
Thimble led them onward across the garden island and over to the next swaying bridge. “What’s that business about Baa going missing?” asked Harrey. “Are there any more wolfy chaps in these floating isles?”
Ash shook his head when the Baa girl looked perplexed. “One question at a time. Don’t confuse people.”
Thimble’s wide feet strolled down the next sloping bridge as if it were a normal path and not shifting and snaking with the sky winds underneath them, her head turned back to speak over her shoulder. “Wolf is the only one. Nobody but Baa live here,” she said in her young, high voice.
“Aw, he’s all alone?” Drisel expressed sympathy from behind her.
“He was left here as a baby, so I’m told. Baa are family to him…” The girl looked away, saddened.
“What’s the matter?” Drisel pressed, and Ash craned forward to listen better, trying not to let the drop of sky beneath them heave his stomach.
“Well…it has to do with the missing Baa,” Thimble let out, half unwilling. “Each month a few go missing, and everybody’s been accusing Wolf for the disappearances. Because he’s not Baa. And because wolf people are from the lands below, and known to be duplicitous vagabonds.” She quick turned back to them again, walking backwards. “I don’t think that of Wolf though! He grew up with us; he’s one of us! I know he wouldn’t do something like that. I just…can’t convince anybody.”
“Hmm~” Harrey rubbed his chin, then thought better of it when a gust shoved the hanging bridge right. He grabbed at the rope railing. “In my world, wolves and sheep don’t get along well. But if you’re sure Wolf is innocent, then who’s doing the Baa-napping? And why?”
Drisel shrugged and focused ahead. They finally touched ground, down on an island made up of a wood-and-rope town, and Ash aimed a kick at the back of Harrey’s knee. “We’re here for that crystal—erm, jewelry, remember? Not to get involved in other people’s problems!”
“Jewelry? What jewelry?”
Ash’s jaw fell and he stared openly up at him.
Harrey winked. “All things in good time, kiddo. I’m sure we’ll stumble on it soon enough!”
Ash could only stare after him. If the fate of Okinala and Earth rested on their team—on Harrey—then they were doomed.
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Tomorrow is a guest post by author Jack Balliot! Thank you for reading, and check back May 24 latenight for more Madnes adventure! 😀
© copyright 2015-2016 E. E. Rawls and Rawls E. Fantasy, All Rights Reserved
(photo artist unknown, dragonhunters.wikia)
This is my entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by the wonderful author Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. This week’s word was: “duplicitous.” Check out the link, read other great stories there, and VOTE for your favorite 3 to win!
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