Throw her to the wolves and I promise you she will come back leading the pack
“Are we going to keep her?” asked the voice that held her right arm, she wished she had enough leverage to elbow him, but he much taller than she and kept her arm at an angle impossible to wield the boney point of her arm into his rib cage.
The man at her left growled low across her head. “Be quiet, she’ll speak for herself.”
“Her?” the man dressed in white sitting at a low table turned around to look at them. He made a motion, and they pushed her forward, she fell to her knees.
“Do you know where you are?” asked the man uncoiling himself and rising to his feet, walking slowly down the steps to where she sat, her knees doubled up beneath her, hands spread out on the cold stone.
“I am in the wolf pack.”
“In the wolf pack. That is an interesting way to put it.”
She raised her eyes to meet his. He knew she was the leader of what was known as the Wolf Pack, outcasts—but more respected, they worked for people who paid them—they would be expected to destroy her.
“What’s your name?”
“Red?” he repeated, now standing directly in front of her.
“Yes, Red,” she moved pulling back her hood, revealing the hue of her hair.
He caught her wrist, turning it palm upward revealing the long tattoo blazoned on the inside of her wrist. It still stung with the newness of the black mark roughly given.
“Outcast?” he asked dryly.
“Outcast,” she responded keeping up their one-word exchanges.
His eyes narrowed.
“Apprentice,” she added.
He twisted her wrist further to see it in a better light, and she tried to hold back a grimace, as his eyes decoding the meaning of the symbols on her wrist.
“Can we call her Kitten?”
“Kitten?” said the leader of the Wolf Pack with a raised eyebrow.
“Small, cute, fierce, but mostly harmless.”
“Mostly harmless, aye.” He twisted her arm so the noisy one could see her tattoo.
“Some claws,” answered the annoying man.
“Not enough proof?”
She laughed, at the unintended near pun. “It proofed, but the delivery went awry, someone got cold feet. I was the delivery person. The baker was dead, so I got blamed it all, but they think I am too young to meet the reaper.”
“Explains the warning in the tattoo,” he said, his finger tracing the black ink that was now a part of who she was. His eyes turned from the black to her eyes. “Why us?”
His mouth said he wasn’t pleased with her answer.
“My mother was a wolf.”
“She left the pack.”
His eyes asked the next question.
“They died, I’ve been living with my grandmother ever since.”
“So, you came here for help.”
She pulled at a string from around her neck, fingers grasping the pendant she pulled snapping the clasp and offered it to him palm hiding the object. He put his hand out to receive it. Red pressed it into his hand, there was a flicker in his eyes—he knew what this was.
“The boon,” he whispered.
“My life,” she whispered.
He offered her his right hand, she grasped him by the wrist as he grasped hers and pulled Red to her feet, he pulled her close looking down into her eyes and nodded.
“She’s one of us boys.”
“Kitten is one of us?” yapped the annoying one.
“Red is one of us. Red, meet Fox and Ram,” he said with a nod towards the two that had dragged her into pack.
She turned, quickly placing them Fox—wanted to call her Kitten, and Ram couldn’t care less about who she was, much less her name.
“You’ll meet the rest later, but for now, come with me.”
She followed him making sure to stay two steps behind, as was the proper way—as her mother had told her…long ago.
He slid the thin doors open on their small tracks and onto the wide wooden boards of the walkway. She paused and closed the doors behind them before following in his steps. They walked down what Red knew to be sleeping quarters, she knew from the maps her mother had drawn the maps that had led her to this place.
He pulled open the last door and stepped in, Red followed.
Turning he looked down at her. “You seem to know pack rules.”
“My mother taught me.”
His eyebrows raised. “Did she? Tell me—how was her life in the great expanse with the real people.”
He had a way of asking questions with only his eyes.
“She died shortly after the birth of my brother, Beryl.”
His eyes flashed at the name.
“He died too.”
“You were chosen to continue your grandmother’s legacy…and yet, you are here.”
“Bakers apprentice, I wasn’t a full-fledged baker—much less assassin, and with this,” she said pulling back her sleeve once again.
“So you chose to come to the Wolf Pack.”
“My mother said if I was in never need of help. I should come here. Your father’s people?”
“Bakers, none would dare take me on of course, not without risking their own lives and they all have little ones.”
“You’re mother’s death…”
“Wasn’t an accident—they struck then because they could blame it on something, I was twelve at the time—but I knew.”
“And you’ve grown up since then?”
“I am sixteen.”
“The same age your mother abandoned the pack, you, her daughter return.”
“She didn’t want the baker's life for me…I don’t think she wanted it much after she arrived to it.”
“Bread, muffins, cakes not your mother’s thing? No, I don’t imagine it was.”
“You knew her?”
“Yes,” he paused. “I knew her.”
Her eyes glanced over him—he was young for the leader of the pack—she had hoped to see a gray-haired elderly man. But her mother had said the trinket was to be given to the leader—and the leader only—but this black-haired young man dressed all in white, half of his hair pulled up in a ponytail the metal cuff around it stating him as pack leader.
“This will be your room, you might be the pack leaders granddaughter, but you will start out at the bottom of the pack. You weren’t here to inherit the title, nor do you have the pack’s trust. Don’t assume we are all going to take to you like Fox.”
“I hope not,” she interjected.
An eyebrow rose.
“I am sorry—bakers are outspoken.”
His eyes alone chastised her, and with a nod, he stepped out of the room and slid the door closed behind him.
“So, we are keeping her,” said Fox coming glibly up to him.
There was a glint on Fox’s eye.
“She’s not a pet, she will be expected to pull her own weight around here. The pack’s been diminishing slowly if we want to preserve what we have.”