Toria’s bravery is rewarded as lives hang in the balance…
Music: A Special Find
The wherry was dead. Dylan took a few steps away, following Toria, but then stopped and turned back around. He went over to the fallen beast and crouched down with his elbows on his knees to examine it closer.
“Shards,” he swore under his breath, “It’s southern sized.” He turned to regard Toria, “Think we ought to take some of the meat? Maybe Shaggie would smell it and come running.”
Dylan looked over his bloody clothes and shrugged. Slicing off a bit of wherry wasn’t going to make them any worse. He flipped his knife in his hand a couple of times while he studied the wherry thoughtfully.
“A leg’s probably easiest,” he said as he began cutting off a foreleg at the shoulder. “Besides, you might want a claw. You helped bring it down. I better take both…”
Toria was forced to wait While Dylan collected both front claws and a sizable chunk of foreleg.
Meanwhile, Toria had a chance to examine her own wounds.
[Skill check: First Aid 10, rolled 9.]
The cuts were painful and liable to get infected if she didn’t clean them thoroughly. With proper care, the scars would be minor. Eventually, they might fade away altogether. At least they didn’t require stitches. She sucked in her breath as she applied the proper ointment and covered them to help the bleeding stop.
Dylan wiped his blade off and put it away, smiling at Toria. “Done!”
He found a little stream to wash up in and then let Toria check his bite wound.
[Skill check: First Aid 10, rolled 12.]
It looked very deep and the bleeding wouldn’t entirely stop. Toria cleaned it as best she could and wrapped it tightly with clean cloth. He tried to pretend that he wasn’t in any pain, but he held his left arm close to his body and wouldn’t use it.
Toria tried to convince him to accompany her back to the hold but he wasn’t persuaded.
“Not without Shaggie. What if this thing attacked him, too?”
Dylan carried the wherry leg with his good right arm and held it up as they walked, shouting “Shaggie, here boy! Tasty wherry!”
Toria was doubtful it would do any good. If she wanted to get Dylan back to the hold quickly, she was going to have to think of a better way to find the missing dog.
[Attribute check: IQ 10, rolled 6.]
If Shaggie had died recently, there would be carrion birds circling overhead. She shielded her eyes and looked up. The sky was relatively empty.
Sheep moved away from strange dogs. Toria climbed up on a rock and looked out over the hills. She wasn’t positive but none of the herds seemed out of place.
Shaggie would get hungry and thirsty out here on his own. Maybe he would look for a stream like the one in front of her. He’d also need a safe place to sleep.
“Follow me,” Toria said, “I have an idea.”
She led Dylan downstream, looking for hollows or little grottos in the rocky ridges nearby.
[Attribute check: PER 10, rolled 14.]
Toria stepped in a mass of sheep poop and the smell nearly gagged her. “Great flaming shards,” she cursed, holding up the foot with the nasty shoe, “sometimes I hate sheep.”
Dylan stepped a bit closer, wrinkling his nose.
“That’s not an ewe berry, dim glow,” he chided.
Toria remembered that sheep made large pellets, not squashy herdbeast patties. He was right, this was something else.
Dylan called out for the dog again, “Did you hear that?”
Toria had to hastily scrape the poop off her shoe and hurry after Dylan before he disappeared behind some rocks. As she rounded the corner, she spotted Shaggie trotting toward them, sniffing the air suspiciously.
The children dropped their gear and called the dog again. He must have heard the relief and happiness in their voices. His ears went up and he ran over to them, tail wagging.
Shaggie was willing to stand still as long as they pet him and scratched his itchy spots. He would not, however, follow them back to the hold. As Dylan tried to fashion a leash for the dog, Shaggie picked up the wherry leg and dashed away.
“Hey! Come back!”
Toria was forced to run ahead of Dylan to keep up with the stubborn canine. She stumbled down a little hill and watched the dog disappear into a shelter made by two leaning boulders. As she got down on her hands and knees to look inside, she saw two sets of eyes shining back at her.
“Two dogs?” she thought to herself.
A number of little grunts and whimpers reached her ears. As her eyes adjusted, Toria could see Shaggie standing over a female shepherd dog and a litter of five puppies. Two of the puppies had already died. They all needed help if they were going to survive.