Wolves at the Door (part 59)

Alfvin’s first suggestion was to change the way they had bound Gil.

“When the moon rises, the bindings on his hands and feet will come loose. There is nothing we can do to prevent that. In contrast, anything around his neck will become so tight as to strangle him. Anything too tight will just make him fight harder to be free. I would suggest adding a loose harness around the waist, shoulders and legs, anchored to something sturdy like a tree, or better yet several trees.”

After they had tied the knots, Alfvin made a point of examining them. While he was close enough to avoid being overheard, he whispered quickly to Gil.

“Whatever made you flee your own village, I trust it is not worse than dying here.”

Gil had to think about that for a minute, but eventually he had to agree. He did not relish the thought of returning home in these shameful circumstances, but his only other option would be to attack these innocent farmers and force them to kill him. There was little glory to be had in such a death. Perhaps there would be an opportunity to escape on the road. Or perhaps he needed to face up to his responsibilities, both here and at home.

Alfvin even managed to get him fed, once he explained to the villagers how it would serve their own best interests.

“I saw this creature last night. He was not particularly vicious, but hungry. And a hungry wolf is a dangerous wolf.”

“He’s not getting another one of my chickens, I’ll tell you that right now.”

“There is no need to sacrifice so much. We can sate the beast by feeding the boy. Mix up a pot of gruel, and make him eat as much as possible before nightfall. A heavy wolf will be a slow wolf.”

While they were reluctant to invest further in his welfare, this seemed a cheap way of sedating the beast before it arrived. And for some, the idea of force-feeding him appealed to their need to punish.

Gil bore the treatment as best he could. Food was food after all, and he had used the same strategy himself to curb his night-time excesses. Bloated as he felt, he made a concerted effort to keep the food down and ignore the enjoyment that his discomfort seemed to bring to his captors.

For the first time, he began to look forward to the impending darkness and whatever it brought with it. The night would not be pleasant, but if he was lucky, he would wake in the morning with no memory of it.

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