Wolves at the Door (part 72)

Whatever his other flaws, Gil could not fault Alfvin’s truthfulness – on this occasion at least. The pain was sharp when it came, but after a while it dulled, and Gil felt it less than the awkwardness of his situation. His mind even began to wander a little. He started to wonder if there would be anything he could do if the meal went on too long. There were surely weapons among the equipment he was carrying, but he could not remember where. If it came to that, he might have to grab the knife that Alfvin wore at his belt and fight him off with it. That is, if he had the strength for it. He had done nothing strenuous all day, but he was beginning to feel quite tired. Maybe he should sit down for a while. His knees buckled slightly, but pressed tightly between Alfvin and the tree, he couldn’t slump very far.

When the tingling numbness started in his fingers and foes, he knew if he didn’t act now it might soon be too late. He pushed with one hand, as the other fumbled for the knife. There was no reaction at all. Gil gave up on pushing and grabbed at the back of Alfvin’s head. He could barely feel the hair, but he twisted it around his fingers and yanked. That drew some reaction, though a groan of pleasure was not what Gil had been aiming for. Clutching the knife-handle with his other hand, Gil hoped that he would be able to keep hold of it long enough to put it to use, but as he drew the blade, he felt Alfvin ease back.

Immediately, Gil’s knees collapsed and he sank to the ground. Somehow he kept hold of the knife and clutched it between his two numb hands as he sat, shivering, staring at the one who had reduced him to this state.

For his part, Alfvin stood back, licked his lips, then licked his thumb and pressed it into the wound in Gil’s neck. The sudden stab of pain was so startling that Gil might have stabbed back reflexively, if his hands hadn’t still been half numb.

“Relax. This will help the wound heal. I apologise, I was hungrier even than I realised. Rest for now; in an hour or so you will be up and about again. In the meantime, you should eat something to regain your strength.”

When Gil could focus again, he saw that the old Alfvin was back, smiling and rummaging through their baggage with his free hand. The ravenous beast was gone – or at least, submerged once more beneath the friendly facade.

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