Wolves at the Door (part 81)

On the long walk back, Gil relived the fight a dozen times in his mind. It didn’t take long; the confrontation had been as brief as it had been intense. No matter how often he revisited the events, he had no memory of the moment between shooting the arrow and lunging at the second wolf. Even taking the shot had been a reflex, not a conscious decision. Perhaps he had been operating on pure instincts; if so, they had done a better job than he had had any right to expect.

Before the action had begun, he had been expecting another wolf to creep up and attack him from behind, but he had neither seen nor heard anything when it happened. Was it coincidence that he had launched his own attack just moments before the wolf behind him had been in position to strike? Or was there something more to it?

Adalrad had chided him for being out of tune with Od. At the time, Gil had thought the elder a little harsh. After all, it’s not like he hadn’t tried. That’s the thing about divine inspiration: you can be as open to it as you like, but the gods give or withhold according to their whims. And the gods could sometimes be very whimsical indeed.

Gil had never felt inspired when dancing, singing, or doing any of the other things that were considered artistic when others did them. Combat training had always seemed like dull repetitive drills. He had heard others describe Od as doing without thinking, when the thing you need to do is so obvious that there is no alternative, no choice to be made. Gil had always thought it sounded both wondrous and terrifying. After all, wasn’t a man measured by the choices he made? If you weren’t choosing your actions, what were you?

Though he had tried to be open to the possibility, he had never experienced it himself. Not until he had been surrounded by wolves and found himself acting without thought or memory. The idea was still frightening, but if it had indeed been Od that had kept him alive, it was welcome to come back any time.

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