Keep it a live? Zarnog’s judgement had always proven right in the past and therefore he trusted her decisions. Still, the questioned begged asking…
This one is different. Zarnog’s thoughts answered.
I am wondering if it is because you have never had a pup of your own.
It has nothing to do with that.
No. In this one I see a champion. A bringer of peace between man and dog. Perhaps even between dogs of other packs too.
He couldn’t see the beast of greatness Zarnog, suggested in the frail manling with the feebly flailing limbs.
How can you know all that?
Call it “faith.”
If not for the fact Corbran lacked the facial muscles of men, he would have smirked contemptuously. Faith was a foolish invention of men; a belief in something that did not exist yet they would swear it was true, but…
You have never been wrong before, my friend said Corbran, so I will trust you.
He dipped his head and gently closed his jaws about the man-pup, lifting him from the slab without so much as breaking the skin. Turning from the slab, he took in the other dogs. More had newly arrived.
Hunt elsewhere tonight he ordered. The man-pup is to live, so be told; if any of you so much as curl your lip at him, you will answer to me.
Without a word, they darted off in search of food as Corbran began the return journey home. He had didn’t have far to go. The man-pup cried most of the way. Other animals of the night kept their distance from the sounds. Familiar scents came to Corbran at the base of the mountain. The odours helped him locate the point between densely growing bushes. Lowering his head, he pushed his way through and into a low lying tunnel. Its ceiling lightly brushed the fur of his back as he entered a cavern as broad as a man’s dwelling.
A man could almost stand up in here too he often conjectured.
Contented whimpering filled his ears as his eyes adjusted to the gloom and the widened eyes of his female. Asteba had given birth 11 days ago. Corbran could make out the little bodies suckling at her teats.
A man-pup; alive? Asteba said incredulously.
Zarnog advised that he is to live. She called him a “bringer of peace” of all things.
He lowered the man-pup onto the feeding litter. They squirmed aside, to make room for him. The manling located, then settled on the only free nipple happily suckling away as he nestled into the warmth of the other bodies.
There is nothing wrong with him. Why did the man-pack leave him to die? asked Asteba.
Corbran softy growled in contempt. Who can say with men?
Then it occurred to him, Asteba didn’t have a spare teat. He sniffed the cave floor, finding the cold body of a male pup.
It died not long after you left said Asteba without feeling.
Corbran watched the flailing limbs of the man-pup lessen. Surely his hunger slowed and he would soon sleep with the litter.