Chapter 2

Chapter 2

A Chapter by MildmayFoxxe

In which Shylock finally meets Murdoch, the reader finally meets Aziin, and realizations are come to.

Chapter 2

For most slaves, life was hard. It was a matter of being Wolf, more then anything else- they had to be dominated, broken before they could be considered sellable, and even the most city-raised Wolf had a wild streak in them.  Shylock had never been broken. He’d been born and raised as a slave, but he had more independence, more danger in him, then any wild Wolf brought in from the Outlands. It was why he’d wound up here, as a fighter, with Tousakk, who knew just how tight the collar could go before Shylock would begin to buck against it. He could have, and by all rights should have had Shylock broken. Beaten and gelded and collared and muzzled until he had no spirit left with which to fight.

But Tousakk had looked at him, then still young and undernourished, dripping blood and snarling like a half-mad thing, and said, “Only a fool would ruin something like you, boy.”

Over the years they were together, Tousakk made comments like that off and on.

“There’s a wildness to you, boy,” He’d say, sometimes, when they were alone and he was helping Shylock to his feet after a round of fights, or, once, a quick and ruthless fight against a slave that rebelled and tried to take Tousakk to the grave with him. “I’ve seen wild Wolves break long before now, and even some fighting ones that didn’t go for blood like you do. You scare me, sometimes, Shylock.” He’s say, honestly, looking hard into his eyes. “You frighten the hell out of me. Azzin, too, I think.”

She had never behaved as if she was frightened of him.

Speak of the devil- she slipped into his room now, without even knocking. She balanced a tray on one hand, pushing open the heavy door with the other.

“Knock-knock.” She said, in her purring, accented tones. She was an Outlands Wolf, the only one he’d ever seen.  Her coloring was actually darker then most of them, from what she said, but her mother hadn’t been a native to the area.   

“You’re not supposed to be here. The fights aren’t over yet.” He sat up, pushing his fiery hair out of his face. The next one was in two days, and he had been expecting to spend the entire time skulking around his rooms or taking out his frustration on sparring partners down in the training arena.   He hadn’t been able to forget that figure in the crowd, that scent, the presence of someone who just didn’t fit, didn’t belong. It ate at him, itched under his skin, nagging and uncomfortable.

He’d had the same feeling before the other slave had gone rogue.

“Tousakk said that you were upset, that something had happened at the arena yesterday. ‘Jumping over shadows’, I think he put it?”

He laughed softly despite himself, leaning back on his hands. “Jumpin’ shadows, Azzin, and I wasn’t.”

“Close enough.” She kicked the door closed. “He said I should bring you this.” She hefted the tray. “And this.” She reached into a pouch at her waste, pulling out a bottle of cheap wine.  “And this.” She gave him a sly smile, setting the wine on the tray and unbuttoning the top of her tunic. The swell of her breasts rose above the opening.  Any other day, and he’d have been across the room in two long strides.  As it was, he could no more feel desire for her then he could any inclination to eat. The thought of food made his stomach roll unpleasantly.

“I’m not really up to that…or that, sweetheart, nice as it is.”

She cocked her head cutely at him, setting the tray down. She didn’t look offended- if anything, she seemed amused and a little concerned. “Well,” She said, “I’d like to stay anyway, and offer this  of my own free will.” And she touched her lips. He knew she meant her conversation and company.

“I’m not really fit company for that, either, Aziin.”

“Which is  typically when a person most needs it.” Her smile was coy and sweet. “Even big, tough fighter Wolves.”

His lips twitched.  She came to him, reached down to take his hand. She always touched him absolutely fearlessly, in a way no one else did- as if he was just some big, stuffed puppy dog for her to man-handle as she pleased. She tugged at him, still with that sweet smile and head tilted like a pup. He half-expected her to wiggle as if she had a tail to wag in this form.

Not that he’d complain about it.

“Come on.” She wheedled, tugging him again. “I’m hungry, and I’d feel bad if I ate without you. At least a little?”

He groaned dramatically as she ‘hauled’ him to his feet, letting her pull him across to the tray and shove him into a chair. He flumped down into it, bonelessly, and she laughed. Her laugh was a surprisingly deep thing, rich and dark like wood or the finest chocolate.

“You’ve got the prettiest hair.” She said, crouching in front of him and pulling a strand lightly. He swatted at her. “Such a pretty red.”   She ran her hand down it’s length. “I wish my hair was pretty like this.”

“You’re beautiful and you know it.” He caught her wrist, giving it a warning squeeze that she ignored.

“You think I’m beautiful?”

“Don’t be coy.”

“I wouldn’t ever.” She giggled, reclaiming her wrist. “How does this not choke you, when you change?” She reached out to tap his collar. Normal slaves never really shifted to their Wolf forms- they were, in fact, typically forbidden to do so.

“The metal is magicked.” He said, as her hand came back and started tracing the symbols. “It- expands. I don’t understand it, and I don’t try to. I just wear it.”

She pulled back, nibbling her lower lip thoughtfully. “Are you hurt?”

“Nothing that won’t heal.” He tugged her gently to her feet, and she moved forward to straddle his lap. “Azzin-”

“What?” All innocence. “I just want a bite.” And she leaned over him, her breasts close to his face, reaching for the tray. He sighed, and as she pulled back with a berry, popping it into her mouth- not even trying to be sensual about it, but then her breasts in his face did that work for her. He smirked, lifting a hand to caress her throat as she swallowed. She lowered her head, eyes dancing.

“I thought you weren’t in the mood.”

He chuckled, kissing her pulse point. “You might be able to change my mind.”

She slid down into his lap, holding a piece of bread to his lips. “About this, too?”

His stomach churned. “No.” He pushed her hand away.  She frowned.
“Shylock, you need your strength.” She sounded honestly concerned about him, and he lifted his brows.

“I’m fine. I’m not hungry.”  

“Please? For me?” She caressed his cheek with her other hand.  

“For you?” He chuckled. “Are you so special now that I do you favors?”

“You know you love me.” She said, and he felt something in him go cold and rigid until she grinned. “Besides, I do you favors all the time.”

He grinned in return to her own, letting her lower her forehead to his own. She didn’t kiss him. They did kiss, but only when they were in bed, only in the heat of the passion. Once or twice, she’d peck his cheek, and he liked to kiss her forehead because when she giggled and blushed like that she made him smile.  

He took the bread from her fingers, gently, nibbled it slightly. It settled like rock, but he forced himself to down it and then sipped the wine when she playfully held the bottle to his lips. It was supposed to be sensual and coy, he assumed, but the move backfired when they both slipped and it wound up spilling down his chest.

“S**t!’ He yelped, starting to leap up, but with another of those rich laughs she pressed a hand to the base of his throat.  Coyly she leaned down, lapping it slowly from his stomach and chest in light, dry little flicks of her tongue. He lounged back into the chair, bonelessly, tipping his head back  when she got to his collarbone.  And then he tipped his head back, letting her have access to his throat.

It was a trusting move, even a submissive one- even with the collar on, he couldn’t have made himself more vulnerable to her. As her lips worked up his throat, the intimacy of it was twice as much as any actual sexual coupling; no one else ever had this freedom with him. He didn’t trust anyone else to have this freedom. Even now, his hands were fisted on the arms of the chair, instinctively tensing.  But he made himself hold still, still, utterly calm. Trusting her.

It was the only time he ever allowed himself to do so with another person, and it terrified him every damn time.

Her teeth sank, gently, into his collar, and he gasped.  He jerked, half tempted to pull away from her, but he forced himself, quivering, to hold utterly still under her attentions.

“Mm. See? Just a bite.” She teased, and he groaned and rolled his eyes skyward, runing the moment- until she was  suckling at his flesh, right where she’d bitten, and he couldn’t find breath anymore.

“Are you sure you don’t have…any interest in me?” She purred, hands coasting down his chest. Her lips followed, coasting along smooth flesh, slipping down along his lap in inches.  He watched her lower herself, a small smile dancing over his lips.

“Azzin-”  He warned, with a lifted brow, but she laughed like he’d said something hilarious and made a soft, affectionate cooing sound in the base of her chest.  He allowed it, for a moment, letting himself wrap his arms gently around her and feeling her small, slender form against his bigger, more powerful one.     She was always warm, even when it was cold, and she radiated that now, a little spot of body heat against his chest.  She seemed to purr, like a cat rather then a Wolf, pressing close to his chest and nuzzling against him.

“You’re like steel.” She whispered. “Nothing soft about you.”

There is something soft about me. You. And that’s- that shouldn’t be. I can’t have that.

He pushed her away, gentle but firm.  He didn’t want this- this vulnerability, this- something- this- he didn’t want it. It wasn’t safe, and it made something curl tight and uncomfortable in his chest. She went, gently, pulling out of his lap and reaching for another berry.  She popped it lightly into her mouth, suckling at the tip of one finger lightly.

He stood, and she  wandered over to the bed, perching there.  He dropped his trousers, unbothered by his nudity. Nudity just was; Wolves didn’t see it the same way humans did. He didn’t understand self consciousness.   She wasn’t fussed by it, either, and leaned back against the headboard, watching him curiously.

“So.” She asked, as he wandered into the washroom. “What was it that didn’t have you ‘jumping shadows?’”

He should have figured she’d get back on that, sooner or later. Azzin wasn’t stupid, no matter what she did or how she behaved, and tenacious as any Wolf. He lowered himself to the rim of the wash-basin, closing his eyes briefly and letting out a low, heavy sigh. Just like that, the tension was back, thrumming through his shoulders and burning white-hot in his mind.


“Have you ever-” He stopped, set his jaw. He didn’t show himself. Not even to her.

“Have I ever?…” She had moved into the doorway, leaning on the wall. “What?” She blinked at him, eyes like liquid chocolet, like dark, warm pools. And she was smiling at him, but it wasn’t a happy smile. It was sad at the corners,  soft.  

The actual question almost fell from his lips. He almost asked her, but then he turned and she was wearing that soft little smile and he felt it die on his lips.

“Have you ever felt someone- different- in here? Watching you?”

She shook her head, silken curls flying. “No. Different-how, anyway?”

“You’d know it if you sensed it.”

“No one unusual.” She twined a curl around one finger. “Don’t let it affect your fighting, Shylock. No matter that Tousakk is a good master, he’ll still sell you if you don’t bring him profit. Or worse.”

“I know that.” He snarled at her, turning to face her. “It’s not your business. I’m fine.”

She blinked, then lowered her head, reaching up to fiddle with her collar. “Shylock.” She murmured, “You’re my only friend here, alright? I-”

“Don’t.” No, no, he wasn’t doing this, not going there.  He couldn’t. They weren’t anything  to each other. They couldn’t afford to be anything to each other. He couldn’t afford to be anything to her, and didn’t want to. Here, in this life, in this place, you couldn’t afford- you couldn’t matter.

Nothing mattered. It couldn’t start now.


“What’s your name, boy?”

“Shylock, master Tousakk.”

“Ah, now, you grit your teeth any harder and you’ll break one off.”

“…I appologize, master Tousakk.”  

“Hm. Do you really, boy? Oh, don’t like being called that, do you? That’s the second time you’ve bristled.”

“…I have no say in what I am called. Master Tousakk.”

“Haha! Oh, Shylock, my boy, that hardly suits you. Here. Come here. I think you’re gonna be a lil’ surprised by the way we do things here.”



“Go away.”

“But- you’re hurt. And Master Tousakk asked me to-”

“I don’t care.”
“Master Tousakk-”

“Tell Tousakk I told you to f**k off. I’m fine.”

“…You shouldn’t talk to a lady like that.”

“You’re not a lady, you’re a bloody body slave. Besides, you’re what, fourteen?”

“…does that-really mean anything?”

“Wha-of course it means something, what the hell are you on about?”

“Well, I mean-that just what I am. Not who I am. Right?”

…what you are…isn’t who you are…

Isn’t that right?



Day two of the fights was harder. It got that way, progressively- if you stayed on top, they brought tougher and tougher Wolves to fight, and sooner or later they’d start packing two or more at once on you.  Shylock had stood on his own against up to four, and he wasn’t sure he could do more then that, though some days he was willing to try.  

Now, for example, when his blood was up and hot and he could taste someone else’s, the copper tang running down his muzzle as he ripped through flesh and fur silent, silent, not wasting breath or energy on a victorious snarl. His second opponent  dropped, and he backed away one step, two, panting and limping heavily. One of them had gotten his paw between heavy jaws and wrenched, and he’d escaped having it broken only narrowly.  He sank with relief at the sound of the time bell, changing back into human form and cradling his wrist to his chest as he was helped by two other slaves/aids out of the pit.

A medic came to him almost instantly, gently fussing over his wrist. She was an older Wolf, and she’d been here since long before Shylock had ever come.  She always was the one who drifted over to tend his wounds, and she always fussed over him like her own personal cub.

“Chloe, it’s alright.” He tried, as she took his wounded arm in a grip strong enough to make him wince and began to poke at him. “Chloe, really, it’s just sprained-”

“I think that’s my job to tell, pup.” She barked at him, eyebrows lifted. “Beyond that, you’re bleeding all over the floor. Sit down until those close up.”

He did as she said, meekly. He’d been on the wrong end of her open-handed cuffs, before, and once she’d dragged him around by the ear until he’d done as she said. She was a tough old woman, and even though she was technically a slave as much as he was, she demanded both respect and obedience from the fighters she took care of.  Really, she wasn’t much treated like a slave; he secretly thought it was because even her human owners knew better then to screw around with the old alpha b***h.

As she made a poultice for his wrist, he sighed and relaxed, opening his senses to the pit. He knew what he was doing, even if he wouldn’t admit it to himself.

He was looking for that piercing stare. He was hoping, hoping, hoping to feel it, to find it. It meant something new. Something different.

He closed his eyes. He could smell sweat and stale bear, sex and pain and blood, so much blood it nearly drowned out the other scents. There was Wolf, of course, and the smells of the arena itself, of silver and wood. (Silver for the edges around the arena, to keep the Wolves in and onlookers safe. He’d accidentally crashed into those silver bars more then once, or grabbed them without thinking. He has the scars on his palms.)

He could hear so much that it nearly overwhelmed him. His hearing was by far his best sense, and there were so many little conversations, so much laughing and talking and crying and screaming and growling and-

“-she taking care of you? Shylock?”

It was the use of his name that worked more then anything to bring him back to attention. He slid his eyes open, meeting Chloe’s soft, dark ones.


“I asked why Aziin wasn’t taking care of you, today.”  

He blinked down at his wrapped wrist. How much time had he just let go by?

“Uh. I don’t-actually know, haven’t seen her a lot lately. Tousakk’s got ‘er running around.”

Chloe raised her brows at him- he felt the blush creep up the back of his neck and snatched his wrist away bad-temperedly. “What?”

“Nothing. I didn’t say a word. That will be fine in a few minutes.” She threw him a wink and innocent straightened up, holding her supplies.

“Damn it, woman, what?”

She turned to face him, an infuriating little smile twitching on her lips. “Nothing, Shylock. You must miss her, that’s all.”

“I do not.” He growled, and he didn’t. She was a slave, like himself, nothing more or less. He didn’t care about her and he certainly didn’t want her here. He didn’t care one way or the other. She was just a body slave, and he occasionally used her for the purpose. That was all.

“No?” Her smile fell away a little, at the edges. “Then who in all of Caylemora are you looking for so hard?”

“I’m not looking for anyone, Chloe, s**t, you’re getting senile.” He snarled, and when she reeled back at the cruel blow, he shoved to his feet.

“I most certainly am not.” Her voice wavered, slightly- he’d hurt her feelings. He’d surprised her, too. “Whatever or whoever it is that has your tail in knots, I don’t know. But there is someone.”

He scowled, hating the woman and her ability to see right through  a lie or a person. Hating that he actually felt guilt for what he’d said. He lifted his head, inhaled deeply.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

“Thanks. For m’ wrist.” He muttered, touching it lightly.

She eyed him, but then softened and placed a hand on his back, light as a feather. He started a little- he wasn’t really used to unsolicited touch, let alone gentle ones- but she didn’t pull away. “You should eat, too. You’ve got some time in between rounds.”  

He sighed, ducked his head submissively to her. It was the only way he knew how to apologize.  

“Go on. Get some food.”  She gave him a little shove forward, surprising strength behind it, and he let it propel him forward to where he knew food and drinks were. He wasn’t allowed to eat as much as he’d like, of course, but all fighters were given permission to recharge in between rounds, to eat and drink a little something to keep themselves going. A fighting slave too exhausted, hungry, thirsty or weak to fight was just a burden. Useless.  

It would, of course, be when he wasn’t looking for it that he’d feel the watchful gaze again.  He stopped, food half-way to his mouth, and  let the half-cooked hunk of plains boar - the huge, pig like carnivorous creature that roamed just outside of Bylyn- drop back to his plate. He snarled.

It didn’t help that he was hurt, and hungry, and his blood pounded from the fights. His lips pulled back from his teeth and he felt his canines elongate without his permission. It was dangerous, what he was doing; if he got assumed to be a potential threat, any owner in this building had the right to put him down and put him down hard, and a few of them didn’t need much excuse to start.
But he bristled and growled, all the same, and there. He caught the scent. Something out of place. Something new.
It was an outside, smell, of dirt and grass and blood and sweat and outdoors. It was Wolf, undeniably. Older. That wasn’t tamed.

He charged.

He saw it for a heartbeat, before it turned and ran into the crowd. Big. Nearly as tall as Shylock. Broad. Cloaked, so he couldn’t get any features. Pale hands, though.  And moving fast. He was right, about it being Wolf and not just Wolf; this thing was outstripping him without trying.

Shylock was strong and powerful, but he wasn’t used to being allowed to run, to stretch and gather and chase and hunt prey, to move at anything faster then a swift lope. He hadn’t realized how much he wanted that until right that second, right that very moment when he was snarling in frustration at his own body  and burning lungs.  

He knew this place better, was better at navigating the crowds and small spaces. But the Wolf ahead of him moved like he’d been born for adaptation, dodging and darting through the crowds, weaving in and out of sight like an old hat.  

He moves like he’s used to this.

Shylock wasn’t an idiot. He knew when he was being lured out somewhere, and he knew he was being led into something right now.  His sense of curiosity and intent to capture were too strong to care, though, and he fought for more speed.

Tousakk is going to see you. He’s going to follow you. You’re a slave, you can’t just-

But the Wolf wasn’t leading him to any exit. He weaved and darted his way back towards the slave’s quarters, in fact. A totally innocent destination, though he got more then one crooked-eyed stare at his speed and the low, constant growl rumbling from him.   

They turned into the first of the hallways leading to the slave hallways, and when Shylock got around the corner-

The Wolf was gone.

He slowed, lifting his head to scent the air.  He was at both advantage and disadvantage-he knew these corridors and hallways like the back of his hand. But the other Wolf had moved through them with familiarity, too- and Shylock had never hunted anything in his life.  It wasn’t anything he’d been embarrassed by- most Wolves didn’t learn to hunt anymore.  Not city ones, at least- in fact, Bylyn Wolves almost never ran wild at all.

So it was never anything he’d even thought about.

But there were things that were instinct,  and he tried to trust them, now.  Scenting softly, listening hard, for anything like a footfall, like a growl in the semi-lit hall. There were so many scents, though, and most of them Wolf, that it was nearly impossible to pin-point just the one.

And the Wolf, when he dropped, made no sound.

He had a split second’s warning- a blur of movement from the corner of his eye, the sudden, sharp scent of something that just didn’t fit. Just enough time to turn, to whirl and meet his attacker with claws and fangs.  

The new Wolf was as big as he’d thought, and his coat was a mottled patterns of browns, blacks, whites, and grays. It was hard to tell what was his actual pattern and what was the sun from the gaps in the slanted roof overhead playing tricks on Shylock’s eyes.  Every time he moved,  Shylock had to readjust.

And he was damn fast.

Fighting was what he knew, what he did. But this Wolf didn’t fight like any of the mindless arena mutts. He was smart and cunning. The initial tackle was weight vs. weight, and the other Wolf had him by more then a little. The blow send him reeling, tangled up in the other Wolf, snarling a heated protest. They scrambled for a moment, fangs and claws seeking purchase in flesh, before Shylock managed to get his hind legs in the other Wolf’s belly and kick viciously. Once, twice, and the third time he got enough leverage to shoot clear.

The strange Wolf’s jaws snapped on empty air where Shylock’s throat had been moments before.

Shylock rolled to his feet, braced himself for a second tackle that never came. The new Wolf stayed his distance, circling slightly. What was strange, though, was that the ears weren’t pinned. The tail wasn’t up and bristling with aggressive stiffness or wagging slowly with anticipation. It hung relaxed, not tucked. The other Wolf’s body language suggested he might as well have been going for an evening run, only that was more exciting.

I’ll show you exciting, b*****d.  He charged in. It was something he’d done a hundred times- rush as if you were going to tackle, then dart off at the last possible second to one side.  When your opponent was trying to get his head around what you’d done and where you were, you simply either got him from behind or spun in place and grabbed what skin you could. He usually went for legs and feet.

He expected the other Wolf to react to the feint, which he did. He didn’t, however, expect the strange Wolf to adapt so fast, to see what Shylock was going to do mid-way through doing it and dive to one side. He met Shylock head on, and Shylock still got his leg, but far higher then he’d wanted to, and in the process felt teeth slip around the back of his neck.

He snarled and braced his hind feet, planning to pull this a*****e’s leg clean off if he had to. But the other Wolf wrenched his head around, fangs sinking deeply into the back of Shylock’s neck, and fell to one side. With his legs, he swept Shylock’s out from under, forcing them to go together, making him loose his leverage.

The momentum carried his upper body clean over the other Wolf’s, in fact, and he tasted the sharp tang of copper as his fangs ripped flesh and fur away, but didn’t do more then take a chunk out of his foe. When they separated again, the strange Wolf was bleeding and limping but that leg was anything but crippled, and the wound would heal quickly.

Already, the tears on the back of Shylock’s neck had slowed down bleeding. He bore his fangs and pinned his ears, tail curling up, bristling, and snarled a deep challenge.

The other Wolf, though, let his jaw loll, tongue hanging out, and, as if they were best friends and simply sparring, wagged his f*****g tail merrily before sprinting off again.

All thoughts of the fight, of owners and the arena and the danger he was in fled his mind. He was sprinting after the smug b*****d before he’d given his legs permission to do so.   Careening around corners, spinning through small gatherings of slaves, always with his target darting along just within sight.

He’s playing with me.  He’s playing with me.

And then they were alone again.

He skidded to a halt as he rounded the hallway, seeing the other Wolf leaning against the wall. Human again, and with cloak hood down this time, and Shylock got his first good look at his attacker.

Pale skin- not white pale, like most city Wolves, but like he didn’t spend much time right out in the sunlight. Scarred heavily. Shaggy mop of copper-streaked chestnut hair, going silver at the temples. Stubble on his face, like he only bothered the bare minimum to keep himself acceptable by human standards. And eyes like Aziin’s, so dark a brown he couldn’t find the pupil easily. He was broad to Shylock’s lean, but they stood roughly of a height.

He leaned casually in the hall, arms folded loosely over his chest and head tipped back to regard the ceiling. Here, it was pure stone, and the only light came in through a few windows, spelled to stay closed and unbreakable just like the ones in his quarters. He lowered his head, though, as Shylock appeared, and one corner of his lips tipped up in a smirk.

“You call yourself Wolf? Look at you, you’re breathing like you just ran a mile top speed.”

Shylock ripped an angry barking snarl, assuming an attack stance. The Wolf in front of him didn’t react, annoyingly enough.

“You got me good though. If I didn’t know better, that little feint would have broken my leg.” Softly. “Bet you’ve won a lot of matches that way, eh?”

He found himself slowly relaxing- the other Wolf was watching him, but not moving so much as a hair. His growl subsided into a low rumble, but his stance didn’t change.  

“Shylock.” The utterance of his name was soft, almost a breath. He didn’t react- he was a slave. Hardly surprising that it would be easy for someone to find out his name.  “You’re wasted here, kid.”

He wasn’t a kid. He was anything but, especially now, with the way he’d lived, and he wanted to say so. Instead, he lay his ears again, pitching the volume of the growl to show his displeasure. The Wolf simply huffed with amusement.

“Don’t you get it? No matter how pretty they dress it up, you’re a pet. A toy for them to play with. You’re being used, and you’re letting them use you.” He shoved off the wall, his eyes narrowing. “You’re not a Wolf. You’re a puppy dog.”

Red flashed behind Shylock’s eyes. Puppy dog?  He thought, I’ll show you just how hard this one can bite. He launched from the ground, a clean, powerful spring that should have brought the other Wolf down before he had time to even think about changing.

But change he did, faster then Shylock had ever managed it, and the two collided again.  They skidded across the floor, rolled, and then, suddenly, the other Wolf was no longer playing a game of tag. There was a sound like thunder and the Wolf locked his jaws around Shylock’s throat. The smaller Wolf yelped and slashed at the muzzle around his neck, but the Wolf didn’t finish the move, didn’t crush his throat and neck in one easy clamp of the jaw. Instead, he swung his head and threw Shylock.

He hit the ground with a startled yip, coughing and retching, and before he was even close to recovered the Wolf was on him again. Again he was lifted- by the back of the neck, this time- and thrown. He landed on his back, dazed. He’d never been so quickly dispatched. Never.

With a growl, he forced himself to his feet and met the next rush with his shoulder. The blow hurt, but he shook it off and shoved his full weight into pushing the Wolf away. It didn’t work well, with the weight difference, but it was enough to let Shylock regain his balance and breath.

You stupid a*****e. I was born and breed for this!
He let his jaw drop open in a sneering Wolf-smile, and he roared as he rushed in himself.  The other Wolf reared up, and for one wild moment they scrambled at each other. Then Shylock got a grip on the other Wolf’s throat. Instinct said kill now, end it now.

…but he didn’t.

They stood like that, panting, perfectly still, for a long moment. Then with a whine of confusion, Shylock let go his grip, backing away from the other Wolf.

The Wolf settled back on all fours, watching him with pricked ears and a slowly waving tail.  He cocked his head, then, slowly, transformed back. Touching the slowly healing wounds at his throat, he spoke after a long moment of silence.

“You’re not the type to be used.” He murmured. “So why don’t you stop letting them?”

Stop it. I don’t think like this. I can’t. Stop-making me think like this!

He whined again, backing away a step. Reality was returning- he could hear voices and footsteps, and felt himself cower involuntarily. The action caused a grimace of disgust to flash across the Wolf’s face.

“They have you broken real well. Don’t they?” On a low sigh. “Still, I don’t think I’m wrong about you. You could be more, pup. You could be a Wolf, like you were always meant to be. You could be amazing.” He knelt. “You’re not a coward.“ He breathed.  He extended a hand. “Are you.”

It was a mistake, in hind sight, to creep forward, to let his muzzle shove under a calloused palm.  With the touch, the scent of Wild flooded his nose, and he looked up into brown, nearly black eyes. In those eyes, he saw-

Running through trees as big and old as you could imagine, under shade and sun, running as fast as your legs could go with no corridors or halls or doors or chains to stop you.  Running not to hunt or kill but because you could, running for the sheer joy of running, leaping, crowing to the world with your pride and joy. Running with your Pack, running as one creature, feeling the love and pride and happiness around you. Hunting with your Pack, sharing your kill, the prey you stalked and chased and is all the more satisfying because you did this, you hunted this, brought it down with your fangs and claws  after a battle that leaves you bruised and exhausted but oh so happy and content. Sleeping in a cave, surrounded by your loved ones. Swimming and splashing in cool river water, catching fish in a stream, simply being, with the sun warm and gentle and the wind whispering to you like a lover.

“Here here, now. Here here.” Gently, hands lifting his muzzle. “You’re alright. Stop shaking, you’re alright.”  

But he couldn’t stop the trembling, the fine tremor that gripped his entire body.  He was panting and he couldn’t stop any more then he could stop trembling.  He was looking at a Wolf, a real Wolf, something as wild as the forest itself, something that couldn’t be controlled or tamed.

“Murdoch.”  The Wolf said. “My name is Murdoch.”

 And then, smooth as butter, he yanked the hood back up and was gone.

He did, aware even as he regained two legs that even the scent of the man was fading rapidly.  It was almost as if it knew it was meant to drift after the owner, to vanish as rapidly as he did.

“-lock. Shylock!”

Tousakk’s voice. He turned, teeth gritted, and forced himself to roll over, exposing belly and throat to his master.  But even as Tousakk bent over him, saying who was that  and did you see where they went, boy? Well, did you, Shylock, damn it, answer me- even then, he wasn’t there.

He was with the smell of trees and grass, of dirt and water and out. He was stuck on a name. Murdoch, Murdoch, Murdoch.

He had, even though he wasn’t fully aware of it at the time, taken the first step towards the edge of the cliff. Unlocked the first door of the jail that made up his life until that point.  

Because even when Tousakk shook him, saying they’ll punish you, you insolent pup, speak! he didn’t open his mouth. He didn’t tell them, but for to say the simple truth.

“You’d never catch him anyway.”



They didn’t take him to the holding cells. Tousakk paid a serious amount of coin to keep them from simply manacling him, muzzling him, and locking him up down there until he was so old every tooth fell out of his head. Instead, he was chained and brought into a questioning room.   He sat in a chair, at a small table,  hands trapped behind him with silver cuffs. The silver didn’t actively touch his skin- it was encircled by cloth on the inside- so it was just enough to make him feel sick and weak and nauseated without actively being a danger to him.

He had his head bowed to the table, trying hard to convince himself not to vomit, when the door slid open and Tousakk entered.

“Oh, my boy.” He whispered, coming to settle against the other side of the table. “Oh, Shylock.”

The concern and hurt in his voice seemed real. Shylock lifted his head, watching the world spin in lazy, looping circles around his head. His stomach lurched, and he couldn’t help but lean over into a basin and wretch. Nothing came up- there was nothing left to come up- but it brought tears of pain and strain to his eyes. Tousakk had stood, placing a hand on his back, and was rubbing up and down slowly, whispering comfort to him. Perhaps if he hadn’t been so busy trying to not pass out, he might have thrown it off.  He didn’t need comfort, and certainly not the comfort of a man who claimed to care for him but kept him in slavery.

“You should have simply told them where to go, Shylock. Why do you pick now  to rebel?”

“I’m not rebelling.” He gasped out. “They won’t catch him anyway.”

“And so you refuse to tell them? You know where he came from, Shylock, you could tell where he might go-”

“He came from outside, that’s all I know. How should I know where?”  

“Where? The Forest, the Outlands? Damn it, Shylock, I know your sense of smell!”

“I don’t know!” He’d never dared yell at an owner before, but his head throbbed and he felt like he was going to vomit again and his entire body lurched and shook with weakness and the world would not be still.

Tousakk went quiet for a long time, then flattened his hands to the table, lips thin. “I did try, boy.” He said, very softly.  “I did try and convince you. You tell me or you tell the questioners. It’s up to you.”

“I don’t know where he went.” Coughed out. “I don’t know, Tousakk.”

His owner frowned, running a hand through his hair. He pressed both hands flush to the desk, expression even pained.

“Whether you do or don’t, you’ll be returned to your quarters when they’re satisfied, Shylock.”  

He felt a sharp sting of horror in his stomach. He knew  what the questioners did to Wolves. He’d seen it, after.

“Tousakk, I can’t tell them anything.” He gasped out, struggling to push himself upright. “It’s not as if I’m so co-conspirator.”

“My influence and money can only go so far, Shylock.” Softly. “You won’t be kept in the holding cells and you won’t be killed.”  

At the moment, he wasn’t feeling stunningly grateful for too much of anything. He groaned, letting his head fall against the edge of the desk as his stomach clenched and lurched again.

“If you would just- give them a general idea of where to go- let them know you aren’t sheltering him, Shylock-”

“How the hell would I be sheltering him?” Rasped, pain thick in his tone. He could no longer be bothered to watch how he spoke to Tousakk or anyone, for that matter. He felt as though he was dying without being allowed to die, and when that’s happening to a person they tend to stop caring about station. “I’ve not been outside this arena in years, outside the city in longer-”

“An accomplish, then? Aziin? Should she be brought in for questioning, too?”

“No! No, please-” He’d pushed too far. He saw it on Tousakk’s face; he instantly pressed his head to the table, turning it to bear the side of his throat submissively to his owner. “Please, Tousakk, master, she’s innocent, she’s done nothing wrong- I swear-”

Tousakk sighed, softly.  “Stop it. Stop it, boy. I’m not going to let any harm come to her.” He said, his entire body softening, deflating. “And pick your damn head up. Here, now.” And suddenly, Tousakk was standing, coming around the table to him. Shylock watched in wary lack of understanding, made more so when Touaskk- lay a hand on his shoulder?

“Have I ever been unfair, Shylock?”

“No, master Tousakk.”  

“And I won’t start now.”  A soft, low sigh. “But I can’t help you with this. When they’re done with you, you’ll be returned to my home and removed from the remainder of the fights. Azzin will be in charge of caring for you, of course.” Softly. “You’re a stubborn one, Shylock. Don’t make me regret never breaking you.”

He didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say, and the guards had stepped into the room anyway.

© 2011 MildmayFoxxe

Author's Note

Once again, unbetaed, only spell-checked with my computer's checker...if anyone's willing to beta this, I'd very much appreciate it.

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Added on May 21, 2011
Last Updated on May 21, 2011



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Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by MildmayFoxxe

Chapter 3 Chapter 3

A Chapter by MildmayFoxxe

Chapter 4 Chapter 4

A Chapter by MildmayFoxxe