[Story] Story a Week 30 – Graveyard

Curiosity brought Stormpelt further away from the town. She had seen very little of her leader and his family, though she sometimes saw them from afar. There was a little hill she liked to sit upon and watch the town; they were mostly awake at night, like she had been once. She still feared the people with the sharp spears, though they usually did not approach unless she got too close to the town. The pup was big now, old enough to come out of their den and run on his own. Stormpelt saw him sometimes, with his mother. She could not be certain, of course, but they looked happy to her. They didn’t need her to protect them any longer — they had the town and the people with sharp spears. In fact, they probably never thought of her at all, and the realization left her feeling restless. Was it sadness? Perhaps it was, or something like it. Her first master had betrayed her, leading her to this place in between alive and dead. Now it seemed the second had forgotten her. That was not as bad, but it still hurt. Stormpelt did not wish to give up on him just yet, however. He had saved her, and she had sworn to follow him and keep him and his family safe. There could be danger lurking here that she had missed, she could not afford to be complacent. 

Dawn rose over the dense forest, illuminating the dew that clung to the grass and low brush. Stormpelt knew it would not be long before the leaves began to turn color and fall to the ground. Then the rain and the wind would come, and she would have to seek shelter. While she could not really feel the cold, being wet was still unpleasant, and Grub Grub preferred to be warm and dry. The trails of deer — and perhaps their predators — were visible through the grass where the dew had been brushed away by their passing. Stormpelt faintly remembered the smell of them, the excitement of finding a path and calling to the rest of her pack, noses all to the ground as they hunted. Those days seemed impossibly long ago, just a fading memory. One day she would be dead longer than she had been alive, and she worried that she might forget everything good from those days. She did her best to hold onto them, but scents were the most difficult. No matter how she tried, she could not smell them as she did then, they were dull and faded.

Stormpelt moved past some crumbling stones, in a place she did not recognize. She knew the stones had been put there by people; they were carved and arranged into buildings and pillars. Or they had been, once. Now they were a jumble, overgrown with vines and thorns. Why had the people left? Stormpelt didn’t know, and the stones gave her no answers. The grass grew soft and green between the stones, and she thought she might rest there among them, not that she had to, but because it was so lovely with the morning sun. Something caught her eye though, further back beyond the ruins of one of the buildings. More stones, but these were not fallen, but stood on end in the earth. Words were carved into them, and though Stormpelt could not read them, she knew at once what they were. She had seen such stones back in Silverpine. They were graves, marking the places where bones lay beneath the earth. A place for the dead to rest at peace, not to wander as she did. Stormpelt went among them carefully, her nose to the ground. She took care not to knock any stones over or stand where she thought someone might be. What would they think, if they could see her? But she knew they could not. They were somewhere else, wherever people went when they were really dead. She liked to think they were warm and happy and peaceful, wherever they were. They could not feel cold or wet or abandoned any longer. Even so, she felt a strange sort of kinship with them. They needed someone to keep watch over their resting place. She could guard the stones, pull the vines from them and put them upright if they fell over. She could ensure that no people came to walk over the bones or dig them up. She would be their guardian and their keeper, for as long as she was able.

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