Redrought fell silent as he thought this through. He'd spent most of his life fighting the Wolf-folk and other creatures from beyond his northern borders. He'd had neither the time nor the inclination to wonder if they thought about anything. But he was a good king, and shrewd enough to know that something important lay behind his daughter's questions. "Why do you ask? What's happened?"
Thirrin took a deep breath. "The werewolf could have killed me today, but it didn't. It disarmed me and could have ripped out my throat. But when I punched it in the nose and told it to make it quick, it stopped and let me go. It even stuck my sword in the ground and left it for me to collect. And I don't understand why. If Wolf-folk can't feel and think, why did it let me live?"
Redrought didn't know, and at that moment he didn't care. He just felt an enormous sense of relief sweep over him. Suddenly he gathered his daughter in a bearlike hug that made her gasp for breath almost as much as the wolfman had when it sat on her. "You will not take such risks again! Do you hear me?" he roared, his anger fueled by the terrible realization that his daughter could so easily have been killed.
"But, Dad, I didn't take any risks. Werewolves don't usually come into the forest. How could I have known it was going to be there?"
Redrought knew this was true, but it didn't make him feel any better. He released her from the hug and sat down again heavily. "I'll send out a full patrol immediately."
"And I want to lead it."
"Oh no, young Madam. My daughter and heir will stay safely here in the castle. Let some other hotheads earn their spurs," Redrought said decisively.
"But they'll need me to guide them to the right spot. Nobody else knows the way."
"Apart from your soldier escort," the King said, a hint of triumph in his tone.
"Apart from my soldier escort," Thirrin was forced to agree reluctantly.
"Good! Grimswald, call in the captain of the guard. You can give him details, Thirrin, and then run along to your tutor. Geography today, if I'm not mistaken."
Grimswald piped at the door for the guard, who arrived in a clatter of armor.
"Captain Edwald. The Princess reports a werewolf close to the city. Take details and send out a patrol!" the King boomed, stroking Primplepuss gently. The kitten screwed her eyes shut against the huge blast of Redrought's voice, then as Thirrin and the captain withdrew to confer, she rubbed her tabby face against the King's enormous finger as it tickled her cheek.
From The Cry of The Icemark by Stuart Hill, pages 1-11 of the hardcover edition. Copyright 2005 by Stuart Hill. Fist published in the United Kingdom by The Chicken House. Published in the USA by Scholastic Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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