This will be a short story with no plot relevance to my main trilogy. For those who don't know or haven't guessed, the story will be about Nera before she was discovered by Hasina Styrke. I'm only writing this because Nera is perhaps my favourite character, so I feel like giving her some background.
She knew she was different. She'd woken up with wolves fourteen years ago, and she'd known. That they weren't her parents. But they had raised her as their own, despite her differences. She'd occasionally seen creatures like her, through the bushes, but had never dared approach them. The life of the wolf was all she knew. Except for one word. One word from her language, that she didn't care for, but as hard as she tried, could not forget it.
Nera was sniffing around in the undergrowth for rabbit warrens and the like, when she heard the lead wolf howling. She knew by now it was common practice for her kind to howl at the white disc in the Above, but she couldn't see it, and the Above was bright blue, which was an unusual time to howling. She decided it must be that he was calling a meeting, so scampered along on all fours as quickly as possible to where the noise had come from. Most of the wolves were already there, except Broken Fang.
Then, she noticed Broken Fang was lying down next to the lead wolf. His eyes were closed and he wasn't breathing. Nera had seen prey in this state so many times before, and she knew what it meant. Broken Fang was dead.
Lead Wolf spoke to rest of the pack in wolf-tongue; he did not know how Broken Fang had died, and could find no trace of another hunter. At this, Nera scampered forward and ran her hands through Broken Fang's thick, matted fur, as she was often able to find things the wolves couldn't. As she ran them across the top of his head, she felt a large abnormal bulge, and pointed it out to Lead Wolf.
He looked at her questioningly, and she replied in wolf-tongue that it meant he had been hit by something. Lead Wolf could not understand how it could happen, and neither did Nera. She saw such occurences very rarely, as none of the prey animals around here could hit that hard, and none of them tried. She supposed it could be her-own-kind, but she couldn't understand why they wouldn't see wolves the same way she did. Puzzled, she walked off into the undergrowth, where she could think alone.
While she'd been examining Broken Fang for visible marks, Nera had also picked up his scent, and now, alone, she followed the scent trail through the forest to where Lead Wolf had found Broken Fang. She found herself in a large, open clearing, with a stone house built in the centre.
Nera stared at it, confused. None of her-own-kind lived in the forest - at least, she'd never found any. But she knew they were the only ones who knew how to build these strange cages, and so it must be them. As she realised this, she felt funny inside. It was a feeling she'd never really known before - sadness. And that made her realise that she cared for her species. She never had before, and she'd convinced herself they'd abandoned her, and that the wolves were her true family, but buried deep down, she'd always had a longing to meet her true parents again. And this was the sort of people they turned out to be.
Suddenly, the door to the strange cage was thrown open, and Nera realised it wasn't her-own-kind at all. The creatures that came out were huge, much larger than anything she'd seen before. They had sharp teeth and a thick mane of fur, but they were not wolves either; they were two-legs and held tree trunks like weapons. Nera made the connection that they had killed Broken Fang.
She backed off slowly, as she knew the wolves were much stronger physically than her, and if the creatures killed Broken Fang, they could kill her too. As she backed away, she stepped on a twig and it snapped.
Both creatures turned simultaneously to face her. Motivated by fear, Nera bounded back into the undergrowth, closely followed by the creatures. She slipped under a fallen tree, hoping to delay them, but the ogres smashed the log apart with their clubs.
She took a sharp right turn in an attempt to lose them, but slipped on a concealed patch of mud and went sliding forwards. The leaf-covered ground fell away beneath her, and she fell several metres, landing heavily on her side. Winded, it didn't even occur to her she had slipped into an ogre trap.
Nera struggled to stand, but couldn't. As her pain intensified, she realised that a short, sharp wooden stake was embedded in her side, and she understood she was in a trap. The stake was lodged painfully between two of her ribs, and she couldn't move without causing further pain. Blood was already pooling on the soil where she lay.
Nera knew of only one way out of her current predicament, and that was to summon help from the pack. However, she could see the pit walls were tall and steep, and even the pack might not be able to help her, and she really didn't want to attract the ogres.
The problem was solved for her when she heard snuffling and heavy footfalls at the edges of the trap. The ogres had found her already. Nera looked up, and howled.
Lead Wolf pricked his ears up; he could hear howling in the distance, and it was easily identifiable. Not-their-kind was in trouble.
He quickly gathered the pack, and they homed in on Nera's call, moving swiftly but silently through the wood. Soon, Nera's calls changed, relaying different information - strange creatures were surrounding her, the same creatures that killed Broken Fang. They would have to be careful.
Lead Wolf soon picked up Nera's scent trail, and that of the strange creatures. Their stench was like nothing Lead Wolf had experienced before, and he knew not what to expect.
He slowed the pack once Nera's position was pinpointed, and they spread out, surrounding her attackers. Lead Wolf waited, a minute or so, for the pack to get in position. One of the creatures was apparently preparing to lower itself into a pit; Lead Wolf realised it was a pit where Nera was trapped. He growled, barely audible to the ogres, but clear to the wolf pack.
The wolves pounced on the ogres from all directions. Taken completely by surprised, they were overwhelmed. One lashed out with a vicious club strike, but Lead Wolf dodged under it and ripped a chunk of flesh out of the ogres leg. In a few minutes, they were both lying helpless and disabled on the ground, their clubs kicked into the bushes by the wolves.
Then, Lead Wolf walked over to the edge of the pit and peered into the depths. He spotted Not-their-kind easily, but could see no way to get her out. He was about to call out, and say there was nothing to be done, when he heard a rustling in the bushes. He backed away from the pit, eyeing the source of the noise.
A female of not-their-kind's species stepped into the clearing, holding a long, pointed claw in her hand. Lead Wolf growled menacingly, but the female didn't back off. Instead, she stepped up to the pit, and looked down to find another of her own kind trapped inside. A male not-their-kind followed the female into the clearing, a vine over his shoulder, and Lead Wolf realised they were going to free not-their-kind. Speaking in quiet whines, he communicated this with the rest of the pack, and, not without sadness, they left the clearing, and left not-their-kind to live with her own species.
Nera still remembered that day, the day she had been found in the pit by Hasina Styrke and Huo Lyall, and brought back to House Solus. She remembered how she'd kicked and bit and fought, and yet Hasina had still brought her in a raised her like a true human. One day, she wanted to be like Hasina. However, she still felt a connection with the wolves, and every so often would return to the forest to be with them, if only briefly.