Tepic was sorting out a few things at the Vole when from behind him came the howl of the wolf. He jumped, as he had not even had a whiff of wolf scent but instantly grabbed up one of the waiting bottles and lit the wick dangling from it’s neck before backing away to the railing by the canal.
The wolf moreau leaned against the poles supporting the canvas roof of the Vole and sneered a sneer worthy of the Gangplank’s bar-tender.
“So…..” he almost spat the words, “You’re the one.”
The boy scrutinised the wolf, “yer the wolf as had a go at Charlie an Billy?”
“I was looking for you, but they got the message.”
“Well i weren’t lookin fer you……” the boy replied, with feeling.
The wolf eyed the bottle with the flaming wick in the boy’s hand and commented “You’re a stubborn breed. It’s going to get you killed.”
“Could be….. but not today..” said Tepic, “it were you an your lot as declared war on me City… didn’t need ter do that, did yer….”
“We only want ours back, the City denied us ours.” snarled the wolf, “The City said ‘come and take it’! They invited our war!”
“did yer ask? or did yer listen ter yer sister when she said she didn’t want ter be with yer? what sort of family is it that says ter it’s sisters yer ain’t got a voice?” the boy asked, accusation lacing his words, then continued more softly, almost questioning himself, “an do yer have a voice? or is it the mewlins of that bear?”
“You don’t know very much about families, seeing as you live on the streets and have run away from them.” the wolf retorted.
“Ha! i got the biggest family around, the City’s me family, an all in it!”
“I witnessed a mother beat her child to teach them not to get hurt once.” the wolf stated, “Oh sure it was a light beating, but less than playing with a venomous snake.”
“so whys they got a drug in yer medication ter make yer daft? if yer were a real family, yer wouldn’t need that!” the boy asked.
The wolf paused to consider, then said “We didn’t need that. We were a family before that.”
“so… they stopped givin yer it then?” Tepic’s question was scornful, knowing they were still taking it.
“Lilith running away is when we started.” the wolf explained, “She’s much happier now that she is on it.”
“an just why did she run off?”
This time the wolf actually looked sheepish before admitting “Prometheus scared her.”
“nice chap… fightenin a little lass like Lilith….”
“He didn’t mean to frighten her. She just saw him kill for the first time.” the wolf said, trying to explain to the boy, but then spoilt it by saying “Slaughter really.”
The boy shrugged and said as if it was self evident “well… don’t blame her then”
“After that the doctor realized he needed tighter control on us. Freya wanted to run too.”
“the doctor? the nut job as made yer?” the boy asked, this was new information, dissent prior to them arriving in the City, and confirmation about their boss.
This seemed to annoy the wolf, and there was menace in his voice as he said “Now here’s the question you should be asking yourself young fox, why would I be telling you all of this?”
“could be lots of reasons…..” Tepic hedged, realising the conversation had taken a turn for the worse.
The wolf reached high on the wall of the slum behind him and scraped a claw down the brickwork, leaving a trail of blood on the surface. He asked “Can you guess?” in silky tones.
“nope, that’s playin games, an i reckons we’s beyond that….” the boy stated, hefting the bottle in his hand, ensuring the wick was still burning.
“It’s because Prometheus is tired of games. He sent me here to give you one last chance at understanding us and if it fails then things begin to die.”
“we got two of yer folk, an they’s safe, we even asked yer fer the medicine ter keep em well….” Tepic reminded the wolf.
“We delivered!” the wolf spat, “But we are also very serious, things will die beginning this week.”
“an i reckons we understands yer very well, yer ain’t a family, just another bad gang run by that doctor chap…..” the boy said, choosing his words carefully, “an yer don’t need ter be that, unless he wants ter keep yer as slaves…..”
“Slaves?” the wolf questioned, “Servants”
“servants get ter choose, yer don’t, so yer’s slaves,” Tepic knew the final part of this play was about done and decided he had to get his point across ” an ‘things’, as yer call people, die all the time….. it’s sad, but it’s life…. but….. if yer kills people, that’s yer choice, no one else’s, it’s down ter yer….. an the guilt is with yer, no one else.”
“I see.” the wolf said, very calmly, ” It’s a shame. Freya’s not going to like that I killed the ‘brat’.”
As he said the last word he charged towards the lad, who, with a yell of “Catch!” threw the bottle then leapt over the railing into the canal below. The wolf batted aside the missile contemptuously, which flew aside and smashed into burning ruin some yards away, Some of the oil had spilt onto the creature’s arm however, and ignited in a mass of hot flame.
As he swam strongly through the dark, cold waters, Tepic heard the howls of the wolf and the sounds of barrels and other things being smashed. He had no doubt that he had hurt the wolf, but yet again, the Vole was being reduced to splinters to assuage someone’s anger.