The howling died and the wolf attack did not materialize. The mules relaxed, and even Iola, the homing pigeon, tucked her beak into her feathers and went to sleep. But Alastor kept watch, dozing off and waking in starts, until the first glow of dawn lightened the opaque fog.

He lost six hours but, with some good fortune, could still reach the trading post before sunset. The path ahead was a narrow rocky slope made slippery by wet dew. He secured his three pack animals in a single file with ropes and knots that would easily unravel and come free under a sudden and sharp tug. If one of the mules lost its footing and plunged down the hillside, it will not pull the other two after it.

Alastor set off in a steady pace, his eyes constantly roving the heights on the right and the ravine to the left. He ate on the move, and planned to water and feed the animals at the brook, the one he would have reached by dawn if not for the wolves. 

It was almost noon when the path eased into the flats. Turning a bend on the road, he came upon a small party of armed and mounted men. They looked weary and wary, and eyed him with some suspicion.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

Context: When a wolf pack, chased away from its usual range, seeks new habitat near human settlements, it is a recipe for bloody confrontation.

Note: I shall borrow a word, phrase or the theme from your comment—a maximum of five primary comments or until the next post, whichever the sooner—and develop this story via my replies. Thank you for your assistance.



  1. Note: For this post, a maximum of five readers’ comments allowed or until the next post, whichever the sooner.

    Comments are closed. Thank you.

  2. Great story, Eric, and there’s nothing like leaving us hanging. I hope the men’s weariness proves that their intention is not harm, but simply to rest from their rugged journey. Of course, they’re eyeing Alastor with suspicion because they themselves seek no trouble. 🙂

    Wishing you a Happy New Year! 🎉🎆🎊🎇

    1. By the time Alastor reached the trading post, the sun had already set. The post was built with stone and timber in the fashion of a large house, with a central courtyard. The owners living quarters, kitchen and public bathrooms occupied one wing, and the work shed and stable another. The lodging rooms were in the remaining two wings which enclosed the courtyard. Wagons were parked in a defensive knot around the post. And horses, mules and cattle filled the stable.

      Alastor opened the door that led directly into the central courtyard and a strong smell of smoke, cooking meat and unwashed bodies greeted him. The placed was filled with men and a sprinkling of whores. No women of virtue to be found here.

      He poured a measure of olive oil, his offering to the gods, in the altar set at the entrance, and looked over the heads of the crowd and sought the owner, Theron.

      The men he met on the path earlier in the morning were already there, seated on leather covered folding stools. Now they treated him as if he was an old acquaintance.

      ‘What took you so long, my friend, Alastor?’ asked Sabas, and he raised a jug of wine in greeting. ‘We feared the worse.’

      ‘It is good to see that you’ve arrived safe too,’ said Alastor, ignoring the question. He weaved through the press of men and reached the large roasting pit supervised by the owner, Theron.

      ‘Welcome, Alastor! So you escaped the wolves,’ said Theron, and the two men grasped one another’s arms in greeting.

      ‘It looks so, and I left my mules with your boy in the barn,’ said Alastor.

      ‘He’s a good lad, that one,’ said Theron. ‘And I saved a lodging room for you.’

      ‘I was not aware it was festival time, or is it market day?’ said Alastor, taking in the crowd.

      ‘The wolves brought out the wolves,’ said Theron, in an undertone. ‘The council in Attica has placed a bounty on the pack.’

      Thank you, Lauren.
      Glad you like the story.
      All good wishes to you and loved ones in 2018,

      1. What a great comeback, Eric, and you are skilled to be able to write “on command” so to speak. “The wolves brought out the wolves” is a good ending, too. I would need more time to think about what I want to write, then probably edit a millions. 🙂
        Happy New Year to You and Yours, as well!
        p.s. Thanks for all your continued support here on WP. 🙂

  3. Looks like Alastor’s journey is not going to be easy. He took the winding path to avoid his enemies but risked becoming the wolves’ meal. I hope the party of armed and mounted men he chanced upon are there in disguise to put Alastor to further test on his arduous journey and he was meant for greater deeds in life.

    1. ‘We are trappers, my friend, come to barter furs and hides,’ said Sabas. ‘Perhaps I can entice you with a bear skin, in exchange for a fine blade such as the one you wield.’

      ‘My sword is not for sale and it is metal ores I seek, not skin of bear or any other kind,’ said Alastor. ‘I can fashion a blade for you in exchange for coin.’

      Sabas scratched his bearded chin and grinned. But as was his manner, his eyes did not dance with joy.

      ‘I have to be going, for my delayed journey grows impatient,’ said Alastor, in a tone that hinted he would brook no dissent. ‘Good success with the wolves.’

      He nodded as he walked past the men, but as soon as he was out of their sight, Alastor got off the path and cut through the woods.

      Wow! Windy dear,
      Yes, what good is a story if the protagonist does not meet obstacles? 🙂
      Thank you for your comment, and all good wishes,

  4. One of them removed a revolver from its holster and motioned Alastor to halt where he was as they turned in direction to inspect him and his load covering this stranger’s movements with his weapon at the ready..

    1. Sabas was no taller than Alastor, but while the latter was lean and muscular, the former was a barrel of a man.

      ‘Yes, the wolves brought us this far, my friend,’ said Sabas, as he casually walked to the mules and patted their backpacks. ‘Last night the wolves took two of Theron’s dogs. Strong sturdy animals, these mules of yours. Well cared for, I notice.’

      Alastor did not welcome Sabas’ familiarity. Neither did he appreciate the man for feigning small talk, and inspecting the baggage. He drew his sword, tucked in the bedroll on his lead mule, and said,

      ‘I was well prepared, as you can see. But something must have driven them away.’

      ‘That must have been us,’ said Sabas confidently, and turned. When he saw Alastor with the sword leaning on his shoulder, he blinked. A sheepish grin escaped his lips.

      From the corner of his eye, Alastor sensed that the other two men were impressed with how he handled the sword.

      ‘Well, you are a metalsmith indeed,’ said Sabas, who had also noticed his companions balk. ‘And I would welcome ownership of a fine blade like the one you wield.’

      ‘What brings you to Theron’s inn?’ It was Alastor’s turn for questions.

      Hello Ian,
      That was a curved ball you threw there—a revolver in an ancient Greek tale. Good one 🙂
      So your theme was weapon 🙂

  5. this is a complex situation indeed, Eric. I am always reminded of visiting the Museum of Natural History in Cody Wyoming some years ago, there was a board with thoughts about reintroducing wolves to the area. All the visitors wrote of the beauty of it, while the locals said… “they kill our pets, slaughter our livestock”… of course wolves can wear many different skins these days.

    Hope your Christmas was blessed, and have a great new year – bw

    1. ‘My name is Alastor, metalsmith from the village beyond the hills, the one that strangers call Attica, though it draws its name from the town.’ He stopped about ten wide paces away from the nearest man. It served no good to go any closer, seeing how nervous they were. He added, ‘I head for the trading post, about half a day’s journey away.’

      ‘So, you are acquainted with the owner then, Simo?’ said the big man.

      ‘I am acquainted with the owner of the trading post,’ said Alastor, ‘and he goes by the name Theron.’

      ‘And so he does,’ said the big man, his frown changing to a grin. He jumped off his horse and, with outstretched hand, approached Alastor. ‘They call me Sabas, and so can you.’

      ‘I carry bad tidings,’ said Alastor. ‘Wolves howling at the moon.’

      Hello Bill,
      Good to have you visit and comment.
      Wild life management does come with its unique set of challenges. And it does not help that politicians give a bad name to wolves.
      Christmas was great and I trust you had a great time with family, including your favourite elder daughter and favourite younger daughter 🙂
      All the best for 2018,
      P/s I see that you’ve not uploaded new posts for quite a while.

    1. Alastor did not break his stride but continued approaching the men. Ordinarily, on-comers would raise their hands and move aside to let the other party pass. But not this band. They did not look like bandits. They looked more frightened than fierce, he thought.

      ‘Who are you, wayfarer, and what is your story?’ asked one man, the biggest of the group.

      Hello Willow dear,
      Glad you like the story so far 🙂

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