[NorthWorld] Thorgaut Kabbisson: Chapter 18 – Treed! – Dave Bailey

[NorthWorld] Thorgaut Kabbisson: Chapter 18 – Treed!

Thorgaut pushed himself up and tried to scramble to his feet. He stood unsteadily. His head felt light from hanging upside down for so long. His feet tingled as the circulation started to flow back into them again after having been cut off by the rope.

He looked around for his weapons. They were still on the ground where they had fallen on the other side of the wolves.

The pack continued to press forward in his direction. The black and white wolf both held back a bit and advanced cautiously with their heads down. The gray wolf though came at him aggressively with its head held high.

“Right!” Thorgaut said. “You want to avenge your buddy. Huh?”

Thorgaut spotted some branches and rocks on the ground. He considered using them as weapons. He knew though that they wouldn’t do much good against one wolf, let alone all three of them. It would only make them angrier.

He looked up at the tree beside him. It was still small, and the branches looked like they would barely hold his weight. But it was his only option. He leaped up into the lower limbs and hoped he could pull himself up high enough to keep out of the wolves reach.

Thorgaut grabbed on to a branch and threw his foot up against the trunk for extra leverage. He threw his other arm up to grab onto a second branch. He was still pulling himself up when the gray wolf leaped at him.

He was still sore and weak from his earlier efforts. He was unable to pull himself up fast enough. The large gray animal latched onto the heel of his foot that was still hanging down off the branch. The weight of the wolf almost pulled him back out of the tree, but Thorgaut managed to hang on.

The wolf didn’t have a tight enough grip on his foot, and its teeth slipped off leaving a deep gash. The wound ran deep enough that Thorgaut could see the white of the bone across a part of his foot.

The rabid grey animal fell back to the ground and immediately leaped back up again with a snarl. But by that time Thorgaut had managed to pull his foot higher to safety. He sighed with relief and looked around for a higher branch that could support his weight. He tugged on a few to test them, but they were still young and green. None were strong enough to support his weight.

Meantime, the black and white wolves had arrived at the tree and now sat waiting patiently below. The grey wolf though continued to his assault on the tree. He jumped tirelessly time after time, trying to get a hold of Thorgaut’s feet.

Thorgaut leaned back against the trunk of the tree. He shifted his weight around from time to time when the wolves jaws snapped perilously close to his feet.

The gray wolf finally paused to take a break. The three wolves gathered around each other for another one of their little meetings. Thorgaut watched expectantly. He couldn’t get over how much they seemed to communicate to each other through their growls, snarls, and whimpers.

He wished he could understand what they were up too. They were way too smart for ordinary wolves and seemed to be planning something. They didn’t seem to be up to any good when they looked up in his direction.

After a few minutes, the gray wolf broke off from the pack and backed off a short distance away. The white wolf came closer to the small tree and stood at its base almost directly below Thorgaut. The gray wolf took a running start in the direction of the tree.

Thorgaut couldn’t believe it. Were they going to do what he thought they were? He held his breath.

The gray wolf jumped onto the white wolf’s back. It didn’t have a solid footing and almost slipped. But it didn’t and from there leaped up towards the branch. It managed to grab on and pull itself the rest of the way up until it stood on the limb in front of him.

Thorgaut should have kicked out while it was still getting its balance. He froze momentarily in shock though. He couldn’t believe it. And by the time he gathered his wits about him, the wolf had a solid footing and was ready to attack.

Thorgaut did kick out at its feet to see if he could knock it off anyway, but by then it was too late. The wolf snapped at his feet, and he pulled back. He tried to get around the trunk to another branch.

He grabbed on to a branch with one hand to stabilize himself. Then he threw his foot out on a limb to pull his body around. At the same time, he also grabbed another branch with his free hand. He tested the bough he was standing on by lowering his weight carefully with both feet.

As expected, the branch wasn’t as stable as the previous. It started to bend under Thorgaut’s weight. He pulled his weight back up on his hands so it wouldn’t break. He realized that his hands were flush with the trunk. The branches were the thickest and sturdiest there. He had been placing his feet though, farther out on the limb where it wasn’t as strong.

Thorgaut pulled his feet in closer to the trunk and let up on his arms to test his weight again. This time the branch seemed firmer and didn’t bend as much. But he didn’t like being this position because his body was closer to the wolf. There was no way he could get out farther on the branch to move away from it.

The trunk of the sapling was too thin to be much of an obstacle for the wolf. It found another branch to put one of its paws on to stabilize itself. Then it reached around the trunk with its neck and tried to bite into his thigh right above the knee.

Thorgaut jerked his leg back just as its jaws snapped shut. So, it didn’t get much flesh even though its teeth did rip into his pants. Thorgaut pulled back on his leg to get it farther away, but the wolf had a solid hold. It tugged back against him.

Neither had much leverage since they were above the ground on weak branches. Each of them locked into place without being able to go forward or backward.

Thorgaut had a bit of an advantage because he was able to use his hands to help keep his balance. After a few moments, he pulled back as hard as he could with his leg. Then he shoved his knee up and forward into the wolf’s face and nose.

His tactic worked. The effect of his knee connecting with the wolf’s face caused it to let go of his leg. Also, the fact that Thorgaut was no longer resisting its pull threw it off balance.

The great gray wolf threw its paw forward to regain its footing. It overcompensated though and threw its leg too far over. It almost fell but managed to catch itself with the upper part of its leg. It took a moment to get itself back up.

Thorgaut pulled back with his leg and let loose with a wild kick. His foot connected with the wolf’s head. Since he was using his left leg though, he didn’t have as much power behind it as he had hoped. Being off balance while hanging in a tree didn’t help much either. So, in the end, his kick didn’t do as much damage as he had hoped.

The wolf had pulled back though which gave him a moment to recompose himself. It snarled furiously with its ears laid back. Thorgaut jerked his body around like he was going to kick at it again. The wolf ducked its head to the side. When it realized what he had done, it barked angrily and sharply at him.

Thorgaut noticed when he faked the wolf out that it was easy to shake the whole tree because of its small size. He grabbed onto the branches and shook the tree as hard as he could just like he was trying to knock ripe fruit to the ground.

The wolf crouched down as it tried to keep its balance. It didn’t have fingers or hands to grasp on and tighten its hold. Thorgaut hoped he could knock the wolf out of the tree if he shook hard enough.

Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain. He couldn’t shake the tree violently enough to knock the wolf out. Thorgaut tried several times until he didn’t have the strength to continue any longer. He paused to catch his breath.

When the wolf realized he wasn’t going to shake the tree again, it started to press forward. Thorgaut pulled his legs back as far as he dared to try and keep them away from the wolf’s jaws. But the wolf didn’t try to bite him.

Instead, it lowered back on its haunches like it was going to leap at Thorgaut to knock him out of the tree. Thorgaut prepared for the worst, but there wasn’t much he could do except tighten his grip on the branches and prepare for the worst.

Dave Bailey

Dave Bailey started writing short stories when he lived in Brazil to help his students learn English. Now, he lives in Florida again where he continues to write fun and inspiring sci-fi and fantasy fiction stories. You can read his weekly short stories here on his blog. Make sure to join his advanced reading crew so you know when new stories become available >>> https://davebailey.me/go/crew