Frost Wolf

Free Frost Wolf by Kathryn Lasky

Book: Frost Wolf by Kathryn Lasky Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kathryn Lasky
you saying this?”
    “A scroom …” Gwynneth said hesitantly.
    “Oh, great Lupus above!” The Sark almost exploded. Her skittish eye went into paroxysms and seemed to bulge out and twirl as if it had a life of its own. And though there was no wind, her pelt seemed to be hosting its own private typhoon. Her fur clattered with the sound of icicles hanging from her withers and chest. “Really, Gwynneth, you know my feelings about scrooms, mist, whatever. It’s no more than a bunch of caribou scat! I don’t believe in them —
the supernatural
, whoo, whoo!” she intoned in a falsely spooky voice.
    “Don’t be like that!” Gwynneth’s plumage suddenly flattened as she
wilfed
in despair. The Sark was shocked by her reaction.
    “Like what?”
    “You’re mocking me.”
    “But I don’t believe in scrooms.”
    “It doesn’t matter to me what you believe.” Gwynneth cocked her head and looked at the Sark with her deep black eyes. “It’s what I believe. You should have the decency to hear me out.” She paused. “Please, ma’am.”
    For one of the few times in her life, the Sark felt something akin to remorse. She admired this owl. She admired Gwynneth for smithing art in her forge instead of weapons. Gwynneth had always been a keen student of the ways of wolves and had mastered their language, which, although not entirely different from that of owls, was tricky enough. This, too, was commendable. Gwynneth knew their stories, their histories, and their laws. And perhaps most admirable of all, Gwynneth had befriended the
malcadh
Faolan when he was still a lone wolf. If not for Gwynneth, Faolan might never have found his way to the MacDuncans and ultimately the Watch, where he was quickly proving himself to be a wolf of extraordinary talents. She deserved better than to be mocked.
    “All right. I beg your pardon. Tell me about this scroom.”
    “It was Auntie,” Gwynneth replied softly and beganher story of how the vaporous mist had hung in the trees and told her of an unsettled spirit — of her father, Gwyndor.
    “Now forget the hero mark part, but what’s this about a helmet and visor?”
    “Wherever my da’s helm and visor were … were when he died, they have been moved.” She paused and spoke the single word clearly and with emphasis: “Disturbed.” She knew that the Sark would understand the significance of this single word in connection with a forged article, particularly a helmet and visor made by a Rogue smith.
    The Sark grew very still and shut her eyes tightly. The helm and visor of an owl — a Guardian Owl — on the head and body of a wolf. She had noted the details of that mask and helm, but would there be enough in the jugs to stir up an older memory?
    “Come with me,” the Sark ordered and began walking toward her cave.
    Gwynneth followed. The fire that the Sark usually kept, by which many a she-wolf had rested after being driven from a clan for birthing a
malcadh
, had dwindled. They walked past it. The Sark was leading Gwynneth to the darker recesses of the cave. On the walls, jugs andpots of all shapes and sizes rested on ledges or were suspended on cords of caribou sinew. “Wait here,” the Sark said suddenly.
    It was pitch-black, but absolute darkness never bothered an owl. Gwynneth could see as clearly as if it were broad daylight. The Sark must have realized this, for she deliberately turned her back to block Gwynneth’s view. Gwynneth heard a slight clink as the Sark set a clay jug on the floor and then what sounded like a deep inhalation, as if the Sark were taking a huge breath. But the Masked Owl did not smell anything, and that is where she and the Sark parted ways.
    For as she pressed her muzzle into the long neck of the jug, the Sark had entered a landscape of scents. Fired in her own kiln, glazed with the slips and clays from the streambeds of the Beyond, the Sark’s memory jugs were filled with impressions, memories, and descriptions of scents. Memory was sacred

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