The clink-clink-thud of doors being unlocked resonated in the clammy air of the dungeon. None of them were opened, just unlocked. Not that it mattered really. All of the occupants were chained to the walls and to each other, grouped by species and race for the most part. There weren't enough werewolves to be so picky since few survived both battle wound and the change.
Garth looked around him, knowing what he'd see. He and his men, all five of them humans, the Andorian wolf who had been born a shifter rather than turned. And the young darkling youth. He felt for that one, though he probably shouldn't.
War was a very profitable endeavor for darklings which was why they instigated so many of them. They mostly liked to take live prisoners that could be ransomed back to their families. Those that didn't get ransomed were sold as slaves, so it was a win-win situation for them.
Not so much for this darkling youth, though. He had been strong enough to survive his wounds but not strong enough to fight off the virus that caused loupism. It didn't matter what his birth was or how wealthy his family. When they found out he'd been turned, the youth became nothing more than an animal to his family, sold to the slavers for profit.
Garth and the other werewolves in this pen had deliberately signed up for the war, knowing full well that if they got captured they would end up in this situation. The boy had simply gone to battle hoping to win honor and riches. It was the way of his people and Garth didn't hold it against him. He was too young and inexperienced to have done anything other than what had been expected of him.
The boy, probably no more than twenty, had literally never taken the time to think about what could happen in the fog of war.
The clinking and banging stopped. Garth tipped his head to the side and listened as one by one the doors to various cages opened and the sound of bidding began. This was it then. Come what may, they'd finally get out of this cell.
He turned and looked over his motley pack one last time, making eye contact with each, reinforcing his orders to them to behave. If no one bought them--they'd almost certainly end up being sold as a lot--they'd end up in the gladiatorial pits, fighting god only knows what until they were all wiped out. They needed to convince someone to buy them because he was too goddamned old to die a pointless death like that. Besides, they were his to care for. He was old but he still had his pride. He didn't want his boys killed for sport. They were wolves. They should die free or in true battle, not as dogs in a bear baiting ring.
The door to their cage opened with a long, tortured groan. They strained to get a look at who was out there waiting to buy a wolf pack. All but the boy, anyway. He hadn't yet come to terms with his lot in life.
Garth sat back on his heals when he saw not a warlord or a wealthy noble, but a girl. He flicked a lock of long gray hair out of his eyes and peered harder at her. She couldn't be more than seventeen or eighteen years old and she was tiny, though womanly in shape.
"You sure you want them, m'lady?" The auctioneer asked doubtfully.
"Yes," she said breathily. The boy's head jerked up suddenly, his eye wild with panic. Garth looked at him hard, reminding him with a silent command what was at stake. The boy didn't look at him though. He had eyes only for the girl.
And she for him.
Garth looked back and forth between them, wondering what their story was. For surely it must be an interesting one. She'd just bought a whole werewolf pack just to have that boy...
I hope you enjoyed today's post. It's a little something I'd written a long while ago and shoved into my random flash fiction file. Thanks to both Pat and Savanna, I decided it might be fun to drag it out for an airing. Yes, that is the picture that inspired it.