Urwyd

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From Never Taste Death by Hannah Rose Williams:

From here he could see the huddled homes of his clan. The city of Urwyd had been built at the peak of the next hill, but as the people had multiplied, their domiciles had spread into the vulnerable valley.

Urwyd, may you stand forever, he thought, but a paranoid pang of guilt told him this was blasphemy. Of course it would fall someday, just as everything did now. The cattle would go wild. The apple orchard would be overgrown by wilderness.

Valyar, at least, might live to be old. He might do great things, be elevated above his peers and lauded as a pious man.

His ears twitched. He looked back at the rustling leaves. It hadn’t been a deer or a rabbit, of that he was certain. For the hundred thousandth time he wished he wasn’t a thrall, wished desperately that he’d been permitted to carry a sword or a knife or even a little club to defend himself.

He had no time to make more wishes.

A white wolf exploded from the darkness. With crushing weight, the gargantuan monster’s helmet-sized paws knocked the breath from Valyar’s chest. Without so much as a cry, Valyar went down, slamming hard against a boulder protruding from the grass.

His first instinct was to sink, but he couldn’t move through stone. Hating himself, he reached up to push the wolf’s jaws away from his throat. It snarled as if laughing. It could have killed him twice by now. It could whip him into the air and catch him in its teeth over and over, just as a hound might play with a field mouse.

This was not one of the shy, wild wolves that sometimes ventured into their land. It was a druid.

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