Martha shivered with fear… all she wanted was to be back in the cave with the loads of silver ore piled against the door keeping them safe until this night had passed. Tentatively she took her first step back in the direction toward the cave. Soon she was back up to a full run, feet once more pounding the dirt.
She refused to look over her shoulder again, but it seemed to her that she could sense the two creatures keeping pace with her in the shadows, one on either side. She was choosing not to confirm it though, as long as they kept herding her in the direction she wanted to go she would pretend they didn’t exist.
Finally she burst into the clearing in front of the cave. Bart was standing in front of the open door, hand shading his eyes, as if searching for something.
“Thar’s the girl, anyway. Where ya been? Ya seen Earl, Frank or Sniffly out -”
Bart’s voice broke off as his eyes, now wide with terror, locked onto the scratches on her arm.
“The weirs! They got her! Git the chest quick!”
Martha saw his face disappear behind the door and heard the lock clang shut just before she reached it. She pounded on the door but there was no response except the sound of the heavy crate being hastily scraped along the rock floor.
Martha began surveying the clearing for an alternate refuge. As she turned she noticed both of her pursuers crouched just inside the perimeter of the clearing, the smaller creature pawing the ground anxiously but the Alpha standing almost regally at its side. It made a movement with its muzzle and something flew through the air toward her. Martha flinched as it bounced into her foot and pushed even further against the door. Then, looking down, she realized the object that had hit her was a hemp rope looped through the eye holes of two keys. She grabbed them from the ground and then returned her eyes to the weir’s. The larger one nodded once and then looking away as if disinterested. She forced herself to return her attention to the door. The lock echoed loudly as the larger key scraped along its interior in Martha’s trembling hands. The sound of the chest moving stopped as she hung the rope around her neck.
“Earl is that you?”
“No it’s me Martha, please let me in.”
“Since when can a weir operate a keyhole?”
“Jist cause she ain’t turned yet doesn’t mean she won’t! Haul the festerin chest!”
A moment later the scraping sound renewed with a new fervour. She twisted the knob and pushed the door as hard and quickly as she could. It swung two hands’ breadths before bouncing against something solid.
“Drop the chest! Git the door!”
Martha squeezed her arm and leg through, crying out and trying to force the door open enough to grant her entrance. She felt Arny’s rough grip on her scratched arm and could see the eyes of his partially obscured face dart between her own pleading face and her wound. She could almost read the debate between pull and push raging within him. Push won out and she felt herself being thrust aside. As the door began to close again, two howling blurs leapt over her and crashed into it, reversing its movement. Time after time the beasts threw themselves into the door, each time forcing it open a bit further. Knocked backward by the flurry of hair, Martha pushed herself crablike away from the screams and commotion on both sides of the door. She made it to the clearing edge when she saw the Alpha disappear into the cave and his follower swing its hairy head in her direction, let loose a shriek and spring toward her. Froth and spittle flung from the jagged teeth as it raced toward her.