Wolves attacked one after the other but none could stand against Jill's fighting staff. She ducked as one lunged for her neck and knocked another away in quick succession. Robbie watched in awe but her success proved short lived. More attacked in groups, two from the back, two from the front. One latched onto her staff and with the force of the pack, she finally fell. They tore at her clothes exposing skin on her arms and back, leaving gashes and bite marks. Warm blood flowed from her wounds and painted the ground with grotesque swatches of red as she fought against them. The pack pulled back into a tight circle and waited. Jill scrambled to her feet and the cycle started over again. Robbie couldn't watch any more of the awful attack. He lunged to help her but the gray wolf jerked him back, slamming him into the ground. Robbie righted himself only to receive a vicious backhand that sent him sprawling. His cheek throbbed and he tasted blood on his swelling lips. The Gray pulled Robbie upright to make him watch the remainder of the fight, his hand tight around Robbie's windpipe. The pack pulled away again and waited for Jill to gain her footing. Her limbs shook as she pushed herself to her knees. Tears smeared with blood colored her face but her eyes stayed defiant. The Gray tossed Robbie aside, shifted and took his place in the circle. As soon as Jill stumbled to her feet, he launched himself at her. Robbie's heart sank as he watched the large gray wolf slam into Jill like a tank sending her to the ground again. It rolled her over and kept a heavy paw on her back. He kept his muzzle at the nape of her neck as the others joined in. Jill's screams were like a heavy boot to Robbie's stomach. He sobbed openly and spewed curses at them until they reformed the circle. Jill struggled even to lift her head. The noise of her raspy breathing seemed loud in Robbie's ears. She looked small and broken and each movement she made caused her to cry out in agony. An eager wolf, ready for more blood, took a step toward her. Robbie exploded from the ground. He broke through the circle and crouched down near Jill, sheltering her with his body. A deep feral growl rose from his throat. "Enough!" he shouted. "I say when she's had enough, young pup," The Gray said. "You know our ways." "But she doesn't! I won't let you kill her!" Robbie stood his ground as The Gray inched closer, his muzzle frothing in rage. "You would trade your mother's life to protect this human?" he asked. "I doubt your mad King would let us live either way. If you want to kill her, you will have to kill me as well!" Robbie growled. The Gray laughed and moved closer. "The Wolf King desires the girl alive for a short time. But when he gives the order, I will take pleasure in ripping her throat out and when I'm done, I'll have yours for dessert." The Gray pulled back and ordered the pack to return to the palace. Robbie growled at any who came near to Jill. Finally, after a quick check of her injuries he picked her up and cradled her against his chest as he followed the pack. She watched him through hooded lenses and he could tell there was something different in her eyes, maybe forgiveness. "I'm so sorry I brought you here. They hold my mother and threaten her life. I didn't know what to do," Robbie said. He hoped she understood but she just closed her eyes and said nothing.
They reached the gates just as darkness fell. A mournful howl rose loud in the distance. A lone wolf's agony voiced to the moon.
"I'm sorry, Daddy," Jill sobbed.