Hello all. This is part of the prologue from my novel called The Wild Run. That's not a for-sure title, but it's what I have so far. Let me know if you have any comments!

Prologue

It was a wonderful day outside. The leaves were just turning; the sun was shining thought the crisp air, giving the trees a heavenly affect. There was no one out to spoil the view. Too bad that Lanira's mood didn't reflect the weather. She sighed and with pain looked at her swollen belly only to grimace.

How did it happen? She wondered. How could I have let this happen to myself? How could Nick let this happen? What did I do wrong?

Only a few months ago, she thought she was just eating a little too much, that she was just gaining a little weight. Now, half a year later, labor was well under way. Labor for the illegal bastard child she bore.

I can't do this, she thought in despair. No one can save me from the king's justice. If I survive this, the child will be killed, and I will be given to the guard. No how is that fair?

Lanira brooded on it a bit more, gasping with convulsive pain. Her mother tittered at her and helped her up with pillows to support her further.

When Lanira had found out she was pregnant, she had asked for her mother's help. Inali had suggested staying hidden, and they could think of something to do with the child when it was born. Lanira knew her mother would tell no one, and did just as she suggested, living in her mother's house for several months.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, Lanira had no idea what she was going to do with the babe.

Lanira gasped with pain. It was hard to think like this. But what else was she to do? Talk?

I can't just let the babe die, she thought. I can't leave it alone! I can't give it away, either. Oh, what am I to do, what am I to do?

Despair swallowed her mind as pain beyond anything she'd felt so far consumed her body.

"Ok, Ira, this is it!" Her mother warned. "You can do this."

Inali continued to whisper encouragements in her ear as she gave birth to the bastard child that would cause her death. When the babe was born, she fainted with relief.


An earsplitting shriek split the morning air. Ira, still abed from her labor, woke up with a start and a scowl. Who knew that something so small could be so noisy? She closed her eyes again.

Inali bustled in to the room with some warm milk and a towel. It was a day after the birth, and the poor girl was constantly hungry. Lanira was too tired most of the time to feed the mite. But she wouldn't take the bottle this time. She continued to shriek, and they found out why as they turned to the window.

There was a man standing outside.

Inali shrieked as well. Lanira looked fearfully in the direction her mother was staring at, and cried out. The man peering in at them wore the navy blue and gold uniform that marked the king's guard.

Oh no, oh no, oh no, Lanira thought frantically. They can't have found out so quickly!

She stared at the man in the window, and he looked into her eyes. It was then that she realized who he was.

"Nick," she said quietly. "Mother, you can let him in." Inali left quickly.

When she came back, Nick was behind her. He looked worried. That worried her. She had never seen Nicholas Spear worried.

"Is this why I haven't seen you for the last several months, Ira," he said. It wasn't really a question. "You should have told me! Now, by law, I am required to kill the child!"

"No!" Ira shouted. "You can't! She's your child too! Can't we get married or something?"

Nick froze. It appeared that he thought the child was someone else's and not his.

"Ira, I'm sorry. If I don't do something, then both of you will be killed! Maybe I can marry you, but that won't fix anything. They will find out that the girl is older than our marriage, and they will kill both of you. Why didn't you just tell me?"

He said that last with so much hurt in his voice that Ira had trouble answering his question. "I-I don't know," she said shamefaced. "I thought that you couldn't—or wouldn't help me." Her black curls tumbled damply around her face and her bright blue eyes were shining with unshed tears.

"We have to leave her in the forest. That is the punishment for having a bastard baby. Maybe she'll–go in peace then…" Nick trailed off his sentence.

Lanira nodded. Then she started to cry. Nick knelt to comfort her. As much as she hadn't wanted the burdensome baby, she was still her own, and she had come to love that noisy scrap of flesh.

"At—at least let me leave her a note or something. I mean, she should have something special from me. A blanket and a note that says I love her, and that I'm sorry. It can be like a burial that way. She just won't be b-buried."

"Love, you can do anything you want," Inali told her softly.

"I want to keep her," Ira wailed, even though she knew that was impossible. "But I'll name her, and I'll make a blanket for her, and I'll give her a letter, and I'll smile at her and love her for the rest of my life."

No one said anything. The silence was too much to bear, until Nick said, "Well, get started then. We will have to leave at dawn tomorrow."


Kharana, who had been perched outside Lanira's window all morning, heard the entire conversation. She stayed there all night until the man left with the babe. With swift and silent movements of her wings, she followed.

It was quite by accident that she had overheard this particular conversation. She had found a tree that was perfect for a bird that wanted to catch some sun.

She had been sitting there contentedly when her peace was interrupted by a baby's wail. If falcons could scowl, Kharana would have done so then. As it was, she glared in the direction of the closed window.

She had been surprised to see the man beside it. He went inside, and Kharana, curious now, flew down and landed just outside the window so she could hear everything. After all, she had very good ears.

When she heard Lanira talking about the child, she couldn't help but feel very sorry for her. She had her own nestlings back at her nest and she knew what it was like to have children and how it felt. Her excellent animal instincts had told her to help the woman who had sobbed uncontrollably.

So there she was, following the man who carried the sleeping child into the forest. She didn't know why she was following. Only that it was important for her to do so.

She followed him to the very heart of the animals' forest. It was within one hundred feet of the house. He stopped a short way into it.

"I'm sorry, little one," he whispered to the sleeping child. "I wish you could stay with me, but that is impossible."

He then set the babe down in a hollow made by a fallen tree that was long-since rotten. He cocooned her in blankets, put Lanira's note on top of her, and left. His face was full of raw grief.

After the man had been gone for a while, Kharana glided down to where the child lay.

It was a scrappy little thing made of pink flesh and had dark brown curls. There was no way to see what color its eyes were, as it was asleep.

It's only a few days old, Kharana thought. It won't survive without its mother.

So what was she going to do? She couldn't let the scrap of human flesh die.

I'll give it to Chikira, Kharana thought suddenly. The wolves will know what to do with a human babe.

Her mind made up, Kharana spread her wings and went off to find the wolves' lair.


So that's it, Kharana concluded. The child is there as far as I know.

Chikira thought about the situation for a long while. He was a handsome wolf, all white fur and large paws. He had olive-green eyes that were slightly milky. He was blind.

Finally he said, Kharana, thank you for bringing this situation to me. I'll send a couple of wolves with you to see if the child is still alive, and if it is, they will bring her back.

Turning he beak, Kharana saw three wolves facing her.

We're to follow you, said the middle one.

Kharana just nodded and took off, heading for the place she left the baby, wolves trailing her like a line of chicks.


The child was still there and still alive. One of the wolves gently gripped the blanket that held her in his teeth, and another took the letter. Then they headed back to the lair.

When they got back, they found a crowd of wolves waiting for them to bet back.

Look at it.

It's so ugly!

No, it's just different—

What is Chakira planning to do with it?

I don't know. It's kind of cute, though

The whispers followed Kharana and the wolves all the way back to Chakira. He met them in front of his personal lair to examine the child that the wolf set before him. The three sent with Kharana melted into the rest of the pack after dropping the letter next to the child.

After sniffing the baby, Chakira sniffed the letter and called for his daughter, Lakia.

A young adult of the pack stepped forward. She was one of the few animals that knew how to read the human language. She read it aloud to the pack.

It says, 'To my daughter, Andrea,' she said quietly. Father what are we going to do with the child?

I believe that we must foster the child, Chakira said to the pack. I believe that she is the answer to all of our problems with the humans. Hear me:

For years this country, Lavia, has had us under siege. We are banned to forests and woods, allowed no contact with the human race because of an accident. An accident, a misunderstanding between humans and animals, when all we ever wanted was to live in peace with everyone.

But now, in a time of our loss, this child has come to us. If we raise her where she will be welcome, than she can help us. She will change our future with humankind.

So who will foster the girl? He asked finally. She will need to be cared for as one of us, but needs to learn about humans as well. Who will do it?

Whispers went around the pack like wildfire. Lakia again stepped forward.

I can take her, she said. I can feed her, protect her, and teach her as well as love her. I have a young one of my own. It shouldn't be much harder.

Good, Chakira said. But I think that everybody around should have a paw—or claw—in raising her, so she knows everybody.

There were murmurs of assent.

Good. I think that our future is now looking much brighter. Be on your way!