In Wolf's Clothing

Chapter 9

He wondered how long he could hold Vin's guilt over the morning's incident over him. Since waking from his nap, Vin had been apologetic and forthcoming with anything he may need. He drank coffee from Vin's cup and even had a more than his share of the rabbit Vin had killed and cooked. That was one of many things he was thankful for from his joining up with Vin, no more raw meat. Vin had checked the pads on his feet before deciding they were undamaged and they could be on their way. Now following behind the walking horse, Ezra wished they could move a bit faster to the village.

Mister Tanner, how is it you know of these people?

"Me and the boys helped them out awhiles back."

How much longer until we reach this settlement?

"Should be there in an hour." He watched the tracker pull his horse to a stop and look back at him. "Wonder if you should wait outside the village until I talk with the elders?"

If he could have nodded his head he would have. Memories of his entrance to Four Corners floated in his head. Indeed, I concur. He followed along as Vin got his mount moving again lost in thoughts of becoming human again.

~~~~~7~~~~~

Finally, Vin thought, as he saw the village grow from a tiny speak on the horizon. He led Ezra to an old mine. It would offer him shelter and a place away from any human contact. "Got an old mine the village played out years ago. Think that's a good place for you to hole up. Figure ain't no one gonna spot ya in there."

That sounds acceptable Mister Tanner.

Vin frowned a bit by the eager tone to Ezra's voice. Would leaving the wolf alone in a mine be such a good idea? He really didn't have much choice, there wasn't anywhere else that would keep him safe from the villagers if they decided to attack him before they even knew he was a human trapped in the form of a wolf.

He found the mine a few minutes later and left Ezra to his own devices, promising to be back soon for him.

~~~~~7~~~~~

A mine, a gold mine! Ezra was practically shaking with excitement at the thought of gold being found in this abandoned shaft. Sure Vin had told him it was played out, but there had to be some more. Sending a snort and huff at the torch hanging by the entrance, he slipped into the dark cavern. He stopped and allowed his eyes to adjust to the near darkness. If there was something to be thankful for in this form, was the keen vision he had in the darkness. There would be no way he would be able to negotiate the tunnel with out. He moved along the dark path, taking his time to stop and explore the walls of rock around him.

He lost track of time as he meandered deeper into the tunnel. His right ear twisted to the right at the strange creaking sound he heard. He paused, one foot poised in the air, as he heard a groan to his left. He eased his foot down, while swiveling his ears trying to detect any other sounds. Not hearing anything he glanced around the area he stood. A sparkle caught his eye to the right. Thoughts of untold riches filled his head and moved toward the area that caught his attention. He found a small rock on the ground with the glittering substance. A loud groan and crack startled him, he crouched with his ears pinned back. A trickle of sand fell onto his head, he shook it off with disgust. Another groan filled the tunnel and he decided his search for gold was over for the moment. The trickle of sand began to increase into a constant stream, hearing another crack he picked up the small rock he found and began making his way back to the mine's entrance. A loud crack shattered off the walls of rock surrounding him. Without another thought he raced for the safety of the entrance. He could hear the deafening roar behind him, he didn't dare pause or turn to look. Safety loomed ahead, he could see the bright light calling to him. Rocks began to pummel his hindquarters. He tucked his tail close to his body and put more speed into his escape. A dark shape was entering the tunnel. No no, get out, don't come in here. He was now close enough to recognize the scent of Vin. The roar behind him didn't drown out the sound of the tracker screaming his name.

"EZRA!"

"VIN! GET OUT!"

He was almost to the entrance when a puff of sand smoke obliterated his view. He slammed hard into an object, rolling over a few times, rock still held tight in his mouth.

~~~~~7~~~~~

Vin coughed and rubbed his chest from where Ezra had slammed into him as the mine collapsed around them. As the cloud of dust cleared he spotted the dust covered wolf staring at a rock, his foot moving it around and over. "Damn Pard. You okay?"

Not hardly. This is truly painful.

Vin rushed over to Ezra intent on caring for his injured friend. He could see no bleeding wounds, but broken bones wouldn't be seen too easy. "Where ya hurt?"

Hurt? Oh no, beyond some scratches and bruising I'm fine.

"Then what the hell's wrong with ya?"

This, he pointed his nose toward the foot that was rolling the rock around, is a tragedy.

"A rock? You're wallowing over ah rock?" He looked at him with disgust. Here he was worried that Ezra was hurt and he's whining over a damn rock.

Not just a rock Mister Tanner, he said with patience, this is El Dorado!

Vin turned away from the engrossed wolf, grabbing the reins of his horse and mounting. "So ya found gold. Nearly got yerself killed."

Oh quite right Mister Tanner, I found gold alright. The wolf sighed as he pushed the rock away in disgust.

"Then what the heck ya moaning about?"

Fool's gold, Mister Tanner, all I found was fool's gold."

Vin turned his horse away from Ezra. A snort broke free. He could feel the eyes burning into his back.

It's not funny Mister Tanner

Vin tried, he really did try to hold back his laughter, but another snort broke free and he lost himself in the giggles. "Fool's gold."

The wolf trailed behind, indignant in the face of his friend's humor.