Andrew whimpered as Cory treated and cleaned the area around arrow. Jessica hovered around helping when she could, and pacing around in nervous frustration when she couldn’t. Several others had gathered around at the news and Tony motioned for Beth to go and brief them on what had happened.
“All right Alan, what do you have in mind?” Tony asked as they approached the fire, which had been fed back into blazing light.”
“You’ll see.” Alan stated, as he moved to stand in front of Andrew, who turned his attention to him. “So, Andrew. What have you learned?”
“Find a spot with more cover when casting…” Andrew replied, grinning wryly. Alan shook his head and sat down next to Andrew.
“Besides that. About this whole series of events. What did you learn?”
“Um….” Andrew floundered around for an answer while Alan stared him down expectantly.
“What we learn…” Alan continued on. “Is why we have rules around here. What’s the end result of what happened here these last couple of days? We put Sylvan at risk, and it still is at risk and in the hands of a Caledonian woman! Not in our own hands anymore! Now, thankfully I have faith that it will all work out, but why are we in this position in the first place?”
Andrew hung his head in shame, his ears drooping and tail limp. Jessica opened her mouth to say something sharp in his defense, but a withering glare from Alan cut her off before it could begin.
“Because I messed up…” Andrew muttered.
“Because you broke the rules, Andrew.” Alan pointed out, taking Andrew’s muzzle in one paw and raising it up to look him in the eyes. “We have the rules made for a reason, you know.”
“I thought you said that you understood why I did it!” Andrew pleaded.
“Which I appreciate.” Tony replied, smiling kindly. “As I said, your heart is in the right place. But you still broke the rules, and have to pay the price.”
Alan turned to Cory, who finished treating the wound. “How’s the wound look?”
“Well, I just finished cleaning it. The arrow’s about ready to come out. Thankfully it’s not too deep, and I’ve managed to loosen the arrowhead. Should come straight out.”
Alan nodded and turned back to Andrew. “For starters, you’ve got to show some respect for the rules we’ve got set up. So I think I may give you to Tony for a few days of training with the Pack. Show you why we have them set up they way they are.”
“Now hold on just a moment!” Tony interjected, shoving himself into the conversation. “I didn’t agree to this!”
“What, you don’t think you could whip him into shape?” Alan grinned with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Not in his condition! He’s wounded!” Tony shot back. “He’s no good to me at the moment with just one good arm!”
Alan shrugged. “Well, once he’s recovered, then. It’ll give me some time to think up a project for the Pack to work on anyhow.”
“What do you mean, ‘project’?” Tony said, narrowing his eyes.
“What, did you think I was just going to let you run him ragged with drills and practice for a whole week?” Alan smiled knowingly.
“Well, it would make me feel better…” Tony grumbled.
“Cathartic as it may be, I want you to show him why we have rules and structure in the first place and what good Order can do.”
“Hence the project.”
“Exactly. Got to have something for you to showcase. And I’m not saying you can’t do drills and such. Just as long as it has a point.”
They both turned their attention to Andrew, who looked around nervously. “Are you sure all that is necessary?”
Alan nodded and walked back over to Andrew. “It is. This is the price you have to pay. Well, that and one other thing. If there’s one thing I need to reinforce, it’s this: we must stay hidden from all humans. Period. End of story.”
Alan locked eyes with Andrew and put on a hand on the arrow in his arm. “Andrew Renard, you are forbidden from showing yourself or talking to any human without explicit permission from either Tony or myself. Yes, that means Sarah too, if the situation were to arise.”
With one swift motion, Alan yanked the arrow out of Andrew’s arm. “Understood?”
Andrew let out a beastial howl that grabbed the attention of anyone remotely within earshot as pain shot through his body. Clutching his arm, he doubled over growling and snarling. Alan motioned for everyone to hold back and give him space. Soon, Andrew’s ragged breath smoothed out, his growling subsided into whimpers, and he stood back up. Cory quickly rushed over and began to bind up his arm as Jessica stormed over and jabbed Alan in the chest with a finger, her fur bristling with fury.
“ALAN! What was that?!”
“It needed to come out anyway. I used it to send a message.” Alan replied calmly, crossing his arms.
“That was downright cruel! Did you see how much pain that caused him?”
“I’d like to say that it hurt me as much as it hurt him, but I don’t think that’s the case here…” Alan quipped.
“That’s not funny, Alan!” Jessica balled her fists and drew herself up to her full height. Alan placed his paws on her shoulders and looked her in the eye.
“Jessica, no matter what, he would have been in a lot of pain. Cory said it was ready to come out, and I prefer the all-at-once method anyway. I just chose it to send a message, just like I said.”
“It’s okay Jessi…” Andrew spoke up from being tended to.
“Let it go, Jessi. I’m okay, and he’s right. It’s just part of my punishment. It’s okay.”
“Well… but it’s still… I don’t think…FINE!” Jessica spluttered for words and finally threw up her hands and stormed off into the night.
A: Alan: Start brainstorming ideas for the special project
B: Jessica: Go vent to some friends.
C: Andrew: Talk over what happened with Sven.