Albreda appeared from behind some trees. "What have you there?"
"A wolf pup," said Hayley. "Snarl found him."
The Druid looked down at the little creature.
"What do we do with him?" Hayley asked, fearing the answer.
"We must take him with us, of course."
Relief flooded the ranger. "Thank Saxnor for that. I thought you'd want us to leave him."
"Why would I do that?"
"It's the law of nature, isn't it? The strong survive, the weak perish?"
"What a load of rubbish," said Albreda. "The strong look after the weak. It's the whole basis of the pack."
"But he's so young."
"Old enough to eat meat, at least. Any younger, and we'd have had no choice but to let him perish."
"How old do you think he is?" asked Hayley.
"No more than a month, I should think. I'm surprised to see him here. His den must have been relatively close by."
"He looks to be having difficulty chewing."
"He's still young. At his age, his mother would have pre-chewed the meat. You'll have to do the same for him."
"You mean I have to vomit?"
"No," said Albreda, "though that's what his mother would do. Just take a bite and chew it, then spit it out. He'll carry on from there."
"Can't you do that?"
"You're the one he's chosen as his new mother."
"Me?" said Hayley. "I can't be his mother. I'm the High Ranger."
"I'm too busy!"
Albreda looked down at the small pup and smiled. "It seems you have little choice."
The ranger's hand instinctively stroked the little creature. Hayley could feel tears welling up inside of her. "Oh, very well."
"You should give him a name, you know. Something to call him other than 'pup'."
"How about Gryph?"
"A fine name, and one that reflects your fascination with nature."