Gentle Beast 13

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The air was filled with a sweet scent that seemed to have come from afar. It was mingled with the hint of sea water, ethereal and subtle. The females of the wolf race smelled radically different.

Holden turned the toes of his boots and green pupils looked toward the cabin corner, behind the pile of antelope skins.

"Patriarch. . ." the subordinate wolf twitched his nose to scent the air again but still did not catch anything.

Holden did not stop, as if he hadn't heard the other wolf at all, and took a step forward, heading in the direction of the antelope skins.

His leather boots stepped heavily on the solid wood floor, for a moment, heavy and oppressive.

Thump, thump, thump——

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's whole body went stiff, her train of thought having been stretched taut, and could not think normally.

What was the smell of estrus?

Why couldn't she smell anything?

The footsteps were getting closer and closer, and she raised her sleeve to her nose to discreetly scent herself, wanting to confirm that it was not her body that was reeking. But no, aside from the scent of laundry detergent from her clothes, she smelled nothing unusual.

Did he have a dog's nose?

Holden stopped in front of the pile of skins and his eyebrows raised, the tip of his tongue swiping over her lip as his gaze fixated on her place.

The scent was sweet, like some kind of tightly packed jam.

That fragrant aroma overflowed, and he could almost imagine the female trembling and helpless.

But, in the next moment, his eyebrows wrinkled.

That scent suddenly disappeared, replaced by the smell of salt water, and it hit Holden in the face, catching him by surprise.

He was disappointed into speechlessness, but once again concentrated to find that scent again, but it was gone.

Hurried footsteps sounded outside the cabin door and a wolf standing at the end of the stairs hurriedly reported, "Patriarch, the deck below the bow is leaking!"

Holden's eyebrows furrowed into a ravine and he put away his prior thoughts to walk back to the door, "What happened?"

The beastman said, "The specific reason hasn't been found. . . but. . . I went to the observation room and checked again, and the leopard in there was gone, and we haven't found him inside or out. . ."

Holden walked over to the stairs and heard those words, his eyes flashing cold, "Lock down the ship immediately. Find him."

The cabin door finally closed, isolating the inside from the moonlight outside, but also isolated it from the panic going on out there.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu continued to hide behind the antelope skins, not daring to come out.

Slowly, she reached out to touch her forehead and found it covered in a cold sweat.

The scent of estrus. . . did that mean her?

She knew animals in nature would have a fixed cycle, and that this estrus was the physiological state of ovulation, and represented the female's most receptive period to the opposite sex.

Counting the days, this just happened to be the date of her ovulation.

But this phenomenon, didn't it only happen in animals?

Did women give off the scent of estrus when they ovulated?

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu felt a swell in her headache, mind swimming. This kind of ovulation, how was she going to control it?

She bit her lip. She was now undoubtedly an active target because of it. She had to do something to save herself.

Just now, the wolf-man left after smelling the scent of the sea. Was there another scent that could hide her?

*

The boat's bow was leaking, and all the beastmen were awakened from their dreams to rush and repair the boat.

The rest, along with Holden, checked every corner of the ship for the whereabouts of the leopard.

Taking advantage of this period, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu filled the sachet at her waist, once used for cat mint, with pepper, magnolia and other spices.

She crept out of the cabin on light feat. Presumably because Holden had just checked it, there were no wolves on this deck.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu thought of their recent dialogue. That leopard, was it really the one she knew?

He had escaped the observation room? Where was he now?

"There's movement over here——"

"Did you smell something?"

"Go check it out!"

Suddenly, the conversation drew close to the corner. Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu felt her mind wooden, looked around reflexively.

There were rooms on both sides of her, sort of like a beastman's lounge. The sound of footsteps were approaching, and it was too late for Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu to escape somewhere else, so she pushed open a door in a panic and flashed to the side, quickly shutting the door behind her.

Almost at the same time, two wolves turned into the aisle and stopped at the door.

"Strange. Nothing."

"The footsteps we heard just now. . ."

"Voice of the patriarch?"

"Maybe we should look somewhere else."

The two beastmen whispered in the doorway, waving a torch every which way, then soon left.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu, hiding behind the door, felt her back go cold with sweat and just realized her legs were soft.

She was beginning to feel frightened, regretting that she had been reckless to board the ship.

Here, the beastmen's nose and ears were far more sensitive than her own. She could not hide for long, how was she going to escape the boat?

Her backpack hadn't been found and the leopard cub was still missing. Were they still both held captive?

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu sat by the door to ease her mind. Once her mind was slightly more stable, she held the side of the table to help her stand.

Suddenly, her fingertips touched something hard. She slid her fingers along it to feel its rivets.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's eyes lit up, eyes shining bright in the dark, and she turned quickly to take the thing into her hands.

Using the thin moonlight shining in through the window, she could finally see it. It was rose red with rivets, and shoulders. It was her backpack.

The zipper was still open. She didn't know if the beastmen here knew how to use a zipper, but the backpack was still wide open and filled with animal bones, hemp rope and other messy things.

They really had taken her bag to be a debris bag. . .

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu rummaged around and finally found her compass, flashlight and cell phone at the bottom.

The stone in her heart was halfway laid to rest. She got her backpack back!

She hadn't expected this to happen so coincidentally. She had casually picked between rooms and that was exactly where her backpack was.

For later convenience, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu put the bag into her space and left only the flashlight out. Taking two batteries from her space, she swapped them out and tossed the spent batteries into a corner of her space.

Thumb on the switch, she gently pushed and a beam of white light immediately shot from the head.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu could finally see the rest of the room. It was not very large and had simple furnishings, a bed covered with animal skin, bows and arrows hanging beside the bed along with stone axes, spears and other tools.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu moved the flashlight to look elsewhere when she saw a shadow shaking by the window.

She stiffened, immediately on guard, and stared at that place, watching the shadow jump down from the window and fall by her foot.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu backed away two steps in conditioned response, then watched fixedly at it.

Until——

"Wu. . ."

That familiar voice sounded and Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's eyes opened wide, shining her flashlight on it incredulously.

Sure enough. The creature in front of her was none other than the little leopard she had lost.

He stood opposite her, head pulled back, and throat issuing that low grumble. His pupils were indifferent and contained a cold glimmer.

He opened his mouth and bared sharp teeth.

Spread out behind him on the floor were mottled blood drops, soon turning an ocher red.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu followed that blood trail back to his hind leg and saw the original injury had cracked and the gauze was soaked in blood. He was probably acutely aware of the pain. As when he landed, he curled the injured leg slightly and cushioned it.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu stared at him blankly, fingers trembling, and almost couldn't hold the flashlight.

He looked ferocious and she saw herself in his eyes, the beast's prey.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu almost took a step forward in shock, but instead shrunk back.

She was not sure who that killing intent in his eyes was directed towards. Was it her or the other beastmen?

*

The moment he landed, Ryan saw a flash of white light pass over him.

At the other end of the beam, there was a thin girl standing at the door of the room, her expression at a loss. After seeing him for a moment, she subconsciously back away.

Just like she had the first time she saw him.

Ryan's eyes sank, his tongue slowly sweeping past his teeth. He was bleeding too much for his mind to be clear enough to conceal his own beast.

Why was she on this boat? Had she been caught by the wolves?

Ryan turned his eyes and looked around the room. It was ordinary.

When he had come onto the boat, the ship's wolves were drinking and celebrating on the deck. They had made enough skins to protect the clan females from winter.

In order to obtain the internal affairs of the wolf race, he deliberately exposed traces of his presence and pretended to be caught by them, and was then locked into the observation room.

To his disappointment, there was no useful information in that room except for those pathetic herbivores.

The wolves seemed to know nothing about why he had gotten smaller.

Ryan's mood was a bit bad. This body was too weak, it's offensive strength low, and his teeth and claws were not sharp enough. Not only that, but aside from his reasonable agility, the rest was all useless.

He just opened the door to the observation room and attracted the attention of the wolves. To divert their notice, he destroyed the bulkhead of the ship and in the escape, his wound was torn open. Soon, the smell of blood would reveal his whereabouts.

Ryan looked at the motionless girl opposite him. He had thought she would be afraid, retreat, and run away. He had not expected that she would slowly squat in front of him, hold out her delicate white fingers, and carefully touch the blood soaked bandage. Her black eyes slipped towards him, afraid and a little worried, "Hurt?"

Inertia caused Ryan's body to slowly shrink back.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu saw this and her mouth raised into a gentle smile, her eyes closing into semi-circles, and she quickly put away her smile, saying with a straight face, "Even hurt, you still run around? Do you know how dangerous this is?"

Ryan stared at the girl's fingertips, his eyes dull.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu wanted to say something more, but suddenly, the quiet corridor was noisy, and heavy, ominous footsteps stopped at the doorway.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu quickly went over and picked him up. "Bang," a huge force kicked the door open.

Outside, Holden set down his long leg and crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against the door frame. Narrowing his eyes to find squints, his gaze fell on the girl opposite him like he had found his prey.

End Chapter 13 of 77

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