Disclaimer – This is an unedited scene from The Red Pearl. It may or may not appear in the completed work.
Malik Awakens at Malgary Keep —
This is an excerpt from a longer story: The Red Pearl
Awakened by the sound of the door latch, Malik stirred. Without rising to his feet, he lifted his head and softly whined deep in his throat. Still after all this time, about a half-year by his reckoning, waking up in a dog’s body was a shock.
The door opened and a slight female servant slipped in. She always entered like a ghost, silently and almost floating, and exited with even more care, cracking the door slightly, peering out, then quickly gliding away. Malik wondered if the young woman had been forbidden to visit with him and if she feared reprisal.
Whatever the case, she was a bright spot in a lonely existence, and he was glad she visited. His golden brown eyes followed her movements as she checked his water dish. When she knelt beside him, wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his ruff, his tail thumped on his bed mat.
“Maliya, my friend,” she whispered as her hand slid down his back smoothing his silky, rufous hair. While she silently continued to caress his back, Malik relaxed and half closed his eyes. Yes, he thought, a dog definitely did enjoy a few advantages.
Suddenly, Malik’s ears perked up and the servant froze, her hand halfway down his back. An audible, quickly-in-drawn breath and rounded eyes betrayed her fear as excited voices and running footsteps advanced from deeper in the caverns. After the noise passed and receded in the direction of the keep, her eyes relaxed and she began breathing again. Shakily she arose from the floor, glided to the door, inched it open, and carefully peered out. Apparently seeing nothing, she inhaled deeply and widened the opening just enough to allow egress. Just as she was slipping out, a faint voice yelled. Malik knew the sound came from a distance, even perhaps, from an upper level of the caverns, but the servant jerked and then sprinted away as though chased by the ghost she herself resembled.
Malik stood in the doorway watching the fleeing form and wondered what caused such fear in the young woman. True, in the half-year he had been here, he had neither seen nor heard such commotion in the tunnels, but why react with terror? As she turned a corner, he marveled at how quickly she had disappeared down the corridor. Corridor! He was looking down the corridor! She had left his cell door open!
In his excitement, Malik nearly barked into the empty passageway, then reined in the urge and quickly looked to his left. Good. No one there. He nudged the door leaving it just slightly ajar, trotted across the room to look at his geaster, and raised himself up against the wall. No. He mustn’t waste any time; he already knew he could not reach it. He dropped to all fours. Here was his opportunity, the chance he’d been awaiting, and now he did not know what to do with it. He needed time to think!