Yashu groaned and trudged through the steppe. The dry grass brushed his feet and tickled his toes. The sun was high in the cloudless sky, the mosquitos buzzed, not a bird sang in the heat of midday.
Puffing, Yashu stopped and wiped the sweat from his forehead. Coco, the black she-wolf, sank down on the grass with a disgust.
"Nothing there Coco, it will go on soon." Yashu explained and tugged the wolf at the ear. Coco growled unwillingly.
"I know it's hot, but we have to find Echeyakee!"
Echeyakee, "white mist" in the language of the tauren. In the savannah he was the king of all lions, recognizable by his snow-colored fur. A dangerous enemy - as demonstrated by the bones of numerous unfortunate hunters who faded under the burning sun of the Barrens.
Yashu growled and gazed at this sun in the sky, eyes narrowed.
"All right, Coco. If we find a tree, we'll rest. We need shade, we can't stay here."
Coco panted resignedly.
The sun had already moved a good distance across the sky, but was still burning relentlessly when Yashu spotted a group of trees on the horizon. He stroked Coco's warm fur encouragingly. "Just look at Coco, an oasis! There is definitely water there, then we can cool off."
Coco whined. Yashu looked at her pityingly. Her thick fur must have made the heat unbearable, he thought.
They hurried to cover the last part of the way. When they finally stepped into the shade of the green palm trees, they had run the last few meters. Tall grass and plants with large leaves grew between the palm trees. Behind them, Yashu saw a blue glitter.
"Coco, water!" he exclaimed happily.
Together they broke through the bushes - and stood on the bank of a circular lake. Small waves sparkled and flashed, reflecting the bright light, large palm leaves cast long shadows over the water and the fine sand on the shore.
With an enthusiastic bark, Coco jumped into the water. It splashed and splashed as the wolf plunged into the cool water. Grinsed, Yashu watched her for a few moments, then, sighing in relief, took off his bow, took off one item of clothing after the other and also plunged into the oasis.
Water, refreshing water. Yashu dipped his head in and drank deeply. After a few minutes, Coco first shuffled ashore. Her black fur hung soaking wet from her wolf's body. Tired and contentedly growling, she turned twice in a circle in the shadow of a palm tree, curled up on the floor, laid her head on her paws and closed her eyes.
Yashu yawned with arms stretched out. Then he too got out of the water and followed Coco: he leaned against the trunk of a palm tree and closed his eyes. After a few moments he fell asleep.
He woke up when heard a warning growl.
Alarmed, he opened his eyes.
Coco stood in front of him. Her ears were upright, the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. She stared attentively at a nearby bush. Had something moved there in the tall grass under the leaves? Yashu rose cautiously.
At that moment a white lightning bolt shot out of the opposite thicket.
Although he had heard of Echeyakee's legendary greatness, Yashu was surprised at how enormous the white lion actually was. He looked into the predator's ice blue eyes and saw that he was facing a deadly enemy. Cunning, intelligence, the desire to kill were written there - cold as a glacier.
In the next instant Echeyakee reached Coco and pounced on her. With a surprised squeak, the she-wolf, who was only half the size of the lion, was thrown on its side and Echeyakee was over her, clawing her black fur. Desperate, Coco snapped at the lion's mouth as it tried to reach her neck. Yashu had broken out of his rigidity. With a scream he threw himself at the two fighting animals. He got his hands on Echeyakee's mane and tugged at it wildly.
Echeyakee's head jerked around and snapped at Yashu. Yashu fell back. The lion's cracking teeth tore a finger's breadth past his face. Echeyakee left Coco and turned to Yashu. Ashu crawled panting back. The hot sand rubbed painfully against his bare skin. The white lion started to leap, pushed off, and lunged at Yashu. The troll raised his hands protectively, then Echeyakee was on top of him. The impact of the heavy animal stole Yashu's senses and breath. He saw the lion's teeth blurred, then blackness.
But the fatal bite didn't come. Instead, a pained roar. Yashu opened his eyes. When the dancing stars disappeared, he saw Coco. The black she-wolf had her teeth hammered deep into Echeyakee's flank. Bright red blood streamed over the lion's white fur. Furious, Echeyakee tried to turn to attack the she-wolf.
Freed from the lion's weight, Yashu braced himself panting on his trembling legs. He looked around in a daze. Where were his weapons? They were lying in the sand back there. He tossed around and ran like he had never run. He reached the place where he had removed his bow and clothing. He jerked the bow up and hastily reached for an arrow. How many times had he made this movement - it had never seemed so long to him. Arrow in the string. Tip to the bow. Tighten the tendon. Aim.
Breathing hard, Yashu took aim. Before him, not far away, Echeyakee and Coco were fighting. The white lion had managed to throw itself back on the wolf. The two animals rolled around in the sand, biting, scratching, and growling was already colored red. Apart! Staring, just a second, at each other again! Bite, tear, roll, back and forth. A ballet graceful in a deadly way.
Desperate, Yashu tried to calmly point his arrowhead at the white lion. His finger twitched, but Coco was back in the foreground of the fight. Cursing, Yashu yanked back the bow.
Then Echeyakee gained the upper hand over the she-wolf. With a loud roar, he buried Coco under himself, pressed his claws with all his weight into the body of the smaller Coco - and bit down. "No!" Yashu yelled without hearing his own voice. He yanked the bow up, pulled the string, shot. The arrow whirred through the air, digging deep into white fur. Red blood welled up, a loud roar.
Yashu had already drawn the next arrow, aimed, fired. Red blood spurted from white fur again.
Echeyakee had stumbled around and was looking at Yashu when the third arrow pierced his body. Then the fourth.
Roaring in pain and despite the four arrows sticking out of his body, Echeyakee set off. In a flash he had covered the short distance and jumped to knock Yashu down.
Yashu had put the last arrow in the string. When the lion pushed off, he shot. The arrow hit Echeyakee in mid-jump. It pierced the predator's ice-blue eye, and penetrated its head up to the shaft.
When Echeyakee hit the ground in front of Yashu, he was already dead. The lion's once white fur was stained red, the dark arrows protruding from his body like spikes.
Yashu no longer paid any attention to the dead animal.
"Coco!" He shouted, and ran towards the black ball of fur that lay motionless in the sand back there.
Shivering, Yashu fell to his knees in front of his she-wolf.
Coco was still breathing. Trembling, slowly. She looked up at Yashu with bleary eyes. There was a large wound in her body and many small ones from which red blood dripped onto the hot sand. "No no!" Yashu sobbed. Tears flowed from his eyes, and mixed with the blood in the sand. He took the wolf's head in his lap and stroked her ears. "Please Coco," he whispered.
The light of the sun, which was already sinking behind the horizon, had turned red. The palm trees cast long shadows over the plain of the wasteland.
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