“Breathe, darling girl.” The tiny pup lay limp and wet in her hand, her little white body horribly, painfully still as Rhoelyn gently massaged her ribs with one long finger. “Come now. Just breathe.”
Beside her, Nysse frowned and bit her lip, resting a gentle hand on the priestess’s shoulder. “Rhoe… It’s probably too l-”
Her sister cut her off with a curt shake of her head, too intent on her task to do more than mumble, “She wants to live.”
Tsume’s wuff drew Nysse’s attention back to the tired mother, and she sighed softly before summoning a weak grin. She stroked Tsume’s ears, watching her lick and nuzzle at her other newborns. “I guess you agree.” The huntress looked at the other woman. “Tell me how I can help.”
“Name her, sister. What should we call her?” The small healer’s request, made even as she focused all of her attention and ministrations on the stillborn pup, took Nysse by surprise. She thought quickly, grasping at the first thought that popped into her head as she watched them.
Rhoelyn smiled warmly, glancing just momentarily at the huntress before her gaze returned to the tiny bundle. She spoke softly. “A good choice, sister. Come now, our little celestial warrior. It’s time to live.”
Elune’s priestess raised the tiny body to her lips and whispered in the pup’s ear before kissing her on the head. And then she handed the limp form to Nysse, who cradled her in two hands, surprised.
“Rhoe, I-” Nysse cut off abruptly at the warmth against her palms, her eyes wide.
… and the pup breathed once…
… and once again…
… quickly establishing a rhythm that had the huntress gasping happily, “By Elune!” Nysse nuzzled her cheek against the tiny girl as she stirred, wiggling as a sleepy newborn should.
“Tsume!” Nysse exclaimed, thick-voiced with tears, “She’s alive! Seven beautiful pups, my sweet girl.” She offered the child to her mother, and the wolf sniffed and nuzzled them both, jostling Nysse tenderly. When she laid the white-furred babe with her darker siblings, the pup settled right in, rooting blindly to find her first meal.
Rhoelyn watched the huntress and her wolves with a quiet, warm smile and tears in her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered under her breath to no one and everyone at once.