Kaido no Yume I

The wolf trembled under the thin sheets. A blizzard was roaring outside, harassing his house and driving the cold through the boarded-up windows, but Kohath was far too weak to get up and relight the fire. He had been sick for at least two months now, and it was becoming an effort just to get out of bed. He turned over and took a sip of ice-cold water before falling asleep again.

The warmth wasn't what woke him--it was the kind of sheltering heat that makes you want to stay in bed all day--it was the shouting, the small voices yelling "Maro, Maro!"

He tried to get up, but his limbs gave way and he fell on his face, but not into the hard cot he usually slept on--his muzzle landed in loose sand.

Strong arms lifted him up. He fell asleep again as he was carried off.

He became aware of someone washing him with warm water. More than just one--it felt like many more than one or two hands scrubbing his fur.

He was vigorously rubbed dry with rough cloth, which irritated his still-tender nose, but being clean now he felt better than he had in a long time. The heat of the air began fading to wonderful coolness, and the wolf was startled into full wakefulness as he felt someone running a brush through his tailfur, pulling out knots.

Kohath looked up at the mysterious groomer. He recognized it as a tiger, although he'd never met one before.

"Ah, you are awake..."