La Coranich



  • Author's Notes: Rated PG13 for some graphic violence.

    Non-English words were marked with superscript, but apparently the format doesn't translate to BB code. If anyone knows how to fix that, it'd be greatly appreciated. The key is as follows, posted at the beginning and not the end for your convenience:

    Mita'a1 - mother
    Viir'elei2 – new home territory, literally, ‘the founded home’
    Johree3 – sister island, ‘little home’
    Kithaya4 - inexperienced one, a term of endearmeant
    Feiri5 - father
    Ilaya6 – light, affectionate term for a child

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~

    La Coranich

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~

    Raindrops pattering softly on leaves. An owl hooting. Crickets singing their nocturnal lullabies. The sounds of the night whispered on the breeze, stirring through the ice-blue fur of a wolf, curled up in slumber on the forest floor. Its ears rotated instinctively, listening carefully to the world around it, and its nose twitched ever so slightly every now and then.

    Crack. Something different. A twig had broken off in the distance. The wolf half-opened an eye and gazed around sleepily. It could smell something, but what? The scent was still too far away to tell.

    Another branch snapped, a bit closer, but not quite in the same direction. The wolf opened both eyes and looked through the dark, fully awake now. Something was moving out in the forest, and it didn't smell friendly. Tilting its ears towards the sound, the wolf bared its teeth and waited, muscles tensed.

    The noise continued to grow louder, but it came from multiple directions, spreading out in a fan shape from the wolf. There were several creatures out there, creeping through the undergrowth. Suddenly, a pair of eyes appeared through a bush, catching the faint glow of moonlight and reflecting it. It slinked forward into the open, and the wolf let out a faint warning growl. Wolflizard pack.

    The wolflizard edged closer, drawing another growl, this one more of a threat. This was a territory fight, and neither was about to back down. Although the ice-blue wolf was small for its species, it was still larger and tougher than the lizard, and it liked its new home too much to give up without a fight.

    In a motion too swift for the eye to see, the wolf had sprung and was on top of the lizard, pinning it to the ground, but the rest of the wolflizard pack poured out of the brush and piled into the fray. The wolf fought ferociously, scratching with its claws, clamping its mouth down on the lizards' necks and flinging them away into nettle bush.

    There weren't many wolflizards, and most of them were dispatched with ease, their throats either bitten through, or just left bleeding to death on the forest floor, too injured to fight. One, however, managed to get ahold of the wolf's hind paw. The wolf turned with a snarl, more annoyed than anything, and with a powerful kick sent the lizard flying into a tree. It hit with a loud thump and slid down the trunk whimpering, its spine snapped clear in half.

    But in that moment of distraction, one of the remaining lizards latched itself onto the wolf's middle, setting its teeth deep into the flesh. The ice-coloured fur dripped scarlet. Howling in pain, the wolf reared up, giving an almighty shake to loose the lizard. It dangled for a second before falling back to the ground- weak as a wolflizard's jaw was, it was unable to maintain its grasp. Raging with bloodlust now, the wolf bit down on the lizard's head, crushing its skull with one blow.

    Panicked, the last few wolflizards retreated whimpering into the forest. The corpses of the rest of the pack lay scattered in the tiny blood-soaked clearing. The wolf surveyed the grotesque scene with mixed feelings of contempt, disgust, pride, and accomplishment. It had been a relatively easy fight, but the damage had been done in turn.

    The wolf sat on its haunches and curled its body around, licking clean the wound in its side. Although it would usually have healed on its own, the poison common to Cythera's lizard creatures was already seeping into the bloodstream. This would require a different sort of attention, and soon.

    With an animalistic sort of sigh, the wolf stood and began loping slowly off into the forest, trying to ignore the pain that jarred its body with every step.

    ~

    “Good morning, little girl. Well, I suppose it’s not really morning, but that doesn’t really make a difference to you, does it?”

    “What do you want from me?” the girl asked, glaring at her captor maliciously. The prison cell was tiny, roughly five feet by five feet, and just barely high enough for a full-grown adult to stand up in. Its current occupant was an elven-looking girl of about seventeen, with hair as deeply blue as the ocean and skin the whitish-blue shade of the early spring sky. Although her malnourished flesh was stretched tight across her fragile skeleton, she was tall, by no means ‘little’ as her condescending captor insisted on describing her. “Why didn’t you just kill me like you did the others?”

    “Because I need your knowledge,” the man said with a casual shrug. “Well, I might. It depends on which one of you I crack first. Will it be the lovely lady? The taciturn man? Your parents, I assume… you have their features. Or will it be you? Who’ll be first to go?”

    The girl stopped short, stunned into silence. “What? You have my parents? Where are they?”

    “Somewhere else… out of earshot, so don’t bother trying to get their attention. I’ve already been around to talk to them. Very stubborn, the both of them. I suppose this means you’ll be the same. But don’t worry. I’ll break you down, mark my words.” He smiled and shut the iron grate. “Someone will be along to feed you… eventually. Be a nice girl, or you’ll get locked into those chains you see next to you…”

    ~

    “Mita’a1, do you think we’ll we ever come back here?”

    Kyla looked across at her teenage daughter and squeezed her hand sadly. “I don’t know. I hope so. You must pray very hard that we will, okay?” She forlornly turned her gaze back to the hidden city, nestled in among the steep rock cliffs of the tiny island. To an unfamiliar eye, the passage in and out would be invisible. The island itself was not far off the coast of Cythera, only a short boat trip away- but Kyla didn’t know if it would be the last time to make this trip or not.

    Katerei nodded and turned to step into the boat. She understood the gravity of the situation, and didn’t want to trouble her mother with any more questions. Her parents boarded silently behind her, along with the rest of the small crew, and the last person in pushed the boat off from the dock. Their oars would take them through the island delta and out the narrow channel to the ocean. Once the current caught them and carried them to the mainland, that could be the last they would ever see of their home.

    ~

    The night wore on, and the blue wolf continued its journey through the forest, but it moved slower now, hampered by the lizard poison coursing through its bloodstream.

    ~

    The dark man stood in the shadow of the trees, surrounded by his small, but dedicated army. He watched the party of travelers fearlessly, knowing his magic would conceal him. But he was done waiting. It was time.

    “Take some prisoner. I do not care which ones. Slaughter the rest.” He raised his hand and gestured to the clearing ahead. “Go.”

    Moving with the silence of owls and the grace of deer, the army slipped forward through the trees. A line of movement rippled around the edge of the surrounded clearing. The leader watched with an expression of sick satisfaction. He had won this battle before it had even begun.

    A shout went up as the first person stepped out into the open. The travelers leaped to their feet, drawing swords, preparing spells, notching arrows to bowstrings. They were strong warriors, but not strong enough, and they knew it. Yet they were prepared to fight to the death and take down as many as possible in the meantime.

    Banding together into a circle, archers and mages began flinging arrows and spells from the middle. As soon as the first one hit, a roar went up around the clearing, and the attackers rushed forward. With a resounding clash, they struck the outer circle of warriors, and combat ensued.

    A small, separate party of invaders split off from the main group and pulled three figures from the defensive circle. A sword flashed, a flail swung through the air, and spells lit up the air, but they were finally overcome. Bound and gagged, they were dragged off into the forest, unnoticed by anyone else.

    It was a short but bloody fight. Although every blue-skinned figure lay dead, the numbers of human casualties far outnumbered them. The travelers had died bravely and killed many.

    The dark man swept forward into the clearing and looked around with a grim smile. The loss of so many men did not at all trouble him. He had what he wanted; he had already established that. “Good work,” was all he said.

    ~

    “Never, ever tell.”

    ~

    As the blue wolf ran, a memory came back to it. It was faint, just barely on the edge of perception, but it was there. The great white wolf- easily twice as large in stature, with a strange aura, but ever so gentle.

    The two wolves circled, sniffing each other curiously. Neither knew what to make of the other, but neither felt threatened. It was more a meeting of soon-to-be friends than a conflict waiting to happen. Finally, the larger of the two sat on its haunches, furry white tail sliding back and forth over the winter ice. Still curious with almost childlike innocence, the small wolf nuzzled its new friend and licked its face in a friendly gesture.

    They gave each other canine smiles, and as if reading each other’s minds, both leaped up and dashed off across the ice, with no more concerns to distract them than a mother wolf playing with its puppy.

    A particularly sharp jolt of pain went through the blue wolf’s body, and the memory faded into nothingness.

    ~

    “You have to tell me someday, little girl,” the dark man said calmly. He fingered the bracelet idly, the golden chain flowing across his sickly hands like water. “There’s no point in making it harder on yourself. I’ll be nicer if you just go ahead and tell me. I don’t want to force a poor little girl into something she doesn’t want to do.”

    The girl sat in stony silence on the cold floor. Iron chains connected the cuffs on her wrists and ankles to thick links in the cell wall, rendering her essentially immobile, and an iron grate separated her from the man pacing the corridor outside. Even this, though, had not persuaded her into speaking for what she expected had been weeks now.

    “Will you still not speak?” The man looked at her, the faintest trace of irritation on his face. He withdrew a crust of bread from his cloak pocket and tossed it through the grate to her. “Fine. We’ll talk again later, when you’re feeling more conversational.”

    ~

    Inside the city of Viir’elei2, called Vera in the human tongue, three figures sat in a small, cozy home. They spoke in hushed voices, as if discussing a very grave and serious topic - which, in fact, they were.

    “It’s your decision,” Kyla was saying gently. “You are old enough to come now. The trip is going to be a very important one, but our leaders cannot spare many people right now. We’ll understand if you want to stay behind though.”

    Katerei shook her head. “No, Mita’a, I’m coming. I’ve already made up mind. I want to come.”

    “There is one thing you must swear to, if you are to come,” Link cautioned his daughter. “You must never, ever tell anyone how to find the city, no matter what happens. If the party is captured, or if they threaten you, or anything, you must never tell. Do not even discuss it with another member of their group. Our adversaries have powerful magic, and they may try to trick you into telling by disguising themselves as one of us.”

    “What if they capture you?” she asked. “If they’re going to harm you?”

    “Not even then,” Kyla said firmly. “There is too much at stake. Losing our own lives is trivial compared to the destruction that would be wreaked upon Viir’elei if they were ever to find out where it is. Staying hidden is the only thing that keeps us safe. It is the most noble thing you can do to sacrifice yourself or your loved ones to save your kind.”

    Katerei nodded. “I understand. I promise I won’t give the secret up.”

    ~

    The wolf whimpered in pain. It had given up trotting long ago and was moving at a walk now, the poison infecting its whole body. It had to make it there… it had to…

    ~

    “When will you talk?” There was a cold fury in his voice that he could not keep out. The bracelet dangled from his fingertips, the raindrop-shaped pearl swaying back and forth in the dim lantern light. “Are you going to force me into using this? You know well its properties. It will possess you, and it cannot be removed until I instruct so. I will find out all your secrets whether you want me to or not.”

    She glared at him balefully, remaining silent. Inside, however, she was terrified. What if he did use it? What if it was her fault that the secret was spilled? She wouldn’t even be able to control her own actions. But what options did she have? Tell him now, and betray her kind for ever- or stay silent, and pray on the slightest chance that he did not use the bracelet, or that it would not work, or he would give up…

    “Well aren’t you the little vigilante,” he hissed at her. “I have half a mind to kill you right here and now. I’m sick of the sight of you… but I haven’t given up yet. I will crack you.” With those words, he spun on his heel and left the dungeon, taking the lantern and leaving the girl in darkness.

    ~

    “It’s perfect.” The white wolf bared her teeth in an expression Katerei took to be a smile, relaying speech telepathically. “I could have not have asked for a better place.”

    Katerei sat on a rock outcropping, swinging her legs back and forth lightly. “The Amaroq deserve it. Besides, what less could I do for a friend? I know how much we strive to keep our home hidden. It’s not right that you should be chased from your own.”

    Silvre surveyed the land below them with a maternal eye. They were high up on a cliff, sitting next to each other on a narrow rock ledge. Below, the Amaroq wolf pack was exploring their new home on Johree3, sister island to Viir’elei. Having been forced to retreat further and further into the Cytheran forests as the human population grew, Silvre had finally resigned herself to finding a new territory for her pack. Now at last she had found it, with the aid of her friend Katerei, who had suggested the small, but fertile forest island. As Katerei had said with an air of regret, “I’d love to have you live on my island, but the leaders would never allow it, and besides, there’s not much spare vegetation between my own people, the ocean, and the outer rock walls.”

    “I appreciate it more than you know, kithaya4. Perhaps one day you will shoulder the same responsibility of having to care for your brood… although in some ways, I hope you do not.” The great wolf mused for a moment, then shook herself and smiled again. “But that is neither here nor there. Come- sunset arrives. I’ll take you back to your own domain.”

    Katerei nodded, and in a moment, a small ice-blue wolf could be seen trotting behind the white one down the mountain path.

    ~

    Raindrops fell heavily onto the wolf’s body. It was pulling itself along on its belly through the muck and rotting leaves, giving a faint yip of pain every time a twig or sharp rock stuck in its body. It was fading in and out of consciousness; visions of a mountainside, broad expanses of ice, and something warm, large, and white kept appearing in its mind.

    The wolf gave a mournful whimper, unsure which world was real- the pleasant, snowy one, or the damp, unbearably painful one it was still battling. It knew which one it wanted to believe in- but as a nettle bush scraped against the open wound in its side, flashes of red appeared in front of its eyes with every stabbing pain that resonated throughout its body. The wolf arched its back and howled, finally collapsing into the mud with a wet thump. It lay on its side, chest heaving, raindrops running through the matted fur and sending rivulets of scarlet blood across the forest floor.

    ~

    “My patience is wearing thin, little girl,” the man warned. He outstretched his withered hand, the bracelet dangling from one bony finger. “This is going to be your last chance. You will tell me of your own accord how to find the city of Viir’elei, or I will force you to tell me.”

    She lunged forward, curse words falling from her mouth, the first she had uttered since their first conversation. “I will never tell you! Filth! How dare you speak the sacred name! You are not worthy to eat the rubbish we feed to the worms! Vile fiend! I will never tell!”

    “Foolish girl!” he spat, and whipped back his hand, snatching the bracelet into his palm. “I will break you! I… will… break you!

    He unlocked the grate, threw it open, and removed the iron cuffs from his prisoner, hands shaking in rage. Grabbing her by the arm, he pulled up violently, dragging her out of the cell. She continued screeching obscenities at him down the length of the corridor, up a short flight of stairs, and through a guard post. The guards stared on in amazement, having heard the commotion before seeing it.

    “What are you staring at?” the dark man snapped. “Fetch the other prisoners! I want them brought to me at the hilltop immediately! Go!

    Hastily, the guards scrambled to their feet, dashing down another passageway out of sight. The girl was fighting too viciously to notice, kicking, hitting, and clawing every inch of her captor she could reach. Months of imprisonment in the cell had left her weak, though, and the last few weeks in iron bonds particularly so. She could barely stand on her own two feet, let alone fend off a fully-grown man, no matter how near to death he may have looked.

    Finally, she was dragged roughly up another set of stairs, and gasped in shock when sunlight flooded her vision. The pain was too much for her dungeon-adapted eyes, and she buried her fists into them, trying to block out the light. She quickly found herself being blindfolded, and almost gasped in relief to be freed of the unbearable pain. Her arms and legs were tied together next, and she found herself being pulled up what felt like a grassy slope. All attempts to escape by metamorphosing into her wolf form failed, her strength being sapped almost entirely.

    The motion stopped, and someone thrust her into a sitting position against a wooden stake, which she found herself being tied to. Then she was left alone for a time, but sounds continued to swarm around her, disorienting her senses. It felt like eternity before the blindfold was torn from her eyes, and she cried out in pain, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the light. When she could finally see again, she found herself staring across a level hilltop at two people also tied to stakes- her parents.

    “Mita’a! Feiri5!” she screamed, drawing their attention. They recognized their daughter’s voice immediately and began shouting back, trying to say as much as possible while they had the opportunity.

    “Katerei!” the woman called desperately. “You mustn’t tell, do you understand? No matter what! Don’t tell, my darling! We love you!”

    “Don’t give up, ilaya6!” the man added, but his next words were cut off as gags were forced into both of their mouths by guards standing nearby. Stricken, their only child looked on as the man who was responsible for it all strode to the center of the hilltop and spoke.

    “Now,” he intoned, “we will see how long it takes to break you.” With those words, he raised his hands and began to chant. It was an ancient, guttural language, the Old Dark Magic that lived in the blood of the land. Katerei could not understand a word of it, but she looked on with a sense of panic rising in her heart as her parents began to convulse, obviously being affected by the spell.

    “Stop!” she yelled. “Stop it! You scum! You’re the filth of the earth! Stop it!”

    The man turned to face her, and his hood fell from his head, exposing the top of his face for the first time ever. Previously, Katerei had never seen more than his arrow-straight nose, gaunt cheeks, and disgustingly sadistic smile. Her eyes widened in shock as they met his- blacker than the inside of the blackest coal, lifeless, cold, and empty. He cackled almost demonically. “Not until you tell me, little girl!”

    “No! I won’t do it!”

    “Then watch as your parents suffer!” he sneered. Katerei tried to look away, but a guard grabbed her by the chin and forced her to look straight ahead as the spell wracked her parents’ bodies. Another guard stepped forward and used two fingers to wrench her eyelids open, so she could not block out the sight. “Look, little girl! Look at how much pain they’re in! They must hate you right now, their own daughter, betraying them to save her own wretched skin… it won’t save you, girly! Defy me, and I’ll break inside your mind and find all your secrets! I will find the way to Viir’elei, and then they’ll all be dead! You’ll die along with your pathetic parents! Tell me, and I might just let you live!”

    Katerei spat on the ground in front of her. “I’ll tell you nothing!”

    Pure, unadulterated rage crawled over the man’s grotesque features. He turned on his heel without another word and raised his hands in another incantation. Katerei looked on, horrorstruck, as the new spell began to take effect. There was only one thing worse than pain- the thing that had terrorized her kind forever.

    Fire licked up the wooden stakes, quickly igniting the ragged clothing her parents wore. Their expressions were equally horrified, helpless as the heat seared their flesh and whipped up their bodies. Link was able to force out three last words, calling through the gag to his daughter- “Don’t- tell- him!”, before tendrils of fire caught the edge of the cloth. It burned instantly, the white-hot magical flame tearing through his open mouth and melting the flesh, and those were the last words he would ever speak.

    Time seemed to slow. The dark man whirled back around and strode across the hilltop, but each step seemed to take an eternity. Tears were streaming down her face, and Katerei knew she was screaming bloody murder, repeating “I won’t tell!” over and over again, but she could hear nothing. Flames adorned the silence as he filled her vision- he was almost upon her- he was going to kill her, too- oh, those horrible, horrible eyes-

    -and the silence shattered with a single, earth-shattering, furious howl. Pure white flashed before Katerei’s eyes, and she knew no more.

    ~

    Everything was blurry. It was hard to focus. It was white- so, so white. It almost hurt to look at, but it was so glorious, it was equally difficult to look away.

    They were sitting on a frozen lake. Snow spread out all around them, dazzling in the midwinter sunlight. The girl sat cross-legged, a sparkle of vibrant blue in the expanse of white. She was tucked between the furry white legs of the great wolf, the warmth of which made it possible for her to stay there without freezing.

    “It’s beautiful,” the wolf thought to her.

    “Yes,” she replied, looking across the lake at the steep cliff rising above it and smiling. Someday, she’d like to climb up there and see what the island looked like from so high. “Do you think it’s big enough?”

    “Plenty so. I cannot wait to bring my pack here.” The wolf nuzzled her affectionately. “And I cannot thank you enough for showing it to me. To find a new home for the Amaroq- I thought it impossible. I owe you a favour in kind.”

    The girl shook her head. “No you don’t. I just did this because I wanted to help.”

    “But it is right. Kithaya, you are so young yet- a kindness should always be repaid. For something as great as helping the Amaroq to survive, I owe you something very great in turn. Perhaps someday you shall need rescuing, and if so, I will be there.”

    “You’d save my life?” She turned and looked at her friend in amusement. “But my life’s in no danger.”

    The wolf looked back, grace and warmth dancing in her silver eyes. She buried her nose into the young girl’s shoulder. “Can you tell the future? No. But rest assured, if you ever are in need of me… I will be there…”

    ~

    The ice-blue wolf stirred, its hind paw kicking fretfully. There were words echoing through its head. What were they? ‘I will be there… I will be there…’

    A warm nose nuzzled itself into the littler wolf’s neck, radiating a loving smile. “And I am here again, kithaya.”

    The blue wolf whimpered and tried to rise, but a strong paw pushed it firmly back to the ground. “Stay.” Obligingly, the wolf lay still as something licked the wound on its side. Although it still ached, it felt far better than before. There was a cool, soothing feeling being spread into the now-clean injury. The poison was being cured.

    “You must drink,” the other animal thought, “and for that, you must change back.”

    A quiet whine went up in the wolf’s throat, but with some degree of pain, it rolled onto its stomach and slowly pulled itself into a sitting position. The wolf shuddered for a moment, then was replaced by the form of a blue woman, kneeling in the dirt.

    Katerei gasped and swayed, putting a hand onto the ground to steady herself and the other to touch the wound gently. The fabric of her dress was torn through on her side and soaked with blood, rain, and mud. A herbal paste covered the cut. Wincing, she looked up. “Silvre?”

    Her old friend smiled a wolf-smile and laid a glass vial gently on the ground in front of her. “Drink. It is your own concoction. You have nothing to fear.”

    Nodding gratefully, Katerei unscrewed the lid from the vial and drank the clear liquid in a single mouthful. It was a powerful healing potion that would return some of her strength to her. Replacing the lid, she tucked the vial away in a pocket and painstakingly shifted over to lean against a tree trunk. Silvre lay down next to her, curled her tail around her hindquarters and rested her chin gently in the woman’s lap, seeming content to wait patiently until Katerei was ready to speak.

    Finally, Katerei felt strong enough to attempt conversation. “What happened?” was the first thing she said.

    “I could ask you the same thing,” Silvre said, a faint note of amusement in the wolf’s voice.

    Her friend sighed and rubbed a dirty hand across her eyes. “I was dreaming… or hallucinating, or something… I saw… I saw…” her throat constricted, and she choked on the words. “I saw him.”

    “Really.” The white wolf spoke pensively, eyes closed in thought. “Will you describe what you saw to me?”

    “Oh, so much…” She leaned her head back against the tree and stared into the foliage, still dripping with rainwater, as she tried to recall. “Viir’elei and Johree, my home, my parents, the Amaroq pack… I remembered meeting you, and playing on the ice; I remembered the day we left our island on that quest, and the night we were captured…” A single tear, unnoticed, ran down her face, leaving a streak in the dirt caked on her skin. “I saw everything again. The hilltop, and him casting the spells, and everything…”

    “I’m sorry you had to experience it over again.” The sorrow in the wolf’s voice was apparent. “I know how traumatic it was for you.”

    Katerei paused for a moment. “I can’t figure out why I saw it again though,” she said finally.

    Silvre opened her eyes in surprise and lifted her head to look up at the woman. “Kithaya, is it such a mystery? I found you on the verge of death. They do not lie when they say your life flashes before your eyes when you are preparing to walk through the gates of Annwn. Which, naturally, begs the question- what were you doing out here in the wild, alone, as a wolf?”

    “I’ve been living out here.” She shrugged. “Yes, in the forests. The city held nothing for me anymore… I built a small home in a cave that I found. But a few days ago, an ooze decided to move in while I was gone, and even though I could have killed it, sleeping in leftover ooze is highly unappealing. I was scouting a new home for myself, in wolf form, so that I could navigate better. I left my supplies hidden up a tree.”

    “So I discovered,” the wolf replied, sounding amused and annoyed at the same time. “I had to enlist the aid of a resident bird to fetch the necessary healing supplies from your cache. What did you get into combat with to give you such a wound?”

    “Wolflizards. One of them sunk its teeth into me when my guard was down. It was the poison that got me in the end, I think. I was actually trying to make it back to my cache to get the cure… how far away is it?”

    “Not far. Another twenty minutes and you would likely have made it.”

    “Just my luck,” Katerei muttered. “But- how did you find me? I couldn’t have summoned you without the dagger. I was scared of losing it, so I left it behind.”

    “Kithaya, I always know when you are in trouble. I tracked you down, and your scent led me to your supplies along the way. It was not so hard as you might think.”

    The words echoed through Katerei’s head again. ‘I will be there… and I am here again.’ “Silvre,” she said curiously, “why did you say ‘again?’”

    The wolf would have raised her eyebrows if she possessed them. “That is a simple answer. Because this is the second time I have saved your life. You just did not know it yet.”

    “What?” She looked down at her friend, amazed. “When? How? I don’t remember-“

    “Did you never wonder why you survived, that day on the hilltop?”

    Katerei’s jaw dropped in astonishment. “What? You mean you were there? How come you never told me?”

    Silvre sighed, a long, heavy breath that rumbled deep in her chest. There seemed to be a great sadness weighing upon the normally untroubled wolf. “I feared you would be angry if you knew the truth. I arrived in time to save you… he was preparing to kill you, and I interrupted the spell as he was casting it. It went awry. I believe the particular type of death spell would have ripped your body into several tiny pieces, and distributed them amongst the land, essentially tearing your body into shreds. It malfunctioned when I interceded, instead flinging all of you to a place where you would be safe- that is, Cademia.

    “That wicked man and I, we fought on the hilltop. I killed him myself. My wolf pack attacked his guards and dispatched many; those that remained, fled. My one regret was that we did not arrive quite quickly enough.” Silvre bowed her head in shame. “For of course, I did not save your parents.”

    Katerei remained silent for a long time. Tears ran quietly down her face, but she did not try to hold them back. She was awestruck, not so much by the news as that her great friend, the noble Amaroq leader, was ashamed of something. “Silvre,” she said gently, cupping her hand under the wolf’s chin, and stroking the soft fuzz, “there’s nothing wrong with that. You… you saved my life, and I know my parents would thank you for that if they were here today. You did all you could, to help someone that was not even a part of your pack. What more could anyone ever ask of you? Oh, my dear Silvre, I am not angry.”

    The white wolf gazed upon her with a sad smile. “Thank you for understanding,” she said placidly, and that was all that was ever said on the subject. There was no need for more.

    The two friends sat together for a long time at the base of the tree trunk, each lost in their own thoughts. Through the dense forest, the first rays of early morning sunshine began to filter, casting yellow patches of light everywhere it was able to fall. It had stopped raining long ago, but the faint sound of dewdrops falling danced through the woods. Katerei held out her hand and caught a single, clear droplet on the tip of her finger. She magically iced it over and looked at it with a smile, studying the tiny little dome of winter glass.

    It stirred a memory inside her, and she spoke quietly, her voice not breaking the silence, but bending it, harmonizing with the sounds of the forest. “Silvre, when we met that first day, out on the ice by Viir’elei…” she trailed off, unsure how to phrase her question, but the white wolf understood.

    “Why did I accept you so readily? A fair question. I was very curious, I must admit. You had the look, feel, scent of a wolf; but the signature of something else. I sensed your heart though. You were young yet, pure and untarnished- a childlike innocence.” She nuzzled her chin into Katerei’s lap fondly. “I have told you before how the Amaroq leader cannot breed. The next leader must be selected without the bias of one’s own bloodline to interfere. You felt like the daughter I never had.”

    Katerei leaned over and lay her forehead on the wolf’s massive one, the Amaroq gesture of love. She smiled, feeling more at ease than she had for the past several years. “Thank you… mita’a.”

    This post has been edited by iKaterei : 01 February 2007 - 03:37 PM



  • I love the imagery that you laced through your story, the sights, the sounds, everything worked to help me feel like I was there. And you took it a step further, you translate not just the look but the "feel", you worked in the emotional aspects really well.

    I've got nothing but praise for this story, wonderful work.



  • Very well done, Katerei, long and detailed. It's interesting to know that Zrenerr (assuming that is still the mage's name) has been dead for some time and that Katerei's hometown is still apparently intact.



  • Brilliant work, Kat!



  • pssh, so much for constructive criticism and death threats... you people have failed me. i expect angry letters written with magazine clippings on my doorstep in the morning. :p

    but in all honesty, i appreciate your comments; it's good to know i haven't lost my touch over the years.



  • Wow, that was good. The only reason for a death-threat I can think of is that it finished. ;) I can't think of any constructive criticism.



  • @ikaterei_bot, on Feb 1 2007, 06:26 PM, said in La Coranich:

    pssh, so much for constructive criticism and death threats... you people have failed me. i expect angry letters written with magazine clippings on my doorstep in the morning. :p

    but in all honesty, i appreciate your comments; it's good to know i haven't lost my touch over the years.

    Well, like I said on irc, I'm willing to do either the complaints or death threats, depending on which tasks everyone else wishes to do. :D

    This post has been edited by Selax : 02 February 2007 - 12:31 AM



  • Know what Katerei? You're amazing! This is an awesome Chron!


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