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Thread: Shadow Wolf

  1. #1
    G.O.A.T. Mudcat's Avatar

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    Shadow Wolf

    Below snow-capped peaks that jutted into the western skyline and a dark band of conifer-forested mountainsides, the foothills of the Forbidden Mountains shimmered with the glittering gold of aspens. Undulating toward the eastern horizon were the plains of the Abionian Nation, their grasses shifting and whispering in an autumn breeze. Deep within the foothills, a hunter stalked his prey, keeping to the shadows of the aspens. At the edge of a creek, a forkhorn buck drank, its tongue sending ripples across the calm surface of a pool. The young deer suddenly snapped its head up, and the hunter froze. Seconds passed as the quarry gazed in the correct direction, but saw nothing. A bowstring hissed as the forkhorn dipped its head to resume drinking, and the arrow pierced the deer’s heart. Moments later, the black-haired, bronze-skinned hunter, a youth of eighteen winters clad in buckskins and wolf pelts, looked down upon his target with lambent gray eyes. “Forgive me, little brother.” The hunter pulled the deer from the water and extracted a knife from its sheath as he knelt, and gave thanks to the deer as he began to dress the carcass. His people said that Shadow Wolf, as the youth was known, was blessed with Spirit Luck. From boyhood he had never known an unsuccessful hunt, and he could mount an unbroken horse as if it had known the weight of a rider for years. Perhaps it was that same Spirit Luck that suddenly filled him with a sense of foreboding. He grunted and fell onto his hindquarters as if he had been kicked in the chest, and the anguish of a hundred tortured souls filled him. Abandoning his kill- something unfathomable to him a half-second ago- he picked himself up and raced in the direction of his horse, weaving between tree trunks and leaping over fallen logs. The mount, a brown and white pinto which had been obliviously munching grass, lifted its head and nickered at the young man’s careening approach. Unwinding the tether from the aspen bole as quickly as he could, Shadow Wolf leapt onto the pinto’s back, slapped its rump, and leaned forward, shouting into it ear, “Fly! Fly for all you are worth!”

    Home. He had to get home. But as soon as he saw the black smoke in the southern sky, Shadow Wolf knew home was not going to be as he had left it. The pinto was lathered by the time they reached the top of the rise overlooking his village. Stunned by what he saw below, and staring numbly at it, he slid silently off his mount, which stood motionless but for its heaving chest. A helplessness the like of which he had never known overcame him, and he crumpled to a cross-legged sitting position and began to weep. He did not know how much time had passed when he felt the wetness of the pinto’s nose on his cheek. The horse nudged him a second time before he acknowledged it with a pat on the flank. “There was a battle here,” Shadow Wolf said. He had seen battle many times in the four summers since his induction into the Wolf Clan, his people’s warrior society, but he had never seen the destruction of a village before. What he had known as his home was now a collection of charred lodgepoles, burned logs and blackened bodies, both human and animal, and the smell of overcooked flesh wafted up from the smoldering ruins. The only thing left standing were the stone walls of the forge where he had worked with his father since he had been old enough to lift a hammer. Looking up at his horse, Shadow Wolf wondered aloud, “What people would wage war in such a way? We do not. The Chatapo do not. The Otter People do not. Even the stinking Manduks do not.”

    The remains of his family’s lodge contained no dead, and Shadow Wolf had no idea if any of his loved ones were among the unrecognizably burned corpses, but among the fallen beyond the eastern edge of the village, where the slain were untouched by flames, he found his father. Bull Elk had been cleft by a downward slash where neck and shoulder met, his collarbone split. Death must have been quick, if not instantaneous. His sword was missing, as were the weapons of all of the other warriors, stripped by the unknown attackers, who had also collected all of their own dead, leaving Shadow Wolf with no clues as to their identity- until he found a single one. It was a long spear pole, but instead of being tipped with a spearhead, it was adorned by a golden eagle. In its talons the eagle clutched a scroll, and upon the scroll were four characters in an unknown script. His people had no use for writing, but the traders from the Great River country to the east, beyond the plains, and those from Aztlan, to the far south, did. Although he could not read it, he could recognize the glyphs of the traders, and the eagle’s scroll bore neither. The only thing he could discern of his new enemy was that they had come from the east, and had returned into the east. So east he would go. But first there were many dead who needed a proper funeral.

  2. #2
    cold ass honkey djp73's Avatar

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    Really good, is this a one shot thing or a series?

  3. #3
    G.O.A.T. Mudcat's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by djp73 View Post
    Really good, is this a one shot thing or a series?
    Hopefully the prologue of a book.

  4. #4
    cold ass honkey djp73's Avatar

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    Nice!

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