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Old Feb 1st, 2021, 11:15 PM
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Warl'thuz, Phayeel, and the Midnight Eclipse.

regarding commentsI appreciate comments and criticism of the work. However it is an on-going story that I intend to add to. As such, please wrap your comments with SPOILER tags so that they don't interrupt the flow from post to post. Thank you in advance.

-Karhald


The young ork, Warl’thz Loregrin, took a long, ponderous drink from his mug, wincing slightly at the especially sour taste of this batch of huurlg, not unpleasant, not at all, he actually preferred the stinging bite of this variety.

“Lemons, they used lemons in this batch. Apples, too, those green apples, you know the kind? It’s quite good, goes well with the pig fat. Want to try it?”

His elven drinking companion, Linithi’el Broadleaf, wide-eyed and slightly green with revulsion at the young ork’s drink of choice, politely declined, “Thank you, but I’ll pass, I hear it’s quite the acquired taste.”

Knowing full well what the softer folk thought of orkish food and drink, the youngling barked out a laugh, he knew he’d easily best this long-eared dope in any contest, excepting of course challenges in story and long memory. That skill for story and ancient tales is what he was here for, trading lore for lore, but for an ork with the name of Loregrin, he was sorely lacking in history and tales to share.

“That’s true, that’s true” he grinned his ugliest smile, tusk and fang pointing every which way, then popped a lump of pig-fat into his mouth, “Well, we threw daggers, and your aim was better than mine, so I’ll go first. This tale is no old story, no, it’s a first-hand account. This is my tale, and how I came to meet Shayeel here.” He gestures to the young she-wolf of pure white fur sitting by his side. She had piercing blue eyes, and massive paws declaring that her size as an adult will be quite impressive. As a young juvenile, she was already as large as a full grown grey wolf.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you about her.” The elf, a lore-spinner himself, though not an Adept, was clearly choosing his words carefully. Very wise of him, but an elf doesn’t get through Cara Fahd without scars if he doesn’t learn quickly how to predict possible gahad triggers without finding out the hard way. “I understand that Beastmasters do not refer to their animals as pets. To avoid possibly insulting you or her, how shall I refer to her?”

Warl’thz nodded, “Well spoken, good choice of words, though you might be seen as weak if you continually skirt around gahad in that way.”

“I’d rather be seen as weak than as a corpse. I have no talent or skill for fighting.” The elf chuckled, then took a swig from his own tankard. He was drinking a fortified wine, also a product of Cara Fahd, though made by, and made for, those Throal orks who came to be a part of the nation of free orks but couldn’t completely leave their city lives behind them.

“Fair enough, I’ll not press that issue. You need to live if you are to share your stories, my story, and the stories of Cara Fahd. Now, to answer your question. She is not a pet, or even a companion. She and I are as one. We are packmates. Sometimes she listens to me, and sometimes I listen to her. You could say that we are equals, but for now I am her guardian and mentor. Some day, she'll be fully grown, and then she'll likely be the one calling the shots.”

“Interesting, can you and she actually… talk?” The elf was engrossed in the possibilities, and he was obviously unaware of what a Beastmaster can and cannot do.

“Not in ways that you or I do, but some day, I hope to learn to speak with her in the same way that you and I speak now. For now, however, we simply… understand each other.”

“So, she is family, then? A sister, or a cousin?”

“Yes, that’s close enough. Not quite, since we don’t share blood, but the bond is as thick as blood.”

The elf dipped his quill into his ink-well and placed some rocks on the corners of a flattened roll of parchment. “Do you mind if I take notes while you speak?”

Warl’thz nodded, “That’s fine, are you going to write everything I say word for word? Should I speak slowly to give you time to write?”

Linithi’el shook his head and furrowed his brow in concentration, “No, I’ll just put little notes and recreate the story from there. I’ll give you a copy when I’m done, and you can judge the first draft and we can fix any errors afterwards.” He began scribbling small fragments of words in a script that Warl’thz could not read: Sperethiel, the language of the elves.

“The… umm.. draft? Will be in Throalic or Or’zet?” Warl’thz raised an eyebrow at the odd term.

“Oh, absolutely, it’s just faster for me to write notes in my mother’s tongue. As for draft, it just means a rough first copy that can be fixed and polished up with more careful wording later. It’s a story-writers tool, oral story-tellers such as yourself don’t really need to do that, since the words disappear as soon as the ear forgets them, but the power of their tales is partly found in the voice of the teller, the position of the body, the speed and volume of the most powerful parts of the story. Artful language and careful word choice is the voice of the writer, and we need to write a story many times before we can be satisfied with it… oh, I shouldn’t be the one talking. Please, tell me of Shayeel.” The elf leaned forward, eager to know more, quill poised at the ready to scribble notes and details of the ork's story.

Warl’thz nodded, then looked down at his hands, tapped his fingers on the table, and looked at Linithi’el. “Look at this,” Warl’thz tapped fingertips on the table. Once, twice, and on the third tap, his fingernails lengthened into small daggers, harder than Dwarven steel and as sharp as a Swordmaster’s wit. One finger slowly carved a curling sliver of wood from the table-top.

Linithi’el gasped at the minor showing of the mystical Talent shown by Loregrin. He quickly stood up and took a step back. “H-h-how did you?” Phayeel’s ears bent back, and she showed her teeth in displeasure at the elf’s sudden movements. A low, threatening growl began.

A deep throated chuckle escaped from Warl’thz Loregrin, and at this chuckle, Phayeel calmed and raised her ears again, returning once again to her guard, alert to other possible dangers in the tavern. “This is to show you that there is a deep connection between a Beastmaster and the world of animals. One that many don’t understand until they see a Beastmaster’s hands. This is just a visual idea of what we can do, for truly, a Beastmaster’s powers and bonds are invisible. When you sleep, you dream of stories and society and fears. I still have dreams like that, too. But I also can feel and see the dreams of animals, and they can see me in their dreams. This is the connection that a Beastmaster has with the world. We don’t simply walk through cities with a wild beast at our side. No, we walk at each other’s side, we walk together between the world of Namegivers and the worlds of beasts. We walk the path where those worlds meet, and we are ambassadors for both. I tell you this because you need to understand how I came to meet Phayeel, for she… well, no, not she, her mother called to me in my dreams. She needed me to find her, and there was desperation in the dream, the wolf-dream.”

The wolf by his side growled a bit, then let out a small whine.

“I know, I know. I miss her too, even though I never got to know her heart.”
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Last edited by Karhald; Feb 2nd, 2021 at 01:41 AM.
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Old Feb 1st, 2021, 11:15 PM
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You see, I was having these dreams, of a snow-white she-wolf of pure power. She was guarding three pups, yet each time I had the dream, she was in different states of despair or health. Sometimes her pups were sick and dying. Sometimes she was dead. Sometimes she was mourning three dead pups at her feet. But only one thing remained constant, at the end she would look directly at me, even though I was not there, and I would awake with a shock, and every time I would turn and look towards those mountains over there, the ones in the far distance. The Twilight Peaks.

Warlthz laughed. Dont sound so shocked. Those mountains are fine, only a few problems with corrupted monstrosities, and they still abound with life. Good hunting grounds, as well, perfect for a she-wolf and her pups, plenty of game, small and large. But there was a problem, there was despair and panic, and I needed to go to her. I knew I was likely going to my death. But when a beast calls to you through a dream, you go, and you go immediately. Destiny has chosen that pairing, and any Beastmaster that refuses to seek out the one who calls to it, is no true Beastmaster.

Warlthz nodded at the elfs question, Yes, of course I was afraid. I was just a whelpling of a Beastmaster, fresh off of my teachers lead, and I yet had no companion to share my dangers with, but I had my wits, my strength, and my resolve. Besides, its fear that gives many the push they need to achieve greatness.

The elf nodded in understanding, then silently waved to the innkeeper to refill both his and Warlthzs drinks, in a quiet voice, he whispered your best huurlg and he put three silver pennies into the grizzled old orks palm. The old innkeeper grinned, then gave Warlthz a friendly punch on the shoulder. Ukt ta gorrenfir, Loregrin. Warlthz laughed, He said my stories will make me fat one day. The drink is appreciated.

So, I left my home immediately and started running towards those mountains. Yes, thats right, after the very first dream. I knew immediately what it was, and I knew what I needed to do. It was early in the Spring, so I knew it would be cold, but I didnt have time to go prepare. I needed to go, and go immediately. I ran for three days to get to the foot of the mountains, and then ran another day alongside the river to reach a small trading post for trappers, hunters, and others who make their trade between Cara Fahd and the Liaj Jungle. There I found some furs and dove into the mountains, running through forests, stopping only to drink some water and take a bit of dried meats. I knew her pups could be in poor health or starving, so I grabbed a few skins of blood-milk, something to help keep them alive in case my worst fears were true, that their mother had been killed, and she was calling me to her side, to their aid.

The wolf at his side put her head on Warlthzs lap, looking up at him with those clear, blue eyes, and let out another low whine. Warlthz looked down at her as she put a large paw on his knee. He reached down and placed his hand upon that paw and nodded.

She doesnt like that part of the story. For obvious reasons. Oh, dont look so surprised. She may not understand the words, but she understands nonetheless. Wolves are far smarter than I, and maybe even smarter than you! He let out a laugh at his own poor joke, then patted the wolfs paw again as her ears perked up. Watch your tail, Shayeel, people are walking around here, and theyre drunk. I dont want to kill anyone today because they stepped on your tail. He looked up at Tarinthiel and gave a big, toothy grin and a sinister wink.

I would defend her as I would my own sister. Any Beastmaster would. Now, I charged into those woods, and continued late into the night. My eyes can catch all around me, even in dim light, as your own eyes can, so I continued until my legs refused to go further, and I stopped to rest. During the night, a panther tried to take a bite out of me, thinking I was easy meat. I woke easily, and with one swipe drove it off bleeding and screaming in pain. I could have gone after it, I should have, it surely died a terrible wasting death with the wound I had given it. I regret that, leaving a beast to suffer, but I had greater issues to pursue. With the few hours of sleep I had, I had a quick bite of jerked meat and continued on my way. The weather, however, had other plans, for as dawn began to light the sky, lightning shredded the lingering darkness. A massive lightning storm had begun, and as though the Passions themselves wished to make me prove my resolve, a great series of bolts stabbed down into the forest, bursting trees apart and starting a massive blaze. A massive fire had already begun, and within minutes was roaring and filling the air with choking, terrible smoke, and though my legs begged me to rest a little more, I now needed to focus on my own survival, and so I ran with a terrible blaze chasing me, and unknown threats ahead.

Warlthz sighed and happily accepted the fresh tankard of horse-fat huurlg. Taking a long, slow pull from the large tankard of potent drink, he slowed his breathing, closed his eyes, and rolled a lump of rotting fat around in his mouth. Savoring every foul, bittersweet flavor and texture. Horse-fat was truly one of the best huurlg mixes out there, beaten only by cave-bear and thundra. There was a legend that one tribe of particularly hardy and powerful orks managed to take down a dragon, and they made huurlg from its body, and it was the greatest huurlg ever brewed, but Warlthz couldnt be sure if it was truth or fancy.
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Old Feb 1st, 2021, 11:16 PM
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“This is great, thank you. Now back to the sto… what’s that?” The wolf was giving a low growl and pawing at Warl’thz’s foot. “Oh? Will you be long? I’ll wait here for you.” In a flash, Phayeel ran from the tavern and disappeared into the fading light of evening. He turned back to his interlocutor and continued, “So, anyway, we… what? Oh, she’s hungry, off to go find a snack in the woods. She won’t be long. She’s one of the best hunters I’ve ever seen. She’ll have a rabbit in her jaws before night sets.”

Warl’thz reached into the pocket of his vest, and plucked out a smooth, red stone. It had an imprint on one side, the same size as his thumb, with a hypnotic swirling pattern in it. He held it and looked towards the wall of the tavern, slowly turning and watching… something. Holding that stone in his hand, he picked up the tankard and took another small sip after breathing deeply the foul odor of this high-quality huurlg.

“I was running hard and fast, breathing heavily and burning my chest with the smell of all those burning trees. Trying to race a tireless foe that had a huge advantage because of the wind, and the dryness of the forest. No, that’s right, it hadn’t rained in months, the entire place was a pile of kindling waiting for an ember. Deer, rabbits, wolves, rabbits, all of them ran past me, fleeing for their lives. I ran past exhausted bears unable to continue running, squirrels that breathed too much smoke, deer with legs shattered in panicked flight, and I continued to run. The fire was licking at my heels, heating my back, and scorching my pack when the rain started. Great torrents of water came sheeting down, drenching the fire and flowing down the mountainside. Now, I don’t need to have lived in that area to know that mudslides and flash floods were the next threat, so I sought shelter quickly, and found a deep cave. Luckily I didn’t have to fight a bear this time, though it wouldn’t have surprised me if it came to that. So, there I was, lungs burning from exertion and smoke, soaked to my shortclothes under my armor, and all of my gear was soaked. Just in time for me to start climbing some tall mountains where there would be freezing days and colder nights. I rested for a while, waiting out the storm, and started a small fire with some twigs and tinder I had been collecting through the previous day. I was able to dry out some of my gear, but after another sleep, I knew it was time to go, so I put on that damp armor, shouldered my pack, and started climbing to the heights.”

Warl’thz stretched his shoulders for a moment, then waved the innkeeper over. “My turn, another round, horse-fat huurlg again for me, and bring some fried pig-ears, peppers, and do you have some of that leafy bread? Not for me, but I think my friend here would appreciate it more.” The innkeeper nodded, grumbled some orkish phrase under his breath, and walked back to the kitchens.

Warl’thz chuckled, “Well, if he didn’t want people ordering that bread, why does he keep making it? It’s not bad, needs a little more body and gristle in it, but it works well dipped in sheepgut stew. Are you alright? You look a little green. Anyway, back to the story.”

“I climbed for what felt like an entire day. Mostly hiking up steep deer trails, but sometimes needing to scale some rock cliffs. I didn’t know how I knew I was going the right way, but I knew. She was calling me. She showed me signs in my sleep, and I found them along the way. Two crossed pines. A broken boulder covered in blue-green moss. The skull of a great bear poking out from under a bush laden with raspberries. Things like that. Signs that I was on the right path. Things she showed me in the wolf-dream.
As I continued, I could feel myself getting closer, but there was also a growing sense of dread, that my urgency hadn’t been strong enough, even though I had been running for five days now, I felt a terrible dread that I was still too late.

It was then that I spotted the tracks. Wolf tracks, twice the size of any normal wolf. Huge, menacing, and I knew that they were hers, because following those great tracks were the tracks of three little ones. Her pups. The tracks were fresh, the pups were alive, she was alive, all was well!”


Warl’thz stopped, closed his eyes and took a deep breath, shuddering at the memory of a terrible sight.

“But the feeling of dread was stronger than ever before. So, I hurriedly followed those tracks. I didn’t know if she was with them. If they wandered off and she followed them. If she went hunting and they followed her, to this day I do not know. But I followed them. With every step in the thickening snow, I felt the weight of dread and fear upon my heart. Something was very wrong there. I should have run, but I did not. I had to find her.”

The young Beastmaster stopped as the food and drinks arrived, thanked the innkeeper, and handed over two fine mink pelts in trade. The old ork approved, and took the pelts.
“If I sold those pelts to a trader,” Warl’thz commented in response to the elf’s curious look, “I wouldn’t be able to pay for the food and drink. This way is better. Those pelts will make fine lining for a hooded cloak, which he can then trade for something of even more value. Every ork who lives off the land trades in this way, a merchant in their own right, but we don’t bother that much with coin. Oh, we know its uses, and we value it in some ways, but we’d rather trade and know each other’s talents and values. Now, about the story.”

He leaned back in his chair and took a moment to chew on a fried pig’s ear. “I’m glad Phayeel went hunting, she hates this part of the story, and I hate it too, but it needs to be told.” He closed his eyes and squeezed the red stone in his hand, “Ah, she’s feeling excitement. She’s caught the scent of something. Won’t be long now.” He put the stone back into his pocket and leaned forward, face serious and grim. “I was close. I could smell them, but the tracks had stopped, snow was falling, they were becoming lost. I couldn’t start shouting, I didn’t want to alarm the mother, so I sat down in the woods and meditated on the way of beasts, the minds of beasts, and the needs for survival. I was cold, but the need kept me warm, I was afraid, but the anticipation of bonding with these four wolves kept me filled with hope. The meditation was my ritual, the ritual of the Beastmaster, the ritual that fills us with energy to twist fate itself towards our own success and legend. Some call it Karma, and as an Adept such as myself grows in strength and advances in the circles of our paths, we are able to hold more and more of this energy. Why am I telling you this? Because part of my ritual ends when a wild animal comes into my circle of meditation and touches me. My hope was that this call to nature would bring her, or her pups.”

Warl’thz narrowed his eyes and his hands splayed palm-down on the table. “I was right, and wrong at the same time. One pup came to me, bloodied and limping, whining. She limped up to me and touched my knee, eyes begging for help. I scooped her up and ran in the direction she had come, I ran and ran. I followed those terrible dragging tracks of hers for what felt like miles, through the trees, over hills. She had been coming towards me for a long time. Long before I had started the ritual. I felt at first that I should have been running towards them, but I never would have found them. The ritual was the correct thing to do. But I was still too late. I came upon a terrible scene, elf, sorry… Tarinthi’el. I found the mother, covered in wounds, blood painting the snow, two of her pups mangled and shredded. She was barely alive, friend, her breath slowing, blood oozing in a pool around her. I howled in pain and anguish, the little on in my arms howled weakly as well, and then I looked up in the tree and I saw it.”

Warl’thz nodded grimly, “A horror, or perhaps a construct. Maybe you’ve heard of the type, it had long legs, long arms, and long nose. It was laughing when it jumped down onto me. It was quick and strong, but I was quicker, and managed to dive out of the way, putting the wounded pup into a soft drift. It had many wounds on its body already, she had not gone down easily, I tell you, and those wounds it held likely slowed it enough. Were it unharmed, I have no doubts that I would not be here today telling the story of my fight with it. What’s it called you ask? I only have heard of them in tales from those very mountains. A Horror called a Tikbalang, and like any other Horror, it feeds on pain and anguish.”

Warl’thz took another bite of pig’s ear and finished his horse-fat huurlg, he waved his hand to dismiss an unasked question, “No, I thank you, but the story is nearly over and I must keep my head clear.”

Warl’thz leaned forward again, and his fingernails grew several inches long, digging gouges into the tabletop. “Even though it was hurt, I nearly fell in that battle. I gave it some good, deep scratches, but its long fingers stabbed me deeply as well. I was as covered in bloody, painful wounds as she was, and I felt that my time was about to be called. It grabbed me then, and started to wrap its fingers around my throat. I clawed at it, but could not reach its body. Darkness was starting to come, when suddenly the Tikbalang was knocked off of me by the mother. She managed to find the strength for one last pounce, and fell on top of the Tikbalang, her jaws clamped down on its throat. He flailed at her, stabbing her over and over in the guts, but she did not let go. I ran over and” Warl’thz slammed his claws into the table, leaving knife-like holes in the hard, oaken surface. “put all of my claws right into its eyes. I laid the killing blow! The Tikbalang was dead!” Warl’thz turned and looked around, the tavern was silent, all of the patrons sat, slack-jawed, in rapt attention to the story. Even the three dwarves who were playing drum and flute in the corner had stopped their song to listen to the young ork.

“But she fell to her side, looking up at me with clouded eyes. She was about to die, and her eyes begged me to do something. The last surviving pup had limped over to her and was licking her mother’s face. It was then that I swore an oath, its words forever burned into my soul. I took a clawed finger and cut my right hand, drawing forth a promise of blood. I placed my hand against her neck, letting her blood mix with mine and I uttered a blood oath of the greatest strength.

‘I swear to you, as long as I live, so will your pup. I will Name her, protect her, feed her, and teach her, she will be stronger than any wolf that has ever walked the mountains. Anything that tries to harm her will face the full fury of my gahad.’

At that moment, I looked to the sky which had become clear and filled with stars. I looked to the moon and watched as a shadow began to pass over it. I felt the wolf breathing, slower and slower. The omens were all there, and as that great shadow blocked out the moon itself, I Named her Llithra, and as her last breath passed, I threw back my head and howled as loudly as I could in anger and regret. And then darkness.

I woke up later, the sky already beginning to lighten, the moon having gone past the horizon. Phayeel was licking my cheek. I was hurt badly, but I managed to survive, I lived, but I was half-frozen. Llithra lay cold in the snow, and the other two slain pups a short distance away. Tikbalang still lay dead at my feet, and I could feel the promise burning in my soul. I picked up the bodies of the slain pups, placed them at their mother’s feet and said a prayer to Jaspree, that the Greenfather would guide her soul back to another great wolf. As I turned to tend to the remaining pup, I saw that she had something in her mouth, which she then dropped at my feet. A red stone, the same color of her mother’s blood, and I believe it was formed from her blood. It holds power that only I can sense. It is a link to the bond that I share with the child now, and through it, I can always know where Phayeel is, and what her emotions are. Like I know that she will be coming back into that door in the next minute, as she is on her way back, belly filled with fresh meat and blood on her lips.”
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