Tragedy of the Raven Part 2, Chapter 2
By Prince Nightmare
The winds howled outside as the few clansmen huddled beneath their furs, trying to get as close to the fire as they could. The longhouse made of the hides of wolves and bear was a sturdy lodge, but it was still bone chilling even with the fire in the center hearth blazing.
The leader of the clans of the Bear was a huge man, strong as the namesake of his tribe. His name was Baluf Bloodbather. He had earned his name in the many battles he had fought with rival tribes... always emerging victorious, covered in the blood of his slain foes. He was no fool either, and it was many times that his leadership skills alone had saved his clan from starvation . But even the big leader was at a loss now.
This storm has blown for three weeks straight! And the one before for over two! The gods frown upon us and punish us with this winter that has lasted over a year... He looked at his warriors, all gaunt from lack of food. They sat round the fire, hollow eyed and miserable. Their wives and children wailed for food, but there was none to give them. They had scourged the woods far and wide for sign of game, but all they ever saw was that damnable wolf... the huge black one.
If we kill that wolf and that boy the game will come back to us and the winter will give way to spring again. A hunter called Evenden said while he poked the fire with a stick to stir it up more. Baluf grunted. He was sick of hearing the sniveling voice of Evenden and those who thought killing the dire wolf and some wild boy would actually better things.
That is not the way of our gods. We are being punished for something, and only they can lift this famine. Gray Horn voiced Balufs thoughts. He was second in command to the headman. Besides, the boy is cursed. You remember the last hunting party that went after him and the wolf?
The others were silent, not wanting to remember how they had found their comrades mutilated. Their eyes had been torn out and not even the crows would eat from the corpses. The Bear Clan had whispered among themselves The boy cursed them as they died... they will never find rest and their ghosts will follow us and haunt us.
Evenden stood up, angry now. SOMETHING has to be done! Were starving and freezing to death! He kicked at a girl who was whimpering for food. I have none!! he yelled at her. Ask the mighty Baluf!
The girls eyes pleaded for something to eat, but Baluf had nothing either. He rubbed his temples. What could they do against such wrath the gods had shown? Where had they gone wrong and angered them? He did not know.
An old, old man named Deward the Toothless cackled. He had once been called Deward the Basherfist, but that was long ago in his youth. His long white beard hid most of his wrinkled face and chin, but despite his age, Dewards eyes were sharp and glittered with cunning. Have you young fools forgotten of the land to the south? Across the narrow sea of the gods? Why not go there, and take some of their food?
We have been forbidden by the gods to cross that sea, old man. It has been so for as long as anyone can remember. Besides, that Southern Land might just be a myth made up by our forefathers to entertain the children on long winter nights. Baluf sighed. It would be suicide to even try it, Deward.
Dewards bright blue eyes narrowed, and he looked around at all the young men. It would be suicide to stay here while your wives and children starve. If the gods are angry at us, then they will kill us on the sea, but Id prefer a quick death of drowning to slow starvation. He went on when no one else spoke. Scared boys, thats all you are. When I was a young man we climbed the mountains of Gehan barefoot and naked, and we were not afraid. How can a man be afraid of his destiny?
Baluf snarled at him. Do you propose we take all these sick women and children with us? And what about the old? You, do you think you could survive a trip across the ocean? I think not, grandfather.
Cackling, Deward stood up stiffly. No, no! Youre all fools. Those not able to go would travel to the Summer grounds. Who knows, maybe there is some food there. We could hold out at least until you got back from the raid.
Baluf pondered. His hulking shoulders slumped as he came to his conclusion. I see no choice. It is true, we might be after a myth... but in the end, we are all dead men. The old one is right, Id rather die trying than sitting here with hunger gnawing at my gut.
The men all nodded silently, half afraid of the venture but more afraid of what might happen if they didnt try.
The wolf came back to the cave, a rabbit in his jaws. His golden eyes shined as he whined at his master. The boy with the violet eyes and pale blonde hair grinned and took the rabbit from the wolfs jaws.
You always find us something, Klaveer. He patted the beast on the head, and the wolf yipped happily. Vahryiah yanked out the small dagger from his belt and began to skin the rabbit. He liked the way the fur was so soft. When he was done, he set the fur aside. Vahryiah saved them all because every different type of fur and leather was good for something.
He took a big bite out of the rabbit. He never cooked his food... ever since he had died... or whatever had happened to him. Vahryiah still wasnt sure why he had lived, but when he had run to the nearest lodge for help, they had tried to kill him. He would never forget what they had said to him that night.
Loki has touched you! You are a demon! Vile demon! Then they had tried to catch him so they could drown him or tie him to a burning log, but the wolf had saved him. The wolf had killed a dozen villagers and the arrows that pierced his shaggy fur did not seem to bother him at all. The wolf, as big as a small horse, had carried the boy away on its back.
Ever since then Vahryiah had lived in the deep woods, afraid to try to go back to any village or clan. He had cried much in the first few weeks of his exile, but he had to forget his grief if he wanted to survive. He soon learned that nature didnt allow for anything weak or stupid.
The wolf had told him his name was Klaveer, even though the animal never actually said it. Vahryiah just knew, just as he knew what the deer said and the birds. He could hear the wind whispering and the trees as they moaned. And sometimes he could even see through an animals eyes...
But mostly what Vahryiah thought about was staying warm and getting enough to eat. His developing powers didnt amaze him as it might some one else. He had been so young when his parents had been killed he could barely remember them. Klaveer was his brother, and his powers had always just seemed to be there.
Vahryiah knew that the clansmen were starving and he wanted to help. But at the same time he hated them and thought they were stupid. There was plenty of food if one knew where to look. But maybe the people thought they were above eating mice and shrews. Vahryiah didnt care what he ate, as long as it kept him alive.
He gnawed off the remains of the rabbit haunch and wiped his bloody hands on an old fur. He threw the rest to his big black wolf, who chomped it down in three bites. Vahryiah pushed back his long braid of hair and laughed. The animal bared his teeth slightly in a wolfish grin, and Vahryiah tackled him. They rolled around on the ground for a while, playing. The wolf was far stronger than the boy, but he was gentle and his nips never broke the childs skin.
Exhausted, and full of rabbit, the boy finally grew tired of play and curled up next to his brother. The wolf licked his face briefly as the boy drifted off the sleep.
Outside, the wind continued to howl.
Vahryiah woke the next morning and peeked outside the small cave. It was still storming. He sighed as he looked at his diminishing fire. He would have to go out today and get more wood.
He wrapped himself in a huge bear skin. He had killed the bear the summer before. It had been trying to steal the deer Vahryiah had brought down with an arrow. Vahryiah had spent hours tracking the wounded animal, and just as he found it, a huge black bear had come charging out of the brush. Vahryiah had drawn his bow and prayed that the arrow found its mark. The charging bear had crashed to the ground as the arrow went into its eye and through his brain.
Vahryiah wrapped the fur tighter around him and was glad he kept it. He would need it today if he wanted to go far to find wood. All the branches near the cave hed already picked up and the trees were stripped bare as far as he could reach. He whistled for Klaveer, and the wolf came bounding towards him. Vahryiah liked to keep the wolf near him whenever he ventured far, especially in a storm like this one. The wolf never failed to bring them home again and he never failed to protect Vahryiah.
It was hard to see with the blowing winds and snow swirling around him. But Vahryiah followed Klaveers lead until they came to a decent spot where there were trees short enough to gather limbs from. Vahryiah struggled for more than an hour through the snow until he finally gathered a bundle large enough for a few days. He used a thick leather strap to tie them together. The bundle was heavy, but he was strong and used to the hard work. He hoisted them up on his back and was about to follow his wolf back to the cave when he noticed Klaveer was standing still and alert. His ears were cocked forward and he sniffed the air. Vahryiah could hear nothing for a moment but the wind howling. Then, faintly through the sound of the blizzard, he could hear mens voices. And he could smell smoke and the scent of people.
Vahryiah crept forward slowly. Through the blinding white snow, he could make out a few huge shapes... longhouses... he had been less than a few hundred feet from a village! The clansmen could have seen him at anytime... save for the fact that no one was out due to the horrible storm. Faintly he could hear them arguing inside. He wondered what they were fighting about. Suddenly Vahryiah felt lonely. He wished he could be there with them, arguing and laughing and having someone else to just look at sometimes. He glanced at Klaveer. He loved his brother wolf but something in him yearned for a real brother...
Go To Part 2, Chapter 3
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