Monday, 12 March 2012

Doomed Journey

“Amme, Amme! Look Amme!”

Excitable squeals were heard before small bright face was seen, wide blue eyed cherub of an elfin looking boy appearing before waking eyes. Blaze sat up and rubbed over her face, smoothing back her hair “What is it Gaelin? Have we arrived?!” she chuckled as pulled herself up to stand from the small cabin bed and allowed her small son to lead her by the hand towards the porthole. She drew alongside Alastair who held an equally bright eyed child against his hip, long lashed Celeste with her face near pressed against the glass. She allowed the child to clamber up into her arms to join his twin sister in gazing out at the bustling human port. Blaze smiled with a sigh as glanced sidelong at her husband “So glad to see this same view for good reason this time around” she spoke and kissed against the back of her son’s curly haired head, arm slipping around Alastair’s waist as all four of them looked upon the final destination of their ship.

Alastair stepped away from the window as the ship started to pull in closer, ready to toss down anchor and extend the wooden walk way down from the ship to the docks. He unhooked his daughter’s small hand from some curtains hanging in the way to head toward the outer deck. "Yes it is nice for a change" he agreed with a chuckle "I’m sure Ackley and Calora will be pleased to see Ele's little sister and brother, spoil them to no doubt. Mostly I’m looking forward to sitting outside on the porch and watching them play while I recline with tea" he smirked.

He led his family out to the deck, as usual passengers and cargo was being made ready to exit the ship by plank, rope and pulley. Alastair made sure to stand well out of the way, pulling his hood up and held his daughter close to his chest.

"Now don't run too far, stay close" came a mothers warning, spoken with a smile as playful screams and laughter echoed through the woods. Bluebells flourished in a carpet of lilac between the trees, a few crushed underfoot by carefree little legs that went chasing back and forth. "I do hope Ele is already there" Blaze mused as she walked hand in hand with her husband, watching over the twin’s game of tag as they followed the forest path.

"Seems forever since we last saw her, I do...hope..." she trailed off catching scent of something...faint burning on the air. Lips pursed and she squeezed Alastair's hand a little tighter but let small fleeting feeling of unease drift away as gurgling children's laughter distracted her at once.

He nodded in agreement, though he raised a brow at her as she stopped mid sentence, wondering what caught her interest. "Gaelin, Celeste" he called, an instinctive reaction. Gaelin was close enough to be scooped back into his arms with a quick stride forward. Their daughter made her way back as well and Alastair hefted her up as well, one child balanced to each hip. "What is it?" he asked as he too lifted his chin up and scented the air, he had noticed a burning but he hadn't put it past much else when farmer’s stoves and fire places going.

Blaze felt unease swell in her, fleeting adrenaline of panic until he'd gathered children back safe to him. "I'm not sure...just...a feeling." She led the way given he carried the twins who seemed to know to keep quiet as she ventured on, cautiously. The forest path swerved to a sharp turn where the tree canopy suddenly cleared overhead. She paused again "Alastair..." whispered sharply, blue gaze directed upwards, for there in the sky could be seen the clear coil of smoke in the distance, rising up from the farmhouse they were headed too.

Alastair narrowed his eyes at the sight not far before them, he passed Gaelin to Blaze and walked a bit further, stepping into a quick jog to get a glimpse around some of the bushier trees along the edge of the road. More plumes of smoke were rising up in straight columns in the distance further back spotted though patched of rolling friends and forest. "Those are not from fireplaces" he stated sharply and with grave concern. He looked back and forth surveying their immediate surroundings and where they had come, unsure what was  going down but it was clear whatever was rampaging hadn't yet made it to the small fishing town though no doubt would be there soon. He then handed his daughter to Blaze to hold as he had been previously tending both children.

"Get into the forest Eleni, I am going to sneak ahead to Ackley and Calora's..." he kissed her cheek but then was rushing forward, tossing armour to the ground, running as fast as he could. He shrugged from his shirt as he bound through a nearby wheat field, kicking boots away, unclasping belt, unbuttoning his pants.. near naked ashen gray elf running with unworldly speed before he lunged forward just as the wolf within burst from his skin growing three times his size at least, midnight fur dancing with each mighty bound he vanished quickly from sight.

Blaze clasped the children tight to her, could feel their little hearts pounding against her as if picking up on their parents unease. She paused only to see him turn and break into a run before she stepped backwards and turned, veering off the pathway and into the trees backtracking at a quickening pace though with the baggage of two children now past their years as babes she moved far slower than she'd have wished.

Ducking under branches and sidestepping tangled tree roots in small leaps on deft feet she did not stop for a good five or six minutes. Reaching a particularly knarled trunk she set the children down on their feet coaxing them back into the hollow it created. Gaelin reached for his sister’s hand as Blaze held finger to her lips, standing and shielding them from view as wild blue eyes peering towards the trees as if she would spot danger behind every one.

Nearby the sound of twig breaking underfoot had her head snap to its direction, low unavoidable growl stirring in her throat, arms pressing back against the twins to keep them safe as she readied herself for anything that may come. Celeste let out a soft frightened squeal and began to whisper for her mother. And it was in the instant as Blaze turned just for a second to beg her for quiet that the arrow hit sending birds scattering to her cry clear across the forest, cry that told not only of pain but of warning.

Alastair rushed through the field, barrelling through wheat the dark lycan made large strides, deep chest allowed for massive lungs to push him forward with speed and stealth. The house was in sight, he could smell the smoke as it came down wind making him cough and place his nose lower to the ground as he neared at a running pace. He could hear no screaming, no sounds of struggle inside, just the sound of roaring flames and crackling beams, shifting supports as the house would soon start to crumble on its foundation.

He rounded on all fours through the back door of the farm house claw scraping on the wooden floor. He snorted and tried to peer through the flames searching for anyone trapped, Ele his daughter, her foster parents Ackley or Calora. But he found neither. Drawers were pulled out of the kitchen counter and upstairs bedroom dressers, the place looked ransacked, clearly someone had quickly rummaged.

Ash and soot collected in his already black fur, the air getting to thick with smoke. He rushed back down to the living room area where one of the windows had already blown out. He would have kept going but movement outside in the distance caught his eye. With waves of heat rushing past he tried to bare it a few second to make them out. Dark skinned creatures, average height but slim build. Some were cloaked but then few more joined, gathering together not far down the road from him. A few he could see held the unmistakable contrast of snow white hair. Drow.

This was a drow raid? They must have been making their way into the village pillaging what they could take. No bodies meant they were taking slaves with their riches. He felt another adrenalin rush, old feelings and hates swelling deep within but primarily his concern and thoughts went to his family. He jumped through another already bust open window and heard Blaze’s scream echo out over the landscape. The worst came to mind as he raced back.

Back amidst the trees the silvery white lycan had burst from already heated skin in an instant. Slender frame contorting and twisting, seeming to peel back to reveal within a mere second a towering muscular beast that rose above the surrounding cloaked figures...figures that were drawing close to form a net about mother and children. The arrow that had struck deep to bone was wrenched free with the shift though the dull pain and bleeding lingered. Piercing blue eyes that glittered with aggressive intent glared over those that clearly meant harm. Against the muffled cries of her son and daughter whom were pushed back, hidden behind their mothers fur did a low warning snarl of defiance echo through bared teeth echoing about the trees.

With sweeping glance and perked ears did she surmise quickly there were six, perhaps seven hooded attackers, drow it seemed for their scent carried heavy and foul on the air. Glint of silver sparkled against the half light that crept through the tree’s canopy overhead, faint swish of feathered ruffling as dark skinned fingers swept through arrow fletch and the sound of coiled rope being twisted and tightened within one’s grip told of the intent.

Her chest heaved with fury, claws scrapping threateningly against the ground though she would not move, would not uncover her children to them. She knew what drow did with children and the very thought of it filled her with hatred and disgust. Blood trickled down her chest staining shimmering fur yet she seemed to pay no heed, the discomfort nothing to the aggression and fear she felt churning inside of her. She’d always hated drow and inwardly was most intimidated of their capabilities...ever since the underdark. “Stay back!” she growled in her thick heavy lycan speech, leaning weight forward with a heavy step though still looming tall over them all. Perhaps they may not understand the exact words but the warning was all too clear.

One of the hooded figures boldly stepped forward and she caught the wisps of white hair framing her face not quite yet tucked back. A female. Between her fingers was a rope which she coiled about her wrist then yanked hard to have it snap taught between her hands threateningly. Foul, ugly sounding tones hissed off her lips as she too spoke in her mother tongue though it was obvious to Blaze the subject were her two terrified children. She growled all the more menacingly, leaning back now ready to pounce and maim any that dared to try and take them.

The gathered drow began to approach closer, whether brave or foolish they drew in, closing the net. Blaze’s fur bristled as her lycan eyes narrowed sharply her head turning at an angle regarding the approaching drow sidelong whilst trying to keep sharp eye upon the rest knowing their likely tactic; lure her to attack with one whilst the others would make grab for her children.  Further underdark hissing syllables whispered like creeping spiders into the air, goading in tone, manipulative, testing. Gums vibrated with her growl, gruff heavy breaths sending trail of mist from flaring nostrils.

A twig snapped overhead causing her head to lift, ears pivoting wildly as dark shape dropped from the branches above. The female drow made her move, stepping in with glint of blade appeared from nowhere. But the Lycan was too quick. With one muscular arm she grasped the air, supernatural strength snatching the lithe drow before his feet hit the ground, rolling him towards her as elongated black claws tore down his back only to then send him flinging away toward the female, tumbling into her with such ferocity she was knocked clean off her feet, blade spinning away through the air.

Instinct took over, snarling silvery beast lunging forward like a massive coiled spring, jaws parting revealing gleaming rows of teeth and fang that clamped down upon bitter tasting drow flesh, fabric shredded away as if made of rice paper. Vice like grip sunk down deep, distinctive gruesome sound of bone crunching against enormous molars accompanied by her victims shriek of pain that almost tore the eardrums and the shouts and hissed threats from the others poised to attack though seemed understandably wary even if the lycan was still vastly outnumbered. Blaze shook her head aggressively, shaking her prey like a rag doll, flesh and sinew torn and gaping then ground the squealing male into the ground, leaning all weight down as the crowd looked on, not one approached yet to aid him. Only when satisfied he would never recover did she draw bloodied maw away, eyes glinting momentarily as gazed over the shredded mess left behind.  In his own macabre way, Alastair would have been proud.

Back at the road, Alastair had finally reached the tree line, leaping over the winding dirt path he burst through into the thick foliage following scent of blood, he could already smell Blazes and another laced together hanging thickly in the air about the tree trunks and forest brush. His heart pounded faster, more for shier worry then rage, though his blood boiled hot, enough the massive black beast pressed forward, maw open and panting. Broad paws turned up the forest soil with the force of each muscled stride.

Blaze and the drow heard the sound of misplaced bushes and foliage as Alastair closed the distance, not as loud and crashing as one might think from a beast his size but not caring so much about stealth and just wishing to reach his family he paid little mind to the foliage he ran into. Blazes white form was the first thing he saw though the shade as she stood out in stark contrast, he could see the crimson stain in her fur then the bloody gory mess all over her muzzle. With a roar he ran directly at her side, somehow instinctively he knew the children were behind her pressed to the tree. He took a stance beside his white wolfess also blocking in the children though wild silver blue eyes glared with a raw and venomous vitality at the surrounding drow who all seemed to take a visible step back at the arrival of a second.

The drow only faltered in resolve a moment though. In the blink of an eye their mind would go from questioning to greed; what sort of drow would give up opportunity for such a prize? Two lycan and their cubs, of which most likely they hardly expected to find. They strengthened the circle. Alastair recognized the tactic, felt the need to lunge now before they could regroup from losing one of their companions, now mauled and mutilated, seeping its blasphemous blood into the forest floor.

He lunged at the closest one to make a move. Like a snake maw opened wide showed rows of white teeth only for a split second until it connected with the drow’s arm. Crushing pressure and a quick yank from his muscled neck would tear the limb from his body. Rage blinded him from the truth, a worthy sacrifice for the team for such a prize. While Alastair busied himself taking the drows life another prepared fine darts into a narrow hollow cylinder. The females hood fell back, her long hair cascading over her shoulders as she stuffed the weapon full. Alastair turned, looming up tall to redirect the assault but the shrill screams of his terrified toddlers came as one tried to slip past Blaze during the distraction.

Crafty spider worshipers though seemed to have met their match used the obvious distraction. Alastair turned to the sound, his children were his priority and their fear rang loud and clear in his mind. A new adrenaline surge rushed through him but before he was able to grab at another assaulter, he felt his shoulder hit three times like a bee sting but it was whatever potent substance laced to their tips that made him fall. It invaded the pulsing blood stream, vision blurred quickly and his body seized up. He crashed hard to the floor, muzzle falling to rest on the edge of the drows boot, the one whom had tried to grab at his child.

Blaze roared her despair to see her mate fall, her own bristling body leaping towards the escaped child also. Trying to turn in mid air she landed with a thud that made the ground shake an ear splitting whine sounded from deep in her throat. Ears perked back, taut like shark fins and her head turned to the female that had downed him, wild eyes narrowing and snarling with deep set hatred and rage, emotion boiling over and with fur flying she pushed off the bloodstained grass and barrelled into her as she tried to sidestep, familiar sound of whizzing darts sounding again.

It ended in slow motion, darts finding their target though barely felt; each frame moving before her eyes like a dream shrouded in a vast mist that clouded in from the edges. Her heavy bulk slammed down atop the female, breaking her spine, an almost merciful death compared to what could have been. Tormented frightened cries of her babies rang agonisingly in the breeze, failing eyes seeing their small forms running, running where she could no longer reach them. Her head lolled to the grass, shaken drow moving back in like leeches to take the spoils. Her heart cried with despair to fail in her responsibility but with only moments to endure it as eyes flickered then closed for good.

1 comment:

  1. Written in conjuction with my friend & muse as his alter ego 'Alastair' Couldn't have done it without him!