Monday, July 15, 2013

THE WILDS: A Sticks and Stones Prequel


Copyright ©2013 Charlie Morgan


A shrill cry ripped through the cold, mountain air and echoed through the fog shrouded valleys. The creatures of the forest felt a collective chill in their blood as the mournful sounds resonated. It was something that they knew all too well. It was the sound of a new hunter ripping its way into the world.

The Alwa made their way to the mountains centuries ago. It was a place where they could remain safe and hidden from the rest of the world, where they could make their home in the seclusion of thick forest, away from the hairless. Locta, the elder, feared the hairless creatures. They were a pale, violent breed who always took without ever giving. Locta watched two of their males in a clearing. His eyes were old but he could still see the look on their faces when the cries came. There was fear in their eyes. He knew these creatures were crazed. They would attack without warning or provocation. Another cry burst forth and the two figures ran, heading for the far treeline to, no doubt, return with more of their kind.

Locta dropped from the tree he had been perched in. He listened for a long minute, sniffing the air to ensure he was alone before making his way back to the others. Clouds drifted over the face of the moon, plunging the land into darkness. For this to happen during a birth was a sign that the elder knew well. He raced up the steep hill, his joints popping with the signs of age and pain shooting through his legs. Without slowing, he reached Miku, his granddaughter. In the faint light he could see that that the child was coming. Miku spread her legs and howled once more. Finally, a blood-soaked ball of fur spilled forth. The girl collapsed to her back, breathing hard. She eased herself up to take the first look at her child but was stopped by Locta's heavy hand. She stared back with confusion at first but soon the reality of the situation had set in. Her face contorted into that of a new pain. She tilted her head to the sky and shrieked with hurt and rage. Why had this happened to her? What wrong had she done to the Gods to deserve this punishment?

The clouds parted and soft moon glow illuminated the abomination. The malformed child was an appalling sight to Locta. He lifted it by the leg and examined it. Without a sound, the elder slipped away further into the forest as his granddaughter cried.

The child was of the Arook, a cursed offspring. When the first one arrived, it had been born with feet that resembled clubs. It would've never been able to be a hunter like the rest. As it grew, it was overcome with violent fits and the hostility only increased with age. The Arook had been banished from the tribe. With the passing seasons, more Arook were born and similarly banished, each child taken away. But the Arook did not die. They flourished as their own people.

Locta had reached the mouth of the cave. It rested just in front of the edge of the world, an overlook that stood high above the valley. He placed the infant at the entrance and left without a sound. Soon the baby would cry out and dark, hulking figures would take it inside and welcome it.