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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Awakenings


James
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Checking the dressings, Anton was overall quite happy with how things were going as he rolled her onto her back once more.  The girl seemed to be out of the worst of the danger, and there were a couple of times where he had been rather worried that she wasn't going to pull through.  But, she was resilient it seemed, despite having lost quite a bit of blood that was.  Having said that, the Wheel could have possibly been a touch kinder in weaving the girl's fate.  Yes, it led him to her, her mental cries had pounded on his awareness and brought him running, but couldn't the Wheel just have woven her into his path or him into hers without necessitating the quartet of bandits?

 

Not that they were going to be bothering anyone anymore, Anton had been able to deal with them with the assistance of a few friends that were unhappy with the idea of two legs hunting one of their own.  Wolves naturally avoided men, but they would not abandon one of their own either.  Nor did Anton, Trackers did not abandon Wanderers.  It was just a good thing that the Wheel had woven as it did, Anton had come this way to test Timewalker's ability to track.  She was still a couple of days behind him, but she now knew the exercise was at an end at least.  With any luck she'd be here late tomorrow, but she wouldn't need to push herself now that the bandits had been taken care of.

 

On a knee next to the Wanderer, Anton brushed back her hair back gently and lifted the blanket up a little higher to make sure she was warm.  Not as young as some of the Wanderers he had found in the past, she was still nevertheless young.  Had an Andoran look to her, the clothing even made him think she might be a local though he could not remember having seen her in Emonds Field before when he had passed through it.  He hadn't found much on her to help him pinpoint where she was from, she didn't even have any coins that could have helped him work out where she'd been.  It was something he would be able to ask her about when she woke up.

 

Name the Dark One and he appears...

 

Seeing her squint as a slight moan escaped her, Anton spoke softly as he sought to get her attention.  He wanted to scare her as little as possible as her eyes opened and began to focus.  "Its alright, you're safe now."

 

 

Anton Averdal

Farpaw

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The world was fuzzy, her eyes not quite focusing right away. Her mind drank in the smells of her surroundings. Her body wanted nothing more than to simply sink back into the warmth and pull her back into the darkness, but shifting her weight a bit brought the recent events back to her in sharp clarity.

 

She smelt someone with her, and heard his quiet voice. She was tense at first, thinking that he may be one of the bandits she had run from, but something in his voice told her he wasn't.

 

Blinking until she could see, she peered up at him. Her first thoughts of him were that he looked as though he might be a farmer who happened upon her. She gingerly lifted her left hand and touched the bandage on her neck. No, definitely not someone who meant her harm.

 

She gasped softly as his eyes caught the light and glowed for a moment. The fleeting thought that the Dark One in a human body had come to save her only for his own plans, discarded quickly for the foolish fairytale it was. That lead to thoughts of her mother, and she would not think of her, not now or ever.

 

"Who.." her voice grated, she coughed. "Who are you?"

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Smiling reassuringly at the woman as he leaned back slightly, Anton was glad to see that she wasn't about to go into a panic.  But, she wanted a name and that was what he would give her, and then some explanations.  He just hoped she remained calm, she seemed settled but wanderers could sometimes have mood swings.  Females in particular, or so he'd noticed, or maybe it had just been his karma to end up in some of the situations he had.  As it was, out of all the men and women he had found, it had only been women so far that had shown a propensity for assaulting him.

 

"My name is Anton Averdal, I'm a Tracker and something else that I am sure you noticed."  Holding up two fingers on his right hand, he gestured up to his eyes that caught the light and shone with a brassy gold that was hard to mistake.  Much like her eyes it seemed, she was well on her way then.  "You have eyes much like mine, and that is because we are...  kin, in a certain way.  Just listen for a moment, hear what I have to say because I'm going to try and shed some light on what has probably been a very confusing time for you."

 

"First of all, you are not the Dark One's spawn.  You are what we call Wolfkin.  Out of all the people in the world, there are a rare few that manifest this kinship, this link with the wolves.  Our eyes turn to gold and our vision improves, as do our other senses such as smell and touch, taste and hearing, you may have already noticed that for yourself.  But I'm sure you've probably felt other things, unsettling things.  Some people feel murderous rage, others an urge to mate, others a craving for meat and there are many other forms these urges can take.  They are urges that far outweigh what someone would normally feel.  Perhaps you've had dreams about these things as well."

 

"We call this the Howling."  Sitting down, Anton leaned over to where his saddlebag was and began to root through it as he continued speaking.  "We are both human and wolf, the time of the Howling is when your wolvish nature clashes with the human, it tries to overcome it because it is young and without thought.  People can become lost to the wolf, they go mad and once you are lost, that human side of you is gone forever."

 

"But there is a way to face it.  The wolf only gains power through denial of yourself, not accepting it at all.  The key to passing through the howling is learning how to accept the wolf within and blend it with that which is human, but without succumbing to the urges.  Its discipline and acceptance that allows you to survive, and that is why I and others like me travel about.  We find Wanderers like you, and we take you to a home we have made for those who are not welcome amongst their own, a place where you have others to help you pass through the Howling successfully."

 

Finding the waterskin, Anton sat upright and uncorked it as he grinned.  "To sum up, I'm here to help and it isn't the end of the world, even if its been feeling like it.  That and there is nothing wrong with you.  Now, do you feel like you could handle a bit of water?"

 

 

Anton Averdal

Farpaw

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As she listened to Anton, her face and scent was like an open book. She looked at him sharply when he mentioned the "Dark One's spawn," and blushed when he spoke of the urgings, wetting her lips as she remembered her dreams. She listened quietly, a part of her not connecting to what was happening. When he offered the water, she sat up stiffly and accepted the waterskin, drinking only a small bit before she stared at it in her hands. The words were crashing in on her, and what they meant.

 

"I don't want it." She said simply, a blotch of water appeared on the outside of the waterskin, but she hadn't felt the tears.

 

"I'm not an animal. I was raised to be a farmer's wife...I don't want it!" she gritted her teeth in a feral snarl as if in pain, but this pain was very much on the inside. "I don't want to be a wolf, or see like them, or run with them!" something in the last statement did not ring true.

 

She grit the waterskin, her fingertips turning white against it. "I've been cursed like this for months! My family-" too fresh, she couldn't bring herself to say it. "My mother-!" Too much, the feeling of needing to howl into the sky all the pain, her heart was beating until she thought it might burst.

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It had been awhile since he had come across a Wanderer who denied the gift that they had, regarded it as a curse.  They had usually been so ostracised or disconnected from the people around them that by the time the call of the wolves came to them, they had little to leave behind, or things they wished to leave behind.  The Wolfkin had given them a sense of belonging that they hadn't ever quite had before, even if it took them a lot of time to find that belonging and embrace it for what it was.

 

But this girl wasn't like the last few, no, she clearly had left behind people who had loved her.  Perhaps they had forced her out, turned on her for what she was.  Or perhaps they had helped her leave, assisted her in fear for her life much like Dautry's father had helped him flee.  Anton guessed it was the former though, her pain was so keen that it could cut the air like a knife.  Despite this, it remained bottled inside, simply caught up inside of her where she was trying to keep it.  Anton could smell that and more.

 

Reaching over, Anton placed a hand on her arm reassuringly as he spoke.  "Whether you want it or not, it has chosen you and it won't go away.  If you don't try and accept it, then it will consume you.  But if you do accept it, one day you may be able to return to your mother and your family.  You'll be able to tell them what happened to you, why it happened, and why there is nothing wrong with you.  I've been doing this for awhile, many Wanderers are rejected by those they love because they don't understand what is happening and they fear the worst."

 

"When they understand, they may be able to listen to their hearts and let go of that fear.  I won't promise it, but there have been others who have been accepted for what they are.  My own mentor found his family accepted him when he returned to them."

 

Lifting his hand away, Anton decided it was time to divert from the subject.  "But, perhaps that is enough of that for now.  Tell me, what is your name and where are you from?  I could have mistaken you for local but I have never seen you before."

 

 

Anton Averdal

Farpaw

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A whimper much like a small wolf cub escaped her when his hand touched her. She continued to grit her teeth while he spoke, but when he spoke of returning to her family one day, she looked him in the eyes and her pain subsided to bearable once again. She hadn't noticed that her hands and let go of the waterskin until she felt the cold water through her skirt and picked it back up.

 

When he pulled his hand away and asked about her background, her golden eyes turned dull as she turned in to herself. Not to separate herself from what he asked, but to put those painful thoughts away.

 

"My name...I'm Lianrin al'Emerie. I don't really know how local you could say I am. My home-" she paused, her eyebrows drawing down a little and gesturing with her hand to the distance. "My parents farm is...well, all I really know is that it's a two day journey from there to Emond's Field. I've never seen a map before..."

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Lianrin al'Emerie.

 

Well, that definitely sounded local to Anton and it made sense.  It seemed strange that there was a local farmstead that had remained ignorant of the Wolfkin as well as possibly the Band of the Red Hand, but it was also a strange twist that there had actually been bandits in the area.  The wheel wove a particularly strange set of threads for this ultimately bizarre event, but Anton had long since learned that stranger things had happened.  Certainly, the girl hadn't lied to him once so it wasn't a question of deception.

 

At least it would be good in regards to the girl, considering how attached she still felt to her family.  Anton wasn't sure if there would be anyone else who could claim the girl's luck, Sohvi had been from Amadicia and the Candarr girls had all been from Cairhien, Zie had been from the same area and Dautry from Tear while Anabel was out of this world altogether.  Perhaps with time the girl would come to appreciate that when she had settled in at the Stedding.

 

Not girl, Lianrin.

 

"You're very lucky then.  Many of us come from different nations, but for you this shall be much like home.  The Stedding is less than a week's travel away.  It is curious that you had not heard of us because we have had dealings with Emonds Field before, perhaps they thought that your family would think their story mad so they said nothing.  But that doesn't matter now."

 

"What matters now is that you get better."  Patting her arm, Anton smiled as he pointed to her waterskin.  "You should have some water, you lost a fair bit of blood so that will help.  That stew on the fire."  Anton pointed to the fire on the other side of Lianrin where a pot hung above.  "Will also help in that respect.  It shouldn't be too much longer, wolves were kind enough to provide it.  Normally I wouldn't ask for help like that but I couldn't leave you alone just in case something went wrong."

 

"But, you have some questions?  Also, be sure not to move your neck or your shoulder too much if you're going to sit up.  Careful, not everyday you got shot.  Trust me, I once had someone lodge an arrow right here."  Anton grinned as he turned around and patted his left arse cheek.  "I was laid up for a couple of weeks after that."

 

 

Anton Averdal

Farpaw

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She barely kept herself from laughing at his description of his own arrow wound, and covered her smile by taking a drink. She thought quietly to herself.

 

"I never even dreamed that a Stedding...you mean, like Ogiers? I thought only they lived in Steddings, how is it that you say these Wolfkin live there too?"

 

She paused, but only for a breath. "And you say there's more...kin. How many of us are there?" She flinched as she realized she had included herself in it for the first time.

 

Staring at her hands, she turned them over, palms up. "You make this...being a Wolfkin...sound so random. But even so, what would a bunch of wolves...or even Wolfkin...want with me? I have no skills in hunting, I've never even killed anything in my life except for weeds. My brothers all did that.." Her voice trailed off at the end.

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It was good to see she was still able to smile, he never thought he'd be thankful for having been shafted so to speak.  It was hard not to laugh at the image, just hard to deal with it at the time was all.  But like most tragedy, it made for a good laugh given enough time.  She was quick to ask her questions, a good thing because it meant she was thinking and it meant that she felt comfortable enough to speak her mind.  One of the most important things that a Tracker did was inspire trust, without trust there could be little hope of helping a Wanderer.  Short of tying them up and hauling them all the way to the Stedding, and that tended to be a touch impractical.

 

That Lianrin was also beginning to think in terms of 'we' and 'us' was a good sign as well, the first steps towards acceptance.  There was still confusion though, still fear, but these were things that he was here to help with.  "Ok, where to begin...  First of all, the Stedding is much like that of the Ogier, yet it is different.  The Ogier tend their groves well, they are different, one day you may visit one and be able to see it for yourself.  Our Stedding on the otherhand has grown wild and remained untended.  It is more, natural, though that isn't the most precise way to describe it."

 

"And yes, there is a village within the stedding, though not all of us live there.  I live outside the Stedding for example, and there are others who are Trackers like myself who wander the world, looking for new Wanderers in need of help.  The Watchers in turn seek news, so they also travel extensively.  How many all up?  I'm not sure to be honest, not everyone who lives with us is Wolfkin.  There are children for example, and the Band of the Red Hand is about a day away."

 

But, the thing that had particularly grabbed Lianrin still needed questioning it seemed.  "As for how we are chosen, I can't say to be honest.  It doesn't seem to discriminate by age, nor by blood though once I brought three sisters to the Stedding, all of them Wolfkin.  You'll like the Candarr sisters I think, though beware the youngest Korrena, she'll get you in strife in an instant."  The smile on Anton's face said it was for the most part friendly trouble, even if the girl had a habit of giving him a headache.

 

"The wolves don't choose us, there is something within us.  The wolves say that men once ran with them, in the first days, its one of the oldest things in the world this bond.  It disappears amongst men, and then occasionally it will reappear when it is needed.  We are needed, therefore we are.  But that is something that you will need to ask the Sages of.  They are better at describing these things than I am.  And I think I'll just check that stew."

 

Getting to his feet, Anton took the few steps necessary to stand by the pot and nodded to himself.  Going to his backpack and retrieving a spoon and a bowl, Anton simply dipped the bowl within the pot and used it to scoop some stew.  Sitting down next to Lianrin, he offered her the bowl and the spoon as he warned her.  "Careful of where I dipped it, lest you burn yourself."

 

 

Anton Averdal

Farpaw

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She carefully ate some stew, thinking politely to herself that he may have overcooked the meat before realizing the meat was in fact still a bit rare and quite good. It was strange how she could think about all these strange things so calmly. It made her feel as though she were the disobedient little girl lost in the woods that her mother used to speak of when she was a child. The memory of that big black wolf in her dreams came to her.

 

"I have to admit, it is a little relieving to know that I'm not going crazy..." she paused for another spoonful of stew. "All those images in my head, and...what does it mean when this loud booming voice scolds you, saying 'Too young'?"

 

Realizing that she may have said too much and sounded very foolish and crazy, she sticks the spoon back in her mouth before finding that she had forgotten to put stew in it first.

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Chuckling as he saw Lianrin stick an empty spoon in her mouth to cover the embarrassment that was found on her cheeks, Anton shook his head.  She wasn't the first Wanderer to mention it so he was prepared to answer her questions about the images.  Even if they had almost been the death of him, to this day he was leery of letting people into his mind, always keeping himself withdrawn from the images and thoughts shared within the greater pack.  But then, the images that he had been given, they were forced upon him.  It wasn't something he liked to dwell upon.

 

"The wolves communicate to us through images.  With training, you can learn to be more receptive to these thoughts as well as communicate with them.  The voice...  Some of the wolves have been involved with humans long enough that they can think in human thoughts, speak with human voices within their mind images.  Most however can only communicate with images, they might show you the image of a deer running from a wolf to indicate they hunt, so on and so forth.  The understanding is intuitive, as you reconcile your wolf and human sides, it becomes easier to interpret."

 

"The wolves also have names that are images, and the wolves often give us names.  For example...  We'll see how receptive you are.  Clear your mind, and I'll give you a very specific image.  We'll see whether you're able to discern from it my wolf name."  Smiling, Anton closed his eyes and focused on a very specific image, very specific feeling.  A paw that rested upon the ground, yet the ground was many different forms of terrain.  It was snow, it was sand, it was mud, it was rock, it was grass, it was water, it smelled fresh, it smelled salty, it smelt of sulphur.  Within this image was the sense of a vast distance.

 

"Just feel the image, let it roll about in your mind, it will come to you."

 

 

Anton Averdal

Farpaw

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Looking at him warily, it was a shock to see that image in her mind. It held itself still, whereas the wolves had "spoken" so quickly that she could never really see what it was they were showing her. She felt like a young child attempting to read for the first time. Spending long minutes in silence, she looked at him finally.

 

"The only name that really fits to that is...Farpaw?" she shook her head a bit, thinking herself foolish.

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"Correct."  Smiling, Anton patted uninjured shoulder.  She would get the hang of it all with time, of that Anton was certain.  He just had to make sure she was alright and healed up.  In fact, he was tempted not to move her at all until Anabel arrived, then perhaps he would think about it.  Her wound wasn't quite as debilitating as the last time he'd encountered an arrow, but it was more life threatening.  No need to rush her, not when they were so close to the stedding after all.

 

They talked some more as she had her dinner, and when she was done Anton had his using the same bowl as he had only brought one with him, not expecting company.  Once he was done in turn, he laid down near her, staying on hand in case she needed anything and talked to her until she wore herself out and went back to sleep.  A chance for him to sleep in turn, tomorrow no doubt would be a long day.

 

A long day.

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