Weeper’s First Encounter
She runs. Crashing through snow up to her chest, leaping over obstacles; fallen logs, rocks, small streams covered in ice and buried in a blanket of white. She sees things buried in the snow though she knows they should be hidden from sight. She sees the shadows of the ground beneath the snow, the warmth of a vole darting out of her way into its burrow. She runs, fleeing the things she senses, the things she remembers, but she is learning that she can’t get away. She knows she should not be able to remember this way. She runs to escape the silence that chases her, to create even the slightest of sounds as she flies along. She runs, because the burning of her muscles, the feel of the frigid air rushing past her, her breath charging in and out of her lungs all make her feel alive. She runs to get away from her own scent. She runs because she knows she should be dead.
Stopping now, legs throbbing, breath blowing out in billowing clouds. The scent of the land has changed. She has left the territory of her own pack far behind her. This smells new, different … dangerous.
She remembers. As she had run, Weeper had crossed through the territory of other packs. Sometimes she flashed through a territory without them knowing. As she encroached on the last territory, the pack’s lookout saw her and gave an alarm. The young male had sensed how different she was; not of his pack, yes, but also wrong and smelling of death. He leapt onto her back, clamping jaws onto her neck. They tumbled into the snow. The Eye flashed open as her blood gushed into the other’s mouth, staining the snow. She felt herself transforming as she howled in pain and anger. The other choked on her bitter blood as she twisted around, claws lengthening, jaws and teeth becoming harder, larger. She clamped her mouth on his head and crushed it. She heard growling voices surrounding her. She could see them in the dark. With her new Eye, she could see the blood coursing through their bodies, their muscles, their very spirits. The taste of the lookout male was still in her mouth. The Eye filled her with desire; the desire to kill, to maim and destroy. Two others charged her, she ripped off a foreleg and part of the chest of one. The other sunk its fangs into her haunch. She spun, striking at its face with an over-sized paw, breaking its neck and nearly tearing off the head.
The rest of the pack scattered, a horror they had never experienced chasing them through the darkness. The rage of The Eye had taken over. She had no choice but to chase, to hunt, to rend and tear and kill. One long leap put her on top of one which had hesitated only a moment and she tore through its spine. It took less than five minutes to decimate the pack. She had received injuries, but the power of The Eye healed her within moments. Her fury unabated, she ripped the bodies into pieces. She sensed the life force of several more animals in a den and she clawed the earth open. Her rage was met by whines and whimpers. As several pups and their young mother looked up in terror, her rage subsided. The Eye, sated for the moment, partially closed. She regained some sense of control, of self. With a snarl she turned away, resuming her path.
She does not know where she is going. She knows only that a spirit of vengeance guides her. She ran through the rest of that night. Sometime after dawn she finds a hollow under a tree and crawls into it exhausted. At first sleep eludes her, she is surrounded by a world that only she sees. A world of animal screams and terrifying silence. A world of shadows and spirits, blood and death. At last she sleeps.
He leads her from the pack. She is young and trusting. He is her father, the leader. “You don’t belong with us Weeper” he tells her. The attack is sudden, unexpected and brutal from one she trusts. Terror, betrayal, pain, death as her blood soaks into the earth. He trots away, leaving her to die. But death doesn’t come, instead Ysengrim is there, whispering to her, breathing life back into her, filling her with vengeance. She grows and remembers. She grows and hates. She grows and craves revenge.
She bolts awake panting, snarling, pain coursing through her body. Ready to attack, but nothing is there. She tries to forget. Remembrance is her curse. Wolves don’t remember things the way she does now. Everything is in her mind, pain, sorrow, betrayal, blood. There are few memories which are pleasant, suckling as her mother licks her clean, the warmth of the den, cuddled with her brothers and sisters. But the painful suppresses the pleasant.
She remembers Ysengrim giving her new life and remembers the ideas planted in her seething mind; ideas of revenge against those that would kill her, revenge against the ones that would exterminate wolf-kind. Confusion colors this idea. What can kill all wolf-kind? Even wolves only hunt to eat or kill to protect themselves. Except for her, wolves don’t understand revenge.
It is still daylight. She quietly crawls from her hiding place. She sniffs. She smells the earth, the trees. There is a pack in the mountains across the valley from her. Their odors drift across to her, urine and feces, the odors of only a few wolves. There are deer in the trees to her right, the late snow has left them struggling to find food. Mice, birds, grass. Smells of forest, valley, field, life and death. She hears the wind, and tastes the air, more snow is coming, but not for a few days. There is a smell of smoke far down the valley where it opens out onto wide grasslands. There is a smell from there of trees, but it doesn’t smell right, it is as though a hundred trees had been broken in the wind. There are other smells which she has never encountered before. There is a smell similar to rock, but sharp and stronger even than the rock in a cave, fresher as though the mountain had been torn open. Animals, familiar but different. And blood, as though a dozen animals had been killed all at once. And an animal she has rarely smelled before and only seen once.
She turns toward the smell of deer. They are a long distance from her, but she runs. She bursts from the trees before the deer know she is there. As is the custom of her race when taking food, she takes an old doe. The others scatter, but there is no one else hunting them today. Eating greedily, feeding a hunger that is never sated. Little is left for the scavengers. She walks to a stream down the hill and drinks.
She sits and carefully concentrates on The Eye. A slice of gleaming red opens on her forehead. In calm moments, she has learned some element of control. The Eye can bring images of the world around her, from far away, things not visible, things from long ago and things yet to be. The scene around her dims, she can see the spirits around her, living things in the ground.
Suddenly the world vanishes and she sees her past. She is covered in the blood of her pack, as well as her own. A strange creature glides fearlessly up to her. The stranger smells like a female, She smells of fox, She smells of spirit, She smells different. She stands on her hind legs and holds something in her forepaws – forepaws that are very odd, the claws are small and weak and the toes are unnaturally long, grasping a red-glowing object. The face is ugly and flat, with no fur. Her mouth moves and makes odd sounds. But ideas form in Weeper’s mind; this is a new Eye to let her see and feel and remember. The Eye will let her find those that look like the stranger. Weeper senses there is conflict between this creature/spirit and Ysengrim, but The Eye draws her to it and she accepts it.
She awakens. The Moon, just a sliver, is near setting. She does not need its light. She moves down the slope and finds trees have been broken off smoothly from their roots, many trees. She thinks some monstrous creature has bitten them off and eaten them, but the only monster she can smell is herself. There are piles of branches that look like they’ve been bitten off and left behind. The smell of smoke is strong in the valley as is the odor of the strange creatures which walk on their hind legs.
Weeper’s Eye leads her down along the rushing stream towards the smell of the strange animals. She can see odd things. Square things like piles of rock and wood, but there are holes in the piles and light streams out of many of them. Enough smoke fills the air that she should be able to see a large fire, but there is none. She stops and stares at the square hills and sees the smoke is coming from them, pouring out of a hole in the top of each little square hill. The herd of two-leggers smells large, but they are in clumps, separated inside the square hills. The smell of the creatures mingles with the smoke and wood and rock.
Long sticks of wood are stuck together in odd shapes forming long lines that surround some of the ground. The animals nervously stamp around on the other side of the line of sticks. Animals like deer or bison, but different, stupid. She can sense their fear. They can sense her as well. Further down are other grass-eaters with dense fur. Smaller than the others, they also don’t seem as smart as other grass-eaters she has encountered.
Blood. She can smell the blood of these animals. Smell that many, many of them have been killed here. Their blood has soaked the earth and colors the streams. Why do they stay where so many of them have died so recently? Stupid. She also smells wolf fur. Dead wolf fur. The Eye partially opens, but she doesn’t rage yet. The grass-eaters are making noise; milling around, crying out, trapped by the sticks they can’t run from her approach. She does not hunt the grass-eaters tonight, so she doesn’t care that the wind has shifted and they smell her.
The smell of dead wolf is stronger. She silently approaches the other side of the nearest wooden, square hill. Wolf skins! The skins of three wolves are flat against the wooden structure. Their scent is of the mountain pack she smelled earlier. Anger surges. She does not understand these things she feels in her head; anger and rage are still fairly new to her. But she is beginning to accept them.
Her Eye is open, a fiery vengeance fills her head as her body again grows. She becomes taller, longer, claws growing in seconds to long talons, teeth becoming razor-sharp daggers set in jaws of steel. A click and scrape and a two-legger emerges from the square hill behind her, holding a stick in its forepaw. She spins and with two bounds is on the tall male. It screams out and there is a huge crashing roar of sound and flash of fire from the stick it holds. Her massive jaw clamps shut and she rips out its throat. The taste of blood fuels her rage. Her eyes flare with sparks of hellfire. She howls out her victory; an unearthly moaning wail that carries across the valley, the grass-eaters break through the sticks in terror and stampede away from the demon sound. The wolf pack in the mountains far up the valley, hear the rumbling howl and tremble with a fear they’ve never known. The valley falls silent from the cringing horror of her long moaning howl.
The silence is broken by the scream of a two-legger inside the square-hill the first one had emerged from. Weeper’s gaze falls upon that creature. A single enormous leap and she crashes through the clear hole where the thing stands. Her claws rip through the female’s chest and crush the heart. A wolf-like creature that is not a wolf, suddenly leaps at her and just as suddenly dies, its chest crushed in her jaws. A third two-legger comes into the room and points a stick at her, again there is a violent sound and flash of flame and Weeper yelps with the pain of something smashing into her gut. She stands, The Eye already healing her wound. Her growl shakes the ground as the two-legger pours something into the end of the stick. She leaps smashing it to the ground ripping its throat, drinking its blood.
Weeper leaps back into the night. Many of the two-leggers are rushing from their square-hills, carrying sticks in their hands. She leaps into the dark as one of them points a stick at her with the flashing roar of noise. She now knows they cause pain. She doubles around through the darkness, flying silently across the ground. A flash of pale fur, huge teeth and three glowing-ember eyes and a two-legger goes down with its throat and lower jaw torn out. The others are shouting and running. She streaks from the darkness and strikes with an over-sized paw full of black claws and another two-legger collapses with a brief scream. She lands between several other two-leggers, two point their sticks at her and she darts away as the two sticks flash, one falls as she springs back. She grabs the next one as she is in mid leap, her jaws clamping to the base of its neck; she turns a summersault, flipping the tall male through the air and breaking its neck.
She leaps again and flies to the top of one of the square-hills. One of the creatures points at her and its stick booms and something rips into her shoulder. Her thundering screech of pain causes the two-leggers to cower in terror. Several of them scramble back into the structures with shouts and banging. Four of them are in a group with their sticks pointing outward. Weeper’s thundering snarl breaks through the darkness, one bolts and she is on its back, it screams as its spine snaps and she vanishes again.
Two run into one of the squares. One stands shouting. She leaps and disembowels it with slashing claws. She paces over to the two-legger with the broken spine. It is whimpering and using its forelegs to crawl towards the stick it had carried. She puts a paw on it and it cries out. She takes in the scent of it, its blood, its flesh, its breath and spirit. Her jaws clamp down on its neck and with a quick shake it is dead.
She turns to the nearest square-hill – The Eye sees the two-leggers within. There is a hole in this one too. She leaps at the opening and crashes inside. Two not-wolves attack; she catches one mid leap as the other leaps in biting down on her neck. She shakes the one lose and it crashes into a flat surface with a tiny fire on top. The fire falls over and splashes across the ground, suddenly spreading. She leaps aside as a stick blasts at her, and then bounds back at the two-legger, ripping its heart out. The other cringes in fear and is killed in an instant.
Weeper continues through the dark night. Her rage finally abates with the dawn. Her fury sated with blood. The pack of wolf-killers is dead, only a few escaped. Her vengeance is spent. The valley is silent. What life that did not flee, silently trembles at her presence.
She runs. She runs to leave the screams and the fire and the pain behind. She runs towards the next bout of rage.
The Sheriff rides into town. The man who had reported the massacre to him refused to come back. It has remained cold, preserving bodies. The area is silent. His horse fidgets with a fear barely held in check. Several of the homes have burned to the ground. Several bodies lie in the town square with the most appalling injuries; throats torn out, chests torn open. Almost every house has had a window or door smashed in, he can see more bodies inside. A light wind blows through, carrying the first light flurries of the coming storm. He and his horse are the only living things.
The Sheriff sees the carnage. He can see wolf tracks in the frozen mud. But there are other tracks which, though they seem wolf-like, are much bigger.
He talks to his horse, “well, I reckon this had to be the work of that damned pack in the mountains up the valley. I think we’ll have to have a wolf hunt.”
Watching from the trees the woman who smells like a fox laughs …