Whispers Prologue/Chapter 1

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Whispers Prologue/Chapter 1

Post by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:57 pm

So, I don't know if anyone remembers about a year ago I posted a hastily written and rather sloppy collaboration between myself and another writer. Since then I've taken over the project, which allows for a much more cohesive voice in the writing. Dev's recent mind heist project reminded me of this, and allowed me to resume work on it. The following is the beginning of the story, and yes it's one big bugger. If anyone feels so inclined, please critique what you can. I'm only just getting back into the swing of writing, and need to refresh myself.

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Prologue
The world has changed. We still name her “Earth.” We still know her cities and forests - or at least what is left of them. We still drink of her waters, and inhale her breath, but she has changed.
Songs died long ago, and stories remain only as cruel reminders of things we have lost. Ties that were once strong have shattered like glass, and any semblance of brotherhood that was once existed has fallen into disrepair.
Men, once the rulers of this world, have destroyed themselves. They exist as little more than beasts, the monsters of this era. Any humanity their race once had, has all but died. They think nothing of devouring their own when food is scarce, and have left behind the notion that they have any ambition beyond survival. After the war that burned the sky, the survivors of men fled their rubble-strewn husks of civilization, leaving the cities to be overrun by all manner of plant life and animalia.
Though these events transpired long before my time, even the world I have known throughout my life has been changed for the worse. Some years ago, when I was still young, a plague ravaged my home and the surrounding lands. Disease was the better part of it. Strange rat-like creatures began appearing from nowhere. Thousands of them, overtaking anything and anyone they could. Those of us who were able, fled to hiding places throughout the area, but even some of us did not survive.
More odd, were the mutations. Many of our kind suddenly found that they had... powers. Unexplainable abilities, often tied directly to nature. Suddenly finding they were capable of manipulating weather, earth, even night and day, several of our alphas abandoned their packs, declaring themselves gods. Most thought nothing of this, and welcomed the government of some powerful enough to protect their “subjects.” However, many of the newly appointed alphas - particularly those who had powers of their own - took issue with these new “gods” and the sudden lack of influence an alpha carried.
Before long, war erupted. Many died, families were ripped apart, and quite suddenly only three of the eleven packs remained. I found myself in the unexpected position of alpha, saddled with the responsibility of a pack, and a family. Neither of which I particularly cared for. Now it seems history wishes to repeat itself. The plague has returned, rats and all. For the past few months the packs have been scattered, and I have survived only by retreating to a small island east of the city - and my former pack lands. I haven’t seen a living thing for months, with the exception of the rats and an occasional fish. Now with the plague seeming to subside, I’ve made my way back to the mainland.
Strangely, I hope some of my pack has survived, all the power in the world is worthless if you have nothing to rule. Nothing to love.
The world has changed. But I refuse to.

Chapter 1 “Been A Quiet Night”

He remembered this land. He remembered Mist. He remember being young. Young and foolish. The years past when he and Kasimir would slip into Mist territory, stealing prey and quick runs about the place. He remembered loving, and being in love. He remembered the death of his mother. He remembered his stillborn pups. It pained him to think about these things, but he did, and it all came back in a rush.
Had Kasimir loved him all those years ago? Truly? She’d said as much. What about when she’d run away, and the two of them had grown up? The times she’d threatened his life and said she’d hated him, what about then?
He had loved her. He knew he had. He never could force himself to not care about her. That made him so bitter. Worse, it made him miss her. He had told her he couldn’t stand her when he wanted to press his muzzle into her fur. He’d told her he hated her when he loved her. Now he couldn’t. Even if she was still alive, still around, he doubted he’d be able to bring himself to tell her how he really felt.
He didn’t truly know if she was dead. It was likely, of course. All that was left of the majority the land’s wolves was carcasses. She could be one in a million.
She always had been.
She had hurt him. She was insensitive, vile even. But she was also beautiful, and strangely loving. The only thing he’d ever cared about. Yet he’d cursed her name so many times it had burned itself into his tongue. He’d lunged for her open throat as often he’d kissed her face, more than enough times to be killed for murder. None of it was play. It was hatred.
He hated to love her. He hated to care. So he shut down.
Jarbach was lying on a rock now, the wind ruffling his fur. He’d been lying there, still, for hours. Memories filling his head with no consideration as to what emotions they might conjure up. The entire time he’d been in hiding on the island he hadn’t seen a soul. The mainland seemed to be no better. He’d lain here, all day and all night, thinking about Kasimir. About his life. Their life.
He had hardly eaten a thing, foolish, considering he had only just recently regained his normal body size, but he felt no hunger. He felt weak. Depressed. He hated to admit something like that, but he was. Though he tried to blame it on loneliness or fatigue, the Tombstone alpha had to face the truth sometime; Kasimir had sent him into a depression. The past year his face had been a constant frown, and now, for no reason, Jarbach was smiling.
The sun was setting wearily behind the crumbling horizon, pressing wretchedly upon the barren ground, as if willing the earth to live again. What was left of the distant city’s immense skyline was erupting into hues of red and orange, casting long foreboding shadows over Jarbach’s resting place and the surrounding fields. If he had a taste for that sort of thing, he might have called it beautiful. But at the moment it wasn’t the richly colored sunset that caught his eye, but the small form picking its way through the rubble and shrubbery, ever so slowly making its way toward him.
Jarbach’s smile faltered as he rose awkwardly to his paws. He wasn’t quite sure how to react to this new presence. As it neared, he saw it was a wolf like himself. Female. He saw her clearly as she passed out of shadow for a moment, a spot of color in a world that reeked of black and white. He could see her back ripple and contract as she trotted in his direction, without a care in the world. She looked horribly like Kasimir, which made Jarbach’s heart catch in his throat. A terrible mixture of longing and dread began to creep over him at the thought of seeing her again.
She slowed as she came closer, her chest heaving, betraying that she had been traveling for some time. She gazed cautiously about her, smelling of the air, obviously aware that another wolf was nearby. She lifted her muzzle and let loose a low warning call.
It met only deaf ears. Deaf enough for Jarbach to consider it fabrication of his own mind. Still, he lifted his head and breathed the air. One sniff was all that was needed. The unmistakable scent of a wolf was there. She was there. He started toward her slowly, nothing about his stance suggesting that he owned land or held any sort of power. By now his throat had dried, preventing him from returning the call, so he continued taking slow, even steps toward her. When he stood within ten feet, he tried to bring to mind some sort of greeting, but failed. He didn’t know quite what to say. He hadn’t spoken in so long, he simply said the first thing that came to mind.
“God, you don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve seen someone alive.”
His voice was little more than a grating rasp. It pained his ears to hear it. And now at this close range, he could see the femme wasn’t Kasimir. He didn’t know whether he was elated or crushed by this fact, so he showed no emotion. He straightened up; assuming a stance that was more fitting for an alpha, if that had any meaning now. He cleared his throat and spoke again, this time in a voice a bit more sure of itself, not too far off from the harsh, biting syllables he had last spoken to Kasimir,
“Who are you?”

The female glanced about for a moment, careful to see that the two of them were alone. She’d seen him coming. She hadn’t expected to see anybody this far out. Still, she stood solid, keeping a skeptical eye on the opposing male. His body language told her he was of high rank, but also that he meant her no harm, at least not at the moment. But that wouldn’t stop her from watching him with a wary eye. She’d been taken advantage of too many times in the past. Her ears conveyed most of her confusion, twitching and leaning back, then springing forward again, straining furiously to catch the sounds of any other unseen guests. She cocked her head ever so slightly, her body tensed and ready to bolt should the situation turn hostile. The whole of her wanted to get out of there as fast as she could, but instinct told her not to. It would only encourage a chase, which was something she was in no shape for.
“Ara,” she answered. Warily. Her voice was not uncertain, but held an air of polite suspicion. Why would a dominant wolf be out here? Alone, no less. She moved her gaze along the surrounding area, her eyes flicking between the male and the territory behind him. But mostly, she watched his eyes. Ara was cautious, but she wasn’t paranoid. Something about how relieved the male had been to see her, something in his voice and his demeanor... she couldn’t quite put her paw on it, but somehow he seemed harmless. Maybe she’d figure it out. Eventually.

So it is him after all... How pleasant.
Don’t be such a cynic, we’d probably have died from the rats if it weren’t for him.
Do you honestly believe that? After what you’ve been through?
Kirill had followed Jarbach here, staying hidden to the best of his not entirely modest ability, lest the wolven form he trailed were a threat. But as luck - whether it be good or bad - would have it, the wolf had turned out to be Jarbach after all.
Does it surprise you that he survived?
No, only that I have to put up with him, and you, while you play your little games.
Oh, don’t worry yourself. I’ll be good.
Kirill rose from his resting place and began trotting toward the form of Jarbach, glancing ever so slightly at the second wolf as he did. He’d seen the female before, briefly, near the Raining Gray territory. Never had bothered to approach her, he’d had his own goings-on at the time. Still, he was mildly interested in meeting her now. It occurred to him that he ought to move a bit less boldly toward the two, but he did nothing to adjust his stance or speed. If Jarbach wasn’t used to his way of carrying himself by now, he never would be.
Kirill was now within ten feet of Jarbach, easily able to see the somewhat unique coat he had always used to identify the alpha.
Please control yourself...
Of course, of course.
Do it as a favor to me.
“Ho, dear Jarbach! Long time no see!” Kirill called out, his ever present smirk widened to a bit more of a smile.
Here we go again...

Jarbach had waited for more of a response from the female, Ara. But her name, it seemed, was all she was willing to give. He was preparing to break the silence when another voice did it for him.
“Kirill?” He hadn’t expected to see any of his pack in this area. Funny it would be Kirill, Jarbach hadn’t had anyone to snap at for a while. “You survived?” No matter how rude that sounded, Jarbach thought with a little grin.
“You’re Jarbach?” the female’s voice broke in with a worried tone. “The Tombstone alpha?”
Her voice sounded rushed and nervous as she spoke, and she took a small step back as she asked. Her reaction surprised Jarbach, even more than Kirill’s reappearance. His head snapped back in Kirill’s direction. He was tempted to ask how the other male had survived - probably used the hidden den. The one Jarbach had planned on retreating to before he’d ended up on the Island of the Lost, one of the smaller islands east of the city that the rat things hadn’t been able to reach.
He turned his attention back to Ara’s question.
“Is that a problem?” He asked, blinking with surprise.
She seemed to digest her situation, and relaxed a bit.
“No...” she responded slowly. “No, I guess not. Just unexpected.”
She nodded at Kirill.
“So who’s that?”
“A Tombstone pack member,” Jarbach coughed, “I must not have noticed him before.” He was speaking the truth. In his present state, Jarbach doubted he’d have noticed the rat creatures had they been gnawing on his leg. Now that he was more aware, he realized Kirill could have been right under his nose for a couple of days; and that realization made him uneasy.
“Well...” Ara continued, glancing again at Kirill. “You said I’m the first living wolf you’ve seen in a while? Where’ve you been? Get run out or something?” She asked Jarbach.
“Away.” Jarbach replied dismally. “Waiting out the vermin that were devouring my pack, my pride, my livelihood, everything I had known -“ He took an unsteady breath, “Alive.” he finished with a sudden flop as he sat on the earth.
“To be honest, I would have rather been run out. I wouldn’t have had to return to... this.” He looked about at the pack lands littered with corpses of not only wolves but also the vermin who had feasted so hungrily on his past life. “I thought no one had survived except perhaps those who were immune to their venom. Which is why I’m so glad to see you. It’s a kind of hope, I guess.”

That caught Kirill’s attention.
Hope? That was a word he hadn't heard from the alpha before. Slip of the tongue perhaps?
Kirill kept silent and observed the newcomer while she conversed with Jarbach. She was pleasant to look at, but nothing particularly unusual. She looked like she could do alright for herself if she got into a scrap. Fairly large, but not overweight, thickly furred, possibly from the north of the city.
The femme glared suspiciously at him again, this time he met her stare with his cocky and somewhat flirtatious grin. He enjoyed it when others felt they needed to be cautious of him, especially when their fears were unfounded.
I don’t think she likes you.
She’ll come around.
I hope not.
On the other side of the conversation though, Jarbach seemed rather depressed. Not unthinkable, considering all that had transpired, though he seemed fond of this Ara. If it was possible for him to be “fond” of anyone.
“Not to interrupt,” although that was exactly what he was doing, which he found pleasing, “But what exactly are you doing this far out from Raining Gray?”

Kirill’s question struck Jarbach squarely in the face. He hadn’t even thought of that.
It was strange for Jarbach to realize that the single question he’d asked every wolf seeking admittance to his borders had escaped him now. To a Raining Gray wolf at that. It was unnerving. Why was she out here?
Ara paused but for a moment before answering, keeping her eyes fixed squarely on Kirill. How he knew where she was from was slightly disturbing, but she refused to let it show.
“I wanted to see if the rumors about Mist were true,” she shifted her focus to the dead fields, “I suppose they were...”
That made sense. Raining Gray had been fairly cut off from the chaos south of the city. Jarbach sighed heavily.
“You know, I told myself that when I came back, the wolves I knew would all be waiting for me. That Kasimir-“ his voice caught in his throat, and he suddenly felt cold, “That Kasimir, or Ashes, or Landerath... That any of the old alphas would have returned to beat the living crap out of those rat creatures... Landerath especially would have done something like that,” he finished with a smirk, and noticed Kirill had moved alongside him.
“Change is often a welcomed thing, Jarbach,” Ara said, “Old leaders go and new ones take their place. It’s how life works.”
“Indeed.” Jarbach winced. He sounded too formal. Too much like his sister or grandfather. Formalities were only a sugary coating that caused him to swallow uncomfortably. With this gulp, he focused on Ara.
“What sorts of rumors have been going around dead wolves’ ears anyway?”
Ara sat, a bit more gracefully than Jarbach had, and smiled to herself. Perhaps these two weren’t so bad. She realized though, she sounded like an old nurse.
Ever since the start of the plague, and the rumors of war, Raining Gray had been all out of sorts. In truth she had run away simply for the purpose of having some time to herself. Now she wished for contact with the Raining Gray remnants, most of all her brother.
Her eyes narrowed as she tried to think of an answer to Jarbach’s question. She knew what he meant, of course, but it still held an air of morose oddity.
“This may surprise you, but not everyone is dead. Unless I’m a ghost of course,” She added with a smile. Jarbach failed to see the humor in her words, as he simply turned his gaze out to the fields. Didn’t he realize there were survivors?
“There are loners, you know... Outcasts too, they’ve passed by the territory from time to time.”

Kirill laughed silently.
Loners and outcasts she says. Aren’t we all?
The female didn’t know the beginning of it. Yes there were loners and outcasts, but there were others as well. He had seen them. Not just the typical assortment of packless vagabonds or remnants of packs from before the plague, but others. Different. He couldn’t explain them now. In time perhaps.
He directed his gaze to Ara. The female was the picture of innocence, lying there, head on her paws, looking up at the alpha. It reminded Kirill of his first meeting with Jarbach. Oh, fond memories.
Up for some fun? He asked himself, as was his strange little habit.
Not really, no...
Oh, come now. After all this time with only me to socialize with, I’d think you’d be up for a bit of sport.
Kirill stepped forward and walked past Ara, allowing his legs to brush against her as he passed. Circling her, he stopped at her shoulders. Leaning down he looked her in the eyes and flashed a grin before directing his attention to Jarbach.
“So,” he began, his grin showing a bit more teeth than usual, “Tell me, dear Jarbach, are we still at war with Raining Gray?”

Ara slowly raised herself to her feet, her ears pinned back in confusion. Why would he ask such a thing? She was under the impression that Jarbach, at least, meant her no harm. But Kirill... She took a pair of steps away from the two males. Her heart picked up pace as she watched the pair, and dread began to creep over her nerves.

Jarbach watched her for a moment before answering his pack-mate.
“Probably. But it’s just a bit below me to attack with an absent alpha.”
His mind, however, was turning. He stood slowly and gazed in the direction of Raining Gray.
Power. Something he’d not been able to exercise for nearly a year.
Jarbach shut his eyes and shook his head, but the thought would not escape him. When his eyes opened, they flashed, and he felt nearly like his old self. Young, foolish, hungry. Ravenous. He looked at Kirill.
“Why do you ask?”

What a question, Kirill thought to himself.
As if he didn’t know.
Perhaps we’ve misjudged his mental prowess.
“Well you know me, Jarbach,” Kirill replied, watching Ara from the corner of his eye as she edged away from him. “I do love a good scrap,” he continued, turning his head so as to keep the female in his line of sight.

Ara cocked her head and took another wary step back, staring now at Jarbach, wondering what his course of action would be. She’d fight to the skins of her teeth, but if they decided to gang up on her, the chance of escape was slim to none.

“Now, dearie, do be calm,” Kirill continued, “I have no violent plans for you, at least not yet. You’re too much the looker for me to just kill you outright.” He finished with his signature smirk, cockiness level up just a touch.
Good fate... Haven’t you already made this uncomfortable enough?
Oh, hush. I don’t need your advice right now.
I disagree...
Kirill turned his attention back to Jarbach.
“And as to there being no alpha, how long do you think that will last? Raining Gray is already regrouping. Do you honestly believe they’ll be less an alpha for long?” he softened his grin a bit, “And to be blunt, their likely candidates are not the sort we want leading an opposing pack. Right now, they are leaderless. Judging by the state of their lands, they’re hard up for food as well. They need a leader, Jarbach, but not one of their own. At least, not unless he’s kept under paw, and controlled.”

Jarbach’s breathing slowed as he digested Kirill’s words. It was as if his red-furred pack member was reading his mind; and while it was a slightly irritating concept, the Tombstone alpha still held it on his tongue and grinned.
“Oh, I don’t think I...” he paused, taking a breath. For once in his life he was speechless, and as he watched Kirill and the increasingly nervous Ara, he realized he really had nothing to say.
And he could sense his grandfather, which confused him merely because it could have simply been Kirill making him think this way, but he highly doubted it. It was in this state that he nearly let himself be taken over, mind and body, by said grandfather.
“As for her,” Kirill added, nodding in the direction of Ara, “She looks like a fast runner. I’m sure she’d make an excellent courier.”
There was a momentary setback on his grandsire’s part as Kirill spoke again, and it gave Jarbach the chance to push the elder wolf out of his mind.
“You’re suggesting that...I...” His voice trailed off and he let out a breath in a sudden hiss. “You have no idea how tempting that sounds.”
There it was. That hunger again. Welling up in his heart and mind instead of his stomach. It burned him, almost, and he lowered his head with a sudden snap.

Why? Ara thought desperately as the two males watched her, and her heart sank with Jarbach’s head. Haven’t we suffered enough without picking fights and choosing wars with each other? Her anger was overtaking her fear now. She doubted Kirill would spare her, whatever he had in mind for her. But the naïve little she-wolf still felt for Jarbach. She could see in him that he was a thinker, not some blind idiot who would allow himself to be manipulated by others.
As her eyes took in the scene before her, she thought of the injustices that he seemed to have suffered, and of the joy he’d expressed when he’d seen her. Her gaze softened as it rested on Jarbach. Her instincts screamed at her to get out of this situation, but still she stayed.
“Jarbach,” she said quietly, “Jarbach, do not listen to this fool. Who is he, to give his alpha orders - no matter how thinly veiled?” Immediately she regretted calling out the alpha’s colleague, but she was ready to speak, no matter the trouble opening her mouth might get her into.
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Re: Whispers Prologue/Chapter 1

Post by Deviss on Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:53 pm

Nicely done my friend. The only thing that threw me off were the Characters being wolves. Other than that, I enjoyed it. Don't hesitate to Post more, when you finish them.

Oh and don't forget to direct your attention to the new Thread of mine.

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Re: Whispers Prologue/Chapter 1

Post by Skate™ on Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:57 pm

Nice man haha wolves? haha Pretty cool.
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Re: Whispers Prologue/Chapter 1

Post by Denjie on Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:55 pm

Very nice work Fox! I like how the characters are wolves. Smile

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A journey continued...

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Re: Whispers Prologue/Chapter 1

Post by Kiba on Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:43 pm

Very cool. I dig the wolf idea, being a fan of Wolf's Rain. Love the dialogue

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Re: Whispers Prologue/Chapter 1

Post by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:52 pm

Danke folks.

I just wish the forum didn't hate formatting so much. All the nice double-spacing and everything gone!
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Re: Whispers Prologue/Chapter 1

Post by Churminess on Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:14 pm

I remember enjoying it last time you posted, I'll be sure to read it after I'm done with Devs, a little more reading material for the school bus.

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