The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 18

The next day word began to circulate among the troops that Samuel was cursed and that he attracted danger and evil upon them with his powers. More powers were attributed to him than were originally supposed. They started to believe that not only could he control people with his eyes but that he also had command of the vile beasts of the earth and was calling them forth to protect him. The soldiers speculated that his mind would call out to any that would hear him, to come to his aid, but only the basest animals would heed the call.

It began simply enough when a black bear crossed directly in front of their path. They scared it away with some loud noise and it promptly fled. Though nothing came of it, it was unusual enough that it ignited low-speech and insinuation. A thick flock of black birds followed soon after and flew in low above them. Some of the soldiers began to murmur of the ill omens of this in combination with the bear with trepidation.

What most firmly fixed this thought in their brains, though, was a far more unfortunate encounter. They were passing by the ancient ruins of a small village. The remains of a brick wall stood in the trees on top of a cement foundation, which had been all but completely swallowed up by the undergrowth. Beside it, the fragmented skeleton of a building was still standing, with steel spires sticking out of the undergrowth. Many ancient ruins were scattered through the scarcely populated mountainous region between the Fourth Order’s theocratic empire and the Omnia, most of them only the barely visible footprints of buildings on the ground with, at most, only some brick or cement walls preserved. Metal usually was scavenged from them, but these ruins, much weathered by age, hadn’t been stripped by humans, either because it was too far away from any settlements or because it had a reputation for being a sinister place.

Just as they neared these ruins, a pack of gray wolves, seldom wont to attack large groups of humans, made a bold assault upon them. It was probably the meat and food the wolves were after, but it put the soldiers and their attendants were in peril.

The pack drove swiftly down a slope from the group’s flank led by their blazing white alpha male and scattered the troops in a moment of sudden panic. The palanquin was dropped by the four men that carried it and all of those around it quickly fled. Annsi alone remained, standing beside the palanquin, refusing to abandon Samuel. She leapt on top of the palanquin to escape the wolves that swirled around her. The palanquin was far too short to prevent the wolves from leaping at her, making her citadel little better than nothing, but so long as the wolves were distracted by other quarry than her, she remained.

From inside Samuel sat still, listening to sounds that he could recognize. He had heard of wolves that would sometimes taunt and kill the livestock in Still Creek-forr and recognized their sound distinctly, along with the confused sounds of the scattering soldiers. He’d been told that the wolves would even take little children if they did not find any livestock that they liked. And he too heard someone leaping atop of and standing upon his little palanquin, as she shifted around and the wood creaked beneath her weight.

When a wolf did finally approach Annsi, pacing towards her growling as she held the thin sword in front of herself with two hands ready for a direct defense, she changed her mind. She leapt down, dropping her sword, and opened the door of the palanquin, closing her eyes as the door opened and then blindly climbing inside and awkwardly closing it behind her. It was cramped inside, not being designed for two people though it was soft, pillowed on all sides. She sat with her knees pulled close against her chest to avoid touching Samuel and squeezed her eyes close to avoid the influence of his Sable Eyes.

Unfortunately the dog had not given up immediately, but could be heard to leap on top of the palanquin and try to follow her, pressing its sniffing nose against the door, squeezing it between the sliding door and the wall of the palanquin.

<-- Go to Part 17         Go to Part 19 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

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