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.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 27

“The great lynx will chew your insides out so quickly that you’ll probably still be alive to see it finish its dinner when it leaves you to let other animals finish you off,” Jesek said, continuing his description, “In Orinda this is the beast that we tame.

“We have a person we call the Arbiter, who raises and tames one of these great lynxes from a young age and commands it. A creature is captured in infancy, raised to about the age of three, and then we use it, for about six years before we retire it. We use the creature to enforce our laws and protect us from strangers. Anyone who sentenced to death is simply let out into the woods and the Arbiter sends the creature after them. Or, if you enter into our woods without acquiring safe passage in advance, the creature will usually find you and lay you down indiscriminately. It’s a comforting thought, at least for most of us, knowing that the creature of virtue is stalking the woods that surround our little town and protecting us.

“Some of the older people who aren’t so well comforted by the creature will sometimes tell you — very cautiously and in hushed tones — about a time, well before I was born, when they were young, when one of the creatures went bad. They say that its Arbiter was ruthless and cruel to his creature and the creature one day turned on him. She killed the Arbiter first and his son, and a whole lot of other people before somebody finally managed to kill it. The creature entered Orinda and pounced on person after person, ripping out each person’s guts in one violent bite and then leaping to the next so quickly that even though they rushed to kill the creature and quickly succeeded, it’d already killed twenty people by then. The creature of virtue is not really an animal that likes to be tamed.

“Anyways, we don’t worry about that as much any more because the Arbiters have learned to be kinder. They’ll tell that story to their son to scare him into being nice to the creature, but we’ve got a pretty good handle on the creature now.

“So, when I left it was the day of the Orestian feast, when the Arbiter goes out to retrieve a new creature, which I had deliberately chosen as my day to flee. The same creature that keeps every else out also keeps us locked inside, but on the day of the Orestian feast, they keep their present creature locked up to protect the Arbiter.

“This particular Orestian celebration also happened to be the final rite of the Arbiter’s son, a young boy named Hiram. As part of the final rite, Hiram had to capture an infant lynx himself. He’d been preparing for this for years. In preparation, he’d spend month seeking out and tracking new broods and tracking their mother’s patterns. The mothers are very protective of their infants, but they do leave the little ones around twilight to dig up a few rodents and brings them back to their kittens. I had been helping Hiram track the mother lynx that he was going to steal the infant from. We saw her once feeding her young. Most of the rodents she didn’t manage to capture alive, but she did manage to capture one. She dropped it in front of her little ones and they chased it around ineffectually, while the mother danced around preventing the rodent from escaping. She finally had to kill it after lots of fruitless chasing. The kittens just weren’t quite fast enough yet.

“The Orestian feast is timed so that the infants are old enough to start learning how to hunt, but not too old that they can’t learn to befriend the arbiter. If the kittens are too young they just feed on the mother’s milk and she almost never leaves them, and if they’re too old, they become too difficult to indoctrinate. Apparently, some of the arbiters have tried to capture two creatures to mate them inside our confines, but it never works. They just don’t. We’ve even tried to permit a tame creature to breed out in the woods, but as soon as she became a mother she wouldn’t let us near her brood and became very hostile to the arbiter. So, unfortunately, the only way we can get a new creature is by stealing it as an infant.

“It was Hiram’s night when I decided to flee, close to twilight. The creature was locked away and Hiram was creeping through the woods to steal a female kitten as his rite of passage.”

<-- Go to Part 26         Go to Part 28 -->

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

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