Wolfborn Part 1
June 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
On the edge of the Etrean continent, jutting out into the vast uncharted waters of the Benarian Ocean, the peninsula inhabited by the Hentilar people rises, edges by steep cliffs and mountains along its southern and western sides. Only the north has anything like a navigable harbor or a beach for a landing. And so, for hundreds of years, the Naeth have landed here, and attacked the Hentre villages.
To be fair, from these same harbors and beaches, the Hentre themselves have raided up into Naethdar. Neither nation is a land of soft, innocent farmers or fisherfolk. Both people live lives of constant warfare among their own, and so, making war against outsiders at least serves one purpose.
It gives them someone else to fight.
Two hundred years before Alron abandoned its northern territories, the clans of the Hentre were isolated from one another. War was common, each tribe holding its own against all be they fellow Hentre or outlanders like the Alronians or the Naeth. Any who saw the situation would tell you that they were doomed to fall eventually. Alron’s power grew as they waxed across the north, seizing everything they could profit from, with the Benar’s tacit support. The Naeth, for their part, could not beat Alron on the water and found themselves outnumbered on land, and unable to cope with the tactics that had brought the southerners so much success against the Aegi and the Tarsans.
A small tribal chief had a son and a daughter at this time, born to his only wife (a rare thing among the Hentre, for a clanhead to have but one spouse) and she died in the delivering of them. Stricken, he dedicated his children to the Green Mother and her many consorts, the Animal Fathers, and he walked out into the surf to die. And so he died.
His children, however, did not. Of his daughter, it was said that her temper was as the badger driving the dogs of the hunt before it, her arm strong and her pride capable of bringing any threat to bay. Her brother, Andak, took himself and his sister Badger in hand as soon as he could speak and walk, and from his aunt’s hearth he made plans for them both. Badger would be his right hand, for her strength and tenacity were great but she was as stolid as her namesake. She would not plan an adventure, although she would certainly never fear to accompany him on one.
They explored the world of the Bear’s Claws holding together. Andak was strong, but his sister was stronger. Badger was brave, but Andak was utterly without fear. They complimented each other as the moon does the sun. Together they explored cairn and crag, hunted together, grew like weeds in the dark of winter and the gold that glows in summer. Some argued that Andak and Badger’s aunt Cellitha allowed them to grow too wild, that the sister would never find a willing mate if she did not learn to tend a hearth, that no woman would have Andak with Badger forever at his back.
Cellitha laughed at the idea of either of them every marrying.
“They were born from one womb at one time. They have never known any time where the other was not there, to comfort or goad, to share food and air together. They will never part, and only a fool would seek to part them. I am not that much a fool.”
In their thirteenth year, while exploring further afield than they were accustomed, they discovered the tracks of a huge tusker boar, like cracked dinner plates pushed into the loam. Clad in skins, armed with spears, they pursued this emperor of the hills deeper into his green domain. And as they hunted, the moon slowly crept into the sky behind them, as the sun made merry its descent. They were not unaware of this, but they didn’t see why they should stop, either. They believed that together, there was nothing they could not do. Badger trusted her brother’s clever mind and her own strong limbs, and Andak believed that his sister would never fail them. So together they crept through the woods, on the trail of a sword toothed old hog, and together beneath the archway of two toppled trees they found him leaning his great bulk against the bark, scraping himself, eyes closed in pleasure. He was so massive he dwarfed the cattle back in the Bear’s Claws farmsteads, a great grey and brown bulk that snorted and rubbed its hide contentedly. Seasoned hunters would have thought twice, and even then only with a pack of hunting dogs and several spearmen on horses.
Andak and Badger did not think twice. It was not in their nature. Even so, they knew immediately that they had to respect the king of pigs. His body was enormous, his tusks jutting from his misshapen maw of a snout like yellowing spears. His breath came out in clouds, like the jets of steam from the old geysers on the southern edge of the clan’s holdings hinting at the forces that had driven Hentilar lands up in great cliffs and mountains.
Andak motioned to his sister, who came up to crouch next to him, as he drew with his finger in the dirt. It did not take her long to guess at what he meant by it, as long familiar as she was with him and his thoughts. Nodding, she drifted on feet like smoke, out of his sight.