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Silent Sanctuary - Prologue
Author: Uli (email@example.com)
Beta: None (for this part). Thanks to Tux for a quite read-through for glaring errors and to Fishy for the name.
Rating: (This part PG/PG-13)
Pairing: Not yet revealed.
Disclaimer: No characters in this belong to me. I am just borrowing them for a short while and playing. No harm or insult is meant to come of this.
Author’s note: This story is a birthday present to Enis who was given this part on her birthday 2005. The following parts will all be part of the present.
Summary: Alone and alive he woke on the battlefield with no memories at all.
The smell around him hurt his nose when he woke. He moaned when he moved; hurt rushing through him, screaming at him. Whimpering he rolled up and waited for darkness to fall. He had no memories, no words to describe the carnage around him, the death, the broken bodies or the stench of blood and gore and burning flesh. All he knew was that he hurt.
The field was littered with bodies of orcs and men, of wolves and elves, all rotting together under the scorching sun while carrion birds and fell beasts prowled for food, hacking at bodies and fur and eyes. He was unsure of how to move so he did as the wild dogs he saw scavenging, forcing himself on all four as good as he could, one of his limbs refusing to bend and trailing behind him as he dragged himself forward, away from the sights and smells that scared him.
He crept a long time before he found tall figures with wide arms, reaching from the ground, and something about them soothed him. He found something clear and cold that was running over rocks and drank from it but he had no words for trees or water. When hunger gnawed in him he caught fish or gathered nuts and berries which he ate, just as the others around him did. He saw them and heard them sometimes, the wolf and the eagle, the rabbit and the deer but they avoided him. He wondered at times what he was; he did not understand the sounds they made to communicate. He did not belong.
The hurt ceased eventually and his curiosity and need to understand and belong grew. He looked at himself in the clear waters of lakes at times and saw something different than the animals in the wood. He did not have fur or feathers like them, he was palely brown and hairless, his paws looked different and his back haunches were longer, part of them trailing behind him as he moved. The fur he had grew only in a few patches and was thick and rugged and black. He had no memory so seeing another creature such as himself.
The world around him changed any times, from warm and bright to cold and dark, the ground covered in whiteness and the rivers frozen. He was always hungry when the world was white and it was during this season he hunted other things. He learnt how to catch rabbits and squirrels and he ate them raw, as a wolf. Their skins were warm and soft, he discovered and so he saved them, heaping them over himself as he slept in a cave. He found small sharp bones that prickled his skin and he awkwardly used them to make holes in the furs before he strung them together with guts of his kills and so he made a fur for himself.
Many seasons had passed when he saw others, small broad creatures with fur on their faces, whom spoke in harsh voices that he did not understand. They wore skin that glittered in the light and carried things that looked sharp and hurtful; they also walked on their back haunches. He followed them for many days and nights, intrigued by such strange beings, before he dared to sneak up on them in the dark of night. His hands were drawn to a long stick of something cold that glittered n the faint light and it was sharp. As his hand closed around the strangely familiar leather-bound bit at the top he heard them shout and scream. Scrambling he left, as fast and quietly as he could, his hand still wrapped around the strange thing he had found. It felt like a part of him that he could not remember. They searched for him, hunted him but he hid until they were gone. Something inside him cried as he lost them, he had never seen beings so similar to himself and he wondered if he was one of them.
Curiosity made him stretch as he had seen them do, clinging to a tree for balance as he tried standing on his hind legs. His balance was poor but something in this felt right and so he spent many days learning to stand and learning to move. He did not move as them. One of his hind legs would not straighten fully and so his gait was clumsy and uneven.
The seasons continued to move in a predictable pattern, from white grounds to soft grasses and his furs grew warmer and better made as the years passed. He did not stay in one place; he roamed as the wolves, restlessly searching for something. He found a large forest after a long time and here he stayed for a while, growing familiar with the rivers and trees and finding small deserted caves to the north and east. He made his home there. He found a wolf cub deserted by its tribe, the runt he suspected as he had seen the small and helpless deserted before and he took it in. He was not sure why but it was company, another soul to share his loneliness. The cub grew and played and stayed with him as did the falcon which he found some seasons later, fallen out of its nest. That too he took in and nurtured and so there were three of them, lost and discarded by their own kinds.
The seasons had turned again, going towards cold and white when he heard voices that tugged at him. It was during the dark that the rich, musical sounds reached him, called for him and he approached them carefully. He saw others like him, seated on big four legged creatures that he had not seen before. He was unsure why but his chest constricted, it was hard to breathe as he watched the two at the back, one as dark as himself and the other had hair the same colour as autumn leaves. He followed as well as he could, drawn to them, longing to throw himself at them but he still did not understand the words they spoke among each other.
He lost them for some time, the four legged beasts faster than his own limping gait and when he found them he wished he had not. The skies were red and thick of smoke and screams rang towards him. It was the scent that made him turn and flee, the same smell that had hurt his nose when he first woke and he curled up against a tree once he thought himself far enough away, the falcon and wolf sitting with him. Shivering he buried his face in warm fur, wondering what he was, why he felt such strong familiarity with creatures that produced smells that evil and hurtful.
Voices made him stiffen, voices that he could not understand but something about them hurt his ears, they were, he thought, not kind.
A small, muted whimpering made him hesitate when the voices were gone. It reminded him of small hurt cubs deserted and so he hesitantly walked closer. He paused when he saw them. Two small shapes, same as him but cubs left alone in the night. They clung to each other, shivering of cold and fear and his heart went out to them. He was unsure how long he watched them as they clung together before they started walking and he followed. Eventually they both laid down, curled around each other. He reached out and took the cloak of animal skins that hung over his shoulders. Carefully he smoothed it over the sleeping cubs and sat, watching them. Did his tribe leave the runts of the litter to die as well? Somehow the thought of that felt wrong.
Once again he heard a voice, calling out unfamiliar sounds as it came closer. He dragged thick branches over the exhausted cubs that still slept, covering them in undergrowth until they could not be seen and then he hid himself and watched. He watched as the one with hair as flame came closer, calling the same sounds and he followed, determined to keep the cubs safe. Once again the eerie familiarity of this one came to him, making his insides ache of longing but he remained hidden. The cubs had been left to die.
Once the stranger was far from the cubs he turned and went back. They were awake now, staring at him with wide, suspicious eyes and making those strange sounds at him. He tilted his head and sat down; baring his neck to show that he would not harm them but unsure if they understood him better than what he could understand them. They were well-fed cubs, he thought as he watched them, their fur glossy and shiny in the same colour as the nuts that he gathered during autumn. Bright colours covered their bodies and he reached out curiously, touching the colours. His fingers met with something his mind half recognised, he had worn such things once, of that he was certain.
The cubs stopped chattering, stopped making those noises he could not understand, and for a long time they sat there, staring at each other. He was unsure of what to do, it had been easier with the wolf and the falcon, both small that he could carry them easily, hide them away from wind and weather until they were safe, stronger; these cubs of his own kind were different, larger, suspicious.
The wind blew colder and once again voices drifted through the woods, making the little ones smell sharp of fear. He rose and stepped away, towards his cave, his shelter, before he turned back towards them. He hoped they would understand.
The cubs remained where they were and he went back, circling them restlessly before trying to walk away, to show that they needed to move. It took a long while before the cubs rose to follow and even longer to walk back to safety, their short legs moving slowly and leaving tracks that needed covering.
Dark fell before they reached the network of caves but it did not matter, he did not let them stop. They moved quietly, no sounds escaping the small cubs before they stood below the roof of their new home.
He curled up in a few of the furs that he had gathered over the years, leaving the others for the cubs to use. Slowly and quietly the chattering started again, small voices making sounds that frustrated him while they looked at each other, at him expectantly. He did not know what they wanted, he did not understand and frustration rose in him. Maybe they were still different from him, the way that the bird with him differed from the smaller birds whose noises were pleasant to the ear.
One of the cubs darted outside and returned again, carrying twigs and grass that he dropped on the floor. A strange sharp noise, like rocks knocking against each other repeated, over and over until a flicker of light sprang from between the cub’s paws and settled into the dirt he hard dragged in.
Hissing he moved back from the smell and sight of forest killer, curling against the cave wall as he stared in horror. The cubs moved closer to the red heat, the scorcher, and their chattering increased. Warmth filled the cave, and smoke, but the fire did not spread this time, it did not leap from tree to tree, but stayed in the twigs and grasses. Tamed. Carefully he inched closer, distrustful and entranced.
The same sound was repeated over and over but he ignored it until a small paw nudged his arm and made him jump.
The smaller cub looked at him insistently, putting his hand against his chest, repeating the same sound before looking at him. Uncomprehending he stared at the little one before he opened his mouth, trying to form the noise of the cub. His voice was hoarse, a croak only, but he tried again and again until the small one showed bright white teeth and bent his head.
“Elurín,” the cub repeated, putting the small hand on his chest again before.
The other cub moved closer, cloud coloured eyes filled with distrust, as he started the process of the smaller one over, pointing at himself and making a different sound.
Again and again he tried to satisfy the cubs until he managed the sounds they made. “Eluréd.” “Elurín.” He had no idea what they meant.
They moved closer, putting their paws on his chest and looked up at him with expectant eyes but he did not know what they wanted. Once again their eyes locked before the larger one tapped his paw against the broad chest, repeating another sound.
He looked down on the tiny cub that kept swatting him and obediently repeated the new sound until they both seemed satisfied.
“Dínenír,” the older cub said finally, and sat back.
He rose and went to where he had hidden the meat he caught less than a week previous and saw the small noses of the cubs scrunch up as he tore parts of, offering them to his new family before taking a leg to gnaw on for himself.
The cubs prodded the meat and avoided looking at him before they scampered back to the fire, throwing their dinner on it until it smelled of burnt flesh and death. He lowered his own dinner as his stomach churned at the stench.
Confusion and fear, longing and want fought for control inside him. Their noises and insistence for him to repeat them, the tame forest killer that woke under their hands, scared him but the other side, the way his tears stung at the noises, the light touches of their paws in the way between cubs and parents and the way they looked at him made him want to please them, hungry to belong and to protect.
As the dark deepened the small ones curled up under the heavy furs and slept.
He did not, he sat at the opening of the cave, watching and listening for anything that could threaten or harm, he would keep them safe now. They were his cubs now.