It was the fifth time it had happened; the dream. All he remembered of it was the forms of grey that darted in around his vision, running past him then disappearing into the night... hazy forms, like shadows except brighter... occasionally the flash of yellow eyes, bright with a hungry intensity that seemed to arouse similiar feeling in himself... his heart beat faster and he was filled with a longing to run with them, run like the wind, low to the ground, faster and faster... then he awoke, caked with sweat, the smell of his own fear sharp in his nostrils. What was happening to him?
Hokkankoku, it was called. Sairou's coldest point at the north west of the country, on a
penninsula that stretched out into the frozen sea whose icey waves crashed against the jagged shoreline of high cliffs. The nights always seemed to be longer than the days, even in summer; he knew he had been born into the very heart of the Sairou winter though, a bastard son to his mother; nobody had ever spoken of his father, and he had never been old enough to think about it back then really. Until... it happened. The reason he was still there now, trapped inside the
high walls built of coniferous timber with sharpened stakes along the top and armed guards watching the perimeters despite the freezing chill and the painful caress of the northern wind.
He had never left the place, it was all he had ever know; he thought he had probably been born inside the walls. Why his mother had been a prisoner he did not know; he knew as much about her past as his father's really. But they were letting them go, setting them free after him living his first five years in there with the few other people, none of whom had seemed like the kind of people to commit the atrocities they were accused of. There were even a few children his age, but that was why he was still confined into the walls while his mother walked free; if she lived that is. He did not know.
It had been a cold morning; a fresh layer of snow had dazzled his eyes upon being ushered out of their hut by his mother, ahead of the impatient guards. The other two children his age were also present, and two young men, about sixteen he estimated now. They had been given their morning meal; tough, half-frozen stale bread, almost mouldy from the days of transport from the nearest village. His mother had broken off his usual share, half of hers (children were not given their own rations), and he had stood shivering in the snow, trying to keep as much of his 5-year-old skin covered by his ragged, tattered clothing as possible, while at the same time attempting to consume his breakfast.
One of the young men had cornered him. His mother had only had her back turned a few moments, but by the time she turned around to check on him the boy had already snatched his piece of bread and was on the other side of the small area in the middle of the huts tearing at it greedily.
He did not know why or how he had done what he did, but later he had awoken, his childish body bruised and beaten into easy submission by the guards who had come running after he had sunk his teeth into the boy's neck and tore his jugular out. He very vaguely remembered the smell of blood, and the way it had fallen onto the snow, staining it like the blood of the fallen tainted the pure white of sakura in the stories his mother had told him about on her knee at bedtimes. Such a sharp contrast, and he had stared in a hungry fascination as the boy's life drained out of him onto the snow, fighting pangs of hunger to admire the simple beauty painted for him on the ground, before the guards had fallen on him.
It had taken several days before he could even get out of bed, his beating had been so bad. Then his mother had a stricken, pain-filled look on her face as she nursed him back to full health, until only a week or so later they took her away, hardly resisting, and put her outside the main gate, keeping him inside. He had never seen her again.
Now the dreams were stronger and occurred more often, seldom a night passed without the memory of the others; the white and grey coated shadows that hunted the forests of the peninsula around him in their packs; his brothers of the snow. The wolves.
The last time he had seen a mirror, in one of the guards' quarters facing a mild reprimand, he had been shocked to see his own eyes; they were no longer the piercing blue of his childhood, but were shining gold, like two bright coins in his head that seemed to reflect more light than was present. He was surprised that the guards made nothing of it; if anything, they seemed to speak to him a little less loud. But then, he had grown in the years since his mother had left; he was a tall youth for fourteen, almost 6' already and equally heavily built for his age. He heard some of the few remaining prisoners whispering and muttering about him, calling him a freak and a monster; since his mother had left he had been quartered in the men's hut with all the other male prisoners, so it was easy to hear what was said about him, especially with his particularly keen hearing.
A day or two later after his last dream, he climbed out of his bunk silently. His head was filled with thoughts and feelings, so ancient and primal they seemed to pull at his very existence. So many thoughts; running so fast as to be almost flying over the snowplains back to the south east; flickering between the trees of the forest pursuing a lost deer, its musky scent strong in his nostrils; looking into the deep, cold pool somewhere to the south of the peninsula in a small copse where a whole pack slept, seeing his own reflection, yet it was not him; the reflection was of a hairy white face with a long tapering muzzle and a hint of deadly jaws containing slender sharp fangs, with shining golden-yellow eyes which were the only thing similar to his own face... those images and many, many more, calling to him from all around; he could no more resist than he could cut out his own heart, and resist he did not. Crouched low to the ground, he slunk to the main gate like a shadow, and hamstringed the two guards with one of their own weapons taken from the sleeping guard outside the mens' hut whose neck he had broken. Not pausing to feed, he had slipped among the trees never to return, becoming that night what he had always somehow know he would: Wolfbrother.
Chapter Two | Ayii! It's too scary! Take me away!