Chapter 1 Sample “Waking the Wolf”
The crispness of late, night air hung still about the huts of the Clan of the Winter Wolf. A strip of the pale crescent moon shone down through the scant clouds on the Great Northern Plains, lending to the last snows of winter a soft blue blanket to bring warmth to an otherwise chilling eve. Young Ravak could feel the nip on his nose and ears, and could see the small clouds of breath in the air above him as it danced through the pale vein of moonlight that shone in through the small round window of his bedchamber. He wasn’t sure what had awakened him. Perhaps it was the yowling of wolves in the distance? Maybe it was the screech of an owl as it nabbed its prey out on the unforgiving plain that surrounded the village for miles in all directions? It sounded something like a scream, but it only came once to rouse him from his slumber and now he lay there half-awake blinking as he tried to fight off the sleep and the chill, listening for another signal that it was not just a dream. He threw off the deer hides he slept under and slowly rose to his feet, scratching at the sparse hairs that sprouted around his still youthful chin. Brow furrowed, concentrating on the silence to catch the sound again on the clear cool night air, he walked out into the main room to restoke the fire and went about his chore in mechanical silence, a habit well practised in such a way that he would not wake his parents. He carefully placed a large log into the now only slightly glowing coals, squatted down, and drew in a large breath.
As he began to blow the embers to flame, he thought he heard it again. Perking up from his crouch, eyes widening, ears straining for more, he listened; the cry was much more distinct. He was almost certain it had come from the vicinity of his Uncle Kerenaan’s hut. He pulled back the curtain, wiped the butt of his hand against the small round window to clear the frost, and peered through the smeared glass down the road. There was nothing but a gloomy bluish glow on the snow. In the distance, the torchlight set on the perimeter of the village to keep predators at bay danced lazily on the cool night air. He looked up at the sky to see the moon through the few clouds that listed lazily by. It was just when he began to lower his gaze again that he caught a glimpse of a shadow of someone running back behind a hut down by his uncle’s place. He watched more closely now, standing there in silence for a moment to focus on the direction of the movement, even holding back his urge to breathe so he could be sure to hear it if the scream came again.
This time the cry for help rang out clear in the silence of the night and he knew it’d come from his uncle’s hut. A chill shot up his spine as he instinctively turned to get his clothes and weapons.
“Father! You must wake! Something’s happening! Uncle Kerenaan’s hut!” Ravak shouted as he struggled to slip into a pair of pants and boots.
He grabbed his spear and ran out into the night. Massive plumes of thick ashen smoke, crawling like a beast on twisted legs, already filled the road ahead. Ravak could scarcely see the torchlights on the perimeter of the village now through the haze. The air above the village quickly turned from a crisp cool winter’s eve to a nightmarish, black cloud of smoke that appeared dragon-like spewing ashen white soot out of its gaping maw. The mudded thatch roves on the little dome-shaped huts made for good kindling.
As Ravak approached the hut, he stopped dead for only a moment at the sight within. The intruders kicked in the door and hung half off its hinges, smoky black tendrils like fingers of flame clawing at the glass beckoned him in. The far wall was ablaze. The entire back half of the hut was a roaring inferno beyond it. His kin faced terrible danger. Ash and sparks cannoned skyward from the roof, but the hut stood whole for the moment. He peered into the darkness through the round doorway. There he saw two small figures bent over a chest against the backdrop of his kin’s blazing hovel. Thieves seldom caused any worry for the Winter Wolf. Very few were foolish enough to go sneaking around the den of a wolf. The little looters argued over one of Ravak’s uncle’s finely crafted recurve bows.
He crept in slowly behind them, stepping carefully in order not to alert them to his presence. The roar of the fire cut the sound of his approach to the paddings of a pup’s feet. A Winter Wolf was silent; a Winter Wolf was predator, never prey. Just as he was about to slide his spear into the back of the first little marauder, the man of the house, Ravak’s Uncle Kerenaan, let out a terrible wail from the adjoining room. It startled the two small forms rummaging through his belongings in the dark. They stood up and wheeled about to survey the room, finding Ravak poised and ready to strike. Seeing his enormous frame shadowed in the doorway, they scrambled one to either side and drew out short, rusted, gnarly-looking swords.
Quite unexpectedly one of them jumped for and went crashing through a large half circle shaped window. While Ravak was focused on the escapee jumping through the window, the other ran straight at him, letting out a blood-curdling scream. The little fellow feinted his attack and at the…….
P.D. Dennison is a writer from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He spent years working in marketing and promotions for major fast food companies and local businesses. Before that he was a fine dining chef working in the best restaurants and hotels the little city of Regina has to offer. He enjoys hiking in the hills of the Qu’Appelle Valley with his wife Jackie and their two dogs Flash and Ruby. He is an avid outdoorsman and also enjoys fishing, camping, archery, snow shoeing, barbequing and gardening. He is a lifelong lover of epic fantasy and high adventure. As a child he spent thousands of hours playing role playing games. He is also a huge fan of comic books and has quite a collection of comics and collectables. He loves sci-fi and horror movies. He hates black licorice, turnips and liver especially together. Visit him online at landofshaarn.com, on Facebook @therealpddennison, on Instagram @pddennison and on Twitter @pddennison.