Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Red Wolf

Some of you may remember this blog post or the brief mention therein of "the mainest of main characters" and "the mercenary". I still haven't had much time to write {that post was from 2 months ago? yeesh}, but the story has made some rather intriguing advances in my head. {Church remains my #1 writing place, and it is fascinating to watch certain spiritual aspects of the story come to life somewhat depending on the Sunday morning service.} 

Among the advances is the fact that the above-mentioned character now has a name. Which gives me some freedom in using his title of The Red Wolf [of the North is occasionally added, even though it is a misnomer as he is technically from the East and that is fairly obvious from a look at his face].

Following this exchange on facebook, between one person who knows certain ins and outs of the story and one person who does not...

Is Red Wolf a weapon, a plan, or a person?
Yes.... yes.... and yes.
I'm intrigued. May I see a demo of he/she/it in action?

I decided to do a brief post on said Red Wolf. "Brief" being relative and "on" meaning I throw story snippets at you until you get a picture of this weapon/plan/person.

Enjoy! :)

Winter-dark. The day stretched toward night, and the chill wind brushed ice against the slaves’ bare skin. Huddled beneath the ragged half tent, most shivered, abject misery sharpened acutely. All but the two boys side-by-side upon the wooden platform, ivory skin bluing. They made no sign they felt it, even as its bitter fingers touched them, gently lifting the straight black hair that hung past their shoulders and then whipping the strands against their ghostly faces.

They were beautiful. Slender and willowy, almost feminine they looked, yet their backs were steel-straight, their faces set like flint, hollow eyes staring straight ahead, so dark as to be almost black. Ethereal ghosts, if ghosts they were. Brothers, clearly, with the oldest still a boy, and the youngest scarcely more than a child.


The man’s gaze measured the slaver first, dark and unreadable, before shifting to the boy on the floor and the loosing battle with consciousness he was still desperately fighting. “I want him,” he said then, his voice no louder than necessary.
“He is one—” the slaver started, and the stranger smiled, a dangerous sort of smile that was nothing but a warning.
“He is very damaged, and I will give you half the usual price, which is more than you will get from any other.” He placed a small bag of coins upon the platform, and then bent down beside the boy.
The boy hissed, baring his teeth again as he made one more attempt to gather himself. The effort was too much, and when the man lifted him in his arms, the boy’s head fell back limply, blood washing scarlet across his skin. The man straightened, and started for the door, while the crowd parted in his path.
Silence followed them out into the night.


Bak Talhae woke tasting blood. A moment of panicked stillness passed before he was sure that no one else was in the tent, before he sat up in the dark, wiping sweat from his face with one hand and reaching for his water flask with the other. He rinsed his mouth, grimacing at the ice crystals in the water. He had been expecting the return of the dreams since the first snow, and it was almost a relief to no longer wonder when they would come.


The power that held such men down, strangling the life from hearts that should never have been claimed by such as he, was enough to turn Talhae’s stomach.
Then came Alekseyev. "Your order is heard, my King."
To carry out that order was to hurt the child. To do so in filial devotion to one he so dearly wished to love was to scar his soul.
"To hear is to obey." The boy straightened, forcing the words through clenched teeth as he looked to the one upon the throne. "This thing will be done in your name." The final words rushed together in a painful gasp for air. For hope, for deliverance, for anything but the pleased smile above.
He turned to go, and in the turning Talhae met his anguished glance. It was the horror in the boy's eyes that did it.
The last in the room, the final one to swear devotion, Talhae bowed low, making no effort to temper the feeling within. He straightened smoothly, looking up at the man before him. He said nothing, and the High King smiled a smile of unconcern and self-satisfaction.
"And you? Red Wolf of the North? Do you accept this order from your king?"
The words were in his mouth and he said them easily. "I will kill for you. But you are not my king."
Silence followed his words, silence long enough to regret the truth so simply stated, should he have wished to do so. 


The men jostled one another, casting sideways glances like court maids and jerking their gaze as fearfully away. They knew who he was.

Which was, admittedly, the point of cultivating a reputation, he thought, and decided himself fully aware of the distinct disadvantages that came with being known as the Red Wolf. He shifted his stance to ease the tension on his bound arms, pointedly ignoring the whispers.


Voices rose outside, and he flung open the tent flap.  Mikhailo Nikandr Rai had as many names as the High King of the North and sometimes half as much sense.
“Mikhail!” He barked the name, and the newcomer flung one arm up in greeting, the smile cutting across his face brighter than the gold of his hair. Swinging one leg over his horse’s neck—he was going to get unseated one of these times— Mikhailo dropped lightly to the ground, ignoring the dark looks from those of the Pack standing around the fire.
“Do you please stop irritating the watch with your poor imitation of a wolf, and tell me why you are here while I put on my boots.” Talhae jerked his head towards the tent behind himself and Mikhailo waved cheerfully at the men beside the fire as he started for the tent, breaking into a lope as he came.
He did not slow at the tent door, but threw his arms around Talhae, crashing against him with enough force that Talhae staggered. “Brother-mine! It is good to have you back,” Mikhailo added, breaking his embrace to punch Talhae’s chest.
Talhae smiled and shoved him back, before pointing to the pile of furs against the tent wall. “Sit. We would have been back before high noon; why could not the King’s pleasure wait so long?”
Mikhailo raised his eyebrows, the twist in his smile as good as words to encompass the four years they had known each other and every conversation they had shared in those four years regarding the King’s lack of patience. Talhae laughed despite himself.  
 “You are putting on your mask before your boots these days, I see,” Mikahilo said abruptly, seating himself upon the furs and kicking Talhae’s left boot towards him.
Talhae picked up the boot, then sat to pull it on. “You have ridden half the night to reach us before first light, and yet you have no urgency to your message?” he said, ignoring the other’s observation 


The mercenary came out of the spin, rising to his feet even as the sword meant for his throat struck the metal bar of his mask and skidded sideways, the edge catching the skin at his hairline while slicing neatly through the broad silk ribbon holding the mask in place. His own sword came upon into the unguarded space before him and the soldier before her dropped where he stood. She jerked away from the gush of blood at the soldier’s throat, looking somewhere else, anywhere else, and her gaze focused on the mercenary.
Blood—the soldier’s? his own?—was spattered across his unmasked face, and she found herself suddenly staring at the place the mask had covered. The thing it had covered. A thick scar, darker than his moonlight skin but not so dark as the blood that ran in crimson rivulets across it, twisted across the entire side of his face, starting at his forehead, slicing through his left eyebrow and down his nose, down to the left corner of his lip and then back across his cheek, pulling his mouth into a permanent snarl.
The Red Wolf.

Click here if you want to see the original inspiration for this character...and click here if you are curious about the original inspiration for his brother.........XD


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