Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Glimpse at the History of Satorium

This short story takes place years before the events of Scarlet and the Keepers of the Light.  It is a glimpse at two of the characters in the novel before they enter the lives of Scarlet and the Hopewell family.  If you've read the book, this should be a treat as one of the characters will be great interest to you.  If you haven't, I hope you enjoy this snippet of my magical world and you get your copy of the book.


The Lord of Wolves: a story of Satorium

By Brandon Charles West


            Udd Lyall sniffed at the air.  The Southern Wildlands reeked of death, decay and despair.  It was nearly impossible to catch the scent of his prey in this olfactory collage, but his determination heightened his senses and he could taste the slightest hint of his target on the breeze.  With a start, Udd Lyall took off in the direction his nose told him was right.
            It was reckless for Udd Lyall to be out in the Southern Wildlands alone.  Selfish most of his pack would no doubt be whispering in their dens up North, but he had no more control over what he was doing than had he the power to prevent its cause.  Because of the evil being Udd Lyall was hunting across the whole of Satorium, he was now the Lord of Wolves, head of the pack of Stidolph, the great wolves that inhabited Satorium.  Because of this evil, his father, his mother and his siblings were all slain and he alone remained of the Alpha line.  And the first thing he had done as Lord had been to abandon the pack for vengeance; a carnal desire that was driving all his rational thought and every instinct.
            He had found his family in their den after he had returned from hunting with the pack.  Before he had even crossed the threshold of the lair, he had known.  He could smell the lingering stench of the Mortada.  The massacre inside had robbed him of conscious thought, all logic and sanity.  Without a word to his pack, Udd Lyall had tracked the scent to the South and took off after his prey, leaving the pack to unravel the mystery of his sudden disappearance.
           
It had been more than a week since Udd Lyall had set off and he knew that he was getting close.  Even for a Mortada, entering the Southern Wildlands was an act of desperation and the Mortada would have avoided the area if he had thought he had enough distance between himself and Udd Lyall.  Perhaps the Mortada had counted on Udd Lyall loosing his nerve when faced with the Wildlands.  If so, he had been wrong.  Udd Lyall had plunged into the haunted forest without a moment’s hesitation.
            Dark shifting shadows chased each other across the forest floor, giving the illusion of movement to every corner of the Wildlands.  It would have been enough to strike paranoia in most, but Udd Lyall was not concerned with anything except the Mortada.  If tiranthropes, incruetatus or other dark creatures blocked his path, they would face the full extent of his determination…his rage.
            Udd Lyall stood nearly five feet at his shoulders, his thick winter fur doing little to hide his muscular frame.  In truth, even within the Southern Wildlands, there were few creatures that would want to face a Stidolph, especially one as formidable as Udd Lyall.  And yet, a Mortada had come into Stidolph lands, into Udd Lyall’s family’s den, and slaughtered his loved ones.  The Stidolph were guardians of Satorium and therefore were natural enemies of the Mortada; the evil creatures who loomed over the land with their dark magic, serving only that which brought chaos and misery.  Never before however, had a Mortada been so brazen as too attack the Stidolph directly.  Udd Lyall was not concerned with why?  The answers would come later, if at all, and he wasn’t even sure he cared.
            A noise, just out of place amongst the sounds of the forest, caught Udd Lyall’s ear.  He froze, crouching down and probing the air with ears and nose.  An eerie quiet had settled over the forest, as if in an attempt not to repeat whatever sound the creature had made, it had silenced the entirety of the Wildlands.  The Mortada and the Stidolph waited, each now stalking prey.  Neither moved, waiting for the other to give their position away. 
            It was the Mortada who made the first move.  A dark, smoky presence began to creep through the trees, taking in every ray of light and snuffing it out.  Soon the darkness would be upon Udd Lyall and he too would be overcome by its effects.  Using his own magic, Udd Lyall closed his eyes and began to seize time.  It was a gift only Stidolph of the Alpha line possessed, and required a great deal of energy, but as his opponent was a Mortada, Udd Lyall had little choice.  The fog slowed to a halt.  Leaves, once flittering in the breeze or falling to the forest floor were still.  Udd Lyall stood, opened his glowing azure eyes and walked slowly around the fog, flanking the Mortada.
            The Mortada stood frozen like an ethereal photograph, his arms outstretched in the process of weaving his magic.  Like all Mortada, he was very beautiful.  His skin flawless, his long blond hair captured by time as it flowed long down his back.  For a moment, Udd Lyall was struck by indecision.  It would be too easy to kill this evil creature; one flash of teeth and he would have his vengeance.  But then what?  With no answers, no reasons, what would he have?  Only a title he never earned and a pack whom he had abandoned. 
            Udd Lyall crept around to the back of the Mortada, out of the creature’s line of sight and again closed his eyes; this time however, he did not seize time.  He urged it forward.  The leaves sprang to life in a spastic dance of movement; the Mortada’s fog flowed forth, ahead into the Wildlands.  Before the Mortada could even realize what was happening, hours had passed in an instant and the spell he had woven, meant only to be cast for a brief period, had drained nearly every last fraction of his energy.  Udd Lyall pulled time back to its normal state and the Mortada fell to the ground, unable to even raise his head from the dirt.
            The once beautiful features of the Mortada were ashen, his skin flaky and grey.  The Mortada attempted to rise from the ground but could manage only inches before collapsing again.  Udd Lyall lay down so that they were face to face.
            “Why did you attack the Stidolph den?” Udd Lyall growled.
            The Mortada managed a wicked smile.  “I am Multus.  That is all the satisfaction you will get from me.”  The effort of speaking caused the Mortada to cough and convulse.  Udd Lyall waited for the spasm to pass before speaking.
            “Multus,” Udd Lyall whispered.  “I will remember your name.”
            “And what is yours so I may return the courtesy?” Multus hissed.
            “The knowledge that I’ll remember yours is all the satisfaction you will get from me.”
            Udd Lyall rose, towering over the broken figure and for a moment, thought again of striking out and ending its life.  But it was better this way.  He had taken the Mortada’s beauty and perhaps his magic.  It would be difficult if not impossible for the Mortada to regain any semblance of his power and he would be forever marked among his kind as a victim of the Stidolph.  If such a creature could experience shame, there could be none greater than to be left alive, drained and vanquished, too worthless to even kill.
            Without another word, Udd Lyall turned and strode away.  Something greater was at work than just an attack by a single Mortada.  Udd Lyall could feel it.  A great evil was rising and a world without his family, a world of questions without answers, a world of chaos awaited him.

The End 

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Scarlet Hopewell