The Eclipse of Hope
Reynaldo, Longtooth Shifter, a.k.a. - Wreav
Another politician was now actively engaging in the argument which had dominated the majority of the morning, far past it’s allotted amount of time in the day’s agenda. Reynaldo had an opinion he wished voiced, but he sat upright at his desk, waiting for the appropriated time to join in. In regards to whether or not the Frostmane lands being invaded, he had no regards. The parliament was already unanimous; the gnolls were a problem and invasion was necessary. It was the concern of how the invasion would be enacted that divided the council.
Reynaldo felt, even though the casualties would be astronomical, using a joint effort of the collective towns and villages would be the more moral of the two options.
A politician, grey in the beard, stood and argued for the more popular option which involved the deceiving of Wyrmrest village, a clan of Goliath, into delivering a vicious first blow to the gnolls, allowing the United Northern Settlements to clean up with few casualties to themselves. This proposed the ‘what if’ of what if the Goliath discover the deception? How would they respond? Would they act out in hatred against the United Northern Settlements? All this along with the guilt of sacrificing uninvolved innocents.
Reynaldo felt a twinge of indignation as this man spoke. Twinge wasn’t correct. It was warm, pulsating, and deep within him.
“Unbelievable,” he thought to himself. “Such ignorance! Such impudence!”
Reynaldo’s eyes widened, shocked at himself for thinking such thoughts. His friend, Yorig, stood and addressed the room speaking in favor of the joint assault and was quickly countered when one of the previous politicians stood and, in short, implied that Yorig was in favor of murder.
“He is the one in favor of murder! He deserves to bleed, red gush from his neck onto the field. Such ignorance! I’ll do it myself! I’ll tear his face from his head and mount it on my wall!”
Reynaldo’s eyes wandered around the room with bewilderment. Surely he wouldn’t want that for this man. These thoughts couldn’t possibly be his. Then it made sense. Dreadful and frightening, but understandable. By the time he realized what was happening, it was already too late.
Yorig admitted that the loss of life would be greater if the attack is postponed, than the deaths that would result from a direct assault.
A young man to Reynaldo’s left lept to his feet yelling, “Then why don’t we just slaughter our people in the streets! It would at least be efficient!” Reynaldo struggled to keep control over himself, but it was impossible. His consciousness sunk into the back of his mind.
“Well, how about we START WITH YOU!!” screamed Wreav as he threw his desk off towards where the young man had just jumped out of the way. It collided with the floor where he had been standing not moments ago, shattering. Reynaldo watched this event from a perspective outside of his body, helplessly observing Wreav’s actions. In a subconscious limbo, Reynaldo found himself unable to prevent long-since forgotten memories from flooding back from their repressed purgatory.
He is 22. He has just graduated from Grissom Academy of Battle. At the ceremony he meets a man who offers him a position of council on the United Northern Settlements parliament. He gladly accepts. His best friend, Yorig, is also given this offer.
He is 24. He is being mugged on his way home. There is a knife against the soft flesh of his neck. He wakes up the next morning with no memory following it, soon learning the man who mugged him was found dead. It is determined that his throat was eaten by a savage wolf.
The entire parliament is gazing upon Wreav with looks of terror and disgust. The features that Reynaldo spent hours grooming to perfection have taken a savage transformation. Small claws dig into a chair instead of Reynaldo’s filed nails, his combed and well kept hair has taken on a wild, animalistic look, not unlike a coyote’s mane.
He is 7. His name is now Ezekiel and, with the help of his soon-to-die mother, has escaped the clutches of the infuriated townsfolk. In the distance he can see the smoke rising from the fire where his father, a shifter, and his grandmother, a Lycan, burn. His mother will be with them shortly. This pyre mimics the flames he just narrowly fled that burned down his house. He turns and stares at the empty fields that extend endlessly northward from the town. He hears shouting in the distance behind him. Tears are streaming down his face, his breath is off pace and raspy as if there were no oxygen to breath. He is too traumatized to understand the shouts, but something inside his subconscious does. They have spotted him. Ezekiel falls unconscious, but this something takes over. His form shifts to a close resemblance of a wolf and with speed like the wind he rushes off across the fields.
Now he is 11. Tired of running from town to forest, scavenging and stealing for food scraps, he has found a city in the far north that has been fairly promising. Today he has gained entrance to a place that will give him food, shelter, and education in both political arts and combat. The scribe at Grissom Academy of Battle asks him for a name. With hours of work spent on his appearance, the few animalistic traits that a shifter with a short lineage such as he had, are gone, and replaced with a charismatic, smiling boy.
“Reynaldo. My name is Reynaldo,” he tells the clerk. He got the name from an ambassador passing through the last town he stopped at.
“And where are you from? Any parents?” the clerk asks.
“I… don’t know,” he replies. He isn’t lying.
The clerk leads him through some hallways and then into a courtyard populated with several boys from varying ages and races; they are all gazing curiously at the sky. He approaches a boy about his age and looks up to observe a solar eclipse. The other boy extends his hand outward to Reynaldo.
“Yorig. Nice te meet ye”
Reynaldo, with a practiced politicians smile, grabs Yorig’s hand.
Reynaldo feels a grasp on reality again. Not much of a hold, but enough to start reigning Wreav back in. A hand comes from behind and grabs his shoulder, pulling him towards the door. Reynaldo half-feels, half-sees it. Influenced by Reynaldo’s returning control, Wreav reluctantly allows himself to be directed outside.
He is now Ezekiel, age 5. His parents have taught him about his grandmother and his father. He doesn’t understand what they mean by ‘animal and human blood’. They know that he’ll learn with time.
Reynaldo, directed by Yorig, makes his way through the halls of the United Northern Settlement’s parliament, toward his small office. His features are returning to their original, groomed manner. The claws resort back to human nails, though less manicured; his canines recede back into his jaw.
“Ye mind telling’ meh whut de hell that was?” Yorig inquires. The assertion in his voice, and lack of bewilderment imply that he wasn’t exactly addressing Reynaldo, whose attempted reply resembles a drunken orc’s stutter.
He is 7. In the distance behind him his parents are burning. There are men shouting obscene threats and running towards him. Ezekiel is paralyzed by the trauma and cannot create coherent enough thoughts to breath correctly, let alone run. In the back of Ezekiel’s subconscious, dormant primal instincts manifest themselves. A word from the men’s shouting implants itself.
Reave. Reave. Wreav.
Ezekiel passed out. Wreav ran.
“Pardon?” asked Yorig as he set Reynaldo down into a chair by the fire pit in Reynaldo’s office. He quickly doused the flames, knowing it would comfort his friend.
“I… I lost control. I… I couldn’t contain him,” Reynaldo replied, still gathering his senses. His control had returned, the rage was subsiding, Wreav’s thoughts were getting progressively less intrusive and farther apart. Yorig wrapped a fur cloak around his shoulders and sat in a chair across from him.
“It’s been gettin’ woarse, i’n’it? I’ve seen ye strogglin’ ag’inst ’im exponentially more, week aftar week,” Yorig stated. “Rey… They are neh gonna let ye live aftar this, lad. They’ll think ye’re a lycan. Ye’ll be executed.” Reynaldo knew he was right. Wreav resembled too closely to a werewolf, and with the fear of lycanthropes so prevalent in the north…
“I’ll need to leave immediately. Tonight.”
Yorig nodded, his eyes gazing off into the middle ground. “Ye need ta get home and puck. Take only what ye need,” he said briskly, leaping to his feet. “I ‘ave something fer ye that I’ll need ta retrieve. Meet ye at the south gate.”
Reynaldo waited in the gate’s torchlight for Yorig to return with whatever he had gone to get. Due to his renown in the city he had been given amnesty from execution, but was required to be exiled immediately for the insurance of the safety of the people. He understood. He would’ve approved of this act if it wasn’t against him. The soft, swift paced footsteps alerted him to Yorig’s presence. As Yorig approached him they moved outside the city’s gate where Yorig handed him a long, wrapped package, motioning him to open it.
Removing the leather wrappings revealed a wicked, steel blade. The animated design of the blade’s Vicious teeth not only gave the impression that the blade was alive, but that it was hungry, like it would chew through it’s victims, never satisfied. Reynaldo recognized it immediately. It had mysteriously vanished from Grissom Academy’s Hall of Heroes years back. It was once weld by Kuroq the Goliath. Legend of Kuroq states that Kuroq forged it out of steel tempered by his own madness and cooled in the blood of his fallen enemies.
“I thought it looked men’cing, buck when I intended ta be a soldier,” Yorig reasoned, “but, ah, I sense ye might make better use of it.”
Reynaldo grabbed the handle of the sword, giving thanks to Yorig for the parting gift. it felt light in his hands, although he knew it is quite the opposite. This isn’t the only strange sensation from the blade, however. Quietly, in the back of Reynaldo’s head, something whispers, and something growls.
“Nemblim, right?” Reynaldo asked, sheathing the sword on his back, parallel with a similar, simpler blade.
“From the legend of Kuroq. The sword was named Nemblim.”
“Ah, yes. Forged out e his own insanity,” confirm Yorig.
The two men embraced shortly, gave each other a firm handshake and said their farewells. Reynaldo turns about to see a familiar, unpleasant sight. Empty fields extending endlessly southward, but this time, it was he who walked towards them.
They are 9. They are tired. They are hungry. They are not lonely. They stare at each other through a reflective pond, chatting. They are opposites of each other, so the conversation is awkward, but they don’t mind. They have each other, and they are happy in their coexistence.