T3h p05t, 4 j00. Still searching for some feedback on this series. I'd really love some, guys - actual critique. Thanks! This is the third in the series, by the way, not the first.
Smooth... soft... like fur threading through his fingers, or grass on a rolling hillside... and there he is, lying on his back, playing the grasses with his hands, and smiling. The simple vegetation smiles back, and the wind curls its fingers in his lengthening hair, now slightly more than the short, military fuzz it was before. The sky beams down on this idyllic scene, proud to be a part of it, and billows a few pearly clouds along to grant passing shade so the too-eager sun doesn't wantonly burn the child basking in its glow.
In those passing shadows, the grass seems to take on a dark, blue shade, almost like cobalt. It wilts, the blades slimming down to little more than long hairs. The shadow remains, but so does the warmth, though it comes from a new direction, now - the ground itself radiates heat like a hearth. Alarmed, but not enough so to be frightened, Damien looks around curiously. The dirt beneath the grass has become a kind of hoarfrost-ridden, elastic surface that would give to his hand, like a trampoline.
Another light shines from above him and an earthquake shudders through the ground, encouraging him to climb to his hands and knees. This light is yellow and strange, but not alien, and not cold. Seeking it, Damien only sees the great outline of a wolf's head against the suddenly night sky, and the gleam of two amber eyes sunken partially into it. A mouth as wide as a pine is tall smiles down at where the child kneels on what he soon realizes is the reposing abdomen of this colossus.
A blast of warm air hits him before his mind has absorbed the image quickly enough to understand that the creature has opened its mouth, and with it comes the deep, almost visceral reverberation of words: "Why, Damien?"
He only kneels, in total awe, stunned. He sits back, and yelps as a painful sensation he has never felt before shoots its way up his spine. A long, snow white, sinuous tail lies behind him, and he traces it through his paws to his coccyx, then yelps again when he sees the paws. Staring at them, now finally afraid, he suddenly feels himself as another rush of warmth pushes over his whole frame, nearly turning him on his back.
"Why be afraid? Why be weak? You're beautiful."
"What... what is... what is happening?!" He shouts this last, a sudden anger making him clench his paws into fists, the claws digging into his palms, and electricity crackling in his hair - electricity that calls out to the lightning of the night above and sends it crashing into the head of the great, tender beast, who lets out a bellow that rocks the world,
and Damien awakens, lying on a surface he cannot identify, surrounded and trapped in warm, white fur, and terrified of what that might mean, he whimpers, yelps, and struggles to get away, and when the arms holding him squeeze tighter, he thrashes harder until finally, he is released and tumbles a short distance to the floor. In a mindless panic, he looks at his hands. Skin. He looks behind him for a tail. Not there. Finally, he scoots backwards until he hits the cold comfort of a stone wall and tries to assess the situation.
Jet eyes in a sea of white and brown blink slowly, fixated on him, and a simple, deep voice like a swirling pool of gold says, "Good morning, Damien."
"How... how do you know my name?" The mosaic of unassuming, earthen colors slowly defines itself in Damien's vision as another wolf man, this one much broader and softer than the cobalt one from before.
"Siber told me it." That voice is like kindling, slowly building a core of soft-burning trust. "The blue wolf, with wings."
"Why? Who are you?" The wolf before him is in fact gargantuan, more than seven feet tall and with a chest like a polar bear in summer. He lies partially on his back and is clothed, like Siber, only in a loose-fitting loincloth and assorted leather accessories. This side of him is dark, but his edges glow with a soft yellow-orange which dances with the light spilling in from somewhere. They are in the same cave as before.
Siber didn't take him home. It was morning. He didn't even hear the other answer. He needed to get home. His mother. She would be so angry-! "I have to go," he whispers, his chest taught over his stomach and heart. "I have to go!" He looks in abject fear into those onyx eyes, pleading. "I don't know where I am," he realizes, eyes wide. "I have to go home and I don't know where I am!"
He bolts to the entrance to the cave and looks out. Forests, forever. Trees as far as his eyes can see. But he can see the tops of them... He's on a mountain! In a cave on a side of a mountain he doesn't recognize with a wolf man and his mother was going to be so angry!
Frozen in crystalized terror, Damien loses track of how long he stands there, waiting for some part of his mind to tell him what to do. Over his gaping mouth, his eyes gasp for a hint. The trees laugh at him, chuckling through their branches as the wind spreads the joke of his confusion. The sun blazes down in a sardonic humor, and only the cool granite that had housed him seems to have any sympathy as it beckons him to stumble backwards into its safe confines, panting irregularly. Surely, he can recognize his town... if he looks far enough... or a road... but there is nothing... just green laughing and bending with its mirth...
"Calm down, little one." A living blanket catches him, and instead of fleeing, he spins and buries his face in the loam belly fur, barely registering the steel of muscle hiding behind it. This, he knows he can have. Comfort. This, he knows how to steal. And if Siber deigns to refuse it, then Damien will simply take it from this more willing donor.
Standing there, with his hands clutching the fur of this creature's rear without realizing it, Damien stares empty-eyed into the white-and-sepia field of fur in front of his silver eyes and gradually slows his breathing. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he feels wrong. It isn't just the wrongness of being close to a wolf-man. It isn't just the wrongness of being on the side of a mountain when he should be home making his mother her breakfast. It's the strangeness... that this creature... never breathed for him.
He looks up, his once-flashing argent more tranquil now, and meets the jet hue three feet above him. They look back enigmatically, neither offering warmth nor derision - simply watching this curious, silver-haired human child. "Where is... Siber?" asks an acorn of a voice. Planted, it cracks once, then germinates and grows. "Siber can fly me back home. And I want to talk to him. Where is he?"
Tremendous paws slide off Damien's shoulders. He had not even noticed they were there. Only that he was being held. That voice, like a great bronze bell struck by a cloth mallet, answers easily, "I'll call him for you."
"I can call him? How can I call him?" The oak sapling of a voice whips its branches to a new source of sunlight. It's fuller, now, and eager.
"Listen. Very, very carefully." The mammoth creature puts one great palm on the small of Damien's back and guides him back to the outcropping of stone in front of their cave. The paw, spread, nearly covers his entire torso. Damien shivers, wondering if he has an excuse to remove his shirt.
The larger of them draws a veritable gale into his lungs, and Damien listens to the air hiss through his nose and into his lungs, gallons of wind inflating his oxen chest, until he throws back his head, steps forward, and with the force of the tempest, bellows a howl into the morning sun. The sound gallops out like a great beast, tremolos wavering out in the smooth rolling of its feet as it traverses the entirety of the landscape before them, dancing off the trees, which cease their hardy laughter to listen to every accelerating pitch and leaping cry. Hoards of its echoing kin come blasting back, and Damien, at first afraid, closes his eyes and opens his ears, letting that army rumble and yip through him, organizing, sorting, and isolating the intricacies of choreography until a solitary rider, trailing from some distant sound-mirror of a lake or stone wall, trots into his mind. Flashing his eyes open without even thinking, he inhales, steps forward and summons his own child rider, silver-haired and silver-eyed on the back of a juvenile beast he feels he can almost see, to howl out to the trees.
They dare a slight, murmuring laugh and send the sound stumbling back, weak and defeated, as a lone and trembling warrior. Even so, the wolf by his side looks down at him with a small smile curving his lips. "You can learn," he rumbles quietly, and that great palm on Damien's back rubs him gently, sending goose bumps spidering across his frame.
To his amazement, in a matter of moments, he sees a pair of dark wings blot out the sun. The light glanced off the outline of this sudden intruder in annoyance, but only for an instant while Damien tried to register how he had gotten so close so quickly. With a blurted, strangely happy yip, the figure blasts forward and tackles the mountain of muscled fur that had been holding the boy, sending both of them collapsing to the floor in a mess of barking and growling. Bewildered, Damien simply watches, until the smaller, cobalt humanoid is pinned, with the other's jaws clamped delicately around his throat. Though it was a fight, and though the boy knows that is a display of victory in animals, Damien finds himself blushing as he witnesses Siber's expression, as though he shouldn't be watching.
"Hello, Damien," Siber says while still in this position. The larger wolf lets go with obvious reluctance, and his "victim" sits up, eyes trained so completely on Damien that the other might not even be there.
"He... hello, Siber," the boy answers, his ears flushing a deeper red as he remembers his dream, and how he attacked his savior. "Thank you for... last night." He licks his dry lips as he gazes into those amber eyes. They are the color of gentle, slow lightning, and again, memory of his dream makes Damien redden, and now look away.
"You're quite welcome. I apologize that I did not leave you in your mother's abode. I was selfish, and do not gauge her a good parent. I will be your parent, if you will allow it, and Tatrix your guardian, for when I cannot be." The great wolf who has begun unfolding Siber's wings and drawing his fingers along them in what could only be called a massage nods in response to his introduction.
Damien chokes. So simple. "I will be your parent," the wolf had said. Wolf-men killed humans. "Wolf-men kill humans," the boy responds with a dry voice. "And... she is my mother."
"My offer stands," Siber said without hesitation, and also without many feelings at all. "You are being mistreated and have great potential in you to silence some of the warfare between humans and wolf-men. You have seen how even the elements laugh, and play, and weep, and that intelligence exists even in the granite itself. I can hear in your voice that you know the nature that is in man, and the man that is in nature. You are young, and you are able, and your mother and your situation have taken both your youth and your abilities from you. You are stern where a child should laugh. You are respectful where a child should be awestruck. Be my child and allow me to make amends for the mistakes I made with my own so-" Here, Siber chokes, and is silent. Tatrix's ear flicks once, but beyond that, he does not seem to be hearing the exchange. The blue wolf's expression does not change, but it is quite clear that he cannot speak.
"You're selfish," Damien whispers, unable to do much more than that as reason bombards his senses. "My mother needs me." The voice is autumn leaves already scraped down to their veins, scattering through a forest and clattering against the husks of trees there.
"Your mother is a bitch."
"Take me home."
"You are tyrannized at school."
"Take me home."
"You will have comfort here."
"Take me home, Siber."
"Your home is here."
"I WANT TO GO HOME." The sound charges recklessly into the depths of the cave and a demonic, disarrayed army surges back flailing scimitars and bucklers of sound, battering the ears of all present with the force of Damien's demand. He himself shudders, pallid and almost gray, daring the wolf-men in front of him to defy him. The stragglers of the army hush the forest behind the boy, and the universe waits on a response.
Silently, Siber stands, grabs the boy in his arms, flies him home, and leaves.