Wolves of Welton
Snippets in time
Ssh’tak watched his youngest son take the meat from his brothers plate and shove it in his mouth. The older brother roared anxiously as he was forbidden to strike his sibling. Ssh’tak got up to punish the child, but his wife reminded him that Heshen was only a boy and didn’t know any better.
Ssh’tak knew it was more than sibling rivalry or mischief. Ever since Heshen broke from the egg he saw the Dragonborn child clutch everything in his grasp and draw it near. At first he thought Heshen was clinging for security, but it didn’t take long to see the spark of their draconic ancestry in his youngest sons eyes.
“Is that all it is, Akra? He swipes his brothers toys and hides them. He took your favorite crest-beads and refuses to tell you where they are. Even the Fang-tooth dagger I won from Nadarr has gone missing. Heshen doesn’t steal, Akra. He takes.”
Ssh’tak stood with his hands on his hips looking at Heshen who was glaring at his father in defiance. Heshen boldly grasped his mothers favorite drinking horn in his scaled hands and ran from the table in a blur. He breathed a weak gout of fire at his father and then bolted through the opening of the family’s’ hut, disappearing into the evenings twilight.
Akra laughed at her youngest sons bold display and served another portion of meat to her oldest. “He’ll grow out of it, Ssh’tak. Shamash took things when he was Heshens age and look at how well behaved he is now.”
Ssh’tak wasn’t convinced. When Shamash was that age, he did take things as most children do. However, he did so with stealth and knowing that what he was doing is wrong. What ailed Heshen could not be cured with a lash of the belt for Heshen would only see the punishment as a challenge.
Ssh’tak slipped from the tent and followed his sons light footprints to the edge of the village. He stepped behind an ironroot tree and from there he saw Heshen pushing a heavy rock back over the hole he dug to conceal his collection of stolen goods. “No, not stolen.” Ssh’tak thought. “Taken.”
Heshen looked around to see if anyone was near and sniffed the air. Fathers scent filled Heshen’s nose and from its concealed place in his clothing, he drew forth the Fang-tooth dagger. He sprinted the distance and leapt at Ssh’tak furiously with the sharp blade. Ssh’tak’s steel-strong arm grasped the smaller Dragonborn in mid-air and brought the flailing child down hard onto the ground. Ssh’tak picked up the dagger and tossed it into the creek where the current swept it away. He then gazed at his son laying still and unconscious for long moments before gathering him up and carrying him home.
Ssh’tak remembered the fire that burned within himself at that age. His bloodline had descended from the great red dragon Skadmere, who was a covetous and conquering beast that slew all that threatened his hoard. His greed was legendary as was his dominance over all that dwelled within his realm.
Ssh’tak had fought many battles for dominance with his own father before he eventually slew him. The blood of Skadmere was strong in him and raged within his son’s veins as well. Akra never knew the evils that Ssh’tak had performed in the desire to gather his own hoard, nor the deaths he caused just to satisfy his need to conquer. With Ssh’tak, it took him a lifetime to resist the urges, but still the blood calls to him. It had taken everything in Ssh’tak’s power to resist crushing Heshen’s still body under his clawed foot.
For now, Heshen posed no more of a threat than an angry kobold. But eventually the day would come when one of them would be forced to yield to the greater dragon or be destroyed.
The Beacon of Amara appeared to Daerdruin as a massive sphere of brilliant white light shrouded in yellow flame. It stood high atop Belgurins’ Peak, nestled in a base of dark stone and held aloft in the arms of an immense statue dedicated to some long forgotten goddess.
He wondered what mysteries they would uncover by delving the depths of the ruins beneath the mountain and whether those mysteries would lead to further discoveries. Or if his name would simply be added to the long list of adventurers that never returned. Either way, he would be renown for one reason or another. Despite its remote location, the Beacon is considered a holy artifact and many people (including a few priests at the Temple of Light) insist that the gods themselves created the site as a shrine for worship.
Daerdruin wasn’t prepared for what they encountered when his expedition entered the valley below. Before him lay the remains of twenty or more men. He recognized some as fellow students from Felldrake University, still wearing the blue and grey robes of the institution but moldering with rot and exposure to the elements. As his companions begun to dig a grave, the beacon flared and the corpses rose and attacked with gnashing teeth and brandishing rusted weapons. They were lucky to escape with their lives. Daerdruin wondered if people would hold the Beacon in such high regard if they knew the dead walked beneath its light.
The stranger walked down the muddy road. The muggy autumn air lay a blanket of dampness over the valley. Beads of sweat were plainly evident, pooling into every crevasse of the haggard faces of the townsfolk. The stranger twitched and squirmed, trying to free himself from the moisture that had collected under his own clothes. He needed to get inside. Maybe take a bath.
The stranger cast his gaze across the tiny town, scanning for that ever present fixture of all towns of this size. And there it was. An Inn. “The Redleaf.” The stranger raised his eyebrows to himself in recognition. He’d seen most every kind of inn or tavern of every kind of description, repute and fancy; enough to fill several almanacs and traveler’s guides. From crusty dockside taverns with sailors sharing stories, to giant Dwarven beerhalls awash in fine-ale and chanting, to inns that were just a little too shadowy and quiet to be normal. In his youth, he might have rejoiced at the thought of entering some of the seedier ones and picking a fight, but these days his primary concern was just not to get fleeced by some grubby inn-keeper looking to take advantage of newcomers. He pictured, and hoped, to himself that “The Redlead” might be one of those inns run by Mom and Pop, and populated by regulars who all knew each other’s names. Not that he would be a part of that. But that was just the kind of backdrop he needed for the night.
The stranger twitched and squirmed again, before heading towards the Inn.
Long ago, there was nothingness, nothingness like the dense rock of the deepest rooted mountain. Nothingness like the instant before slumber.
But an ancient being, one alive and ever existing before the gods and will long after, stretched and broke the denseness of nothing. Light came into being. Drowsy and angry, the ancient one focused the light away from it, formed land and water from the nothing so that the light would shine on them, not it. The ancient one returned to slumber, and the light gave birth to other beings, whom we now name gods. And time spend forward, the gods lived and created plants, animals, and other races we’ve come to know today, each one with a particular love, be it beast or plant. Some created new planes of existence and, from there, formed new races, new life.
But none of this would’ve been possible without the light nor the nothing it was born from. So respect the light. Respect the absolute nothing, for the noise of living may awaken that ancient being, who will silence us in ways not even the gods can fathom.