Comes a Blue Wolf

Jul 13, 2013 by

winter_scene_stock_by_wyldraven-d49gs6fWinter howled outside her tent. The winds furiously clawed at brightly dyed, thick walls covered in shamek skins and furs to keep the chill at bay. Her namayah–her servants–had lit many of the braziers for warmth and glow. To Jashiu’, it seemed more ominous than comforting. The golden light was pleasant enough, but the thrashing of the wind outside and the way the tent’s walls undulated in it tossed strange, creeping shadows that looked like unsettled horses running from dark creatures. Her namayah whispered midst themselves quietly, trying not to be over heard. But she knew what they were saying.
Ill omens, they said. A storm of ice and freezing winds on her wedding? Another said. Bad luck. Very bad. Her women were old and superstitious she reminded herself. It didn’t help. She had been dreading this day since she was a child.
The ladies removed her mother’s mother’s, great grandmother’s mother’s traditional head piece from great swaddles of thick leathers and furs. Gold beaten into coins for good fortune, handmade into chains to symbolize unity and strength in marriage and woven with ribbons in red for luck glittered along the head piece. To Jashiu’, it seemed to be laughing at her and her distaste for it was immediate. It would be too heavy for her to move her head at all. It would be too heavy with it on to run if she needed to. But it was already too late for running, wasn’t it?
The man her parents had promised her to be with had come riding on his karaouk not three days earlier as was promised. She had held out hope that he would not come then she would be free to choose her own husband. His arrival early shattered those hopes.
She had no idea who this man was. All that she knew was that he was from a little known tribe of the Blue Wolf, once the most powerful of tribes before the Varanthir invasion. Her people did not–or would not speak to her about what might have happened to them to reduce them to what they were today: more legend than reality.
Ten years ago a messenger had ridden into her father’s camp to negotiate for a marriage contract with the Shaman’s daughter. He agreed. She suspected fear of the unknown and superstition had pushed her father’s hand to agree.
The Namayah placed the head piece onto her hair which had been rubbed with mirrav steeped oil and brushed until it became glossy and bright. They pinned and they propped, turned her head and pinched, pulled, used what felt like unending combs to make sure the piece sat properly on her head. When they were finished, they inspected her with glistening eyes filled of their weddings past and the sighs of old women remembering what it was like to be young. One or two adjusted the thick shamek fur robe dyed in black for wedding colors with silk red vest on the outside, another made sure the bed of furs she lay upon was perfect and sprinkled with spices said to invoke feelings of aruaru in men.
“That’s enough,” she finally snapped when one lady would not leave the edge of her robe alone. The woman jerked her head back, winced and then bowed. She knew what she must have looked like to that poor servant… Often her father had said she had the unwelcoming piercing gaze of the legendary karaouk that the Blue Wolf tribe rode along with the soft face of a stone-mountain and it’s temper to boot. She made a small apologetic sound.
“Thank you. You may go,” she offered in a softer tone. They bowed to her and left her to the belly-ache of fear.
Legends often said the Tribe of Blue Wolf were filled with cannibals. Men and women with teeth so sharp and twisted they did not stay in their mouths. Of horrible disfigurement and skin like bumpy toads. Other’s said they were men with rotting diseases and all their women had died of it–so that is why they all but disappeared to a mere shell of what they used to be. More told tales of men who turned into giant beasts and slaughtered innocents.
She did not believe these things were true. But…she had never seen the man her father had promised her to. He had never told her anything. Her mind flickered horrifying visions of ugly men, twisted men, evil and grotesque men.
The longer she waited, the more her neck grew pained with having to to hold her head up and the more horrifying she imagined her new husbands deformities.

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Sweat had trickled down the back of her neck to tickle at her shoulder blades. The wind kept howling in time with her simmering temper. How long had she waited here for him? How long would he make her wait? She thought of ways to escape the marriage if he were too deformed; of scratching his eyes out. Of using one of the many pins in her hair to stick in his neck. Her neck began to quiver under the head piece’s weight and several of the braziers had run out of fuel long since.
Perhaps it was her wish of violence or perhaps it was the winter’s wind that finally called him. At the mouth of the tent, she heard the slither of ties being pulled back. She could not turn her head immediately to stare, but had to do so slowly so as not to topple the chunk of heavy history on her head.
By the time she could fully stare he was already inside and her heart rolled up into her mouth.
He was the largest man she had ever seen in her life. For her entire life she had thought her father was, because inside any tent her father’s head towered over any man of their tribe. But this man that was now inside her tent had to bend his neck and head to avoid brushing the very top of the ceiling or thumping his brow into the great wooden supports that held it up. His skin was the color of frozen lakes…A light blue that was pale as crystal. His hair was white and glimmered as fresh as unbroken snow. He wore a blue robe dyed so dark that it seemed like it was black as night, richly embroidered with designs in gold that seemed to writhe along the fabric of the robe her wore.
But that was not what made her lose all of her angry thoughts or air. It was his eyes and his smile. His eyes were as golden as the wolf, and his canines when they were revealed were as deadly sharp.
He removed his gloves and dropped them onto the furs on the ground, then his cloak. She watched, mouth agape as he folded himself beside her and she felt cold come from him.
He flicked his eyes from her face to her hair and back. “Remove that ridiculous thing,” he said in a rumble so deep as to be ice cracking, thunder, or perhaps rocks under a mountain.
She did as she was bade to, but not because he was her husband. But because she could not stop staring.
“My name is Eylrik,” he boomed quietly. “Let us talk of your people and mine, and how we will go to war against the Varathir,” then reached into his furs to remove a scroll of parchment.
Jaishu’, so mesmerized by what he was and what he said and what he proposed, she did not insult or yell at him once.
There would be time enough for that later.
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