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Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sample Sunday - Chapter 13 from WolfSong

In honour of Sample Sunday, I've pasted Chapter 13 from WolfSong below. Enjoy!
LSH has Declared An Intervention and is hauling me away from the studies for a roast dinner at a little restaurant down the road..

Chapter 13

Amber sat bolt upright, staring at the others in shock.
“You have got to be joking,” she said.
Her captain shook his head, grimly. “We checked with Ricky. When Vianna told me she hadn’t seen him amongst the dead –“
Amber leaned forward and stared hard at him.“Tell me you did not show that boy what was in the village, Ariaan.”
“Not all of it,” Garliaan said hastily. “Just the faces.”

Amber rose from her chair and stalked over to the window, hugging herself.
“You bastards,” she said softly.
The males in the room winced. They would have preferred her screaming at them. Amber angry and loud, they could deal with.
Angry and quiet tended to be a problem with a hawk - especially this one.
“Amber-“ Garliaan tried, but she overrode him, still speaking in that low, icy voice with her back to them.
“Every member of this squad has had nightmares about Five Hands village, and we weren’t much more than a mop-up team. You decided to show a child who lived through that scene the dead faces of his family and friends? Sweet Mother!”
“We had no choice!” Ariaan snapped, his own temper beginning to rise. He felt badly enough without her rubbing salt into it.
Garliaan looked at his captain, who nodded curtly.
“I went into his house, before we torched the village. The things in there..” he trailed off, then changed track. “Amber, he’d been planning a change for a long, long time.”
She turned to stare at him. “Go on.”
“The books and paraphernalia found were all indicative of someone who was trying to become a werewolf. Most of it was crap, but the incantations, exercises – all were geared towards a change.“
“Wait – he was trying to curse himself?” She shook her head in disbelief.
Apart from an exchange of a bodily fluid, the only other known way for a human to become a lycanthrope is a curse.
 There are reasons why it is not a good idea to piss off a black magician.

 “That’s insane!”
“I don’t think his sanity has been an issue for some time,” Ariaan said.
Garliaan snorted in agreement.
“But why?” Amber shook her head. “What human would voluntarily do that?”
“Power,” Garliaan shrugged. “If you’re a human it gives you that. You’re faster, stronger, a lot more dangerous. From what Ricky said, he enjoyed having people fear him. Most humans are terrified of werewolves.”

“Then the girl-“
“No, she was clan. We’ve contacted her people already.” Garliaan sighed. “I think what happened was, Scrout had been making all of these attempts, and he was getting desperate.”
“No good at magic either?” Amber guessed, and the big hawk hissed and tossed his head.
“The house was filthy.”

You cannot invoke serious magic in a dirty living area; it just will not work.
The grime and debris of human existence interfere with the vibrations of the natural world at the best of times. Add several layers of dirt on top of that, and you haven’t got a hope of something major happening.

“So when the girl passed through, he saw his chance and took it,” Amber said grimly. “That doesn’t explain his survival.”
“Actually, it does,” Garliaan contradicted her. “What’s the first law of survival?”
“Will power,” Ariaan answered.
“Exactly. He wanted this – he willed this. The others never stood a chance – the reason most infected victims don’t survive a change is because they truly don’t wish to. They consider it a curse worse than death.”

Amber closed her eyes briefly.
Oh, Seiren.
“So he took the form to fit the inner being. How charming,” she said bitterly. “But the thaarn virus should still have killed him in a matter of days once he changed.”
“Not if that was what he willed,” Garliaan answered softly.

They stared at him in horror, as what he was really saying finally dawned.

“You’re telling me we have someone out there capable of going thaarn and staying rational,” Ariaan said slowly. “Of spreading this willingly – and surviving?”
“Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?” The captain finally sat down, mainly because his legs would no longer hold him up.
“I didn’t know. I’ve had to lean on my sources in the clans pretty hard to come up with this much, and I’ve only just managed to put the pieces together.”
“This has happened before.” Amber said flatly.
“Generations ago. It was contained in the clans, so we’d have no record of it.”

Ariaan stood up. “I’ll send messages to the rest of the squads. This bastard could be anywhere on the Crescent by now.”
“No.” Amber said quietly.
“We have to warn people, Amber.” He could feel the beginnings of a headache.
“Not unless you want to start a bloodbath.” She folded her arms, looking even grimmer, if such a thing were possible. “Unless you can guarantee that no human gets wind of this.”
“They’re the ones most in danger!”

 Amber unfolded her arms and brushed back a lock of her hair, then tapped a finger against her chin.
“What do you think will happen to the clans if the human population on the Crescent decides they’re a definite threat, Ariaan?”
Garliaan’s face paled as she continued, speaking softly and urgently.
“We can’t even make them see reason about us – and we can’t infect them.”
Her captain stared at her, then swung over to the door and kicked it. Several times.
“Shit! Oh, shit on this!”
“Yes,” she agreed.
“What, in the name of the four hells, do we do now?” He rubbed his face with his hands.
“Well, first, you’re getting me a new door,” Amber quirked an eyebrow at the splinters on the floor.
“And then?” Ariaan’s mouth twitched.
“Then we hunt,” she said, and her voice was very quiet and very cold in the heat of the room.