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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:59 pm 

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
Posts: 889
A Dying Wish
by razorborne
Status: Private :bmelee:
Word Count: 1627

The First Day

The sun rose. The pack gathered. Jestopher watched both with equal interest. A storm gathered to the south. The old wolf smiled at his family, his people. A few asked questions, to which he idly replied, but his eyes now followed a familiar form moving through the crowd, a large wolf with a coat of chestnut brown, streaked with lighter blond.

Jestopher braced himself for the impending quarrel. It was a dance he had danced many times before, and he knew all the steps by heart, yet it grew harder with every passing day. Every time, there was new blood spilled, new lives lost, and new voices added to the howl for war. He held on now not through wisdom or courage, as he had in his youth, but through sheer force of will. He would not let his home fall to chaos. He could not. He breathed deeply, summoning within himself the strength to smile, that thin confidence that stood between salvation and savagery. Today would not be the day he lost.

“Ah, Milovic,” he said as the commander reached his resting place. “Back from the sea? What brings the infamous Bolt to us today?”

The younger wolf snarled. “The situation grows more dire. The forces of Blackrock lay siege to Teth.”

“The wellbeing of the Isle of Faces is no business of ours, Milovic.”

“The centaurs have struck again at Telimar.”

“And yet we are not dryads, so why should this concern us?”

“If we wait forever, we will find ourselves with one enemy with the resources of the entire archipelago at our shores, Jestopher.”

“Or perhaps we will find ourselves with no enemy at all.”

The two stood in silence for a moment, eyes locked, each waiting for the other to speak. The pack held its breath. Utter, unbroken quiet fell across the Whisperwood. Even the rustling of the leaves sounded far off, muffled by the weight of the moment.

Jestopher felt his age keenly, then. Milovic’s sentiment was not an unpopular one. There had been a time when all of Korrath stood behind Jestopher’s cries for peace, but that time had long past now. Still, he could not break. He could not even bend, or the delicate balance he had fought so long and so hard to maintain would finally collapse around him. With every ounce of will left he held Milovic’s gaze until the younger wolf could wait no longer.

“Fine,” Milovic snapped. “If that does not move you to action, then know that the bat raids grow closer to our shores with each passing day.”

“And have they reached our shores?”

“No, Wisefang.”

“And I believe we have you to thank for that?”

“Yes, Wisefang.”

“Then our strategies are working?”

“For now, but…”

“Milovic, none can know what the future holds. Chirom may fall tomorrow, and the bats would no longer be our concern. For now, are our strategies working?”

“...Yes, Wisefang.”

“Then I see no need to change them. Is that all?”

The young wolf turned silently to leave. Jestopher let out a quiet sigh and laid his head down to rest, but was interrupted as Milovic turned back for one final barb.

“I am not the only one who speaks of war, Jestopher. Times change, and we must change with it or we will drown. You cannot hold back the tide forever.”

The older wolf smiled, his eyes closed. “Milovic,” he whispered. “None can know what the future holds.”

The Second Day

The sun rose. The pack gathered. Jestopher watched both with equal interest. Clouds passed lazily overhead. The old wolf spoke softly to his pack about wisdom and courage. After a time, a young pup approached. Teramon, one of the Chosen, who was residing for now with Jestopher’s pack. A bright child with a great future ahead, Jestopher knew.

“Wisefang?” The pup inquired.

“Jestopher, please.”

“...Jestopher,” The pup repeated. “He was right, you know.”

“Who would that be?”

“Milovic. He said others spoke of war. That support for peace wanes like the moon. Many Mourners agree with him, Jestopher. Olthar calls for an assault on Blackrock. Gendra preaches for retaliation on Chirom. And your pack is fading: We lose wolves to the Sea Pack every day.”

“We have lost even Gendra?” Jestopher mused. “That is… surprising. If they all preach war, why have none of them come to me?”

“They fear you, Jestopher. You are old and frail now, but you are still Lord of the Whisperwood. Each waits for another to approach you first.”

Jestopher chuckled. “I have never been Lord of the Whisperwood, Teramon. Just an old wolf with a little wisdom and a lot of fortune.”

“Yes, Jestopher. Still, they dare not broach the subject to you. Not yet, not until they are sure you will concede. But…” The pup trailed off, her eyes locked on the ground.

“But what, child?”

“Well, if…” Again, the thought was left hanging.

“If I die?”

Teramon nodded. “Yes, Jestopher. I do not like to contemplate it, but you know you have not much time left. And when you return to Mourner’s Mount, who then will hold them back? Who will stop the war?”

“I am afraid, dear Teramon, that that duty falls to you.”

The pup blinked, stunned to silence. “ But… I’m just a Chosen, Jestopher. I’m still a pup. I have no pack of my own. They’ll never listen to me.”

“No, sadly, they won’t,” Jestopher agreed. “Not the ones who need to, anyway. When my pack disbands, find Tandal. He’s always been a friend, he’ll do what’s right.”

“I’m afraid Tandal has joined with Olthar. He won’t help us.”

“Fine, Vollakar then. Or have we lost him too?”

Teramon shook her head silently. Jestopher sighed.

“Of course. In that case, go to Alhamar. She has taken her pack to the sea now, but I raised her. Tell her she must stop them. Tell her it is my last wish. She will listen. She will keep our people safe.”

The pack fell silent. All eyes watched Teramon as the young pup’s mind raced, piecing thoughts together, before finally whispering “Wisefang, have you not heard? Alhamar’s ship sank in a fight with the Wildsong three days ago.”

For the first time that Teramon could remember, Jestopher looked truly surprised. The ancient wolf stared off at the Calling Hills in the distance and shook his head. “Then perhaps all is lost.”

Teramon nodded grimly. “Perhaps so.”

The Third Day

The sun rose. The pack gathered. Jestopher watched both with equal interest. It had rained the night before, and the rock on which Jestopher lay was damp. A few of his packmates spoke to him, but there was little mood for talking. Jestopher contemplated events, frustrated that he could not see a way out. He absentmindedly noticed the crowd parting to let through a lone figure, then looked back in surprise when he recognized the grey-blond creature who now stood before him.

“Well this is unexpected,” he mused. “I thought Kolif the Blind left her home for no one.”

“For the Lord of the Whisperwood in his final days, even Kolif the Blind might make an exception.”

The two laughed. It had been a long time since the two had spoken, and Jestopher wished deeply that this could be a joyous reunion, but sadly there was important business to discuss. “Things look grim, old friend.” He began.

“Even I can see that, Jestopher.”

“With Alhamar gone, how can I hold back the war once I join her in the grave?”

“The Mourners will not abandon you so quickly, Jestopher.”

“And yet they already have. They speak of war behind my back. They wait for me to die so they don’t have to face me, but they are hungry for violence, Kolif. They will not wait a day longer than they must.”

“Not all of them want war. You still have many allies among them. Trust your people, Jestopher, they are stronger than you might think.”

“How can I trust them? If those who preach war are afraid to confront me, how can I believe that those who preach peace are not simply afraid to defy me? How can I know that they will protect our people once I’m gone if they cannot speak for them while I am still here?”


“No, Kolif. I do not need platitudes now. Korrath is strong, Korrath is wise, I know these, but I also know that Korrath is scared. War knocks louder now each day, and one day we will have to answer. And I fear that that day is much closer than either of us would prefer.”

“I will do what I can, Jestopher, I will stop-”

“How? What can you do? You are wise, wiser than I, wiser than any Mourner on Korrath, but you have no pack. You are a gifted sage but you are no leader. Our people will not follow you.”

“The Mourners will listen to me.”

“The Mourners will listen to Milovic. The moment I am buried he will have their ear, and he will spin tales of horror and destruction, he will tell them all about the threat our home faces, tell them the only answer is the Sea Pack, tell them bloodshed is our last best hope. And once he has poisoned their thoughts, what will you say to sway them back?”

“I don’t know,” Kolif answered, tears clouding her empty eyes. “I’ll find a way. There must be a way, Jestopher. There must be!”

The Lord of the Whisperwood shook his head. “No, Kolif. We have lost. After all these years we have finally lost.”

The Final Day

The sun rose. The pack gathered. Jestopher’s eyes remained closed.

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