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  • Writer's pictureAmr Abbas

Wolven Path: The Four


“Remember, do not stray from the path, Auiak.”

Her voice lingered in my head.

It was by the grace of the moonlight that I awakened before dusk. My head pounded and still, the blur of the incident shook me. Drool dried on the corner of my mouth; blood smudged on my temple. I felt a monstrous need for water or drink. I reached for the leather-bound flask with shaky hands; I could not feel it even as it slipped into the palm of my hand. I sat up, or did the best imitation of sitting and I lifted the flask to my mouth. It was uncovered. A single drop fell upon my dry lips, but that was all it did. A single drop.

I shuffled, lay my head down and squeezed on the flask, emptying its contents above my face, but it was all air. I lay still, tears welled up in my eyes, and a knot formed in my throat. I saw the moon hovering above the clouds; and sure enough, the two moons I could see became one, conjoining and conjuring a halo of red around the clouds. It was not the blood moon, yet. But soon, it would be, and the words would come true.

“Under a moon of blood, the lone wolf howls and the blood of a saint or a sinner shall spill violet and violent, gold and old.

 

It was three weeks before the night before the last that I visited the oracle’s tent. She sat there, eyes covered with a white cloth upon which red sprouted. Her tent was filled with candles, lit and unlit; shelves of wood upon which skins and bones rested. And she sat down, in her white gown of thin fabric, by a table. Her hands were trembling; fingertips glazed with black and nails that scratched the wooden surface constantly until I spoke.

“Greetings to you,” I muttered. I recognized her, or who she had been before the surge.

She gestured with her hand for me to take a seat in front of her. It was the duty of the new oracle to give readings upon the 6th night to all the townsfolk, and it was my turn.

I sat down on the cushion and leaned back on an elbow. I observed her closely, and she watched me with an eyeless gaze. I’d seen the old oracle, and the one before her, even though I remember little of the last. The old oracles wore black blindfolds, but this one was fresh, and her colors were still untainted, or barely tainted.

“What do you seek?” she asked

“Vision,” I answered.

Payment in blood, payment with tears, the oracle spoke of a journey of three and a fourth; on hills of the dark beyond, and the wooden path of dread. But there were no hunts on the horizon. It was not the season for hunting, for we had all that we needed.

But after a fortnight, a fire erupted from the storage. It was a great fire that almost shook the foundations of the town. And so, when the townsfolk gathered, they set up a party for scavengers. I was the last of the chosen, and so by dusk, my companions gathered to set off for the hunt. A dog for each, a flask of water, for it was not scarce on the path and enough food to set us off for the four days. Each of the scavengers had a hound. Perhaps that was the reason why we all had to feed the hounds, for them to be acquainted with us.

My companions were Atlas and his dog, Felix; Silas and his dog, Otis, and finally Calliope and her dog, Casper, and of course, my dog, Orson.

Calliope was the second-best tracker in the town. She led us through the trail of waste, then through the trail of smog until we reached the woods. It was my first time out in the woods, and likely the last. With every step that we took away from home, the air felt heavier, and every few hours, we needed to rest. Silas made tea, some sort of a horrible combination of roots and leaves, but we were not allowed under any circumstances to light a fire. The hounds fed as they pleased, for they were one with nature.

It wasn’t until the third night that problems started to occur. Despite rationing our food and supplies, we were out. Felix had completely vanished under the cover of the night and Casper was showing signs of fatigue.

On the third night, we camped between the trees. Silas stood guard under the moon, but when we awakened, it was only Otis that stood guard. Silas’ flask and pack were by the tent, but there were no tracks of him. We spent the fourth day looking for him, but when the sun began to sink, we resumed our journey North.

Calliope left marks along the path, in the hope that Silas would follow our tracks. When the moon filled the sky with light, we heard them: the wolves.

We were following the path of the wolves up North but as fate had it, Orson fell in a bear trap. It was wounded badly, and I spent the night caring for the beast while Atlas stood guard for the following two nights. By then, Orson was ready to go, though at a much slower pace. Calliope had gathered fruits and leaves for the company.

On the seventh night, I stood guard while the others slept. Atlas was most fatigued and we could not risk Calliope sleeping.

It was that night that I heard the wolves’ call. They howled at the moon and the winds carried their cries on the branches of trees. It was the last thing I heard before the blow came.

As I lay motionless on the hard, cold soil, I heard her voice. It covered the whimpers and screams around me.

“Under a moon of blood, the lone wolf howls and the blood of a saint or a sinner shall spill violet and violent, gold and old.” 


Read the second part of Wolven Path here.


Written by Amr Abbas.

Illustration by Amr Abbas.




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