The Dogs: Before Thou Camest Forth

Story by Aux Chiens on SoFurry

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

May you live as long as you want to, and then pass smilingly into the darkness - the good, good darkness. _________ Ambrose Bierce

How long had he been here? He had been here a long time. Sometimes it was hard to tell because this land never changed, no matter how much the naked Whiteskins and Blackskins and Redskins tried to, they could never make it their own, no, not never - the land still belonged to him. Him - and his king. His name was Wolkee because when he was young he had loved his mother, Wurdan, so much, so much - he would let out a pitiful cry when he could not see him that sounded like a beautiful lament, hold me close mother, hold me close, never let me go. His name was the whine and the quaver that meant the seasons were changing, the leaves were falling from the trees and soon would come cold, snow, like his fur, white. If you saw him you'd think he was a Furless One - they called themselves humans, didn't they? - but only at first. Below his waist he was different, he was soft and furry and his genitals were like those of a Dog who walked on all fours, and though he stood firmly on the ground with his two footpaws, he had a big, plumed tail, to help him balance. And his ears were like a Dog's - they quavered in the breeze, against the winds, they caught the sounds of his mountains, the echoes of his valleys. Nothing lasts forever, and the seasons will tell you that - except him, doomed wanderer who was accursed not to wander far from where his people had once dwelt, but who watched, silent, nigh-omnipresent, in the cover of the trees, the shrubs, the sloping hills. It was dawn and his king was fully dressed in his useless clothes, he was coming out of his house at this very unusual hour, and with him he carried something different, something heavy - he felt it in the still breezes, he heard it sing with the katydids, groan and groan and groan, long and aching with the rustling leaves...late Summer, a time of surrender, a time of weariness. His king was worried, a great pain on his face. His king was very special, he was the last of his kind but did not know it, like all great kings were in the stories the shaman used to tell - he had lived a lonesome life as Wolkee had, as many of the Furless Ones that dwelt here had, but it seemed that this one's lot was the most lonely, the saddest of all. Wolkee had watched him through the years, his king, his youngest nephew, like all his nephews he was of the line of his sister, Wanata - Wanata_because she was a dreamer and could see visions in her sleep without the aid of mushrooms, she found beauty even in despair, the wordless cataclysm of she and Wolkee being the only survivors from the Whiteskin slaughter led by the Tyrant-Coward, the one they called Lightfoot. She would have been a great shaman, perhaps the greatest of them all - had their people lived. Like all females of their tribe she was indistinguishable from the females of the Whiteskins, though her teeth were much sharper, this was easily hidden - she was far fairer, with straight white hair and skin the color of Springtime clouds and eyes, of a blue that occurred nowhere else in their world save their tribe, so perfect and so pale and so crystal, like ice, like the spring water they drank, cold, yet sweet. She was the bravest female Wolkee had ever known and, he thought, ever would know. It was she who hid him when he was still very young, when the Tyrant-Coward came for their tribe, and she did so fearlessly, her own fate of little concern to her, only that her brother, who looked so different from her with his tail and fur and paws - only that he, surely, might live. When it was all over and they came back to where their village had been and saw the burnt carcasses of their kin, the crater left by the jealous Redskins who coveted their land and their Whiteskin compatriots who did not know mercy, it was she who held Wolkee tight as he wailed and howled so that the very Moon shied her face away in sympathy - held him close and let him grieve, the tears that would not cease, not for centuries ever after. _I will never let you go. They lived in hiding for untold years, peacefully and as brother and sister, in a hut made from a fallen tree, until one season there came a Whiteskin who was charmed by her as she charmed everyone, and she gave her heart to him and his heart to her, and Wolkee had begged her not to leave but across tribes and peoples, furred or not, it is love that is the all-conqueror - she would not listen. But she made him promise - to watch over her, her children, for this Whiteskin is sorry for what his people has done, though he was new to their place from a faraway land across the titan eastern sea: we will survive, we will survive through my line into the future that neither of us can see. Wolkee would not promise until she used his own words, to their mother, unforgotten through a span of time that defied understanding: Never let me go. And so she did. And so he promised. They never lived together as they once had - his existence was a secret, the true last of the furred purity their people once reveled in - but she knew that she was being watched over, that pair of ghostly blue eyes in the twilight amidst the trees was for her, her sons and daughters. But the Whiteskin she wed called her Wilhelmina, a nonsense word, and baptized her in the grotesque style of that foreign heresy they brought with them, made her wear dreadful clothes and practice useless customs - still she loved her husband, still he loved her, they could not be separated, she bore him children, a son and a daughter and the son had eyes like hers, like theirs, a sure continuation of an aristocratic, princely line. How unfair it was: the human who married her had a strange name too, fresh and queer from the island across the great sea far to the east from whence he came, but he changed it, Wolkee remembered, like he had changed Wanata's name, so that no one would think it too out-of-place. A shameful fact, but it could not be undone - so it was, that all his nephews, all his living descendants, bore that second name...Lynch. Wolkee had watched them and watched over them, from afar, season to season, his promise unforgotten, living as his ancestors had taught him by hunting, foraging - nuts and berries and Creeping Things that were bountiful in these lands. He lived as an animal: as one like the Grey Things with their strangling song that was too melancholy to be the hymn-like howls his people used to make; or like the Red Messengers whose eyes glowed in the dark, like the Grey Things but lower, smaller, more sinister and more depraved; too, did he dread and avoid the burly Black Ones with their enormous jaws and horrid talons that would rend flesh, maiming and killing unlucky Blackskin, Redskin, Whiteskin alike; and the Slender Fellows, rare but deadly, who possessed a noble face full of whiskers but a cry like a murdering scream. In the trees sometimes he would hear the feathered Questioners speak to one another in their ancient riddles, and more than once had sensed among them one who was once a Furless One himself, but doomed to half-assume a different shape from a witch-lady who spoke the language of the black-plumed Crowing Fellows. He had never seen this stranger in person, but he often wondered if the Dancing Spirits did powerful magic, and equally powerful tricks. When the Whiteskin who had wed Wanata died of the old age their people did not readily know, Wanata mourned him in a melancholy that killed her. She wasted away in her bed and would not come out, when Wolkee snuck into their cabin and would lay blackberries and acorns by her bedside, she would refuse them. She said: once, their lives had been taken away, when the wicked Tyrant-Coward and his Redskin cronies had massacred their tribe and burnt their village...but now it had been taken away twice, and she could not bear this, not here, not again. Her children were grown and away in the east, they did not know she lay a-dying and did not know that their uncle, who would be stranger to them, strange and awful, was trying to care for her - her, Wanata, Wilhelmina, who was said to have aged all those decades just slightly, still beautiful since the day that Lynch had married her. At last she died - of self-inflicted starvation, but truly more of a broken heart. As she said of herself, so it was for her brother - Wolkee had felt as though he had died twice. He howled for her, a shattering wail that all the townsfolk in the place they called Dog's Creek talked about for years - how unearthly, how like a phantasm, a sound not of this or any other Earth. She was buried, sleeping now and forever in the hills where they had played when they were pups, by solemn-looking Whiteskins who remembered her as a beautiful angel, come to Earth, for surely she was what angels looked like in a place called Heaven. And finally her children came - one day, too late. I will never let you go. How long ago had it been? A long time - a long time. He had, all that time, been waiting for the day, as the shaman promised, there would come one to restore their tribe, though he would have to find this destiny for himself and himself only - Wolkee chose to believe, he chose not to scoff at their intangible wisdom and neither would he give into despair, it was too easy, the Mountains never yielded or change and so he should not, he would not. The shaman had been wrong before, true, and some in his tribe all those seasons ago, so long to Wolkee it felt like a dream, would question them, angrily reproach them - but Wolkee's mother had taught him to be faithful, to be steadfast at their words, for they had been right so many times and the Dancing Spirits they called upon, as the wind and as the rain, were fickle, mischievous creatures. How he knew that the shaman were right, and their mushroom-induced visions were correct and were true, came through coincidences that must have indeed come from the provenance and providence of the same Dancing Spirits who, sometimes, loved to fool and trick. Once every four seasons, sometimes less but never more, the Heat would come upon him, and he would crave a mate - he knew from what his mother, Wurdan, had taught him how his body would be a battleground, how strong and how awful his desires would be, how his teats would give milk though no life dwelt in his belly, how his scent would attract the slathering jaws and virile members of the loping Grey Things and the smaller, sinister Red Messengers. For however long it had been, he had passed the Heat by dwelling in the rushing waters that were the source of the stream that had long quenched his peoples' thirst, made them clean, gave them water to cook with, what the Whiteskins shunned and called toxic and undrinkable but called, in their propensity to be ironic and coincidental and never be aware of how they were neither, Dog's Creek. The spring was the source of the creek, and beneath the spring was an underground river that had carved in the rocks a smooth tunnel, a route, which led to the spring's source: a well that was so deep light was dimmed to an impenetrable blue-black. It was this chamber that was the most sacred of their sacred places - it was where the council of shaman met and conferred, ingested their mushrooms and communed with the Dancing Spirits, it was where was carved the earliest history of their people: how they had come away from the distant lands in the east across the same sea that Lynch had crossed but far, far earlier, and how they had met the four-footed creatures that were descended from the Grey Things which were called Dogs, how they had changed into their present forms and adopted the ways they had. The Whiteskins had built their odious structure overtop of it, they whispered affrighted things about a town curse - he had the suspicion that Lynch was so sorry for what his people had done because he had in fact known the truth, and his daughter had taken it upon herself to suppress and erase that knowledge which had escaped into petty gossip and campfire tales that still excited a dread fear in them, for so it was that the structure was a kind of temple where they practiced their bland and nondescript religion that did not communicate with any Ghost or Spirit and so was impractical and useless. They called it a church. The structure was, now, these days - today, the end of the Summer, his king with the grave face - in complete disrepair, it had fallen apart because nobody really used it, and because the Mountains do not abide such blasphemy and such disrespect - there would come a day, the shaman said, where the Mountains would arise like Dogs and shake and shake as Dogs do, and off, like the Crawling Things that sometimes hitched rides in the Dogs' fur, would be flung all the invaders, of every skin color, they would all be extinguished. Wanata's son was not privy to his sister's burying of their shared heritage, and as Wolkee watched him grow could see that he had a darkness in him, an inner beast that longed to get out - the shaman spoke of an evil thing that sometimes happened to their people, that in the line of kings a nefarious one would arise, possessed of a dying nature that would erupt horribly and long to sire his own line, to exact revenge for long-past misdeeds. Indeed, one night he disappeared - Wolkee looked for him, every hill, every tree, but could not find him, he left a strapping son behind, another regent in their royal line, but he said goodbye to no one, left no indication where had went. Wolkee could never prove what he thought, what he suspected: that the darkness had taken him and made him closer to Dog than his own tribe, than the tribe of a Furless One - but a monster, doomed to never die, but live, and live on, in misery and debauchery, with a madness for vengeance never to be quenched. His name, as Wolkee knew it, was a bad omen - Wafrar, the sound of a roar and a snarl. They called his son Patrick, but Wolkee knew better - his name was Wiswas, the wind left behind when someone walks briskly away. Wherever Wafrar went, the shaman had been at least right, utterly right, about his king. When his king was a boy - a prince - and Wolkee saw him first, spied him from the safety of his woods when he was fresh to the world, perfect already, small and helpless as a newborn pup, he knew then, he felt it in his heart, that this was the one, that the words and the visions of the shaman had at last come to pass. His mother's name was Susan - his father's name Wanyan for often he was unsure and unconfident. But the Whiteskins called him Gustavus, as his own father was, his king's grandfather, though his real name was something else too: Wokuff, very rare indeed, the defender, protector, guardian. Wanyan and Wokuff were aristocracy, all of them, by happy virtue of being descended from the last remaining - Wanata, sister of Wolkee, daughter of Wurdan. He knew better than to trust feelings only, when what could be seen and known was a better guarantee of what to expect from the world and its doings, and yet - in his heart, which saw what the eyes could not, what felt what the skin could not, he knew that his long journey, season after season after season, was reaching its end. His heart spoke first - but luckily, and with relief, did his nose, tangibly, speak second: upon the newcomer was the blowsy scent of wood and musk, of the sap that bled from the needle-leaf trees - a smell that no Furless One could detect, but Wolkee smelt upon the skin of the sleeping newborn babe wrapped in his mother's arms - never let me go, mother, never let me go. Much later was it by the trickery of the Dancing Spirits - perhaps - that the Heat that Wolkee entered when his king was still a small prince was the most severe in recent memory, and with the church still standing he was unable find his spring to bathe in, which would not have been so awful had his Heat not been so impatient. And so Wolkee was helpless to his own ends...and this would be how his son, Wanral, from the sound he made that was a joyous and commanding call, was born. He remembered well how he roamed the forest that season, insomniac, teats sloppy and leaking, his mind alive and squirming with the basest of all needs - how dirt and leaves would cover him because he was so sticky, and how his throat became so dry and parched with a thirst he was unable to sate. For days it went like this, a few short days but they may as well had been his whole life, searching, searching for a sire to seed him. His mother's words were very dim, they spoke in an echo, his mother had a powerful strong voice in memory but he, Wolkee, could not remember it when he needed it, and he needed it right then, but the seasons between them were infinite, and his own guiding voice was cruelly muffled by the demands of the ancient, inscrutable needs inside him. In fitful dreams when he was able to sleep underneath the canopies of the deepest parts of the wood, that Summertime when the whole place was alive with the whispers of Crawling Ones and the clumsy shuffle of the small meat-baring creatures - one eye open, nearly, afraid of the advances of Grey Things, Red Messengers - he strained to remember what his people were like, to conjure his mother's face, bearded like his king now was in adulthood: fertile, strong. For his mother was not female as the mothers of the Furless Ones, his mother was Bitch as he, strong and heavily muscled but inside him was a womb - and he had birthed Wolkee and his sister Wanata, his sister Wanata long sleeping in the hills here. In their tribe, like the great antlered people much farther to the south who were like unto the Deer and Doe as they were the Dogs, the males were the ones to whom it fell to increase their numbers, and though the Furless Ones had made Bitch a hateful word, a word of insult and abuse, to his tribe it was compliment, title, lofty station. The Bitch's body was where wonders were worked: inside his belly was the womb that, when he entered his Heat - a terrible burden for such a rich reward - he was seeded by his Stud, and in the mystic marriage would arise by miracle a new life, a new heartbeat that dwelt in him. When a Bitch became pregnant after his Heat it was cause for celebration and the village feasted, they would roast heaps of caught meat and garnish them with walnuts, hazelnuts, and sweet berries, and the other Bitches would gather round the new mother and howl their blessings to the Moon above them. For two full lunar cycles the Bitch would have his belly swell and be fed the choicest morsels of meat and nuts and herbs, flavored with the rank tastiness of the ramp, his teats would swell also, they would spill milk that would be colored like the moonlight - the rightful father would do the same, in his new state of lactation it would be proven to the whole village who the true sire was. There was a special way to tell what the child would be: were the father upright, like a Furless One above the waist, half-creature, the offspring would be fully furred and four-legged -a complete, perfect beast, a Dog, always, and without fail, a male. Were the father one of these wonderful four-legged creatures - those that helped them hunt, that protected the village from the great Black Ones that the Whiteskins were in mortal terror of and called bears - the child would be man-like. This was the shape that Wolkee took - his lithe, thin body and long white hair that fell straight past his shoulders, with furry legs and plump sheath hiding his member and a long, bushy tail, white, all white, the first snowfall. This was not always the case, and Wolkee himself was an exception, with Wanral as proof - but how and why, what mechanisms determined what conclusions, were all mysteries, and they were never probed or looked at further, they were only accepted. The males were always half-furred, below the waist they resembled the Dogs completely - but females were always fully furless, rather like the Whiteskins, and so it was easy for Wanata to be mistaken for one of them, and be wooed and wed by one, and be the dame to a line of Furless Ones distinguished from their fellows, in the males, only by their Wolkee's king now was. Though it fell to the males to do many things - to hunt, to tend the fields, to forage, to mate - it fell to the females to hold the highest positions, they were the sacrosanct oathkeepers and lawgivers, to them was it left the positions of governance and power, for their bodies were not ruled by desires and violent tempers like the males were: would the Whiteskins know this their society would not be as unbalanced and hideous as it now is. They were afforded full covering garments of woven plant fiber, whereas the males went about lightly clothed, legs and genitals exposed and proudly public, in cloaks made from the feathers of the Noisy Jokers who strutted proudly and foolishly and were easy to hunt. In their chaste and enlightened state would the females guide the tribe, through times of crisis and times of peace. Those judged most sensitive of the females were appointed to be shaman, who partook of the mushroom enchanted by the gift of the Mountains, and conducted the rituals according to the Old Ways - they would have visions of the future and of the past and of the present, the Dancing Spirits would speak to them in the fires they would gather round and in the cavern where the well of the spring burbled up its icy life-giving waters. The court of the tribe was that of a male king, who had the largest member and the fittest body and was chosen by submission of the other tribesmen, but whose role was ceremonial - he was joined by his queen who was his mate, the eldest Bitch, who were both attended to by the wisest and most sensitive shaman. Finally there was an advisor, a mediator, who was also always male, who communicated between the royal couple and the paramount shaman - who, in turn, reported to her council, who met and decided things that they the king and his court would be obliged to act upon. Such was their government, which had worked for such a time that before the time of Lightfoot it was considered perfect. It was the words of the shaman that Wolkee, during that particularly harrowing season of Heat, sought in vain first, and then that of his his delirium of sensuality he thought he could finally hear him, reminding him that many in their tribe did not know their sire were it a Dog also, and that both Wolkee and Wanata were formed this way, though he loved them not any the less... Then, he made a resolution - quick, perhaps too quick, but a resolution anyhow. And none too soon: when he had awoken he felt for the first time the Burning - his womb afire, aching, a pain that he heard, and he knew, would not be salved: he would either let the Heat pass and the burden of his belly excrete out in the rare bloody mess of a wasted cycle...or go as close as he dared to the town, what the Whiteskins called_Tempest_ now, Dog's Creek largely forgotten, to find a Stud. The chosen sire was chosen for proximity, he was chosen out of necessity - a curious Dog from the town, who had followed Wolkee's scent into the hills and whose furless companions must have considered him lost for the time he was gone. He was of a type that Wolkee would recognize as friend and ally, like all Dogs, but who was very different, and indeed, very ugly - he had a flattened muzzle and a broad, domed head, and although his muscles were strong and strained, sinewy, with every powerful movement, his fur was very flat, smooth, bristling from his skin, and there was a flooding rime of saliva against his generous jowls. Not a handsome one - but for a night and a day, he was Wolkee's husband, and Wolkee loved him as though he were. His member was pleasingly fat, it was long, the knot thick and hard, the testicles actually bulky with seed and for this Wolkee was thankful, for this Wolkee lusted - and he was a firm, dominant lover, mounting Wolkee with purpose and precision, the knot and the seed and the shaft filled him and eased, but did not extinguish, the Burning. Their lovemaking was passionate, and Wolkee found himself ashamedly insatiable, it was his first time, now was his virginity taken: he bade the Dog, whom he did not name because his tongue was not graced by the native waters of the Creek and so could not speak himself, stay - stay, to make love to him again, to let Wolkee sup on the seed, glistering white, that burst forth from the Dog's member, from a shaft the fiery color of the changing Autumn leaves, and to have this lucky scoundrel lathe his tongue on Wolkee's sensitive teats that gave forth futile, but delicious, milk. Their coupling, which was repeated and orgasmic if anonymous, lasted only a night, and then a day - the Burning vanished, Wolkee became sick in the afternoon as his mother warned him he would, and he knew that he had conceived, that it was a success, soon in due time he would be a mother also. Wolkee approached the future now with intermingled joy - and fear. That due time came and went: Wolkee took all the precautions that his tribe had taught him - though the time that had passed was a space vaster than any life, he remembered the advice well, what herbs to eat when his belly felt unwell, what places were safe to hide from prowling enemies, what prayers to say to the Dancing Spirits when he felt fearful and unsure. For he was worried - worried, a little ashamed. What would his son look like? He had been careless to mate with a Dog of the town, and yet - his body had commanded him to, his desires had gotten the better of him, the memory of his husband who was husband only for a night and a day still made him stir in his lower regions, how large he was, and how masculine, how pleasing... It is the nature of the Bitch to have a connection with the life that grows inside him - it is faint, but it is unmistakable, in the dimmest forms of intuition the Bitch will always know the sex of the little one he will birth. Wolkee knew - knew, this way, without any aid or other foreknowledge, that he would have a son. So in the evening when the Crawling Things announced their own names and the Moon would rise high in the sky and cast out a pallid, magical light, Wolkee would caress his swollen belly, larger by the day, he would whisper in the language that now only he spoke how much he would love his son, no matter what he looked like, no matter if he was of the shape that Wolkee took or whether he went on all fours like a Dog, he would love him, he would protect him: I will never let you go. When it was the moment for his son to arrive, Wolkee was wracked with terrible pains. He had heard, and in his memory could still see, how painful the birth could be, but unlike his long-dead tribesmen he was alone, he had no shaman to hold his hand and anoint his head with the purplish streak of preserved blackberries - the half-circle crossed with three downward lines, the rune of their tribe, the blessing of the Mountains - he had no other Bitches to surround him and lay hands on him and let it be known they were there for him...he was alone. All birth in every animal that carries hair - even the Furless Ones, who are still coarsely hairy in places - is eldritch, it is nature at its most resplendent and miraculous and yet it is also horrid to behold, a gruesome act of both blood and renewal. And so it was when Wolkee whelped - alone, in pain, as the first cold rain of Autumn at the cusp of the changing seasons blew, silvery mist, through the trees, on the hard woodened floor of the church where, beneath it, had been hid his peoples' spring. But at last, amidst agony, amidst his own whines and his own, one, solitary howl...his son appeared, a four-legged and furry - a Pup, a Dog. Wolkee did what instinct commanded - he licked the little body in tender baptism, his son's eyes tightly shut, until he took those precious first breaths, and as they lay together he reached all the way down, took the strand that connected them, and bit down, cutting it in two with his sharpened fangs. He trembled at the memory - even now, even this morning. His son's first words, when he was old enough, were the separate syllables wan_and _ral, joined together, it was all of life affirmed in a single word, it was a triumph and a victory, he should not have even been born and yet he was, here he was, so happily unlike his father: fluffy fur, pointed ears, long snout, powerful body, plumed tail, he was so impressive in his stance, in the first glance you gave him, that he could have passed for a Grey Thing, a true lord of the forest. He was perfect - from the moment he was born, tiny, helpless, blind, with his little cries calling out the first defiance against doom and death, he was perfect...from the moment Wolkee held him to his teat, the unceasing, clenching aches of his abdomen washed over with the euphoria of seeing his newborn son, and he suckled at him, his first taste being his mother's milk, he was perfect. And Wolkee held him close - he held him close every night - and said, out loud, the promise: I will never let you go. When his eyes opened, one was blue, like Wolkee, and one was brown, like his unknown father - still, he was perfect. Wolkee made the church he and his son's shelter since no Furless One bothered with it now - now, he noted cynically, or much ever - and there he raised him, there they slept at night after a full day of educating on the environs of their domain, how to hunt in it, how to stalk and obtain an evening's kill, where the ripest berries and choicest nuts were, and how to find the tastiest ramp which was eaten with the meat of their shared hunt... ...time passed, seasons changed and went and came, and Wolkee noticed Wanral maturing: he was no longer the playful, clumsy, eager Pup he once was, his sheath was becoming fuller and bigger, his stature taller and more self-assured. Wolkee's Heat would come and pass and be unconsummated: he would expel the unused uterine mass of viscera from his rear when it was concluded and be done with it, but telling his son that, one joyful day soon, he would mate with a Bitch as he, and sire pups as well. In preparation - and for when he was not in his Heat, to give into his own urges and needs which being this lonesome watcher had exacerbated horridly - he taught his son the proper way to mount a Bitch, the proper way to make love. There was no shame in it: he had seen it done as a youngling the same way - Wanral took to his task admirably and they shared many nights of mutual pleasure. His son in his blooming maturity was exquisitely handsome, and Wolkee would often kiss his muzzle and embrace him, pressing the furry face against his own, letting the flat tongue, longer and more agile than his, own explore his mouth... The two lived peaceably, in love, seclusion, and passion, out of sight of the Furless Ones...but always watching their king. Wolkee had come to know him, even at his very young age, as a king - how stately and how stoically the little one had taken the death of his parents, killed in one of their metal beasts they rode about in by the evil caprice of a terrible storm...Wolkee had lost a distant relative, his king's father, a prince himself, but his king had lost much more. But the regent - such as it were - their king's grandfather, was an upright guardian, and though his heart grieved empathetically for what was lost, Wolkee knew that his king would be raised well, and safe. There came a season, with the first frost, when their king was reaching the age that the Furless Ones would often adopt friends - Dogs themselves - and make little tribes of their own. He heard the Furless Ones whisper nervous about his tribe and how Dogs that would drink of the Creek would become masters themselves - and he would smile. They knew, they did not want to acknowledge, but they knew - the Creek was magic, inhabited by the most enigmatic of the Dancing Spirits, for drinks from it made the Dogs clever and wise and gave them language and voice. They feared it - tried to keep their Dogs away from it - but it happened, it happened year to year, the faintest of the fondest echo from the time that Wolkee and his tribe reigned over these woods and mountains. Their king had never had a Dog-friend, but Wanral had seen him so much and was enamored of him, already - he told Wolkee so and told him it was his place to be by his side, he would come out and make himself known to their king and be his. Reluctantly - knowing that this was the way of his tribe, after all, to attach oneself and submit to the dominant male when no female was present - Wolkee agreed, and told Wanral to be his king's guardian, to do everything he could to ensure his safety, until he was ready, until he was old enough to know who he really was. Throughout this time Wolkee had been greatly annoyed to see his king become attached - greatly attached, obviously in love even at the pubescent stage - with the eldest descendant of the Tyrant-Coward, and had noted how they had gone everywhere together, inseparable, the livid irony of their shared history utterly muted by the world they lived in, unaware of the truer, second world in which Wolkee and Wanral, silently, had to live. Wolkee hated it - and yet, as in all things about his king even when he despised it, he had to remain silent. He would have longed to come and court his king now that he was getting older, seduce him as a stranger in the wood as in the ribald stories that he heard as a youth, and give him the most important - indeed, the most holy - of gifts, to change his flesh into one of their tribe, back_into what he belonged as, with fur, with fangs. And yet he did not. He remembered well the folly of love, how Wanata would not be swayed when her heart ached for her husband before they wed and was never complete without him thereafter - love itself was a force the Dancing Spirits had no rule over, it was the province only of those who experienced it, and he knew immediately that, the bloodspatter across his name regardless, the latest descendant of the Tyrant-Coward was his king's true beloved. So still he watched him. _I will never let you go. Some nights, he would steal Wanral away and Wanral would tell him all he knew, about his family and about the secret, agonizing torch he carried for the one in whose veins swam Tyrant-Coward's blood - for though Wanral loved his king, perhaps even more than Wolkee did, though Wanral spent nearly every moment with his king and wanted with him and went exploring with him and made a life as his companion, friend, ally...he was still there to gather information. Wolkee, after all, needed to know, for he wanted to believe - he wanted to believe the shaman were right, that his tribe could be restored, that a king would be born and he and Wanral could be reigned over in peace and glory once more. Wolkee himself had produced offspring and every night he slept alone in the abandoned church it warmed him in pride and security, but he could not sustain it, the crown was not for him, he knew - though it saddened him, he knew - he accepted it. Wanral had showed him the thick woven-cloth strand that fit about his neck - it was called a collar, and on it was a shiny metal circle inscribed with characters Wolkee could not read. Wanral told him they spelled out a word - the name that their king had given them, suggested to him by the Tyrant-Coward's descendant: Duke, which signifies something very strong and powerful. Wanral - Duke - was his son, his only son, for a time it seemed that they could remake their tribe, they could be a pack and a family once more, if they recruited their king, one day... ...but now - now he was gone, a torn, gaping wound that would never heal. It was after the one whom their king loved most left their town, never to be seen again: Wolkee knew the departure of this latest descendant of the Tyrant-Coward pained him as nothing else could or would - and had watched, cringing, as he courted that same descendant's brother, who on him carried the scent and the smell of their tribe but faint, very faint, as though not by bloodline at all but by some deliberate was a queer thing, a very queer thing, but he smelled, and sometimes he acted, as the most sensitive of the shaman once did, though he was not chaste, or sensible, nor, most importantly, female. For many years this younger one had given Wolkee unease but also fascination, for he had been gifted - somehow, but not at all naturally, was Wolkee's guess - with the gift of Dogspeech, and was possessed of a companion who was the same, small, with floppy ears, a mark of the Dogs which the Furless Ones with their noses insufficient to the task used for hunting. The way he carried himself, the way he spoke, was unique to those around him - so_unique that Wolkee was forced to draw a conclusion: Could it be? Could _he, the very last of the line of the greatest and most wretched of all sinners, be his king's shaman - not female, of course, but in the dying and fractured epoch in which they lived, could that not also be possible? And Wolkee, the eldest Bitch, would be his advisor - but who else? There was one missing, to be a full court, if it what the Dancing Spirits had actually told the shaman were true. Who would it be? They had so little time to consider it - for Wanral had come into his own. Wolkee had promised to never let him go but he had broken that promise, for Wanral had fallen in love with their king in a way that waxed past the normal devotion one gives to one's chieftain - he had wanted to stay with their kind forever, he wanted Wolkee to understand this, that their king was a full adult now and the Tyrant-Coward's child had fled to parts unknown...he had nobody, now, he was all by his lonesome, and surely Wolkee would understand that, being so alone himself, all these seasons. He remembered, Wolkee did, being taken aback at how bold and how assertive his son was - how Wanral insisted, how Wanral demanded. And Wolkee...relented. It was a decision that yielded blessings, curses, both infinite, both immeasurable. Wanral was fully grown, he was a Stud now, should he desired it he could have mated with Wolkee and they, not their king, could have reestablished their tribe - Wolkee as Bitch, and Wolkee as mother, was naturally submissive even to his own son, and he was thankful that Wanral had enough decency, enough respect and enough love for him to not do what was, in fact, his birthright. In his darker, weaker moments, Wolkee would wish it so, would wonder just how strong and fit and virile he and Wanral's offspring would be. Certainly he lusted for his son, longed for him as a mate already - Wanral was gifted as Stud, his member was extraordinarily plump and exceptionally pleasing to be tied with, it was almost obtrusive and distracting when he walked, swaying slightly with his embarrassingly dwarfed Wolkee's own, but this was the way of their race and Wolkee felt it keenly, the urge to submit, to a male, even his son, bigger and more virile than he. Some nights as he held Wanral close to him - hold me close mother, never let me go - a shaft of moonlight would stream through the windows and fall on him, outlined in shadow, his fur nigh-glowing, a vision of divine beauty - Wolkee and he would have to steel away the nervous flutter in his belly that wanted his son to be his mate and his husband, so deeply desirous was his entire being to him. Though it could be done - it could be done very well, so very well that it was hardly an uncommon thing in the ways of his people - he would remind himself, soberly, of the noxious difficulty in raising more children in such cramped quarters, with the Furless Ones ever encroaching them...his wants, as painful as they were, perhaps admixed with jealousy over how his son felt about their king, would have to be suppressed, and forgotten, for their own mutual good. Wolkee could not bring himself to say no to his own son - and his son was, daily it seemed, growing more and more dominant, more into the sire he probably longed to be. Perhaps that is why he loved their king beyond the duties of the subject, for they had much in common - it pained Wolkee to separate from his son this way, to watch his nest become empty and for he as a Stud to find camaraderie with those of his own kind...but was this not the sorrow of all mothers across all kingdoms of nature? Without his guidance Wanral forgot himself - he seduced their king, he was zealous to bring to the surface his true nature, he was cocksure of himself and his power, their power, to change a Furless One into one of them. He was aggressive at it - Wolkee would spy him, his penis fully engorged from its sheath, wanting their king, wanting to be a part of him, wanting to share, forever, the perfect solitude of their tribe. One night, their king relented, and he and Wanral made love - receiving the gift, their king...became one of them. Wolkee's heart had swollen that season, fit to bursting, seeing for the first time in a time uncounted a form like his - now, in his king's. His fur was black, black as night, the antipode of Wolkee's own, white as snow - it fit the long, feathery hair on his head, and on his body, black, all black, a starless sky. He had seen - furtive, behind trees and shrubs and close to the ground where he would be undetected - his king's member, how mighty and fertile and magnificent it was, even bigger than Wanral's, the mark of a true warrior, true monarch, true chieftain. He craved it, he could almost feel a spontaneous Burning even he gazed upon it from afar - yet he averted his eyes in genuflection. His king had become something godlike, something that could be properly worshipped without thought - there was no discounting it now, the Dancing Spirits had been correct, for though he had started as an unappreciated prince amongst the Furless Ones, now he was transcendent, perfect in all ways of their people. But the perfection was not to last - the seasons changed, nothing lasts forever, only the Mountains, and Wolkee, creature, slave, of those Mountains, those seasons. Wolkee never saw his son again, he was now mate to their king, his name was Duke, and they shared all things together - the hunt, the howl, the mutual defense and mutual love that was wordless, ineffable...Wolkee passed into Heat that season and did not want to show himself to his king in the state he was in, he hid himself in the church, once again, contented, knowing then that the future was assured. He was wrong. He had been too late to reveal himself to their king, he had been too careless in letting his son roam too far - for one of the Furless One's metal abominations struck him, when the weather was very warm and fine, and he was afflicted with injuries from which he would not recover...his distant cousin, their king's grandfather, Wokuff, called on the Spirit that he believed in, in his clear, firm voice, but they were not heard. He heard Wanral call out for him, Wolkee, his mother - heard him call out as he died on the street, his last words: Mother, where are you? Mother, never let me go, mother - never let me go. It is a tragedy that cannot be understood by any animal, to be a parent and to see your child predecease you - it is not neither fair nor just, even Nature in her cruelty after beauty cannot be taken for such a sadist. Wolkee howled that night - a sound that shook the Earth. For days and days and days he mourned, his heart unable to feel anything but crazed sorrow - he abandoned the safety of his church and crept, each night, to the place where his son slept, up the slope that reached to the sky above the house where his king dwelt...there he would sleep, every night, his tears a constant, quiet flow. He remembered what Wanata had said, about dying twice - indeed, Wolkee had now died thrice. The Mountains were the primeval mothers of all creatures that lived here, it was where he was destined to slumber when he, too, would shut his eyes for the last time - yet, more and more, this mountain, up the slopes that grew misty in Autumn down all the way to where the Creek ran cold and clear, was little more than a solemn tumulus, guarding the sleeping forms of his sister, his son...his birth-mother, his cousins, his people, his tribe, to a one. He was the only one left - the last of the old, his king the first of the new, who would have to start over, who would have to bring them all a salvation that, their suffering so profound, they must surely deserve. Thereafter he passed through his existence in a haze, a state of being and yet nothingness, of apathy swallowing him - he looked after his king as a kind of perfunctory duty, the seasons dragging on uselessly, now, without his son, with no real family anymore, no one to depend on him directly, no one to share a joy or a sorrow with...his life was the nothing of a cloudless sky, without the comforting hue of the Sun passing into it. There was one who was to be a new addition, one who his king had courted, his friend - Dan, a simple, blunt name...any Furless One, regardless of lineage, could receive the gift and join the tribe, but his king perhaps did not know that, or was careless, with the true abilities that dwelt in his member, for though he knew what Wanral had done to him Wolkee could not know if he knew that the same could be done to others. And so it was that Dan, without guidance or reassurance, had rejected the gift that his king had given him, and crawled into one of those fearsome metal things that moved them about and destroyed it, himself inside, in a way only the Furless Ones knew how, some grand fire, a fatal conflagration. Wolkee had seen him, Wolkee had seen the whole thing, and knew that his king would be of a fresh heartache, and it pained him, it pained him enough that he would have to slink off and weep quietly back at his church above the spring, all his own hurt and all his own pain too, that he could not reveal himself still, that he could not tell his king who he was, who they both were, and that it would not be forever, this misery he was sunk in. But it had been many, many seasons he had watched his king, almost as long as he had birthed and raised Wanral, he knew the movements of his king's mind, he had watched him grow and knew him after his own, and he knew what the pained look on his face meant - both of the descendants of the Tyrant-Coward, the brothers, were gone, they had gone to other places, distant places, and left his king behind. Such was their legacy, Wolkee surmised, trying not to hate them, trying to forgive something that happened so long ago it was like the middle part of a half-remembered dream - but no, such was their legacy. They - the Tyrant-Coward's dynasty - they would always hurt Wolkee's people, they would always oppress them and do their tribe grievous harm...bodily by their blood, mentally, by their hearts... ...his king was leaving today, today, this morning. His king's true form was a gift that Wanral had given him, that Wanral, sleeping now, like Wanata, was not truly dead as long as his king lived, as long as his king yet reigned in exile with his grandfather, Wokuff, Gustavus, as unknowing regent. Now, however - now, looking after him and watching his movements and hearing what was said to the younger one, his king was going to retrieve the older one, and Wolkee knew in his desperation and in his despair he was aware of his power, the power of their power, he would use it, the most secret and the most sacred act, to make the older one pay for his sins, and became a creature of the wood as they. And they could celebrate at last - his son would not have died for nothing, the shaman would be proven true, the time of dreadful hope would be over, it would an era of completeness once again. He would see him again - soon, very soon. The Whiteskins called him Bligh, and he called himself that - but Wolkee knew better. In his language, which was Bligh's language too though he would not yet know it, he had another name, a better name - Wukwuf, the enigma, the puzzle, the mystery forever unsolved, for the name was the sound to their people of surprise, something unexpected, or indeed something remarkably fortuitous...eureka, epiphany, without ever knowing the cause. Mighty Wukwuf would depart, he would go and bring back the scion of the Tyrant-Coward Lightfoot - perhaps both of them - and absorb them into their tribe. Justice would be done, their numbers could safely increase - the king would come into his own, King Wukwuf, invincible, immaculate. Then, and only then, would Wolkee reveal himself - and reveal to Bligh, Wukwuf, his destiny, his truth...his promise, to his sister, to his people, to the future. The Sun was beginning to rise at last - he squinted his eyes, the same color as his king's, Wukwuf, Bligh...he watched him stand before the house his grandfather had built, another prince unaware of who he really was. Did he see him? Did he know? He would. He had loved the little prince grown into a king all his life - he had waited for him, a long time, such a long time. And he would, still - forever. I will never let you go.

The Dogs: Hand In Heart - Thy Love More Than Wine

            Their bedroom stank, actually stunk, a clinging odor that raked the air, the combined smells, Bligh and Cody, both of them - Bligh's Earthen musky woodsiness, Cody's mellifluous cream.             Bligh finished sending the text message -...

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Dogs: Hand In Heart - Episode I

            Even in October it is still warm in Tampa Bay, still balmy, the mugginess does not abate and so it is still shorts weather - this was the allure and thrill of the area many years ago, the marvel that, to the northerners that dwelt in the...

, , , , , , , , , ,


They say he still wears clothes, but he'll take to the water soon._________H.P. Lovecraft, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth"             August - that time of the year when a stillness descends on the land, after the panicked fever-fires of July that ring...

, , , , , , , , , , , ,