The next morning, as Modryn entered the dining room, he paused as he saw it was only set for two and Morgain was already seated, obviously waiting for him. “I hope you don’t mind, but I asked everyone to allow us breakfast on our own this morning. We have things to discuss about your clan that are highly sensitive, and no one else can hear.”
Modryn nodded as he sat, “I see. But first, allow me to apologize for last night. I overreacted, and honestly, it wasn’t your joke that caused it, but what I immediately started thinking about when you said it. I’m sorry.”
Morgain smiled gently. “It is fine. I should have realized that you haven’t come to terms with the events of that night. I am sorry as well. Please, let’s eat before the food grows cold, then we can discuss business. Why don’t you tell me some of your adventures while we eat?”
As the two ate, they shared pleasant small talk, and as a result, the awkward atmosphere between them had receded by the time they finished with their meal. The maids cleared the table and left the two alone, as requested.
After they were alone, serious expressions settled on the faces of the two monarchs. “So what is it you need to discuss? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this serious before.”
Morgain met Modryn’s gaze evenly. “I want you to tell me everything you know about the origins of your clan,” she said.
Confused, Modryn began speaking, “The history of Clan Rashee can be traced back to the time the gods still walked upon Drinaris. The first Rashee was the son of the goddess Morrigan, and a Dok Alv that had gained her favor.”
“Her son showed great talent and ability with both blade and magic, so she was able to convince both the God of War, Jötunn, creator of the Orcs, Giants, and Ogres, and the God of Magic, Asmodeus, creator of the Demon races, to give him blessings of both combat and magic so he and his descendants will be better suited to rule the Dok Shee.”
“The two blessings combined in unprecedented ways, creating Combat Sorcery and the Bloodrage. This combination was impossible to predict, and thought to be impossible to replicate. All three gods were surprised by these events, but pleased, as they completed Morrigan’s purpose nicely, and it brought to light new ways for magic and battle that Jötunn and Asmodeus could observe and explore.”
“Morrigan gave her son the family name Rashee. ‘Ra-‘ from Ancient High Shee roughly translates into Common as ‘king of’. And that is the origins of Clan Rashee.” As Modryn finished, he looked at Morgain expectantly, waiting for her to explain why these things have anything to do with him.
Morgain nodded, “This is all correct. But, there is one part that has been lost to time. Modryn, let me ask, have you always felt angry? Or is it just in recent years that you have begun losing your temper?”
Modryn opened his mouth to respond, but then paused, “I used to believe that it came from nowhere, but in recent years, I began to understand that it was always there, just manageable. Thanks to Father’s teachings, I was able to suppress it without even realizing it. It had always felt like something was missing from my understanding. That I didn’t truly know my place in the world.”
“Modryn, you know that I am the Dok Shee’s Record Keeper, part of a lineage of masters and apprentices that keep the complete history of Morrigan’s people. But even the story of her own descendants is incomplete. There was a fourth god involved in your clan’s origins, and a third blessing.”
At Modryn’s confused expression, Morgain sighed. “Why do you think that Clan Rashee’s seal has a Dragon upon it?”
Modryn immediately returned with, “Isn’t it just because Dragons are a symbol of physical and magical strength? My ancestors wanted to show the world what our specialty was.”
Morgain nodded, “Yes, that would be the first assumption, but it isn’t entirely correct. The fourth god that involved themselves in your ancestor’s affairs, was the goddess Tiamat, Goddess of Storms, and creator of the Dragons. She approached Morrigan on her own, and offered a blessing, for the clan’s magic to be greater than ever before and for a rare descendant of Morrigan’s to inherit a Supreme Dragon’s magical strength. But it would come with a price. The one who inherited that strength would also inherit a Dragon’s emotional state. Meaning, they would be prone to the same raging anger and other emotions that Dragons themselves are known for. It was something easily controlled, but if something happened to destroy their emotional stability, they would quickly become nothing more than a maddened beast, hellbent on destruction. Several of your clan have had this disposition, and all of them fell to it in their childhood, long before they were able to learn to harness their emotions the way older Rashee do.”
Modryn looked at Morgain in horror. “Let me guess. I’m the only one to survive to adulthood.” At her nod, he placed his hand on his forehead. “This is a lot to take in, Aunt Morgain.”
At that moment, the door burst open, and a panicked Banshee rushed in yelling, “My Queen, I’m sorry for interrupting you, but some hunters just returned, and they are reporting some kind of monster close to the mountains three kilometers to the north!”
At her words, Modryn and Morgain looked at one another. Standing, Morgain said, “Take me to them.”
Modryn was right behind her, “And me. Also, send someone to collect my companions.” At Morgain’s glance, he replied, “I need time to digest this, and this will provide the necessary distraction.”
Nodding, Morgain turned to Threne, who had entered with the messenger. “Gather the visitors, and bring them to us. Bring Sabrina as well.”
The maid curtsied and answered with, “At once, My Queen.”
The messenger led Modryn and Morgain to the entrance hall, where a group of six hunters were waiting, looking like they’ve run a great distance without stopping. As the two approached, the hunters all knelt.
Morgain spoke to the leader, “What happened?”
The group’s leader started her report, “My Queen, we went out to hunt before dawn as we usually do. We decided to head north, towards the mountains, because they haven’t been hunted in several months. That area has several bears, including a massive Cave Bear, but we know where they stay, and can avoid them. We brought down a large deer, but before we could begin skinning it, a massive canine monster appeared. At first, we thought it was a Warg, but when we tried to Enchant it, it growled and used magic to resist us. After that, we knew we couldn’t defeat it, so we returned here.”
As she finished, Angela and the others were approaching, and heard the description of the monster. “What do you mean, it used magic? The only canine beasts that can use magic are Hellhounds, and they look like giant, black mastiffs. It’d be pretty difficult to confuse a Hellhound and a Warg.” Angela had an expression that said she was hoping the hunters were mistaken.
The Banshee replied tersely, “I am certain. It looked like a giant Warg, and it used magic like a Hellhound.”
“Easy, elder sister. I’m certain she didn’t mean offense.” Sabrina said as she approached. She knelt and said, “My Queen, you summoned me?”
Morgain nodded, “Yes, Lord Rashee and his companions have volunteered to assist us in investigating what this mysterious beast is. I want you to go with them.”
Sabrina nodded in acknowledgement. “As you wish.”
Morgain turned to the hunter. “Daphne, I want you to lead them to where you saw it. Follow all of Lord Rashee’s orders. Do you understand?”
Daphne had a displeased look as she repeated her younger sister. “As you wish.”
Morgain turned to Modryn, “How soon can you all be ready?”
Modryn glanced around, “Half an hour?”
Morgain nodded, “Good luck.” And she walked away.
Modryn turned to look at his group, only to find Angela and Tanya glaring at him, and the others looking resigned. “Volunteered us, huh?” Tanya muttered.
Modryn chuckled nervously. “Right. I thought the maids had told you.”
The two women sighed. Angela said, “Whatever. Kha’la, you’re staying here. This thing can use magic, that makes it too dangerous for a noncombatant.”
The little Kobold nodded, “Yes, ma’am.”
Modryn turned to the two Banshee. “We’ll be ready soon. Sabrina, do you need to arrange a replacement for your squad?”
At Modryn’s question, Daphne’s expression turned even more unpleasant, while Sabrina’s grew amused. “My Lord, Queen Morgain hasn’t told you? I was relieved of guard duties last night. I am now officially your liaison and advisor for all things pertaining to the Banshee. I hope to be of use to you, Lord Rashee.”
With a surprised face, Modryn nodded. “I see, I look forward to it.”
Several hours later, the group was at the location where the monster was encountered. The carcass of the deer the Banshee had killed was stripped of its meat, with the skin and bones scattered across the clearing.
Modryn and Tanya were examining the beast’s tracks. “Well, it certainly looks like a Warg.” Modryn commented.
Tanya snorted, “I don’t know what tracks your looking at, but they can’t be the same thing I’m seeing. There’s no way Warg tracks can be this big.”
“Well, Lord Rashee? Are you satisfied with looking at tracks all day? Or are we going to get around to killing the thing today?” Daphne said, with the same amount of sarcasm that she’s been speaking with all day.
“We haven’t decided if we are going to kill it.” Modryn replied in exasperation.
“What do you mean haven’t decided?! It’s obviously dangerous and needs to be put down!”
“Daphne, please! I’m sorry, My Lord. She doesn’t mean any disrespect.” Sabrina was frantically trying to calm her older sister down,.
“Why in the Nine Hells are you apologizing to him, Sabrina?! You lost your job because of him! And now, we’re supposed to follow him and leave our home of nine centuries, because he said so?! I’m not going to agree to this!” Daphne’s voice was steadily increasing in pitch, letting out the frustration that had been building since she heard about Sabrina being relieved of her position.
Sabrina was getting upset as well. Their queen had given her this position. She had trusted Sabrina with representing the Banshee among the leaders of the new Demon Lord’s armies. This was more than anything she had ever dreamed of, and she had hoped that her older sister, the only family she had left since their mother’s accident, would be proud of her. But here she was, being disrespectful to their new lord, and Sabrina didn’t know what to do.
Modryn was barely paying attention to the two sisters. Instead, he was looking in another direction, his long ears twitching as he was trying to catch some sound, Tanya was the same, her gray furred cat ears swiveling, trying to catch the faint sound she had detected. “Everyone, be quiet.” Modryn ordered, his voice serious. As Daphne opened her mouth to argue, Modryn said more seriously, “I said, quiet!”
A few moments later, Modryn and Tanya’s faces paled. “EVERYONE SCATTER NOW!” At Modryn’s yell, he and Tanya jumped and tackled the two Banshee as everyone else jumped in various directions away from where they were gathered.
Daphne was several meters away in Modryn’s arms by the time she saw what made them jump. The beast she had seen earlier that day had jumped into the clearing, silent enough that she hadn’t heard it approaching. What frightened her even more was the fact that it was standing right where she was several moments ago. It now stood in the clearing, staring at Modryn.
“Everyone get behind me now.” Modryn ordered, his voice quiet, but still carrying across the clearing. Not breaking eye contact with the giant beast, he shifted Daphne behind him everyone else quickly gathering behind him, carefully not making any sudden movements to provoke it.
The beast just stood there, the only indication that it was paying attention to anything except Modryn were when its ears swiveled around to track the others’ movements. It was massive. It’s body was built like a Warg, like a large Direwolf with tusks protruding from its lower jaw, but they usually grew no more than 2 meters high. This was closer to 3. And it’s fur and eyes were different as well. Wargs didn’t have fur that pitch black shade, or red eyes like that. Only Hellhounds had fur and eyes that color. It was holding itself with a dignity and grace that one didn’t usually see in monsters, and it’s eyes held a glimmer of high intelligence. Modryn wouldn’t have been surprised if it could understand everything they were saying.
But he also saw within its eyes something else, a deep rooted anger. He felt a pang of familiarity with this creature, and recognized the emotions of anger and loneliness that plauged him for ten years after his fight with Sasha.
Angela asked, obviously awed by it, “Where does something like this even come from?”
Modryn was the one who answered. “This is just a guess, but I think he’s a mixed breed. My bet is a Warg and Hellhound pairing.”
Daphne was startled. “How does that even happen?”
Tanya said, “Well, you see, Daphne, when a Warg and a Hellhound love each other very very much-“
“Tanya.” Modryn cut off her sarcastic response tersely.
“Why did it attack? And why Daphne?” asked Sabrina. “Didn’t it just walk up to the hunters before?”
“Yes. Before. That was when it was just a group of people who were trespassing on his territory. But now one of them have returned, and they brought people who are much stronger than the group before. He is taking this as an invasion of his territory, which probably isn’t helped by him hearing Daphne yell about wanting to kill him. And he targeted the weakest link of our group with that ambush. Even though I’m suppressing my presence as much as I can, he obviously isn’t buying it. I’d guess that he’s intelligent enough to coexist with others, but it doesn’t look like he’s in the mood for a peaceful resolution.” Modryn replied.
Tanya cut in. “What I want to know, is how he got this close to us without alerting anyone. It was luck that we noticed him before he attacked. With that massive body, how does he move like that?”
Modryn chuckled, “I have no idea. But he certainly is one of the most magnificent beasts I’ve ever seen. He certainly feels different from anything I’ve ever seen too. I want to try something.” With that, Modryn walked forward, until he was halfway between them and the beast, who hadn’t moved or broken eye contact with the Dok Alv.
Modryn moved to the side, circling around and maintaining his distance. After he was a quarter distance around the Warg, he activated the Bloodrage and flooded the clearing with bloodlust. The massive animal cocked its head back, surprised at the sudden action, before it growled and pounced at Modryn. Modryn let out a delighted laugh as he jumped to the side. After the two landed on the ground, they resumed their staring contest.
Modryn spoke to his companions, “I don’t think there’s ever been a Warg who didn’t start cowering at my full bloodlust.”
Mary spoke up with her face pale, “Master. Please don’t do anything like that again.” Justin just nodded, his face as pale as his sister’s.
“Sorry, kid. But I think me and our new acquaintance here needs to have a talk in private. Everyone, stay here.” With that, Modryn turned and started running to the east, the Warg following right behind him, leaving everyone else stunned starring at the place the two disappeared.
The two continued to run for some distance, until they reached a wide clearing beneath a mountain cliff. There they stopped and resumed their positions from before for a few more moments. Suddenly, as if at a signal, they both started moving.
Modryn was dodging the beast’s claws and bites, and he was surprised to have his own attacks dodged in return, the massive creature faster and more agile than his appearance first suggested. This continued for several minutes with neither party gaining the advantage. Modryn jumped back and the two began circling one another. “I know you can feel it. You and me, we’re one and the same. And that’s why, I know you’re not going to listen, not until I beat the fear of me into you!”
At that, Modryn rushed forward and slammed into the half-Warg. He continued until they both slammed into the cliff face without slowing. The Warg yelped in pain, and the Dok Alv threw him to the ground. He grabbed a fistful of his opponent’s fur and shoved his face into the Warg’s. “It will destroy you! The rage! The loneliness! The solitude! It will destroy you if you don’t gain control of it! Come with me, become my partner, my brother, and I may be able to help you! Just as you may be able to help me.”
As the two stared into each other’s eyes, the beast continued to struggle, until he finally realized that he wouldn’t break free and he had lost. The aggression slowly bled from the beast’s eyes, and his limbs relaxed, his hackles lowered and he stopped baring his teeth at Modryn.
Modryn let go of his fur, and stepped back as the giant wolf stood up. “From now on, you are to be known as Garm, the War Partner of Demon Lord Modryn Rashee.” Garm huffed, lowered his head and gently butted it against Modryn’s. Modryn chuckled as the two turned and walked back to the direction they had come.
As Garm walked with Modryn, he realized from his new Alpha’s scent that he was male. He had known almost from the moment he saw the strange two legged creature that the two of them were the same.
He had caught the scent of one of the creatures that had intruded into his territory earlier in the day returning. He had never seen these creatures since he killed the largest of the short faced predators and claimed the territory as his several moons ago. All he knew about them was that they stood on their hind legs, didn’t have claws or fangs, made up for it by using what was around them, and used inner energy, or magic as he heard one of them call it, like him.
He could understand the sounds they made, but didn’t completely understand their meaning. He could only guess at what they mean by what was going on with the words. Like how when he used inner energy, one of the creatures said, “It can use magic?!” So he was able to connect that to his inner energy. It’s easier to understand the feelings and emotions that go with their words, even though their body language and expressions are hard to read. That was how he understood what Modryn, his new Alpha,wanted to tell him.
Garm considered what had happened since he first saw this creature. He arrived at the clearing not long after the strangers. He had used his magic to hide himself so they would not notice him, the way he most used it, as the fire he could produce made prey inedible, and hiding his presence was the only way he could hunt.
As Garm watched, he examined the intruders and judged their individual threats. What he saw caused him to doubt if he could win this fight, a thought that had never crossed his mind, even when he challenged the former ruler of the territory.
Two of them were greatly weaker than him, one of them being one of the creatures that he encountered earlier that day. Two were stronger than the other two, but nothing he couldn’t handle, maybe if they fought together, he would have trouble, but it was unlikely. It was the other three that was the issue, and it wasn’t until two of them started looking at his tracks that he realized just how much.
The one with a tail who didn’t start looking at Garm’s tracks had an amount of magic and magic circulation that left no doubt about its strength. It easily overshadowed his own.
The other one that had a tail was looking at his tracks, and while that was usually an excellent time to ambush a troublesome enemy, there were no openings for Garm to exploit. It had no ability to use its considerable magic, and Garm couldn’t read its body language well, but the way it held itself left no doubt in Garm’s mind that ambush was impossible.
The last one though, made all of Garm’s fur stand in terror. At first glance, it didn’t seem to be powerful. It was interesting because its appearance was similar to his, with the same color fur and eyes, but that was it. Its magic was barely even present, but its scent gave him pause. The creature he was looking at reeked of death and storms. That caused him to look closer at its magic, and what he saw was frightening. Similarly to how he was using magic to hide, this thing was using magic to mask its true ability. If it wasn’t for the tiniest sign of circulating magic, he would’ve missed it. This baffled Garm for a moment, until he saw the weakest of the group challenge it, and that noisy one obviously hadn’t noticed that its power was most likely dwarfed by the other. He realized that this creature hid its strength to invite challenges. If that was so, then it probably enjoyed destroying its enemies spirits before ending them. To be able to mask its magic so well, it was obviously powerful. It was truly the Alpha of this group.
Garm knew with this that he had no chance of winning, but he also knew that he couldn’t just let these intruders take the territory that he had made his home without a fight. Especially because he knew no pack from the territory of his birth would accept him. So he decided to target the weakest of them. That way, at least, he would be remembered by them as powerful enough to be a good opponent.
As he pounced though, something had alerted the two who were looking at his tracks, and his ambush failed. Seeing that, Garm decided to challenge the Alpha. He didn’t know if these creatures would understand his intentions, but it was the only thing he could think of aside from running, and he refused to simply run again and give up another home. So he made eye contact with the Alpha and just stood there.
As the two watched each other, Garm could see in its eyes similar emotions to his own. It was deep down, and buried under other things, but he could see anger and loneliness within the foundation. He understood that the creature he was looking at was just like him, and not just in appearance. The only difference was that this one had found a pack and a home.
As the rest of the group gathered behind their Alpha, it hadn’t broken eye contact. Garm heard the words ‘Hellhound’ and ‘Warg’ and judged that was what these things called his species.
The Alpha stepped forward, and Garm tensed, expecting an attack in response to his challenge. The Alpha circled to its right, still not breaking eye contact. When it stopped, it suddenly released all of its magic and bloodlust, its eyes and markings glowing red with the surge of power. Garm was startled by the sudden action, but became angry at it for not following up, as he quickly realized that the creature was just testing him to see what his reaction would be to his full power. To show what he thought of it doing that, he jumped at it, with it dodging at the last moment.
Afterwards, the intruder indicated that it wanted Garm to follow, and led him away. When the two arrived at a cliff face, they finally fought. The creature didn’t use its magic or anything else, and neither did Garm. He was appreciative of that, as it meant he would be able to actually compete against it and die with some measure of pride.
After several minutes of them dodging each other’s attacks, the Alpha jumped back. It was baring its teeth, but Garm didn’t feel any aggression from it. The two circled one another, and it suddenly changed its tactics by rushing forward, similarly to the former ruler of the territory. Garm was so surprised, he couldn’t react as his opponent plowed into him, slamming him into the cliff, then down onto the ground.
The Alpha quickly pinned Garm to the ground, and started speaking. Garm couldn’t understand everything, but he understood that this creature was offering him a place in its pack from the way it just maintained its grip, and not kill him.
He finally surrendered, and accepted. He was given a name, and told the name of his new Alpha. Now they were returning to where they left the other members of Modryn’s pack, when suddenly a commotion was coming from where they were headed.
As Garm and Modryn paused, the rest of his group rushed into view, only to freeze as they saw the two standing next to each other.
Garm watched the two who were second strongest in the group say together, “I knew it. Sabrina, you owe us some gold.”
Now that Garm could stand next to them calmly, he saw that all but one of them were female.
Garm idly wondered which of them were Modryn’s female. Definitely not the noisy one. She was much too weak, and right now even Garm could see that she had pure fear when looking at Modryn. He quickly guessed that this was because she saw his true strength in the clearing, and realized how easy it would’ve been for her to be erased when she challenged Modryn. That kind of fear could never be between a mated pair.
The one who smelled like her litter mate didn’t seem like it either. She didn’t have the same fear of Modryn, but she was still too weak and wouldn’t be able to properly support him in the pack.
The one who smelled like the litter mate of the male was possible, but Garm doubted it for reasons he couldn’t really understand. The two had a bond, but it didn’t seem to be along those lines.
Garm decided that one of the two females with tails were the most likely. They were both strong enough to compliment his strength, and as he watched them interact, he saw they had a familiarity with Modryn. He didn’t know which one it was though.
As Garm came to this conclusion, the two females finally forced Modryn to explain why he had run off like that. Modryn said, “Well, some conversations between males need to be held in private.”
As he said that, Garm suddenly felt the two females’ bloodlust spike, and unconsciously backed away. As he did so, the one who couldn’t use magic suddenly bent her paw so that it would be round, and lashed out to hit Modryn in the face. Immediately after, the other one raised the object she was holding in her paws, and brought it down on his head.
“Ow! Angela?! That staff is made of granite!”
“I know. And it was satisfying.”
“Quit crying. We all know that wasn’t nearly enough to kill you. Besides you deserve some form of punishment for doing something reckless, again, all to do something you could’ve done with us around. We forgave you for the slave merchants because Mary and Justin were with you, but what would you have done if you couldn’t get through to him?”
“If he was really lost in his hatred, I would’ve killed him. But I felt I could reach him. It’s as simple as that.”
“Hah. Angela, what are we going to do about him?”
“I have no idea.”
As this conversation played out in front of Garm, he decided that both females were probably Modryn’s. They wouldn’t have taken the role of his moderators if they weren’t, unless they’re all litter mates, but Garm didn’t consider that because of their scents.
Garm suddenly felt something on his neck, and glanced to see the female with yellow fur placing her paw on his neck. “This happens a lot. We might be here awhile.”
Garm huffed in response, and after watching her and her brother sit on the ground, lay down to nap after the strenuous day.