Category Archives: Fiction

The Wolf Who Spoke

This is the second part in a short story. You can find the first part here.

But nothing happened. The pain that Eregar anticipated never came. The squire opened his eyes and the snout of the giant wolf still dominated his vision, the white breath of its nostrils rising above his forehead.

“Still awake, pup? Good. Maybe you’ll still serve.”

Did the wolf speak?

“I speak, yes, believe. And I want you to do me a service, in exchange for your life. Now to you life I give, and be warned that if you lift your sword against me, you will die like the rest of your pack.” With these words, the beast retreated a few steps.

“What are you? Are you a demon?” Asked the squire, as he got up, free from the animal’s immense weight.

The wolf shook its head in irritation.

“I do not know what that is. I am Shak-Urai, the pack is Shak-Urai. In times we were great, today you are strange to our speech, are accustomed to… dogs. Mongrels.” The wolf spat the last words. “Does not matter. A service for me, yes? And will you live, as your pack did not live? Fair?”

Eregar felt sick to his stomach. Certainly, a demon inhabited the body of this animal, and to accept the bargain would be to condemn his soul. And yet, the warrior feared for his life.

“What service do you speak of?”

“Blood disease! Blood disease. Everything is like the red moon and the chewed meat and I have to flee from the pack or hurt, hurt and rend and tear, as I did to yours. The hot-man gave blood disease. Sorcerer, yes? I can not approach, no healing find, much fire, fire that burns. But you, man like him, without fear of fire, bring healing, yes?”

Maybe he could lie? Run away and return with his brothers to hunt the beast? For sure, lying to a demon would not be a sin.

“Your face is as easy as a lake, man-pup. You can go, not help, but when the disease comes back, I’m going to hurt, hurt and rend, and then the guilt is shared, on me and the hot-man and also you, yes? Guilty, guilty, guilty! And blood running,  from pups and men!”

Eregar took a few steps back. Could the devil read his mind? Or was his face so transparent? But alas, it seemed that he had been guided to a path from where he could now only move forward. Perhaps in time, the Goddess would reveal other options.

“Where can I find this… Sorcerer who cursed you?”

“In the mountains to the south! To the south and west, by the stones-red trail. Sounds of rabbit and sharp-trees. The cry of the owl guides you! Stone-man on top, yes! The bad man, the hot-man lives there, inside the stone man. Go! Go while the red moon and the hot blood do not come back!”

And with a roar, the giant wolf turned and jumped into the midst of the vegetation, disappearing as quickly as it had appeared, and Eregar was left alone amidst the corpses of his brothers.

Enjoyed this tale? Consider buying “A Silvery Moon,” my novel set in the same universe.

The Path In The Razor-Teeth Woods

The young warrior exited the inn with the haste of a man escaping a burning building. The cold and dark night embraced him willingly. He wore a blanket over his shoulders, wrapped around his neck, in an attempt to shield himself from the cold that the lack of his lost coat condemned him to. Sweat froze at the tips of his short black hair, giving birth to pearls that matched his gray eyes.

Neither the cold air nor the trail’s icy snow seemed to discourage him as he ran toward the woods. Nor did the voices of those who called him back from the inn’s entrance. The cold was not important, even this intense cold at the heart of the Season of The Ice. The voices did not matter, either. They belonged to good people, people to whom the warrior owed his life, but such people were not his brothers. They were not the ones Eregar had abandoned in the middle of the woods.

They called it the Razor-Teeth Woods, because they stood at the feet of the Razor-Teeth Mountains, and also due to the aggressiveness of the region’s wildlife. Eregar did not meet any such creature as he staggered through the bushes and pines until he reached the trail where he and his brothers had stood hours ago.

The footprints of the horsemen were still fresh in the snow. His chest ached from the sudden exertion, and as the warm air poured out of his mouth in the form of white mist, so did the cold make its way inside his chest in larger quantities, giving him tremors. But the warrior ignored the pain and discomfort, and continued his run through the woods. Until he reached the clearing.

There they were – what was left of them. His brothers had been slaughtered while he had escaped. Eregar fell to his knees on the snow, and his shame was the only thing that kept him from crying. Yingmir, Orbus, Luut, and the others, not even one of his brothers had survived. Before him, in those few yards of beaten dirt in the middle of the woods, stood the sight of the greatest slaughter Eregar had seen in his short career as a Squire of the Tower. Here and there lay a leg, an arm, sometimes a severed head. The warrior approached one of the most intact bodies, trying to ascertain its identity, but the wounds made it unrecognizable.

Eregar did not know what kind of creature could have caused this. A while back, it had been shadows and roars and screams that made him lose his mind, run through the forest until he stumbled and lost consciousness. He had not seen the attacker, but he had felt in his heart that it was not a thing of nature.

And now, the young man thought, for the first time, whatever it was, it is nearby. Close to me, and I’m alone.

The warrior drew his sword. He had no target in sight, but the gleam of steel in his hand helped him calm himself. In his other hand, his new shield, shining with the three snowflakes of his order, crossed by a saber – this also made him feel safeguarded. And it was precisely as his heart began to calm down that he heard what seemed to him to be a dry, guttural laugh – behind him!

When he turned, it was already too late to dodge, and the impact on his shield caught his arm against his chest, as he was thrown to the ground.

Over him stood a huge wolf, larger than an ox, with one of its legs pinning his shield arm, and the other pinning his sword arm. Its muzzle hovered directly above Eregar’s face, and the squire could smell the fresh blood in the monster’s breath.

Goddess, he thought, forgive my weakness. So ends my path.

Enjoyed this tale? Consider buying “A Silvery Moon,” my novel set in the same universe.

The Seeing Cat

The bazaar was a whirlwind of smells and sounds, but Jamaal was used to it. Years of living with humans had drilled in him the ability to focus his keen senses and block what was not important. The sweet smell of ripe peaches. The slight squeezing sound of the knife that cuts a slice of wet watermelon. The screeches of caged monkeys, and the alcoholic smell of fermented strawberry liquor. All this and more was a mere backdrop to what was capturing his attention, the smell he had been smelling for since the previous day, that singular, individual mark that every being had.

It would have been easier in the Holy Kingdom of Lohan, where the only cats were house cats. Here, among the cat-people, his people – the smells were much harder to parse, and the tiger-man found himself losing track of the trail several times.

The hunter closed his eyes, and inhaled. It was like drinking a mug of soup and trying to guess the ingredients for the fullness of the taste. A trace of this, a drop of that, a little pinch of something else. And finally … there!

The hunter stumbled past a counter full of sunset-coloured pumpkins, and a bench with dried figs exposed for the inspection of the shopping masses. He squeezed between tunic and turban-wearing tigers, panthers, and lions, and entered a dark space between two buildings, so narrow that he had to move sideways.

It was almost stifling, the tightness. The day was heating up, and the walls were getting closer. The heat distorted the air, and it seemed impossible that the sun was making its way into such a narrow space. And yet it was. Maybe it was a good time to stop, lean against the wall, rest …

Jamaal gritted his teeth. It was close. He had to continue. For Aurora.

The walls continued to narrow, like the jaws of an alligator trying to catch him. The tiger-man did not stop moving, put one arm against each wall – the brick that should have been cool to the touch was boiling! Jamaal felt his arms burn, he smelled the smell of burning fur.

No, he thought. It’s impossible. Just a little bit further.

With a roar, the hunter pushed the walls away, and strode forward to the end of the corridor. The further he advanced, the farther seemed the exit, the street extending, stretching into the horizon.

“Stop this foolishness!” He roared. “Reveal yourself!”

In front of him materialised a wall where there had been none, its bricks alive with viscous movement and hissing sounds. Snakes the size of his arm slithered over it, facing the tiger with their reptilian gold eyes and glittering fangs.

Jamaal closed his eyes, covered his face, took a deep breath, and with two long strides, jumped forth into the wall.

The bricks and snakes scattered in pieces of glass. His feet landed on fresh stone, and the scent of burnt fur fell away from his body. A feeling of freshness invaded him. Jamaal opened his eyes.

He stood in a sunny courtyard holding a large fountain, which spat out of its five blue spouts five streams of crystal clear water. The citizens of Jahaara, busy with their affairs, passed by as if nothing had happened. No one touched him, none seemed to notice his presence – they wandered past him as if gently pushed by the wind. Their eyes seems to be drawn away from him.

In front of him, lying on its belly on the fountain’s parapet, with a black paw hanging to the side in a relaxed manner, was a common-looking black cat, the Seeing Cat.

“What could a being like you possibly fear?” Jamaal asked in his native language. “Who scares you so much, that you refuse to answer me?”

Fear. Not someone – what. Pictures of the cat surged in Jamaal’s mind. Darkness. A word was fixed on Jamaal’s head: Name. More images: the room where the crime took place, the Three sitting, their eyes severe. The doors of the golden closet opened. Empty. One word: Name. An emotion: Fear.

Jamaal’s mouth dropped open. “But in that closet, it’s where they keep …”

Fear. Death. Suffering.

“We can not let him escape! Help me. Help me, and bring him to justice! “

One word: Name. One emotion: Sadness.

Jamaal lowered his ears, and frowned. “Again with the name. He knows your name… And this is why, you cannot help? Does your name give him power? “

Despair, and then acceptance.

Jamaal folded his arms. He could not persuade the Cat to help him. The magical being, it seemed, would only be controlled by the knowing of its name.

Curses! They had been so close. If only he knew who was trying to frame Aurora…

A new image appeared in his mind: once again, the tower room.

“The one who is to blame, is he there?”


For the second time, Jamaal’s jaw dropped to the floor, and there it remained until he moved again. The tiger-man looked the black cat straight in the eye, made a quick bow, and turned, running down the street. There was no time to lose.