The Little Wolf

Book One in the Tribus Trilogy

To all the stars in my life.
You know who you are.
You show me the way in the darkest of nights,
and don't even leave in the daytime.
I love you all, my shimmering moon-dust.
You will always be the lights of my life.

This is for you.

This is the tale of Lupa, a strange girl with a dark history, who is send on a mission by Aqua - the goddess of water, equality and balance. She is the pure symbol of power, but she wants more...
Can Lupa stop this unstoppable force and defeat her before it's too late?

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1. The Pixi Realme

 

I shivered, not just from the creeping chill of the night, the crystals of ice on the metal blade in my hand, or the autumn leaves, wet with sparkling dew. Not any of these were the main reason of my shivers. I shivered not from the cold, but from the thrill.

Hunting anything can be thrilling, but tonight, with a winter solstice and a full moon shining into the forest to coat it in a thin layer of light, I was hunting Night-Mares. Night-Mares, the dark, creeping spirits of the forest, wild and free, their manes the colour of spilt ink, their hides peppered with stars. Mysterious, powerful, and valuable. Very valuable. And that's where I come in.

I was curious, and that was my task. I had to be curious for only the curious survived. Only some were bestowed with the gifts of Sight. Most had some Sight in them, for example, I could see the faint shimmer of magic. The Sight I wanted, no, needed would give you the ability to see the Mares, and I hoped beyond hope that I had it. I was on my way to the Poole of Darc, a huge lake in a clearing of the forest. If I could see them, I would find them there.

I hummed an old luck charm to myself, I doubted its power but it reminded me of home, and therefore gave me comfort. Its refrain cut through the otherwise silent forest like a meat cleaver through warm butter:

         "And whether or not I co-ome home,

         And whether or not I se-ee you,

         And whether or not I co-ome back,"

(here my voice, so high from the note, startled a group of roosterwings and sent them flapping into the sky)

         "My heart will always be true."

Suddenly, the forest was not so silent. I heard a rustling in the leaves and a low chitter.

I froze.

I was careful not to fill my lungs with air to make my breathing almost silent, but I knew I still had little chance of escape with my life. My tune had awoken the mist-eyes, a blind yet violent species of dwarf. They found their prey using their highly sensitive ears. Their chittering was distinctive to novices and experts alike and they always hunted in packs. They were lightning fast and covered their prey, they ate until the unfortunate animal and soon it would be gone, digested by thousands of blood-thirsty creatures.

Of course, in this sense, the unfortunate animal would be me. I was surrounded. I couldn't escape. I was trapped. My heart was beating fast. Fast and faster. This couldn't be the End, could it? After all these years of surviving alone in the forest this couldn't be when I die. I was ready to cry. I was ready to scream. I was ready to shout. I was ready to... fight. Suddenly, I wasn't ready to to anything but fight. Fight to the end. They didn't want that, so that is what I would do. I was incredibly stubborn, and that is what saved me, in the end. I was angry at these creatures, so I wanted to live just to serve them right. I wouldn't just let myself be eaten.

At that thought a tiny part of me that wasn't frozen in terror cheered in exultation. It was the defiant part of me. The one that never gave up. I couldn't fly away. Then I would risk ripping my wings to shreds on the sharp branches above me. What would I fight with - my bare hands? No. If they bit me, I was dead. Or as good as anyway. What, then? What?

It was then that I remembered my blade.

*

I ought to explain, everything I guess, which is what I’m trying to do in the first place. One thing I need to explain in order for you to understand is that magic is contained in Auras. There can be different types of Auras belonging to different creatures. The mist-eyes', for example, makes their prey very confused, this is so they don’t fight back and become an easy meal. Especially if they try to eat a dark-horn. Dark-horns' Auras are pure death. Mist-eyes eat anything, as long as it's meat, dark-horn or not. The one thing I wouldn't let them eat was me, the last Pixi. The mist-eyes had caused me to be confused, and easily eatable. Until now. I forced myself to concentrate, to live.

I drew my blade, enjoying the feeling of power, back in my possession. I sliced it through the air, making it sing. I cut a path through the creatures and started running. I knew that I had not killed any, that could only be done by the light from Solis' flame. If they so much as brushed the light of day, they would return to the dust She sculpted them from.

I became clumsy as I ran and kept tripping over every tree root and stumbling at every rabbit hole and badger set, and so I opted instead for a fast walk. I walked on and on, slowly loosing hope. As my hope drained away, a new feeling filled its place: dread. Dread that I was hopelessly lost, dread that I would never find my way, dread that it might all be for nothing…

Suddenly, a huge plume of electric blue water shot into the sky like an arrow loosed from an archers' bow. It fanned out and then plunged again, so fast it made my head spin. I knew what this was, the only thing it could be. It was Aqua, the messenger. One of the Three. The only God that could talk to mortals. The Three are: Solis, 'the life'; Aqua, 'the messenger' and Luna. She was 'the death'. It was Luna that I was fighting against. Fighting the end of the world.

Aqua smiled down at me as though I was an ant she would squash with satisfaction under a particularly big boot. "Mortal," she shrieked, in a high voice, "you have come to me for a Sight. A Sight that I will grant to you."

My heart leapt as I fell to my knees and lay my hands on the ground, palms up. This was a sign of respect in our world, and even if it was destroyed by a terrible war, and the only creatures that roamed the land were servants of Luna, the creatures of Terram, the respect in my heart was great. It was an old sign, but I felt it was an appropriate one.

Aqua would finally make it safe for me in my own land. But then She spoke again, slowly, enjoying my surprise and pain. "Not so fast. All deals come with a price. Yours is a mission. Difficult but not impossible. You must go to the world that humans roam, there you will find one that stands out from the crowd. He is of great importance to me. Bring him back, alive. I will pay you with your safety, without stealing one of the four most powerful horses in the worlds."

I blushed, deeply. She meant the Mares. That much was clear. Of course Aqua would know the true meaning of my mission, she could see all. And she wouldn't want to help me directly, that also made sense. Still. Something about her mission didn't sound true. It sounded too hard, and too easy, all at the same time. But now she spoke again, for the last time in a shorter time than I had expected. "Mortal," she told me, "don't worry, though it is a fool's errand I have sent you on, it is not completely terrible. You will find the human eventually. It is capturing it that will be difficult. No matter what you say, they will not go with you quietly. You may think you can persuade them, but no matter how much you scream or shout, they will not submit without a fight. A fight you will not win. But you couldn't mistake them. You will see them in a different light, as it were. Farewell, Pixi, farewell forever." And then she was gone. And everything went black.

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