Path of the White Wolf

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
What do you do when you are Caught between your sworn oath and love? For a Zobara of the Zfolam people there is only one answer.

Submitted: December 14, 2011

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Submitted: December 14, 2011



Rikvela el yhi Yinvelfow stood looking out the tall narrow window at the ribbon of sky that that was visible above the soaring walls of Rthoi Pass. She thought of nothing, and of everything, as that bit of sky darken from blue to gold. The sun was setting, far beyond the knife edge peeks of the mountains, and her time was running out.This was the night she had been ordered to act. A month after the wedding, her father had said. Two weeks for her and her husband to reach Iadryrs Fortress and two weeks to learn what she could of the enemy.

She tore her eyes away from the darkening sky and looked down at the alabaster vial in her hand; Such a small thing--smaller than the last joint of her little finger--to represent such a large betrayal. Held in this bit of carved stone lay the last step of destroying everything she had come to love. The means of fulfilling her oath.

She remembered, as if she had just said them, the words of the oath she had sworn, as she knelt at her father's feet in the shrine of her ancestors, the edge of the Sword of Yinvel cold against her neck.

"I swear the Zauji, oath of life, oath of death, oath of vengeance. No oath save this oath now binds me, nor shill any oath bind me until the Zauji is fulfilled. To this I swear by my life, by my blood, by my soul.

"By life, blood, and soul I swear that I shall not rest, nor turn aside from my path, until I have seen to the destruction of Iytien, Mage of Rthoi Pass.

Thus she had sworn, and the words of that oath wound through her ever thought, burdened her every breath, binding her with invisible chains stronger than iron.

She had felt those chains chafe her soul as she'd sworn her marriage oath in the same shrine only a week later--an oath that was meaningless because of the Zauji--the day she saw the man she was sworn to destroy for the first time.

* * *

She had not been overly impressed at first, as she watched him walk down the torch lit aisle between the rows of urns that held the ashes of her ancestors. All she had seen was a man. Taller than her father, he had a craggy face that looked as unyielding as the mountains he lived among. His hair was light brown and shoulder length, untouched by gray. His skin fair, but sun darkened, as if he spent much time out in the open. He had not looked to be over two hundred years old, as she knew he was. If she'd had to guess she would have said he was thirty.

No she had not been impressed. Not until they knelt facing each other, to say their oaths, and she'd looked into his eyes. Blue eyes, the blue of the hottest part of the fire. The blue of power.

Looking into them she'd felt a shock run through her whole being. She'd known those eyes even though she had never seen him before in her life. She had known them, known him, loved him, somewhere, some-when... How, she'd thought, in despair, can I ever be his destruction? And she'd wished with all her heart that she had not given in to her father's demands. Her mind went back to that fateful day. The day her father had strode into the solarium of the Fortified Manor that was his headquarters, after being gone for months. If she had only known then...

* * *

“Hail K'wardti e yhi Cyvelfowi, Zobari and father,” She said, sinking to her knees, in a pool of gold bordered black skirts, as her father strode unexpectedly into the solar. She bowed her head and glanced up at him through a stray lock of her pale almost white hair.

“Hail, Rikvela e yhi Yinvelfowi e yhi Cyvelfowi. Zobara and daughter,” he replied, touching the hilt of his Jiradt, oath dagger, and thus signaling that she had permission to rise. “Are you well?”

She rose, and bowed her head a little at this further courtesy. “My father honors me with his concern. I am well.” She said, wondering what had brought him home so suddenly. For the last few months he had been too caught up in his war to make the trip home. Had he been wounded? He looked hale enough and it would have been presumptuous to ask.

From the stat of his short, black, traveling robe—with its wide embroidered borders of gold that denoted his status as Zobari—and the dust on his thigh high, black leather riding boots, that he had come to her straight from the road without even changing before coming to see her.

“I'm glad to hear it, my daughter,” he said returning her look with such intensity that she searched her memory for something she could have done to bring him here.

“Is there a service you require of me, my father?” She asked, meeting his black eyes. Those eyes of true black were the only feature they shared, for she had her mother's pale hair and milk white skin, rather than his black hair and swarthy complexion.

“I have found you a husband, at last,” he said, strolling over to one of the low tables at the end of the daybed, upon which she had been reading when he came in, and picking up the carving of a little white wolf baying at an imaginary moon, that was the sole object on it.

She had to restrain herself form snatching it from his hands. It had been a tenth birthday gift to her, made by her mother's own hands. And one of the last truly happy times she could remember was when her mother had given it to her.

She had loved the stories of Yuvela—the White Wolf of legion who had taken the lonely road of vengeance after her litter of pups and her mate had been killed—and had begged her mother endlessly to hear the stories. Her mother would laugh and tell them and then on her tenth birthday there had been the little carving, and they had sat up late into the night as her mother retold all the Stories once more.

Less than a year later her mother had died trying to give her husband the son he'd always wonted.

“I hope you approve of my diligence, my daughter,” her father said, drawing her from the memories. “It has not been easy finding a husband worthy of your status. Are you not curious?”

“If my father and Zobari deems me worthy of his confidence he will impart it,” she said. She had been expecting him to pick husband for her since her fifteenth birthday, three years ago.

He gave a pleased nod at her answer. “You are to marry Iytien Myhar, Mage of Rthoi Pass,” he said.

“Iytien.” She could not believe it at first, but then she did. It made a terrible kind of sense if one knew her father. “You are making peace, then?” she asked, knowing he was not, but hoping she was wrong.

He sat the carving down and paced across the room. “He thinks I am. But no, not peace.”

He actually smiled at her, a smile as sharp as a sword thrust to the heart. “You, my daughter, will gain for me what he has denied me so long. The Clans will have the way open for them to regain their ancestral lands and the honor lost at the hands of the Empire!”

“He has agreed to let the warriors through the pass, if I marry him?” She could not believe it.

“After all this time, you think he would agree so easily, just to marry you?” He flicks his hand in a throw-a-way gesture. “Of course not. As I said, he thinks this is a peace treaty sealed by marriage, and he thinks he is safe in doing this because you are Zobar and cannot break an oath. What he does not know is that before I let you marry him you will swear the Zauji, the oath that supersedes all other oaths. You will swear to destroy him.”

“He is a Mage and over two hundred years old. Do you think I can destroy him? Don't you realize that others must have tried before this?”

“Others might have tried but I have the means at last, a drug that will render him unable to use his magic. A drug which you will give him when the time comes, and then you will open his fortress to our warriors at night while all within sleep. He relies on his magic to guard the fortress and does not keep a night guard.”

“Where did you come by such a drug?” she asked, it sounded like magic and the clans did not have mages, nor did they have much dealing with magic.

“It matters not.” He waved her question away. “What does matter is that I have his agreement to the marriage, and nothing is going to stand in my way this time.” He pieced across the room again then whirled and pointed to the south. “This man—and mark me, Mage he may be, but he is still a man with a man's weaknesses! This man has held us from our honor, our redemption, for too long!”

“Our ancestors were glad enough for his rule against letting warriors use his pass to attack other people when they fled the Empire,” she said.

He waved this away also. “We should never have left our sacred land. We should have died to the last man, woman, and child, if that is what it took, to defend it. Had I been alive and War Leader at the time be sure I would have held us to that.”

She dropped her eyes so he could not see her thoughts in them. The Yinvelfowi had almost lost so many holding the Empire back so the other clans could flee, taking the Yinvelfowi children with them.

It had been Cy'vena, of the Yinvelfowi, who had been the War Leader and who had told the clans to escape. She had been Zobara of the Yinvelfowi when the Empire first attacked the clans, and it was she, and her husband J'ornon, who had held the empire off after the old War Leader, was killed. The other Clan Heads had appointed her War Leader after that battle—one of the few Zobaras ever appointed to that post—and it was she, seeing that the clans could not win against the Empire, who had begged of her old friend, Iytien, the right of passage for the clans.

It was said that Iytien had opened his fortress to the clans because he loved Cy'vena, though her honor was already given to J'ornon when they met. It was also said that his grief, when he heard of her death, while holding back the Empire, was terrible.

Was it a shadow of that love bringing him into her father's trap? Had he agreed to the marriage because she was Cy'vena descendent?

She did not know Iystin, he was nothing but a story to her, but she was a Zobara of the Zfolam, an oath keeper of the oath bound people, and she knew the laws of the clans and the customs of oaths. What her father proposed was wrong. To use the Zauji against the man, who had saved their people by giving them a way of retreat, was wrong. The Zauji! The hallowed oath of vengeance, the last recourse of a people whose oaths were as much a part of them as life's breath.

The Zauji could not even be sworn unless the one who swore it was free of all other oaths, and then, as her father said, it superseded all later oaths until its terms were fulfilled. It was the oath of extreme measures, the oath of last recourse. This was what he would use for his own ends?

What he purposed struck at the very basis of what the Zobars were. At the basis of the spirit of the Zfolam people. If the Zobars, who embodied in their very beings the oaths of their clans, started bending their oaths...using them for their own ambitions! Then the people would lose faith in them and the clans would be destroyed more thoroughly than the Empire could ever destroy them.

“You cannot mean to do this,” she said.

“Oh, but I can, and, more to the point, you will.”

“And if, when you free me of my oaths to you—as you must before I can swear the Zauji—I refuse to swear?”

“Then I will kill all that is yours, man, woman, child, and animal, just as I would any sub-clan leader who was so insubordinate to me. We are the oath Keepers. We are doubly bound, by blood and by oath. Even oath free you owe me the fealty of a daughter and one who is blood kin to me.”

He would do it, she knew. And it would be her mother's people, her people more than her father's clan had ever been, who would pay. All that was left of the once great Yinvelfowi—the clan of the Winter Wolves would die.

They should have been hailed as the children of heroes, two hundred years ago, and instead they had been treated as near outcast and reduced to the place of a sub-clan under the leadership of the Cyvelfowi. She was the last Zobar of their blood. She could not be the cause of their destruction, not even to stop such a terrible injustice.

“Please, my father,” she sinking to her knees in front of him in supplication. Hoping that her subjugation would move him, even while she knew it would not. “Please do not require me to stain my honor in this manner.”

“Choose,” he said, standing over her like a shadow of death. “The oath and this man's destruction, or the destruction of your people.”

* * *

She chose her people—how could she not when her mother had placed them in her care on her deathbed—placing her right hand on the hilt of her Jiradt she had bowed to the floor in acquiescence.

And that very night, in the shrine of her ancestors, she had knelt at her fathers feet, the naked blade of the oath sword of the Yinvelfowi cold against her neck, and sworn the oath that would forever change her life.

After she had sworn, when she had risen and started to leave he had held up a hand and stopped her.

“Yes, my father?” she had asked.

He had sheathed the Sword of Yinvel and laid it across the alter, then turned, folding his long elegant hands in front of him, and looked her up and down. “I am giving you four weeks, from the day of your marriage, to reach the fortress and find out as much about your new husband as you can. Use that time to work your way into his confidences, and learn all you can about the Mage and his people. When you reach the fortress find out what you can about its defenses, both magical and ordinary, with out arousing suspicion.

“All this you will do, but the one thing you must not do, at all cost is conceive a child.

“And how am I to prevent that? I am to be his wife!

“Put him off.”

“What do you mean, 'put him off'?” she asked incredulously.

“I mean act afraid of him physically, and beg for time to get to know him. The last thing I want out of this marriage is a grandchild of his bloodline. If there is such a child I will have it destroyed.”

“But the child would also be of your blood!” She found that of all the things he had done and planed to do, she could still be shocked by the extent of his villainy.

“All the more reason, then,” he said without taking his eyes from her face, his own expression as unchanging as stone. “I want none of his blood flowing in my descendants.”

Looking into those black eyes so like hers, and yet so unlike hers in their hardness, she saw that it was not only the Mage's blood he rejected. She dropped her gaze before he could read the knowledge of what she had seen in her own eyes. How long have you hated me, my father, she wondered. What have I ever done to you? Is it that you heated Mother so much, for not giving you the son you always wanted, that the blood of hers I carry transfers that hate to me?

She asked none of it aloud, merely touched her Jiradt, bowed, and left.

* * *

And so on the night of her wedding, in her room, she had gone to her knees in front of her new husband as he sat in her chair by the hearth, and begged for time to come to know him better before they shared the intimacies of marriage.

“You fear me,” he said in wonder, as if he was not feared by whole nations.

“Yes, my lord,” she said, telling the truth for she feared the power he had over her heart. Feared that in getting to know him better, that bound would only grow and in fulfilling her oath she would be destroying herself as well as him.

“Why? I have not hurt you, nor will I.”

“I fear your power,” she said, and thought I fear the power of your eyes that call to my soul. But this she did not say.

He stared into the fire and for a time there was silence in the room. Then he turned back to her. “I have never forced anyone in my life, I have no intention of starting now, you have your boon. I would ask that you sleep by my side and spend time each day in my company, so that we may, as you said, come to know one another.”

* * *

She shook the memories away, and looked out the darkened windows, wishing that the night would bring her an answer to the trap her father had set for her and for the man she had come to love with all her heart and soul. She felt as if she were locked into a nightmare maze, no matter how she turned and twisted she could find only one way out, and that way lay the destruction of all that she had come to loved, her Husband and his people, who had welcomed her into their lives with out reservation because she was the chosen of their lord. And of her on people, for she had come to see that her father meant their destruction as well, one way or another. The oath she had sworn only meant that destruction would take longer as he sent them to die in the forefront of his war against the Empire.

Her hand strayed to the hilt of her Jiradt and lingered there as she wished that she could take that way out. She tried then, with all her will to pull the dagger and plunge it into her own hart, but she could not. She was bound by the Oath she had sworn, like iron bands around her soul and her will.

She was Zobar, and she could not by word or deed, betray her oath. She could kill for it, she could die trying to fulfill if, but she could not break it, not even by taking her own life.

She slid to her knees panting from her efforts and bowed her head. She would do what she was sworn to do and then she would take her own life, for she would have nothing left to live for. Before that, however, she would find what pleasure she could find in her life.

* * *

A short time latter she stopped Iytien just before he went through the door to the covered wooden walk that connected his third floor study in the Keep to his Magic study in the northeast tower.

“Must you work tonight?” She asked, from the doorway that led between the stud and their bedchamber.

He stopped, his hand on the latch of the open door, and looked back at her. “Is there something you wish, my dear?” he asked his voice carefully neutral.

“I thought we could sit by the fire, in our room, and drink some wine, and talk...” her voice failed her as she ran out of breath and courage. She looked down at the beautifully worked rug under her feet and wished she could slide through the stone floor beneath it.

He shut the door to the walk and came toward her. “You no longer fear me?” He asked, not hiding the hope in his magnificent eyes.

“No,” she said looking up in to their brilliance. “I do not fear you.”

“Thin why do you tremble?” He took one of her hands, his long elegant fingers folding over them.

“ afraid...” she looked away—looked back, “but not of you.”

He touched her cheek. “What do you fear?”

“Myself,” she said in a whisper. “Only myself.”

“Then, my lady,” he caught up her other hand and brought them both to his lips, kissing one and the other. “I am entirely at your command.”

* * *

She poured the wine with her back to him, as he sat by the fire, and then sat across from him as they drank. She found that she could not stay still for long and was soon up and pacing the room.

“My dear, “ he said and caught her hand as she came near him, and gently pulled her into his lap, and kissed her for the first time.

His mouth tasted of spiced wine and of dreams never remembered in the light of day.

“I love you,” he said a long time later as they lay together in their marriage bed.

“I love you,” She whispered, as she held him tight to her until he drifted into a deep-drugged sleep, “and I will love you forever.”

She stared across the room into the fire, unheeding of her own tears, until she knew he slept deeply, then she eased quietly out of bed, and hurried out of their room down the hall to the solarium where she had left a change of clothes.

When she was dressed, she took the charm and ring, her father had given her—more magic he had gotten from somewhere—from the chest of books she had brought with her from home and dropped the charm to the floor crushing it with the base of a candle stick from a nearby table. Her father had said that when the charm was crushed it would make its mate, which he had, light up and he and his men—who would be just outside the mouth of the pass—would know to start down it to the fortress. Last of all she slipped the ring on her finger, wondering if it would really allow her to pass the Wards and open the Fortress' gates and the great doors to the Keep, as her father had said.

Having prepared as best as she could, she slipped from the room and quietly and opened the door at the end of the hall that led to the narrow stone stairs that wound down to the ground floor and the Hall of Passage that ran through the hart of the Keep. Quickly, she went, and quietly, in total darkness, guiding her way with a hand against the wall to her left, her eyes wide in the darkness, as she looked and listened for any hint of troubled.

When she reached the ground floor, she paused to catch her breath, her right hand pressed against her heart as if she could hold it's broken pieces together. Having noticed what she was doing, she dropped her hand back to her side. Soon enough, she thought, soon enough the pain would be gone.

With that thought to sustain her she went on, feeling the worn flagstones under her light slippers—the cold of the stones seeping through the soles and down the fingers of her left hand that she keep against the wall, until it seemed to permeate her whole being. The smell of the place—the smells of age, of stone and dust, and the lingering smell of old sweat from men, and beast—pressed in on her until she thought she would be unable to breath. It was as if the mountains themselves were pressing down on her their unimaginable weight, trying to crush her before she could betray the fortress.

Preoccupied with these thoughts and with her sorrow, she did not notice when she was no longer feeling her way in darkness, but walking in dim light, nor did she see its source in the side passage leading to the stables, until Iytien stepped out of it, a torch in his hand.

She looked up and stopped, and they stood gazing at each other across a gulf of hurt.

Finally he turned away, and set the torch in one of the iron brackets, that were spaced along the wall for the purpose. “Well, my dear?” he said, turning back to face her, and then he was silent as if he could think of nothing else to say. Looking into his eyes she saw that the pupils were dilated until only thin circles of burning blue showed around their black pits.

He met here look, and nodded. “I was to sleep until you let your father in, and then be unable to use my magic, much less pick up a sword to defend myself and mine.” It was not a question, but she nodded.

“It worked, for the most part,” he said, giving her a sad smile. “I was able to put aside enough of the drug to stay awake, once I realized you had given me something. However, most of my magic is unavailable to me at the moment, and as for a sword, he lifted a hand that visibly shook. “I could pick one up, but what I could do with it is anyone's guess.

Why was he telling her this, she wondered wildly. He should be acting unaffected, hoping she would give up-giving up was not something she could do, by her oath, but he could not know that, could he?

“Whe...” she cleared her suddenly dry throat. “When did you realize?”

“Not until you left and I could not wake up enough to follow and find out what was wrong.”

She looked away from those fathomless eyes not knowing what she could say to him.

“Will you stop, if I ask it of you?” he asked.

“Only my death will stop me,” she said hoping he would strike quickly, for only then would this burden of grief and guilt be lifted from her.

“I can hardly stand, my dear. Even if I wished to take your life, I could not, nor do I think I can call loudly enough to bring the guards, though I could try.” But he did not, and they stood in silence again.

Then he gave a breath of a laugh. “I have loved only twice, you know. The first time her honor had already been given to another when we met. This time I thought it would be different, but I see it is not, though not quite the same either.” He shook his head and there was the hint of tears in his eyes. “I am not strong enough to lose my love twice, Rikvela. Once, but not twice.”

He took a ragged breath and when he spoke again his voice, which had become rough with emotion, was calmer, almost causal. “Tell me, my dear, was there any truth in the words you spoke tonight, as you thought I slept?

“For, if you love me, if you have the slightest regard for me, take that dagger,” he nodded toward her Jiradt, “and place it here.” He pulled open his bed-robe and lay his right hand over his heart. “A hard blow, straight and true. Do not leave me to your father, he will enjoy my death too much.”

Her right hand rose to the hilt of her Jiradt and she looked him in the eyes, seeing that he meant what he said. Yes, she thought, that would be honorable. The only honorable thing her oath allowed her to do for him.

She struck straight to the heart, as he had asked.

He did not fall at once, but stood before her, using she knew not what power to keep his hart beating even with the sharp steel in it, while blood seeping out around the hilt of her blade to trickle down his chest. She started to pull forth her blade, releasing his heart's blood, but he laid his right hand atop hers, stopping her.

“You do love me,” he whispered.

She could not answer for the tears that choked her.

“You cry for me.” He touched her cheek with the fingertips of his left hand. “I pray your love will be strong enough for what I must now do.”

He wet the finger that was already wet with her tears with his own blood and drew a symbol on her forehead. “I will give you a gift, and a burden, my dear. With it I entrust to you my people. You are stronger than I, as little as you understand your own strength. I beg that you use that strength to keep my people safe.”

He place his left fingers against her temple and took a last breath, his right hand leaving hers alone upon the dagger hilt, as he raised it to her other temple. “Now, my dear. Draw forth your blade,” he said.

She drew it out, and they both fell as a great light exploded in her head. With the light she heard his voice echoing strongly as if she did not really hear it but felt it run through her soul.

With my life, my love, my power, I bequeath you the knowledge and power of my line. Use it wisely, my dear, use it wisely. His hands fell from her temples as he died, but as his soul fled she seemed to hear form a great distance his voice one last time. Farewell, Cy'vena, my love. I had not the strength to be the one left behind, not again.

And as she heard it she knew it was true, she had once been his love of long ago and in that time as in this she had had no chose because of oaths she had sworn before she ever met him.

For long moments she knelt alone in the silences of the shadowy hall, the blood of her love on her hands and thought of nothing. Then she took a breath, and a breath, and time seemed to resume, the world, which had seemed to hang suspended for a moment, to resume its course.

With a sigh she gently closed the eyes that no longer shone with power, and bent to kiss the still worm lips one last time. “Farewell,” she whispered in the echoing silence. “You gave your life in gift to me, and in doing so you have freed me. My oath is done.

“Would that I could have given my life for you, but what I can give I will. For your people I will live and do my best for them, poor as that had been for my own people. For you I will take vengeance on my father, and any other that had a hand in this.”

She looked at the gold ring glinting on her hand; she could feel its power, now, reaching out toward the great doors and the gates beyond them. Her father would come, but he would not find them open for him. Never would they open for him as long as she had a say about it.

In his arrogance he had made a mistake. Her oath had been to destroy Iytien, not to open the fortress, that had only been his plan. An oversight he would live to regret dearly. And yet he still had her own people to hold over her head. She must do what she could for them.

She had decided when she had thought she would die this night that they would be better off with out her. She still thought that, and though she must now live, there were deaths and deaths.

Bowing her head she knew that the only way to keep them safe from her father's wrath was to cut all ties with them. Her heart cried out against renouncing her blood ties, but she saw no other way. Even he could not, in honor, hold them responsible for her deeds if she had no ties with them, and he had to keep at least the appearance of honor.

Dipping her hand in her husband's still warm blood she used it to wipe away the symbols he had drown on her head. Symbols she now knew had tied his power to her own unawakened power, so he could transfer his power and knowledge to her. Even so, only with love on both sides would such a transfer work. That was the secret behind the Myhar line of mages. Each Mage, when he was ready to go, gave his life in love to one who loved him; until her it had always been a beloved and loving son, she was the first in the Myhar line not of the blood as well as of the power.

Picking up her Jiradt, which had dropped unnoticed to the floor as their powers merged, she drew its edge gently across her left palm until a thin trickle of her own blood ran from the cut. Raising her hand to her lips she wet them with her blood. “By my blood, by my honor, by my soul, I renounce all blood ties. From henceforth Rikvela e yhi Yinvefewi e yhi Cyvelfowi is as dead. Fore my use name I take the name Yuvela e yhi Myhar, for I am, by power, of line Myhar, and I, like the legendary Yuvela, shall walk the lonely road of vengeance.”

With a deep breath she took the final steps to set her on her new road. Holding her Jiradt between her palms, her blood running down its length mingling with her love's, she kissed its pommel.

“Being oath free, owning honor to none living, I swear the oath of life, the oath of death, the oath of vengeance. No oath shall bind me hereafter until my life oath be fulfilled.

“To this I swear by my life, by my blood, by my soul. By these I swear that I will not waver, nor turn aside from my path, until I have brought all those who conspired to use me to destroy Iytien, he whom I loved in this life and another, to pay for their deeds.

“From this day onward my true name is Ashzawa, Seeker of vengeance. This name I give to none for I hold none as lord over me.”

After her last words had dyed away she sat for a long time her hand stroking the fine dark hair of her dead husband and thinking of her one night of bittersweet love. She wished she had conceived in their brief hours together but knew with her new power and knowledge, that it was not so and she would not even have his child to cherish. Nor would she ever have a child of her body, for, like the White Wolf whose name she had taken, she would love only once, and only in love would she bear a child. She would not make her mother's mistake of having a child out of duty.

With a last sigh at what might have been she cleaned and sheathed her Jiradt, then rose to go wake the fortress and tell her new people the news. If they wished to be avenged on her for killing their beloved lord she would not raise a hand to stop them. It was their right.

If she lived through the next few hours she would have to deal with her father. She could feel him and the clan warriors even now rushing recklessly through the dark pass, and the fortress had to be ready when they arrived. Her father would not just turn around and go away.

As she walked down the dark hall she thought of an old saying of the clans. 'Whosoever sets foot on the path of vengeance, walks the lonely road, and their life shell be trouble and turmoil to the ending of their days.'

Her feet were firmly set on that path; she did not look for a life of peace.

* * *

Thus begin the life of Yuvela, Mage of Rthot Pass. The White Wolf.

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