The Black Claws Saga, Book 1: Shadows in the night PROLOGUE AND CHAPTER 1 EDITED (Again)
Posted July 20th, 2014 by Panthera
Everyone has a story. Every town a legend. Every world a hero. And in every timeline, an epic yarn of truth and lies, love and hate. Thousands of stories are there, floating around on paper, word of mouth, pictures, anything. Some are lost to the sands of time, forgotten. This is one of those stories. One about someone that was neither hero or villain. This is the unknown legend of the tiger-people Arogins, The Black Claws' final legacy. The story of Salogel, friend and foe.
Salogel was a young Black Claw, living in the secret caves on the mountains. hidden deep away in the west mountains and thick forests. All fires in the Black Claws’ camp were restricted to the cooking camp. If what little smoke that was there was seen in Alackic, they would strike a random spot away from the camp-if they even managed to get that far. From the watch cliff above the living caves, Salogel could see the large town, with houses neatly stacked in rows. The main street led to the town square, where a market was being set up. Shops and taverns were also getting ready. If you followed the street to the north gatehouse, it led out to the field where farmers were picking the last of their crops and hurrying to get into town. The younger ones were laughing and playing games, while the wives gossiped in small groups. Meanwhile, the hunters compared their largest kills from the east mountains. The watery, yellow early spring sun shone that day, but no one could see Salogel move off that rock.
Salogel picked up his bow. The wood handle had silver running along it. The bow curved back and on either end two sharp blades were attached, with black silver twisting and curling all through the evil, sinister metal. The string was made of a Bane’s hamstring, pitch black and almost indestructible. The bow was strong enough not to get bent by the string and the hamstring could go a long time without warping. Salogel frowned slightly as he checked his quiver. He was low on arrows. Though the Black Claws often attacked Alackic, Alackic would often send its worst criminals into the west mountains to be executed by the Black Claws. Salogel had been responsible for the most recent one. He sat down and began to make more arrows. He also checked his dagger, to make sure that its jagged edges were razor sharp. His mind began to wander, and he started to think about his past. He remembered being taken in by the Black Claws, but he didn’t remember anything before that. The only object he had that remained from his past, and his greatest secret, was the long, sharp katana he had been carrying when Shadow had found him. Shadow had ordered him to destroy it while they were in the east mountains getting ready to cross the valley, but instead he had hid it. Salogel growled softly when thinking of his past. He remembered what Shadow had told him four years ago.
“I found you unconscious in a burnt forest. There were remnants of a fight, so I don’t think the fire was natural. You were the only one left alive.” Salogel snarled and swished his tail. He couldn’t remember anything before that day. That frustrated him, for some reason. Lately he had the feeling that he was missing something important. He finished his last arrows and stood up. It was late afternoon, and it was time to start getting ready. He had his orders.
“Doom, come, we have orders for tonight.” A hideous creature stepped forward from out of the shadows. Doom was a Bane. Banes had the paws and tails of a tiger, mimicking the orange stripes and black fur of the Black Claws. But their body was that of a large black wolf, and they had large black horns on their heads. Doom’s red eye glittered brightly as he waited for his orders. “Listen closely. Tonight Alackic is celebrating. We have gotten word that the Golden warriors are supposed to show up. We are going to strike tonight, while their guard is down. I need you to rally the Banes.” Doom growled in agreement, let his master run his black paw over him one more time, then bounded off.
Doom shot through the woods. He and his pack loved it when his allies attacked, because it meant that the Names got to drink their fill from the spilled blood. He got to the high rock and howled, summoning his large pack. He’d killed his own father for this position, and it was well worth it. As his pack gathered, red eyes glittering with excitement, Doom knew that tonight they would feast.
Aireon was the newest edition to the Golden Warriors. Even though he was the youngest, the scout wa an expert with the simple longbow and two daggers. He was sharpening his daggers when the leader, Carrow, summoned him.
“Aireon, you are going to scout ahead. I trust you can fight for yourself if you run into trouble.” He said.
“Yes, sir.” Aireon replied, smiling, then returned to his tent. They were mottled brown, grey and dark colors of green to blend into the forest and mountainside. Fires were burning and the guards were relaxed and talking in the camp, but Aireon soon fell asleep. He knew that in a few hours he would have to be awake enough not to lose the trail.
Millrick strolled through the town, market stalls lining the streets, lanterns hanging. Laughing and music came from the many alleyways, and dancing was taking place in the streets. The bright stars were twinkling as wrestling contests, cheering and games took place all around the town. Millrick noticed that the guards were joining in the festivities, totally at ease. He was about to go yell at them to get back on their posts, but his wife came up and laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Let them go. The Golden warriors should be arriving in about an hour and a half, and the Black Claws wouldn’t attack the village tonight.” She said, smiling.
“Yes, but what about that Bane call we heard earlier? They could be planning something.” Millrick protested.
“The Banes call like that all the time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are planning to attack. Besides, that was a while ago. We don’t need to worry.” Millrick sighed and agreed. As the night went on, he forgot about his worries.
Shadow stood in a tree, looking down at the town. He didn’t smile, but inside he was happy. His plan would be successful. He knew that the other three groups were in position. Soon they would strike. He looked down at the town once more, but this time he wasn't looking at a town. He was looking at a fortress, the perfect place for him and his Claws to use as their base. Once they had conquered Alackic, the Black Claws could move on to greater things, with Shadow as their leader. He smiled then, a cruel, ruthless smile, as he thought of all the things he would soon do. As he climbed down the tree, everything moved in to position on that fateful night.
The townsfolk were at the hight of the party and of lowest guard when the Black Claws attacked. It was a bloody mess, with nobody able to fight back and the Banes ripping apart the innocent Arogins. Their howls made a dreadful harmony with the dying screams of the townspeople. It was a song of death that could not be forgotten.
A young Arogin girl was funning through one of the alleyways, away from all the fighting and death. Suddenly, she found herself against a wall. It was then a Black Claw seemly materialized out of the shadows before her. He smiled calmly, his pearl white fangs contrastingly sharply with the blackness around her. The few remaining lanterns cast a strange light over the scene, like it was out of a play. She glanced around desperately for an escape route, but it was futile. As the Claw advanced, she was determined not to cry. Suddenly, a flicker of light on steal just outside of town caught her attention. The Black Claw noticed it too, and suddenly his smile turned to a look of bewilderment. Taking advantage of his confusion, she slammed past him.
"The Golden Warriors!" She shouted, running into the streets. "They came! The Golden Warriors are here!" The guards and civilians began fighting back with renewed vigor. It seemed like the tables were turning.
Aireon was running some ways ahead of the group when he came upon a ledge. Looking down at the town, he could see that they wherein distress. He sprinted back, trying not to run into the others. Aireon slammed into Carrow, trying to apologize and explain at the same time.
"S-sorry, sir! But the town is under attack from the Black Claws." He yelled.
"Alert the others! Get your weapons ready, it looks like we're in for a fight tonight!" Carrow ordered. Swords were drawn and axes readied as the Golden Warriors rushed to the town's aid. "Thank goodness I strung my bow before we started out." He thought. A moment later they were at the town. Aireon nimbly scaled a building and notched an arrow.
"Doom! Arrowhead formation!" Salogel yelled. The Banes formed into an arrowhead and together they smashed into the villagers. Salogel knew that the attack probably would be called off soon, they didn't want a full confrontation with the Golden Warriors. But they could still do damage. Salogel was using the blades attached to his bow, and was about to slice the head off of Millrick, but he failed to see Aireon draw and fire his arrow. He had a flash of pain in his side, then everything went black.
Shadow saw Salogel get struck down by the arrow. He growled softly. Cursing, he gave the orders to retreat. The Black Claws and Banes fled back to the shadow of their mountain, stars still shining on that bloody night.
A/N: Wow. I'm surprised you made it this far. All comments and CC appreciated!
See more stories by Panthera Tigris Tigris (Grace)