A Chapter by YouoweYoupay

The stupid wolf prince with the stupid crown.

19. Beyarnok

But the dreams came. Only one. Clear as the light of day. As if I had still been awake.

I ran in the darkness of the woods. The smell of conifer trees filled my nostrils. And the grass was moist with dew beneath my feet. Another presence ran in paralelity, separated from me by the barricade of trees. When I slowed it slowed. And when I sprinted it sprinted. For a moment, I could not distinguish weather I was being chased by my own shadow or a predator.

Everything around me ceased and dissolved into blackness. My pursuer took his final form. 

He was the forest and the forest was him. He quietly growled at me, staring with eyes like melted, blazing amber, his fur sapphire blue like our skies at night, dusted with stars. He smelled of sweet, sharp pine, dirt, rain, mushrooms, life and death. His left ear was maimed. A crown of starlight and white flames circled his head. He released a mournful howl that stole what remained of my strength. 

I fell backward, but there was nothing to fall against, so I kept falling. Beyarnok's growl darkened and I shielded my face with an arm just as his jaws split open and his fangs snatched my wrist. Fear and rancor mingled in my cries as I cursed and struggled. 

A stupid wolf prince and his stupid crown.

My eyes snapped open. I chased my loud breaths, my body plastered on the cool wooden planks and drenched in sweat. My left wrist where he had bitten me was printed with two punctures where the fangs had sunk.

The sun savagely slashed through the lone window facing me as I lay on my side. 
 An exchange of cheerful greetings on the street drifted through the window of the attic.
The cowbells in the distant hills clanked and chimed. Our neighbors’ rooster announced the start of the day for everyone else in Guloc apart from me. My ears perked at the light knock against my window.

I shriveled upon myself, turning away from the brightness of the morning. But the few taps against the half-closed shutters persisted and I dragged myself up to inspect. Rumi greeted me with a chirrup as he trotted along the window pane. 

“What are you doing here?” I let him climb the back of my hand, where Beyarnok had bit me. It didn’t hurt because it was not real. I uncurled the slip of paper attached to his long leg. 

Meet me near Rumi’s tree in two hours. 
Do not be late.


I crumpled the letter in my fist and I slumped beneath the window. Normally reserved and in a hurry to fly away after delivering the mail, this time, Rumi lingered, hopping on my shoulders, surprisingly chatty and inquisitive. 

“You know, they don’t do mail pips justice.” I told him, “You always hear them say cows and dogs and mice are the smartest animals in Guloc. But you are just as smart, aren’t you?”
He chittered softly in response, cocking his head and staring at me with his button eyes.

“You can tell that I’m sad. Even if I never speak of it.”

If only I could drag the wolf prince out of the dream world and into this world, and in exchange, throw the book of visions into the dream world, my morning would have been less frightening. Rumi’s stick-like feet tickled my shoulders as he sprang about. Something surged within me, crushing my heart, but I swallowed it down. I would not cry in front of Rumi. He warbled a short, sweet melody and I scratched his the feathers of his tiny head.

“Thank you.” 

I had previously planned on lying still in the attic, like a silent corpse. Rumi’s short visit watered down my fear of wondering: what had become of Lumio through the night?

When I dawdled downstairs, my mother yanked me into a suffocating hug. Asking me over and over again if I was alright. Her voice wobbled apologetically as she cupped my face in her hands and studied my eyes. In her embrace, in my side vision through the ajar door of our bedroom, Lumio weakly smiled at me as he sat in bed. Jaraan stood at one side of the bed, lightly pursing his lips in reassurance. 

My lips quivered and a thickness pressed against my throat again, like the veins of a river being filled to the brim, threatening to overflow. But I restrained myself. I would not cry, not in the presence of Jaraan. And in anyway, my hair looked more like a garden pitchfork and I stood before the scene in my nightwear. My dignity had already been scathed enough. 

“What are you waiting for?” my mother exclaimed, “Go to your brother! Go!”

I threw myself at him. Lumio’s grunt of pain broke down into chuckles, his large, warm hand encompassing my head. 

“Choleem, Beya?” I nodded against his chest. Lumio’s voice splintered with drowsiness and it soothed me. For a hairbreadth of a moment last night, I thought I would never hear him speak again.

“I envy you, Beya. I wish I had an older brother.” Jaraan’s voice wavered between timidness and the determination to speak his mind, “I pray that he never falls ill again.”

The versions of the same story colorfully diverged as it passed through the tongues of the storytellers. Lumio had consumed inedible mushrooms, in an attempt to ascend to a higher level of wisdom. He was attacked by a boy-eating wolf. He was not clothed warmly enough the chilly night before. He was possessed by the spirit of a river fiend. He was being punished by the gods for peeking into the forbidden folds of the future. He was lovesick. He had inherited the same health condition as his late grandfather.

But a strong feeling deep inside of me insisted that if he had been poisoned, it was probably the works of the spiteful Memah Rayah. I could never forget the vengeance in her eyes while Lumio defended Fifo’s taste in colors. With the assistance of other scornful villagers, Memah Rayah must have conspired against my brother for deviating from tradition.

Upon hearing my hypothesis, Lumio laughed boyishly, the gratitude of being alive dazzling in his eyes, and my mother kept shoving trays of untouched breakfast on his legs. No matter how many times he tried to explain to her that the aroma of food, especially onions or cauliflower, repelled him and upset his stomach, my mother swore on him to have a bite or two or she will also fall as ill as he had been and we would all regret causing her distress.

© 2020 YouoweYoupay

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Weather should be whether in that second paragraph. Also this chapter! You had me so worried! It was touching to see Jaraan there. Your descriptions of dream forests and dream wolves is sublime. I hope my descriptors are that good someday!

Posted 2 Months Ago

As a storyline, I'm not sure it's entirely satisfying, the way this so-called "illness" plays out . . . it seems like it's much commotion about nothing. But you do a great job of drawing this out with suspense. One reason this doesn't seem like a climax with punch is becuz you intersperse so much philosophical & sensory stuff in between the meandering action, as if you break up the suspense with all this flowery poetic writing. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I try to make my prose as poetic as I can, even if it interrupts or delays the storyline. In fact, sometimes it feels (both in your writing & my own) like using the poetic & philosophic interludes are a device to delay & therefore make the storyline more compelling (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 3 Months Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on December 5, 2020
Last Updated on December 6, 2020
Tags: Short novel



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