Awareness

by Virmir

Teldairan, Fan Shoar
347 CR


He suddenly became aware.

He understood, yet nothing made sense.

The large creature that stood on two legs made noise. "Down! Get down!" Words... he knew what they meant. Why? Why should he obey?

The creature... the man... struck him with a whip. He stepped back, but his hind paw caught aflame as soon as it landed outside the glowing crimson circles illuminating the ground. He yelped as the fire surged up his leg and he curled upon the ground as the man beat him.

"This... thing? This is it?" Another man said, this one with gold atop his head.

"Yes, my lord. Through this familiar, our enemies shall tremble."

"I don't like the way it looks at me."

"Down! Bow your head!" He was promptly whipped across the face. It hurt so badly... Why were they doing this to him?

"Can it understand us?"

"It is blessed by the gods. It is enchanted. It can do anything, but first it must be broken."

He stood, stumbling with dizziness from the pain. "Down!" This time he snapped at the whip and growled. "How dare you! Down! Get down!" More men came, these ones holding glowing staffs. They burned his body with blue flame. "Get down!" It hurt so badly...

Hatred. He hated them with all his being.

He did not get down.

"Down! Get down!" More flames, more screaming. He stepped towards the man, fighting the push, fighting the pain. His forepaws sizzled upon floor that felt like blades.

"It's breaking the circle!"

"Bind it! Bind it!!"

"Down! Get down!!"

His hatred surrounded him, an inky blackness that killed their horrible light. He projected his hatred onto the man, seething rage that rent the flesh from the whip-wielder's bones. The man screamed in agony as the blackness reduced him to a skeletal frame, then burst him to infinite pieces.

They ran. They screamed. He killed every single one of them.

They wailed in agony as he turned the blackness-- his hatred upon them. He did it slowly, so they would suffer, just as he had. He hated them so much. And in the end, they all knew his hatred.

When nothing remained of the room but charred ash-marks, he hunted the rest of the man-dwelling. He showed the other men his hatred too, and their screams lessened his pain.

When all of the men were dead, he fled into the forest. Back where he came from, back where he belonged. Home...

What did they do to him? He never knew hatred before. He never knew himself before. Fear filled him, and he searched for the only one who could calm his heart. The only one that mattered in the world. His mate.

He followed her scent back to where he was caught. It seemed so long ago... He searched the trees; he searched the brush. At long last he found her hiding in the tall grasses. She was so beautiful.

She ran from him.

Why? What did they do to him? Had they changed him that much? Terror gripped his heart as he followed. He was so much faster. He sped in front of her and she turned the other way, the scent of her fear strong in his nose. Again and again he cut her off, each time lying upon the ground submissively. And each time she fled in terror. No, this cannot be...

At long last she paused and angled an ear at him. He bowed lowly as she approached and sniffed his face. Then she licked his ear tenderly, and all his fears melted away. She remembered...

His pain disappeared as they nuzzled each other. He loved her more than anything. All was well.

But her eyes were empty.

She didn't know herself. She didn't understand like he did. Man had made him this way... Made him different from his mate.

Perhaps he could show her as well? Perhaps they could understand together? Yes, he should try... With great effort he coaxed her back to the man-dwelling, back to the room with the circles. He nudged her to the center just like he did when he became aware. But they did not glow. She merely sat there and looked around, flicking her ears and scratching her neck.

With a heavy heart he gave up. He was alone in this world. The only one who knew himself. The only one who understood.

Still, he loved his mate very much. He protected her with his life. He hunted larger game than before, and together they shared the exotic meats. They huddled in their hole and waited out the frigid nights. She was so beautiful.

And then she died.

He smelled the death coming, and watched her slow. There was nothing he could do. He panicked as he watched her breath slip away... Why? Why did she die? She just stopped living. It didn't make any sense!

He wailed his sorrow to the moon. The plants and grasses turned black and withered away. They too knew his sorrow.

He buried her beneath the earth so the scavengers would not tear her body. His purpose in life was over. He had no more reason to live. He simply lay in the field, refusing to eat or drink, waiting for death. At least they would rot together.

He waited. Days passed. The hunger became unbearable. Still he waited, agony wrenching his body. More days. More waiting... Why wouldn't he die?

Fighting the overwhelming urge to eat-- to kill, he crawled to the top of the cliff and threw himself over. He tumbled over the sharp rocks. It hurt so badly. But nothing matched the pain of his loss.

He did not die. Why? He limped to the river and submerged his head, but the fire in his lungs became too great and he could not stand the pain. What did they do to him? Why couldn't he die?

Gasping in agony, he heard a rustling in the bushes. A deer... His surrendered to his insatiable hunger and took the giant beast down, gorging on its entrails. There were more, and he killed them as well. The blackness engulfed the trees and the plants, and the animals screamed as they died. He killed them all. They all knew his hunger.

He stopped when his stomach was full. But his heart was so empty... He had failed to perish. He had failed to join his mate. Why couldn't he die? Then it hit him.

He was God.

It made sense. Everything bowed to Him. He destroyed man. He destroyed animals. He destroyed plants. Nothing stood in His way.

Not even death.

If He were God, then His mate must obey him. Yes, He must try. With renewed hope, He ran to her grave and sat over the soft dirt.

"Live, my mate! I command you to live!" He screamed. He used man's tongue. His mate didn't know this, but it was the only way He could convey these notions.

Nothing.

"Live!"

The trees began to wretch and wither. The grasses shriveled.

"Please! Please live!" He pleaded desperately.

The vegetation blackened and died, crumbling to dust. He sobbed, and His tears struck the barren earth. He threw his head back and howled to the heavens.

No, he wasn't God. He could take, but never give. Why did man make him this way? He bellowed his sorrow to the moon once more.

The dead plants rustled, and dark forms surrounded him. He stopped and turned his head, glaring at the larger four-footed forms. Coyotes. Rivals. They were enemies from long ago, before he was changed.

"Do you know yourself?" He asked the leader, indignant at the intrusion. "Do you understand?"

Nothing but a blank stare. Of course not. He was the only one who understood. Everything else was a worthless, stupid animal.

He lunged at the creature's neck and threw it into the trees, snapping its back. The others tried to flee, but he chased them down and killed them with his hatred.

Man also understood.

Of course man did. Man made him this way. What other secrets did man possess? He sneered at the man-dwellings below as he sat on the ridge. A large collection of structures he had avoided all his life. Perhaps they knew how to bring back his mate. Yes, he would take their secrets.

But not like this. He lifted his forepaw. They would scream in terror if he tried to take their secrets like this.

"Change. I will you to change."

He concentrated on his paw, remembering what a human hand looked like. Slowly the digits elongated, shifting and spreading. It would take a lot of effort, but he could do it. He would walk among them and take their secrets.

Then he would have his revenge.

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"Awareness", copyright Virmir