The Apathetic Lament of the Wolf-kin
(May 29, 2004; written for A Dark Portal; the specifics don't go beyond the game, but the feelings do. Not that I've ever disemboweled anybody...)
Comment on this story | View comments
You can feel the misery in your stomach, or maybe it's the spleen. I don't know - some inner part of the body that we tear out of other animals on a regular basis, anyway. It sits like... not a stone, exactly, because it squirms, but it's as heavy as one. It's rather like carrying the child of a particularly malevolent giant, one which survives by chewing on your soul. It sounds awfully self-pitying, doesn't it? Well, we're all self- pitying, and we have good reasons for it, so deal with it.
We're tied to a being, a being reputed to be of the purest evil anyone ever saw, who was destroyed at the early end of recorded time, long before the Rebirth brought us this new world. How do you think that feels? There's the guilt, because if somehow the Dark Wizard were resurrected from nothingness tomorrow, we'd all follow like obedient little pups again. There's the anger, because we could be living reasonable lives as whatever we would have been if we weren't this - even if I couldn't be like the humanoids, I'd rather be one of the wolves I meet in the forests than this failed mixture. Whenever we want to feel sentient, instinct takes over; when we take down a deer, we suddenly come back to ourselves muzzle-deep in entrails. You can't imagine. I've seen some of my kin running wild, pretending to be the animals they look like, but you can't miss the look in their eyes. Finally, there's the apathy, because nothing we do changes anything.
Ah, the apathy. Have you ever been to Wraanth? We hunt when we're hungry (and hope against hope that hard times never come, since nobody bothers with stockpiles), we kill people who break our rules but generally ignore each other when murderous mobs aren't required, we mate and bear young and suffer and die while thinking about it all as little as possible. We've learned to live here, but we haven't learned to enjoy living, no matter how many of us have tried. We're alone in some inner, irresolvable way, because we were designed, not born, and our design is out of date. What is our purpose now, apart from culling hoofed animals and serving as an interesting legend for the other races?
I am literate because I insisted on becoming so - I believed that my people were miserable because they wallowed in ignorance and the solitude which comes from being unable to learn about others' lives. I became an abberation and will never be welcome at home again, and all I can say now is this: I am as educated as you, more than likely, and I am just as hollow and alone as I was before. To add insult to injury, the Demon-kin with whom I studied still pat me gingerly on the head, like a dog they're afraid might have rabies.
Speaking of which. Apparently Wolf-kin have a reputation of being cruel to other races; this could explain why we get so few summer tourists. I would like to disabuse you of that idea, but really, it's perfectly true. Try to imagine, for a moment, being this tortured creature that can never rise above itself because it is bound by something that seems impossible to overcome, then seeing someone who is under no such constraint. I killed travellers as a young adult, I won't try to hide that fact from you - I saw them, singing around a fire, and the mixture of despair and hatred on my tongue was overpowering. You would, too. Training helps us keep these emotions inside, but they never leave. Treat us like you would someone who watched their entire family and most of their friends die, someone who might break at any moment; just remember, we are already broken.