Morning's Veil

Dryas' Run

Dryas stared quizzically at the two bards bickering back and forth about who had the superior musical skill.  He wasn't sure if it was his current canine mind, with its pack mentality, or if it came from growing up in a very communal environment, but he did not understand this desire Israphel, and Asperg had to outdo each other.  Dryas was about to leave to find something more productive to do, when the familiar scent of blood filled his nose. Dryas turned to see his dragonborn companion Torrin collapse from the injuries he had sustained from the battle earlier.  Steve also seemed to notice the dragonborn’s condition, but did not appear to have any interest.  Dryas barked and whined to get the attention of the two dueling bards, but they were so enamored with their need to outdo the other that they did not notice.  Growling in frustration at his own inability to speak, Dryas ran over to Torrin.  Dryas barked and whined in an attempt to get Torrin to respond, but it was to no avail, he was passed out cold.  Dryas ran to Steve and barked for him to help get Torrin on his back.  “Forget it Fluffy.” He said nonchalantly.  “As far as I’m concerned, Scales over there brought this on himself, going back to that cave without the rest of us.”  Dryas barked angrily unable to believe what he was hearing, true Torrin has been a bit stand offish, but so had Dryas, and as Steve well knew he had his reasons.  Whether or not Torrin had reasons to keep to himself, or that was just an aspect of his personality, Dryas felt it was hardly worth Torrin dying over.  Dryas angrily barked a few more times, but Steve was unmoved.  Dryas ran back over to Torrin, whining and desperately trying to get Torrin on his back.  The gnome shook his head “OK geez Fluffy don’t hurt yourself, if he means that much to ya I’ll help you out.”  Once the two of them managed to secure Torrin, Dryas moved as quickly as he could with someone on his back and, and allowing for Steve's smaller stride to keep up.

  As they entered town, the few people who were up at this hour gasped and shouted "wolf!" at Dryas' approach.  Dryas whined uncomfortably realizing how strange the whole scene appeared, and with that came another realization that unnerved him even more: The guild would very likely realize that he was a werewolf after tonight.  Steve managed to wave off some of the onlookers by shouting "Hey! What’s the matter?!  Haven't you ever seen a gnome and his dog before?!  Get outta here!"  Dryas was quite appreciative of Steve's intervention, but it also further drove home his own predicament.  His companions had been quite accepting of his curse, but he doubted the rest of the guild would be, and if exiled from the guild, he doubted that his companions would be allowed to associate with him.  He couldn't help but remember the warning of the elf witch who had aided him in gaining control of his lycanthropy "For those who resist, the curse of a werewolf is not in becoming a beast.  It is living as a creature who needs a pack, but must walk alone."  

They were eventually able to get him to the guild hall, where Steve performed the knock necessary to get in.  The guard at the door gasped at the sight of a wolf carrying a gravely injured Torrin.  "No time to explain buddy." Steve stated to the guard. "Torrin here needs some healing, or he isn't gonna make it."  The guard nodded and guided them back to the infirmary, but still occasionally looking back in confusion at Dryas and Torrin.  Walking through guild hall was no better, as the spectacle drew stares from all who were up at that hour.  When they arrived at the infirmary, two half orcs ran up, took Torrin from Dryas' back, and rushed him to a bed.  Steve and Dryas went to follow, but an attendant stood in their way.  "You can come in," the attendant said looking at Steve.  "But the beast must wait outside."  Steve looked to Dryas, and then back at the attendant. "Listen pal, if Fluffy doesn’t go in, I don’t go in."  The attendant shrugged “suit yourself.” And walked back in to the infirmary.  Steve went over to scratch Dryas’ ear.  “Don’t worry Fluffy, I’m not gonna leave you here alone.” Dryas gave Steve an appreciative nod, and while he felt gratitude toward his gnomish friend, his mind was preoccupied.  People within the guild continued to point and whisper at Dryas, wondering how Steve managed to tame a wolf and get him to carry Torrin.  Dryas whined uncomfortably, he began to contemplate leaving now, in an attempt to preserve his secret, when one of the whispers caught his ear.  “Hey, is that wolf wearing one of the earrings the dragonborn gave to the other newcomers?”  “Yeah, I remember the dwarf screaming, vomiting and passing out when he got his.” Another chimed in.  One pointed to Dryas’ neck “Isn’t that the holy symbol of that paladin fella.”  And that was it, Dryas knew.  It would only be a matter of time before they came to the same conclusion his companions did.  There was no point in running now, so Dryas sat outside the door, and waited for news on Torrin’s condition.  As he waited he couldn’t help but think back to earlier in the day when he and the other guild members were all enjoying a drink together, how much he had missed bonding with others over ale, how much he missed being part of a community, how much it hurt when the village he grew up in cast him out for his curse. He had to remember as nice as the drink with his guild mates was, that wasn’t a life he could have anymore.  He must walk alone.

Dryas wasn’t sure how long he was waiting, minutes, hours?  The people of the guild still on occasion looked his way and whispered, but he no longer saw the point in listening.  He just wanted to make sure Torrin was ok, then he would leave, hopefully the good he had done in the short time he was there would at least convince the other members not to stone him to death.  Steve at some point went off to get a bowl of water for Dryas.  He saw other guild members approach Steve undoubtedly to ask about him.  Dryas wasn’t sure if Steve would tell the others it was him, but it hardly mattered to Dryas anymore, the discovery of his identity was inevitable.  Only a few minutes had passed after Steve returned with the water, when the attendant came out from the infirmary and came over to Steve.  “It took a while to pull out all of the bolts, and I damn near had to use every poultice I had, but he will live.”   Dryas breathed a sigh of relief, glad that his companion would be ok.  Steve gave Dryas another scratch behind his ear, to which Dryas involuntarily began kicking his leg.   Dryas was unable to enjoy the scratch for long, when a familiar tightening of his muscles began.  Oh no! it can’t be morning already! He thought to himself as fur began to recede from his body.  Shortly thereafter his muscle and bone twisted and reshaped, with in a matter of moments he was human again.  He breathed heavily, as he tried to regain his bearings, the change from wolf to human was not nearly as difficult as going the other way, but it was still exhausting none the less.  The voices of his guild mates brought him back to the here and now.  “By the gods!  It is him!” one said.  “He’s a werewolf!” another chimed in.  He thought he heard Steve attempting to explain to the crowd, and although Dryas was appreciative of his friend, he saw no reason in the endeavor.  After all the people he had known and was raised with wanted nothing to do with him after becoming cursed, what hope did he have with a bunch of people he had meet only a few days ago.

Dryas managed to pull himself to his feet, as he did the crowd took a step back, most of them appeared to be in shock.  Without saying so much as a word to them, he headed to his sleeping quarters, stumbling a few times from the exertion of the transformation to get some clothes put on, head back to the clearing he changed in to pick up his equipment, and then head off for a new town or city that may need his help.  He managed to make it back to his room, after his walk of shame, and proceeded to get dressed.  He had just managed to get a pair of pants on when there was a knock at his door.  Without waiting to be let in a large half orc opened the door “The guild master wants to see you.” He said bluntly.  Dryas sighed “He doesn’t need to worry” he said in a resigned tone.  “I’ll leave today, and won’t be a problem to the guild anymore.”  The half orc’s brow furrowed “Listen new blood, when your guild master gives you an order, you’re expected to follow it! “  Dryas looked at him confused, ‘I’m still a part of the guild?’ he thought to himself.  The half orc’s tone softened a bit, “When you get some clothes on go see him.” And without another word left Dryas with his thoughts.  Dryas proceeded to put on a blue tunic and a pair of wool socks.  Realizing his only pair of boots were back at the clearing, he sighed and left his room to go see the guild mater Roarke.  Being thankful that at least this time he wasn’t naked, padded across the guild hall to get to Roarke’s office.  As he walked across the great hall, he expected to hear gasps, or shouts directed toward him, but to his surprise he got only a few stares, and he one say to another “He’s the one! The one that was a wolf!” but the tone indicated more amazement than fear or revulsion.

  He approached the door to Roarke’s office, he stepped up to knock, but hesitated for a moment, fearing his imminent exile.  It took a moment, but Dryas found the resolve to finish the knock, to which he heard a gruff voice say “Come in.”  On entering Dryas was greeted by the half orc guild master in an unusually amicable way.  “Ah Dryas welcome!  Come in, Come in.”  Dryas approached still uncertain and confused, now doubting he knew what this meeting was about.  “So Dryas.” Roarke said walking the rest of the way toward him.  “It seems that you have been holding out on us.”  A look of shame crossed Dryas’ face “Yes sir” he said quietly “I should have informed you of the danger I presented.” Dryas bowed low “I’m sorry, and offer my resignation from the guild.”  Roarke looked at the werewolf paladin for a moment or two before saying “Your resignation is not accepted.”  Dryas looked up from his bow with a quizzical expression “Sir?” he questioned.  “Tell me something Wolfy.” Roarke stated as Dryas thought ‘great another nickname’ “Have you actually looked at or spoke to the people in this guild?”  Dryas nodded, “Yes just yesterday I shared a drink with a few of them.”  “Well you obviously didn’t speak to them long enough.” Roarke scolded.  “The thing you’ve missed, about damn near everyone in this guild is that we are all outcasts.  We accept all kinds here half orcs” he made a gesture motioning to himself. “dragonborn wizards, brain damaged dwarves, con artist gnomes, crazy vengeful elf wenches, hell I’ve rarely meet a freak I didn’t like.” He then looked Dryas squarely in the eye.  “And now it appears we have a wolf in our midst.” Dryas felt deeply uncomfortable, he wasn’t sure if he was about to be exiled, executed or given a hug.  It was a few moments before Roarke spoke again “Look me in the eye and tell me you can control this.”  Dryas looked him in the eye as requested and stated “If on the first night of the full moon I perform a ritual to the Goddess Sehanine, then I am able to control my curse.” Roarke continued his stare for what felt to Dryas like an eternity, when a wide grin spread across the half orc’s face.  Roarke patted Dryas on the shoulder, and said to him.  “Then my boy, you are one of us.”  Dryas breathed heavily unable to believe what he was hearing.  “But you must be exhausted from last night, go get some rest, there is one more night for the full moon if I’m not mistaken.”  Dryas snapped out of his disbelief and said to Roarke.  “Thank you, but I need to go back to the clearing I left my equipment in.”  “Tell me where you left it and I’ll send some men to pick it up for you.”  Dryas gave directions to his guild master and thanked him for all that he had done.  He exitied the guild master’s office and looked at his fellow guild members chatting and going about their business.  It had been four years since he felt like he was part of a community, and the feeling threatened to overwhelm him.  Dryas caught sight of Steve waving him over to a table “Come on Big Guy.”  Steve shouted using Dryas’ human nickname.  “After a night like last night, I think you and I could use some mead.” A small smile formed on Dryas’ face as he walked over to join Steve.  And as he walked over he couldn’t help but think of the elf witch’s warning.  But perhaps she was wrong Dryas dared to hope.  Perhaps one doesn’t need to walk alone, if he finds the right pack.

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