Post by Morec0
(( Gilnean Moon (Part 15)
Ivan slammed the man he held by the neck with his claws into the trunk of the nearest tree and snarled. “You’ve been following me and getting in my way,” he growled at the soldier who struggled from breath against the eldest Jeret’s grip. “Why
told you to follow me?”
“Ah- I… haven’t-hhhh- been,” he choked and gurgled on his own spit as he tried to pull the claws away from his throat.
Ivan just barked violently and slammed him against the trunk of the tree again, harder this time. The dark brown oak shuddered in response to the blow and the man he had slammed against it grimaced in terrible pain, but with Ivan’s claws now tighter around his throat he was unable to produce any sound. “I’ll give you one last chance,” he growled menacingly. “Give me a name or I fashion the crocolisks a meal.”
“Ivan!” Blaine yelled. “What are you doing?”
Ivan looked to his left, where Blaine was standing and staring at him with an expression of absolute and unfiltered confusion – along with a little horror. The worgen-turned Gilnean frowned – although his muzzle warped the facial expression into a violent scowl. “Since we returned, this one
has been following me about,” he growled, shaking the helpless man held in his claws for emphasis. “I want to know why.”
Blaine realized how accusing his face must have looked and shut his gaping mouth and softened his gaze. While the accusation may have been warranted he also knew he shouldn’t have been too hard on his older brother. The panic the Gilnean citizenry had displayed upon seeing an unbound Ivan in worgen form enter their camp – even with a large group of soldiers right on his heels – had been surprisingly… minimal. Hell, it had very nearly been absent entirely, as if someone had forgotten an important detail.
“There are better ways to get information you want,” Blaine said, “ones that don’t involve hurting him or anyone. You know that.” Blaine had advocated for the fairer treatment of Northgate Rebellion prisoners and non-violent interrogation techniques. There had been many an objection and critic to his ideas before and after King Greymane had approved of them, and it could have been argued that they did nothing at all and may have in fact lessened the quality of information gathered from the rebels, but Ivan had been a supporter of the idea from the start. To see him choking another man and bashing him against a tree was… unlike him.
And to further deepen the confusion and complications this provided; this was not the first time that Ivan had assaulted another Gilneans or at least come very close to doing so. Soldier, civilian, even another noble, he reacted with violence to nearly every offense that he so much as believed to be existent, even if it wasn’t.
He was worried that something had fundamentally changed about his brother, and not for the better. Everything that had transpired had been hard on all of the Gilnean people, but what had happened to his brother, the sudden violence and rage he seemed filled with, was unprecedented by the standards of anything so far – save maybe the undead Scourge. And given what Gilneas had been through in the near-past alone that was saying something.
Ivan ceased his snarl-frown and gave one slow nod after a brief moment. “You’re right, brother,” he said, opening his grip to let his former victim fall to the ground. The man looked up at the worgen-turned Lord, fear on his face, but was too scared to move. With another snarl Ivan lowered himself mere inches from the man’s face and roared. The Gilnean screamed in terror and finally found the strength to scramble to his feet and run.
Ivan turned back around to face his brother, who was just staring at him with confusion and worry. “Ivan,” he paused, trying to soften the question he was about to ask. When it looked like his older brother was about to speak – likely to change the subject as he had before – he forced himself to ask the uncensored question; “what has happened to you.”
Now it was Ivan’s turn for silence once again, he then smiled a toothy smile. It was terrifying. “Nothing, brother,” he said calmly, “nothing aside from some… stress. There is a lot I have to get used to again, lots of faces that have to get used to mine.”
Blaine set his jaw, trying to keep from having anything but a neutral facial expression. He wasn’t buying it, but… why would his brother lie? And what he was saying did hold some weight, there was no denying that. But… Light, why did he feel that there was something horribly, unnaturally wrong with his brother?
“Is there a reason you sought me out?” Ivan then continued to speak, his smiled dropping into a thankfully toothless frown. “Or are you following me as well?”
“N-no,” Blaine said, clearing his mind of the earlier questions to recall why he had gone looking for his brother. “King Greymane is discussing strategies for how to deal with these undead and he’s asked that we be in attendance, Krista is already there.”
“Why us?” Ivan asked; a taste of venom lacing the otherwise simple question. “Is that not a matter for his Generals?”
Blaine found his mind drifting away from the conversation, wondering why Ivan wanted to shirk his duties as a Gilnean lord, but he then shut the thoughts out of this mind and continued. “Most of the Generals are busying setting up ways to slow the undead on their, and most of the nobles are busy dealing with social problem cropping up amongst the civilians.”
“So why aren’t we assisting them
?” Ivan asked.
“Our ‘condition’,” Blaine reminded Ivan.
“Of course,” Ivan nodded, “let us go.” He started walking towards the back of the massive Gilnean camp – where King Greymane’s tent and the war room for the conflict against the undead was - quickly moving past his brother. Blaine turned and silently followed, keeping his thoughts to himself.
All eyes were on Ivan as they walked, people stared at him with fear as he passed. They had been told he meant them no harm, and all efforts had been made to prevent the civilians from attacking the Lord out of fear – as well as protecting the citizens, just in case - but those precautions had done nothing whatsoever to relieve the fear and tension between the worgen-turned Ivan Jeret and practically every Gilnean in the camp.
There were exceptions, mostly amongst the other worgen-cursed citizens of Gilneas, but those were few and far in-between, and were treated just as coldly as Ivan was by everyone else. King Greymane and Krennan also held no animosity towards Ivan, and naturally neither did his siblings… Except, maybe, for Krista.
Their sister was actively avoiding them, both of them, and keeping to herself. The only times she left her tent were to eat, relieve herself, or when her presence was requested by the King. But it wasn’t just how accustomed Blain and Ivan had become to their worgen forms – even though the former of those two had not taken on that form since he had reverted back to human – there was something else that was bothering her. Something she had not yet resolved herself. Whatever it was, though, she had chosen to deal with it on her own.
They reached the tent and were ushered in by a pair of Royal Guard. Like Blaine had said Krista was already inside, standing at the same map table Genn and Godfrey were looking over. Also present were – obviously – another few of the Royal Guard and a recently-appointed General by the name of Henry Denson.
It was this General that Ivan’s gaze set upon. Memories flashed back to him; Moonhowl, his mate, on her knees, a sword through her skull, a man’s hand on the hilt of that sword, the hand leading to the body, and the face of this body; Henry Denson.
He barely managed to suppress a growl of bestial fury.
“King Greymane,” Blaine said, saluting, “we are here.”
“Very good,” Genn said, not looking up for the map table. “General Denson and I are still attempting to solve our most recent problem; how are we to combat the undead’s scouting parties and patrols? They clearly are more capable at moving large numbers of soldiers stealthily than we are, Ivan’s encounter with them on his way back here confirms this.”
Unsure what to say, Ivan just bobbed his wolfish head in a nod.
“We whether this is trough magic of superior scouting methods are unclear, but General Denson has suggested that we use the harvest-witches to set up eyes and ears throughout the forests, and I am inclined to agree with him.”
“Useless,” Ivan growled, walking forward to stand face to face with the Gilnean king. General Denson began to draw his sword, but Greymane motioned for him to halt and locked gazes with the worgen standing just a foot away from him. “Why simply spy on a foe when you can fight them? That’s right; because you lack
the strength to do so.”
“Stand down, Lord Jeret,” Denson said. “You are out of line.”
“Belay that command,” Genn replied. He saw something in Ivan’s eyes that could have cautioned him to something dark within the Gilnean Lord’s soul, but with the mistake of trust he dismissed it to pose a question of the worgen-transformed noble; “what are you suggesting?”
“You have a force of strong soldiers that you fail to use,” Ivan said, “a force that was given to you but has been shunned away out of fear. The Gilnean people that bear the worgen within them are stronger and more cunning than any
human soldiers,” another warning that no one took notice too, “they should be fighting this war at the forefront… But, for now, they can of great use in eliminating the undead stalking in the shadows.”
Genn thought about it. Hunting shadow-stalkers with shadow-stalkers of their own; fighting fire with fire, as it were. The idea had potential, but these were not soldiers or even mercenaries they would be relying on, these were civilians. The idea left a sour taste in his mouth…
“Milord… I agree with Ivan’s suggestion,” Blaine said. “Our soldiers alone can’t possibly hope to combat a force that is unlike anything we have fought before. If we were to recruit the civilians afflicted with the worgen curse and use them as something of a guerrilla warfare militia, we may be able to, at the least, slow the advancement of the enemy. A small victory, but one we desperately need.”
Krista remained silent and avoided looking at either of her brothers. She would have no part in the discussion that was taking place. She would not support her brothers but, this one time in a long time, she would not side against them either. She was still sorting out her own personality, as well as trying to solve the matter of her brothers’ transformations. So far both of them had reverted to their worgen forms, and even though they were both in control that did not alleviate the disgust and fear she felt for what she was absolutely sure was coming; she was next.
King Greymane, however, had neither of these thoughts on his mind at the moment. Using the worgen curse for good, he wondered, instead of hiding it and trying to be rid of it… Genn would have to continue to ponder the idea itself, but for now. “I will look into this proposal immediately. Thank you for the suggestion. You are all dismissed.”
The Jerets took their leave as they had been ordered, but Denson put off following his kings command to stay behind and make known his own worries. “My King,” he said. “Are you certain
“Desperate times,” was Genn’s reply.