Shades in Cully
Tuweni Mani Wiya
Thane of the horse clans, Mani comes from classic Native American stock, sporting strong features, a thick mane of hair and rows of symbolic tattoos from wrist to elbow.
Tuweni Mani Wiya… Never Walks Woman… always a four legged friend to offer a ride, never left to walk further than the edges of the village. From a very young age I had an affinity for understanding what lies within… people, dogs, but especially horses…without a word I knew what was needed and how to go about coaxing the best results out of the reluctant, the recalcitrant, and even the wicked. At puberty I was removed from my mother’s home and installed in the Thane’s household where I began to learn the why’s and the wherefores of what it is I could do… and then I began to learn about people, who are much harder to fathom than horses. Each new level of learning reached was marked by another row of tattoos upon my forearms… there are three. I shall never see four, for in one dark, evil night my family was destroyed, brutally slain, murdered, and feasted upon by a craven ulpir and it’s minions. No longer is there someone to learn the secrets of our breeding stock from, no longer anyone to guide my growth in the understanding of leading a group of independent, strong willed peoples, gone is the future of riding at the head of a proud and beautiful family into tomorrow. Now I live another day growing stronger, learning all there is to learn about the destruction of ulpir, for their kind cannot be tolerated to walk this earth one day longer than it takes for me to have the tools I need to succeed. I will find you, you depraved, stinking vermin and I will take back what you have stolen from me straight out of your withered and diseased hides.
Panic, heart rending loss, gasping for breaths that will not come, my nostrils full of the stink of death and decay, my eyes stuck on the images of family, friends and clan mutilated, dismembered and exsanquinated, a scream caught in my throat… That is how I wake from every slumber be it minutes or hours, light or heavy… my waking self is ushered in with the violent, vivid memories of the discovery of heartless, vicious massacre. When reality asserts itself and my mind can grasp where it has awoke, I find myself wishing one of two things before I rise and begin again. Please let the memory fade, or please don’t let me ever forget.
In the hours after returning home trailing a line of recovered horses, I walked in a daze looking for anyone left alive. There were none. I don’t know how long I wandered, or sat, or slept, not knowing what to do or where to start. The recovered horses wandered off again, only my little brother stayed at my side, picking his way daintily around wrecked homes and wrecked bodies, propping me up when I faltered, reminding me to drink or to eat. One soul I found still clinging to its corporeal form… one soul to tell me what had transpired, one soul to cradle and sing to as it faded from the earth. The story told in whispered and hard fought breaths spoke of Ulpir gone insane… of werewolves and other beasts, of feasting and torture… of the horrible laughter throughout. Wracked with grief and shaking with anger I gathered my family together for one last song… then… as the sun rose on that final day, I lit the pyre and sent their spirits winging to the heavens. Little Brother nudged around the time the sun was at its highest and we left together, just he and I. No thoughts came well, no ideas came clear, but motion was the thing required and on four legs we galloped.
The rest of that fall, and most of the winter we wandered from place to place, staying with other horse riders, holing up in settlements that would have us. The memories of winter are harsh yet very fuzzy, cold, but the fire of my anger never faded. I know I spoke with many wise women and sage men, but what we spoke of, or what answers they gave I have no recollection.
Early in spring I woke up. In Tacamo. I have apparently been here for less than a week, mostly keeping to myself. Now I hear talk of disturbances north of here at a druid settlement called Diamont… it sounds like it could possibly be my Ulpir… or not… but I need a direction, and I need to keep moving, so onwards to Diamont I will go on the dawn and see what we can see.