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 The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)

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Kindredsoul

Kindredsoul

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Join date : 2012-06-24

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PostSubject: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyThu May 15, 2014 9:26 pm

Ever wonder how Bearclaw would have handled all the dilemmas Cutter had to through in the OQ story? Ever wonder how things would have been different had no one died during the battle of Madcoil?

I've pondered it for years, and the old badger has now threatened to burn my home down if I don't start writing about it  Suspect 

Now the beginning may seem to just follow along the original storyline, but I promise you, once the Wolfriders reach the desert, and especially Sorrow's End... Bearclaw's attitude REALLY begins to kick into gear  Shocked 

So far, here is Chapter one....


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He could smell their stench and their burning fires before stalking into the enemy's boundaries.  The echoes of their chants carried far throughout the forest and grew steadily louder the closer he and his chosen tribemates ventured toward the human grounds.  The ebony wolf beside him matched the chieftain's every creeping step, as if their minds were one, which most believed was so.  Bearclaw's grip around New Moon tightened, and as his other hand rested upon his bond wolf's back, he could feel the rising tension of the wolf's muscles beneath the thick course fur.  All of the wolves were just as tense as they crept alongside their riders, but made no move to charge forth without their chief's command.


Once he reached the brush bordering the human village, his ears were deafened by the thundering drums and so many voices shouting chants and human song.  The horrid sounds pierced through the elfin ears like arrowheads and through the mind like endless skyfire....  Even if the small band of four fingered demons couldn't speak by sending thoughts and words through their minds, the humans never would have heard them at all if the elves spoke aloud when being so close with all the noise of their sacrificial ceremony.


Still careful in stealth, Bearclaw brushed his hand slowly through the thicket of leaves to peer through, only to lurch inwardly at the sight before him just as Treestump reached his side and gasped upon the scene playing out before them.  One of their own, strapped to human's so called sacrifice pillar, as the five fingered ones danced and celebrated to their great god in offering of their fortunate capture.  Redlance appeared already dead with his body beaten and bruised, and now hung limp by the thick twine that tied to him to his prison, but Bearclaw's sharp gaze caught the slight movement to his tribemate's bleeding back and shoulders to know the elf was still truly alive.


**Bearclaw... there's so many....** Treestump was one of the first always ready to fight and defend for his own, but also level headed like his sister to try and think things through.  **How do we...**


**With our own TEETH if we have to!!** The chieftain's sending shot through every elfin mind that was among them, startling some.  But not his son....


Just a few steps away, Cutter was peering through the brush as well, with Skywise beside him.  Both staring in fear, as well as sheer determination to rescue their kin.  The blazing firelight beamed against their widened stares, shying them slightly away from the brightness, but to also keep the reflection of the flames against their eyes from giving their presence away.   It was Skywise who chose to locksend, not wanting his chief to sense his own fear.  

**Cutter! Those skulls....**

**Don't worry Skywise... Redlance's won't hang among them... Bearclaw will not let it happen.... I will not let it happen... I swear it!**

The chief's open sending was heard...  It was time.  With elves and bond wolves prepared, Bearclaw howled the order to attack for the small band of raiders to charge through the brush all at once.  Weapon of bright steel gleamed against the firelight, as did the bearing teeth. Naturally, the human camp broke out into panic.  Many screamed in horror and fled from the demons, where most of the males scrambled from their ritual duties to search and retrieve any weapon they could find.  They were unorganized and clumsy, where the elves and wolves worked as one with speed and agility.  But the human chief was not about to have his sacrifice deterred.  Gotara would see him and his people as weak and unworthy of the god's blessings should they allow the demons to over power them! During the chaos and screams of the ambush, the human chieftain turned toward the sacrifice pillar and screamed for the death blow to be given. “Tabak! The sacrifice! NOW!”


It was rare for Bearclaw ever to be stone froze with terror, especially to his very core.  While gripping his hold to Blackfell, he and his wolf were already charging toward Redlance when the order for his death blow was given.  But as the blade poised over the elf's neck, Bearclaw's gut told him he would never reach his tribemate in time! His own raging scream followed, but fell suddenly silent when seeing Cutter and Nightrunner's brazen move.  The wolf was young and daring, just as his rider.  During an impressive leap into the air, Cutter's own blade lunged into the human's neck just before Redlance could be killed.  “Too late, human!”


Redlance's cry of his friend's name was weak, but jubilant, and the wave of relief washed through his wounds to give him some form of strength to hold himself up as Cutter frantically cut apart the bounds that trapped the elf to the stone, as Nightrunner used his teeth to free Redlance's ankles.  Being so focused on the twines, neither gave attention to the human chief charging up from behind until his scream of Gotara and the will to stop the demons pierced through their ears.  As Cutter turned to see the gleam of pure hatred in the human's eyes, he was gone with a strike to the head from Skywise's timely blow.   Bearclaw and Blackfell were swift to follow, pinning the leader to the ground, as Cutter swiftly gathered Redlance in his arms to climb upon his wolf's back and shouting to the tribe.  “I have Redlance! Enough blood for now!”


He would have gave chase after his other tribemates and wolves now fleeing back into the forest, But the instant Cutter saw the blood thirst in his father's eyes, and New Moon begin to draw blood upon the human's neck, the youth stopped short just beside his father and chief.  He chose sending this time, wanting Bearclaw to feel the urgency in his words.  **Father! The others won't leave you behind!  We need to get Redlance back to Rain, and there may be more humans within the forest! Please!**


Bearclaw never flinched. His son had a point. If there were more humans throughout the woods in their pathway home, there was no way Cutter could get Redlance safely back to Holt alone.  New Moon's blade pressed even harder against the human chief's neck as he leered and growled just inches from his terror stricken face. “Remember this old man... next time I'll skin you ALIVE like a stag and let the wolves pick your bones!”


Within a single blink, the elves vanished back into the sanctuary of the shadows of their forest home, keeping to a full run until outside of the human borders.  Even when the trek slowed down, the elves remained deathly silent amongst themselves.  Only the nightly sounds of crickets and the summer breeze rustling through the leaves offered any comfort from such a treacherous ordeal.  Cutter rode quietly behind his father with Redlance secure in his arms.  His own thoughts were racing, but not of all the “what ifs” that could have happened this night.  He knew Bearclaw was furious.  He could practically smell it, let alone see it in the tension of his father's muscles.  The last thing Cutter wanted to see was his tribemate and friend suffer the chief's anger when Redlance was already severely wounded and fighting for his life.  He would have to keep vigilant. Not too close, but not too far should Cutter need to dissuade his sire from confronting Redlance for his foolish hunting actions.  It wouldn't be easy.  Bearclaw was more cunning than most of the best wolves in the pack.  And his temper was nothing to take lightly.  


But the son was no longer a cub either....


The remainder of the trek back to the Holt remained as silent as it began.  Redlance had already fallen unconscious and his breathing turned shallow with a struggling rasp.  No one spoke by voice, or of mind.  The others within the rescue pack could barely spare a glance at the beaten body in Cutter's arms in fear of the worst.  The faint scent from the spilling blood of his worst wound led to their suspicions.  Death wanted him.... and death was about to give Rain a stubborn fight.


Once within the boundary of their territory, the group broke out into a long unified howl for their kin to hear.  A single message that spoke more than words.  They were alive.  They proved successful.  They were coming home to awaiting arms.  Nightfall was the first to reach them in a bolt run, and the very moment she saw her lifemate in Cutter's arms, she choked back her sob of panic as her arms reached out with desperate hands to touch him. “Redlance....”  Stars!  His skin was as if he slept out in the white cold without any leathers!


“He lives, Nightfall.  Luck was with us – this time.” Cutter spoke softly as he carefully dismounted from Nightrunner's back, keeping his movements slow and steady so not to  jostle Redlance and the already life threatening wounds. “Tonight, the tall ones mourn their dead, now we...”


“They would be mourning for MORE!” All eyes fell on Bearclaw and his snarl directed at his son before the chieftain stormed off to seeth in his own fury.


Rain was next to join them, ever the calm and collective to swiftly examine Redlance as Cutter shook off his father's open scorn for time being.  Redlance came first.  To see him settled and in the right hands before tackling his father's sour temper.  Once within the sanctuary of Nightfall and Redlance's den, Cutter placed his tribemate upon the mounds of furs and stepped back for Rain to have room to do hiw healing work.  Redlance stirred a bit, enough to awaken and even smile weakly up at his friend with a hoarse whisper.  “Should have seen him, Cutter... the finest, fattest buck in all the woods... almost got him, too...


Cutter's own instincts wanted to shout and scream right there.  To lash out at Redlance's reckless foolishness that nearly got him killed, and put others of the tribe at risk who sought out to save him.  But in the back of Cutter's mind, he already knew the dreadful scorn to come that Redlance would receive from Bearclaw himself... Best to get his beloved friend prepared for it.  Bending down, Cutter took the tracker's chin firmly in his hand and lowered himself just a few inches from Redlance's face.  His own expression was furious, with glowing blue hues illuminated with his own fear and anger, yet Cutter kept his voice low and stern.  “You KNOW that hunting alone is forbidden! You STILL disobeyed your chief!”  Even Nightfall kept quiet through the exchange, busying herself to help the tribe healer.  


That weak smile never faltered.  Every single elf in the tribe all knew Redlance's intentions for anything was always for the tribe itself. Never for himself.  It made being angry with the gentle tracker nigh impossible.  “Forgive me, my friend... in the heat of the chase... I forgot...”


With a sigh of defeat, Cutter stood straight up again and began rubbing his aching head with a groan.  “Well don't forget again...”  He looked to Redlance again and offered a smirk at the corner of his lips.  “Your carelessness almost cost the tribe its best tracker... You.”


“Are we done with the lecturing now?”  Eyes turned back to Rain as he maneuvered around the bodies cluttering the Den.  Also a gentle heart, the tribe healer was also a focused mind when it came to his skill.  In one hand, he held a jar of salve and moss, in the other, scraps of leather to bandage the worst of wounds.  “Do I lecture the lot of you every single time any of the tribe makes foolish mistakes during a hunt? Now shoo! Let me do my work in peace, and let Redlance heal before your father comes to take a bite out of his hide!”


Even Nightfall took the hint and followed Cutter quietly out of the Den.  The worry in her brow wasn't just for her lifemate alone as she confided her thoughts aloud.  “Cutter?  Why do the humans hate us so? We offer them no harm!”


The young elf paused in step.  The answer was already known between them, but it was an answer that never gave understanding or closure.  Now turning his head to gaze over his shoulder, Cutter replied with a matter fact tone, while squelching down his own frustrations with the question.  Humans have always hated out kind; ever since the ancient fathers, the High Ones, set foot on this land... You know this Nightfall, just as we all do... That's just the way it is...”


She leaned against the inner trunk of the Holt for support and sighed as her arms hugged herself. “I know... I just wish we could live in a place where there are no humans.”


He actually scoffed softly, finding a bit of humor in her wish.  No humans?  Humans were everywhere as far they knew! Biting back his initial reaction , Cutter turned to face her with compassion instead.  “This... is home... Beyond the woods, what else is there?”


Naturally, Nightfall had no answer.  She simply sighed before slowly turning away to return to her Den and her wounded lifemate.  Cutter stood in silence and watched her go while scratching the back of head for a moment, and wondering if there was something else he could have said that could have given his friend more comfort.  He sighed himself before turning and walking out into the night air and seeing the concerned faces of the other tribemates, but Cutter said nothing to any of them.  He needed to clear his own head and knew exactly where to go.   Nightrunner lightly jogged up beside him as Cutter ventured into the woods yo find peace and clarity, only to be stopped short by Bearclaw's sharp sending that led Cutter to flinch and stagger in his step.  

**Don't EVER stop me from killing a human again!**

Although shaken by the sudden mental attack, Cutter quickly regained his composure and turned about tofind himself now standing before his sire with determined silence against Bearclaw's seething glare.   He knew when the chief was in this state of anger, there was no reasoning with him, but there was no backing down either.  Eyes were locked, and even though both chief and the son were a ways apart from Goodtree's Rest, the tension between them could be felt from that far.  And it was the closest thing to a challenge Cutter had ever felt between himself and his sire.

**It would have made matters worse, father...**

**It was NOT YOUR decision!**

Cutter felt his spine straighten to the point of nearly snapping as he faced the velocity of Bearclaw's intense sending.  More than anything, his instincts screamed to lash out with the very same anger, but deep down, Cutter knew that wouldn't solve a thing between them.  Instead, the youth swallowed hard.  Bearclaw would have assumed out of fear until his son now chose to locksend with a fierce severity straight from the soul.

**I may NOT be chief! But I put EVERY LIFE of this tribe FIRST before my own need for revenge! Even against a HUMAN!**

It was enough to catch the chieftain off guard and make Bearclaw blink in momentary silence only to watch his son do what no one had ever dared before.  Cutter spun about, showing his back to his chief and father before the challenge was over and stormed off into the darkness and sanctuary of the forest.


The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) Bearcl10


Last edited by Kindredsoul on Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:40 am; edited 2 times in total
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Wiseshaman

Wiseshaman

Posts : 635
Join date : 2012-06-23

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PostSubject: Good Brown Gravy...that was GOOODDDD!!!   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyThu May 15, 2014 11:14 pm

Shocked Shocked 

Wow...that was awesome!! And I know its good because I have never liked the beginning scene from F&F...it never set well with me at all but this version I liked, a lot. The scene at the end with the confrontation between sire and cub, that was just how I would picture it...


And that drawing...SUPER SWEET!!!

 cheers

I would like more please!

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Dubbed Streaking ADD Cowboy of Awesome Sagas by KindredSoul and nibblet
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truelight

truelight

Pisces Dragon
Posts : 131
Join date : 2014-03-15
Age : 32
Location : Beside my Lifemate

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyThu May 15, 2014 11:32 pm

AWESOME! And the art really rocks!!!!
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Kindredsoul

Kindredsoul

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyWed Jun 11, 2014 6:24 pm

((Art isn't done for this chapter yet, but I wanted so much to post the next chapter ^_^ ))



It was apparent he didn't care for the usual stealth a Wolfrider normally hinders to when stalking through the forest, but Bearclaw wasn't hunting either.  New Moon now found itself hacking and slicing through whatever brush and tall weeds lied within the chieftain's path as he crashed through what foliage that escaped the blade's wrath.  He had no particular destination, but his seething anger nearly got the best of him when facing his cub.... Nearly.  It was best to put as much distance between them for now before the fuming chief risked loosing his temper as he had done so foolishly in the past.  


After a long trek of non stop slashing, Bearclaw finally paused and rested his forearm against a tree, purposely pressing his skin against the jagged bark to find something else to distract his anger, even if the pinching stings into his flesh was no more than an annoyance.  He struggled to calm his own breathing while searching through the fog of anger for any rational thought.  This was no time for Cutter to act defiant.  What Bearclaw wanted to shout at the stubborn cub was, what if Redlance had been killed? What if their rescue came too late? What then cub? Would you still have held back New Moon?  Would you still stop me then? Would you have run the five finger through with your own blade if Redlance had died?


His growl was furious as the chief turned and slammed his back against the tree to slide and slump to the ground.  He didn't need any sign from the High Ones to know that this last confrontation with the humans made matters worse.  They did manage to kill a human, even if it wasn't their half crazed chief.  But for now, Bearclaw could only fold his arms over his knees and rest his throbbing head upon them while hoping that the stars would clear his thoughts.  


**He's no longer a cub, beloved...**


Even with his head bowed down against his arms, she heard the familiar growl rumbling from his throat that also extended into his sending.   **You have a knack for reminding me of that...**


In his anger and haste through the forest, Bearclaw gave no thought or suspicion that he was being followed by his soulmate who kept to the trees while tracking him.  She made no sound as her graceful movements landed her upon the ground by his side, but still he made no move while keeping his scowl obscure from her gaze.  As always, Joyleaf knew one had to tread lightly when her soulmate was in such a mood, but she wasn't at his side to chastise him for his foul temperament.  She understood his anger wasn't due to Cutter's actions, or their cub standing up to his chief and father.  This was an outrage harbored by fear, and it was a fear Bearclaw never revealed to a single soul, save one.


She crouched down beside the brooding chief and gently rested her hand upon his shoulder.  **He's alive, Grenn... he lives because you and the tribe saved him.  He will heal and thrive with Rain's hands and Nightfall's heart.**


For a moment or two, it seemed as if Bearclaw didn't hear a single word.  He didn't move, nor reply.  Finally, New Moon dropped from his hand and landed against the ground with a dull thud.  Instead of words, the chieftain revealed to his lifemate of what transpired that night... how close the death blow came.  **So close...**

Her face drew near as Joyleaf grazed his cheek with her lips and whispered, “We learn from what comes close, beloved, but never dwell on it.  Do you not remember the day our son was born?”


It was enough to lift his eyes at least.  Of course he remembered... Just after Cutter took his first breath into the world, Skywise saved the cub from an approaching snake about to take a death bite out of the newborn. But it was the haunting past of those who perished during Bearclaw's leadership that began to over shadow him ever since their battle against Madcoil.  He knew the truth now... face to face with the mutated beast revealed it was born of the hatred that thrived between the elves and humans, mainly the chief himself.  Even though the tribe successfully slaughtered the creature, it's haunting sendings still remained within the chieftain's thoughts and dreams, all the while suffocating his conscience with guilt.  


Bearclaw was never the same since that day.  


The tribe saw a chief become better for it; or so they thought.  He rarely raised his voice to any of them; he was more bound to listen before barking or snapping with a tribemate who may argue with him; such was a recent shock to Treestump when approaching his chief over extended hunting grounds during a time when the elves were far more on edge then ever. But Bearclaw simply muddled over Treestump's explanation, then simply gave him a nod and even complimented his tribemate on thinking ahead with the dead cold season fast approaching.   Poor Treestump was left in a state of shock for the remainder of the day...

The chieftain was by far more attentive then the Bearclaw of old, and he rarely went to the troll caverns unless it was for a trade that benefited the tribe; so it would seem to every one of them that as dangerous and threatening as it was for them all to take Madcoil down, they were all the better for it. Not just for the fact of taking out the threat for the tribe's sake and survival, but for the lesson they unexpectedly learned from the terrorizing creature. Especially for their chief.  Little did they know his own self blame was gnawing at his soul and down to the bone, if his soul had one.


How he wanted so much to just loose himself in Joyleaf's words....,“This was too close, Dehl,”  His voice croaked.  “Either the humans are becoming more bold, or we're becoming too careless.  Crescent... Eyes High and Shale...  I saw Redlance's wounds.... He may very well be beyond Rain's help.”


True, Joyleaf hadn't seen Redlance's injuries yet, but she always had hope.  Not only in him, but in those around him and the entire tribe who would help care for him until he was well.  Her soulmate simply needed to be reminded of that now and then.  His shuddered breath brought her arms around him with a sending as pure and true as her love for him.  **Believe in Rain's skill and Redlance's strength as you believe in the Now, beloved.  As you believe your soul and mine are forever entwined.  As I believe in you and our son to see the tribe through for whatever may come...**



Meanwhile, another mind was brooding just as well....


Skywise tried his best to distract his soul brother's mind from the recent bout with the humans and Bearclaw's outburst.  As always, the stargazer's bewilderment of the stars led him to point out another scene of a wolf chasing a human across the sky by the mere pattern of the stars. Cutter tried to appease his friend as well by taking notice, yet still baffled that Skywise made any sense of the stars at all, let alone seeing shapes and stories.


“You see all that up there, Skywise?  Strange... I just see stars!”  But soon, Cutter's melancholy returned, naturally bringing concern to his friend.

“What's the matter, Cutter? You usually laugh when I tell you what I see up in the sky.”

Cutter shifted, now resting his arms upon his knees and scowling off into the distance.  His tone was haunting when he spoke of the attack; choosing not to send so Skywise wouldn't feel the gripping fear Cutter felt gnawing in his gut.  “I've...never killed a human before. Didn't think it could be done... something bad will happen soon.  I feel it!”


The stargazer simply threw his head back with a sharp laugh.  “Hah! You're full of dreamberries! What can the humans possibly do to us?  They're too afraid to come near our Holt!”  His carefree boldness was suddenly interrupted by piercing howls echoing through the forest, reaching every elfin ear.  Cutter shot to his feet with rising panic in his eyes.  “Shhh! Listen!”  


It was then Skywise's usual merry demeanor grew just as serious as his companion.  “The wolves! Something's wrong!”  But his words only echoed as he watched Cutter bolt down the hill toward his bond wolf while howling and calling out the wolf's name.  Once together, Nightrunner's anxiety and fear nearly led the beast to knock down the elf, but Cutter grasped the enormous paws and locked minds with his beloved friend with desperation in his voice.  “Speak my friend! What have you seen?”


The image was as clear as if Cutter were the one who made the discovery.  Five fingered ones marching through the forest and directly toward the Holt with blazing torches in hand. **Humans! They bring fire!**  His elfin friend let out a cry of alarm, but before Cutter could react, Bearclaw's open sending reached them all.  Every hunter's name was called for, including the son.  All knew by sending alone what danger was coming.  


As Nightfall struggled to keep her lifemate from joining the call, Bearclaw was already atop Blackfell's back and shouting for his tribe to follow just as Cutter and Skywise rode up upon Nightrunner and Starjumper.  Joyleaf could only stand at the base of Father Tree with fear brimming in her eyes and watching the group tear off through the forest to face their enemy.  She hated to put further fear into the hearts of the lifebearers left safely behind, but with the five fingered ones coming this close to the Holt and armed with a weapon none of the elves could fight against.... And there were cubs to think of.


She swallowed hard and took a deep breath while sending to another of the tribe she knew would keep just as calm.  **Clearbrook.... have the others start gathering their things and be ready to flee....**


It didn't take long for the tribe to see the glowing of flames through the forest to pinpoint the band of humans heading toward their Holt.  Bearclaw could feel the old rage ignite within his veins and his instincts told him whatever the humans had planned, it was a drastic move having come so close to the elfin territory.  When the elves and wolves came to a skidding halt, Bearclaw and Blackfell were only feet away from the human chief and the small band of humans behind him.  For a fleeting moment, Bearclaw found it confusing that only a handful would come this far into threatening territory, and even at night when it was to the elves advantage.  But that fleeting moment of thought turned into a dreaded realization before the human even spoke.  Bearclaw already knew their intentions and growled his own threat first, and that old hatred and rage surfaced anew.  “You truly want to be the wolves feast, you dungheap of a human?! You had your warning! Get back to your holt, or you and your swine die here and now!!”  …..and have their blood spill on whatever tainted magic still remains in the ground? To birth another monstrosity? Are you a FOOL?


The human chief merely sneered.  The erie glow from the flaming sticks contorted his face into a demonic sight.  His arrogance spat at the elf as he pointed his gnarled finger at Bearclaw and shouted.  “NO DEMON! We shall LIVE! But you and your kind will be ashes before sunrise!”


The ignorance of the human left Bearclaw gripped with blinding rage.  Just as he was about to charge forth with New Moon, his son came running up beside him, screaming the obvious everyone already knew.  “Are you MAD, human!! If you burn the woods, EVERYONE will starve! YOUR tribe as well as MINE!”

“No matter!!” The half crazed shaman cried out just as his arm swung forth with his flaming torch.  “Gotara wills a CLEANSING!  Only MAN must rule this land! ALL demons must BURN!!”


As Cutter screamed, the other humans ran about and followed their chief's actions, spreading the hungry flames to every bush and tree limb they could reach.  Bearclaw only had enough time to grab his son by his vest and jerk Cutter back before one of the torches nearly struck him.  The flames were too fast, the smoke was already choking, and through the growing chaos the human released a victorious scream for his Gatora while preparing to strike the elfin chief who was too distracted pulling his son to safety.

The archer wasn't distracted one bit.  

Behind the gleaming arrow, a pair of piercing amber orbs had their mark, and Strongbow took it with haste.  Watching the arrow slam through the crazed human's throat, Strongbow sneered and hissed though his teeth simply for the sheer satisfaction of speaking the words aloud “Burn in the bowels of Madcoil, human....”


Bearclaw could only send his frantic orders to the tribe to flee, yet a few found to be so gripped in shock and unable to move, or so enraged to stand and shout at the flames.  **Scouter! Get your father moving!** He turned to see Cutter frantically pulling a screaming Skywise away, and as Bearclaw grabbed the stargazer's other arm to help, the band of elves ran through the smoldering smoke with the racing flames giving chase at their heels.  The chieftain's sendings reached his soulmate, filled with panic and fear, but Joyleaf already knew.  The scent of the fire reached her nose before the human chief fell to the Strongbow's arrow, and she was already gathering the tribe to flee with barking orders of haste.  **Gather only what you can! Hurry!!**  


She ran wildly about, helping the others who needed it, all the while, her first thoughts were of the cubs as Joyleaf scanned the Holt and Father Tree to see Wooklock and Rainsong with their small pack already dashing back to the group.  Moonshade and Dart were already making their way down the branches from Father Tree as the tanner scanned the woods with panic in her eyes for Strongbow to return.  Joyleaf's panic rose further when she couldn't locate Foxfur and her cub, Skydancer, until a sigh a relief followed when seeing the huntress come running from upstream with the cub in her arms.  With only seconds to spare, Joyleaf finally dived into her own Den and snatched what few things she could reach.


Within moments Bearlcaw and the others arrived, and as the tribe was now gathered as one once more, the cries and sendings were overwhelming.  His voice bellowed above them all and over the roaring waves of approaching flames.  “Head to the troll caverns! MOVE!”  He paid no heed to the shock and hesitant sendings while even Joyleaf shoved and rushed those who dared to question the decision with the threat of their lives closing in upon them.  As the tribe and wolves began to run, the chief saw Rain and Nightfall struggling with the wounded Redlance.  With a curse under his breath, Bearclaw grabbed his son by the arm.  **You and Joyleaf get the tribe to caverns! No matter what it takes, you get the tribe in there!!**


With a single nod, Cutter was off while his father charged after the slower trio.  Although she tried to argue, Bearclaw gave Nightfall a firm shove aside. **We move him faster if it's Rain and me! Now GO!** Her bottom lip stiffened up in defiance, but the young huntress finally gave in.


Once at the troll caverns, Cutter frantically beat against the metal slab embedded within the mound slope camouflaged with overgrowth.  He used the hilt of his long dagger, just as Joyleaf did the same with hers.  They knew their screams would be barely audible through the slab, but the constant clanging of metal against metal would echo painfully throughout the caverns.  By the time Bearclaw and Rain arrived with the treeshaper, the smoke from the relentless flames was already choking the entire tribe.  His eyes stung so painfully, the chief could barely make out his son and soulmate ahead.  **GET IN THERE!! HURRY!!**


Just then, the metal slap finally cracked and moved just an inch.  Cutter wasted no time, growling fiercely as he slipped his hands within as Treestump moved ahead to help him.  Within moments, the barrier gave way with a shocked contorted face to greet them and screaming when the pale haired elf charged in with a yell to knock the troll aside and pin him down.  Joyleaf was next to rush in, avoiding and ignoring the troll stuck below her son's foot all together as she rushed her tribemates into safety while her brother shouted for everyone to hurry.

“N-no one's ever invaded our c-caverns before!” The door keeper whimpered with feeble struggles to get free of Cutter's foot at the back of his neck.  The young elf crouched down close to the troll's face and sneered.  “And no one's EVER burned down the forest before, either!”  Whether it was Cutter's threatening tone, or the smoldering smoke beginning to pour into the caverns, the troll chose not to argue.


“WHAT'S GOING ON HERE!?” Another voice bellowed, shocking most of the Wolfriders whom never come into contact with the underground dwellers.  The trio of trolls stood with weapons in hand and glaring at their intruders as the black bearded troll immediately began barking accusations at Cutter.  “Cutter!! You're getting TOO bold like that sire chieftain of yours!!”

“For good reason, Picknose!! Or didn't you notice there's a FIRE outside?!”  Cutter shouted even louder and pointed toward the forest


By now, both elf and troll were nose to nose shouting like mad at each other.  Joyleaf, having plenty enough experience with the foul tempered trolls, merely rolled her eyes while concentrating on getting the last tribemates into the caverns.  Once Bearlclaw and Rain made it to the entrance, she took Redlance's side that her lovemate supported and hissed next to the chief's ear.  “Shut-that-troll-up! before I run my spear through him!”  

Even at such a dire time, Bearclaw felt the twitching of a grin hearing Joyleaf's own temper getting riled.  It was a rare site, and it was by far more amusing when it wasn't directed at him for once.


“What do trolls CARE about 'outside'!! That's YOUR business!! OUT!! ALL of you!! GET OUT!!”


“We're NOT leaving, dungbrain!! You'll have to cut me down before you touch a single one of us!!”


“THAT CAN BE ARRANGED!!”

Faces gawked in fear and confusion throughout the shouting match between Cutter and Picknose; no one knowing what to do or say, save one.  Just as Picknose reared back his thick spear and threatened the chief's son, a hard “THWACK” echoed against the walls, followed by Picknose landing upon the stone ground with a hard thud.  Now standing above the fallen sot, Bearclaw was shaking the stinging pain from his knuckles while an unexpected giggle came from the tribe.  Little Skydancer found her chief's unexpected punch to the troll's yapping jaw rather humorous as she pointed.  “Fawl down! Fawl down!”  Foxfur desperately tried to hush her cub as Skywise smirked like a proud sire.  Even Redlance found the strength to grin a little.


As Bearclaw crouched down beside Picknose, the troll glared while rubbing his sore jaw only to see the wild chieftain smirk down at him and speak with an overly pleasant tone in his voice as if they were the best of friends.  “Now, Picky... how many times do I have to tell you to be sure you got all of your snot out of your brain before spatting off threats?”  The troll's stubbornness was obviously still intact, unlike several of his molars now rattling about in his cheeks.  “Bah! I'll have your hide strung up on my wall for sure after what you've done!”  He let out a sudden yelp when kicked in the chin as Cutter stepped over him.  “Hospitable as ever, eh, henchmen of the troll king?”


Just then, the other pair of trolls foolishly decided to try and defend their fallen comrade, aiming their weapons at the elf chief and his son.  Without a single word or movement, the pack of wolves surrounded them with warning snarls and growls.  With a sigh of impatience, Joyleaf snapped with a quip of annoyance. “Are the lot of you done throwing your tempers about? We need to get moving!”
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truelight

truelight

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyWed Jun 11, 2014 6:58 pm

LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  I love you I love you I love you  I love that Cutter gets to slowly become bolder and Bearclaw gets to "age" a little. The addition of Skydancer is my favorite part though.
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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: Totally Impressive Stuff   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyThu Jun 12, 2014 7:36 pm

I have to agree with true...this piece, as was the last, is just great. The way you approach the dynamic between Cutter and Bearclaw is perfect and only matched by the way your handling the old badger. With age comes wisdom and even Bearclaw must bend to that universal law...

Oh Shaman wants more...MORE!

 cheers 

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Kindredsoul

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyFri Jun 13, 2014 1:25 pm

***Glad you enjoy ^_^ I'm trying to stick to the OQ storyline as best as possible, while trying to balance out the actions between Cutter and Bearclaw as well.  But I'll be honest, the further this story goes into the OQ storyline, naturally there's bound to be some changes to some outcomes.  I'll do my best to keep Bearclaw from strangling Rayek tho  Wink Wink  ***





CHAPTER THREE


With the door closing ever so slowly, many of the Wolfriders had one last chance to say their good byes to their beloved home.  They would have mourned if they had a chance, but time for grieving would have to wait.  They didn't want to be in the troll caverns any longer than the trolls wanted them there.


For now, the entire tribe ventured through the mysterious caverns with widened eyes.  Their saddened hearts were at least distracted by the overwhelming sights before them.  Bearclaw had shared some of his wily stories of his shenanigans with the trolls, but nothing ever to describe the grand sights their curious gazes now beheld! High arched caverns with sconces of torch lights along the walls gleaming against the intricate architecture chiseled into the stone!  Newstar was immediately attracted to the clusters of gems and jewels, which naturally lured the other cubs to join her under their parent's careful watch.  Dart held Skydancer's little hand with his since she was still a little unsteady when she walked being over just a full turn of the seasons in age.  Their uplifting voices seemed to ease the pain in the hearts of the elders.


“Best keep those brats away from our treasures, Bearclaw!” Picknose snapped over his shoulder while straining against the rope the elves had used to bind his wrists behind him.  Bearclaw gave a roll of his eyes and gave his old gambling competitor a slap behind the head.  Meanwhile, Cutter appeared more amused at poking the troll in the back with Picky's own spear. The others were still suspicious at every glance, as if feeling eyes upon them, yet keeping their wariness to themselves.  Joyleaf soon caught up to her soulmate and son while Longbranch now took over to help Rain with Redlance.  Although the treeshaper  rode upon his wolf's back, he was still terribly weak from blood loss which left him severely unbalanced.  


Now standing before a towering staircase bordered by stones as marvelous as the daystar,  Bearclaw knew what lied on top was about to become their next challenge.  He may never have come this far in all his years of dealing with the trolls, but a growing snarl on his lips showed that the chief wasn't impressed by anything of the underground structures.  The climb was slow and cautious, and once to the top, Picknose tried his arrogance once again.  “You can take that snapper away from neck now, elf!”


“Not until we're sure there's no trap!” Cutter snorted from behind.


Bearclaw found no need to add a threat for now and kept silent.  Good... keep your guard up as you should, cub....we're going to need it...


“Oh it's well past the time when we could've stopped you!” Growled the ever arrogant troll.  “You're IN now... and dealing with you is strictly up to HIM!”  Picknose puffed out his chest and announced his leader proudly.  “Greymung!! The shiftless mighty king of the trolls!!”


......A moment of awkward silence followed.  Elves stared with what appeared to be befuddlement.  Well... except for Bearclaw, who bit back a knowing smirk when the royalty of trolls stared back with eyes wide and full of shock just as he released an audible belch.  As the burp echoed, the trolls surrounding him appeared more afraid than hostile.


“Why Greymung... it seems the passing of seasons have aged you well...”  It was a feeble attempt to sound polite, but Bearclaw was never known for having manners either.


After a moment of sputtering, the troll king suddenly exploded.  “YOU!!!! WHAT IS THIS!? Wolfriders invading MY domain?? UNTHINKABLE!! GET OUT!”  His thick fingers pointed directly at the Wolfrider chief as Greymung shouted even louder.  “ESPECIALLY YOU!!!”


Bearclaw only had time to feign an expression of shock and dismay as Greymung then turned his temper on his own.  “Picknose!! You miserable WORM! Is THIS how you defend YOUR KING??”
Picknose could only hunker down his shoulders.  He was obviously outnumbered and the elves had wolves! But to his king, that was no excuse when he was made to face embarrassment.


Cutter shook his head with annoyance and frustration.  He had his own dealings with the trolls when he was younger and lacked any sense of intimidation by their show of volume and size.  Deep down, Cutter knew they had no wits about them.  “Relax, Great Troll... What are you so upset about? Our visit won't be overlong....”  He dismounted from Nightrunner and casually walked up to Greymung as if he were no more than a helpless tree.  “The humans have burned us from our Holt! We came here to escape the flames!”


“Bah!!! BATDUNG!”  Greymung snapped before leaning close to the young elf's face and snarled. “We KNOW your thieving ways, elf! You and your wolf pack mean to ROB US blind! And wet your blades on our gizzards in the process!!”


Bearclaw strolled past behind his son with a smirk to the king. “Then shame on you for making such splendid blades, you old wart!”  


Greymung's eyes appeared to turn a more sickening yellow and nearly bulged out of their sockets.  And a few more veins seemed to bulge out against his thick green skin.  “WHY YOU MISERABLE, CHEATING, LYING FLEA BAG!!! How DARE you MOCK me after EVERYTHING we trolls have done for YOU!”


The chief was about to bark back until Joyleaf's locksending of his soulname held him back with a gentle, but firm reminder.  **Grenn... now is not the time to upset them! This is not about bartering trades with dreamberries. This is about the lives of our tribe...**  


It was enough for Bearclaw to bite back his retort just as Cutter chimed in, stating the obvious with more calm than his father could muster at the moment.  “You judge us by your own greedy example, Greymung! We have nothing now... But YOU have more food and wealth than you know what to do with!”


The enormous gourd of a nose swung about to face the youth once more.  “That doesn't give YOU the right to break in here and take what YOU want!!”


As Cutter turned for a brief moment to take a mushroom Skywise now offered, he gave a roll of his eyes to the stargazer when the troll king wouldn't see it.  Now looking back at Greymung, Cutter took a bite of the food for a moment to regain his composure.  Surely laughing at the boisterous king would land the entire tribe fighting every unknown amount of trolls hidden withing the cavern walls and thrown back out into the burning forest.  


“Maybe not, Greymung, but THINK for a moment...”  He took another bite to be sure he had the king's attention.  “You owe us, troll... especially my father....”


“I owe your father a swift kick in the rear and my own blade through his GUT!”


Bearclaw couldn't help the humorous snort while checking on Redlance's bandages.  “HA! You have to figure out how to get out of your throne first, Greymung!”  Nor could Joyleaf help the swat she gave her beloved's arm to silence him again.


The troll king began to rise, doing just that, when Cutter swiftly moved to face him again, continuing his point as if he weren't interrupted.  “Look... your people are afraid to venture from their tunnels! What would you have done for meat all this time if we never shared our catches with you?”


Greymung opened his mouth to snap again, but this time Skywise piped up. “And when did we ever cheat you in a trade? We barter only our finest pelts and leathers for the metals you forge.”


Nightfall found the injustice too intolerable to remain silent as well.  “And when one of you has fallen sick, haven't we, for kindness sake, fetched you herbs and medicines... asking NOTHING in return?”  She felt her lovemate's hand upon her shoulder give a soft squeeze in silent support, and even as Picknose spat out further disrespect and lies, the huntress never heard his words when she turned and smiled at Redlance, yet feeling his pain he tried so hard to hide.


“BAH! You do these things because you know that only WE trolls can forge the fine weapons and pretty trinkets you fools fancy! Anyone can learn to hunt! You need US far more than we need YOU!”


Cutter glared back at Picknose and tossed the remaining mushroom over his shoulder.  “Is that so?!”  He pointed his own blade over Greymung's chest and at the troll now sticking his tongue out at the elf. “Alright then! We'll see how you “mighty hunters” fare when the season of the white cold comes, and your store-holes remain EMPTY!”


Meanwhile, an eruption of shrieks broke out from another end of the room.  Skydancer had approached one of the female trolls and tugged on her dress, wanting the voluptuous troll to “Fawl down! Fawl down!”  The blond haired troll flailed her arms in a state of sheer panic while running in a rather clumsy manner out of the throne room and screaming, “It touched me!! It touched me!!”  Dart pointed and giggled, as did Newstar, while Wing looked back and forth from troll to his mother, obviously confused as to what just happened.  Dart grinned like an imp and whispered into Skydancer's ear.  “Go touch another one!”  Luckily, Moonshade had impeccable hearing and snatched up both cubs in her arms before further trouble would arise.


During the cubling mischief, Skywise rushed back up to his soulbrother.  “Cutter! Come see the forges! They...”  His arm suddenly lurched out of control and slammed into the mysterious rock Greymung used to rest his enormous feet.  “EH!? My arm! It's STUCK!”  The alarm in his voice alerted the others of the tribe as Cutter immediately tried to help his friend.  Even Bearclaw rushed up as Cutter struggled, but once Skywise's arm was free, Cutter's blade suddenly slammed into the stone's surface as well, and just as stubbornly stuck! “What the!? Now it's got my sword!”  


Both Bearclaw and Cutter pulled and yanked with all their strength until finally, the blade was free.  As Skywise found the object amazing with wonder in his eyes, chief and son gawked at the stone as if it were a talking tusk hog!


“This stone has great power!” The stargazer exclaimed while running his hands over it.  Bearclaw just shook his head before turning and walking away.  What did he care about a rock when his tribe needed a new home and Redlance faring worse with each passing moment.  For now, he would see to it that his tribe had full bellies before setting off, with or without the trolls help!  His sending was weary, but determined to his tribemates.  **We hold a council... let's decide where we go from here since there's no negotiating with this lot...**


It seemed Cutter thought the same as he turned to follow with a heavy sigh.  “Come on, Skywise.  It's plain we're not welcome here.  You heard Bearclaw, lets assemble for a council before the troll stench begins to stick on us! A magic rock won't help us find a new place to live anyway...”


The stargazer was completely oblivious to his chief's and Cutter's words, being so hypnotized by the mysterious rock and it's wondrous power!  When Cutter didn't get a response from his friend, he began to glance over his shoulder and calling his name when the troll king suddenly erupted again.  “THIEVING POINT-EARED OUTSIDER!! I SAID GET AWAY FROM THAT!”  His powerful arm swung and smacked the stargazer across his head with the palm of his hand, sending Skywise soaring over the stone and crashing to the floor.  


Several of the elves let out a cry of alarm and Foxfur wasted no time charging with a scream of rage and dagger poised to take out the troll king herself.  Knowing the outcome would mean her life, Bearclaw snatched her up at the waist with one arm while turning and aiming New Moon at Greymung with his other hand.  “I'll have the WOLVES rip off your rotting HIDE, you worthless DUNG of a snake!” And the pack was already about to do so, snarling with teeth bared and slowly inching closer to the lazy troll.  Neither wolf had a chance for the taste of meat as Cutter's own rage finally snapped.  The growl that emerged from his gut was unlike any he felt before as each step stalked closer to the king with a fierce glare drawn by the blood of his ancestors.  “Gggrreeeyyymung... you muck-eating son-of-human!!”


Something in the elf's eyes, or his tone, made Greymung come to the quick revelation that even he, royalty of his kin, had gone too far.  He cringed back in his throne and began to tremble.  “S-stay back, elf! I am k-king! I c-c-comand...you...”  The gleam in Cutter's teeth sent another wave of panic through the troll as he cried out another feeble attempt to save his own life.  “Bearclaw!! Call off your whelp!!”



But the chief made no move to do so, nor made a sound of protest.  Joyleaf rushed up beside her soulmate with a frantic look of uncertainty, but the chief never spared her a glance either.  Instead, his steel gaze narrowed while watching the scene unfold as the passing moments felt like they played out for an eternity.  Finally, Cutter's arm swung out so fast, the startled gasps filled the throne room only to be followed by a loud “chink!”  Now with a bright smile, Cutter's playful nature revealed itself as a chunk of the rock he chopped off with the hilt of his weapon now fell into Skywise's hand.  “Here Skywise! The king presents you with a “gift”!”  


That playfulness suddenly disappeared just as fast as that stone chip flew, with Cuter now standing on the troll king's legs and gripping his white face fur within his fist.  The previous rage had returned, leaving Greymung far too choked with fear to even speak.  “YOU are a big, fat FOOL and your subjects KNOW IT! Where they NOW, Greymung!? Hiding in their holes?!”  Only the troll king's sniveling could be heard before Cutter continued releasing his anger.  “I don't think they CARE if I chopped you to bits! It's lucky for YOU that all I care about is finding a new Holt for my tribe!!”  His last few words were emphasized by hard jerks to Greymung's face fur, causing the troll's teeth to rattle.  


Greymung's eyes shifted from Cutter's to see Bearclaw now behind his son, but slowly leaning to the side to gaze at the troll king as if muddling something serious in his mind.  While Cutter continued to hold and growl at the troll, the chieftain stepped around his son to then rest his forearm on Greymung's knee, yet he studied New Moon and the way the light reflected off of the blade as if mesmerized by the sight.  “How about one last trade, Greymung?  For old times sake, eh?”  His threatening gaze lifted to meet the troll again with a sneer.  “I'll call off my...“whelp”... when you learn to cooperate.  You gambled on our patience and you lost.  Gamble on it again...”  Bearclaw's gaze slid up to his son, then slowly back to Greymung before lowering his voice.  “...and you're going to see just how much my whelp is just like me.”


The trolls lips nervously curled into a crooked smile while still trembling.  “W-well why didn't you s-say s-s-so!”  He tried to chuckle, but it came out as a ridiculous snort.  Cutter slowly backed off, yet continued to glare at the king with suspicion while Greymung reached out and pulled Picknose up next to him.  “Picknose! Escort the noble chieftain and his tribe... to the tunnel of golden light!”  His smile grew more until his grumpy servant tried to protest.  “Golden light? But that one.. OOOF!!!”  His words were cut short when the troll king's hand swung back and struck Picky square in the gut.  But Greymung made it to appear like an accident as he praised the destination.  “...leads to a BEAUTIFUL land of bright promise, doesn't it Picknose!!”


Cutter gave a questionable glance to his father.  Who else out of all of them knew the trolls best? Bearclaw remained silent while listening to old king preach about his offer.  “You need fear nothing, good elves! Picknose will guide you all the way! When you reach the tunnel exit, I am certain you will not wish to return!”


It sounded too good to be true, and Cutter couldn't help but speak up his eagerness before his father had a chance to voice his own questions.  “This tunnel... it open on green woods somewhere FAR from here?”


Greymung beheld a dreamy look over his face as if talking of his own lovemate... if he even had one.  “Greeeeennnnn and peaceful!”  He sighed with eyes drifting to the ceiling and smiling.  “If I could stand daylight, I'd live there myself! And just think! No HUMANS!”


His last words made every head turn.  Elfin faces lit up with an abundance of hope.  No humans... no fear.... no more captures and sacrifices of their kin....  But one held back a snarl of distrust.  Now turning away from the troll king, Bearclaw put a good amount of distance between himself and Greymung.  Cutter swiftly followed his father and whispered from behind.  “What do you think?  Do we trust them?”


There came no answer.  The chief stopped in his tracks and simply stared at the ground while deep in thought.  He knew best how the trolls were sneaky when bartering trades over the past countless seasons and moon phases.  Sneaky, yes.  Smart, no.  It was mostly the elves who made out better with the trades.  They just let the trolls believe they got the better of the elves simply to keep peace between them.  And yes, the trolls were a conniving bunch.  It came as natural to them as howling did to a Wolfrider.  But that didn't mean the trolls were malicious.  They were all bark, and no bite.  


“Beloved?”  Her gentle hand came to rest on his arm.  Her soft and soothing voice brought more comfort than her touch.  “Do we even have a choice?”  He finally turned his head to lock eyes with Joyleaf and see the hope brimming in her blue orbs. Her question filled his mind with even more uncertainty.  If they refused the troll's offer, then what? Live in the caverns with them!?  Fighting and snarling night after night with the underground dwellers and never venturing outside again? Never to hunt again? Never to breath real air?


“If they really want to be rid of us, the truth is all to their advantage!”  The ever optimistic stargazer added his own opinion as he lifted his cub into his arms and Foxfur embraced him from behind to watch and listen.  


The others also felt the trepidation, and as Bearclaw's gaze scanned over them all in silence, some chose to speak up as well.  “Well... the way I see it...” Treestump piped up as he slowly scratched the facefur at his chin and pondered over his words. “...what else could possibly be on the other side of this tunnel of light?  This is all under ground, right? And we already know on one end was our home, which was nothing but a grand forest full of prey to hunt. Knowing that was at one end of the caverns only leads me to believe that the same lies beyond another tunnel, eh?”


Many nodded to the elder's way of thinking, when Brownberry spoke up her own.  “Even if they're lying about no humans, so long as it's another forest, we know we can survive in it just as we always have.  We just know now to keep ourselves more hidden than ever before, or travel well beyond their  dwellings where they never suspect we exist.”  She looked up to Lonbranch who gave her loving smile of pride before giving his chief his own nod of approval.  


The next came from the tribe's healer.  He stepped close to Bearclaw with a haunting look in his eyes and whispered.  “I won't lie, my chief.  Redlance has little chance of healing in a place like this.  These caverns are full of filth.  The stench is sickening in the air, and the dampness will do him more harm than good.”


They didn't see Bearclaw's hand slip into Joyleaf's to give her a gentle squeeze before letting go and turning back to face Greymung.  The council may have been brief, but the chief heard enough and made the decision.  “Alright.  Agreed. And once we're there, we'll trouble you no more.”  


The tribe was jubilant one again.  Smiles returned and in the wave of excitement, Nightfall gathered Redlance into her arms.  “A new Holt! Oh Redlance! The humans will never hurt us again!”  He winced from the jolt of pain, but hid it well behind his smile as he held her close with one arm and whispered.  “Never to fear, or be hunted again....”


Everyone was quick to gather their things and regroup in order to set off and follow Picknose.  And as Cutter passed by the troll king, he made sure to leave Greymung one last vow hissed through his teeth.   “If you're lying... I promise I'll send Picknose back to you in SIX separate pouches!”


Greymung leaned down from his throne and sneered at the elf.  “Oh, that won't be necessary... whelp!”
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truelight

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptySun Jun 15, 2014 4:24 pm

Two thumbs way up in the air!
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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: All Hail the Awesomeness!   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyTue Jun 17, 2014 10:11 pm

Love the new piece!

Cutter coming into his own...Bearclaw being a Chief...Joyleaf backing him...

This was exceptional! I'll be expecting more...lots more...very soon!

 cheers 

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Lunakat

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyWed Feb 11, 2015 12:42 am

I know it's been a while, but I really wish this would continue. It's such a fun read.

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Kindredsoul

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyThu Feb 12, 2015 1:30 am

If I could ever get my incentive back again ><

btw, thanks for the heads up
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Vaeri

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyTue Apr 07, 2015 2:57 pm

*claps* quite enjoyable so far! i definitely look forward to seeing them reach the desert!^^
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Kindredsoul

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyWed Apr 08, 2015 2:30 am

Shocked

*giggles* wow... it's been so long!

Then I better get to work again!!  Wink  Hopefully I can add some more drawings like with the first post, too ^_^

Thanks guys I love you Having everyone together again seems to be the best muse alarm!

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Tenderfoot

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyWed Apr 08, 2015 6:16 am

Kindred... dear, dear Kindresoul, I can't even begin to describe how much I love this Shocked I mean, if a single grain of sand could express my love for it, a whole desert would not be enough to explain it!

Mind you, I've been reading this instead of working on my Bachelor paper - should tell you how it has captured me!

Oh, Kindred! Can't you just become an author and then be my favorite one!?
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Kindredsoul

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyWed Apr 08, 2015 9:54 pm

Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed awwww Tenderfoot... thank you!! ^_^

I'll get to working on this again asap! Just bear with me, because I'm working 2 jobs now, but I miss writing terribly and am dying to get back into it!

Being surrounded by wonderful friends is like an energy drink for the muse What a Face

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyThu Apr 09, 2015 11:49 am

Awesome. Me wants MOAR!!

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptySun Apr 12, 2015 10:42 pm

((okay, bear with me... it's been awhile since I've written this last Shocked Hope you enjoy I love you ))





The journey through the winding caverns was nothing like the previous trek to confront the troll king. There were no towering sculptures etched within the stone walls, there were no glistening stones to capture the eyes, nor any of the remarkable archways and pillars that once guided the tribe to the elaborate throne room.


Yet even without the elaborate display of troll carving skills, or their corridors adorned with lavish treasures, the long and winding tunnels still beheld their own impressive display.  Their natural design was by far more intimidating though. The trail was surrounded by elongated spears of stone that grew from above the tunnel ceilings, as if reaching for the wayward travelers below, and some sprung up from the ground to ward them off from the most dangerous of pathways.  The deep divots and crevices throughout the encircling walls formed their own distinguished shadows that ran amok against the glow of the single torchlight Picknose was permitted to carry in order to guide the way.  Shadows that played tricks on elfin eyes and wolves alike, who were accustomed to the more welcoming shrouds of their forest abode.  


Once their keen senses adapted to the foreboding atmosphere, the elves unspoken tension began to relax. The air was silent, but minds linked with one another in thoughts, or some kept to themselves during the trepid journey.  Even the cubs clung quietly to their mothers, or fathers and their wolves, with widened eyes drinking in their newest surroundings.  Rain kept close to Redlance and Nightfall, as did Treestump, in case the injured elf fell too weak to hold himself upright upon his wolf, but only worried glances were exchanged whenever their chief turned to look over his shoulder with silent concern.  The wounded tracker never once complained of his pain.


It was Longbranch who broke the unnerving silence, starting with a low hum within his throat. Beside him, Brownberry smiled softly at her lifemate and the familiar tune as her subtle voice soon joined with his.  It was a song known to them all, and even if some chose not to join in, it was a welcoming reprieve from their sorrow.  Although Bearclaw was in no mood, the words and harmonious tune did provide some sort of solace to his restlessness while keeping his glare fixated on the troll walking in front of him.  

Little did he know of the antics being carried out behind him.

One Eye flinched from the unexpected tug to his hair from behind. Turning about, he found Skywise smiling at his new rock trinket and tying One Eye’s lock of hair with other strands while humming with the tribe song. But before the hunter could question him, the stargazer quickly sliced a few strands of hair from Clearbrook. Her startled gasp led her soulmate to scowl at Skywise before the elder growled at him. "What in Timmorn's teeth are you doing!?"


But Skywise was already off hunting for his next victims without giving any answers.   Others didn't really mind, others he had to explain to, especially Dewshine when he appeared so suddenly at her side and reaching out for her short flaxen curls! Her instincts led her delicate hands to swat him away, but after his heartfelt explanation, she gave in with a sigh of annoyance and surrendered a small lock of hair. Scouter only agreed to sacrifice his own because Dewshine already did.  Treestump grumbled his own reluctance, but some of his strands were offered as well.


But to come upon the tribe's finest archer was a different matter. That silent scowl watched Skywise's every move like a hawk once he knew what the hair thief was up to. "Aww, come on, Strongbow! It's all for luck! Don't you think we need all we can get right now?"  


A seething sigh followed, but Strongbow reluctantly agreed, as did a chuckling Moonshade, and even little Dart was eager to have some his own hair added to whatever Skywise needed it for.

Bearclaw was a whole other matter.

**Come near me with that little blade of yours and I'll scalp you bald....**  The open sending froze Skywise in mid reach before the chieftain even turned his head to greet the hair collecting elf with a warning arch of his left eyebrow. But surprisingly, that didn't deter Skywise and his efforts. He just had to be more cunning and clever.


He only gave Bearclaw a wide grin before nudging Starjumper away to then approach Cutter, who was too distracted by joining in the song before a startling tug to his head jerked him back. "Ow! Skywise! Why do you want strands of everyone's hair?!"


Skywise chuckled after obtaining his friend's long strands, now weaving them into the mix of his growing collection. "To braid into a string for the magic stone! That way it will be a good luck talisman for all!"  


Only Joyleaf witnessed her soulmate's roll of the eyes as they overheard the conversation. She quietly pursed her lips tightly to hide her own amusement, and to keep herself from warning Bearclaw of the inching knife coming so close to his chief's lock while the conversation continued.  Surely if she wasn’t looking, then she could honestly profess that she saw nothing at all to warn her beloved about.


"I've never seen you so wrapped up in a thing!" Cutter exclaimed while scowling at his friend before his own expression fell into a silent shock as he witnessed Skywise’s hands inching ever closer to Bearclaw’s hair.  The bold stargazer wasn’t even watching his own hands when looking back at Cutter with an enthusiastic smile. “Don’t ask me why, Cutter, but this piece of rock is very powerful!”

’Ting!’


Skywise turned his head suddenly to find that Bearclaw’s wolf pendant had flown up from his chest and around his neck to now cling against the mysterious rock that was also stuck against the stargazer’s metal wrist-guard.  It was as if time came to a deathly stand still.  Finally, the silent chief slowly turned his head to lock eyes with the youth, then sliding his piercing gaze to the unmoving pendant still attached to the wretched stone before lifting his glare back at the silver haired youth again.  Thankfully, Starjumper somehow knew to keep his pace even with Blackfell, or else either rider may have toppled since they were currently stuck to each other.   Skywise could only let out a nervous chuckle before looking over at Cutter with a silent plea in his eyes and a nervous squeak in his voice. “See how it clings like a living thing!?”


The chieftain’s voice replied smoothly, yet still with a chilling tone. “Would you like to see how New Moon also clings to a living thing?”


The snort of laughter came unexpectedly, especially hearing that it came from his own soulmate. “Would it kill you to entertain him for just a moment, beloved? Skywise only means to bring us luck from the stars.” Her genuinely sweet smile and playful words were enough to distract Bearclaw’s foul mood for Skywise to sneak off a slice of his unruly mane and swiftly pry the wolf pendant free from the stone. By the time Bearclaw spun his head back again, the stargazer was already safely out of reach and smiling quite smugly over his victory.


In order to hopefully distract his father’s already irritated mood, Cutter diverted the attention away from Skywise by questioning the troll of the mysterious stone’s origins. “Hey Picky! The big stone we chipped this from… where’d you get it? What’s it called?”


The troll was obviously disgruntled, keeping his straightforward gaze ahead and replying with a rather dry monotone. “A Lodestone… they say it fell from the sky. It’s very old.”


Naturally, such an answer piqued Skywise’s imagination as he stared at his new little treasure with wonder in his eyes. Being so mesmerized by the thought, little did he realize Stardreamer chose to slow his pace to rejoin with Foxfur’s wolf and his soulmate leaned close to graze her lips across his cheek. “Are you happy now, my stardreamer?”  


His bright eyes and smile greeted her and their cub now resting in Foxfur’s arms, yet that mischievous gleam still remained. “Almost,” Skywise replied with a wink. “I still need a lock of your hair too!”  It was not the answer she expected as Foxfur rolled her eyes with a slight shake of her head when pulling away. Although she should have known…. When Skywise had his mind set on something, there was little chance to dissuade him from it.


The passing of time was nearly impossible to calculate without ever seeing the sun or moon.  Bearclaw could only presume by what his instincts felt. After the first long trek, the tribe came to a stop for a long deserved rest.  But not for the chieftain. He remained fully awake and ever vigilant on the solitary troll they had to rely upon as their only guide within the endless maze of tunnels and caverns.  Should the conniving Picknose slip away unseen, the Wolfriders would be left in peril of complete darkness and not a single scent to go by expect for their guide alone. Even if they could follow his scent, it would be an endless maze race that would certainly lead his tribe to their death of starvation before ever finding their way back to the throne room, let alone finding an escape from the endless tunnels.


By the second journey, spirits were beginning to damper again. Stomachs were empty. Water grew slim. And with every glance, Bearclaw could only watch Redlance’s life continue to weaken.  But at least the cubs brought some delightful distraction to the growing misery. Now confident that the shadows wouldn’t come alive, nor was there a threat to be had within the surrounding stone, Newstar and Dart chose to trot and skip around the wolves to deter their boredom and exert their youthful energy.  Soon, Skydancer squirmed from her father’s arms, wanting to join with her companions, who both took charge of the cub’s care and kept her entertained.  


Just hearing the youthful laughter brought back smiles.  Even for Redlance as he watched the older two try to lift the cub up from the ground to swing her forward and backwards.  But the carefree merriment only reminded the chief even more of what was at stake.  The lives of his tribe didn’t have the luxury of time, and his impatience with Picknose was growing thin. Every time the troll was interrogated as to how much farther, or how much longer they had to travel, his answer was always the same. “In due time… In due time…”

The last time he gave that answer, Bearclaw leaned over Blackfell to growl into the troll’s ear. “In due time, the wolves will feast upon your hide….”  In that instant, Picknose began to walk twice as fast.


When it came time to rest again, Rain took a moment to approach his chief, but Bearclaw already expected the grim words to come. Words kept safely between them alone in a lock-sending. There was little else the healer could do. What salves he had left were already used, and those were merely for the pain.  There were injuries within Redlance’s body that Rain’s limited powers simply couldn’t reach.  Internal injuries that would eventually claim the tracker’s life.


The chieftain couldn’t bring himself to meet the healer’s eyes. He already knew what he would see.  **Does Nightfall know?**


A heavy sigh followed as Rain’s gaze wavered a brief glance at the spoken lifemates. **I have not told her, but I sense she suspects the inevitable.**


Bearclaw’s subtle nod followed while reaching out to give his tribemate a gentle grasp upon his shoulder.  **Keep it that way, my friend. From anyone else who may ask as well.**


Rain nodded in agreement and left in silence to return to his duty, yet feeling more helpless than ever.  When Joyleaf cautiously approached, there was no need for her to ask, nor send.  The truth was still in her soulmate’s eyes when he met her own. But her astounding strength rose up. Her soul wanted to scream in anguish, but she knew how devastated the tribe would be if they learned of Redlance’s fate at that very moment.  And if Redlance knew himself, Joyleaf knew him. His nature was to protect others. He wouldn’t want the tribe to know. He wouldn’t want them to lose hope now for a new beginning.  So with a lift of her chin, she swallowed hard against the rising sob that threatened to choke through her lips.  Her soft features hardened with determination. And in seeing this, Bearclaw found the strength to call upon his own.  **We press on.**


Joyleaf gave him a solid nod before they both returned their attentions to the rest of the tribe.  But another sleepless night wasn’t about to be accepted for the chief. Or so he was given no choice in the matter.


“You haven’t slept since we fled the fire, my chief,” Treestump stated with stubbornness already set into his crossed arms. “I’ll watch over our guide for the night. The tribe needs you, and you need your rest.”


It was a brief challenge, but with a disgruntled growl, Bearclaw reluctantly let the fellow elder have his way.  **Only because you’re Joyleaf’s brother will I let you win this time, you old tusk hog.** But even with the security that Treestump’s vigilance guarded over Picknose as everyone slept, the chieftain barely grasped slumber.  The fear of unknown crept along his spine.  If they were truly being misled… The impending death that fueled his already haunting guilt. The cubs… what of the cubs if all should go wrong…

**Grenn…**

Joyleaf’s solitary sending lured him to pull Joyleaf even closer. His restlessness was even keeping her awake. So he tried.  As Bearclaw buried his nose against the back of her neck, he inhaled deeply to consume what lingering scent of their home remained within her hair in order to find some momentary peace and drift to sleep.


It was a struggle for the tribe to awaken and start off again. Bodies had grown weak from lack of food, screaming muscles stiff and sore from sleeping upon stone, and what water was left would also be diminished soon.  Still, not a single tribemate complained, and some even chose to walk to give their tired wolves some relief from carrying their extra weight. The dampness within the caves felt as if it grew thicker, and even the air felt more chilled than before as the sluggish pace continued through the winding caverns with their hope slowly dissipating.  The cubs had even grown too weak to interact or play, and those who had any scrap of rations to be found insisted that Rainsong, Foxfur, and Moonshade take them for the cubs, and consume the bits of berries or dried meat for themselves in order to be able to keep their youngest nourished.  

And their chief’s simmering mood was coming close to a full boil.  

No one paid attention to how long they had walked this time, not that any could fathom the passing of day and night being so deep below the caverns anyway, but they were grateful when Bearclaw called a halt a bit sooner than before.  Although he feared for his tribe, the chief didn’t want to push Redlance any further. The elf’s skin had grown deathly pale with a foreshadowing of grey. After seeing to the injured one, Bearclaw turned, ready to skin their troll guide alive when he caught sight of Cutter confronting Picknose himself.  He chose to stay out of it for it now.  The chieftain knew he wouldn’t be able to hold New Moon back for blood if he even tried to get answers out of that arrogant troll right now.


“Our water supply is getting low. The wolves are tired and thirsty… and so are we! How much farther, Picky?”  The troll’s smile may have been smug, but Cutter could see the nervous flicker in Picknose’s gaze flickering toward the tunnel, then back at Cutter, which only made the elf’s own glare narrow with suspicion.


“Don’t worry,” Picknose replied with overly smooth assurance in his gruff voice. “Rest now… You’ve almost reached the end of your journey!”  The troll shuffled off to find his own resting nook while Cutter’s seething gaze remained fixed on his back. Something felt off. Cutter couldn’t track what exactly had the hairs rise up at the nape of his neck, but his gut warned him to stay on guard.  So with little information to offer, he approached Bearclaw with Picknose’s words to let the chieftain decide how long to allow the tribe to rest…. hopefully for the last time within the wretched caves.  


To Bearclaw’s surprise, as well to the rest of the tribe, it was Redlance who was the first in wanting to push on again.  Even against Nightfall’s and Rain’s protests, he shook them off with stubborn defiance. “I’m sick of being underground!” His startling outcry simply expressed what everyone else felt, but kept silent to themselves.  But for Redlance, it was more out of desperation. He thrived for the trees, and woodland growth in a way that they were deeply rooted within his veins, even if his powers had yet to awaken.


Not even Bearclaw was going to attempt arguing with him.  Perhaps the promised woodlands ahead was exactly what Redlance needed in order to heal.  So after the chief delivered a swift kick to Picknose’s snoozing rump, the tribe set off yet again.  Many were still half asleep upon their wolves when Skywise’s sudden cheer echoed throughout the caverns, igniting their almost vanquished hopes! “Light! I see LIGHT ahead!!”


Shared sendings of relief and visions of cool green woodlands flowed through every mind and heart as tribemates gathered closely with eager eyes toward the bright glow ahead of them.  While motioning the tribe ahead, Bearclaw remained behind and wasn’t about to give Picknose an ounce of trust, even if the bright daystar turned the troll into a coward.  “This is as far as I go! The light of day is harmful to trolls!”

Cutter scoffed down at him with annoyance while sitting upon Nightrunner. “We elves are night creatures, too, but the sun doesn’t frighten us.”

“Cutter, come on! Come see the new land!”

He was about to tell Skywise to go on without him until Bearclaw insisted that he join the tribe. “If there is any threat ahead of them, they will need every hand available with the tribe being so weak.”  He saw the reluctance set in his son’s jaw, but Cutter finally obliged his father with a curt nod before cathing up with his mother and the others.   After seeing the tribe safely round the bend in a rush to their newfound destination, Bearclaw’s warning gaze and suspicious sending reached Treestump’s mind.  **Guard this crafty one until we make certain old Greymung didn’t lie.**


Treestump’s own gaze glistened toward Picknose with the promise of retribution, and with the same threatening gleam that matched the blade in his hand.  “Pity you if you led us astray, mud-grubber!”


It only took moments for Bearclaw to reach the mouth of the tunnel to find himself painfully blinded along with the rest of the tribe.  Their exclamations of confusion and pain filled his ears as he struggled to shield and adjust his eyesight to such brightness… only to see certain death staring right back at him.  He was paralyzed with shock… outrage and disbelief were the first to fill his mind before reality cracked through his senses like a bolt of lightning just as he spun around like a rabid wolf to charge after his prey.  But before the chief even ran a single step, the ground and tunnel suddenly shook as Cutter cried out in alarm. “The tunnel!”


Within mere seconds, the boulders came tumbling down with a quaking thunder and screams to follow of a single name. Luckily, the elder made it through unscathed, save for his pride as demanding questions came from Cutter at his side. “What happened? Where’s Picknose?”


Treestump let out a painful groan while holding his head and already feeling Rain’s hands searching for any possible injury. “I… I don’t know. He just touched the wall… and the stones came down like rain…”


Cutter felt his own limbs begin to tremble from the rage coursing through his veins while glaring at the small mountain of thick rocks that blocked their only means of escape. “Cursed lying trolls had it planned from the start…”


Dewshine’s trembling voice came from behind her father’s shoulder, afraid to let go of Treestump’s arm just yet until Rain determined he was fine. “But why, Cutter? There was no need for them to do this!”


He could only sigh in defeat as the answer hung heavily upon his shoulders before slowly turning to face the wasteland ahead, only to find Bearclaw’s back now facing him. “Revenge, Dewshine… for Greymung’s injured pride… Never thought… he would go so far…”  His own memories briefly plagued him of a time where Cutter thought he earned some amount of small respect from the trolls, but he shrugged off the useless thought to approach the unmoving and silent chief, and leaving the tribe’s hushed questions behind.

What now? What are we do? How do we escape?

Silence was the only answer chief and son could give.

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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptySun Apr 12, 2015 11:27 pm

cheers cheers cheers cheers

Awesome job Kindred...Bearclaw is back! I love the way you see him as a chief, leading even though he's a hot head. You can also see where Cutter gets it from! Razz

MOAR!!!

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Lunakat

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyMon Apr 13, 2015 1:01 pm

Cool! I like the differences. I'm surprised Bearclaw let himself be tricked by the Trolls as easily as Cutter. I hope the story takes a few unexpected turns with him involved.

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faeriegirl

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyMon Apr 13, 2015 2:19 pm

MOAR!!! Awesome new chapter!

Wonder how Bearclaw will "handle" the Sun Folk!

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Kindredsoul

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyTue Apr 14, 2015 1:37 am

@Lunakat wrote:
Cool! I like the differences. I'm surprised Bearclaw let himself be tricked by the Trolls as easily as Cutter. I hope the story takes a few unexpected turns with him involved.

I was about to go with that too, Luna... and with the way Bearclaw was before  Madcoil, you're absolutely right. He most likely wouldn't have been fooled so easily... or distracted.

But then I had to sit back and seriously think of how he might have changed his line of thinking if he DID survive Madcoil. The sendings shared from that monstrosity would have left him quite shaken, even one as strong as Bearclaw, leading his sense of self to change as well. Or so I would imagine.

And although he's spent years dealing with the threat of humans, he's never dealt with loosing an entire holt to fire either.

So I muddled over all of that, plus pondered his past too. I would imagine, even with the knowing of how sneaky and manipulating the trolls can be, Bearclaw was the one who established more trust with them than any other elf. I'm sure Bearclaw would expect a "rip off" when it came to trades.... but never to be so malicious as to kill off his entire tribe.

Anyway, hope that makes sense as to where my line of thinking was Laughing

And there's going to be a lot of unexpected turns ^__^ BUT... I still want to express Cutter's growth into chief-hood as it's told in the OQ too. So the events will still be the same.... but a lot of extras added into the mix the further the story gets Cool

Thanks for the comments and encouragement everyone! I love you I love you I love you

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PostSubject: Re: The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way)   The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) EmptyTue Apr 14, 2015 6:22 am

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Interesting... It had me reflecting (again) upon Bearclaw.

From what I've gathered so far, I'm pretty convinced there's FAR MORE to Bearclaw than what we the readers were presented, all along.

Without the slaughter caused by Madcoil, he sure would have handled the very first case (Redlance being captured and about to be sacrificed) with FAR MORE savagery, and not even Cutter would have stopped him, I think. Not even Joyleaf could have.
Fact is I'm certain he would not have stopped until most surviving humans had FLED from that spot of the forest, scaring them enough for them not to come again before looooong.
And the scaring techniques might very well have been really savage ones...

Do you remember what Strongbow sends to Cutter ?...

The "What if..." (Bearclaw's Way) Bearcl10


Now, if some humans HAD come back with fire, after that, Bearclaw wouldn't have trusted for ONE moment the trolls : he knew them well. Joyleaf probably would have seen that fanatic 'Let's burn the forest' attitude coming far before and pushed Bearclaw to organize a correct flight in time... while Bearclaw would ALSO have launched a quick, killing squad at the coming humans, in order to try and stop that - had that squad failed to prevent it, the Wolfriders would simply have left the forest to the flames on a less desperate escape route.

That's just as far as I see the "What if" going, but it was a great work, anyway, Kin !

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