Grozchiir: Adventures of a Madclaw (Part 6)

In Uncategorized on 2008-03-19 by Kyle Maxwell


Pups played in the village, paying no heed as Grozchiir meandered through to clear his head from the nightmares he had faced for years. The day had dawned clear and bright, bringing a soft morning breeze through the trees. Soft wind chimes tinkled as he passed the shaman’s hut. A gravelly old voice spoke his name.

“Grozchiir. Come inside, yes, yes! We are to speak!”

The young Wookiee paused only briefly before ducking through the entrance. The light aroma of herbs, burning candles, and a thousand other scents tickled his nose. As sensitive to smell as any of his people, Grozchiir chuckled and felt himself a wide-eyed pup once more. He remembered those early misconceptions, common to all youth, in which he believed that shamans could do anything. The years and tragedies he had suffered created a hint of nostalgia for those days, wishing that shamans could in fact bring back the dead and banish nightmares.

The ancient Wookiee settled into his carved chair. “These old bones… don’t laugh at me, young one! Your day will come.” He peered more closely and pushed back the hood of his robes. “You have not slept well since you arrived in this village,” he growled.

Grozchiir laughed bitterly, then shook his head as his voice rumbled from deep in his chest. “Far longer than that, Elder Drywarr. Since I left this place with Shoryyytaal…” His voice trailed off, and the elderly Wookiee nodded sympathetically.

“Do you see that jar next to your head? No, the other one, not the ground mandibles. Yes…” The jar looked to contain some sort of off-white ooze, tinged with brown and an unhealthy-looking green. Grozchiir opened it and sniffed it cautiously before re-capping it quickly as he swallowed down his retching.

“Hee hee! The forest spirits guard you well, but apply that salve to your eyes each night and they will guard you from the hauntings.”

Grozchiir blinked in disbelief. Put this on his eyes? And be blinded, or worse? But one did not address an elder shaman in that manner. Old and feeble he might be, but traditions of honor and respect were stronger than any weapon forged. Instead, he chuckled slightly. “Perhaps the odor will frighten away the ghosts, Elder Drywarr.”

The only response he received was a quick bark, perhaps admonishing him. Hanging his head slightly, he murmured an apology, then paused and looked up again. Drywarr had replaced his hood and was making as if to stand and head to a back room. Not wishing to be dismissed so quickly, he snapped out the question that had burned in his heart for many moons.

“Wait! Elder, I—my destiny is darkness. Where can I find light?”

The shaman stopped in his tracks. Hunched over, he pivoted slowly on his walking stick. His eyes, did they glow? A trick of the candles, Grozchiir thought, though with an uneasy lack of confidence. Drywarr had lived many centuries and was certainly powerful. It was whispered that he de-materialized into a dust spirit at night and swept through the village to learn its secrets, though of course the younger Wookiee always laughed at such stories.

Until now, anyway; the hissing noise that sounded in the room came from everywhere and nowhere at once, and the dust that lay over everything seemed to crackle.

“Wish you for a new destiny, Grozchiir of Narookia? A dark path you have followed. If you truly wish this, you must be suffering anguish indeed.”

Grozchiir froze. He had never seen nor heard Drywarr speak in this manner, and that noise was increasing slightly. A basket of bones near his feet rattled just loud enough to be heard. Unable to speak, a mute nod was all he could offer.

“Very well then. For too long have you hidden from yourself, behind a mask. For too long have you ignored sage wisdom. For too long have you bubbled, burned, and boiled inside your soul. For too long, despite your travels, have you stayed in this village in your heart, unwilling to see others as your brothers. And for too long have you fought without weapons or armor… madclaw.”

The hissing increased dramatically, and several candles flickered out. Dust swirled around Grozchiir, and he grasped his own head in his massive paws. The shaman knew? How could he know of these things, of his true nightmares? Banishment to the Shadowlands surely awaited him.

“You are not to be banished forever. You are to cleanse yourself. You are to set out on this quest, to find those things that will bring you peace. You are to live far from here until then. Only then can you truly take your place among the honored of Narookia. Now go. Go!”

Grozchiir fled the hut; small pups stood outside, wide-eyed and silent, parting only to allow the massive fighter to pass through without trampling them. A tendril of dust from the hut followed him, floating through the air.

By the time Grozchiir had reached the nearest Rebel pickup beacon, it had disappeared in the forest. Trembling with fear and shame, he entered his emergency code.

If the shaman gave him this destiny, there was no choice but to accept it. Could he truly erase who he had been and rebuild himself? Could anyone?


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