T H E B E G I N N I N G : T H E A K H I C L A N
Sparrow was born late in the summer, one in three, in a land north of Horizon, along the same coastline. Summer births were seen as unlucky by the more religious in her pack, a tight-knit group of wolves titling themselves the Akhi Clan, who were very much in line with the religion of Amaism. There were others in the valley who believed in the same gods, but the pack into which Sparrow was born consisted of strict followers of the sect, Dabaism, ruler of springtime, so to be born in any other season was ill omened.
From the start, her parents saw little potential in their offspring, offering only the bare minimum in rearing the three. Sparrow’s siblings didn’t make it beyond a few weeks, their small bodies left to the earth, unnamed, forgotten. Sparrow survived by some small chance of fate, and thus her name was bestowed, a slight in the eyes of Dabai, and an outcast to those with titles of far more powerful animals or spirits.
As a child, she was vibrant, quick to question, and eager to please, befriending Vex, the local prophet in her clan, and learning more about the mysticism of the religion she was born into. She was small, though, and the older spring-born pups shunned and bullied her. While they practiced and trained and grew stronger, she would spend hours mimicking in the shadows, finding solace in the prophet and his encouragements. He saw something in her no one else did, and encouraged her to read more into the world around her, into the world inside of her and her dreams.
His teachings led her to explore the world more, and so she began to stray beyond her pack’s lands, seeking the comfort of the surrounding hills, able to look down on the land around her, feeling for the first time the power in standing over others.
S H A N A X W O L V E S
Her wanderings led her to a rival pack in the mountains nearby, the Shanax Wolves, less strict in religion, more focused on power. Under guise of the name, Iskra, one that wouldn’t expose her as an Akhi wolf, she found friends there, confidants, and when no one noticed—which was more frequent than not—she would sneak off in the night to visit their lands, where she befriended a wolf, Toska. The two grew close quickly, sharing their secrets, bonding over their status as near outcasts, Sparrow due to her size and birth season, Toska lost under the shadow of her brother, Lys, a wolf quickly making his way up the ranks of the pack.
The Shanax Wolves were more in line with Michism, though they were far less strict than Sparrow’s own birth pack. In the small valley, dispute over lands was frequent, though, and her clan was at odds over land the Shanax Wolves sought as their own. When her natal pack discovered her wanderings, they exiled her, still a mere child of 6 months, and with nowhere else to turn, she found her way into the arms of the Shanax.
They welcomed her, fed her, trained her. Unlike their neighboring enemies, they believed power could be found in all, and under Toska’s pushing, she became Lys’s apprentice of sorts. She was small, but he taught her there was more to sparring than size, and though his lessons were brutal, physically and mentally, she grew stronger.
He was a natural, though, and his skills quickly led him to the position of commander. But where he was strong, he was also cruel, and his temper came out in the spars that were supposed to otherwise be friendly. When Sparrow grew wise to it, he turned it around on Toska and other lesser wolves in the pack, but with the backing of the leaders, it was all shoved under the rug.
With the impending war, Lys had never trusted Sparrow, an outsider, and his lessons turned to threats and abuse, despite her attempts to negate it. With his growing power in the ranks and inflating ego, she was no longer his mentor. She was his chew toy, as were other quiet wolves.
War had been inevitable in the life of a Shanax wolf, and the females were expected to throw their weight in with the rest of them, so by the end of her first year, Sparrow had killed and she had been injured. The Shanax were growing, though, conquering lands that had formerly belonged to the Akhi Clan and others, and Sparrow’s resolve hardened. She had become a Shanax wolf, through and through.
P L O T A G A I N S T L Y S
All was not conquest, though. After a year in the pack, Lys raped her during one of their sparring sessions, and the signs of pregnancy began to show. She cursed him and threatened, but it was nothing in the face of the larger wolf. He was a commander, and she was no one. However, the pregnancy was not meant to be, and before it became much of anything, she miscarried. She was lucky. His other victims, not so.
He and the Shanax had trained her to be cold, ruthless, and above all else, to strive for power, and in their open arms she had very much taken their teachings to heart, along with the more dark elements of Michism, but his actions had pushed her to her limits. Under her lead, a plot began forming under cover of night. Toska and a handful of the other wolves in the pack wanted Lys gone, and with yearly sacrifice as the mantra of Micha, it seemed the stars were aligning in their favor.
It took several weeks biding their time in the shadows, collecting their numbers, perfecting their plan, and when it came time to make their move, they joined in force during one of the spars between Sparrow and Lys, followers at her back, Lys against the mountainside.
His defeat would carry over to the Akhi wolves, and along with it she would reveal her name. They’d not be forgetting the little bird they’d pushed out of their nest, not if it took her death right along with his. Blinded by rage, bloodlust, and faith in her gods, she managed to send him tumbling down the mountainside, reduced to a bag of bones and blood.
As she stood from the heights looking down on his lifeless form, she realized what she had done, what she had lost, and for what she swore would be the last time in her life, she wept. The wolves at her back dispersed, all save Toska and a few others, most terrified of what the consequences would be, but Sparrow rose to her feet and pronounced her origins then and there for all the gathering pack to hear.
E X I L E
They saw it as a threat, dismissing the move as sacrifice, and tortured her, stripping her of everything she had worked towards, and Toska as well, digging for information that wasn’t there. Amidst a thunderstorm one night, she fled, unable to find Toska in the intensity of the moment. There was no turning back.
For five months she traveled inland, learning quickly that not everyone was certain to believe in her gods, that not everyone would be as welcoming as the Shanax had originally been. By the time she reached Horizon, she had hardened once more. She would not bend to any wolf. Not anymore. Far and away from what had been her home for nearly all her life, she would be born anew.