A1 - Deer Park
In the beginning there was nothing.
A nothing afraid of its own nothingness. A sheer terror without color. Without form. Without reason. It was from this initial inconsistency that all of creation flowed. Unbound by the constraints of being, there was only a void known as fear.
Then there was fire. A great flame that engulfed the void, kindling and blistering and fading until only ashes remained. These ashes clung together, coalescing into embers, fostering divergence, and with it, disparity. Light and dark, heat and cold, space and time, and all the elements of the universe. Eventually these patterns turned inward and the first sparks of life were born. This first life was little more than the ashes from which it sprung, fragile, constantly on the verge of collapse. But soon it learned to multiply. And then it learned to grow.
Splitting and merging and mutating, gathering ever greater complexity. Sacrificing itself when necessary to ensure the viability of the whole: turning chaos into purpose. Augmenting itself to become different than itself. All out of fear of the void.
Having given rise to countless variation, life developed barriers to prevent itself from being consumed by the universe around it. Barriers like fur and feathers and flesh. Barriers like defensive behaviors to avoid danger. To seek allies. To find food.
Suffering was the price of these barriers. And at first all life knew was suffering. But as life grew to suffer less and less it soon strove not to suffer at all. Along the way it developed mastery over world it inhabited, discovering that it and the void were one and the same.
As a side effect of this process, life once again mapped out its own nothingness and started its own first flame. What you call gods are nothing more than the legacy of this first life. They created the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the forests, and of course, predator and prey. Now the creed and wisdom of the Forerunners has been inherited by us, the Wolves.
-- Origins of the Universe (Central Dogma)
I'm not quite plagiarizing Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden with this intro, but if I ripped off any more it would be dangerously close.
I'm still unhappy with this scene, at least the way it is written. The segue's are too abrupt, and the whole self-dialogue bit at the end is kind of meh... Also, since we call him a 'once-wolf' due to being condemned, is the audience going to think we're describing something other than a wolf running?
Pyren was running. Pyren was going to die.
It's cold here. When Pyren was a cub the older wolves used to tell him stories about the sun. The way dawn would vanquish darkness, bringing warmth to the furthest stretches of the forest. The glory of summer, the inevitable return of spring. Pyren ignored the lessons, he knew better. It had always been cold here.
Another shriek echoed across the treeline as Pyren bolted through the Deadwood. Beneath panicked breaths he could hear the sounds of timber torn apart in his wake, hallowed trunks shattered and ripped from their roots. Sprinting through the forest, fleeing from a horror without a name, Pyren had known what he'd found.
There was a monster loose in the woods.
Before the shrieking, before the Deadwood, Pyren had been a wolf once. A caretaker for the young in Weston who still occasionally awoke buzzing with the fear that he was late for an appointment or misplaced one of his cubs. Now the once-wolf traveled naked and alone, forward-guard for Serinth's expedition. But this was just a euphemism. He was bait.
And we never should have come here to begin with...
You could just look around and tell this place was sick. The way the trees seeped forward gradually, dried husks sunken into the frozen earth. Their bony appendages weaved cobwebs overhead, casting dancing shadows on the forest floor. The heaviest limbs sagged downwards, tips balancing delicately in the fresh snow. Long stripped of their bark, the trees stood naked, exposing itself to him. Like an animal without any skin.
So I'm trying to do a thing here where throughout the whole scene he really wants to turn back and look, but he keeps stopping himself. Not really working yet, but I'll give another crack at it.
At one point mention 'the scent of death' as one of the reasons Pyren knows its chasing him.
Perhaps we say he looks this way so I would know his shame.
The once-wolf was a pitiful creature. Thin patches of pale fur clung loosely over his scorched skin, offering little protection from the elements. This ears had been ripped and shorn away, his tailed lay tattered and limp, leaving a thin trail as he dragged it across the snow. They called this ''condemnation'', when one's crime is so great that they've forfeited the right to even be considered a person. It hurt but he didn't turn back, didn't need to turn back to know what was still behind him...
The monster was screaming.
It was screaming and chasing after him and Pyren was going to die. He didn't know how long it been stalking him. Maybe the past day. Maybe his entire life. But it was there. Watching him. Not with eyes. There were no eyes. But Pyren knew it had been watching him because he felt it. And as the once-wolf ran his entire body trembled with the weight of a single terrifying realization. The screamer was getting closer.
Eh, the below paragraph needs some work...
So Pyren screamed too. He screamed against the darkness and the fear. Against the anger and the cold. And against anything and everything he had ever known in his short life. Pyren screamed and screamed and screamed until the entire forest could feel his pain. Then he screamed some more.
When a wolf runs it feels like the whole world comes to a standstill. And Pyren could perceive every detail of the forest floor. He saw snowflakes drift in slow motion, cascading like leaves through the gaps in the canopy. Felt his hot breath twist and swirl across his muzzle with each gasp. Felt the searing blisters on his paws each time they pounded the frigid earth.
Most of all he felt the cold. There was an almost ethereal presence about it. The winter wind penetrated forest, fur, and flesh, cutting past the bone and into something much deeper. And when Pyren breathed it felt like he was swallowing fire.
In the end, he never really stood a chance. The once-wolf was slowing down now, his body giving out under strain.
No, keep moving! Keep pushing forward--
Concentrate! Look for a way out of the Deadwood! There’s got to be a way out--
DON'T YOU WANT TO SEE?
No! Don't get distracted! Focus on the task at hand! Focus--
DON'T YOU WANT TO SEE WHAT DEATH LOOKS LIKE?
Stop it! Stop daydreaming! If you hesitate, if you falter for even a second--you’re dead! You’re dead! You’re dead! You’re dead--
Now this section below is really cringe, and too long, you can kind of see what I was going for. It's too repetitive and this whole section is threatening to take itself a little too seriously. And using 'battery acid' as a description feels weird here.
His legs were aching and his paws were bloodied but he didn't turn back. His throat was searing and his muscles were shredded but he didn't turn back. His veins pumped battery acid and his lungs were on the verge of collapse but he didn't turn back. Pyren didn't turn back.
Of course he turned back. Pyren twisted back around so quickly he thought his neck might snap. Slipping and tripping and tumbling across the snow, the once-wolf slammed into a tree trunk with a painful yelp. He lay there, cowering in the dirt, waiting for death.
But from all around the Deadwood merely stared back in silence.
On the corpse of a shattered mountain, teetering on the edge of a bottomless abyss, there exists a gate. A gate like nothing you've seen before. A primordial concoction of rock and metal and time as ancient and intrinsic as the earth in which it lay. And impossible monolith, the remnant of a world long since passed. And as the winter wind swept across its frost-stained surface, the gate began to open.
Cogs twisted and turned. Stone and steel shuddered and groaned as two massive onyx doors split apart, revealing the entrance to...somewhere. There were no roads--no structures--before or beyond the gate. Nowhere to come from and nowhere to go. But the gate opened. And a wolf emerged.
Heyoke hesitated as he stepped into the snow. The onyx doors closed slowly behind him, the entire contraption whirling and whining and finally coming to a standstill, leaving nothing but silence in its wake. Heyoke watched solemnly, appreciating the finality of it, before returning to the path ahead.
Above the trees Heyoke could make out the swirling clouds of the Overlook, a blanket of gray that hung eternal in the twilight sky. Snowflakes trickled gently beneath its surface and into the world below. The dark wolf shivered as he shook them off, he hated this place.
We mention that the spirals go all around the circumference of the hallowed mountain, from above it looks like many smaller circles, also we mention that the entire mountain range had been 'cleaved in half' which Heyoke might note as he stares at them in the distance.
Perhaps we can describe the helix as 'Involuted'.
The most distinguishing feature of the mesa was the enormous fissure at its center. Deer Park was a subterranean structure, a pair of spirals carved into a hallowed mountain Each path circled the other as it tunneled into the earth, the double helix growing closer as it dug deeper, forming a basin at the bottom. And leaving a colossal gaping maw in its wake. The wolf felt what was left of the mountain top now more closely resembled a volcano than anything else. It wasn't natural. Nothing about this place was natural.
This next paragraph if somewhat awkward, especially the description of the rivers.
The gulf was massive, the way you'd think of impact craters as big. From the summit snow fed into two frozen rivers that trailed each path down, collecting into an artificial lake at the base of the spirals. Were Heyoke able to see the basin beneath the fog he would have counted eight layers to the bottom. The basin would be bare aside from the reservoir at its center and four massive archways whittled into the canyon walls. These passages marked the entrance to Deer Park--or exit--depending on your point of view. One of them would be overflowing with black foliage: the wolf's destination.
There were three ways to each the basin from the summit. Scattered atop each layer of the spirals were a mishmash of forest, tundra, and hundreds of smaller structures etched directly into the mountainside. These structures were once dwellings which contained tunnels which ran through the bedrock, allowing one to jump between the plateaus. But the light in these places had long since been extinguished and Heyoke couldn't guarantee that if he entered he would ever find his way out again.
The second possibility was to attempt to scale down the cliffs separating each layer. Unlike the floors of the spiral, the cliff walls were not so neatly sculpted. They stood at a sharp incline, with various jagged grooves and rocky outcrops dotting their surface. One could plausibly descend down their face to reach the next plateau--if one were feeling suicidal.
The third route, which the wolf now took, was simply to follow the one of the rivers down the spirals until it fed into the reservoir. However what safety this path held was offset by its sheer length. It would take all day to reach the basin from the summit, if time could be measured with days in this place.
And so Heyoke walked. When he was tired, he slept. When he was thirsty, he used his paws to break open the frozen river and drank from its icy water. And when he felt alone, trapped in this endless derelict fortress, he would close his eyes and listens to the sounds of the wind as it flickered through the vacant trees. But mostly he walked.
There are no secrets in the snow. Twice the dark wolf passed by the tracks of another. Occasionally he would catch a whiff of scat or scent markings on a nearby tree. At times Heyoke considered seeking out these possible allies, but in the end there was little point. If they were looking for him they would find him soon.
Not happy about this next section.
The ground grew soft as the carved bedrock of the spiral finally gave way to the basin floor. The frozen river followed a wayward path now, overgrown with saplings and debris and negligence. Massive chunks of marble littered the trail, obscuring the clearing ahead.
So regarding the chunks of stone maybe we say the basin was "littered with these cadavers", the refuse of broken statues that once stood proud, welcoming all refugees to Deer Park. If they're everything, this helps explain why Serinth is sitting behind one (or on top of one).
Two colossal stone stags once marked the entrance to the basin. They stood poised on their hind legs--facing one another--antlers locked in a perpetual duel, forming an archway welcoming all emigrants to Deer Park. Now these pieces were all that was left. The dark wolf glanced between them curiously as he passed. Although the statues had shattered, the pieces were close enough together to give one an impression of the whole. There was something sad about it, Heyoke felt. This place had been a sanctuary once. Now its only inhabitants were the revena--what was that?
The wolf froze. Ears perked, sniffing the air lightly. He lowered himself and scuttled to the nearest cover: what was left of a large marble hoof. He started to climb it, slipping at first, before digging in his claws and cautiously hoisting himself up. The wolf crept warily now, gingerly hopping from one chunk of marble to the other, up the spine and across the statue's back, slowing as he reached the head. He ducked under its single remaining antler and peered out into basin below.
What Heyoke noticed first was not the majestic beauty of the reservoir, nor the dark horror that was inching towards it, but the lone creature which sat underneath him--staring off into the distance. A doe. Sitting on her haunches. Eyes locked on the opposite end of the basin--on the archway carved into the canyon--and on the black trees that were pouring out of it. She didn't notice him. She didn't seem to notice much of anything. She just waited there silently, completely defenseless in the empty clearing.
Heyoke racked his mind for explanations. She wasn't supposed to be here. No one was supposed to be here. Why a doe? Why here of all places? Freak paralysis? A death wish? Some sort of apocalyptic hajj? The answer never came but in the end it didn't matter. He wouldn't let this one get away.
Lingering a moment longer, the wolf finally withdrew his gaze from the creature and pulled back slowly. But as he did his should scraped against the stone antler, scattering snow in every direction.
The doe was on her feet instantly. Eyes darting wildly--searching for the source of the disturbance. All she found was the head of a pale marble stag staring back at her placidly, lichens growing between the cracks in its eyes. Snow was still trickling down its single remaining antler.
The below section has promise but it's not working yet. Especially the ending, her eyes widened at the end, that's it? What the fuck is that?
Then the doe's twitching ears focused on something else. A sound. A sound from behind the crumbling statue. A sound like movement and frustration and like claws rasping against stone. And then, in the distance, a sound like the patter-patter of a drum.
It was getting closer. She tried to pinpoint the source but could not.
She was backing up now, eyes darting wildly in every direction.
It was almost on her now, her every instinct screaming danger. And as she stared her eyes widened as the black wolf sailed over the statue.
Heyoke jumped just as the doe bolted, landing on her flank and rolling off--carving deep red gashes into her hide as he tumbled into the snow. The dark wolf was at full sprint by the time he realized he was running. Chasing her against the basin. To the archway. To the dark forest on the adjacent side. She was heading for the treeline on the opposite end of the basin. He had to stop her before she got there.
Also, what the fuck is this? He just catches up quickly? I ended up moving the old segue to Pyren's previous scene so now I need to figure out.
The dark wolf caught up quickly, nipping at her hind legs, tearing into her tendons, and sent her plummeting. She skid to a stop before the forest entrance. He kept watching her, making sure she was really down, and then collapsed as well.
He lay gasping, snout half-covered in frost as he fought away the darkness at the edges of his vision. But all the while he kept his eyes on the doe. She was still laying there, her back to him, brown fur caked in snow and blood. Her body still aside from the rhythmic heaving of her chest. A pool of yellow gently emanating from her abdomen. He had caught caught her just paces away from--
There it stood before him. A black leafless something that infested the clearing. Black tendrils reaching out to grasp anything--everything. As the trees spilled out of the archway they grew elongated, branches criss-crossing vertically up the stone, threatening to climb onto the next plateau.
After awhile--too long--the wolf stood. Wobbling a bit before steadying himself, he kept the black forest in sight at all times as he approached his kill. The doe's hooves were splintered and bloodied, she must have been traveling her months. her ribs shuddered violently with each gasp, making ripples against her loose skin. Her belly swelled in comparison to her thin frame.
She was pregnant. A pregnant starving doe. Wandering around Deer Park. Staring into the Deadwood. The wolf didn't understand. But he kept watching. And as he watched his mouth began to water.
I'm still unhappy with this next section, it's supposed to be rapey, but it's not really working yet, especially the "one moment" bit.
He mounted her. Trembling now, the anticipation growing. Something deep and primitive awoke in the dark wolf as he felt her shudder under his claws. He let his tongue loll out, taking in more of her scent, making her squint as he marked her with drops of warm saliva. He was getting closer now, approaching her throat. She trembled as he gently licked her neck, opened his jaws. The pain in his stomach, the fire coursing through his veins, they were all leading to this. To this one moment.
But the moment never came.
I'm also pretty unhappy with this next paragraph.
She was staring at him. At the last moment she had twisted back to face her attacker. He could see the panic and terror and hatred in her eyes. And all at once the dark wolf knew what he was. Neither of them tried to move. They just sat there. Twin statues frozen in the twilight snow.
The wolf was the first to stir. He stepped away carefully, trying not to put any more weight on her injured tendons. Her gaze never left him as he retreated. He sat back into the snow and turned away quickly, listening to the sounds of water rush underneath the frozen lake.
"...you should go." he said finally.
In this paragraph about darkness being familiar, we are trying to hint that Heyoke is Muts who as we see in the next chapter practically lived in the dark.
Heyoke closed his eyes, letting the world dissolve into darkness. It felt familiar, comforting in a way, to be all alone again, protected by a sea of black. But when he opened them again she was still staring at him.
"Run!" he roared.
The doe reacted with surprising speed, hopping up and dashing for the treeline. She stumbled, collapsing back into the snow, before pulling herself and limping towards the black treeline. Heyoke watched as she disappeared into the darkness. He looked down at his paws. The blood slid and swirled across the ice. He wished he could make it go away.
I'm very unhappy with this next part, I think I really need to work on the dialogue.
We note that he's actually stopped by the opposite entrance, he turns to face it, seeing the tracks and begins to follow them before she says "Still letting them get away I see." and when he faces her she says flatly "You're late." But she's leaning against one of the ruins of that statue.
Heyoke catches a whiff of something, he looks around and sees another trail of paw prints leading from the second entrance to the upper plateaus, he begins to trail them with his gaze.
Serinth (off-camera, flat): Still letting them get away I see.
Heyoke twists around to see another wolf several yard behind him, she has a book in her paws, sitting in the snow leaning against a chunk of debris that's only just covering her, she has several bags next to her, the trail is leading to her location. She doesn't bother to look up from the book as she speaks to him.
Serinth (flat): You're late.
Heyoke: I know.
Serinth: You're always late.
Heyoke sniffs and turns back to his paws, he doesn't want to look at her right now.
Serinth (turning a page): You didn't kill it.
Heyoke (clearly upset, nearly whispering): I can't...
Serinth (repeating her question): Why didn't you kill it Heyoke?
Heyoke (tears starting to form): I just...can't.
Serinth (sighing): Oh Heyoke... Why do you always have to be so different?