Fvarbrand Turs, felt out of place and awkward. He had just turned 20 and he felt different from a year ago at this time. He had been lean and slender 12 months ago, with rusty deep red fur he had looked very unlike everyone in his village and he was mostly left to study uninterrupted. Now he was a thick mass of muscle and fat, he still had a relatively narrow shoulder span but now he was was thickly muscled with a sizable round belly. He wasn't used to it. The worst of it all was his high clear voice had roughened and deepened. His parents had told him this would happen but he had no idea it would be so quick. Puberty had hit him like a ton of bricks as the human saying went.
He honestly should have seen it coming, his appetite had spike to near that of his father's and he had been finding things strangely lighter than they should be. He hadn't noticed his clothes tightening because his uncle had been making and giving him new clothing all the time so now that he looked down at himself and realized his shirt was a little tight from the straining of his newly developed stomach he was a little stymied. Hesken Puberty did mean that people, especially men started putting on weight, it usually took a few years for them to develop the hefty midsections that was typical of his race but he seemed to get it all in one season. He had thought he would stay slender for a while. Now that that wasn't the case he was starting to see why males in their 20's and up started buckling their belts off to the left, it was in preparation for their tummies to grow out and for the buckles not to be hidden under the sometimes astonishingly large stomachs his people could grow. He typically would have absorbed all this growing up but he was living in a mostly Alo settlement, there weren't that many Hesken around and he had only really saw them when his uncle or father traded with Caravans passing through these mountains. His uncle and his mother were small by Hesken standards and he had no idea if his father who was much bigger was typical or overly large when comparatively speaking.
He awkwardly Dressed tugging the slightly tight tunic down and belting on his equipment pouches but trying to do it under his stomach before he realized he was supposed to do it off to the left. The Common wisdom his mother told him was to wear it on the opposite side on which you wore your knife. Fvarbrand didn't wear a knife at all which was uncommon for both Hesken and Alo but he was right handed so he buckled it to the left. He sat there and felt weird. Other than his deep red fur he didn't really stand out from the Alo he grew up around, now he was nearly a foot taller and larger in every sense. He realized this must be normal for Hesken and it wouldn't have been as much of a problem growing up around his own kind but he just didn't see any other like him around. He Felt suddenly very different and out of place. The thing that would make him constantly out of place though was his voice.It wasn't that Alo had that higher of a pitch tot their voices but hesken were know to be on the deep side and it made speaking Lellia'al the musical bright language of the Alo sound strange.
The main problem with his voice cracking and deepening is his singing. He was an apprentice spirit singer and he had shown imense talents with his high clear youthful voice. But now his voice was deepening and changing and he didn't know when it would stop. He was on his way to see his teatcher who was returning after a long absence to learn new techniques and bring them back to teach. She had been gone 8 months and he hoped she didn't scold him for his changes. He finished dressing putting on a hood and coat, then stepped out into the new winter. He felt weird, he felt like everyone was staring. He felt... he felt... he felt too hot. He usually had to tolerate the cold but walking a bit through the village he suddenly wanted to throw off his hood and coat. His father had never really bothered with a coat unless the cold was extra harsh. He has even seen his father walking around town shirtless, his ruddy fur making him stand out against the snow. walking and feeling like he was sat on top of a cook fire he thought about this and realized something, His father just never really got cold and the Alo never treated his father strangely for his size. Maybe it was a matter of him getting used to himself and not the community getting used to him. Fvarbran felt a little better, then realized his singing voice was still ruined. He looked glum then heard some giggles.
He looked up to see some Hesken, a whole troop of them. There were some girls about his age and they were looking right at him and giggling. They were also Fluttering their eyes at him and doing some of the things he had seen his mother doing to his father when she was feeling romantic. He felt strange looking at them. His head cloudy and and off. He Grimmaced. He didn't want to have to deal with " Those feelings" that people in puberty felt. The Alo, dealt with those feelings so he had grown up hearing the older kids say that at a certain age you started looking at the opposite sex or even sometimes the same sex differently and things got complicated. There were gestures and hints and rituals all revolved around mating he didn't want to deal with. He wanted to study his craft. He was focused on singing to soothe the spirits and to comfort the grieving. He stone faced moved on until he was caught by the arm.
He was turned to see an alder looking man, in definate adult years, he smelled of booze and was wobbling. He said something in slurry Djarlendt. he thought it was
" You got a problem with my daughters."
"uh no just thinking to myself..." Fvarbrand timidly stammered out. trying to disarm the situation
" you sound like a weak little shit i should..." the Drunk slurs and something in Fvarbrand lashes out.
" Glvecht'kleoucht!" Fvarbrand snaps out in a sudden aggression a word he didn't know but when he said the word he had a mental image of crushing the man's beating heart between his teeth as he crushed the man's fingers like twigs.
The Drunk stumbles back and most who hear the word recoil, or looked shocked and horrified. One man Leans down over to the drunk and smacks him on the back of the head.
" What have i told you about getting drunk and threatening people?" The new man demands of the drunk. Not waiting for an answer Fvarbrand turns and marches of half in confusion and half in the new aggression he felt slip over himself when he shouted the word. He now mulled over the word. The more he thought about it the more he knew it. It was Djarlendt, the hesken language, and it was an older word that was layered with the Emotive congigation and aggregated from smaller words. He knew what it meant but he had to tease it out into more common language. The one word was an entire phrase, something modern Djarlendt didn't normally do because it got complicated. "I promise terror in return." He Hoped this was just part of Puberty as well. He had never been one to be aggressive.
As he started hiking up the mountain trails out side of town he again felt off in his body. He was expecting to have to work to move his extra bulk up the trail but it felt even more effortless then before when he was barley thicker than the skinny Alo. This was odd to him. He supposed it was all the muscle as well as fat he had packed on and again thought of his father who was never really awkward because of his size and was actually a good runner when the village held festival days during the summer, when they would hike down into the valley and play games with Alo who lived in the valleys instead of the mountains. Races were a common game and his father loved participating in them. He was usually not the absolute fastest but he was often close to it. He wondered how his mother would fare in such games. She wasn't much for the races but she would compete in the knife throwing games and was even trying to get more Alo women to play the axe tossing. Which was hard because Axe throwing wasn't as popular as a whole anymore.
He strode along feeling how weird it was to ascend so easily but also how off it felt when he stopped or changed direction. His body wanted to keep going in the direction his new muscle mass had pushed him and any changes in speed or direction weren't harder they were just more noticeable and he had to think about it more. He came to a section in which he usually just climbed the rock face as a shortcut. He stood and looked at it then down at the new mass of fat he had on his belly. He wondered if he could still climb. He tried to think back to his father again. Then he realized he had never seen his father climb anything. His uncle Climbed trees but his uncle was pretty lean and pretty much had nothing in the way of a stomach. He had heard hesken climbed things from idle talk but he honestly was having a hard time imaging it. He came to a conclusion.
He was just going to try it. He got his footing and pulled himself up. Then fell off. He landed on his feet and stared at the wall wondering what happened. It wasn't that he wasn't strong enough to pull himself up. It was the opposite. When he pulled himself up he had shot upward and kept going more than he thought, he also felt his new ample midesection hit the wall but squish and act as padding so when the rest of his body slamed into the wall it didn't hurt, but moments later he felt his stomach pressing him away from the rock wall and being startled by going up more easily that he though he wasn't holding on. So he stood there and thought. He also stood there boiling. In annoyance he undid his coat and took his hood down. That felt a lot better. He decided to try again.
It Felt awkward and weird but he climbed the rock wall. He had the feeling that he would have to just practice and come up with new techniques and muscle memory. He stood facing his teacher's house. She wasn't sitting on her porch facing the rock wall to greet him but a quick glance showed she was sitting looking down the trail that he would have taken if he hadn't climbed the wall. She also wasn't alone, there was another figure with her, larger and bundled up in a coat. He called out in greeting, it wasn't unsual for other people to be up here so the other figure was not concerning.
They both looked over His teatcher breaking into a smile, the other figure was too shrouded by the hood. No muzzle poked out from the shadows of the hood. He wondered what race had such a short muzzle.
" Bright Morning Fvar, i am surprised you didn't take the trail." His Teatcher said brightly.
" Why? i always climb the wall." Fvarbrand asks.
" Oh i am old enough to have seen Hesken puberty enough times to know that their new size takes adjustment. I also suspect you are too hot, you most likely won't need a coat for days like this. Go ahead and take it off. "
He Does so and instantly feels much better. The winter Air on his fur felt amazing. He came over and sat on the ground near the pair. He was still wondering what or who was under the hood of the stranger. After sitting down he spoke a greeting to the stranger and extended his hand palm up to perform the formal up close greeting the Alo typically used. The Stranger extended their hand as well and Fvarbrand's ears went upright and rigid in startled shock. The stranger's hand was hairless and held vertically palm facing the side instead of down to meet his upward pointing palm. After a pause the stranger's hand, hairless and dark brown with no claws, turned palm down and rested on Fvarbrand's. They both withdrew their hands but Fvarbrand's ears where still paointed up in surprise. He had no idea what species had hands like that.
" Oh i forgot, my student has never seen a human before, Fvarbrand this is David, he is a human...." She stops when Fvarbrand frowns at his name.
" Oh, Mrs. Saykia, i believe my name is considered a tad threatening in the hesken tongue, I think that is why your student is frowning." The figure says in accented Lellia'al, muffled through something over his ( or at least Fvarbrand thinks this is a male ) mouth. At this statement Fvarbrand stops frowning and his ears relax. As he was indeed frowning at being told that the stranger was named "Your grave." His Teatcher didn't Speak any Djarlendt as there was little need for it here and most Hesken switched to Lellia'al when they found out she couldn't understand them. Master Saykia was never judgemental of how hesken soundened when they spoke Lellia'al. She had always said she had no right to judge as she couldn't make any headway in learning hesken language so they were one up on her. She looked surprised at this explanation.
" What does it mean?" she says abashed.
" 'Dey ved' means 'your grave' it is what you say to someone when you are about to kill them and leave their corpse in whatever place you are, and it is even worse when used as a name as it implies the person saying it is going to eat your corpse afterward. "
" Maybe call me Dave then. Does that mean anything?" The shrouded figure with the deep voice asks.
" Yes, it means 'paving stone' but it is not considered rude in any way, so saying that is your name won't get you punched. What if anything did other hesken say when you introduced yourself." Fvarbrand asks. He was curious how people in other lands reacted.
" Oh most in the Cities knew about David as a human name so it never became a problem. When traveling, I did get a few odd looks but and an admonishment that i shouldn't threaten people. One Ship captain laughed at me and said ' i would like to see you try' before realizing i had no idea it meant anything. He told me it was a threat to say ' my Name is David' you are the first to actually explain it though." The Wrapped up figure said.
Fvarbrand nodded and sat hoping he would continue but that seemed to be the end of the explanation. He sat a moment longer.
" So is there a reason you are joining us today?" Fvarbrand asks and gets a moderately reproachful glance from his Teacher. The visitor just chuckled.
" Friendly but blunt and to the point, Hesken are much the same down south. I am here to teach vocal techniques, most likely to you, Mrs.saykia mentioned one of her students would be hitting puberty and needed to be taught how to use their deeper voices." The Visitor comments.
" Good, cause my voice change has hit me like a dave to the head." Fvarbrand says with a slightly strained smile. He was trying to make light of it but he really felt like he was talking with someone else's voice. Almost as if he was speaking with his father's voice. His Father never sang and sometimes didn't speak much at all. Fvarbrand loved to use his high clear voice and sing at the trees and the grass or the snow on the mountains. It had been watch had attracted the attention of his teacher who had taught him how to sing so that even restless spirits could find peace in his song. Now he wasn't sure how to deal with anything. His body was changing, his mind was changing he was having weird and confusing thoughts, his temper was chnaging, the snapping at the drunk this morning hadn't been the first incident. While it seemed that Alo kids became tempermental as they grew up as well his father had always told him to be careful because he was a lot stronger than all of his friends and thus he could do far more damage with his temper. He had thought he would never have to deal with it because he was always so laid back, accommodating and even a little timid. Now he could easily imagine himself throwing someone through a wall. He didn't know how to handle this newfound aggression so he sang then his voice had cracked and roughened. He just wanted singing back.
" Well First off, your voice will continue to change so be aware of that, you can still learn but you will have to be flexible. Also the higher ranges are not fully lost to you, there is something that humans call Falsetto, where you sing outside your normal range. Also you may try singing in languages made for deeper voices, i have heard hesken sing beautiful songs in their own language which takes their deeper voice into consideration." The Visitor spoke, but the moment he stopped Fvarbrand pounced on something he had said, he had been waiting for him to finish.
" Tell me about the high voiced thing!" Fvarbrand exclaimed.
After a pause the visitor begin running him through some voice exercises. Fvarbrand followed along and continued to practice after the human stopped. He kept at it and only stopped when he noticed his teachers were staring at him. He kept going but listened into his own voice and payed less attention to what his throat muscles were doing. The moment he hears himself he comes to a complete stop. He was singing in a higher voice alright. It was a woman's voice. It was Mrs. Saykia's voice but coming from his throat. He had no idea how he did that.
" Vjyesti?" he exclaims after a moment. The Djarlendt word meant " What?" but in this context it was more of an exclamation of confusion.
"ummm as impressive as that was, i am here to teach you to use your deep voice. So lets try that some of that. Sing for us with your current voice." The guest teacher instructed. Fvarbrand gave out some cracking faultering notes. With each he got more and more irritated.
" Gle'Kvsteck mjullont fe'brenick!!" Fvarbrand said angrily.
" I don't think i want to know what that means. Try again, but don't be mad at your mistakes learn from them. " The human said.
Fvarbrand tried again, he concentrated on his voice and what his muscles were doing and didn't pay attention to what he was saying. He didn't notice the 2 figures of his teachers leaning away from him slightly. He also didn't realized he was no longer sitting but was instead thrashing and punching the air in an aggressive dance. He waved his fist and stomped his feet in patterns on the ground. He was shouting as much as he was singing. Neither of the sitting figures understood a word he was saying but they got a sense of gleeful aggression, like he was happily daring someone to fight him because he wanted an excuse to pulp someone's head. His voice was filling the space and echoing off the mountains. This display was brought to an end when the singer barked out harshly in Lellia'al.
" Violence is a game and the score is kept in gallons of blood spilled." Fvarbrand Bellowed out into the valley then began Howling. His head was thrown back and he belted out a startlingly loud Screaming howl that sent shivers up everyone's spine. Then he sat down on the ground before flopping onto his back and laying on the ground panting. After a moment he spoke.
" What just happened and why am i on the ground?" Fvarbrand asked.
" That was rather interesting don't you think?" Mrs.saykia says with a bit of a laugh. The Human sat there silently bundled up against the cold for a minute then spoke.
" Well i have no idea what that was but it was impressive. What was the howling part though." The human asked. At this Fvarbrand clasped both his hands over his mouth in shock.
" That is something that Ulvaltar and Hesken do, all of the species instinctively understand it, but i have no idea what it was supposed to signify. They can get rather embarrassed about it." Mrs.saykia says.
Fvarbrand just lays there catching his breath deeply embarrassed. Before anyone can say anything else they hear a call from the mountain trail. The 2 teachers look down the trail and someone is waving and calling up. They seem utterly frantic.
" There is trouble coming the village wants us to go there right away." Saykia says. Fvarbrand's embarrassment evaporates as he jumps to his feet. He jogs down the trail as Mrs.Saykia and the human Dave follow. Fvarbrand beats them down into the village to see everyone is gathering at one of the roads leading into the village. All the hunters present have their bows or guns out and are staring down the road. Fvarbrand sees his father, shirt off and face covered in white ash one side and black on the other in a traditional if hurried war display. He is carrying a large sledge hamer as a weapon. His Mother is also present, she holds his father's sword in one hand and a hatchet in the other. His parents are front and center, facing the road as the 2 biggest people in the village. He catches sight of his uncle, a normally quiet and gentle man up on a rock with a large war bow and quiver full of arrows that looked to be made to fell people not game. The Hesken trading caravan gaurds had taken positions infront of some of the houses that most likely sheltered the young and old you couldn't fight. Everyone was grim and looked prepared to fight to the end.
" What is happening?" Fvarbrand asks a woman with a lumber axe and a determined face.
" Ulvaltar warband, not one of the nicer tribes, heading up the road toward here. They fired on the scouts that asked them their business. We sent runners to the Snow hunter clan for help, lets hope they come cause there were hundreds coming according to the scouts." she outlined. It was the chief's daughter, a healer by trade but she took up weapons when needed. The fact that she had meant that this was dire.
" Scout coming. He isn't being pursued. " The enormous Hesken merchent who lead the caravan said as he peered through the scope of a lever action rifle. He looked a little out of place in his fine merchant clothing and silly looking top hat among the simple Alo villagers but Fvarbrand gave him credit for not hiding away.
Everyone waited tensely as the scout drew closer. He was walking instead of running and seemed to be in little hurry. When he drew closer he shouted out to the line of defenders.
" They have turned back." the scout called out. This caused a murmur of confusion. The confused talking continued as fvarbrand made his way forward, he didn't really want to, fighting wasn't something he enjoyed the thought of but he was stronger than his alo neighbors so he was more useful in front. He Didn't really think this was over despite what the scout said. Soon he was in front.
" What do you mean they turned back?" he asked the scout, a man his age he used to play hide and seek with a few short years ago.
" Well some weird singing started echoing through the mountains and the war band froze when they heard it, i am guessing that was you. Anyway after the singing and howling they turned around and double timed it back toward the forests except for 4 who are continuing this way and should be here soon. Whatever you were doing just scared nearly a hundred Ulvaltar armed to the teeth so much they ran away." the scout says speaking to fvarbrand but loud enough for everyone around to hear.
" Wait so that singing was Fvarbrand not them?" one of the hunters off to the left asks? Fvarbrand claps his hands over his mouth in obvious embarrassment.
" Yes everyone heard it dear," his mother tells him. Before he can start to appolgise for scaring everyone he catches sight of 4 figures walking aruond the bend. it is what is left of the War band. They Looked mean but unsure of themselves.
Fvarbrand started to feel weird. He wasn't really afraid of a fight anymore. Weirdly he seemed to be craving it. He got really tense and locked eyes on one of the four. He stared at him with a seething aggression. For some reason he really wanted to kill the guy. Just him, he didn't care about the other 3. The scout saw his change in expression and looked back then retreated to the line and took up a position. Fvarbrand just stared at the guy and was certain he had committed a terrible crime and that he needed to stop him from committing more. By this time they had drawn closer, close enough for his mother to call out.
" What do you want Kellund?" she calls out.
" Is that anyway to address your father?" The leader calls out, he suddenly isn't as weary but has a taunting aire. Fvarbrand Starts. If this was his mother's father then his mother was Ulvatar not hesken, which in hindsight made sense, she and her brother, fvarbrand's uncle had always been on the small side for hesken but would be average for ulvaltar. But why was this relation shocking? No he was shocked that his mother was related to this guy in particular. Fvarbrand didn't care he was part Ulvaltar, he cared that he was related to this asshole.
" I am here to kill that fat fuck you married and take you home." The Ulvaltar warcheif taunted.
" You are a fucking idiot you know that?" Fvarbrand hears himself speak in Djarlendt.
The war cheif sneers at him then freezes.
" Shoot-" the warcheif iis cut of when Fvarbrand feels himself explode with anger. He bellows and the four stumble as if hit by a hammer. Favrbrand stomps ominously up to the prostrate figures not knowing what he is doing but knowing he needed to be doing it. He ignored the shocked voices of his parents. he came to stand over the Warcheif who just lay there trying to get up but his muscles were twitching and trembling with whatever Fvarbrand had made explode out of himself.
He reached down and tor open the War chief's shirt and exposed a sigil on his chest. Some of the nodes of the complex sigil were glowing. Fvarbrand heard whispers in his head telling him what it was and he knew now why he hated this guy so much. The sigil was a soul trap. As he looked at each glowing node he saw a face and a history. A young alo woman, an Ulvalter man who was the previous chief and great grandfather to Fvarbrand, a child that was the youngest brother of this fiend. He needed only hear the whispers to know none of them were there willingly. He Felt his heart pound and resonate witht this new magic. Favrbrand new how to use it. He knew how to break it. He reached down.
" What are-" The war cheif's voice cut off and he screamed out as the sigil on his chest flared and smoked. One after another he felt the presence of the souls of the trapped move on. Soon there were none left.
" I am going to kill you now." Fvarbrand said coldly. One of the other Ulvaltar got her muslces working enough to draw a knife. Favrbrand yanked it out of the woman's hand.
" Why thank you." Fvarbrand says then plunges the knife into the War cheif's heart.
" Now leave and take that with you." Fvarbrand ordered Pointing to the corpse. Then he walked back toward the shocked line of defenders and didn't bother to look at the 3 shakily getting to his feet. He had other things on his mind. Memories. He Remembered before he was born, he remembered what he was before he was born. He had been the oldest daughter of the Cheif of the Forest dwelling Ulvaltar who called themselves "the shadows amongst the trees." He or she had been a spirit singer for the tribe and had helped raise her little brother when their mother had died. That little brother had repaid the kindness by poisoning her and trying to bind her soul to his flesh. He had failed and instead slit their father's and youngest brother's throats and taken them into his trap. There was lengthy time of being a mere wraith and watching the fiend take a wife and have kids only for those kids to flee far from him. She had followed the children as a ghost and was silently by their side as they journeyed far and eventually settled in an Alo Village when the daughter of her brother had set her eyes on a hesken man living there. Somehow she had been drawn somewhere and next thing was a baby growing in the womb where all her memories went to sleep. They were awake now.
"Favabrand how did you do that?" Mrs.Saykia says from the line of defenders where she had. Instead of answering her he walks up to his mother.
" You needn't worry, the mother that saw you off so long ago wasn't in his trap." he said.
" How much do you know?" His mother asks suddenly looking not shocked but confused.
" I think our son is a reborn my love." His father whispers.
" ohhh ummm yes. I think i am" Fvarbrand is suddenly back to his shy self. " I think i was your Aunt before you and uncle jep'tuum were born" he continues.
" Anyways they are gone, i need to get back to my lessons." He says nervously and walks off to join his teachers he begins to explain to them what is going on.
" Well i remeber puberty being confusing enough normally growing up but our son is in for a weird one if he has to deal with being a ghost born anew." Fvarbrand's father says to his wife.
" hopefully our next kid will have and easier time of it." His wife says.
" When are we going to tell him?" His father asks.
His wife pats her husband's large belly and Just smiles at him. A clear nonverbal " not yet."