Off to see the humans, Ryan thought, quivering with excitement.
|FALLEN, SCENE 1
Ryan followed his father’s steady pace even though he yearned to break from the monotony. Crunch, crunch – crunch, crunch. Dead leaves crisped under the wolves’ large paws. He snuffled the cool autumn air and then shook his head, impatient.
Boredom got the better of him, and he swung his head around, making a silly face at his younger cousin Nolan. The pathetic-looking muddy brown wolfling half crouched as he trotted along. Nolan would fall to the bottom of the pack as he grew, but for now he hid behind the protection of his powerful mother.
The younger wolf tried to ignore him, so Ryan leaped into the air, attempting to distract his cousin. However, he only succeeded in bumping his own head on a low tree branch. Annoyed, he wheeled around and nipped Nolan’s nose, making the younger wolf freeze in place with a worry etched in his eyes and his tail tucked between his legs. Delighted, Ryan bounced playfully, running back into line, only to find his father had turned to glare, disapproving of his precocious son’s antics.
As a large and powerful wolf, Azrael rarely failed to intimidate. His once jet-black face, now grizzled with age, spanned twice the breadth of Ryan’s own young, narrow one. The elder wolf’s amber eyes drilled into Ryan, forcing the youngster down to the ground without a touch. He growled a warning before turning to resume his former trot.
Ryan afforded the respect due Azrael, but the young wolf had also lived with his father long enough to not be frightened of him. The old wolf had a gentle heart, even if he led the pack with sternness. Ryan picked up his father’s pace while fighting off the urge to make more trouble.
Ryan chuckled to himself, knowing the faint-hearted Nolan was not quite as lucky. The Alpha terrified his cousin. Nolan had once confided in Ryan he believed Azrael had to ability to stare straight into one’s soul and rip it to shreds if the notion moved him. Ryan sensed his cousin’s steps were a bit shaky as they moved forward again.
Off to see the humans, Ryan thought, quivering with excitement. He wondered how many of the rumors he had heard spread among the young wolves were true. Apparently humans lived in caves of wood or weird stones above the ground. They also had machines that moved them around faster than their ability to run. He had seen a car before, but they had ones that went even faster, even ones that let them fly. Ingenious. If the humans were able to come up with such useful inventions, he wondered what they did for fun.
Lost in his daydreams, Ryan tripped over his own feet, stumbling into his father’s still form. But his father the wolf no longer stood there; in his place was what appeared to be a human. His father had donned his Serohan form.
A vast difference from his Zevt, or wolf-like, form, Azrael-Serohan was a decrepit old man, hobbling on a cane. The solidity of his amber eyes remained, but the power that Azrael-Zevt’s body held was gone. He chose to wear a long white beard as a sign of age and thus wisdom. Ryan secretly thought it just made him appear to be a silly weak old human.
Ryan wrinkled his wolf nose and—ah ptth!—let out a big sneeze, simultaneously morphing from Zevt to Serohan. Azrael looked on with a frown, but said nothing. A giggle came from Nolan-Serohan, who had changed from wolf to boy while no one was paying attention. In the days when the cousins had gotten along, Ryan would amuse Nolan and himself by pretending his transformations were caused by yawning or sneezing.
“Are we through playing, boys?” Azrael’s gravelly voice demanded their full attention.
“Are we really going to go to town today, father?” Ryan danced around energetically, repeatedly pushing back the shaggy brown hair that fell in his eyes.
“Your behavior will determine such. Nolan, are you ready?”
The young boy’s grin faded, leaving a look of disinterest in its wake. Nolan shrugged and looked toward the clearing ahead of them. He brushed a fallen leaf out of his hair and slunk out of the other two’s way.
Azrael, leaning heavily on an ornate cane featuring a wolf head, hobbled forward.
A chirping bird started Ryan’s ears twitching with wolfish curiosity. He had to drag his feet through the dried leaves to keep from running past his father, but he relished in the loud crinkling. He stopped and scooped up a handful, feeling powerful as he crushed them to smithereens. He held the leaf crumbs to his nose and inhaled. Although not as sensitive as his Zevt one, his current nose could detect an odor of a squirrel that lived nearby.
The group approached a squat red barn that seemed to be more of an extension of the ground rather than a building. Inside, a canary yellow machine—car, Azrael had told him—sat inside. While this was not Ryan’s first time seeing the car, today would be the first day he would get to go to town.
Nolan’s awed expression spoke clearly that this was his first experience with anything human. Ryan grinned, feeling superior to his cousin in every way.
“Boys,” Azrael barked, “you must behave. Stick close. You have not enough knowledge of human ways to appear normal among them. Do not do anything to call attention to yourselves. Ryan.”
Ryan looked at the ground sheepishly, rubbing a line in the ground with his toe.
“Alright, it’s off to Townsend we go then,” Azrael announced. “Hop in.”
"Fallen, Scene 2" [ASR]