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Another Snippet from the Council of Therian

Zip's Sketch

They had walked a considerable distance before Zipporah was forced from her thoughts by a shout. She regained her composure in time to level her arm at a figure that was charging at Penn.

“Hey,” a high pitched melodic voice called to the pair. One of the bunny dancers stopped in front of Penn and smiled. Zipporah was ready to defend the gnome if she made any moves to attack. The bunny had other moves in mind, however. “So, where are you from?” she asked the gnome but ignored the shoki.

Penn was about to answer when Zipporah cut him off, “We are from a small city just east of Dundersnuff called Mensch. I am certain you wouldn’t know anything about it.” The shoki gave the wererabbit a look that clearly let her know it was time to hop along.

The girl was either too stupid to pick up on the unsubtle hint or she simply didn’t care; either way she continued unhindered. “Anyway, there are going to be fireworks later out over the water. It would be nice to have someone to watch them with, if you wanted to join us. My friends and I,” she motioned to the other dancers who were standing in a cluster against the wall, “are all meeting up at the Crawl just before dark.” She shifted out from her hybrid form to reveal a very attractive halfling. “My name is Connie.”

Penn blushed in spite of himself. “Yeah, that would be nice,” the gnome-hare stammered.

“I am looking forward to it,” Connie smiled. Then she turned, gave Zipporah a nasty look, and walked back to where her bunny friends waited against the wall. The shoki did not need to read her thoughts to know what she was thinking.

“Come on,” Zipporah practically dragged Penn away. “We have to get back.” She was already upset about having to walk away from the demon, and she inadvertently took it out on the gnome. “Are you stupid?” she asked harshly as they walked.

The look on Penn’s face broke Zipporah’s heart, and she instantly regretted the rough words. She was about to apologize when Penn said, “I saw her the other night when I was with Attilla. I think I like her, and it seems she likes me.”

Zipporah decided not to point out that the bunny could not have known that the gnome she flirted with in the tavern was the same gnome that was now disguised as a hybrid hare. She couldn’t bring herself to hurt Penn any more than she already had. She was not interested in completely shattering his innocence. Every large city, and even many smaller ones, had some version of the Shadowmire bunnies. They prey on men, stealing and gathering information. Penn, like so many others, reveled in the attention the girls lavished on him. Zipporah chuckled to herself, for she used the same tactics to accomplish her goals.

“You deserve so much better,” Zipporah said honestly.

“Yeah right,” Penn said. “You sound like my mom.”

“I am serious,” she continued. “You are a great guy, Penn. Any girl would be lucky to have you.”

“Then why doesn’t any girl want me?”  Penn said sadly. Zipporah was not used to dealing with the vulnerability that the gnome so openly displayed. She was more accustomed to the Slanters of the world, and she realized how unprepared she was to answer his simple question.

Luckily Penn wasn’t one to stay down for very long. He was hopping up and down with excitement in no time. He squealed, “Hey, it’s Avie,” as they passed several cart vendors. “Oh my gosh, Avie comes to the fair in Oliveloft.” Penn grabbed three copper coins from his pouch and made his made to Avie’s cart.

Zipporah read the sign which read, “Eat Avie’s Candy! It Is Good!” She was unimpressed with the slogan, but Penn’s excitement seemed to ease the pain of her insult; so she was happy.

“Whatcha need, lil friend?” Avie asked. He was an extremely fat man with a moustache that matched his width. Crumbs were sprinkled all throughout his excessive facial hair.

“Cinnamon pecans, please.” Penn turned to Zipporah, and handed her the small bag. “You gotta try these.”

The shoki opened up the bag, and was entranced by the smell that wafted out. She quickly ate one of the pecans, and it tasted as good as it smelled. “This is great.” Zipporah grabbed several more, and then passed the bag back to Penn. The gnome bit each pecan in half, hoping to make them last longer.

Avie handed each of the customers a piece of candy, “Try that, and let me know what you think.” They both took a bite, and the candy melted in their mouths. “It is something new. I am calling it a praline.”

“So good.”

“It truly is fantastic,” Zipporah admitted. She pulled three silver pieces from a concealed pouch and handed it to the large human. “I would like two more of these pralines and two bags of your pecans.”

Avie rubbed his fat hands together and quickly bagged up the half-elf’s candy. “Thank you,” he stated sincerely. “Take this, too!” He handed Penn a stick with hard candy stuck to the top. “It is called stone candy, so be careful and don’t chip your teeth.”

“Thanks,” Penn said with a smile. The candy was nice, and calmed both the gnome and the shoki down a little. Penn was excited that Zipporah had bought some for Slanter and Syris. It had been a good day, and the gnome almost seemed to forget about being hunted by the Shadowmire guards. Almost.

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Posted by on January 25, 2014 in Snippets from The Council of Therian

 

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Another Snippet from the Council of Therian

orc

One day while playing in the woods near Brentwood, Burge spotted two orcs with rusty swords drawn. He quickly got the other’s attention and showed them what he had seen. Six sets of gnome eyes were watching the orcs as they lumbered about. Suddenly the orcs stopped and squatted low, as if to hide from someone. Penn couldn’t believe what was happening. Popo, a girl that always wanted to hang with the boys must have followed them out into the woods. She was heading right toward the crouching orcs without a care in the world. Penn and the others were paralyzed with fear, but Attilla came out of hiding with a scream and ran straight at the orcs. Each footfall seemed to drive another quill out of his back, as his therian rage flooded over the gnome. By the time he got to the startled orcs, he was half gnome and half porcupine. It was the farthest any of his friends had ever seen him go into his hybrid form.

The orcs were not ready to do battle with a therian, even if they didn’t know it. Attilla jumped in between them forcing them apart. A few quills stuck one of the orcs, but that only seemed to make the brute angry. Popo, now seeing the danger, turned and started back for the safety of Brentwood. Attilla broke off a quill from his shoulder and used it as a dirk, stabbing the orcs repeatedly. The gnome had never been in a fight where he could truly die, not many of the gnomes in the area had. Orcs, unlike the gnomes, were brought up to battle. By the time an orc had reached young adulthood, he had most likely killed several of his peers just to survive. Attilla had courage, but the orcs had skill. The deciding factor, however, was the tainted blood that ran through the gnome’s veins.

The first orc tried to grab the little creature, but that only got him an arm full of spines. He threw the therian to the ground and cut him across the chest with his rusty sword. The battle should have been over, but it wasn’t. The wound closed itself almost instantly, but the orc paid no attention. He was too busy pulling the thick quills out of his forearm. So Attilla jabbed his makeshift dagger into the leg of the other orc, but that orc scored a hit on the gnome-porcupine as well. It was a kick into Attilla’s ribs, which sent him flying. The orc believed the fight finished, for he had felt the bones give way under the force of his boot. It was a gross miscalculation, and it cost him his life. Attilla’s ribs quickly healed themselves with a sick grinding sensation, but after the initial pain he was fine. The overconfident orc stood over the therian, stuck out his leg, and went to pull the quill out. Attilla jumped on his leg, grabbed his shirt, then tucked his chin and jumped right into the orcs face. His quills buried deep into the unsuspecting orc’s neck and face. The orc fell back, instantly dead, and took the gnome with him. Attilla used the momentum to roll off, and went right after the first orc. The orc wisely ran the other way. Attilla followed.

It all happened so fast that the others still hadn’t even moved. However when Penn saw his friend chasing an orc into the woods, he bolted after them. The others followed as well, but they were not nearly as fast through the woods as Penn.  When Penn got to his friend, Attilla was on top of the orc’s chest violently chopping him with his own sword. From what Penn could tell Attilla had been at it for a while. There wasn’t much left to identify it as an orc anymore. Tears were pouring down the therian’s face, and it took Penn a moment to determine if his friend was injured or not. He realized that Attilla was fine, physically at least. Penn went to his friend and gently, for he didn’t want to be victimized by the quills, placed his hand on Attilla’s shoulder.

The therian stopped his insane hacking, and collapsed into his friend. His rage had played out and he was ashamed. Instantly, for he was a true therian, Attilla was back in gnome form. He cried with heavy sobs into Penn’s chest. Penn didn’t say a word. Even at that age, he understood that sometimes just being there was enough. After a few moments, Attilla wiped the blood, tears, and snot from his face. He stared at his friend and thanked him without saying a word. By this time the others were finally arriving.

Rumors spread like wildfire through the small town. After the incident people started getting scared of the therian gnome. Parents instructed their kids not to hang around with him. Attilla was the hero that day, but people couldn’t accept that. Even the boys that were there, except for Penn, altered the story so that it painted them in a better light. Sometimes lies are easier to believe than the truth, especially when the truth goes against the natural order.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Snippets from The Council of Therian

 

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I am your Guest!

Attilla

“Take off your shoes,” Attilla wasn’t used to asking anyone to do anything; so he didn’t.  Penn noticed a small bench behind the door, and he sat to take off his boots. Above the bench was a large mirror. Penn had only seen one other mirror in his life. A merchant had been trying to sell it at the fair in Oliveloft. The gnome had seen his reflection almost every day, however, in wash basins and standing water pools in Brentwood. Still, he couldn’t help but be fascinated once again at the sight of himself, and the clarity of the mirror.

Penn first noticed that his hair was looking horrible. He always, ever since he was a kid, had to have his hair combed and looking sharp. After he had removed his shoes Attilla went on into the den area to start the fire, while his friend fixed his hair. Penn pulled a comb made of wood and abalone out of his pack and started working on his hair, which he wore combed over one eye these days. The comb had been a gift from his mom during the Festival of Serynade many years ago. Penn always carried it with him as a good luck charm.

After fixing his brown hair, Penn took a look into his own face. He noticed dark circles under his eyes. Two hard days travelling, with a night spent out in the wilderness had taken its toll. He raised his chin and noticed dirt lines on his neck.  He needed a wash badly, and wondered how nasty he must smell.

Attilla must have been watching him and understood what Penn must be thinking, for he called from the other room, “I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Most of the people here are animals anyway.” He made himself laugh, but Penn wasn’t sure that it was appropriate for him to share in the humor. So he just walked out of the foyer area and into the den, where the fire was just starting to warm up the larger room.

Attilla’s den area was beautiful. On one wall he had shelves upon shelves of books. Bindings of all different colors and sizes stood like little soldiers overlooking two comfortable chairs. Penn could smell the old parchment, which reminded him of the school house in Brentwood.  Just glancing at some of the titles, Penn had already read several of the books. As much as Penn loved books, he couldn’t take his eyes off of what was on the other wall.

Weapons of every kind hung on Attilla’s wall. Penn felt like he could have been in a dwarven weapon smith’s shop. Swords of every length and breadth, maces, axes, and some weapons Penn had never even seen all stared back at him. His eye’s immediately focused on a small hand axe with a turtle shell pommel. Penn forced himself to measure each weapon’s own designs, but he always found his eyes going back to that axe. Attilla got himself washed up, changed his clothes and started making some hot tea while his friend looked around the house.

“Did you want to wash up?”  Attilla asked. Penn turned to his friend and nodded. “There is a basin out back with fresh water in it. It may be a little cold, but it’s better than nothing.”

‘Yeah, my neck is all gunked up, and my feet need a good scrub.” Penn said.

“Well go handle that. Nothing in here is going anywhere before you get back, I promise,” Attilla teased.

“Jokes,” Penn laughed. “Make me some tea. I am your guest.”  Penn walked past the fireplace, where again the masonry was superb. There was no jealousy in Penn as he walked through the kitchen area and out the back door. He was proud of the life Attilla had carved for himself here in Shadowmire. Life had been hard enough on the poor therian gnome.  When the people of Brentwood learned of Attilla’s disease, they simply did not understand it. At first adults, who should know better, would try to bait him into his transformations so they could watch. His classmates would call him names and throw rocks and sticks at him. Attilla’s parents treated him harshly, and he distanced himself from them as much as he could.

The only real haven for Attilla was at the Darvel home. He stayed over there a lot of the time, and was always treated kindly. Penn would read through books on the nights Attilla had to go home, searching for some kind of way to make his friend better. Things never got better for Attilla in Brentwood. In fact, things got remarkably worse as he got older.

Penn Darvel

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Snippets from The Council of Therian

 

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2014

Hey all,

I apologize for my lack of posting as of late, but I do not apologize for the wonderful time I have been able to spend with my family. Christmas was awesome. I passed all of my classes, although I did make a dreaded C in one of them. Oh, well. The point is that I am back and inspired with some new and exciting ideas.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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Beginnings continued (Council of Therian)

PnilsBrooks ran quickly to a part of town which he had never travelled before. Pnils had warned him that only the worst sort of people ventured into those streets. Brooks had made his mind up, yet as he busted in the door of the Kraken’s Wake, he had to steady his nerve. The Kraken’s Wake was the worst bar in Shadowmire, and easily could have been the worst in all of Delphia. It was a dimly lit place, for people didn’t want to see what was going on or be seen doing it for that matter. The young man drew the gazes of almost everyone in the main room of the bar. It was obvious he did not belong there.

Fueled by anger and ignoring all the lessons Pnils had taught him, Brooks stormed up to the barkeep and demanded a drink. He slammed his fist down and glared at the barkeep, who never even acknowledged the newcomer. The barkeep wouldn’t waste his alcohol on someone who probably wouldn’t make it five minutes in the Wake.

“I want a drink now,” Brooks repeated, but the barkeep didn’t even flinch. The young man was so angry that he didn’t even notice the two men as they positioned themselves on either side of him. The men reeked of fish, sweat and cheap ale.

“Whatcha doing here, boy?” said one of the men. The few teeth he had were crooked and jutted out at strange angles.

“You made a mistake coming here alone,” the other added. Although he was lucky enough to have all of his teeth, he was in desperate need of a bath. Brooks wondered if the man slept on top of a heap of dead fish.

“Let’s see whatcha got that will make me not want to cut you,” the first continued. “Better be something good.”

Brooks felt the man on his right, Toothy, press a dagger into his ribs. The young man took a quick breath, and steadied himself. He was more aggravated than scared. Brooks believed that a fight would certainly slow down his agenda, although in truth his next actions would only expedite the process. Brooks slammed his forehead into the head of the man on his right. Almost simultaneously he shot his left elbow into the chest of the other man, Stinky, stealing his breath. His right arm caught the unconscious man and laid his head on the bar. The winded man on his left also had his head laid on the bar, but with enough force to also knock him out.  It all happened so fast that no one even seemed to notice, and two unconscious men laid on the bar was nothing new in the Kraken’s Wake.

The barkeep certainly noticed, and he had a drink in front of Brooks quickly.

“So what are ya wanting here, laddy?” the barkeep asked as he wiped the bar around the heads of the two men. “I can plug you in with the right folks.”

“I want someone gone,” Brooks answered. The man behind the bar looked at the two motionless bodies laid on his bar, turned his palms upward and motioned toward them. “I cannot do it myself. He is no common street thug. I cannot do it myself,” he repeated as he slightly lowered his head.

“Used to be that you could find a good assassin in here. Pricey tho. Everyone who used to be into that line of work now works for the city guard.” The barkeep laughed at the irony, but Brooks did not see the humor. “Anyway, now it’s just easier to talk to a certain someone about things like that.”

“Who?”

“You see that lil halfling?” the man asked as he motioned with his chin. It wasn’t polite to point, even in the Kraken’s Wake. Brooks jammed his hands into the pockets of the thugs, and laid the money on the bar. The two of them exchanged a nod, their business was done. Brooks wished he had not put his hands on the thugs, for now they too smelled like rotten fish.

The young man walked briskly to the booth where a very attractive female halfling sat silently. She was dressed in fancy clothes and wore expensive jewelry. Her eyes were done up with makeup that made them unnaturally beautiful, and the same went for her lips. She seemed very out of place in this bar; like she more belonged in the king’s court. It was obvious, even to Brooks, that she had power. She turned to him as he approached, and gave him an inviting smile. He paused for a moment before she motioned for him to sit.

“Need a bump, eh?” she asked as she swirled her drink around in tiny circles.

“A bump?” The phrase was new to Brooks, and he couldn’t hide his ignorance.

She chuckled, but not in a way that demeaned the young man. It was as though she thought the innocence of the young man was amusing and somewhat attractive. It was the second time in the same hour that someone had laughed at him, but this time it didn’t bother him. Women have a certain effect on young men, making them think a little less clearly at times.

“You just tell me who and what you are willing to pay.” She got right down to business. The halfling knew that nothing good ever came from outsiders lingering too long in this particular tavern.

“Pnils Silentstone,” Brooks stated clearly and without hesitation.

The name caused the little halfling’s eyebrows to rise. “A favored in the courts of Jericho. That will cost you dearly, my boy.” She was intrigued and fearful at the prospect of taking down one so highly esteemed in Shadowmire. It had to be worth the risk, and somehow she doubted the young man could provide. Also, no therians would dare go against the dwarven monk. They feared him, all of them, more than they feared even the king.

“I give you my life,” said Brooks confidently.

The halfling leaned in close to the young man, her breath ripe with fine wine. He could feel her breathing. No woman had ever been that close to Brooks and he found it seductive in a way. “If I wanted your life, I would have already taken it.” It was a statement of fact, and Brooks knew it. She sat back and took another sip of her drink. “No, it will take much more than that.” The halfling once again swirled her glass around as she eyed Brooks with those beautiful brown eyes.

“After he is gone, let me find a single item from the house then you can have everything; the land, the house, and everything inside.” Brooks felt like this was a reasonable price to pay for his unreasonable desire.

“Everything except the item which you seek, which is no doubt the most valuable of the dwarf’s possessions,” the halfling scoffed.

“Certainly it is the most valuable to me,” the young man admitted. “You see, it was a left to me by my father.”

The halfling gave a dismissive wave. She didn’t care about the boy’s father. ”It is yours to give? The house, the land, the property?” she asked mockingly.

“If he dies, it goes to me. He took me in, so it would indeed be mine to give.” It should have pained Brooks to think of Pnils dying. The dwarf had raised the young man, but Brooks was blinded by his need to get his hands on his father’s lantern. Brooks remembered little of his father. He was just a boy when the werewolf had killed his parents. Pnils had indeed taken Brooks in, as a son. Now it seemed to the young man that the dwarf was trying to keep him from learning about his real father. He was keeping Brook’s heirloom as his own. Brooks was forgetting the countless hours Pnils had spent training the young man in the ways of the monk. His youth had caused him to be blinded for a moment by anger, forsaking all of the good the dwarf had done and focusing only on the bad.  The halfling planned on seizing that moment.

“Then we have a deal.” The halfling produced a rolled up parchment from her sleeve and spread it out on the table. “Give me your arm.”

“A contract?” Brooks asked, hesitantly extending his arm.

“Of sorts. This is a blood trail map.” She ran her finger along his arm creating goose bumps. Then she quickly ran her fingernail across his skin, drawing blood. Brooks didn’t flinch, however. He had been trained to ignore pain. As the blood started to drip, she went on to explain, “This will now show me exactly where you are at all times. After our dealings are successfully completed, I will destroy this. But until then…” She let the threat hang between them. As Brooks watched the parchment, lines of crimson started magically creating a map. She quickly rolled up the map and said plainly, “We are done for now. Don’t just sit there and bleed.” A few awkward moments passed before she waved him away. “You are dismissed.”

Brooks left the Kraken’s Wake with a flood of emotions washing over him. He vowed never to return to the seedy tavern with its shady patrons. As he walked, the young man tried not to focus on the events he had just set in motion. It was already done, and he would pray for forgiveness another day. For now, he focused only on his father’s lantern.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Snippets from The Council of Therian

 

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Image

Attilla Sketch

Attilla

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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Snippet from The Council of Therian

attilla

               The only real haven for Attilla was at the Darvel home. He stayed over there a lot of the time, and was always treated kindly. Penn would read through books on the nights Attilla had to go home, searching for some kind of way to make his friend better. Things never got better for Attilla in Brentwood. In fact, things got remarkably worse as he got older.

One day while playing in the woods near Brentwood, Burge spotted two orcs with rusty swords drawn. He quickly got the other’s attention and showed them what he had seen. Six sets of gnome eyes were watching the orcs as they lumbered about. Suddenly the orcs stopped and squatted low, as if to hide from someone. Penn couldn’t believe what was happening. Popo, a girl that always wanted to hang with the boys must have followed them out into the woods. She was heading right toward the crouching orcs without a care in the world. Penn and the others were paralyzed with fear, but Attilla came out of hiding with a scream and ran straight at the orcs. Each footfall seemed to drive another quill out of his back, as his therian rage flooded over the gnome. By the time he got to the startled orcs, he was half gnome and half porcupine. It was the farthest any of his friends had ever seen him go into his hybrid form.

The orcs were not ready to do battle with a therian, even if they didn’t know it. Attilla jumped in between them forcing them apart. A few quills stuck one of the orcs, but that only seemed to make the brute angry. Popo, now seeing the danger, turned and started back for the safety of Brentwood. Attilla broke off a quill from his shoulder and used it as a dirk, stabbing the orcs repeatedly. The gnome had never been in a fight where he could truly die, not many of the gnomes in the area had. Orcs, unlike the gnomes, were brought up to battle. By the time an orc had reached young adulthood, he had most likely killed several of his peers just to survive. Attilla had courage, but the orcs had skill. The deciding factor, however, was the tainted blood that ran through the gnome’s veins.

The first orc tried to grab the little creature, but that only got him an arm full of spines. He threw the therian to the ground and cut him across the chest with his rusty sword. The battle should have been over, but it wasn’t. The wound closed itself almost instantly, but the orc paid no attention. He was too busy pulling the thick quills out of his forearm. So Attilla jabbed his makeshift dagger into the leg of the other orc, but that orc scored a hit on the gnome-porcupine as well. It was a kick into Attilla’s ribs, which sent him flying. The orc believed the fight finished, for he had felt the bones give way under the force of his boot. It was a gross miscalculation, and it cost him his life. Attilla’s ribs quickly healed themselves with a sick grinding sensation, but after the initial pain he was fine. The overconfident orc stood over the therian, stuck out his leg, and went to pull the quill out. Attilla jumped on his leg, grabbed his shirt, then tucked his chin and jumped right into the orcs face. His quills buried deep into the unsuspecting orc’s neck and face. The orc fell back, instantly dead, and took the gnome with him. Attilla used the momentum to roll off, and went right after the first orc. The orc wisely ran the other way. Attilla followed.

It all happened so fast that the others still hadn’t even moved. However when Penn saw his friend chasing an orc into the woods, he bolted after them. The others followed as well, but they were not nearly as fast through the woods as Penn.  When Penn got to his friend, Attilla was on top of the orc’s chest violently chopping him with his own sword. From what Penn could tell Attilla had been at it for a while. There wasn’t much left to identify it as an orc anymore. Tears were pouring down the therian’s face, and it took Penn a moment to determine if his friend was injured or not. He realized that Attilla was fine, physically at least. Penn went to his friend and gently, for he didn’t want to be victimized by the quills, placed his hand on Attilla’s shoulder.

The therian stopped his insane hacking, and collapsed into his friend. His rage had played out and he was ashamed. Instantly, for he was a true therian, Attilla was back in gnome form. He cried with heavy sobs into Penn’s chest. Penn didn’t say a word. Even at that age, he understood that sometimes just being there was enough. After a few moments, Attilla wiped the blood, tears, and snot from his face. He stared at his friend and thanked him without saying a word. By this time the others were finally arriving.

Rumors spread like wildfire through the small town. After the incident people started getting scared of the therian gnome. Parents instructed their kids not to hang around with him. Attilla was the hero that day, but people couldn’t accept that. Even the boys that were there, except for Penn, altered the story so that it painted them in a better light. Sometimes lies are easier to believe than the truth, especially when the truth goes against the natural order.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Snippets from The Council of Therian

 

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