Chuck Wendig challenged readers to post a thousand words from their current Nanowrimo project. This piece is, needless to say, pretty rough, but here it goes:
For Bear Naked readers, this snippet from book four is the packs arrival at the big council of werewolves. It introduces an important side character for this book and the rest of the series.
Amanda groaned as she climbed out of the car she’d shared for the last nearly ten hours with the other alpha females, Karen Leidulf and Darlene Sage. They’d been driven by Soldier, one of Arthur’s wolves and it was supposed to have been an honor, being part of the alpha group. Amanda would have much rather ridden with Connor or even better, with her pack.
They’d left early, before the sun had risen. It was now mid afternoon and it would be late afternoon before they could hike to their camp site and set camp. The thought of the long day she’d pass, and the long day yet to come soured Amanda’s mood even more.
Their hike-in point was an abandoned farm in on the edge of Hercule-Glades wilderness area. They were met by a man in torn jeans and a muscle shirt, who waved them behind a decrepit barn. They found several other vehicles already parked there, out of sight of the road. From here they would hike several miles in, to a site that the human authorities knew nothing about.
Robbie had parked the van with the omegas and the younger pack beside them, Arthur pulled in on the far side. Vince, Mitch and the one remaining of Arthur’s wolf, a woman named Sarah, had ridden motorcycles and pulled in on the far side of the van.
Erica rushed to hug Amanda, even they’d only been separated a few hours. Tanner and Robbie were opening the back of the van to start unloading their camp gear. The rest of the three packs were slowly gathering around them, stretching sore muscles, and talking amongst themselves.
Other vehicles were pulling in and there were signs of activity all around them. “Chose a popular time to arrive,” Karen commented.
A man came to greet them. He took a big sniff as he approached. “Leidulf contingent.” He sniffed again, his eyebrow furled. “And?”
“Amanda,” Amanda said, her mood souring more at the reminder of her scent. “Burnson.”
“Bear clan,” he said with a nod. His eyes traveled up and down her body, appraising her with a calculating stare. She met the stare and he looked away. “Thought they’d be bigger,” he muttered to himself.
Tanner scoffed at him. “Ain’t seen her in bear form.”
Valerie moved forward to break off the conflict. She introduced herself and accepted a map of the route into the woods. “How will our campsite be marked?” she asked.
The man just shrugged. “Just set up where you like. Best get a move on, though. Best sites be taken.”
“No organization?” Valerie huffed at the man’s retreating back. The rest were pulling bags from trunks or from the back of the van.
“Gives the early arrivals, their allies, the advantage of picking the best sites,” Tanner opined.
“No,” Arthur said. “It’s typical Fleischer thinking at work. Be a few challenges for choice sites, no doubt. People will choose sites near friendly tribes. By days end the pecking order around camp, and the alliances will be obvious. What is that?” His nose wrinkled as Erica and Jonathan hoisted a mass of canvas out of the back of the van.
“Darren’s pavilion,” Amanda replied. “Always said, if you are camping in the same place more than five days, use the pavilion.”
“And if not?” Valerie asked.
“It’s so much work to set up. Tents are easy. But pavilions are better.”
Arthur made a face, like he was about to disagree. “It reeks of bear clan.”
“Let them know where our loyalties lie,” Connor replied. “And if it makes the Sons of Garm uncomfortable, all the better.”
Amanda had packed a small cart as well. She pulled it out and directed Erica and Jonathan to lay the canvas on top. “The poles strap to the side. We can pile most of the packs on top. Take a couple people to haul it all, but it will be easier than each having to haul a huge backpack.” She gave Arthur a shaded glance as she said it, as if to let him know that he wasn’t the only one with expertise in their group.
Before long they were loaded and ready to go. They consulted their map and started down a trail into the woods.
On the very edge of the farm they encounter a small group of people, mostly Fleischer wolves from the odor, though it was hard to tell for sure. The parking area was awash in many scents as various packs arrived and debarked.
A slender man with long blond hair and deep blue eyes stood uncertainly beside a tree, one hand resting on its trunk. He regarded the semi circle of people surrounding him with a look of bitter resignation.
The man directly in front of him had scruffy dark hair and dark eyes. He had a Canada crutch in one hand and was pointing it at the blond man. “Gonna crawl all the way in, huh?” he demanded.
Amanda’s eyes narrowed and her blood pressure rose. She looked at the blond again. His stance wasn’t uncertain, merely off and he used the tree to hold himself upright.
“If you don’t give me my crutch,” the man said. “I suppose I shall have to.”
The group laughed.
“A crippled werewolf,” the man snorted derisively. “Do you know what we do with cripples in our tribe?”
“Do tell,” the man’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “I’m sure it’s quite fascinating.”
The dark haired man licked his lips and looked around. He apparently hadn’t been prepared to have to actually explain. “Well, we don’t let them be part of our councils, that’s for sure.” He poked at the blond with the crutch.
The blond seized the opportunity to grab for the crutch. “Your a real genius, Marty,” he sneered as the two men fought over the crutch.
Marty yanked, pulling the blond forward onto the ground and retrieving the crutch. “Fuck you, Haltir.”
“Marty,” a woman offered hesitantly. “Maybe you should just give it back or…”
“Or what? He’ll tell on me?”
“Or maybe you could just leave him alone, you know, because it’s the right thing to do,” Amanda growled, striding forward.
Marty roared in laughter. “Yeah, right. Who says, princess? You look like a feisty one. I like that.” He reached for one of her breasts.
She knocked his hand aside and shoved him with all her strength. It sent him several feet through the air and into a ragged heap.
Everyone stepped back in surprise. Connor laughed, coming to Amanda’s side. “She’s a strong one, too, my alpha. Best not to forget that.” He retrieved the crutch and handed it to Haltir. He rose slowly, balanced on the crutch.
“We are heading in now, if you wish to join us,” Amanda said.
Haltir gave her a sharp, guarded look. Humiliated at being saved by a woman? Angry? Or what? “I’m slow but quite capable,” he replied, his voice tight. He turned and started towards the path.
“Haltir,” she said, moving towards the man again. “It’s an unusual name.” The name tickled the back of her mind, but she couldn’t place it.
“It’s old norse,” he replied.
She recognized the word from Uncle Darren. “It means…” the words died in her throat. He turned and met her gaze, his blues eyes piercing. It meant broken.
“I know what it means.” He looked at his aggressors, who were slowly pulling Marty back to his feet, shaken but not seriously hurt. “In my tribe cripples are left to die at birth,” he said. “Father would have, too, but mom forbade it. Said she took one look into my eyes and couldn’t bear the thought.” He looked back at Amanda. “But dad got his revenge in the naming.” He turned and started resolutely towards the path again.
“Your tribe?” Tanner called at his retreating back.
“Garm,” he replied without looking back. A shiver went through Amanda.