The Skin Walkers

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“Who are these skin walkers, papa?”

“They’re an evil people, child. You must never follow them as they dance under the dark moon.”

“But why do they dance?”

“A skin walker dances for no reason but to dance. They dance within the skins of animals, taking the respected form of the skin’s animal. With beastly instinct they hunt during the night for elves and humans alike as their thirst for blood is never quenched. Destroying them is near impossible for there is only tale of a great hero who defeated one. Even then, it is only a story, child. So tell me again, did you see them dancing under the dark moon.”

“Yes but they didn’t notice me. I thought one saw me but then it turned around to howl at the stars.”

“Then you are in more danger than expected. Come closer, child. Take this paint and cover your body in the paths of your ancestors just as they shed their blood for your life now you too must present yourself in front of the great gods.”

“So I have to die, papa?”

“As long as you do this for me, child, you won’t have to. The skin walkers may hunt you down but they will never find you. The blood of your ancestors will always protect you so long as you believe in them.”

—-

Ymyr looked into the small cave hoping to find some sort of supplement. It had been days since his last meal and years since he had left his home that fateful night. He was no longer a child getting into trouble but a strong warrior now. He didn’t believe in the gods anymore as they had done nothing to protect him from the skin walkers that night as he watched them tear his grand father limb from limb. They hadn’t seen him hiding in the corner crying as he had already painted his body making him invisible to the skin walkers.

He found what he was looking for, a small egg of a lizard sitting within the cracks of the mountain. Without waiting he cracked open the egg and drank the liquid inside. Ymyr sighed, “Papa, I am sorry you had to pass. I will avenge you soon.” What Ymyr failed to realize was his time of vengeance was to happen today.

A small yip came from the nearby tree line startling the elf. He turned around and ran over, thinking it was a small animal he could actually cook for dinner. What he saw made his heart sink. It was a small child tied up by vines and unable to escape. The boy looked up at Ymyr and began whimpering in pain then looked to a piece of fur to his side and began reaching for it before turning back to Ymyr for help. The elf knew as soon as he noticed the fur who the boy was. He was a skin walker.

Ymyr laughed as he reached for a small knife carved out of rock at his side. “Didn’t think I could kill my first skin walker so easily.”

The skin walker child didn’t seem to understand what Ymyr was getting at and held his leg out thinking Ymyr would cut the vines for him. The elf just smiled even wider realizing this would be an easy kill for him. As he reached the boy, ready to stab him in the heart he paused. The child’s eyes were full of pain and crying just as Ymyr’s were when his own grandfather had died. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t face himself if he killed a child even if they were of a race that vowed to kill him before.

The skin walker smiled as its body began to turn to wood and soon formed against the tree as one of the roots. “You’ve done well, my son. You have learned to not slay in vengeance to an innocent. The skin walkers will not bother you anymore. Wipe away the paint and return home, may Devata protect you always. Let your people know we are not evil creatures but Devata’s children like all others.”

The elf didn’t understand this but trusted the voice and ran home for the first time in years.

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