Hati's page is listed here because I thought Lou's writing was far too nice not to share, but Lou was grumping about having too many unrelated pages on his website. Okay... so now it's with related web pages, neener neener! ;-)
Also, the beautiful Hati graphic is by the BadFox herself -- Ariel! Thanks so much! ;-)
Hati's Dire Wolf Description
A huge, heavily furred dire wolf. From black nose to silvered tail-tip he is easily 8 ft long, and stands about 4 and a half feet at his powerful shoulders. His thick, silvery coat is glossy with health, and strong, curving claws tip his large paws. Long legs are built for running, and his green eyes are bright with intelligence. Half-hidden by his shaggy ruff, a wide leather collar can be seen, inscribed with colorful protective runes. In the center an elegant script can be barely discerned. In basic elvish it spells out "Dakini's Hati."
Hati's Elven Description
You see a tall fair skinned elf, as all of them seem to be. He has long, silver-grey hair, and delicate features, which would look feminine on a human. His piercing green eyes catch your attention, though, with an odd sense of strength and confidence. His movements seem both graceful and somehow feral. He is wearing dark green leggings, lighter green shirt, and a leather vest and boots, as well as a black leather collar which shows clearly. The leather is intricately worked, and the collar seems to have "Dakini's Hati" spelled out in elven script.
Hati is a character being played by Lou Erickson in the Oloth realm being played on RealityFault, which is mostly a MUCK armature with a table-top game flavor and some really spiffy code that allows us to record our game logs.
How Hati Got His Name
Hati was raised as any other Lythari; in an isolated village, learning the way in which the elves lived in harmony with the forest, which provided them with almost all they needed. In return, they did what they could for it as well. He was still very much a child, although one who could be sent off to nearby places to gather berries or other needed items by himself, or with other older children. He had a name but he hadn't had it for long -- less than a handful of decades -- and it wasn't the name he would be given or use in the future. The name he would use is Hati, but he didn't get it until later.
He liked being in the woods alone, as he felt safe and secure there. There were few things that bothered the elves which they couldn't outrun or outthink in their natural wolfen form and with their sharp wits about them. The dangerous creatures of the forest -- mostly bears and wildcats -- tended to stay away from the village, as easier to avoid than to challenge. The local wolf pack was not a threat at all. The wolves and the elves got along naturally, and the elves tended to help the wolves in times of shortage or bitter cold. In fact, Hati had often spent time playing with the wolf cubs on their own terms, and he acquired much of his ease and knowledge of the forest from them.
He had left the village barely after dawn, so as to avoid the adults and be able to be on his own, at least for a little while -- gone off to gather some more of the tart raspberries. The day had waned well in to the afternoon by the time his baskets were full and he was returning to the village. On the way he heard some strange noises, sharp and metallic, and smelled smoke on the air. Fearful, he set his baskets down and shifted to his wolf form, to smell the air and listen with keener senses. The smell of fire was stronger, and tinged with that of blood. The sounds were louder, if no clearer, and he ran towards the village to find out what was going on. When he crested the rise nearest the village, the sights were confusing and he didn't understand them.
There were strange, dark-skinned elves everywhere, chasing the young and weak through town, trying to gather them all in one place. Fires sprang unheeded from people's homes and from the center of the village where the hall was, and smoke curled thickly into the sky. He didn't see any of the village adults, and didn't understand why.
Worse than what he saw were the scents and sounds which his keen wolf senses brought him. The village seemed to be full of screaming or wailing, as well as the sounds of things being broken and the heavy metal-on-metal sound of swordplay. He'd never seen that before. The scent of fire, and worse, blood clung heavily to the air.
Uncertain, Hati took a step or two forwards, both afraid to go ahead and afraid of being alone, when a sound from behind him got his attention, and he turned with a start, ears back, and hackles raised. It was not one of the terrifying dark-skinned elves, though, but the swift passing of a couple of the local wolf pack, herding some yearlings away from the village as fast as they could go. One of them noticed him and hesitated only long enough in her flight to yip once, "Run away, fool!"
The fear and flight of the other wolves, combined with the smell of smoke and death from his home village, pushed Hati into flight, chasing after and following the quickly moving wolves. They knew him and ignored him in their deliberate flight from the invaders.
When night fell the wolves stopped running, and Hati crept up towards them, suddenly alone and afraid. The wolves he'd followed all afternoon and evening knew who he was. When he came up to them, a long and steady look from one of them was all it took for him to understand he could stay with them.
Time passes oddly as a wolf; the sense of "now" being far more important than the sense of "future" or "past." It was easy not to worry about what had happened in the village for some time, and so it was days before the wolves drifted back through the forest to where the village was. Traveling with them, Hati remembered the village and knew what it was. The burned out homes were terrible as they approached, and the cries of the crows and carrion eaters were clear. No other voices rang out, and besides a lingering scent of fire and smoldering ashes, the village was quiet. Scents told him the ashes contained the bodies of elves, and the blood was everywhere. He searched the village more and more desperately for any survivors. He tracked with his wolf senses, and even resumed elven shape to call out and make sure no one was trapped in cellars or otherwise.
No one was. The first body he found was terrible; realizing that this person who he'd known all his life was now this horrible and lifeless thing in front of him. He kept searching, looking for his family. He never found them.
After a day of searching and slow realization that he was alone, Hati was numb, tired, and hungry. The wolves, having decided the place was now lifeless and smelled bad, were moving off. He went with them, not looking back.
He had always been able to go back to the safety of the village, of his family, and being without this was harder than he expected it to be. Rather than fall into a gaping pit of despair and sadness, he let the security of the wolf pack protect him, joining it as an outsider. Eventually he was trusted, and joined their hunt.
As a member of the pack he didn't need the elven form; he didn't use it. He took his comfort from the wolves and did what he could for them. He knew medicines in the forest they did not, and was cleverer than them, helping them work together to drive off bear and invading wolves. The seasons passed in the way that they did, and Hati didn't much pay attention. There were deer to hunt and rabbits to chase and other very important matters at hand. Time and the future didn't rate any notice. None of the wolves thought it odd that Hati didn't grow old and sick with the others he played with as a cub, that being more notice than a wolf gives such things. They did notice he was strong and fast and wise, and his voice became one of the respected in the pack. After a dozen years he was Alpha, and he took that responsibility more seriously than any pure wolf did.
The ways of the wolf were natural to him, and it seemed a usual day when it was noticed that one of the wolves was missing. He'd been missing for several days too, longer than a going-off-to-explore usually was. Hati urged others to look, and tracked him himself too, ranging far and wide through the forest. No one found anything.
Days later the missing wolf returned, hungry and bedraggled, scented of exertion. The others wanted to know what happened, but he wasn't responding to anyone, glassy eyed and confused-seeming. The wolf paced around the pack in a narrowing circle, ignoring the others and oblivious to everything -- even a nip or two at his flank.
It was just as Hati was beginning to think, "Something is wrong!" and about to have the pack flee, that the dark-skinned elves burst out of the woods, calling out in a harsh and unpleasant tongue. The wolves scattered, but too slowly, for the elves had nets and crossbows, and the pack was surprised and surrounded. Again the dark ones attacked Hati's clan, but this time he was there with them and he returned the attack savagely, wanting to rescue these wolves who respected and followed him and remembering suddenly the horrors of his home village's destruction. His eagerness and his strength were no match, however, for the nets and organization of the dark elves.
Any of the wolves that they could immobilize, Hati among them, were bound tightly and thrown in a wagon, the scent of fear thick among them. The others were chased down and shot, then skinned for their pelts. The dark elves feasted on Hati's foster clan that night, and he was powerless to stop them. Anger burned within him.
The wagon was taken away the next day, pulled by a beaten old nag along the trail, and then along a road. One of the bound wolves died, and the rest weren't much better off with no food or water for the duration of the four-day trip into a town.
Dumped from the cart in the town, confused, hungry, bound, and lost, Hati did not know what would happen. The wolves had been dumped into a roofed pen of some sort, in a part of the town surrounded by other animals, unlike anything Hati knew. The smells and sounds were near overwhelming and he struggled against his bonds in near-terror, the wolf's instincts screaming at him to get away from here.
Outside the pen the dark elves conferred, and Hati thought darker thoughts about them. One pointed to each of the wolves and said things Hati did not understand. He felt a slight urge to do whatever this one wanted, but it was not strong and he ignored it. He wanted to hurt someone, and snarled, straining against the ropes which held him.
He did not notice the snarls and cries of the other wolves diminishing.
Soon though one of the dark elves climbed over the fence into the pen and began to cut the wolves free. Hati couldn't believe the apparent stupidity of this action, and waited for the other wolves to tear him to little pieces. The other wolves didn't react. They'd stand, and maybe shake, but remained quiet and docile.
Hati didn't understand. He didn't think he could cope with so many of the black skinned ones by himself, so he decided to wait and find out what had the others stymied. They cut him free, and he leapt to his feet, snarling a little and backing away quickly. The elf who'd cut him free seemed startled by this and ran away, which made Hati feel better even if he didn't understand it.
What was left of the pack was quiet and subdued. None of Hati's urgings could incite them to react. This continued for days, as strangers came to the pen and haggled with its owners, apparently over the members of his pack. He watched in abject horror as they were sold off to different people, for what purposes he did not know.
He finally decided he could wait no longer and did attack one of the dark elves who had come into the pen, when they climbed in to collect another of the pack and send them off to who-knows-what-fate. The elf was surprised when Hati leapt upon him, and more surprised when Hati's teeth ripped into his shoulder. Others came right away, and nets were plied, along with clubs, until blackness claimed Hati.
When he awoke, he hurt all over. He could hear people arguing over why "that damned wolf" could ignore a charm. He opened his eyes and found himself in a small cage with close-set bars. A thick silver chain chafed one of his hind legs and a strange weakness pulled at him through it. He tried to stand and could not. Tugging at the dragging weight of the chain, the sound of his whimpers brought the arguing elves over to him.
One of them said, "I tell you, it can't be a wolf. The charm would have held it. It has to be a shape shifter. Kill it and save yourself the trouble."
Hati cringed at the thought, and the other replied, "If you'll stake that it's a 'shifter, then I've got a better idea." The second elf smiled a nasty, greedy smile, and added, "Atmos the slaver gets a lot for the 'shifters. He'll pay well for him, even knowing he did nearly kill Luth'ol."
The next day a short, fat dwarf came over, following the greedy elf of the day before. He looked at the caged wolf and stabbed him with a long silver pin on the end of a pole, despite Hati's attempt to dodge. The wound seeped blood and burned intensely, making Hati howl with anger and pain. Later that day poles were slipped through the bars of the cage, and a miserable Hati was carried out of the animal pens and away from the few remaining members of his pack... into a new and altogether unpleasant place.
The fat dwarf was none other than the Atmos the elves had talked about, and he did indeed sell slaves. The conditions they were kept in were not quite appalling, but only out of sheer self-interest; a sick slave wasn't worth what a healthy one was. Many of the buyers were unremarkable, and most of the slaves seemed beaten down, as if all their life had been sucked from them. Losing his pack, Hati felt some of the same way.
The slaver moved the wolf to a slightly larger cage near other oddities he had, in a huge, dark, stinking cave. People came to look, and to get him to move, to show him off, Atmos would whip him. Sometimes the prospective customer whipped him. He hated the whip, and developed an intense hatred for all these black-skinned elves who came to stare and to think about buying, and for this fat little dwarf who catered to them.
It is late in the day, after hours of other customers, when Atmos makes his mistake. He is prodding Hati with something and telling the customer, "Nice and strong. The mage tells me he's sure it's a 'shifter..." and Hati's thought is to show him just how strong. When the edge of the dwarf's tunic drapes against the cage, the wolf suddenly lunges for it and grabs it in his teeth, backing against the far wall of the cage and pulling the dwarf hard up against the outside of the bars. The dwarf scrabbles ineffectively while the customer laughs. Hati works his way slowly up the draped garment, pulling against it with his paws while moving his teeth in closer. He can finally reach out the tiniest amount through the bars and bite the hated dwarf, who screams and jerks away. Between the awful taste and the sudden tug, Hati loses his grip and the dwarf leaps away, crying something about skinning the wolf alive for breakfast.
Hati doesn't care any more. He's had enough of being on display.
The dwarf raves and storms away for a moment, coming back clutching something to his bleeding arm and shouting for one of his handlers. The dark elf that had been interested in buying laughs some more and tells the dwarf that he might come back later. The dwarf apologizes and says he'll solve this problem once and for all.
The handlers bring a sword and the dwarf attempts to stab through the bars with it, but it isn't silvered and doesn't seem to hurt Hati much. Hati gets angry again, snarling and snapping at the dwarf, straining at the silvered chain which holds him fast to the far wall of the cage. The dwarf curses at the handler, "Silver, you fool, silver!" and throws the seemingly useless weapon at the handler.
Having watched all of this from a quiet eddy in the traffic amongst the stalls, a woman with red-gold hair steps forward and walks to the cage. She crouches outside of it and looks in at Hati. The scent of saddle soap and well-kept leather reminds him of the now-distant village and surprises him with the pang of that memory. He settles, watching her, his growls dropping off. She in turn watches him, asking the wolf, "Would you like to come out of there?"
The blustering dwarf shoos at her, telling her, "Get away! That one's a dangerous animal! Look at what it's done to me!" He shakes his bloodstained cloth at her and she wrinkles her nose distastefully. She says, gesturing, "He doesn't seem so very dangerous right now." The caged wolf watches warily, rather as if he's listening.
"Oh, no, malla Tel'Quessir," says the dwarf, "-that one's trouble. Smart enough to wait for you to get too close, and then attack, that one is." He shakes his head vehemently, "It'd rather bite you than breathe, that one."
The red-haired woman stands with a soft creaking of leather, and gets a mischievous gleam in her eye. She turns to ask the dwarf, "Would you bet on that?"
The dwarf looks at her, stunned, then says, "What would you bet? I don't understand."
She says calmly and matter-of-factly, "I am willing to bet that if you will give me fifteen minutes of quiet here alone with him, I will be able to open the cage and lead him quietly away."
Atmos gives the woman the hairy eyeball for a moment before he says, "That thing would tear you apart! Are you out of your mind?" Before she can say anything he adds warily, "Besides the entertainment value of watching you eat your words as it tried to eat you alive, what would you bet?"
Her reply is steady and self-assured, which unnerves the slaver some more, "If you're right, I'll give you twenty silver pieces. If I'm right, I'll keep the wolf."
Atmos' eyes narrow, "Leave the silver with me to hold, in case it kills you." When she hands it over he shakes her hand and says seriously, "Your time starts now." He walks away, a little subdued, calling to his handlers, "Get a crossbow and a pole or a spear... that crazy woman's going to need rescuing in a few minutes."
The woman watches him go and then goes over and crouches by the cage again, looking the wolf in the eyes. She remains there for a long time. Eventually she says a few words, "Hello, pretty wolf. I'm Dakini. If you'll behave, I can take you out of that cage." She watches the wolf seriously.
Hati doesn't know what to think. This strange woman is talking to him and treating him like an intelligent being. That's been a long time. She's offering a way out of this detestable place. He whines once, a quiet little noise, and she says in reply, "No, you cannot hurt the dwarf." His ears go back and he settles to the ground, but keeps watching her. She keeps talking, soothing and encouraging. He likes having someone talk to him, real words and real meaning. And she smells good.
It is not long before the gruff slaver comes back and says, "Well?" to the woman. She stands, "Unlock the cage." When he moves in to unlock the cage the wolf's ears go flat and he growls. The slaver backs off and hands Dakini the keys, "This isn't worth twenty silver. It'll eat you alive."
Dakini watches him back off, then turns her back on him, ignoring him as unimportant. She says to the wolf, "Be quiet," and Hati finds himself doing so, not because he must fear her anger, but because he'd like to please her. And she smells good. When she unlocks the cage and steps into it, Hati looks up at her uncertainly. She says, "Good boy," and crouches next to him, moving slowly but surely. When he doesn't react badly she reaches down and rubs his ears and strokes his fur, saying something soothing. She unfastens her belt and slides it around the wolf's neck, cinching and buckling it snugly. She talks to the wolf for a moment more before she unlocks the silver chain on his hind leg, then stands and says, "Come," and leads him out of the cage.
Hati doesn't understand this woman. She's talking to him, and telling him she can keep the awful dwarf away. Can she keep the black-skinned elves away, too? She smells good. She talks of food, and of leaving this dismal place. When she fastens her belt around his neck he tenses for a moment, waiting for it to bite and strangle, but it doesn't. His ears go back up and he looks at her. When she unfastens the silver shackle around his leg and strokes his fur, he can only stare at her. Maybe she can do these things. And she smells good.
When she says, "Come," and leads, Hati follows. He is certain he could break free and attack that loathsome dwarf, or some of the multitude of the dark-skinned elves, or even this nice woman, but he would only be captured again. He follows her, wondering where they will go. He rather enjoys the near-panicked look on Atmos' face when Dakini leads him over and says, "My silver, please?" The dwarf hands it over, trembling, "Take it and go." He is obviously afraid the wolf will break free and attack him, but Hati can only think of the bad things that would happen if he did that, and how it would make Dakini unhappy.
As Dakini leads the wolf off through the Bazaar she says to him, "Have you got a name?" He can't remember what he was called, and looks blankly at her, suddenly afraid she'll be unhappy or unsatisfied. She says, "Well, I can't just call you 'Wolf' all the time." As they walk through the Bazaar she smiles and says, "Your name will be Hati. He was a very strong wolf, long ago."
This is where Hati got both his name and his master, neither of which he would want to be without.
-- End --
Hati copyright © 2001 Lou Erickson