Winter Rain, part 68

He’s older than I’d expected—black hair, now mostly grey, and a weathered face. Mid-fifties, maybe. Neck down, though, he could be me, ten years older.

Garvey tries to lick at my hands again, but I pull them behind me, out of his reach.

There’s no way around it: what I’ve done is inexcusable, and Faolan’s going to kill me, when he finds out. If Torrin doesn’t do it first.

The whiskey hasn’t worn off much, and my brain feels as thick as soup.

I avoid his eyes as I respond. “I’m sorry, Sir.” I say it carefully, slowly, just in case. My words all sound distinct to me, but I can’t be certain. “My name is Tiergan, one of Faolan’s. I came here with Keely, one of Dugan’s, to ask for passage across your lands.”

I feel him react, and glance up, just for an instant. His eyebrow is raised.

“Rather unorthodox, wouldn’t you say? Running out here to do it?” His voice is almost flat—but, there’s an edge on it. Not anger. Amusement, maybe? Could it be? “Drunk on my best whiskey,” he adds, ominously, “if I’m not mistaken.”

My crazy hope fizzles. Shit—I must be drunker than I thought, to misread him so much.

“It is as you say,” I reply—again, to his mouth, “and I have no excuse, Sir.” And I really don’t. I’ve fucked us up.

But any explanation’s got to be better than none. I take a deep breath, and chance the truth.

“I got some . . . bad news, on the phone, Sir, while we were waiting for you . . . and I acted stupidly. I’m very sorry, Sir. I realize you can’t let this pass, but I . . . I beg you not to punish my whole family for my mistake. Please, Sir, you can do whatever you want with me—but my cousin, Brennan . . . please allow him to continue through.”

I chance to look up, hoping to communicate my sincerity, then quickly drop my head to wait.

“Through to where, exactly?” he asks, after a moment, still impossibly without anger.

Hesitantly, I look up to meet his eyes. I can’t read him, but he seems calm.

To his right, one of the younger-acting dogs lies down and curls up, yawning. That’s got to be a good sign, right?

“We are on our way to Carrigan’s, Sir.”

“Carrigan?” he says, and looks intently to the right for a moment. “Oh, yes, of course. Sorry, it’s been a long time . . . .

“So, what was your news?”

“Sir?” I ask, and start shivering again. I really shouldn’t have come out here.

For so many reasons.

“That drove you to my drink, and into my woods?”

“Oh,” I say, and drop my gaze. My eyes start to burn, a little. “Just, ah . . . ”—I look up again, and force a smile, but it doesn’t want to last—“somebody I care about . . . she, um . . . . ” What? She what? She left me? She didn’t. I left her. And Faolan’s just doing what he said he would.


“Don’t worry about it, son,” he says. “I get the idea.”

“Sir?” I ask again, like an idiot.

“Come on, we should get you inside. Or at least out of that skin.” He chuckles and reaches out to pull me away from the tree. “You seem sober enough. Can you run?”


“You know, if you keep calling me that, we are going to have a problem. The name’s Torrin. Now let’s get going, okay—even I’m getting cold out here.”

“You’re not . . . an-g-gry?”

He snickers. “Son . . . I’m not thrilled you’re here. I’ve told Dugan more than once, that as far as I’m concerned, you guys can go wherever the fuck you want. It’s a free country. All this territory bullshit is just that, and I’d just as soon not deal with it. It’s a pain in my ass, you know?

“But you’re here now, and hey”—he nods to Garvey, who has turned around beside me, his tail thumping raspily across something behind us—“Garvey likes you, so that’s something.

He smiles again, briefly, then grows serious. “Look, don’t worry about the whiskey. Hell, if you hadn’t had it, Sky would have, so, what the hell, right? And as for running in my woods, well, I bought them for running in, okay? It’s cool.

“Now, can we go?” He smiles, and it spreads mischievously up to his eyes. “Or are you going to try some more to talk me into being mad at you?” He laughs heartily and waves his hand to his dogs as he steps away from me. They crowd around him, tails wagging again, while I start rubbing my arms with my hands, for warmth.

I can’t believe it. No consequences? None? At all?

Who the hell is this guy?

I watch as he touches each of the dogs in turn. They jostle up against each other, vying for his attention, and a few of them even playing with each other. They all seem to have forgotten about me. Well, except for the dangerous-looking setter—she’s still watching me, standing apart from her packmates. But even she has dropped the air of threat.

Garvey snorts at my side, and bumps up against me.

“Well?” Torrin asks, turning again to me.

I nod. “Th-thank you, Sir.

“I mean T-Torrin.”

“Yeah, yeah—don’t mention it. Seriously—don’t mention it. Now, let’s go.”

I nod again, and we change.

Torrin barks back at me once, then runs off into the trees. His pack swarm quickly after, except for the setter, who steps over to sniff at me a few times, and Garvey, who seems determined to stick to me like glue. The setter and I make some kind of peace, and then he takes off after the rest.

Garvey trots forward a few steps, then stops.

I snort. Fucking dog.

But if it hadn’t been for him, I’d have . . . .

I shake my head, but the fog won’t clear. And worse, something new is growing there. Or maybe it was there all along.

Fuck it. Whatever.

I step over to Garvey and briefly nuzzle the side of my face against his. His tail thumps a few times into mine.

Fucking dog.

I shake my head again, and launch into the trees, with Garvey close on my heels.

19 Responses to “Winter Rain, part 68”

  1. Hi all,

    After a number of comments, including Gavin’s above (I’ll reply to you once WR69 is posted, Gavin), I’ve decided to rename the character formerly known as “Rain” “Sky” instead.  I wanted something hippy-sounding, and I hadn’t, at the time, noticed the “Winter Rain” connotations. 


  2. See?  I say a problem with the name, Chris changes it.  I say “write more” and there’s a new post.

    That’s power!


  3. Vercin says:

    Dude. You gotta come by more often with the encouragement :D

  4. Hey Chris, just a reminder:  You mentioned you’d address my comment after chapter 69, and we’re on 70 — I was really interested in your thoughts and some dialogue, dude! ;)

  5. Hi Gavin — Sorry about that.  Been swamped with work and the WFG upgrade.  Was hoping to release it last night, but the stars did not align.  Hopefully tonight.  Soon after, WR71 and comments.  :-)

  6. No worries dude — I figured you were busy, just wanted to make sure it didn’t get lost in the shuffle, because it sounded semi-important. :)

  7. Hi Gavin,

    Well, we’ll see if you still want to discuss stuff after WR71, but it’s posted, so I’m commenting.

    I don’t really see a huge difference between the country and city folk, except perhaps this: city folk tend to be a bit more “heads down” — we don’t look around, we don’t pay attention, and, perhaps, we have a much higher tolerance for “strange”.  Tiergan’s family hides in plain sight, but they have to be careful not to call attention to themselves.  Keely’s family has different problems.

    In the case of Keely’s problems, there was one rather badly-written installment (the one full of “top o’ the morning”s), but, beyond that, I didn’t see it as a cultural problem.  Dugan had seen Keely — even if he was drunk, he was certain about it.  His friends stuck by him.  That seems reasonable behaviour to me — not about superstition.  That said, it does get mighty dark at night, away from city lights, and things do go bump in the night.  ;-)

    For me, Tiergan is primary to the story.  Part and parcel of that is the culture he grew up in — rooted in instinct and molded by history.  In Tiergan’s particular case, he is molded by his family life, and the particular stresses they live under — the constant fear of discovery, the relative lack of money, a family in decline, the violence bred from fear and circumstance, the kind of people they do business with.  What I try for with Tiergan is to make him real — to, as best I can, simulate the cumulative effect of all of his life experiences, and how his personal values interact with those things, to tug at him in different directions at once.

    Katherine Paterson, in one of her books on writing, talks about how you can’t have a character who doesn’t have a detailed background — because those details shape who the character is.  Characterization has to be grounded in reality — or it never develops at all.  That’s what I’m trying to learn with Winter Rain — or one of the things, anyway — how to develop a character who is truly integrated with and a product of his environment.

    The other thing I’m working on is tension.  I’ve never (ever) written anything tense before WR, and this is very much an exercise in figuring out how to create tension in a story.  My special power (if I have one) is writing angst.  Coupling that with tension does seem to make the story more lively.  :-)

    Okay, I should go to bed now.


  8. Like I said, Tiergan’s characterization is fantastic.  You’ve created all these threads of personality, with reasons for all of them, and weaved them into a believable living dynamic.  Tiergan is a person, and one that is intriguing to follow as a protagonist and narrator.

    Like I said, the country folk’s tone is plausible — I can see reasons for it.  I can see Keely’s family hiding out in the backwoods instead of the city because it’s a dynamic they understand.  The wolves are primal, part of myth and history, and a slower paced reality is one they grasp instinctually.  The wolves in the city are dealing with a dynamic modern humans have problems with — so it’s much more fast-paced and risky.  Both environments have their own well-thought-out dynamics.  I just questioned whether you were going for that, because I felt like I was supposed to sniff around for anything questionable.  So I was basically stretching for something — because the story makes sense in each chapter.

    I just wanted to check in and make sure the arc was working for you, as the writer — because part of your process certainly seems to be questioning and doubting and really working through something.  Once you work it through and are semi-satisfied, what you produce is amazing for the rest of us to read.

    You push yourself — and it makes the work better.  I say keep up the good work!

  9. Showeda says:

    I’m not going to comment for the next few pages or look at any future comments until I’m totally caught up . . . For 2 reasons . . . 1 . . . I’m a slow reader and reading lengthy comments (like this, the irony) seem to break my concentration on the actual novel . . . 2 . . . Some questions are are beginning to form . . . 1st . . . Why is Tiergan such a coward? What happened that made him so dissatisfied with his ‘ranking’ . . . As his view is the only constant . . . Do the other relatives harbour such notions, fears? . . . I’m beginning to feel slightly less empathy for him and I’m wondering why? . . . I never really got ‘the true love thing’ with Keaira as his ‘raison d’etre’ . . . But more the jealousy of Faolan . . . 3 . . . In a previous comment, mention of Garvey being Torrin, made me wonder about the world of Winter Rain . . . Why is it only wolf/human? . . . 4 . . . Will this be explained? . . . Do you think it important? . . . 5 . . . The most passion I recall/witnessed has been for Tara . . . I know their cousins . . . But does that translate into wolf world? . . . 6 . . . Torrin’s Sky is human . . . Suggesting that there maybe wolf/human physical attraction . . . Yet when Tiergan has had (albeit seldom) any interaction with them, he is at best, decidely asexual (barmaid’s hand hold), at worst quite disgusted (Sky’s breath) . . . Any thoughts??..BTW . . . I always love these Tiregan wolf scenes . . . Writing . . . So lucid, fast an detailed . . . Felt that I was running alongside and keeping up . . . Yay . . . I’m a
    fast runner at last . . . Memories of cringeingly embarrassing school athletics . . . Nearly wiped away..So thanks!

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