This story takes place in the original world of The Ninth Tribe. It is the first of many drabbles I plan to write in this world of my own.  A man is visited by three strangers while sitting at his sister’s grave.

A/N- I would like to thank Eclectic Pet my awesomely awesome beta for helping me to revise this story!

The man sat with his back settled against the stone.  The stone that belonged to a sister and friend.  He spent many nights sitting and drinking with her now that she could no longer run with him in the woods.

Closing his eyes the man let his head rest back beside her name, a name he would never speak again.  He could feel the coolness of the night, and wondered briefly what time of year it was now.  It was hard for him to keep track of days and weeks now that all the color had been drained from the world.

He poured his sister a sip of beer before taking another drink of his own.  He came here often to talk with her, to be with her, but she was the one that had always filled the silence.  He had never had to do much more than grunt during their conversations.  Now the silence was left unfilled as he would not take up her role just because she lay mute in the ground.

There was little wind tonight adding all the more silence to their chat.  He could hear his breath, his heart, the sound as he poured a drink for her and took a drink for himself.  He imagined he could hear bugs eating his sister’s flesh. When it all became too loud, he took another drink.

After a while on that unknown day in that unknown month he heard a new sound.  The sound of footsteps and heartbeats that were not like his own or his sister’s.  He opened his eyes slowly and saw three men standing much too close to her stone.

He studied the others for a moment willing them to leave him in peace.  Taking in a slow breath he could smell them easily enough.  First came the smell of wolf, wolves were easy to spot when one knew what to look for.  Wolves were always lean muscle and teeth.  This one stood in a protective position just to the side of the tallest of the three men.  He wore a suit, but everything else about the wolf showed the animal boiling under the surface.

The light smell of an almost perfumed wood came next and the man looked at the tallest one in front.  He was a well-built man, stockier than many of the elves he had seen before, but his race was unmistakably written on the sharp cut of his face and how he seemed to tower over the six-foot wolf beside him.

The third man looked much older than the two in front.  He smelled of the spice of magic, but something a little bit smoky behind all of that.  Measuring him out as some kind of mage the man leaned his head back against the stone and sighed.

“You weren’t invited.”  He said trying to cut the men off before they invaded this family gathering.  “Go away.”

“Are you sure this is him, he just looks like a drunk to me.”  The wolf said with a growl.  He didn’t blame the wolf. Their kinds had never gotten along that well.

“Atlas Graves, you’re Baron requires your service.”  The elf spoke to him as if he had some kind of tangible control over him.

“I’m done serving Barons of any kind.  Go away.”  Atlas said before pouring his sister another drink.  “We’re busy.”

“You come highly recommended Mr. Graves.  You are in my territory and I have need of your services.”  The elf pressed making him look up at the group once more.

“I owe you and your kind nothing.  Go away.”  He said finishing off the bottle while the wolf growled.

“We should kill him for talking to you like that my Lord.”

“That will not do me any good.”  The elf sounded resigned as if Atlas was forcing him to do something distasteful.  “Nuri, can you do what I require?”  He asked and was answered by a long silence.

“I think so my Lord.”  A deep gravelly tone answered that Atlas could only presume belonged to the mage.

“I’m giving you one last chance to join my service freely Mr. Graves.”  The elf said as if he truly cared about Atlas’ freedom.

“Go fuck yourself, go fuck yourself, I think you should go fuck yourself.”  Atlas sang as his hand reached into his cooler looking for his next bottle.  When he found it, he could hear footsteps walking away and brightened that his song had actually worked.

“Wife or sister?”  The gravelly voice belonging to the man named Nuri asked.

“You know I could rip your arms off before you could cast any of your magic.”  Atlas said wondering why he hadn’t left with the other two.

“Do I?  I’m not so sure you could stand right now.”  He said making Atlas frown and take stock of his cooler.  He frowned as he realized he was almost through tonight’s supplies.

“Even a drunk bear can rip a man’s arms off.”  He said with a sniff glaring back over to the other man.

“Fortunately for man I am not a man.”  Nuri answered making Atlas huff and shake his head.

“Magi aren’t so much above your common man.”  He said with a wave of his hand.

“Are you so sure I’m a mage?”  The man asked seeming almost amused with their conversation.  Atlas looked at him trying to take the measure of him once again.

“You smell like magic and smoke, sounds like a mage to me.”  He said drinking more than his share of the bottle before he remembered his sister needed some too.

“That is quite a keen nose you have.”  The man said nodding to himself.  “I’m an elemental mage we often smell like the elements, but we are not the only things that smell like smoke.”  He said letting the words hang in the air.

“Go away.”  He said not wanting a magic lesson from the old fool.

“You should say goodbye to her tonight Mr. Graves, you won’t be back here for a long while.”  He said sounding as regretful as the elf had sounded.  “There is someone who is going to need your help, and I am determined they get it.

“I don’t care.  I’m not leaving her unprotected again.”  Atlas growled getting angry now that no one seemed to understand he needed to be here.

“No one can hurt her now Mr. Graves.  You’ll have another you will need to protect.”  The mage said more firmly.

Suddenly the old man knelt right by Atlas, much too close for his liking.  He leaned down and whispered words in Atlas’ ear that he couldn’t understand but seemed like the most important thing he had ever been told.

Just as suddenly the man was gone and Atlas was alone with his sister once more.  It happened so suddenly that the visit from the three men nearly seemed like a dream, something born of loneliness, more than truth.