• royloh

The Deep Wound | Redeye Character Story

Updated: May 11


Seats of power must be opulent, and Tiandu is emblematic of this rule. Countless layers of towering glass and steel etched lines across its skyline, connected by an endless nest of neon-lined highways stretched below. Upon entering the city, first-time visitors often find themselves in a dazed stupor, entranced by the overwhelming splendor of the city.


But this serves a purpose beyond the mere satiation of egos – Tiandu is a symbol of unity to its allies, and an impenetrable fortress to those who wish destruction on the magi. Though only one of the arcane towers is finished, its magnificence lords over the landscape with indisputable authority. If the floating crystals and glimmering lights that line the tower are any indication, the houses of magi will command awe beyond even the rest of Tiandu.


A project of this caliber demands the harshest and most taxing of construction. The manpower of the city alone is insufficient for such an audacious task; besides, the mages are above toiling in manual labor. Other than the few criminals who are forced to help, the rest of the workers will come from immigrants, non-human immigrants. It only makes sense: they are willing to work for less, and not only that, but they are also uniquely built for this kind of work. Take a minotaur for example: with a frame and strength twice that of a human’s, they are easily more than twice as productive. Regretfully, they are few in numbers, so most of the workers are wolfmen — though not much bigger than regular humans, they have much greater stamina, and they are plentiful, too. A twelve-hour work day would easily drive most humans to exhaustion, but a wolfman would gladly work the hours, and for only marginally higher pay. This benefits everyone: the mages have their palace built much quicker and cheaper, and the wolfmen have much better lives in the city than they ever would in the wild — yet no great city is without its problems.


After another day of monotonous drudgery, the workers lined up defeatedly to collect their pay. Most start their shifts at daybreak and could not afford the luxury of resting until deep into the night. Even now was not a time for rest since workers had to report their workload, and mistakes or shoddy estimates came with special punishments.


At the front of the queue stood a particularly hulking wolfman with a fiery mane, clearly exhausted and impatient.


“Where the hell were you, Redeye?” The foreman, in charge of compensation, snapped at the wolfman, “You didn’t show for work yesterday.”


“I was sick,” Redeye answered.

“You don’t outgrow weakness, I see.”


There was a ripple of laughter and snickers from the surrounding guards.


“All you slackers better pull your weight, the second tower won’t build itself! Work through nights if you have to! The scaffolding must be done by the end of the week.”


Right at that moment, shouts broke out next to Redeye. The foreman in charge of the other queue was shouting at a scrawny-looking wolfman. Back hunched, he was clearly well past his prime.


“You get paid to move dirt. A hundred sandbags. No discussion,” the second foreman bellowed.


“I moved everything they gave me. It’s not my fault they didn’t give me any more,” the old wolfman argued, meekly.


“Your quota is a hundred. You carry ninety, you don’t get paid. Those are the rules.”

“You bunch of...”

In a burst of ferocious rage, the old wolfman clawed the foreman to the ground. The foreman was motionless. Their shouts hung in the air. Despite being beaten and humiliated into docility, even an elderly wolfman can be a tremendous danger to humans – especially when unhinged. The guards surrounding the pack, however, were well-trained and quick to retaliate. The old wolfman was instantly struck with a baton and fell to the ground, his mobility and rage visibly dissipated. Three more guards joined in to pound the helpless wolfman, who by now could do nothing but whimper.


In the midst of a surge of fury, Redeye was barely aware of his extended claws. There was no chance he would stand by and do nothing while his brethren were brutalized. But the moment he laid his hand on one of the guards, hoping to hurl him away, he was struck on the back of his head.


“Not a step closer, Mongrel.”


Hearing those words made his blood boil even more, and a storm of pure rage enveloped Redeye. Looking around in a furor, he could see multiple guards pointing their spears at him and the other wolfmen.

“Toothless whelps. Is it a fight you want?” the foreman taunted.

Redeye was not in the slightest intimidated by this paltry show of dominance. He had faced much worse odds, and for much less of a cause. All his mind saw was how to tear these people to shreds; he could smell their sweat, taste their blood, hear their screams.

Yet the last memories of his sister flashed before his eyes. Redeye was suddenly reminded of the tooth she gave him, moments before she was dragged away in tears by the guards busting into their house. The only thing that held him back from tearing all the guards apart, limb from limb, was his sister’s last words to him: “Don’t do this again Redeye, don’t fight them! Control yourself!”


The echoes of her howls haunted him now, paralyzing him. His sister was right. She was always right. Reeling from the conflict of fury and pain, a sudden sliver of strength allowed Redeye to regain clarity and eventually control. Summoning every strength in his body, he was just barely able to contain his rage. It was almost harder to stop a massacre than to cause it.

“STOP!” Redeye howled.


This unexpected, commanding outburst made everyone freeze, even the guards bashing the old wolfman on the ground.


“Stop,” Redeye repeated, much more controlled this time, with tears hurdling down his face. “Leave him alone. I’ll pay for his work.”


The small hill overlooking the city is the site of a burial ground. Except for the occasional cricket chirping, the plot was dead silent; time stood still, and the borders of reality faded uneasily into the night. Redeye came here often. There was nowhere else for him, especially tonight.


Clinching the tooth from his sister, he dug it in and dragged it across his chest. A bright red gash overlapped etches of older wounds, joining the mass of scars that live on Redeye’s body. He started to heal almost immediately, but the cut will still leave a mark. He needed this cut, the pain, the mark as a reminder of today and of the bounds he must live within.


Redeye never knew his father, and his mother died shortly after giving birth to him. His sister, Nighthowl, was the only one taking care of him growing up, and their bond was far greater than he dared let himself mourn. This tooth was the only connection he had to his sister. He missed her, and felt a gentle warmth when the tooth was buried in him.


He wanted to blame the humans, but deep down he knew it was not their fault. Once his sister confessed to the murder, it was over. There was nothing anyone could do. Trials for wolfmen were unheard of, and Redeye knew the humans would sooner frame her than go through the effort of investigating and releasing her. He could not excuse himself for being young, callous, and drunk. Being provoked was no defense either. The facts were that he lost control, and killed three people. His sister was only trying to save him.

“Learn from this, learn to control yourself, please! I won’t be here next time!”

His sister was right. He could not hope to go against the entire city and live. Remembering her strong will and tenacity made him miss Nighthowl, more than he could have ever imagined. He remembered her howl, and howled in the way that she would. He felt a calmness wash over him.

“Hey, did you hear that? What was that?”

A startled voice in the distance snapped Redeye squarely back into the present. Sounds of rustling and quickening footsteps alarmed him – nobody visits the graves at night. He had spent many nights here without unexpected encounters, and the presence of uninvited company made him instantly on alert, cautious.

“Some wild animal, I think.”


“No… That’s a wolfman’s howl.”

Redeye saw five humans converging in his direction, moving and motioning towards him. He stayed still.

“I think it came from there...”


As soon as one of them pointed, he knew he had to move, but now the humans were spread out, cutting off all avenues of escape for him. So Redeye did the only thing he could think of: he jumped swiftly onto the branch of a dense, hefty willow. As long as they didn’t look up, he would avoid detection.

“It was here.”

“Where?”


“I saw it.”


“You saw what? A ghost?”


“Shut up, that’s not funny!”


“Shh…It must still be around here...”


Redeye could see them now, they were directly below him. He recognized the tattoo on their arms; these people belonged to a local gang called the “Rising Sun”. While he didn’t follow local politics, he knew enough to be certain that they were not a fan of immigrants or wolfmen. Then, as if sensing his nervousness, the girl in the robe began to look up. Time slowed down for Redeye. He knew it was his last and only chance to escape, so he jumped as far as he could, and ran like the wind. Humans can never outrun a wolfman. Bolting with a frenzy into the night, he risked looking back one last time upon hearing their screams. This was the worst move he could have made. A mud wall rose from the ground, and Redeye slammed into it. There was no time to even feel regret – by the time he had recovered his footing, the humans had him surrounded.

“Look what we have here!” the girl jeered.


“Yeah, what’s a toothless little puppy doing here in the middle of the night?”

“I can’t imagine anything good…”


“A grave robber, he must be a grave robber! Look what he’s holding!” the youngest of them shouted. He looked to be no older than fifteen years old.

A sudden dread overcame Redeye. The tooth — it looked like a pendant. He couldn’t let them take it from him.

“No, this isn’t...” he tried, weakly.

“You whelps only know how to steal. If it’s not our jobs by day, it’s our treasures by night — and from the dead no less! Mongrel.”


“Give us the pendant! Hand it over now and we might go easy on you!”


“I am not a thief. This is mine,” Redeye declared, finally able to complete a sentence.


But the mages were not in a listening mood. The girl in the robe seized his arm with mud raised from the ground. This encumbered Redeye for a moment and the boy lunged at the pendent, trying to rip it from him.

“Stop, it’s mine! It’s really mine!” Redeye cried desperately.


“Oh, shut up.” The girl had no patience for his nonsense. She kicked Redeye, pressing mud into his face, silencing and suffocating him. Redeye panicked, loosening his grip as he scrambled for air, and the pendant was torn from his hand. An overwhelming whir of humiliation, fright, and anger welled in an instant. He would not be separated from his sister.

Time slowed down again, and this time Redeye was more sharp, more calculating. With his claws extended, he removed the mud from his face with one hand, and pounced.


“Arggg!!!”


Redeye could vaguely remember getting stabbed. He could remember tearing an arm from a body. The rest was a blur.



By the time he had regained his senses, he saw a knife sticking out of his chest and his right claw at the neck of the mage. His left claw had recovered the tooth, and was gripping it tightly. The girl was soaked in blood; he couldn’t be sure if it was his or her own. Her bloodshot eyes pleaded for him to let go.


“Control yourself!” Nighthowl’s voice rang in his head.


Redeye knew it was too late for that — he had killed again. Yet, the wave of calmness returned. He would never be separated from his sister.


“It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault!”


Slowly squeezing and closing in with his claws, he chanted these words, and all was quiet again.


Story by Roy Loh, Edited by Laura Lau and Jonathan Wong

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