of wolves howling echoed through the forest as the second of the moons rose
into the sky. Shadows danced in the fire light that flickered from within a
hidden cave in the forests not far from the Elven palace. Curious nocturnal
animals skirted the edge of the firelight.
Several wolf cubs wrestled around the fire pit,
trying to prove who the alpha wolf was. A large grey cub dominated the playful
wrestling. This was the son of the pack leader, the Alpha of the Wolftracker
pack that called this series of caverns their home. He was a large, mean,
unintelligent boy that delighted in the pain of those that were smaller than
he. Today he had his sights set on the pack runt.
Grathius was the grandson of Grriffith the brave. Griffith was the last Canavar to venture
out before the great hiding that had caused the entire race of wolf-creatures
to be forgotten by all but a highly select members of an organization that was
founded to protect the Balance. They had become known as the Guardians of the
Balance, and Griffith had chosen to leave the pack and consort with these
individuals. In the eyes of several, this had brought shame upon the entire
Grathius and a few friends had gotten into a
friendly wrestling match. He was small, but he was fast. The group of friends
had been utterly enjoying themselves before Taloren,
the Alpha's son, had decided to join them. It didn't take long before most of
the group had sustained minor injuries and run off to their mothers with their
tails between their legs.
"What did you have to go and do that
for." Grathius demanded of the larger boy. "We were fine until you
"Watch how you talk to your better’s
boy." Taloren snapped. "You are a disgrace
to the Wolftracker name. They should have drowned you the day you were born,
Anger burned in Grathius's
eyes. "One day, you and yours will get what is coming to you." He
barked at the larger cub. "I only hope I am there to see it."
Tired of talking, and insulted that this tiny
cub had seen fit to try and challenge his superiority, Taloren
lunged towards Grathius. Grathius had been expecting this, so he nimbly stepped
out of the way and watched as Taloren's mass carried
him into the wall that he had been standing in front of a moment before. The
larger cub stood on his hind legs, swaying dangerously through the daze that
came from banging his head on the wall.
"I am going to kill you, Grathius." Taloren growled.
It didn't take long for Taloren
to regain his composure. He lunged at Grathius again. As Grathius stepped out of
the way, Taloren struck at him with his hands, the
claws catching Grathius in the throat. Blood ran down the smaller cubs front from the wound he had just sustained. Bloody foam
began to form around his lip, tinging his muzzle red with his own blood.
Grathius' mother rushed to him, keeping Taloren from finishing what he had started.
"Get away from him, you monster!" She
snarled at the boy.
maliciously. "My father will have the whole lot of you banished as soon as
the hunting party returns."
Grathius' mother slapped Taloren
across the face with the back of her hand,
knocking him to the ground. "Your father knows the truth of what happened.
He has always supported my father in his decision." She bared her teeth in
a harsh smile. "You will do well to remember that your father and I have
been friends for a long time. I will be speaking to him of this."
Fear filled Taloren's
eyes. He knew that he had crossed the line, and he knew that his father was
going to be furious with him. He turned and ran into his family’s living
quarters as fast as he could.
Grathius’ mother lifted him into her arms
gently and carried him to the infirmary as quickly as she could.
The healer cleaned the wounds and rubbed a
salve on them. The wounds visibly closed seconds after the salve had been
"The wounds will heal, but I think his
voice will be affected for the rest of his life." The old healer said when
he had finished. He then left to attend to his other patients,
"Why did you that?" She demanded of
her son. "He could have killed you, and would have had I not stopped
Grathius whimpered slightly. "He cannot be
allowed to get away with insulting our family, motherrr."
As he spoke the last word his voice growled deeply.
His mother's eyes widened. Tears sprang to her
eyes. "Oh, Grathius, I am so sorry."
Grathius patted his mother's hand. "It is
not yourrr fault, motherrr.
I will live with the rrramifiactions of my
She smiled. Grathius may have been the smallest
of the cubs in the pack, but he was extremely intelligent. He very often
dazzled the older members of the pack with his understanding of the old texts,
sharing his unique opinion on the translations. He was well liked, and would
have been throughout the whole pack, if not for the stigma placed on them by
her father Griffith. She shook her head as she once again scooped him into her
arms to carry him home. He snuggled into her shoulder
and fell asleep as she clumsily walked to their living quarters on her hind
The canavars were an interesting race. They were intelligent,
semi-bipedal, wolves. Long ago they had decided that it would be best if the
world at large thought them extinct, so they went into hiding. It wasn't really
that difficult to hide from the world. There were members of the other races
that had seen them, but had mistaken them for large wolves.
Griffith Wolftracker, known among the
descendants of those that really knew him as Griffith the Brave, had ventured
out shortly after the great hiding had been undertaken to join his friend Paron
Elloy in his quest to keep the balance between light and dark. This was several
thousand years ago. He came and visited when he could. He never failed to show
up when the death howl sounded, until recently.
It had been several months since the
disturbance at the Elf palace. The dragons had attacked, destroying the palace
and the surrounding town. There were rumors circulating that the Warbirds had
been sighted, but those rumors held as much credence to most as a canavar sighting.
Wolftracker knew better. She had watched the devastation. She saw the Warbirds
erupt from the waterfall. She watched as her father, Grathius flew into the
cosmos, never to be seen again.
She watched the survivors’ pilgrimage towards
the Hope's Medical Clinic. She also watched as the
two humans found the princeling and took him away.
Her heart was empty as she turned to go back to
the den. She knew she would never see her father again, and that Grathius had
lost many opportunities to get to know his grandfather.
"Are you sure you want to do
this?" Tarisha asked her son.
"Grathius nodded gravely.
"Yes, motherrr. I am surrre
that I wish to do this. I am rrready."
For several years Grathius had been a spiritual
adept studying under the current Shaman. He had proven time and again to be a
most eager and intelligent student, but the task that he was about to undertake
was extremely dangerous.
It was spirit day, the day when the border
between the world and the spirits was at its thinnest. Today, if fate smiled, a
new shaman would be chosen to lead the pack spiritually. Grathius was hoping
that it would be him.
He gathered in the main cavern with the other
initiate hopefuls, awaiting the time of testing, It
was then that they would all be sent into the spirit chamber. Only one could be
chosen. The others would at best lose their sanity, and at worst lose their
lives. Grathius knew the dangers, and he was eager to prove himself.
The first of the two moons had risen when shaman
entered the main hall.
"Initiates," He nodded to the line of
young Trarens that stood before him. "The time
has come. If the fates will it, one of you will succeed me as the pack's
A shiver of excitement rippled through the
The wall behind them slid open.
"Enter initiates, and I pray that the
fates will smile upon you." The shaman said, pointing into the hole in the
As one, the line of hopefuls turned and walked
into the black cavern.
As soon as the last one passed through the
portal, the wall close behind them. After a moment of silence, the screaming
began. Sounds of youngsters being savaged echoed through the darkness on one
side while sounds of insanity echoed from the other.
Steeling his nerves, Grathius sat on the ground
and cleared his mind. A dim light appeared, growing in intensity as it got
closer. There was a figure of a large silver haired Traren
at the center of the light.
"Greetings, initiate." The figure
spoke. "I am Ranan Moonwalker. I was alpha if this pack one hundred years
Grathius bowed his head. "Honorrred Grrrandfatherrr."
For the first time, he grew fearful. He knew
that spirits were fickle beings, and he was afraid that the growl in his voice
might offend this one.
"Be not afraid, young Grathius."
Ranan said. "I am aware of your injury. You have done well. Take your
fellows and return to the world of the living. Go, Take your place as the new
shaman of the tribe."
Grathius was elated! He gathered those that had
come with him and were still alive, and approached the portal. As he
approached, the hole opened in the wall
again, allowing them to re-enter the main hall. The whole pack was waiting with
baited breath to see who, if anyone, would be chosen. Most of the pack let out
a collective sigh of relief when they saw Grathius
"NO!... I will
not follow the runt." Taloren screamed. "He
will lead us all to ruin, mark my words."
Nathal Trapspringer turned to his son. "If you will not abide
by the spirits’ decision, then you must go the way of the wild." He
pointed to the mouth of the great hall. "By the law of the pack, you must
Shocked silence filled the room. There has not
been a banishment in the pack for several hundred years, and never had an
Alpha's son been banished.
"Father..." Taloren pleaded.
stiff shouldered as he pointed to the cave mouth. "Your fate has
been written by your own hand. I have no son."
A low growl began to emanate from Nathal's chest. The sound was picked up by those close by,
and spread until the whole pack was growling threateningly at Taloren. The sound was truly frightening. Taloren sped for the wild. As he was about to cross the
threshold he paused, turning back.
"I will get you for this, runt. Vengeance
will be mine." He turned and disappeared into the wild.
When he was gone, the banishment growl ceased.
"Nathal, I am sorrrrry." Grathius told the older wolf. "I did
not mean forrr this to happen."
"This is not your fault, young
Grathius." Nathal told him. "I have known
since the day he injured you that it would probably come to this." He
shook his head sadly. "Come with me, I have something for you.
They moved quickly, to the Trapspringer dwelling. When they got there Nathal had Grathius wait outside as he retrieved the item.
What he held when he came out of his room, was the last thing that Grathius had
expected. It was a sword.
what...?" Grathius began, but Nathal stopped
"This was your grandfather's. He left it
in my care before he disappeared. He told me that it was to go to one of his
descendants. I believe it was meant to go to you." He offered the sword to
As Grathius took the sword, a warmth ran up his
arm and into his head. He thanked the older wolf, and made his way through the
caverns to his living quarters. He wasn't sure what he was going to do with a
sword, his kind had little use for weapons, but he was going to keep it out of
respect for is grandfather.
Thinking his mother would like to see the
sword, he knocked on her door. The instant that she saw the glowing red blade
of the sword she began to cry.
"I am going to lose you too." Was all
that she would say when Grathius asked her what was wrong.
He wasn't sure what was going on, and he didn't
have time to ponder it. He quickly stashed the sword in his room and left to
start the next stage of his training to become the new pack shaman.