The night held the land in its dark clutch. The stillness it breathed veiled each creature, and the stars that hung in the arc of the sky glimmered like watching eyes. None dared to walk beneath the gaze of a sentinel that guarded when the sun had died; none, save the sliver of silver that wended through the shadows that crawled out from deep places when light succumbed.

Perhaps it was a ghost, and that was why this apparition had courage enough to wander when the guard of darkness took charge. Yet the topaz glinting of its eyes, and the whisper of fur against ferns meant that this apparition could not be dead. Like a fire inside life burned, chasing away with its heat and light the darkness and the coldness of the heartless night.

This creature-for it was no ghost, but a king who roamed his domain whatever sentinel might guard it-padded on silently, breath pluming from his mouth. The ground beneath him steepened, and he rose upwards as he climbed the hill.

Once the king had ascended to his bare but glorious throne, he raised his head and released into the air, into the night, into the very sky, the song that had been given so long ago to his kin. The wolf-song. One sole, haunting note danced across the wind, meeting every creature's ear, crying to the immortal stars themselves. And it could not be denied that even the cold night could not ignore the song, could not listen to it. It stopped breathing, and the world listened with all its heart to the wolf-song.

When the song was free, the door of its home was shut. The king lowered his head and swept his piercing gaze across the lands. He knew that he would find his subjects listening, hanging onto that single, lonely note. Though even with his honed sight he could not see them, he knew that every eye watched the king in awe, and that the owners of the eyes would always love him.

They would weep for him too.

Now, the king has faded into the halls of legend. Only the wind can recall fleetingly that haunting note, but there are no ears to listen to it. The king fell first, his throne stripped. His loyal subjects, unprotected, unwatched by a chilling sentinel who did not love but did guard, followed his fate. They can listen to the wolf-song still, but not in life.

The wolf-song has become a death-song, and only those whose flame of Life has guttered may hear it.

The songs of Nature are gone.

The earth is voiceless.