Once, a long time ago, when the earth was still young, there were three beings that existed. Man, Wolf, and sheep.
At the time of creation, the god Athos created a flock of sheep, Man, and Wolf. He set Man and Wolf on either side of the sheep and said to them, "Decide between yourselves who should get the sheep. I will return in two years and whoever is in charge of the sheep will live, but whoever is not, I will destroy."
Immediately, Man and Wolf were divided. Athos was pleased and left his creations to figure out who would be holder of the sheep.
"I should own the sheep," Wolf said, raising his noble snout and pushing out his chest. "I am stronger than you."
"But not as clever," Man said. He grabbed a stick and struck it against a rock, lighting it on fire. "The foolish should not rule the foolish." Man ran at Wolf with his flaming stick, scaring the noble beast into the forests to live out his miserable, numbered days.
One month passed and summer was upon the valley that Man had moved the sheep to. He was clever enough to know that the sheep would be extremely hot with their fleece and began to shear them, glad to have the work to do.
Unbeknown to him, Wolf had followed him and the sheep wherever they went. Now, Wolf was hiding in the tall grass, waiting for an easy lamb to wander off so that he might eat. The musty smell of the sheep drifted toward him in a rolling wind and he sighed.
"It is not fair," he growled. "Why should I die just because Man is more clever? No matter how many lambs I eat, there are still more. I can not even get the sheep to mutiny because they are afraid of me. Afraid?! I am beautiful and noble, strong and magnificent."
With another sigh, Wolf laid his head down and waited for night to fall so he could eat again. When the sky turned dark and the stars came out, Wolf got up and padded over to the flock of sheep, but as he neared, he went through a barrier of something soft.
"What is this?" he questioned. It smelled strongly of the sheep and he recalled that Man had been shaving the herd animals. The scent made Wolf drool in hunger and he rolled in it, excited to taste more sheep.
Getting up, he continued toward the flock and was surprised that the sheep did not begin to bleat in fear like they usually did. In fact, they came up to him in friendliness, licking his ears. "What is going on?"
"What do you mean, brother?" one of the sheep asked.
"Brother? I am not your brother!" Wolf was horrified that the sheep would confuse him for one of them. "It is me, Wolf!"
"You don't smell like Wolf," another sheep said. "You smell like one of us."
Wolf then remembered how he had rolled in the wool, how it had smelled so strongly. "Ah." And then Wolf had an idea. "Yes, I am one of your brothers. As one, may I borrow one of the lambs for the moment? I need to speak with it."
"Of course," the sheep bleated and left Wolf to find and steal a lamb. As he headed back to the open fields with his lamb in tow, he gathered up bushels of wool in his jaws. Let's see who's more clever now, he thought with a wag of his tail.
As summer passed away and gave in to fall, Wolf came along with his master plan. All throughout summer, he had knit the wool into a coat and docked his long tail sadly. But, remarkably, he looked exactly like a sheep.
Smiling to himself, he loped through the tall grass and surprised the sheep and Man with a welcoming "bah".
"Well, hello there, sheep? Did you get lost overnight?" Man asked, walking over to Wolf.
"Bah," Wolf said, not sure what else to say.
"Must have. Let's get you back into the flock." Wolf was surprised how kindly Man was to his sheep, how he soothed them when they jumped at the smallest things, guided them across steep and rocky plains in search of greener grass.
It was only when they got to the greener grass that Wolf noticed how little control Man had over the sheep. He could not get them to stay in one place. I have another idea, Wolf thought with a wag of his stubby tail.
For several weeks, Wolf got the sheep to scatter from Man by nipping at their heels, causing them to fear Man whenever he came. As winter came, Wolf had the support of a good portion of the sheep, all of them in on getting away from Man and going with Wolf.
In the dead of winter, Wolf led the sheep away, down into the valley where the river had frozen and the grass was gone. The sheep were scared of this new place and the frozen water, they bleated for food and some form of comfort.
"Don't worry, brethren," Wolf said, trying to use the calming words of Man. "It will be okay. I won't let anything hurt you."
"How?" a young sheep asked. "You are just one of us. You can't do anything for us." All the others agreed and huddled together, whining for food.
"I can get you food!" Wolf boasted. "I know where to find it."
"No you don't! You are just a sheep!"
"I am not a sheep!" Wolf bellowed, making the flock cry out and flee. "No! Come back!" He chased the flock and got them back into a circle, but they were not happy. "Don't any of you run off again."
"I don't like this place!" one of the sheep complained. Then, there were complaints all around, but the sheep couldn't not stay awake forever. They eventually fell asleep and Wolf sighed, glad that he did not have to listen to their constant bleating.
Getting up, he decided to check on Man and see if he could get any of the hay in the storage he kept. Trotting up the hill and out of the valley, Wolf came back to Man and his remaining sheep. When Man saw Wolf, he rejoiced. "Oh, sheep! How good it is to have at least one of you back!"
He gave Wolf a bundle of hay and patted him on the back. "If only I had some sort of help, some way of getting the sheep to stay and not run off as they do," Man confided. "Alas, Athos only created me and Wolf, and I bet Wolf would not want to help me. He is too prideful. He will find the lost flock eventually and maybe he will be a better sheperd than I."
With a final sigh, Man turned and went back to his hut. Wolf smiled smugly, but the expression was short lived. He was not a better sheperd, he was an even worse one. Snorting, he broke into the storage and stole as much hay as he could haul. On the way, he started to think.
The first year ended and the next one began with the arrival of spring. The few sheep Man had begun to mate and Man hoped they would produce many offspring. He wanted to please Athos, not anger him.
As he tended to the flock, he heard a strange noise and looked up. "Dear Athos, the flock!" he cried, rushing forward. The sheep tried to scatter at his advance, but one of the sheep at the back, the lost sheep, he noted, the biggest of the flock, bigger than his biggest ram, let out a gruff noise and kept the flock moving forward at a run.
"My sheep!" Man rejoiced. "My sheep! They have all come back! Thank you, Athos. Thank you!" Wolf smiled discreetly under his wool covering, hoping Man never found out it was he who had brought the flock back.
It was a strange feeling, seeing the joy back on Man's face, but Wolf liked it there. He vowed to keep it that way for as long as he could, even if it meant his death.
For all of spring, Wolf worked with Man incognito. While Man soothed the sheep and kept them happy, Wolf guided the sheep and kept them in line. Perhaps Wolf thought Man didn't notice, but he was wrong.
Man saw how his largest sheep kept the flock from scattering, how he sent signals that the sheep seemed to understand, made those gruff noises to warn them from moving. Man hoped that if Athos asked for a sacrifice, he wouldn't ask for his best ram. Man knew he would be devastated to lose his best sheep.
For a while, the relationship prospered, but then, summer came and it was time to shear the sheep. Wolf was scared. If Man sheared him, he would find out what Wolf really was. If Wolf tried to leave, Man would notice. Should he try and plead his way out? Would Man be mad? What if Man killed him with the shearing clippers?
As Wolf's ideas escalated, he didn't notice it was his turn already. "Come here, sheep," Man said, grabbing Wolf by the pelt.
"No," Wolf whined, tugging backward.
"Oh, don't worry," Man smiled. "You are my most favorite sheep. I will not hurt you." Wolf wagged his stubby tail at such words, but would not be swayed. "Do you wish to be hot and uncomfortable all summer, good sheep?"
Wolf let out a strangled "bah" of fear and tried to pull away again. Unfortunately, Man had a good hold on his pelt. There was ripping sound and Wolf closed his eyes as he heard Man gasp. This was it. He heard the clippers click with a deadly rattle.
"Yo-She-You-You're Wolf!" Man said in astonishment, his mouth open and eyes wide. Wolf said nothing. He wanted to run, but he was too scared. "How long have you been pretending to be a sheep?"
"A long time," Wolf whined, glad to have something he could respond to. "I didn't mean it, but I don't want to die! I wanted to be clever too, I wanted to get the flock to myself, but I couldn't do it, so I brought them back."
Wolf was surprised by the question. "Why? Aren't you angry at me?"
"No. I'm lucky you brought them back, but why'd you do it? You could have taken all the sheep and let me be the one to die by the hand of Athos, but you didn't. Why?"
Wolf took a step back and sat down. "Well, the first few months, I saw how well you treated the sheep and how much they liked you. When I took them away, they weren't happy. A lot of them died in the cold because I didn't know what to do. I remember how you said you wouldn't mind my help, how happy you were when you saw me."
He paused, wondering if he was talking too much, but Man nudged him on. "Well, I felt bad for taking the sheep, so I brought them back when it was safe, and I vowed to help you for as long as I could so you would always be happy." He bowed his head. "I'm really sorry for what I did. I should just go and wait for the year to end."
Wolf turned and started to run, not wanting Man to say anything to make him stay. "Wait!" Man yelled out, dropping his staff. "Wolf, come back!"
"No, let me die!" Wolf howled, stumbling on his sheep costume. He fell and Man tackled him. "No, no! Let go!"
"Wolf, why would I let you die? You brought back my flock, you helped me when you thought I wasn't watching, and changed your attitude toward me. I can't let you go back out there."
"Then what will you do?" Wolf sniffed.
"I have an idea."
When the third spring arrived, Athos came back to the earth and surveyed the flock that he had left. It was larger than what he had expected and he was pleased. "Man!" he called. "Wolf! Come so that I might know who owns this magnificent flock."
Surprisingly, he watched as Man and Wolf came out together, Wolf at Man's heels. "What is this?" he asked.
"We have come to tell you who owns the flock," Wolf said simply, sitting down when Man stopped.
"Well then?" Athos demanded.
Wolf and Man looked at each other, smiling widely. "We do," they said at the same time. Athos was astounded. He had expected many things, but not for them to work together.
"This is a great surprise," Athos said. "It seems, that since both of you own the sheep, I can not destroy anyone. Fine. Give me your best ram and sacrifice it. On that sacrifice, each of you make a wish and I will grant it."
So, the biggest ram was sacrificed and each made a wish. Man wished for more people to populate the entire world and Wolf wished for more animals of all sorts of varieties, including wolves, to be on the earth as well.
Athos did as promised and created everything on the earth. And even with so many other distractions, Wolf and Man remained close friends for many years, other people eventually taking up the practice.
And that is the story of how man befriended the wild beast known as the wolf.
Edited. Review? Yes, please. :D