Wolfskin * * *
The wolf was not born in the woods. He was born in the open, in a cottage, in a land hesper, which after a great war succumbed to the whispering creep of the Forest. He was no different from the other wolves, who walked upon two legs and covered themselves as Adam and Eve had – in shame of carnal knowledge – save for perhaps that he was less virtuous. He had no name – or if he had one, it has been long forgotten; such is the way with wolves.
His childhood was not a happy one, but it was not terrible. He grew up free to run across the grasslands of his home and ate heartily from the meager fare his family had to offer. He roamed the plains like a wild thing, and there was nothing to rein him but his own judgment. In his time, the West was without a king or emperor to govern and order its vast tracts, but its inhabitants were ever willing to fight for their rights to it. Such was the way in that long-ago past, when honor still filled lupine hearts.
Honor was scant in the wolf's heart save for his sense of avengement. He loved little – but what he did love he would have died for a hundred times over. He was a heathen creature, an infidel beast; a truly lost soul, bent on violence, blood, and deceit. Whatever power he had he perverted to serve his own agenda. He did not remember his past but with anger and sullenness, for he could not recall the simple joys he had appreciated when he was young.
So perhaps the tales of him are justified. Perhaps he deserved his fate in the countless myths and children's stories – the ones that claimed he took two of the three Wisemen for his own hunger, violated and killed the Dowager Empress… that he raped and murdered Larirha. Yet such is the price for peace, squandered though it may be – and was – but it was a price that the wolf had no choice but to pay.