Note::: Everyone please read! This story is COMPLETE as of me posting this chapter. I will be posting a new chapter once a week. The story is also fairly short, 25k words give or take. So it will probably only have four chapters or so (it started out as one document and I am currently dividing it up into chapters as we speak.) Also, this story is unBeta'd. That being said, I am a complete Grammar Nazi and I reread each chapter before posting, so there shouldn't be anything wrong with it. If there is, though, please tell me and I will correct it! If you have any questions also feel free to ask.

Warnings: minimal language, sexual content (m/m), violence.

And with that, on to the story! Let me know what you think. It's been so long since I've written anything, I'd like to know how my skills have held up over the years. Thank you in advance!



It was the third day of spring in the year of one thousand, five hundred seventeen by human reckoning. The chill of winter was still in the air, and the forest was humming quietly with new growth and the dewdrops of a midnight rain. This was my favorite time of year. I loved running across the wet ground, the fur on my paws sticky with water. I loved dashing under the trees and seeing the bright patches of sunlight filtering through the leaves.

A six-pronged buck bowed to me as I raced by. Every morning I did a perimeter check of my forest. I could have always done so with my mind and saved my body the trouble, but this run was and had been part of my daily routine for thousands of years, ever since I was born of the first sapling that created this forest.

My name is Adalric. My forest stretched for hundreds of miles, from end to end. Many had tried cutting down my trees for their lumber, only to be chased off by my wolves or my bears. The humans may have thought they had a right to any land they saw, but they would not enter my forest with intent to harm it.

My interactions with the humans were limited by my choice. There was, however, a small settlement of humans towards the northern border of my forest I had been keeping an eye on. They were a group of people numbering perhaps four to six hundred, all gathered together in wooden houses. However, that wasn't what led me to become interested in them.

My paws took me north with such speed that no hunter could ever hope to land an arrow in my hide. I wanted to check in on them again. This was the only settlement of humans I had ever encountered that would not shoot a wolf or bear on sight. Mayhap they had forsaken the worship of their blooded god and had instead turned to follow nature.

Alas, if only more humans were like them. I'd had more than one arrow or spear sent my way. Not that it would have injured me-mortal weapons were too frail for such things.

The birds twittered happily at me as I passed. Usually they passed along the news of the forest. Along my travels I heard word of three new births, two deaths, a human attempting to fell a tree on the eastern side, and then…

Trouble to the north. I increased my speed, the wind howling through my fur, my tail straight out in alarm. I leapt over a large boulder, my paws striking the side of a tree, turning my entire body sideways, and I landed on a patch of hard dirt to take off again. The elms I'd planned on planting later that afternoon would just have to wait. What was troubling my dear little village?

I smelled it before I saw it. As I neared the village, an awful stink entered my nose. It was the stench of sickness. Disease had come. My heart pounded in my breast, and I skidded to a halt at the foot of the village. They were nestled into a cove leading into the forest, so I stood underneath the shade of a giant elm. The elm whispered its sadness to me. I placed a paw upon the bark to soothe it, and promised it I would fix whatever sickness had visited.

Even the trees loved these simple, hardworking people. I trotted cautiously towards the cottage nearest to me. A couple were speaking within-a man and a woman. I could understand and speak the languages of all creatures, even humans, so this is what I heard.

The man was saying, "There's nothing more we can do, Maria. We…we just have to accept the inevitable. There is nothing we can do for brain fever. He's…he's going to die. None of the others have survived! We'll be lucky if we don't fall ill, too! Everyone in Haarlin is falling ill, one after the other!"

Then a woman shrieked, "I won't let him die! He's my baby, I won't give up on him-" she was quickly becoming hysterical. Her breathless sobs turned into frantic prayers.

"God won't help us, he's never helped anyone!" the man was yelling in heartbroken anger. I could hear the tears in his voice.

"Blasphemy!" The woman cried. "The Father will help us, he has to!"

Ah, they must have been referring to their god. I had never met this god, and so I, too, doubted his generosity. He must not have been a very benevolent deity to ignore the cries of a mother so easily. I would never allow the creatures of my forest to suffer needlessly.

Normally I'd have never intervened. It went against everything I thought and believed. But my paws were already moving towards the wooden front door. I suppose it was just in my nature as a protector. But my paw reached up and I opened the door, expecting the worst of reactions.

I got it. Silence fell as the two regarded me. The woman had long blonde hair, matted with sweat and frayed a bit, frayed like her cotton blue dress and brown leather shoes. She was no great beauty, but there was a resolute strength in her eyes and in her clenched fists that charmed me to her immediately. She had the worn look of someone young in years (she was perhaps twenty-five, as was her husband) but old in experience. They were thin but not frail. They were no strangers to the harshness of the world.

The husband had a smattering of equally blonde hair across his scalp, and his eyes were a watery blue. His beard was full across his cheeks and a bit of blonde hair showed on his chest above the white cotton shirt he wore. His pants were a dark brown, nearly black, and he was barefoot. His arms, chest, and legs were stocky with muscle, probably from swinging an axe or a hammer.

Both of them afforded themselves a moment to take in my appearance, and then the woman screamed. The man cried out and went for his hunting knife. Before either of them could attempt to harm me or cause further upset, though, I let out a loud bark. They froze in their tracks. I let my tail hang free behind me before I remembered they probably didn't understand what it meant.

I needed to take a more appropriate form so as not to frighten them. Plus, I would not fit in this small house in my current size. So for the first time all my long, long life I began to change into a human form. My fur faded away to become smooth skin. My paws changed to fingers and toes. My tail disappeared entirely and my ears rounded and moved to the side of my head. My fangs flattened into human teeth.

I spoke slowly so as not to frighten them further. To say they were stunned was a massive understatement. The father looked as if he might faint, and the mother had her hands up in front of her mouth. "Take me…to the sick one," I requested. What came out of my mouth was neither growl nor bark nor whimper. It was the voice of a man. "I will help the child. I can heal his sickness."

The father didn't move, not even to blink. The mother, however, extended a hand to gesture to me and then dashed into the other room. I followed, my bare feet making no sound on the clean wooden floors.

On a small cot in the corner of the other room, there lay a little boy. No more than a pup, he couldn't have been older than four, though I was no expert on humans and their growth cycles. His face was bright red with high fever, and his eyes were slightly open. They were glassed and dead underneath. The fever had already begun to kill him. His little chest barely rose and fell with breath, and I could only just hear a weak, fluttering heartbeat. "Can you save him?" the mother, Maria, whispered desperately.

I knelt down by the boy. "Yes. I can save him."

As Maria watched intently, I placed my palm upon his bare chest. The boy had fair skin, and wavy blonde hair curling around his shoulders. The eyes I saw through the glaze of sickness were a deep, cobalt blue, just like that of his father. I saw my reflection in them.

There crouched a human man on the floor, appearing around the same age as the two adults here. His hair, long and straight, shone pure white, marred only by a single black lock of hair falling down by his left ear. His eyes were a clear golden, framed by black lashes, and the skin of his face was like alabaster. The lips were pink and full, and the nose was slightly narrow.

I closed my eyes, slightly unnerved by the unusual appearance, and then flooded the boy's body with white energy. This was the same energy I used to revive trees caught with blight or struck by lightning. It was a pure, healing energy. The energy that brought life.

His cheeks paled and his eyes closed, this time not in coma but in sleep. I brought the sickness out of his little body and out of his brain. In moments, he was sleeping peacefully, at perfect health. I removed my hand and gently brushed his hair back out of his eyes. "What is his name?" I whispered to his mother.


"Lukas? Can you hear me, Lukas?" I whispered. The pup stirred, and the mother gasped. He opened blue eyes and saw me.

"Who…who are you, mister?" he inquired innocently, and sat up. His mother shrieked for the father by name, calling him Rolland, and then she launched herself at the tiny child, letting loose an odd mixture of laughter and sobbing.

She kissed his face and head repeatedly and squeezed his chubby little arms. The father came in and saw his son alive and well. He fell to his knees, and bowed to me. His voice was tremulous when he spoke. "You have saved my son. Are you an angel of God?"

I replied, "I know nothing of angels or your God. I am only Adalric, the god who guards the forest so close to your home. I could smell the sickness as I ran through the wind, and so I came to see if I could help. Are there any other sick?"

The father picked up his face and answered my question. There were at least twenty others, he said, and already fifteen had died. I ruffled the pup's hair affectionately, and then stood up. He smiled in wonder at me. "Take me to them and I will heal them."

I felt something soft touch the back of my arm. I turned back to see Maria blushing up at me, holding a bundle of fabric. Even as a human I was taller than they were. "You need to wear clothes here, my lord. Otherwise it will cause quite the stir."

Clothes? Oh, right. Humans wore those second skins everywhere they went. It passed some kind of cultural taboo to not wear them. I sighed, but pulled on the clothes they had given me. It was no more than an outfit of shirt and pants, identical to what Rolland was wearing. But if it helped me help them, I would allow it.

Rolland spoke up. "I will stay with Lukas. Maria, take him to the others."

She took my arm and led me outside. The first house we stopped at had eight inhabitants, five of whom were deathly sick. The others had already begun to show signs of fever. This disease progressed fast and killed faster. I had to hurry.

Cries of joy and relief rang throughout the village as I moved from dwelling to dwelling, healing all sick that I came across. It wasn't long before a crowd followed me from place to place. I kept hearing myself be compared to something called the Messiah. Apparently the Messiah was some kind of being who healed the sick with a simple touch. I saw strange designs everywhere, two sticks crossing each other. Some of these cross designs had a tiny figure etched into them. These were held high into the air or kissed as I healed each person.

I didn't understand it, but the important thing was that lives were being saved. I felt joy in my heart at seeing all of the tearful reunions. It was mid afternoon before I had finished, and the village was already preparing a feast in my honor. I was repeatedly asked if I was the Savior, but I told them again and again, I am only Adalric.

I was directed to sit at the head of a long table while food was placed along the length of it. They had slaughtered a bull and three pigs just for the occasion. Perhaps these people weren't nearly as poor as I'd thought! They seemed quite rich and content, sitting here in the warm spring sun, smiles on their hairless faces.

I loved the village now more than ever. I made a promise then and there, that I would protect them as I protected the forest. If they ever had a famine I would provide for them. If they ever were visited by sickness again I would heal them. Little Lukas sat by my right elbow, looking up at me shyly as he nibbled on a bit of hot baked sweet potato. The villagers were all too happy to tell me about their lives and to point out their names for things. For example, the wooden harness they attached to cows to plant things was called a 'plow'. The arching seat of leather they put atop horses was called a 'saddle.'

"Our lord Adalric is a wolf god," Maria was saying loudly. "After dinner, will you show us your wolf form, my lord?"

I nodded wordlessly, and tore into a slice of ham. It seemed to cause them no end of amusement that I ate 'like an animal'. There was no harm intended in their words, though, only mirth and fondness.

"I don't understand, my lord," a woman told me. She was an old woman with hair as silver as mine. "The lord God is the only God, it says so in the Bible. And you say you are not he?"

"I am not," I confirmed. "I have been the guardian of that forest for thousands of years, since before there were any humans in the area."

She bit her lip. I didn't have time to wonder about her apparent struggle between religion and truth. This pig was fat and juicy and wonderful.

"Are you going to stay here, mister wolf?" Lukas asked me.

"Lukas!" Maria told him sharply. "You will address him as your lord! You need to show the proper respect to someone who saved your life!"

I held up a hand in a placating manner. "Please, I don't mind. He can call me whatever he wants. He is young, and still innocent. To answer your question, young one, I cannot stay. I have business across the forest. But I will come back if ever you should need me. How is that?"

"How do I find you if I need you?" The little boy asked, his blue eyes sharp and intuitive.

"Tell the trees to find me. They like you, and they will help you, so long as you are kind to them," I told him, but I said it loud enough for all to hear.

"We're the only village anywhere that doesn't pay taxes to the King," Rolland explained. "We have no real church to run us, either. We are free out here."

"Taxes? King? Church?" I inquired, quite lost.

"Taxes are monies that people have to pay to the church, and they give some of it to the King. Taxes is money we have to pay simply because we're alive. The church is what mandates the worship of God, and the King is the ruler who says the church can mandate the worship of God."

I nodded. Humans did that to affirm they understood something. It could also mean 'yes'. "I see."

"We also aren't lorded over by the nobility-er, that's just the term for people with more money than us common folk. We came out here to be free, and so we are. We're all equal. What we have we share."

"That is an admirable trait. From what I have seen of most humans, you tend to gather all resources to yourself and horde it rather than share it, and then use the fact that you have more resources to hold power over those who do not. Am I correct?"

Rolland nodded. "You've just summed up our whole history, my lord."

I sighed, and took a swig of mead. This mead was delicious. It made me warm and fuzzy. I could definitely get used to it. "Things are so much simpler in the forest. Concepts like money, religion, greed. They don't exist out there."

"Well, they are a constant reality here, I'm afraid," a burly old man with specks of blood on his heavy apron told me jovially. He must have been the butcher. "When we moved out here to try and escape it all, it was the best decision any of us have ever made. Back there, out west, you can't survive. They take it all from you. We were starving. Look at us now."

"You first arrived here thirty years ago, yes?"

The butcher nodded. I'd find out later that his name was Timothy Smith, and that he was from somewhere the humans called England. "Yes, I was young then, only as old as Maria and Rolland. We build Haarlin with our own hands. It's ours."

"Thank you for saving us, my Lord," Rolland whispered later that night as I prepared to leave. I stood on the outskirts of the village once again. The forest called to me. It had noticed my absence and was worried. He knelt and kissed the top of my left foot. I wasn't sure what this meant in human culture, but it was probably some show of devotion. "I never believed in what they believe," he whispered to me confidentially. "For being all-powerful, their God does nothing, and says nothing. His silence is proof of either his evil or his powerlessness. Either way I won't waste my time. You are real. You are in front of me and you have saved the life of my only son. You are all I need…my Lord Adalric."

I clasped his hand firmly. "I require no worship. Only treat my forest and the creatures within it as you would treat me. I will return if ever you need me, and perhaps before then. I have truly enjoyed today, Rolland. Thank you."

Lukas ran up to me, holding something in his tiny fist. He presented it to me shyly. I crouched down to take it from him. It was a lumpy, misshapen rock. Not special in any way, it was just a big hunk of brown that barely fit in his palm. I smiled, and took it from him. "And thank you, Lukas."

"It's a…it's good luck!" he told me, turning bright red. Then he ran to his father and hid his face in the older man's shirt.

I held the rock in my palm tightly, wondering how I would carry it into the forest with me. Nearly the entire village had turned out to see me change into my wolf form. I decided I'd carry it in my mouth. I was oddly flattered that Lukas had thought to give me a gift, even though it was rather like a pup bringing his father a bit of grass and expecting praise for it.

I stood up, and removed my clothes. There were a few whispers, but I ignored them. Was nudity that much of a problem amongst humans? Why were they so determined to hide what nature had given them? I handed the clothes back to Rolland and thanked him for letting me wear them. Then I shrugged off my human skin and fell onto four legs.

Gasps and cries of shock rang out across the crowd. "A wolf the size of a horse!" one cried.

"The white wolf of Haarlin!" another cried out. I saw myself in their eyes once again. My fur was pure white save for a coal black stripe beginning around my left ear and going back to fade back to white into my neck. I was indeed the size of a horse-I had eaten them before.

Lukas wrenched himself away from his father's grip and raced towards me. Ignoring his father's cries, he wrapped himself around my foreleg, burying his face in my fur. "Come see me again, okay?" he asked me happily.

I nudged his head with my nose and licked his cheek. He giggled. I promised him without words that I would come again, and then I was racing back into the forest to get back to my duty as its protector. Those elms still needed planting and nurturing, after all. And there was a vixen due to give birth any day now.