This is a story about a wolf on a quest... to discover himself and regain his dignity.
The russet wolf was scrawny; smaller than all the others. The fur around its neck was wet with blood. The larger wolf had clamped his teeth down on his neck, and he could feel the sting as the blood flowed freely from the gash. Still circling each other, he was getting weaker. He was not sure how much longer of this he could stand. The moon was high in the sky and no clouds were shrouding its beauty tonight. High up in the hills he could see the silhouettes of the female wolves, gazing up at the moons beauty. He couldn’t be distracted by the allure of the she wolves, this fight was crucial. His entire life rested upon this moment; his pride and dignity were at stake were he to loose this fight. Ever since he had turned sixteen he had dreaded this moment. Why did they have to fight in order to be admitted to the wolf pack? Which jackass thought of that? It was too late now, he had to concentrate. The Elder Wolves were waiting in the shadows of the trees to see the outcome of the fight. No pressure, he thought to himself. Whilst keeping his eyes open for moves from the other wolf, he reached out with his sixth sense. He could just about make out her location. She was resting on a rock at the top of the hill. She looked dejected. Surely she had more faith in him than that? Focus, he thought, No point in getting cocky. You’re loosing at the minute. Suddenly, with a snarl the larger, grey wolf threw himself at the small injured wolf. With a snarl he ripped again. This time, the russet wolf didn’t get back up. Each breath sent a spasm of pain through his ribcage. The force of the impact from the other wolf must have broken a few of his bones. He lay still, and the elders moved forward. The once russet, now greying wolf approached the invalid. Tilting his head towards the moonlight he shuddered, and he became a man. His hair was as grey as it had been when he was a wolf. His voice was rasping, like a bark but he had an aura of respect about him. The russet wolf climbed to his feet, although it sent a spasm of pain through his whole body. He was already healing, the gash on his neck forming a scar and crust of blood on his shaggy coat. The ribcage, that would take longer to mend, but he could feel the bones weaving back together again. With a shudder that rippled across the clearing, the elders all transformed into their human form. Some were tall, others small, but the one thing that they all had in common were the straggly beards and long locks. They were all stern, and they all had the same knowing brown eyes. It was unnerving having all those eyes on him at the same time, and he wished that he could somehow detract the attention away from himself. He had always been like that, never wanting to be the one standing at the front in the spotlight, always on the edge, away from everyone sight. That was the way that he liked it, but unfortunately for him, this situation was the complete opposite. The leader approached him menacingly, but he remained in wolf form. If he were to transform then it would alter the healing process and it would break his bones further, and disfigure him. The elder held out his hand and his staff was handed to him by an eager youngling. The gnarled and twisted wooden stick was heavy, and when the weight of the stick smacked his face he could not help but give out a yelp of pain. Someplace out on the hill his yelp was echoed with a pitying cry. The voice of Aira was distinctive and every time he heard it he smiled. The realisation that he would probably never hear that voice ever again hit him. That was, unless she also had lost her fight. His twin sister was strong, but deep inside Jared hoped that on this occasion she just hadn’t been strong enough. The rasping voice of the elder turned almost prophetical and he began to quote the ancient wolf scriptures. “Thee shall not return unless thee successfully creates a wolf; by which one must capture the trust of a human and complete the transformation process without the aid of another wolf or endangering our species. Unless this deed is completed the weak mind of such a disgrace is destined to be forgotten, and long shall the strong of our kind triumph. But be wary. No wolf has ever achieved such a feat. To do so takes great strength and courage. Lest we be revealed to the human race then great ill shall fall upon the bearer of such a terrible infliction. Go, use the gift of sixth sense and dare not return without the companionship of a newly created wolf. It is destiny which has given you the chance to interact and strengthen the bond with your comrades but much like destiny, it lies in the hands on the one that it must happen to. Be gone, and dare not expose the existence of our kind…” The russet wolf turned, and limped into the shadows of the woods. The woodland was Jared’s home, and he could navigate his way through it blindfolded. Even with his injuries it took mere minutes to reach the brook and cave in the mountains. The icy water was refreshing and washed away the caked on blood. The water also made the realisation of the duty that he had to perform hit home. Jared stood letting the water wash over him, and it helped calm him. He had always been angry as a cub, as a result of never achieving what he strived towards. The cave was filled with straw, and during the winter months was home to a hibernating bear. That didn’t bother him, as the bear no longer needed the den. The bed of straw was comfy, and it was the closest thing that he had ever had to a home. He didn’t remember his childhood, but he knew that he had had an unhappy and unusual one in comparison with what he called ‘friends’. They were all behind him now though, and he must do his best to focus on the task ahead.