As time wore on, her father introduced her to more of the forest, starting with the small rodent clans. She remembered the Woodmice chattered with excitement as they climbed about her and their jubilation as the burrowed into her long blonde hair. The birds too had come to trust her as they had perched on her shoulders to rest and converse with her. The spiders had not really paid her any attention when she had tried to speak with them – they were busy building, waiting and watching for prey.
She had hated the wolves. She hadn’t even wanted to speak with them. She knew from the other animals that they were simply killers that should be avoided. That was when Father had taught her the most important lesson.
“One thing you must understand about life, little one, is that it must always come to an end. Some creatures may live much, much longer than others but they must still, eventually, bow to death. Even myself, though I think I shall be here for a long while yet.” He had said as the sun dappled his face and the wind ruffled the leaves of his horns.
“What does this have to do with the wolves?” she had asked angrily.
“If all things die eventually, is it wrong to take life? The wolves must eat... if they did not then they would die instead of the rabbits. Then the rabbits would flourish and multiply and then they would eat all the grass. And what then? The rabbits would all starve. Death will always have its due.”
And so she had tried to come to know the wolves. At first she had simply watched, confirming her previous assumption that the creatures were simply not worth knowing. However necessary they may be. Then she had followed them. She saw them in their homes, seen the pups playing and the pack at rest. Away from the killing, they seemed not so different to the things they hunted. It took her a while to work up the courage to do so, but eventually she introduced herself to them.
By the time of her twelfth birthday she was acquainted with just about every animal in the forest. And they all knew her as the daughter of the father – however tautological as it sounded.
Soon after, her father began what he called her ‘true education.’
It didn’t take long for William to become acquainted with the travelling life. The son of a Viscount he’d been educated at one of the Viimarch’s finest universities, studying several subjects though none in so much detail as that of literature. Of course, considering duelling was one of the nobility’s favourite pastimes, he was well acquainted with a sword but he wasn’t fond of it. He knew a little of medicine, mathematics, science, economics and the like but they were just things he thought he might one day need. No point in knowing something if it has no relevance.
His days as a nobleman were numbered the moment he graduated. He’d been drunk, more than almost everyone else, and in a fit of jubilation he’d sung naked from the statue of Fredrick the great. It wasn’t a major offence but his father had been furious. Of course, the graduation was only the start.