The Fable of the Wolfkin
By Charles Moffat, March 2018.
Once upon a time near the village of Millkrest a young woman was rabbit hunting in the woods when she came across a grey wolf trapped in a bear pit. The wolf was down in the hole with one of its hind legs impaled on a sharp stake. The wolf snarled and growled as she drew near to have a closer look.
Seeing that the wolf posed no threat to her, and recognizing that rabbits were the greater danger to her vegetable garden, she took pity on it and resolved to rescue it from the bear pit. Setting down her bow, she lowered a log into the pit like a ramp, and climbed down the log.
Seeing that the wolf might still try to bite and maul her, she ripped one of the stakes out of the ground and held it out towards the wolf. It clamped down on it hard and thrashed about with it. While it was thus occupied she quickly grabbed the wolf's hind leg and lifted it off the stake that held it prone. The wolf let go of the stake in its maw and tried to snap at her but by then the deed was done, the wolf was freed.
She backed away from the wolf, drawing her dagger in case the wolf still decided to lunge at her, but instead the beast decided to lay down and lick its wounded hind quarter. Seeing it thus occupied, she climbed back up the log and to safety.
The young woman went about her hunt and with her bow shot several fine rabbits which would go well in a vegetable stew. Their furs would make her a handsome pair of mittens for the winter. The ears she would dry out and sell as dog treats. The feet she would stuff and sell as good luck charms to ward off evil. Even the rabbit bones could be ground into flour and fed to chickens to help them lay eggs. Nothing would be wasted.
That night as she slept she dreamt she was running through the woods on four legs, the smell of rabbits in the crisp night air. She spied one, gave chase and fast though the rabbit was, she caught it and mauled it. She thrashed it about until it was dead, then she licked its blood and ate the tastier bits of it.
When she awoke in the morning she was naked and her clothes were torn off next to the bed. She must have torn them off while she was thrashing in her sleep. What a vivid dream, she thought as she picked up rags and got dressed.
That day in Millkrest the villagers were abuzz about wolves howling in the night close to the village. Werewolves whispered some, eyeing their neighbours suspiciously. Worgs bred for war, suggested a merchant with knowledge of such things. Rabies, suggested a worried looking healer.
"Do none o' ye know yer history?" said the old miller. "This village was once known as Krest, the site o' a great battle where several tribes defeated an army o' demons. Two o' the tribes were the Flintrako and the Wolfkin. The Wolfkin and their descendants were said to be able to transform into wolves whenever they felt like. There was no full moon last night, hence it could not be any werewolf. If it was worgs or rabies we would have heard rumours of such."
The villagers ignored the old miller's story and continued to postulate ever wilder theories. The young woman however thought back to her torn clothing and her vivid dream and began to wonder. Was her family descended from the Wolfkin tribe? Had she somehow triggered something hidden deep inside her blood when she rescued that wolf? She resolved to find out.
That night she packed a tent and some things for camping before heading east deep into the woods. When she felt she was sufficiently far from the village and the prying eyes of neighbours, she made camp and shed her clothing lest she tear them into shreds.
She willed herself to transform into a wolf, but nothing happened. She stood there shivering in the cold. She continued to try without any effect. Did she need to be sleeping for it to work? Perhaps. She sat down closer to the fire and proceeded to eat her rabbit and vegetable stew. She thought back to her dream, the feeling of running on all fours and the scent of rabbit in the air.
Suddenly her bowl and spoon fell from her grasp and she looked down to see how she could have possibly dropped them. Two furry paws were before her, resting on the ground. Her stew bowl lay lopsided, only partially spilt.
She stood up and looked around. Tail. Hind quarters. She was a shiny black wolf, the same shade as her black hair. She walked about the campsite and even paused to howl a bit, letting out a long arrroooooooo!
But how to transform back, was it as simple as thinking about standing on two feet? She shivered once more and stood up erect, next to the fire. She was tempted to transform back into a wolf, but her stew would get cold so she decided to sit down by the flames and finish her meal.
Towards the end of the meal she heard the sound of feet padding closer. A low growl came from a white wolf with black markings on its ears and tail. "Greetings Wolfkin. Long has it been since my kind has heard from one of you," growled the wolf. The young woman was momentarily stunned to be able to understand the speech.
Not sure what else to say she said "Good evening!"
"Tis indeed!" said the wolf. He sat down next to the fire and regarded her with curiousity. "I heard your howl and investigated. Your kind and mine have long been parted. It is good to see the blood of the Wolfkin still lives. The stories I could tell you, what great adventures our ancestors had."
"But those are tales for another day," growled the wolf. "Tonight we hunt rabbits!"