Knight of ZantarniZantarni NPC
Mon May 18, 2009 7:44 am
Chapter 14 Wolfling
Meldrick sat at the Gates of Edingtol, it was early evening and it had been rather busy day for him, greeting newcomers. As he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes, he could hear the howl of a wolf in the distance.
There were a few children nearby who stopped their play as the wolf howled. They started telling each other stories of how wolves will eat babies and they howl at the moon when they are going to attack, each trying to scare the others.
Meldrick shook his head, “Not all wolves are killers and they usually only kill when they are hungry or to protect the pack.” He paused as the wolf howled again, “And howls are how they can communicate. . .and that wolf is serenading someone it cares about. . .someone it feels it may be losing.”
One of the children looked at Meldrick oddly, “You mean that it is saying good bye. . .to another wolf, Elder Meldrick?”
Meldrick smiled, “It could be another wolf, or it may be a human or elf that it cares about. . .or it might be a wolfling.”
“A wolf could care about a human or elf?” One boy asked.
Meldrick smiled again, “Yes, they have been known to become attached to humans or elves that have shown respect to them, or may have cared for them when injured or such.”
One boy nodded, “I have heard of that before, my father told me once of a boy who was raised by wolves.”
“That’s right, there have been a few stories of such encounters,” Meldrick smiled as the wolf howled again. “If you listen to the wolf’s howl you will hear a slight wavering of tone, then a sharp yelp followed by a softer howl. I think this wolf may be saying good bye to a wolfling.”
“What’s a wolfling, Elder Meldrick?” a few boys asked as one.
Meldrick stretched a little as he sat up, “A wolfling is a creature that is a wolf that can assume human or elf form. They have been called by other names by other cultures.”
“Do you mean like a werewolf, Elder?”
Meldrick chuckled a little, “Most of those mistaken as werewolves. . . or men who changed into wolves during a full moon. . .are actually wolflings that may have been changing back from human form to wolf form. I have never met a true werewolf.”
One boy looked to the others and then back to Meldrick, “Have you ever seen a wolfling?”
Meldrick smiled, “Yes, I have. It was shortly after I had met Kazar, of the Black and Red Lesser Dragon Clan”. . . . .
The caravan seemed like it had been traveling for many days without stopping, but Meldrick knew it had been only a few days since they had left the salt mines. It just seemed a long time as he was not able to do any exploring during that time. He always felt restless when he was unable to travel about and explore. Some people would get ‘cabin’ fever, Meldrick would get ‘wagon’ fever.
The caravan finally stopped outside of the village of Delcontos. The Gypsy Elves had made a habit of visiting Delcontos right after they had finished mining the salt; knowing that the small community was not first on many traders’ lists, they would celebrate ‘The Salt Festival’ over a four day period.
That was another part of the reason that Meldrick felt antsy, he knew he would have four days to explore the hills about Delcontos.
As the Gypsy Elves set up camp, the Town Elders came out to meet them. They were genuinely happy to see the Gypsies as there friendship with the tribe went back decades.
After helping Mother Marla set up their wagon and caring for their horses, Meldrick went into the wagon to prepare his pack for his planned exploration. He filled it with dried provisions, water, his healer’s kit and sleeping bag. He then took his skeleton-handled daggers and placed them in his belt.
Stepping back out of the wagon, Mother Marla was there to greet him, “Meldrick, be careful, the town’s Elders report some wolf activity in the hills.”
He smiled and hugged her, “Mother Marla, I am always careful, but I shall be exceptionally careful because of your warning.”
She smiled and kissed his forehead and bade him good luck. He kissed her cheek and held her a bit longer, “I will take care, Mother Marla, I promise.”
Mother Marla smiled again, “I know you will….I know you will.”
He smiled and turned towards the path he knew led into the hills. He stopped at the first rise and turned to wave. Mother Marla waved back and then returned to making packets of herbal medicines for the village’s healers. She always worried about him, but knew that this was his calling ever since she took him in when he was a very young boy.
Meldrick felt relief as he breathed in the fresh air, being cooped up in the wagon for more than a couple days was always so very stressful for him. He looked about at the wild flowers, making a vow to collect some for Mother Marla before he returned to the caravan. She loved wildflowers and he knew that some of them were prized for their healing properties.
The last time he had visited Delcontos, he had explored these hills and had found a small glen where there were a couple small caves in the surrounding hillsides. Meldrick had decided that that would be where he would go this time. He remembered the glen had a small creek running through it and a few wild apple trees; he had developed a taste for apples of all colors and types and the green apples of these trees would be a perfect match to the salt that he was carrying with him.
Meldrick reached the glen just as the sun kissed the top of the western hills, which gave him plenty of time to set up camp and to collect a few green apples. He would start checking the caves the next day.
Smiling to himself as he found one of the apple trees near the creek. Thinking about what Mother Marla had told him about the wolves, he thought the tree might give him at least a modicum of safety, if he had time to climb it. He set up his camp and laid out his sleeping bag before taking off to find some firewood.
After returning and starting his fire, he climbed the apple tree and gathered about a dozen apples, placing most of them in his pack, then sitting down to enjoy the few he kept out; salting them and smiling as he enjoyed the tart taste.
He sat up for a few hours, enjoying the peacefulness and the beauty of the night sky. He then placed a few small logs on the fire, so that it could burn through the night. Taking out his daggers, he placed them by his backpack, which he used as a pillow and then covered himself before going to sleep.
He had been asleep for he didn’t know how long, when he could hear sobbing. Meldrick’s hands closed on his daggers as he sat up to orient himself. It appeared the sobbing was coming from a cave not far from a small waterfall that was the source of the creek that Meldrick was camped by.
Meldrick stood up, sheathing one of the daggers and placing his backpack over one shoulder as it contained his healer’s bag, just in case it would be needed. He then slowly approached the cave. “Hello, in the cave. . . are you hurt?”
The sobbing stopped for a moment, the a young voice called back, “My arm. . .my arm hurts!”
Meldrick sighed wondering what a child was doing out here all alone, as he entered the cave. Approximately 15 yards inside, he found a young girl sitting on a rock, holding her arm, which was obviously broken. As he approached her, he talked calmly, as she seemed a bit wary of him, “I am a healer, little one, I mean you no harm. Let me take you back to my campsite and see what I can do about your arm.”
She looked up at him with her large grey eyes and seemed to sniff the air, “You appear to be Elvin, yet you have the odor of dragon about you.”
He smiled and nodded, “Yes, that is a bit of a long story, perhaps I can tell you while I see what I can do for that arm. . .if you will let me help?”
She sniffed the air again and nodded, “Please, it hurts so bad. . .” There were tears welling in her eyes which told Meldrick that she was in severe pain.
As he leaned down to look at her arm, he withdrew a piece of bark from his pouch, “Here, chew on this, it will help ease the pain.”
She took it and placed it in her mouth chewing on it as he gently lifted her. She winced a bit when he picked her up and started to carry her back towards his campsite. Her eyes glazed over a little as the drug in the bark appeared to be doing its job.
As he reached his campsite, he gently laid her on his sleeping bag and then took off his backpack and pulled out his healer’s bag. Meldrick looked to his right palm, there was a soft green glow coming from it as he remembered Kazar’s words that healing the Black and Red Lesser Dragon’s heart stone might drain his ability to heal with his ‘Dragon’s Touch’. He whispered to himself “If the gods be willing, there will still be enough to help start the mending of her broken bones.”
Meldrick took out his canteen and poured water over the wound and gently cleaned it as the young girl watched through glazed over eyes, drugged but not completely out of it. She watched as Meldrick took some splints from his healer’s bag and used them to encase her arm as he wrapped them tightly with a cloth.
“I have set the broken bones and this splint will help your arm heal, I am going to touch your arm with my right hand, there will be a green glow and a soft humming. . .hopefully it will start the bones to rejoining.” He looked at her, not sure she was grasping what he was doing, as his palm glowed and hummed faintly as he held her arm.
In his mind’s eye he could tell that his touch had been able to start the bones to rejoin. Meldrick let go and took another cloth from his backpack and formed and sling for her arm and then he sat down on the end of his sleeping bag. “Forgive me, I failed to introduce myself. . .I am Meldrick of the Gypsy Elves.”
She looked at him and smiled for the first time, it was a nice smile, “I am Selena of the True People. . .Thank you Meldrick for what you have done for me.”
He smiled back, “You’re very welcome, Selena.” He paused a moment, then asked, “I have never heard of the ‘True People’, are they a clan or a tribe of sorts?”
She looked at him and giggled, “They are my family and the True People of these hills.”
Meldrick looked about at the hills that surrounded them, “So, your family is nearby?”
She smiled and sniffed the air, “Yes, not too far away. I was just out exploring, as I sometimes do, only I tripped and fell funny.” She raised her broken left arm, “And this was the result. I had called out to them, but they must have been a little further away than I thought.”
Selena smiled again, “Thank you for helping me.” She yawned, “I hadn’t realized I was so sleepy,” she said as she lay down on the sleeping bag.
Meldrick moved to her and gently covered her, “Selena, it probably is from the effect of the bark and healing procedures that I performed, just go ahead and get some sleep. You should be safe here.” He smiled and then turned to stoke the fire a bit.
“I know, I will, Meldrick. . .I know I will.” She smiled and then yawned again as she fell asleep.
Meldrick sighed, wondering at the mystery of her family and looking about. He chuckled a bit as he realized that Selena was not much younger than he was, when Mother Marla first let him start his exploring, so he felt a kinship with this young explorer as he lay back on the ground and looked up at the crescent moon in the sky.
He lay that way for a bit and he as started to close his eyes he heard the keening of a wolf. . .then another and another. His hand went to the handle of his dagger as he sat up and looked to Selena. He was worried that the songs of the wolves might disturb Selena, but as he looked at her she seemed to smile with their serenade.
“Like she was hearing a lullaby,” Meldrick smiled and shook his head wondering why that image had come to him. He lay back down and listened to the wolves as they sang their songs. . .as he did, he realized that each song seemed to be a bit different. . .some softer in tone than others. He yawned and smiled as he found himself being lulled to sleep by the songs of the wolves, though he still managed to keep his hand on the handle of his dagger. . .just in case.
When Meldrick woke up, he found Selena curled against him and he smiled as he got up, trying not to wake her. When he placed his sleeping bag over her, she opened her eyes and tried to stretch, catching herself when she remembered her injured arm.
“Good morning Selena, are you hungry?” He said as he reached into his pack, checking what he had brought with him.
She smiled and shook her head, “Yes, I do feel a bit famished, Meldrick.”
He smiled as he brought out his cast iron pan and started fixing breakfast. . .slicing up potatoes and peppers and onions. . .cutting up some saltpork and placing it in the pan while it heated up. He placed the fixings in the pan then whipped up a little biscuit batter and placed it on top of the concoction and covered it to let it bake.
Meldrick went down to the creek to get some water to make tea as Selena sat and watched with glee at the pan sputter and pop and sizzle. She sniffed the air and breathed in the wonderful aroma of his cooking.
He smiled as he saw her reaction to the food cooking, as he knelt down to collect the water. Meldrick stood up and turned to rejoin Selena, but stopped as blocking his way was the largest grey wolf he had ever seen. He looked up to where Selena was and saw another grey wolf sniffing her cast and Selena seemed to be talking to it.
Meldrick thought for a moment about reaching for his dagger, but thought better of it. Even if, by some miracle he could take down the large wolf, the smaller wolf would be upon Selena before he could ever get to her.
He took a deep breath and calmly called to her, “Selena, is everything all right?” Not quite sure what he expected her to reply, but he knew he needed to get a better understanding of the situation.
Selena stood up, the hand of her broken arm was resting on the smaller wolf’s neck, the other waving, “Of course it is Meldrick, this is Pure Heart, my adopted mother and that is Strong Heart, Leader of the True People.” She smiled a giggled a little, “Strong Heart, Pure Heart, this is Meldrick of the Gypsy Elves. He is the one who found me and helped me.” She lifted her splinted arm.
Strong Heart looked back at Selena and then back at Meldrick, moving a little closer and sniffing at his right hand, turning back to look at Selena softly growling.
Selena smiled, “He smells like one because he was touched by a dragon, Strong Heart.” Meldrick nodded and opened his hand showing Strong Heart the scar on his palm.
While Meldrick had his hand open, he took the opportunity to try to move closer to Selena, “Shall we join the Ladies, by the fire?” He smiled and tried to remain calm as he slowly started back towards the fire and the food that was cooking there. To his surprise, Strong Heart moved aside and then followed him to Meldrick’s campsite.
As he reached Selena, she smiled as Pure Heart had laid down near her feet and she had knelt to join her, “Breakfast smells wonderful, is there enough for all of us, Meldrick?”
Meldrick smiled, “There should be and I have more of the salt pork and some jerky, if Strong Heart and Pure Heart would prefer it?” He moved to his back pack and brought out four tin plates (as he always carried spares), utensils and both the salt pork and some jerky. Strong Heart sniffed at the meat and looked to Selena.
“I think Strong Heart would prefer the meat, Meldrick.” She looked to Pure Heart, “My Mother would like a little bit of everything.” Pure Heart laid her head in Selena’s lap and watched Meldrick as he cut up some of the salt pork and jerky and placed it on a plate for Strong Heart, then placed some on her plate.
He then pulled the pan from the fire and set it on a flat stone nearby, scooping the aromatic delight onto the plates. “Be careful, it’s very hot.” He warned as he took his own plate and sat down.
Selena smiled and whispered to Pure Heart about it being hot and then set the plate in front of her as she took her own plate and breathed in the sweet aroma of Meldrick’s breakfast. Smiling at each savory bite, as the little group broke their fast together.
After they finished, Meldrick took the plates and pan down to the creek to clean them. Selena followed him. It seemed the food had re-energized her. Both Strong Heart and Pure Heart lay together watching after her.
As he knelt rinsing out the plates, Selena sat beside him, “I think they like you,” she said as she motioned towards the wolves.
Meldrick smiled, “Really, that’s good to know.” He paused a moment, “Selena, I don’t mean to pry, but a human among wolves is a rare thing to see. May I ask what happened to your parents.”
She looked at him and smiled, then giggled, “Oh, Meldrick, you think I am human. . . .I am a wolfling. . .”
She let that sink in for a moment before continuing, “In my true form I am wolf-like, but I have the ability to change to human or even elf form.” As she said that, her skin changed from human to moon elf-like, the ears, the eyes and skin markings and coloring.
Meldrick sat there with his mouth agape, he had heard tales of wolflings, werewolves and such, but had thought them just tales. . .until now, for the proof of wolflings sat beside him as Selena reverted to her true form, that of a young wolf cub. “I am truly amazed and honored to meet you, Selena. Please forgive my ignorance as to your true identity. I never would have guessed.”
As a cub, she licked his hand, then again changed to the young girl he first met, “You can understand why we must hide our true identity. . .Wolflings and wolves have co-existed for a long time now. . .I am as much a part of the True People as Strong Heart and Pure Heart are. We wolflings are able to do things to help and go places that a wolf would not normally be able to. It is our duty to the True People to do so.” She paused again looking to Strong Heart and Pure Heart. She nodded to them before she continued.
“They are worried that you may fear what I am. . .that the secret of what I am may send you back to your people. . .and that they might try to hunt me down.”
Meldrick looked surprised at what she said and was about to reply when she shook her head and replied, “I have assured them that you are not and that you would not do anything to compromise me or others like me.”
She smiled, “When you did this, “ she lifted her splint, “and used your ‘healing touch’, I saw into your heart and know it is not in your nature to do such things.”
“We spent the next few days together, exploring the caves, picking leaf and root samples, before I left the valley to return to the caravan. Her arm was healing but I asked her to keep the splint on for at least a week or two, to make sure it had healed properly.”
He smiled as he looked towards where the sound of the wolf’s song could be heard, “When I returned to the caravan, I heard a story of a traveler encountering a trio of wolves, the youngest was wearing a splint on its foreleg. I could only smile.”
Sit back and I'll tell you tales of Faeries and dragons.