“To me Wolves, too me!” Yells Børæn as he leaves the tent.
Reluctant eyes turn and upon seeing Móðir Mother) and the Merkitä Muistiin emerge behind the large warrior, the mood shifts. This is the Wolf Tribe’s King. Though young, it is by his actions that he showed all he is not his father.
“My brothers and sisters of the Wolf, the time for celebration must be put on hold…”
The crowd mutters, but when the Móðir raises her hand, all go silent.
“Evil is afoot. Some will call it Chaos. Some will call it the inevitable destiny of not just the Wolf, and the Northern Tribes, but of all of us, to be consumed by this darkness. I do not care, this blackness has infected everything we hold dear.” Børæn pauses as his words wash over his tribe. Tribesmen look to each other in worry, confusion, but more look angry. They sense a war is brewing, and the death of the Shadow is just the start of something that will be a time of challenge. “The Clan of No Name is but one example. The Shadow is just another as well. This evil, if left unchecked, will destroy not only what we hold dear, but this entire world.”
The crowd goes silent. Børæn has given word too what many have felt.
“I have fought this evil first hand. My sword and axe have cut a bloody swath through it. Talvi and I have hunted it, and have worked to protect who we can. Yet, despite this, the evil grows.”
Hearing her name Talvi appears at Børæn’s side. Seeing her, many realize that the tribe has changef. The Shadow King is dead, and a new light has appeared.
She looks at the man she sees as her cub, and Børæn feels her eyes upon him. The two look at each other, and Børæn feels through their shared bond her pride. As quick as the feeling came, it is quickly replaced with annoyance. “Get on with it cub,” she seems to scold Børæn. Stifling a laugh Børæn looks out at the crowd.
“I have been to the lands of the South. The evil infects everything. An ancient city is now a kingdom of Orcs…”
Hearing that, many yell curses, offer their swords to fight, and mutter vows to fulfill honor debts.
Børæn raises his hand and the gathering goes silent.
“There will come a day when we will ride as one and remove that rot, but today is not that day. We must be strong, stronger than we are now.”
Torpo, who has watched in silence nods his head toward Móðir (Mother). They share a glance. They know now, without any doubt, the true Wolf King is here.
“My friends, I know I have arrived, but I have much to do in the South…”
Hearing this, the crowd grows uneasy. Again Børæn raises his hand and all go silent.
“My path takes me from my people. I must fight battles that are my own. The Wolf is not ready for what is to come. We have been weakened by a poison that has just begun to be drained from this tribe.”
Looking at the crowd, Børæn feels something deep within him change. He feels humble. He feels pride. He feels as if the missing parts of him have been found. He also feels the familiar touch of his goddess and he smiles.
“I must go,” the crowd murmurs and again Børæn silences them. “I must go to fight. A fight I must do alone. If I do not do this, I will not be worthy of being your King.”
Hearing this a cheer begins, and oaths are sworn. There is a joy to this, and there is pride in this. What was once a dying wolf, has now found a new life.
“While I am gone, the Wolf will be cared for. Móðir and the Merkitä Muistiin will watch over you, and together they will help you heal.”
Hearing this, the crowd bows their heads to the two, and soon the crowd chants “Sinun sanasi on laki! (Your word is law.)”
The chant grows louder, it rings through the valley, it fills the tribe with hope. It pierces the blackness which smothered it for so long. Even Torpo and Mother chant this.
Raising his hand again, a hush goes over the crowd.
“I ride South, but I will not ride alone. What good is a wolf without his pack? Who will ride with your King?”
The crowd shifts and murmurs. All think about what this choice means. Suddenly a woman steps forward. Short of stature, hair long and brown, and a patch covering her right eye, she commands respect (and perhaps some fear). She stands proud and she stands as if she knows this moment has been her destiny. She knows that here, right now, her Lore has begun.
“I am Nanna One Eye, warrior of the Rabbit Clan. I will ride with you my King,’ she says in a strong voice.
“I am honored to ride with you Nanna of the Rabbit.”
Hearing this a cheer goes up among the gathered Rabbit Clan. For so long they have suffered under the yoke of the past. Now, however, they know that the tribe has truly changed.
As if a dam burst, others begin yelling out and pushing to step forward. Suddenly two emerge from the crowd. One, a woman, hair of gold, dressed in furs, and wearing the markings of a Druid. The other is but a boy, perhaps no more than 16.
“I am Tófa of the Horse Clan, and I have a calling my path follows yours. I have had visions of a wolf, whose Lore is destined to entwine with mine. I will gladly stand by your side my King and aid you in your fight. That is if you will have me?”
Børæn smiles, “Thunder is your name, yet you wear the trappings of a Druid?”
“I hear a calling,” Tófa responsefs solemnly. “It is a tug. No? A growing wind that pushes me. I must do this.”
“Mesha,” Børæn says. “In all things I honor you. Step forward Tófa I am blessed by Mesha to have you by my side.” As she stands at her King’s side, the Horse Clan cheers in pride. As a breaking storm it fills the valley, and all who hear it, know the Horse once again roam the land.
“Do not be a fool boy,” yells Torpo. “You do not know what you are doing!”
Børæn looks to his old friend. “Why are you, angry old friend?”
“He is Einarr my grandson. Useless with the Lore; unskilled in the skills of his people; nothing more than a dreamer too busy to learn,” snaps Torpo.
Looking at the boy, Børæn smiles. He was Einarr’s age when he set off on his path. He looks in the eyes of the youth and sees a strength there. A smoldering spark that will bloom into a raging fire. This strength will not be found here, with Wolf. He will find it with Børæn and when the boy returns all will see his strength.
“Your name fits you Einarr, you are a lone warrior. Do you have the strength to stand at my side?” Børæn says simply.
Einarr looks into Børæn’s eyes and stands as tall as he can.
He tries to look solemn.
He tries to look serious.
None of those expressions are right for the youth.
Instead, he smiles.
“My King I am ready. I will not waver. I will not flee. I will show courage when racing into battle. I will be your shield. I am a wolf, and I know my duty as one. I will not fail you.”
Torpo begins to yell, and Børæn glares at his old friend. It is a harsh look, filled with anger and rage. It is a look a King gives to a warrior who has failed to uphold his oaths. Taken aback by this, Torpo goes quite.
“Your clan boy?” Børæn asks.
“I am Einarr of the Eagle Clan!”
Hearing this the gathered Eagles cheer with pride.
“Einarr of the Eagle Clan I will be proud to have you at my side,” Børæn says loudly so all know that the weak are able to be strong when they hear the call.
Horses are brought, and each member of the company huddle with their clans. Oaths are sworn, blessings are given, and together they bask in the joy of what is to come. All know that because of this, their clans have changed, and have changed for the better.
“What in the Hells are you thinking boy!” Torpo snaps at Børæn. “My grandson is not strong, he is weak. He will fail you during the first battle he has. Do not bring him…”
Børæn spins, and his anger flares. Talvi growls, and in that growl there is anger. Torpo swallows what he was about to say. He looks at the boy, now a man, and for the first time knows fear.
“If anyone else said what you said, I would draw my axe and end their life where they stand,” growls Børæn. “It is only because I see you as a father that I do not do that now. Einarr is as old as I was when I fled the Wolf. There is a strength there and you dishonor him by your words and deeds.”
The two stare at each other and the old man looks away, bowing his head in shame.
“This old friend is the only time I will forgive you. Though you watch the Wolf while I go south, I am your King. My word is my honor. I will not have you question my honor. Do. You. Understand?”
Bowing deeply Torpo responds “I am sorry my King. I bring myself dishonor in this, and I dishonored you. I am sorry Børæn, truly.”
As quick as the anger came, it leaves, and Børæn smiles, placing his hand on Torpo’s shoulder.
“All is forgiven, old friend. I know you speak from love, and not malice. I know you worry about the boy. He will be fine, I swear it. Mesha guides me, and Mesha’s Will protects. Einarr will return, and he will make you proud.”
As the goodbyes are finished and the supplies are packed each member gathers around Børæn. Talvi seeing these new people looks at each as if she is appraising them. This does not go unnoticed by the three, and in truth, unnerves them.
“Pay her no mind, Talvi is the mother wolf, she sees me as her cub,” Børæn chuckles. In response, Talvi looks at Børæn and glares as if scolding him. For a second, the two look into each other’s eyes. Suddenly Børæn laughs, and Talvi barks and wags her tail, happily. The three look at each other. They know this is the Wolf King.
Drawing Lohikäärme Hammas, Børæn slices it across his right palm. Handing the ancient dagger to each of his new companions, they too draw the dagger across their right palm.
Holding his hand out, and each one clasps their hands with each other.
“Are you ready? You face a long path, are you sure in your choice?”
“Yes, my King,” Tofa speaks. Her voice is hard but sure. Her face is grim.
“Kunnia Kunnialla. Elämä elämästä. Pysyn teidän kanssanne ja taistelen teidän kanssanne. Olemme sidoksissa.”
(“Blood for blood. Lore with lore. Honor with honor. Life for life. I stand with you and I fight with you. We are bonded.”)
Each state, solemnly. They know now, without any doubt, this is their path.
With that Børæn smiles.
“We ride as one. Mesha guides us. Though Mesha is a fickle one, she has faith in me. I have faith in her. What we do is for her and for this tribe. We will be tested. We will shed blood. We will see things that make weak warriors run in fear.”
The three look at their king in wonder. They hang on each word. Tofa’s eyes go wide when she hears Mesha’s name.
“No matter what happens remember this: we are the Wolf. We strike with no fear. We hunt as one. We kill as one. We watch out for each other. It is a good omen that Horse, Rabbit, Eagle, Axe, and Sword are joined. Now let’s ride.”
As they leave the valley, Einarr rides close to Børæn.
“It is Børæn Einarr. I am not your King right now. I am Børæn.”
“Yes my… Børæn.” Einarr responds. “What should I call us?”
Chuckling, the response is simple “Just like your grandfather, heh? You are keeping the Lore Einarr, you decide.”
Riding back, his two companions look at him and smile.
“The Four Warriors.” Nanna simply responds.
“No, ‘The Wild’s Warriors’, sounds right,” Tófa answers.
“No those do not feel right. They are good, mind you, but not right,” answers Einarr.
Suddenly Einarr sits upright as inspiration strikes. “The Wolf’s Guardians!”
The others look at the Einarr and smile.
“‘The Four’,” Børæn states simply.
The three look at each other, and Einarr looks sad.
“You are not a Merkitä Muistiin yet, Einarr. Do not pout. You will have many opportunities to become one,” laughs Nanna and smiles at her new companion.
“Yes, Nanna is right. Just make sure you get our names right,” chuckles Tófa and winks at the boy.
Joining his two friends in the joking the three laugh.
As they ride, Børæn smiles. He is happy. He is proud. He is grateful. He whispers a prayer of thanks to Mesha and lets the rhythm of the ride take over. He listens to the three talk, boast, and laugh. It is a sound that pleases him.
“You do not know what you ride toward,” he thinks to himself. “You do not know what you will face. Yet, you are strong, stronger then you think you are. At the end of this, we will be more than Companions. More than a Pack. We will be of Blood.”
The four ride on.