"Elves of the Northern Vale" A Tundrawolf Story

The Tundra Wolves

In the last age the Sun and its ally the White Magic battled against the dark, cold forces of the Fell Ice. The Elves watched from within their Vales protected by earth, stone and the power of their Elven Mages. They watched as the Ice was defeated and made its retreat back to its frozen kingdom at the top of the world. They watched as once again animals and plants returned back to the north as the land warmed and blossomed under a triumphant Sun.

This time around the Elves elected to stay within their hidden Vales on the mountain tops. They did not return and rebuild their homes in the low lands where life was returning. For included amongst the many beasts returning to the north was the most brutal of all, man. The Elves did not trust them and traveled the lands in secret keeping watch from afar. They made themselves known to only a few whom they observed practicing peaceful ways.

Amongst the many of their long-lost friends returning to the north the Elves were elated to one day see packs of large wolves making their way home. These were not the common gray wolves who were already established in the northern lands. These were descendants of the great Dire Wolves who lived in the north long ago before the Ice. Many a grand meeting took place as bands of traveling Elves met the wandering packs coming back to their ancient ancestral home they once called the Wolfswood.

The Elves noticed the returning wolves were changed from the Dire Wolves of old who left for the south lands so long ago. They did not stand quite as tall as their ancestors as their forelegs were not as long and they were not as lean through the body. They were much huskier and thicker across the chest with heavier shoulders. Their muzzles were shorter than those of their forefathers, not as long and pointed. Their fur was longer and much thicker and their pointed ears stood taller on their heads. One physical quality the descendants shared with their ancestors were the extremely long upper and lower fangs which were barely covered by their muzzles when their mouths were closed. Just like the Dire Wolves of old they were still very large, much larger than their little cousins the gray wolves whose numerous packs roamed the north lands.

The descendants were much stronger than their ancestors with a bite force that could easily tear out the throat of a large prey in seconds. They were not as fast on the run but they could jump just as high when they had to. Their most improved attributes over the wolves who lived before them were their senses. They could pick up the scent of their prey from over four miles away, twice as far as their ancestors and they could hear the fall of a leaf hitting the snow from well over ten miles away. Their eyesight was sharp and able to pick out the slightest movement at great distance. These descendants of the Dire Wolves owed their strength and stronger senses in part to the White Magic and what the Elves called the Wild Wolf Magic. Even though the White Magic had been weakened in the world, it lived and flowed deep and strong inside the wolves. It mingled with the Wolf Magic which was born from the wolves close contact with the earth, from the nature that lived all around them and from the power they reaped from the full moon .

The Wild Wolf Magic also gave them access to the memories of their fathers, fathers, fathers going all the way back to the time of the Dire Wolves. They could draw on those memories and it gave them an intelligence much stronger than the instinct all other animals were born with. The wolves could not speak but they could communicate by sharing images and scenes in the mind with each other and those who also had the White Magic within them such as the Elves. Once a wolf pup reached a turn old it was named by its parents through a mental picture based on the pups traits and qualities.

Three great tribes of the Dire Wolves’ descendants returned from the south lands and each had different qualities from the other. The first to return the Elves called the Saddlebacks. They gave them this name because of the saddle shaped pattern that was usually marked in black fur and sat on their broad backs going down their sides. They were powerfully strong wolves, the largest of those that returned, with extremely long fangs and a very aggressive nature. Their pack sizes were smaller than those of the other two tribes, but they easily made up for their numbers with their large size and aggressiveness.

The next tribe whose packs came snaking up into the north lands towards the Wolfswood the Elves called the Solids. They were called so because their furry coats were mostly one color from solid black to sandy tans and every color you could imagine in between. They were slightly smaller in stature than the Saddlebacks but much more numerous with much larger pack sizes. They were fiercely loyal to each other within their packs and a force to be contended with when threatened by an enemy.

The last tribe of wolves the Elves met on their way into the north they named the Whites because of their snowy fur coats. These wolves were small in size compared to the others, almost the same size as the wild gray wolves that did not have the Wild Wolf Magic within them. All of the tribes of wolves that returned were very intelligent, but of the three tribes the Whites were considered the most clever. Their pack leaders were all females and the males of the tribe were outnumbered by at least four to one. They were also the most aloof of the three returning tribes and when they finally settled they made their home in the far northeastern corner of the cold Tundra plain. They carved out a place up in the foothills where the Tallspine Mountains met the Grimfang Mountains. The lands they dwelled in were barren and bitter cold most of the turn. Here their cleverness faired them well in hunting the swift mountain goats and sheep that lived in the mountains and foothills around them.

The Saddlebacks made their home along the western edge of the snowy plain where it ran into the Northern Sea. They lived along the cliffs and rocky shores that stretched along the western edge of the sea. Along the shores the packs would go into the breaking waves and hunt the dangerous schools of dragon-fish that were large and provided an excellent meal when caught. They hunted the huge herds of migrating reindeer and bison and the smaller herds of elk and wild aurochs. These herds were plentiful during the spring as they made their way north and also during the fall when they traveled south.

The Solids lived all throughout the lands in the center of the plains also hunting the herds that traveled across their domain. The wolves did a great service to the migrating animals for they only brought down the weak and the ill amongst them culling the herds and keeping them strong for generations to come. They hunted musk ox, marmot, large white hares and small lemmings who lived all turn long on the plains when the herds were not running. The packs of Solids would sometimes leave their home on the plains and venture into the Snow Forest to the south. There they would hunt the swift roe deer, the quick squirrels and fish the streams for the large brown trout that tasted so good. When in the Snow Forest they were always wary and on the lookout for it bordered the lands of Man.

All of the tribes had returned with one single goal in mind. To live as their ancestors had in the huge expanse of woodlands that covered the far north lands. To roam and hunt under the tall majestic trees that stretched over a thousand miles from the Tallspine Mountains to the Northern Sea. They were guided by visions in their mind’s eye from the memories of their forefathers to come home to the ancient forests the Dire Wolves had known as the Wolfswood. But the wolves that had lived in the south lands for an age remembering the beloved forests from generation to generation were in for a terrible surprise once they finally reached the north. They soulfully mourned when they found the Wolfswood to be gone, almost completely obliterated from the face of the earth. Sadly they returned to a vast plain covered in ice and snow. Petrified stumps rose in patches along the edges of the Snow Forest were the only memorials left to mark the memory of the once great forest. The Fell Ice had reigned on these lands the longest of all, for thousands upon thousands of turns killing and grinding everything under it to nothing. These were the lands in which it began its attack on the earth and also made its last stand on the desolate plains against the Sun and the White Magic. The Elves had named this land the Tundra and they called the great beasts that returned to it and made it their home the Tundra Wolves.

The Elves watched as the three tribes of Tundra Wolves settled in to make the cold northlands their home. They watched as the packs learned every part of the snowy plains and gained dominance over the land. The Tundras made trails through the cold frozen ground that would look silly to those that did not know as they zigged and zagged across the flat plain. To those that did know the trails wound around the once great trees that were no longer there, but the wolves could see them in their mind’s eye from the memories of their forefathers.

Within each of the three tribes were clans of wolves who had common ancestry and could remember their relations all the way back to the wolves who once roamed the Wolfswood before the Ice came. The clans were made up of packs who ran with the strongest male and female as pack leaders. The male and female were usually mated and it was for life. The clan leaders were chosen from the male and female who led the largest pack. These wolves were in charge when the packs converged once a month during the full moon at the clan’s sanctuary.

The wolves could send visual images and somewhat communicate with each other through their minds with the aid of the Wild Wolf Magic. Because of this very little in-fighting happened amongst them. They did not behave at all like their smaller cousins the gray wolves who brawled all the time for dominance of the pack. There is always quite a bit of snarling, growling and teeth barring going on during the meets, but that of course is just the nature of the wolves. When new leaders needed to be chosen all of the pairs of pack leaders within the clan came together to make the decision. For wolves they were very orderly and could set a very good example for the many barbarian tribes of man the Elves had seen from afar.

All of the clans had their own special meeting points, their sanctuaries, and the packs would arrive at them usually the day before the full moon and leave on the day after. The Elves noticed it was a very private and sacred time for them to commune with each other and a time for them to be close to the Wild Wolf Magic. The meeting points were held at places which had become sacred to the wolves over the turns. The image of these sites influenced the naming of the wolf clans.

One clan of the Solid Tundras met at a point where a big stone had fallen from the sky and impacted the Tundra near the Snow Forest. The stone broke apart upon impact strewing large boulders all about the crater it made. The packs would converge on the spot and the wolves would lay and sit all around the sides of the crater amongst the boulders with the largest pack and its leaders at the bottom. In their mind’s eye they pictured themselves as the Starfall Clan and that was how the other wolves, and the Elves, knew them. What they did there the Elves did not know for the meets were private and only the Tundra Wolves of the Starfall Clan were allowed. From afar the Elves could hear the chorus of hundreds of wolves softly howling to the night sky as the full moon passed overhead, even when the moon was hidden by clouds. The Elves could feel the magic in the air like a living buzzing thing about them and it gave them a sense of joy.

Another clan of Solids met where there was a rift in the Tundra near the Snow Forest. At the bottom of the small canyon was a stance of tall petrified stumps that were once the majestic trees of the Wolfswood. The ancient rift had been deep enough for the glaciers of the Fell Ice to pass over. It killed the trees but could not grind them into nothing like the rest of the forest. The trees were compressed by the great weight and frozen into stone. The stumps protruded from the ground in a circular shape like standing stones and the wolves sat around the sides of the rift looking down upon them at their meets. In the mind’s eye of the Tundra Wolves they were the Stonetree Clan. Many such rifts with the remains of the stone stumps of the ancient Wolfswood at the bottom trailed along the edge of the Snow Forest where clans of wolves would meet. The areas around the petrified stumps became precious to the wolves and they were magical places for the clans to kindle the enchantment of the full moon.

The Saddlebacks had their magical spots along the cliffs and rocky shores of the Northern Sea. The Whites worshipped the full moon in small groves of trees that surrounded mounds in the foothills of the Tallspine Mountains. Once a month all around the Tundra the packs would meet at their clan sites with all of the Tundra Wolves in attendance, unless they had pups too young to travel or they were too far away on a hunt. No matter where a Tundra Wolf was at the time of the full moon they stopped whatever they were doing and gave homage to it. From what the Elves could see the praise they gave to the full moon kept the wolves infused with the Wild Wolf Magic and the clan’s time together made them able and ready to face any challenge that might come their way.

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