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The Trade

The Trade

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Published by Victoria Chen
Since the beginning of time, an ancient pack of intelligent wolves have lived in the forest. When the prince of a human kingdom wandered in, lost and injured, they took care of him until he was well enough to leave. In return for their gentle hospitality, he promised the wolves to send a man with medicines to help the wolves cure their sick every year, in thanks for saving his life. However, in recent years, the pact has been broken, and the leader of the pack knows this. What will happen to the balance of man and beasts will depend on the ancient promise that was made.
Since the beginning of time, an ancient pack of intelligent wolves have lived in the forest. When the prince of a human kingdom wandered in, lost and injured, they took care of him until he was well enough to leave. In return for their gentle hospitality, he promised the wolves to send a man with medicines to help the wolves cure their sick every year, in thanks for saving his life. However, in recent years, the pact has been broken, and the leader of the pack knows this. What will happen to the balance of man and beasts will depend on the ancient promise that was made.

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Published by: Victoria Chen on Aug 09, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/10/2010

 
Since the beginning of time, wolves have ruled the forests with grace and fairness.Eventually, we shared this power with all the other woodland creatures and instead,turned to see to our own needs. We hunted together, cared for our young, taught theyounger ones, and helped each other survive. And we weren’t just the normal wolves – we were at least two times larger than the others and we don’t know why. Legends hintthat our ancestors may have come from a far away land where animals could talk andwere larger than the voiceless ones.And for as long as I could remember, we traded with Man. Man came into the forestsone dark night, in search of help protection. He was frightening, glistening with theshining water that was his armor and the rough textures of his patched fur. The woodlandcreatures shied away from this horrible sight of a creature. But we, the wolves, foundhim, and took him in. We hunted his food for him and we cared for him, defending himfrom the other larger creatures that would have him dead, just because they feared him.When he recovered, he left.But every once in a while in our history, he would return. Once again, wetraditionally hunted food for him. He took the skins and the furs of the creatures we hadslain for his food and explained that the fur was more valuable than the meat. Heencouraged us to eat our own hard-earned meal and in return for the fur, he healed our young with his strange medicines and made them stronger so that they may live to seetheir own young.And then he would leave again, to come back another time.And here is where my story begins. We shall start, at the very, very beginning.
 
“Man! Man! Man in the woods!” a young nameless pup yelled excitedly, scampering upthe rocks and leaping without hesitation over fallen logs and treacherous branches. Hefell once but then scrambled back onto his feet again without hesitation and scrambled onagain. He leaped over another log and stumbled, crashing headfirst into the back of hisfather who had been napping in the relentless heat of the sun that shone through the branches of the trees above.The wolf, named Luka, turned a lazy eye to his pup who panted excitedly into hisface, his tail swinging and swishing back and forth quickly in excitement. The pup wasalmost a yearling now, though his fur was a little shorter still than an adult wolf’s, but it just meant that he was growing quickly. “What is it?” he rumbled at the pup, putting hishead back down and closing his eye to sleep again.The pup pounced on his father’s head and the older wolf instinctively lunged up witha snarl to attack. The pup bounced away quickly with a happy grin as he saw that he hadgotten his father’s attention. “Man in the woods!” he cried, barely able to stand still.Almost as if to put him out of his misery, his father swiped a huge paw at him,knocking the pup head over tail. The pup rolled onto his back after he stopped tumblingaround and looked at his father who was a few feet away. The older wolf wasn’t lookingat him; instead, he was waking up the other members of their pack.The other pups scampered over to the first one and curled up around him. The puplooked around at his brothers and sisters, reaching out and licking the ear of his twinsister who had been named Little Red for the reddish gleam in her fur but was just calledRed for short. She smiled at him. The pup himself was still unnamed becausetraditionally, names were chosen for when a pup did something to make him- or herself more obvious to the rest of the pack. Red had beautiful fur and therefore had been namedfor it. Even though the Name Day, the day when that year’s pups would be given their names, hadn’t come yet, there was no doubt that Red would be called Red so they justcalled her that.“Maybe they should call you Scout,” she told her brother, reaching over with a paw tosmack at his ear. He tackled his sister and with a giggle, the two pups wrestled with eachother until their other siblings joined in with the tussle. The thing about twins in packs of wolves like this was that they could know what the other was thinking at the time. It wasa special and magical bond, probably the only magic left over from their ancestors of long ago.Then they were separated by a cross-looking Luka. “This is no time for play, littleones,” he told them gently as the youngest pup began to cry. Luka gave the crying pup alittle lick and the pup stopped crying. He picked the pup up by the scruff of his neck andwalked off, calling over his shoulder, “Come, we must be gone by the time they come.”“Why?” the young pup called at his father. He sped on ahead, Red at his heels.“Be quiet, and I will explain later,” his father told him quietly. The rest of the pack surrounded the pups in a protective circle as they began to move through the forest.Parents nudged their pups to join the jostle of pups already at the center. “Come, we musthurry.”After a long moment of silence, the young pup squeezed out of the circle and fell instep with his father, often having to run to keep up with his father’s long strides. “What’sgoing on, father? Why aren’t we greeting the Man like we do every year?” he asked him.
 
Luka turned to look at his son for a moment. The pup was old enough to know andunderstand. Besides, Luka himself was becoming old. He would soon have to give up his position to a younger and more agile wolf who could lead the pack again with thestrength that he had when he was young. This pup could be it – the one who would be theone to take his place. He was strong, that was sure, and he had enough energy that could be put to better use taking care of the pack and other matters than running around theforest all day.“There was a rumor, from a crow that saw with his own eyes that man had changedsince the last time we have seen them,” he said hesitantly. Looking down into the pup’sattentive blue gaze, he pushed on. “The crow saw the Men taking animals, hunting for them on their own, and taking their fur for themselves. Some of these men made clothesout of the hides that they had stripped off of the animals.”“But the wolves are safe,” the pup insisted, his tail slowing down to a slow swingingmotion. “The Man visits us every year and helps the pups in return for us giving him thefur when we eat instead of the meat.”Luka gently shook his head, the pup in his mouth swinging a little. He set the pupdown as he slowed and then stopped and the pup joined the others in the center of thegroup. The rest of the pack flowed around them and soon, disappeared into the darknessand safety of the forest. Luka and his son were left alone. Even Red had followed the pack – knowing that this business was not hers to listen to.“Times are changing, little one,” his father said softly, looking up at the trees thatswayed gently with the wind. “Man wasn’t what he once was. It’s time that we realizethat Man cannot be our friend – he was only our ally for as long as it lasted.”The pup wasn’t sure he had heard his father right. It took him a moment to digestwhat his father had just said. “Father, what do you mean by that?” he asked him.Luka sighed. “Son, what the crow had seen was that Men were killing all types of animals, not just the grass-eaters but the hunters as well. Bears, wolves, fox, and theothers all were killed and slaughtered – all for their fur,” he said, his eyes closed with pain. Luka, in his old age, could feel more pain in his heart as he was able to see withexperienced eyes how everything was changing around them. This was one pain that hewished to end. “They have brought with them beasts of great power with the body of thedear, the strength of a bear, and hooves of deer. They ride these creatures across the land,hunting down every woodland creature they see. All the wolves have gone – we must bethe last to remain. Do you understand, Conell?”The pup blinked at the last word. “‘Conell’?” he asked.His father smiled. “It means strength. I name you this in hopes that you will be astrong leader for our pack,” he explained. The pup nodded his head once in reply to hisfather’s question. “Good, now we must catch up before –”There was a sound like rolling thunder and the two wolves looked back to see thecreatures that Luka had just described – the demon creatures with hooves like rocks. Witha yip of fear, Conell ran, followed closely by Luka. “It’s too late now,” Luka panted. “Wecan’t lead them to the pack. Come.”Luka led his son through the woods, followed by the demon animals and the Menriding them. They ran as fast as they could through the forest, zigzagging behind trees,even trying to lose them but the creatures kept up.

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