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of the Master’s Dominionite Army, but that was eons ago. Now, he was a confused ex-Dominionite who longed for the days before the Wars for Power. To see him, Red-Wolf was an ordinary wolf-man, standing on furry human legs, baring a thick fur tail with a burgundy tip. He even had the face of a half-human, half-wolf. His wolf snout may have been pushed in on his face as he kept this Companion shape, but it still allowed him to sniff out danger and food from miles away. His wolf ears resembled those of a fairy elf or a sprite, pointed and furry. They acted as his sonar when hunting, helping him listen if any creatures were approaching. His eyes were human, allowing him to see color instead of the usual wolf-like black-and-white. Maybe this form was one reason he was chosen – abducted from his own family – to become a part of the Dominionite Warrior Army? At first, he didn’t mind fighting against the very barbarians who he thought killed his own family. He wasn’t that young of a pup when he was taken away. His mother, Celeste, cried when she found out. Her Dweller powers, the clan of vampire-like hunters she was born from, allowed him to see that in his mind, day after day. His father, Chase, was furious, but his power was taken from him. The memories of his lost family plagued him, keeping his mind focused on the mission. Kill all Mystics. They were the enemy. As he found out, Red-Wolf hadn’t been the only one abducted from his family. There were Companions of all breeds, from feline, to canine, equine, bovine, pachyderm, amphibian, and birds. Not one of the Goddess Dana’s Creatures were spared, and that didn’t make either of the Elemental Goddesses happy. All they could do was stand in the Realm of the Ancients and keep watch over the Wars for Power in the Dream World. Fortunately for him, Red-Wolf met a similar wolf pup and became fast friends with the Timber Wolf. His name was Wolfton Stargazer, but he went by the name Wolf. Red-Wolf thought it was amusing that they had similar names, so Wolf suggested the nickname “Red” for him. They were inseparable, sharing common traits and instincts as they were paired to lead teams of Seekers. The Seekers were those with heightened senses of smell, hearing, and sight, to guard any oncoming attacks from the Mystic Warriors. One night, Wolf grew restless and decided to look around. It was the dead of night and the two pups were on watch together. Red knew his canine friend was going to find something. He was afraid, so he stayed behind, waiting. To his dismay, it was something neither Wolf Companion wanted to see or hear. Wolfton came back, his wolf-human face white with terror. He gathered the Brigade together to tell them something shocking. They were fighting for the wrong side. After that, Wolf led the Rebellion against the Master Orthos once the Wars were officially over. When Wolf left with a feline consort, Toby Snow, and the entire Brigade of Warriors suddenly against the Master Orthos, Red-Wolf Moondancer chose to stay behind. In doing so, he lost the best Companion friend he ever had. Of course, the Dominionite Warriors and Orthos lost the Wars for Power, and soon were Exiled by the Crusaders. Red-Wolf remembered the day as it played in his mind.
He was called to battle once more by the Master’s son, Damian. He protested, but the Merchant’s power was greater than even Red-Wolf’s stealth and skill, so he went along with the new Warrior Pack. Before he knew it, he was standing beside Companions he once fought with, ready for battle. He didn’t want to fight, for he knew the truth. He just wanted the senseless fighting to end. It was no use. The Merchant had Red-Wolf’s power in the palm of his hands, using it against him. Red-Wolf stood behind Orthos, ready for a command that never came. Lord Guardian approached in his human-male form, one that intimidated with ease. Behind him were the Dream World Crusaders, ready to kill them all. The Young Guardian, feared yet revered, was with him, along with her friends, twin sister, an original Crusader from the Wars, the Shadow, and a strange young black feline-man. There was also a Creature whose eyes he’d seen before, but it wasn’t until the Creature spoke and shifted to a Gargoyle that RedWolf recognized him. The former Maximaniac, an Originator (and now Lord of the Grey Area’s Shady Kingdom) who had Banished himself for a woman, the Mystic bride of the Master, Jezebel. Red-Wolf stood silent, anxious to do something but curious as to what was going on. Was there to be another senseless War, killing those Companions and Warriors that were left? He hoped not. His eyes surveyed his opponents, only to see the friendly faces of Wolfton Stargazer and Tobias Snow. Why were a feline and canine working together? He wondered. It was against nature for the two breeds to be friends, let alone on the same side. That’s when he saw Wolfton’s hand clutching that of another feline, the Merchant’s cousin Katherine Hawk. Toby’s arm was held by Katherine’s sister Kitten’s Claw. Red-Wolf saw the unusual glowing crystals around each of the four Companion’s necks and knew they regained their powers. Good for them, bad for the Master. It didn’t take long before one of the Crusaders, later named Young Aaron, used his own bit of Unicorn Magic power against the Merchant, calling the Exiling Spell to send him wherever. Of course, the Master Orthos wasn’t happy, but Lord Guardian wouldn’t let him do anything against Aaron or the other Crusaders, especially the Young Guardian. Soon, the battle between the Lord Guardian and the Master himself. Once Lord Guardian called his own Ancient’s Spell to Exile his evil brother, the Warriors were free to go. Before he left, Red-Wolf caught one last glance at his best Companion friend. Wolf met his eyes and nodded, holding Katherine close. Katherine saw the interaction between them and smiled before leading her canine beau toward the Mystic Palace. It was the last he saw of Wolf for a long time. Since the Crusades ended, the onceDominionites and Warrior Army were homeless. Lord Guardian himself had named his other brother Maximaniac the Lord over the now-colorless Dominion Realm. Dark Tower was crumbled to the ground with the rest of the now-Old Dominion. It didn’t take long to find out who would be his Lady Queen. Jezebel, now seeing the err of her ways, turned her back on the Master and was allowed to return to the Dream World. Once adding a new Princess, Tempera, who was born in the Crusades, the old realm had a new name. The Grey Area. In the present, Red-Wolf practiced his fighting stances and such, just in case another War was declared. He was deep in meditation before another exercise when he heard a familiar voice. “Red-Wolf...” It was a Goddess-like voice, gentle and soft. His eyes snapped open and he reached for his short-sword’s hilt, standing. “Who is there?”
He saw her figure ahead of him, in a form that reminded him of his mother. She was in a wolf-maiden form, looking the female counterpart of Red-Wolf himself. The image in front of him was faint, also reminding him of his mother’s Astral image. “Kneel before me, Chikité Moondancer.” The voice echoed, outstretching one of her Goddess-like hands to him. “I mean you no harm, so you may take your paw off the weapon.” He obeyed, both taking his hand cautiously off the short-sword and kneeling in front of her. He didn’t know why, but he took her hand and attempted to kiss it. As he took it, he got the image of the night he was abducted. Red-Wolf knew immediately who this woman figure was, and how she knew his full Companion blood name. “Matéré.” He whispered in his native language. Matéré meant mother. Celeste Moondancer nodded her canine-human head. “Aye, my Donar, I have returned to you.” “How? I thought the Master stole your power before the Wars?” Red-Wolf inquired. “You forget my Dweller-kin ties, Red-Wolf, as well as your own.” Celeste remarked. “Master only knew how to take the Companion powers away. I am not a full Companion, so I do not have the powers. You are only half-Companion, from your Pérat.” Pérat meant father. “What about the Wars?” Red-Wolf asked. “And the other Companions? How have you survived all this time?” “Lord Guardian’s only Donar taught us well.” Celeste explained. “He explained we had not lost our inner spirit voice, which fuels and controls our Companion power.” “You mean Braken Joel Hawk?” Red-Wolf asked and she nodded. “The very child of Lady Mystica’s with his own Mystic powers?” “Aye, Donar,” Again, she nodded and laughed. Red-Wolf couldn’t believe the rumors regarding the Balinese feline were true. That didn’t matter. What mattered was his Matéré was alive. “Is Pérat still alive, too?” “Aye, but we know not where we are.” Celeste’s soft voice replied. “We are surrounded by many Elders who shared the same fate. Braken Joel tells us we are in what he calls the Underground. He has since disappeared, leaving us wondering.” The Underground. Red-Wolf vaguely recalled the hidden place, or where it was. He made up his mind. “I will find you, Matéré.” He bowed his head to her as he remained knelt. Celeste placed a hand atop his head, whispering. “I do not doubt it, Donar.” When he looked up at her again, she disappeared. Red-Wolf gathered what he needed for a long journey, including weapons for hunting and protection. He went nowhere without them. In order to leave the Grey Area, he had to have permission from Lord Maximaniac himself. It would not be easy, Red-Wolf thought, but neither would be finding his family again. Swallowing the nervous lump in his throat, Red-Wolf Moondancer, former Warrior with the Dominionite Army, walked toward the Lord and Lady’s thrones. Lord Maximaniac was deep in discussion with one of his delegates when he approached. When he knelt in front of his Lord, the short-sword scraped on the hard floor, startling Maximaniac. “My Lord Maximaniac, I am Red-Wolf Moondancer, former Dominionite Warrior sent to this realm for rehabilitation.” Red-Wolf started, not meeting his Lord’s eyes. “I wish you grant me permission to leave the Grey Area on a journey I must take.”
“Rise, Red-Wolf Moondancer.” Lord Maximaniac’s voice was kind. “Tell me why I should grant such a request?” Red-Wolf stood, now meeting his Lord’s eyes. “I have found my family, and wish to free them from the Underground.” Maximaniac stood from his throne after waving the delegate away. He stepped down to face the pup. The ex-Warrior pup who used to fight with the Master himself. “Do you know where the Underground is, Red-Wolf?” Maximaniac asked. Red-Wolf shook his head no. “Nay, my Lord, which is why I want to find it.” Maximaniac stroked his human chin, his grey eyes on the pup. “I know of your experience in survival arts, which is why I grant your leave.” Red-Wolf smiled, relieved. “But, you will not go alone, under any circumstances.” Maximaniac commented. “Is that clear, Red-Wolf Moondancer?” Red-Wolf bowed his head. “Aye, my Lord.” “Relax. I will send you to the best Companion for the job.” Maximaniac replied, allowing Red-Wolf to relax once again. “Who, my Lord Maximaniac?” “His name is Sire Wolfton Stargazer.” Maximaniac told him. Wolfton? “Wolf!” The pup’s eyes flashed at the name. “Aye, but with him no longer a Warrior such as yourself, he was given land of his own to rule.” Maximaniac explained. “He and Lady Katherine live in the Canine Valley.” Another name he remembered from the Wars. “Katherine Hawk? A Lady?” Red-Wolf was incredulous. “Is she not one of Orthos’ nieces, though? How could she be the royal title of Lady?” “Although it is unfortunate she is the Master’s niece, she is also a Mystic.” “Who is her mother?” “None other than Queen Lady Mystica of the Epsilon.” Maximaniac told him. “If you wish to begin your search, go to the Canine Valley, nearly hidden in the Mystic Province.” The new knowledge made Red-Wolf’s head spin. “What if he does not remember me? Or if he does not wish to help me?” “I assure you, pup, Wolf will remember you.” Maximaniac clapped him on the back, startling him. “As for helping you, he is bound to it by the Crusader Oath.” “‘To help those in need, whenever deemed.’” Red-Wolf quoted. “Maybe someday, I will be a Companion Crusader.” “I do not doubt it for a minute.” Lord Maximaniac bid him farewell and sent him on his way. Red-Wolf began his journey to the Canine Valley. It didn’t take long, using his memories from the Wars. Soon, he was deep in the dark forest of the Canine Woods. He could smell venison cooking on a nearby fire, and his stomach ached for a taste. As he stepped closer, he heard something behind him. Grasping his bow from his back, Red-Wolf was armed and ready for anything. The noise came from the top of a nearby tree. He stood poised in case whatever it was decided to jump him. Just as he had thought, whatever it was jumped out of the tree and toppled him to the ground. His bow was thrown out of reach by some strange, unknown power. He wanted to get it, but the attacker’s weight held him down.
“Who sent you?” The attacker’s voice growled, making Red-Wolf face him. Around his neck hung a charm from the Mistresses, which gave him the power of speed and agility. He could faintly make out the face. A wolf-man’s face he’d known years before. Red-Wolf stayed silent, but a hand grasped at his throat, nearly choking him. “Lord Maximaniac of the Grey Area.” He choked. With one swift move, he grabbed his attacker’s hand and threw him across the dirt. This enabled Red-Wolf to stand and grab his bow, putting it away before confronting his attacker. The attacker spat the mud out of his mouth, stumbling to stand. Obviously defeated, he sat on the ground, rubbing his jaw. “Believe it or not, I came in peace.” Red-Wolf replied, lending the stranger a hand up. “If you come in peace, why bring weapons of war?” The attacker coughed up blood when he caught his breath, spitting it to the ground. “For a journey I am on.” Red-Wolf supplied. “You could at least greet a former Warrior brother with a handshake instead of attacking him.” It took a moment, but his attacker, the renowned Sire Wolfton Stargazer, regained his senses. The two wolves stared at each other. Wolfton, commonly known as Wolf, stood slowly, grasping Red-Wolf’s hand. Red-Wolf helped his old friend off the dirty ground. “Sorry about that, but old habits die hard.” Wolf replied. “Aye.” Red-Wolf agreed. “Do you remember me, Warrior Wolf?” Wolf shook his head. “Those days are over. I am no longer a Warrior, but a Companion Crusader.” He rubbed his jaw and looked at him. “I cannot say I remember you. Do not feel bad, I do not remember most about the Wars for Power, nor do I wish to.” “Understandable.” Red-Wolf found his belt pouch and pulled a homemade salve out of it. He took a fallen leaf and applied the salve on his friend’s wound. “I am Red-Wolf Moondancer, but you knew me as Red.” Wolf had to do a double-take. “Red?” He whispered, and his friend nodded. “It surely has been a long time!” “Not too long.” Red-Wolf supplied. “I was there when Lord Guardian and the Crusaders Exiled the Master.” “That was not long ago, indeed.” Wolf smiled as much as he could without showing pain. He wrapped an arm around his friend’s shoulder and led him out of the Woods. “Come. A lot has changed since the Crusades ended.” Before long, Red-Wolf had reunited with Katherine Hawk and met their daughter Celine. Katherine sensed the pain her canine husband was in and went to him. Red-Wolf watched as her hands turned colors on Wolf’s facial wound. Her eyes were closed until the colors stopped. When she removed her hands, the wound was gone. “There, all better now?” Katherine kissed the spot she’d healed, which made Wolf blush. “Aye, thank you.” Wolf replied. “Red has come to join us.” Red-Wolf was about to protest about joining them, but he was interrupted. “Red. Now, why does that name seem familiar?” Katherine asked, staring into RedWolf’s eyes. “I remember now. Red-Wolf Moondancer, is it?” He nodded, smelling the venison and licking his lips. His stomach rumbled. Katherine smiled at him, setting a place for him to eat at the table. Once Celine was sent away with her cousin Tiger-White, it was time for business.
“What took you so long to visit?” Katherine smiled as she asked. “The Wars and Crusades are long over, and there is peace once again in our world.” “I have come to ask Wolf to accompany me on a journey.” Red-Wolf explained the vision of his mother to the couple. Katherine was sitting by now, fascinated by the revelation. “If your family is still alive, surely that would mean yours as well, Wolf?” Wolf was deep in thought, thinking it over. “Aye, I will join you. I wish to know if my parents and brothers still live.” “Do you know where the Underground is?” Red-Wolf asked. Wolf shook his head, looking to Katherine. “Celeste told you Braken Joel knows?” Katherine replied. “The obvious choice would be to go to him.” “Where is he?” Red-Wolf and Wolf echoed. Katherine shrugged. “Can you not use the Mystic’s Empathy to find him?” Wolf asked her. “I guess, my love, but it would be difficult.” She answered. The canines stared at her. “I will try.” She promised, closing her eyes. Her frown turned into a smile when she opened them again. “That was easy. He is at the Feline Palace with Panther, Young Guardian, and Toby.” Red-Wolf knew Toby well, he was a tiger feline who also used to be a Warrior. He remembered Young Guardian, the Lord Guardian’s own successor. It would be the first time Red-Wolf ever met her in person. “Hurry you two, or you’ll miss them!” Katherine shooed them out once Wolf packed his gear. She kissed her husband’s lips. “Be careful, Wolfton Stargazer! You do not wish to miss the birth of your son!” The statement startled Wolf, but before he could question her, Katherine playfully shoved him and a laughing Red-Wolf out the door.
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