Dragons of Ethior
“The Birth of Lobo Lonewolf”
I woke in the late afternoon, eagerly anticipating the evening hunt. I was disappointed to find that the other hunters weren’t gathered at the forest edge. The chatter of the pack indicated that the elders had called a council. The interlopers were congregating on our borders; an act of war to my people. My father called out to me, his frantic baying insisted I use haste. Racing to the hill that overlooked our southern border I found he and my mother engaged in an emotional discussion.
“Where will he go, Lupis?” I overheard her say.
“He will find his way, Ipe,” my father replied. “He would prove himself valiant on the front, but I cannot see our line ended here tonight.”
“Father?” I spoke up, startling them both. “I smell trouble on the wind. Is our time come at last?”
“Not now, but soon,” he said.
I looked down the slope towards the South boundary. The other hunters and warriors were setting up a defensive formation at the perimeter.
“I should make for the front. Our doom seems closer than your words belie, father.”
“No!” he said sternly, “You will not taste of this battle.”
“But father!” I retorted, “I am a hunt-captain! Even the cubs are joining the line. Surely I am needed there.”
My mother began to whimper and weep, her whiskers twitching wildly.
“We have a very important task for you, Lobo,” she spoke softly. “You must head south to the Razorclaw settlement. They must be warned. Find your grandmother. She will ensure your safety”
My grandmother was the chief elder of the Razorclaw pride and the wisest of their breed. She had never really approved of her daughter’s union with a Longtooth, but in time she came to accept my father. He too was the progeny of a pack-leader. Their wedding helped to quell the growing tension between the two tribes, though some still harbored animosities for their rivals. I hated to see my mother cry, as did my father by the anguish in his eye.
“As you wish,” I spoke, “I will fly swifter than arrows beneath the tall shadows of the Netherwood, but when I reach Talonheart village and inform them of their peril I will return at once to the Fangfen Marsh. I cannot abandon my home to such misdeeds as the vile Dragonkin and their Kobold host might wreak upon it.”
My father’s expression turned grave as he tried to say, “You mustn’t. Only sorrow will you find if you return to Fangfen tonight. It is enough to hope that your Razorclaw kin do not meet our same fate. Please, son…”
“Rest assured, father,” I interrupted, “In this matter I cannot be swayed.”
I bowed low to my parents. They seemed still so noble in our darkest hour. Standing, I embraced them closely, gently nuzzling the fine fur atop my mother’s head.
“I will return,” I said, punctuating the phrase with the loudest howl any Longtooth had ever uttered. A long, low howl came up in response from the hunters below. In one swift, singular motion I leapt from my parents’ side and assumed a wolf-form. The run through Netherwood passed in a flash, now only a distant memory. The northwind cast foul odors over my shoulders as I ran, a noxious, unmistakeably acidic smell blended with the stench of Kobold sweat.
I arrived at Talonheart just after nightfall. Lady Sehanine’s silver halo had only just begun to rise above the Ashmount range in the distance. As I approached the settlement, one of the border guards greeted me.
“Hail, Lobo of Fangfen! We’ve been expecting you,” he said. I was startled by the fact that he recognized me in my wolfshape and ever moreso that I was expected. I shifted quickly into my natural form. “Your grandmother needs you,” he continued. “She took ill yesterday after her daily divination.”
I did not wait to let him finish, but ran with all the speed that was left in me. As I entered her den, I saw her lying flat on a bed. A cleric of the pride muttered prayers at her side. I knelt by her bed, saying, “Elder Feylyn, I have come with dire news.” Her eyes opened slowly in response to my voice.
“L…Lobo?” she began. “I know why you have come. The fell Dragonkin are upon us. I have seen the eyes of their master, the one they call Sulveras. Even now his piercing gaze stabs at my soul.”
“Then I have journeyed far for naught,” I said.
“No,” she replied, “Ipe and Lupis sent you for one reason alone; to spare your life that you might one day exact vengeance upon the villains that have worked their evil purpose on your people.”
Some force weighed suddenly heavy upon my heart. For a moment I could hear the faint cries of my kinfolk carried on the evening breeze. I felt the cold hand of fate pushing me, though I knew not where.
“I am sorry, grandmother. I must away,” I said.
“Lobo, I am not long for this world. I beg you remain until the dark arts of the black fiend have taken their toll.”
“But, elder…” I started.
“I have something for you, Lobo, my only heir,” she spoke. “It was your mother’s; a souvenir from her first hunt.” She reached into a pocket at her side and pulled out a long silver chain. At the end of the chain was a white rabbit’s foot. “These are said to bring luck…May it…” she choked, each successive word becoming softer. “May it bring you luck when your own runs dry. My time is up, young one. I can feel the grim spirit of the black master pressing on my very being. Good luck, Lobo. Keep the spirit of your ancestors within you and you will find your way.”
With that she closed her eyes and passed from life but never from memory. The wailing that ensued could be heard for miles even as I passed back through the Netherwood. As I drew closer to Fangfen the forest grew deathly silet. Nothing scurried beneath the leaves. Nothing flew beneath the clouds. The wind itself had died; an ill-omen if ever there had been one. The faint reflection of a dragon-eye could be seen on Sehanine’s shining face, taunting me. Undaunted I pressed on with all the speed I could muster. The rabbit’s foot swung swiftly on the chain at my neck as I ran, reminding me why I must make haste.
At last I came upon a scene of unspeakable sorrow. Not a single soul of my pack remained among the living. Their bodies, mangled and twisted and unrecognizable, lay strewn about the village. If my parents were among them I could not identify their remains. What became of the Dragonkin army and their Kobold slaves I could not tell, though their losses were surely great. I resolved to track them down, but their scent disappeared somewhere near Winterhaven, some fifty miles to the North. There I sat, watching Lady Sehanine wheeling her steady course through the black of the night sky. I pawed at the necklace my grandmother had given me, its soft fur reminding me of my mother’s. I would never forget the smell of dead Kobold nor the shape of that wicked eye gleaming at me in the darkness.
Thus was born Lobo Lonewolf, spirit of vengeance, enemy of Sulveras the black.