They Must Even Feed the Wolves
Posted: Posted August 8th, 2017 by elemtilas
They Must Even Feed the Wolves
For in those days there was a proud grey hare and he was called Guthro and he fancied himself quite the brave swordsman and a fine hunter to boot. And although he lived in a modest house, Guthro often rode out upon his old bay and fancied himself quite the lord of the hunt. Living not far away in his ancient stone castle in the deeps of the dark forest known as the Old Woods was a lord indeed, Isengrim, and he was king in those lands and lord of all wolves in the Woods. And on this fine spring day, it being the day of the new year, Isengrim rode out to hunt in the wide woods with his twelve closest friends. By chance, Guthro also happened to be out riding to hunt in the wide woods on that fine spring day of the young new year. As luck would have it, Guthro followed a trail deeper and deeper into the Woods until he was quite lost.
Guthro soon came across a broad clearing in the trees and in the distance, at the far edge of the clearing, he saw there a stag, standing as bold as brass. Said he to himself: “Ho now! I shall have a fine trophy for my hall and a feast to boot!” Of course, his hall was little more than a one room farm house, but he did love to pretend.
Little did Guthro know it, but across from his position and watching the same stag was none other than Isengrim and his twelve stout huntsmen. “The winter was quite hard as we all know,” said Isengrim. His friends nodded agreement, well recalling the unusually deep drifts of snow among the trees. “And though this stag is old and weak, he is the best we’ve seen in many days and we need to bring home more fresh meat.” His friends nodded again, for all knew that meals of late were slim pickings and the larders of many were nearly bare.
And so, as Isengrim and his twelve stout huntsmen readied their finely crafted and matching yew bows with their long arrows of ash, so Guthro got out his poor home made hawthorn bow and arrows of dogwood. As Isengrim and his twelve stout huntsmen nocked their ostrich fletched arrows of holly wood, so Guthro nocked his crow fletched arrow of humble dogwood. And as Isengrim and his twelve stout huntsmen took careful aim, so Guthro took careful aim. In that instant, the stag’s head lifted up, ears straining for some clue as to the source of his ill ease, and he paused as if listening for the arrows’ song of death. Too late did their song come to his ears, and too late did the stag think to spring away to the safety of the denser trees beyond the clearing, for in that same instant, as Isengrim and his twelve stout huntsmen let fly their impeccably straight arrows, so Guthro let fly his own crooked arrow. As arrows with keen bronze points coursed through the air from the bows of Isengrim and his twelve stout huntsemen, so did the humble glass tipped but well crafted arrow fly through the air from the bow of Guthro.
Twelve songbirds of death flew free and twelve deadly beaks pierced the stag’s flesh. Instantly he fell into the curved arms of mother Gea, his red blood flowing gushing from twelve wounds, pumping from severed veins, flowing across the dead and dry brown leaves of the yesteryear just past, bringing them no new life, heralding only the stag’s own passage from this world to another.
Then such a whooping and yammering as Guthro never heard before came from the jubilant wolves. He now knew that someone else was in the vicinity, but he knew not who. And now the mystery became revealed: twelve bold wolves, dressed in fine cloth of gold and silver the like of which Guthro in his homespun green cloak could scarce believe, came forth into the clearing, Isengrim at their head. Twelve mighty hunters and one pretentious hare dressed in his humble green approached the fallen stag.
Immediately a dispute broke out among the twelve stout huntsment as to whose arrow was the killing arrow. Each one claimed the kill, or else avered that if not himself, it must be bold Isengrim himself who delivered the fatal blow. Then stepped forth a curious old chap, a jackal and a far farer and a clever shaman in his own homeland. His name was Auwau and he wore a bizarre costume of bones and ears and claws of every kind of beast in the world. He lifted his right paw and the wolves fell silent. He stretched forth this same paw over the still warm and steaming carcass and began to chant quietly to himself. The paw began to tremble as it moved over the form of the stag. Auwau pulled the arrows one by one, examining each and naming its rightful owner, for as everyone knows, a good hunter always marks his arrows with his own colors of threads. To each one in turn he said: “Twas not yours that brought him death,” or perhaps “a bold stroke, but not deadly” or else “had he but remained still half a second longer...”
At last Auwau reached down and pulled out Isengrim’s arrow, stout and stained black as pitch. Even to Isengrim, king of all beasts of the Old Woods, Auwau said: “twas not yours that brought him death.” The twelve stout huntsmen began their dispute anew, for if none of their arrows killed the stag, how could it be he had fallen dead? What they could not see and what Auwau could was the homely fletchings of an unknown hunter’s arrow. In response to their questions and clamor, Auwau turned the beast from the side where he lay and then all could see it plain: a fourteenth arrow had pierced the stag’s body and buried itself into his very heart.
“An ugly and homely fletching I see now upon that arrow, lord Jackal,” said one of the hunter wolves. But Auwau would not reply at once. He stretched out his paw over the fourteenth arrow and began again to chant quietly to himself. The paw began to tremble anew and when Auwau pulled that arrow from deep within the body, the last of his blood flowed out and the jackal said: “I know not the keen hunter who sent this singer of death to its target, but I can say twas his arrow that brought him death.”
In that moment, all the huntsmen and Isengrim as well, turned towards Guthro, who had hitherto remained silent and was standing a little to the side, in utter awe of the mighty wolf hunters in all their finery and bearing their powerful weapons. He had heard nothing of what Auwau had said. No one had paid him any mind at first, but now all eyes were on him.
Auwau turned and passed by his lord Isengrim, placed a paw upon his horse’s shoulder, and whispered: “All is not lost. As you say, the stag is old and weak. Yet here stands a fat and healthy, if fearless, hare who constantly eyes the clothing and weapons of your huntsmen. He may yet be useful.”
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