The wolves attacked our village again. Nobody knew where they came from and how many there were. Some said the pack counted over hundred wolves; some said there were much more since the other villages also reported brutal attacks. We decided to fight them so we formed a militia of Konian, Gratnian and Zarian men to drive the wolves away.
With nothing more than long spears, shields and a farewell, the militia went hunting. After a brief turmoil over the group being headless, Ildock was elected as our leader.
He hated the beasts the most, because he had lost his wife with a flock of sheep during the last attack. He used a staff to fend them off but a black wolf snatched his wife away. His iron will and focus was enough to give courage and drive the militia in pursuit for the roaming evil.
“I dream of killing the one who leads the pack, the one with the blue eyes, black fur and white teeth. The Aramon, I named him.” Ildock spoke distant in his thoughts. “Move out!” He gave orders and the hunters growled leaving the camp.
Even though the journey was hard, he pushed us further into the continent, spent nights listening for the howls and followed the footprints. For months we were late to the rescue, but our ranks grew in numbers when Ildock offered vengeance to those eager to kill wolves.
It gradually became clear that we were dealing with a mad man. Many times, he would walk out of the camp and howl at the moon; he pretended he was one of them. We started to question the real nature of his intentions. It was like he admired the beasts that killed his wife. There were days when he would just snap at the men who questioned his leadership, start a brawl and end it victorious.
He commanded respect and we followed him.
Our path brought us to the village center where women cries came grim behind the doors marked by claws. The previous night was bathed in blood; it was visible on the streets where motionless bodies lay. There were over twenty wolves laying in the corners, as big as calves, grey-furred; but none of them black.
“Skin them!” Ildock shouted, his steely eyes rising towards the peak of a volcano, a white cap on the top of a black mountain. “We are going that way!” He pointed his spear at the slopes of the old relic, barren and lonesome.
Without hesitation, the men skinned the wolves and threw the fur over their shoulders. The realm we were to enter was a limestone-made plateau with little vegetation near the granite rocks that formed the volcano. The ascent stretched our lines until we broke through and our feet landed on a yellow bushy meadow.
“Set up traps and build walls. This is our battlefield.” Ildock showed us the good spots to build our defenses and men got to work.
Camp fires and torches sparingly shed light in the dark night that followed. The Militia men changed shifts patrolling the area while Ildock huddled near the fire, listened to the silence. A howl got his attention and brought fear to others as the rest of the pack joined in a choir.
With a slight twist of his head, Ildock saw the full moon above him, an omen that spoke of battle to come. He pushed the dirt aside and scraped a handful of limestone powder. Ready for the fight, he ran his hand down his face painting it white. In one move he stood up, took his spear and looked over his men around the fires.
“Arm yourselves! Here they come!” Ildock raised the spear and men locked their weapons on the wooden fence.
Instantly the torches landed on the mounds of branches and soon the camp was lit. Flames danced outside the formations that made a circle with spearheads glistening in the light when specters started moving around.
The radiant eyes looked at Ildock. His enemy was there, waiting for him to make his move. Ildock froze in the moment to admire the enemy who personally came to face him. With a vociferous growl, the circle broke and the men charged at the wolves. Shouts, barks and gnashes lasted until the dawn leaving a few men barely standing, one of them being Ildock.
His pale face was half covered with ash and blood when the Sun peeped over the top of a volcano. He turned his head about and saw corpses of his men lying in the field alongside dead wolves – the whole pack and army, dead. Fires turned to smoke a long time ago and now there were just embers glowing in the white piles of burnt bushes. Sweat ran smearing the colors on his face while hard breaths counted seconds before the death.
He threw away what was left of his spear and took his knife. When Ildock opened his eyes again, he screamed at the black mountain before him with an echo bouncing in the distance. His vision fell on the wounded black wolf that was staring at him. Behind his enemy, a white she-wolf stepped up and looked at the desperate men in the meadow.
“You think you won?” Ildock frowned at the beast that slowly circled about. “I was close to losing my mind thinking about what you want from me. I see you did this for her. You just take, you never give. I envied you. You were always out of my reach. I know you now. I know everything about you.” Ildock even smiled at the beast that shone his teeth and bowed his head ready to launch itself at the much smaller human.
Not a man around Ildock had words because of the fear that froze their legs. Heavy panting and vigorous clutch on their weapons anticipated the attack when the beast dashed towards them and jumped at Ildock. The fangs took hold of Ildock’s left arm and rolled over our leader who plunged his knife in the black fur while falling.
The first spear broke inside the wolf’s back, when the she-wolf grabbed one of our men and threw him in the air. The second spear pierced the black wolf, and the third one ripped through his ribs. Ildock yelled in pain, but didn’t stop stabbing the beast that finally died, releasing its nasty jaws.
Whimpering for her lover, the she-wolf looked at us. She gnashed at Ildock, but didn’t dare attack and ran away. Ildock made a step screaming at her while the rest rejoiced the victory.
The life of battle took its toll changing the men who started believing they were wolves. They wore the wolf fur, behaved and even fought like those wild beasts. Too tired to return, the militia men waited for three days to recover when Ildock fell dead with a fever. They buried him in the tundra and made a huge fire where all of them danced and smeared limestone over their faces.
They could have gone back home, but they chose the life among the white cliffs near the volcano, made houses from granite rocks, made huge fires in the night to remember the beasts they slew and the beasts they’d become. Every night they celebrated the white ground they stepped on and the black rock that stuck out of it like fangs – they celebrated the white and the black wolf, howled at the moon – they celebrated the story of Ildock.