I had always heard the tales of the River Wolves, and how the rains were summoned for the spring from their icy winter’s breath. How their howls brought forth the winds, and how their eyes blocked out the divinations of the Barren Fates, keeping the Sable Army’s dark, eastern hand from clutching the Heart of the Dryad West.
I heard one story of how they were born from the corpses of native shaman, the auras of unfinished business, manifesting under the power of a Wolf Moon and their wild spirits running swiftly into winding rivers of the wood. Thus the River Wolves came to be, thus the wood came to be protected during the Ashen Times, when fire and war scorched and famished the West; the rivers pulsing life through the pinched Heart, and the River Wolves ready to bare teeth should threat come.
Once I asked Nana why the Green Age had ended, and if it had not, what would have become of the River Wolves existence. Would there be stories? Would the River Wolves have formed, if the Heart had remained pure and unthreatened? I remember her face, that of a forgotten realm, a look unrecognizable for us born in the time of Despondence. She took my hands, and gazed into my face, her eyes aglow and piercing in the lowering candlelight.
“It is the common belief that something cannot be derived from nothing. All things must come from somewhere, the cause and effect. The world moves, and the creatures change, and the new is birthed. An adaptation of life.’
“But, should you stretch your mind, imagine perhaps, that nothing changes, and everything just is. Should the world move, no adaptation is required, just a coming of fruition. Our Earth Mother has watched over us, and has planned, prepared, and studied, even as she was a simple seed inside her mother’s belly—the Universe. In this way, creation is to regeneration, and transformation. The cycle of rebirth. Think not of new things as new, but rather of something old coming again. Nothing truly changes, but becomes complete through a series of revivals.’
“Therefore the questioning of something not being, if time had taken a different turn, is a foolish thought for a Mystic, Jacquelyn. For a Mystic knows that things that are, are things that always have been. It is true, something cannot be derived from nothing. For all that is here, and has been here, shall always be, and always was. All is old, and in a way it is saying nothing is. Immortality is for all, we have all been everywhere, and possibly have seen everything. But it has been so long, so journeyous, that we all have a tendency to, and must forget.”
And in that moment, I felt the River Wolves, racing in the cooling luminosity of her blue eyes. I could see them, running through the wood, fur dancing like waves in the moonlight. Their breaths hot, their maws cold and dusted in the dirt, blood, and wet of the wild. The waning forest songs they sang that of a place that has always been, and their dog eyes bursting forth with the blue of the sea. The blue, the blue…
Nana then released my hands, turning back to her kitchen work.
That night, while my little sister slept, lost in her young dreams I crept from my bed, I slipped from the castle walls, and I went to the edge of the wood, to the field where the river ran through that cut my world from the wilderness. Without fear of being caught, or seen, I waded into the waters, feeling the sudden rush of the current rising ’round my bare legs. I thought of the River Wolves, and pictured them swimming down the shimmering movement of the river towards the high moon. And from my thoughts, came a breathless moment, as I felt a pelt of fur, race between my legs, and in a flurried turn—I looked to see!
But nothing came from my grasping stare. And for a time I felt sad, but then as a drop of wind brushed my cheek, a voice came to me in a soundless vision.
I danced that night in the river without fear or guilt as the moon sunk into the mountains and brought forth the shine of the sun. It was the beginning.