The Winds of Crowns and Wolves
The
earliness of the season meant that although the days were warm, the
nights would be very cold. He got as much of the blankets he was
provided wrapped around his body, and closed his eyes. He was
exhausted from the journey that he had been on, but somehow his
mind continued to be restless.
    It ran to thoughts of Rine back on the
beach, and then to a wolf. As he dozed off, the wolf had
infiltrated his unconscious. He slept, but inside his mind was
anything but relaxation and rest. He was taken outside the
encampment in an out of body experience. A few meters above the
ground, Neach hovered as he watched a bright green and orange wolf
slowly circle the area where he lay.
    Unsure of its intentions, Neach felt warmth
overcome his soul. It seemed that the wolf was there to protect
both the old man, as well as Neach. For the first time in his
dreams of wolves, he did not feel afraid. His soul and his body
were at peace as they watched the animal prowl around the camp in
the middle of the forest. Its body was much like the last,
effervescent and vibrant. Its beauty was unparalleled by anything
else that Neach had seen in the forest earlier.
    All night long, this wolf laid its stake
around the area in a sort of securitizing measure to ensure that
the men remained safe within the hut. Around and around it went,
monotonously moving about, but with such grace that even in the
dark forest, the camp was alive with the glory of this majestic
animal. The first rays of sunlight fought their way through the
thick canopy above and the roof of the hut to strike the closed
eyes of Neach on his bedding. He awoke with a groan and he felt the
soreness that was present throughout his entire body. Nothing about
this morning was going to be easy, yet he knew he needed to rise at
this time to show the man that he was dedicated to learning more
about this mysterious book and the equally mysterious group of
people who had crafted it.
    With a roll to the left, Neach hoisted
himself upward and onto his feet. He rubbed his eyes in an attempt
to remove the fatigue from his face, but alas, it was to no avail.
Out of the hut he headed, and into the oncoming day he was
thrust.
    He was greeted by a wooden pail crashing
into the ground in front of him.
    “Fetch some water son, it’s going to be a
long day,” the man barked.
    Still groggy, but determined to fulfill the
man’s wish, Neach grabbed the bucket and headed for the stream that
ran near the encampment. Its clear, blue water sparkled in the
broken sunlight that fought its way through the treetops. It flowed
slowly, but with intention, directly into the mouth of the
expansive ocean that could be seen in the distance.
    Only minutes had passed before Neach had
returned to the presence of the man in the center of the cleared
space where he had spent the previous night. The man was pacing
back and forth in a fairly rapid manner, as if every step he took
offered a joule of energy through kinesthesia to his weary
mind.
    “My name is Fenris, and I, will be your,” he
paused, “teacher,” he finished.
    “You see I struggle with the word ‘teacher’,
because it is you who will ultimately teach yourself. The path set
forth for you is something that is not debatable, what is up to the
nature of the world is whether you choose to accept it,” Fenris
stated boldly.
    “As you enter this space every morning, know
that others have come before you, and others will come after you,
it is completely reliant upon your concentration and dedication
whether or not you succeed.”
    His words cut sharply through the cool
morning air and sliced at Neach’s bare, open mental flesh. Unsure
of what he was getting himself into, Neach treaded carefully, as if
every word he spoke had the potential to erupt with the fury of a
thousand volcanoes.
    “You say I have a path, yet I am unaware of
it,” Neach said.
    A chuckle broke the tension in the cool,
early spring air.
    “I have heard about you, boy, your

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