Image: Jeremy Weber (Flickr)
“Moving forward amid uncertainty,” said Gelgart to his son, “is the mark of a man.” “That goes for you too, my daughter,” he said winking at Geldar. “You’ll become like mum.”
The toothy grin of the little girl set his heart on fire. “My family I will protect,” he said later in the council, before a ring of twelve grim stubbled men, bent over their staffs. “It is not yet time,” said one, with a milk-white eye. “It is time for waiting,” said another by his elbow, white hairs growing from his arms.
“Now,” said Gelgart. “Now.”
The council turned him out.
He was walking back to his own village, rage and quiet anger within his breast, when he heard the whistle and beating gong, signifying a wolf attack. His feet struck earth, and arms found the bow at his back, and the feel of arrow feathers.
The wolf had mauled the village headman, leaving his torn body by the gate, and was prowling by the front door – his front door. He could see and hear the terrified cries and looks of his children inside – he was aware of them in his mind. His wife, he knew would be above, seeking a weapon, but also seeking calm for action.
He drew the arrow to his ear, felt the tension sing in the string, but then noted the other wolf faces appearing round the sides of his home. A pack.
His arms loosened just a little, as the cries of his dependents whistled through his brain. Out in the open. What would he do?