The Wolf King Waits

In the woods, dark and deep, past the craggy peaks of le Piton Désolé, lies a lonely, crumbling castle from ages past.

In the throne room sits the stately figure of the Wolf King, his hoary beard pressed to his chest, his head bowed, sleeping the sleep of ages. On his finger he wears his signet, and on his head his crown.

He has been here for centuries, waiting for someone pure of heart to break the curse placed upon him by the Court of Mab.

This pure-hearted warrior approaches now.

You have traveled long and far to find this land. Hear the galloping of your mighty steed, and the thwicker-thwack of your vorpal blade slicing through the underbrush. Your sword, gifted to you by a fox in your travels, seems to glow under the gibbous moon. It tears through the thorny vines, while in the shadows of the wood, hundreds of eyes watch your every move.

In the distance, a wolf howls. You hear your blood racing in your veins, pounding in your ears. The wind changes. You are getting closer.

Not long ago you were simply a youngling on your travels, searching for your destiny. Do you remember? You were walking, in a faraway wood not unlike this one, following the sound of the river. When you heard it—a piteous moan, strangely human.

“Hello? Who’s there?” you asked.

“Help! Oh, help!” the voice cried. “I’m trapped!”

You followed the sound and lo and behold, found a fox with its leg caught in a trap. “Oh help me!” he cried to you. “I will give you many treasures in return if you will help me.”

“I have no need of treasure,” you said.

“Then riches! Wine! Women! Song!” He grew more desperate by the breath.

You knelt beside him and gently pried the trap open. “None of these things I want,” you told him. “A good deed is its own reward.”

“O pure of heart,” he cried. He licked your face in gratitude. “Take this on your travels”—and he gave you a sword, and a mighty black steed—”and know that in the deep dark wood there lies the King of Wolves who waits for you to rescue him from his thousand-year sleep. Go, and you will be rewarded far more handsomely than I could ever repay you!”

“I want no payment,” you said again. But seeking adventure, you went to find this castle—and this King of Wolves.

So now here you are, and there the castle is, and all is quiet. Perhaps too quiet in this enchanted glade, where not even one cicada stirs. No night birds. Not even the wind.

You walk into the castle and find the Wolf King on his throne, covered with cobwebs and creeping vines. And you speak to him. “Wolf King,” you say to the quiet. “I have come to save you.”

Suddenly, a whisper fills the throne room. My ring, child. Take my ring.

You see the signet with its eyes glowing red on his pointer finger.

Take my ring and wear it, and break the spell.

“No!” A warning shout fills the throne room—too late! You have already taken the ring from the King’s finger. The Wolf King rises. The voice that cried “no” fills your head.

“You fool!” it shrieks. “Run!

His signet ring still curled in your fist, you run towards your faithful steed. It picks you up, it gallops away with you. Behind you, you hear the mocking laughter of the Wolf King, joined in by a chorus of howling wolves and a chittering fox.

As you ride, above you, the sky darkens, as the moon wanes into a deadly crescent, a skull-shaped cloud cradled in its hollow.

Following close beside your galloping horse is a little green firefly, buzzing in your ear. “You fool, you fool!” it says. “You’ve released him! You’ve doomed us all!”

What have you done? Find out in our next installment.

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