Jackson's post about the History of the Blackwood Pack will appear next.
The story of the Dire Wolf Treasure begins a long time ago when a young Dire Wolf, Rannulf, was rejected by his father after his mother died giving birth to him. Distraught over the loss of his mate, his father could not bring himself to love his son—and blamed Rannulf for her death. Nannies were hired to take care of Rannulf as he grew up but his father’s harsh treatment of the them drove each to leave after a short period of time. None was there long enough to form a bond with young Rannulf and he never received the love he craved.
As a child living in his father’s loveless house, Rannulf sought
happiness elsewhere. Mice, snakes, rabbits—it didn’t matter who or what they were, he made friends with them all and learned to keep it a secret. But he lost his friends when his father banished him to a boarding school.
Once there, he studied hard and got top marks, hoping to impress his father with his diligence. But year after year, his father ignored him and never allowed Rannulf to come home, even during the holidays. During summer vacation, when other boys were having fun running in the forest or howling at the full moon, he was denied the joys that every Dire Wolf pup is heir to.
Still, he was a loving and giving child. Rannulf shifted in his room, he stared at the full moon and he prayed to the gods to show his father what a good son he was. But despite his pleas, nothing changed. On the day he became an adult, his father stopped paying his tuition and he was forced to leave school, taking only a small suitcase holding the few clothes he owned and a few keepsakes he had managed to collect.
As he left the school grounds and walked through the gate, he was handed an envelope. Clutching it in his hand, he took a few more steps before the gates were slammed behind him. He turned and looked at the school, his only home for so many years and felt fear trickling through his body. Where was he supposed to go now?
Stepping to the side of the road, Rannulf opened the envelope, expecting to see a ticket home or at least some money. Instead, it finally revealed his father’s hatred toward him. Rannulf’s hands started to shake as he read the letter. His father had legally stripped him of his name, stricken his birth from the record, and had connived to have him banished from all Dire Wolf packs including his own.
You might think these would be the most terrible things to happen to him. But they weren’t. Worse yet, was that it doomed him to make his way in the human world and back then, it could be a fate worse than death. Today, we wolf shifters move freely in that world and have learned through the years how to conceal our identities. But it was very different when Rannulf lived.
The young wolf had two choices that early summer day—find someplace to hide until loneliness took his life or go into the human world and learn how to survive in a hostile environment. He chose the human world. That nearly killed him. Rannulf had no skills as either a wolf or a man. Both had been stripped from him during childhood. But by sheer grit, he eked out a living those first few years and by sleeping wherever he could, stealing food and taking jobs—no matter how menial they were—he was able to save enough to begin to live decently.
Still, he was forced to keep his wolf hidden—no shifting at any time—and when the full moon called to him, he went deep into the forest and hid in a dark cave so the light of the full moon would never reach his eyes. As years went on, Rannulf began to prosper. Through the years, he discovered he had a knack for buying property at the right time and for a low price. He’d come a long way from those first few years when he was hungry more often than not.
One day, he saw a beautiful young human woman walking at the side of the road carrying a basket of apples. By now he was what humans would call middle aged but being a wolf he looked like a young man of thirty. No one kept track of birthdays back then—they were too busy surviving. He stopped his carriage and asked the lady if she wanted a ride.
She accepted and climbed in. Gwenna—that was her name— lived in the country and she was in town because her father was too ill to come that day. Rannulf slowed his horses to a walk and fell in love with her that afternoon as they chatted about anything and everything. He was so enamored with her, he bought all her apples and gave her a ride home. He wanted to meet her parents and seek their approval to court their enchanting daughter.
Gwenna had also fallen into love, and that evening she begged her parents to allow Rannulf to court her. They granted her request and a
jubilant Gwenna told her suitor the good news the next day when he returned for an answer. Thanking her parents, he swore to them he would always protect her from harm.
Rannulf had finally found someone who loved him and they were married a year later. He was the happiest he’d even been. Married life was everything Rannulf hoped for all those long and lonely nights during his childhood. He spoiled Gwenna gladly because she not only wanted his love but cherished it and returned it tenfold. The next few years were idyllic and all memories of his dark life before faded under the bright light Gwenna brought to his world.
The day she told Rannulf she was pregnant he hugged and kissed her and vowed he would treat their child with love and affection. But his isolated youth gave him no knowledge of childbirth or the extreme danger of a human carrying a Dire Wolf pup. Ignorance, though, was bliss and the next few months were happy ones as Gwenna grew larger and larger.
Her labor started when she was six months along. Crying and panicked, she begged Rannulf to get a doctor to stop the labor. She knew it was too soon and that her baby would die if she gave birth now. The maid was sent to fetch the doctor and Rannulf held his wife close to him, whispering words of love to her. Gwenna was hysterical with pain by the time the doctor arrived. Ordering Rannulf out of the room, the doctor locked the door leaving the frantic father-to-be alone.
He paced, he pounded the door, yelled for his wife, yet he heard nothing. Gwenna died giving birth and her child followed her within minutes. There was nothing the doctor could do. Not willing to wait a second more, Rannulf kicked open the door and took in the scene.
Falling to his knees, he lifted his head and opened his mouth, howling long and loudly, the song of a Dire Wolf’s grief. His wolf’s voice had escaped and would no longer be silent. The doctor fled. Through the night, the long, lonely night, whatever was left of Rannulf’s heart left him until all that remained was a bitter hollow shell.
From then on, he wanted to make everyone suffer as he had and used the only power he had—money. He raised rents, evicted poor families who couldn’t afford the increases and began to wear a perpetual scowl until it became permanent. His name was known far and wide as the meanest, stingiest, cruelest person alive. He became a recluse, living alone in his mansion, his clerk running his affairs while he sat day after day, counting his profits.
Years passed and eventually Rannulf’s life was coming to an end. By then he was the richest wolf in the world— and probably one of the richest humans, too. But his wealth could not save him from death and when he finally became too weak to get out of bed, he hired a nurse to care for him. At first, he shouted and ordered her around. But she stood up to him and eventually got his grudging respect.
The days turned to weeks, then months and still he lingered. Their conversations became enjoyable; he would wake and look forward to their time together.
One dreary winter evening, as the winds howled around this house clattering the shutters, he told her who he was and what he was. Instead of fleeing in fear, she astounded him by revealing that she knew his secret.
How did she know, he asked, and she told him the Fates had sent her to save him from the fires of hell. A tear ran down his cheek and he trembled. Why would they care now when they hadn’t cared about his lonely childhood or the death of his wife and child?
She told him the Fates were powerless to make his father love him and that his wife was doomed the moment she became pregnant with a Dire Wolf pup—those were the laws of nature. But the Fates could help him avoid an afterlife of pain and suffering and reunite him with his wife and son.
He broke down and cried for his wife, for their son, for himself and for the life he’d wasted. The angel held him all night as tears streamed from his eyes and years of sorrow, hate and revenge drained from his soul. Finally, as dawn broke and he made peace with himself, his crying stopped. The room grew silent. He held the angel’s hand and realized his riches were worth nothing compared to the kindness she had shown. He offered his fortune to her.
Smiling, she told him she was an angel and had no need of earthly treasure but there might be some other use for it. With his fading sight he thought he saw her wings and, realizing the end was near, he asked her what she meant. His fortune, she proposed, could be used to help all wolf shifters no matter who they were—boys needing a home, jobs for those who had no work and medical care for mothers-to-be.
Rannulf realized that any of these might have changed the unhappy course of his life. He gave her a gentle smile and said “Yes, that sounds perfect.” And so when the Angel of Death claimed him later that day, his fortune was ceded to the Fates to make sure it was used for good. It became known as the Dire Wolf Treasure and through the years it has continued to do all the things Rannulf wanted it to do—and more.