Felton and the Wolf: Chapter VI
Felton squirmed a bit as he tried to take in the story. It had nothing on the Legend of Artie Squishell, that was for sure. It sounded like the myths he had studied in school, though he had never heard one quite so inventive.
“What is that?” he asked when Grandfather fell silent.
“Eh?” said Grandpaw, now lost in thought.
“What is the most wicked deed?”
“Ah,” said Grandfather, returning to himself and looking out across the stream. “Bridging the worlds through time.”
Felton blinked and tilted his head. “Er…bridging the worlds…through time?”
“Yes,” said Grandpaw, nodding. “You see, Felton, as I said, this world is not all there is. We are connected to a world much older than ours—even to Trounisia--much like a mirror’s image is connected to the mirror.”
Trying to cover both his skepticism and confusion, Felton asked, “But this land—Birchwood Valley and all the towns and the mountain—this isn’t Trounisia. This is earth. What does the legend have to do with us?”
Grandfather drew smoke from his pipe and continued. “As Traynon beheld the evil that Markanus wrought, and even as his strength was leaving him, he realized that dank corruption had now come into the world. And he knew that there was little he could do to stop Markarnus, for everything Traynon created was free or else he could not create it. Still, Traynon saw that something could be done to protect the world, or some world, from Markanus’s corruption. So before he died, he did one final great deed. He summoned his court about him and gathered his remaining strength into his arms. With that strength, he divided light from light and earth from earth…and time from time. From the very stuff of old Trounisia—its light, water, and earth—Traynon created a new world, made from the old. In this re-created world, time and life began again. It was partly tainted by the evil Markanus had already worked, but would be, Traynon hope, saved from the greater ravages yet to come upon Trounisia.
“It is this world that you see all about you. In this world of earth and the surrounding space of heaven, Traynon made time and life to begin again. He created the seas and the natural order all around us, animals and plants, then he gave dominion over this new kingdom to a new creature, which he called man. And now here we stand, in it. Trayon succeded. He saved us. But this is a world always on the brink, full of beauty yet touched by corruption.”
Felton looked down at the ground. How could any one ever believe this story? And even if one did believe it, how could any one ever know that it was true?
“Yes, I can see that you do not believe me.” Felton’s thoughts were interrupted and read by his Grandfather. He looked up to see the old fox staring down at him, smiling. “I can understand that,” Grandpaw continued. “But…” he leaned forward, looking Felton squarely in the face and dropping his voice to a whisper. “It’s all true.”
Grandfather began walking along the creek, and Felton, after a long moment, shook his head and scooted onto his haunches to catch up with him.
Without a side glance, the old fox continued, “Indeed, who knows how many worlds Traynon created…some say three, some say hundreds and thousands. Some say worlds unending. And some say that this, our world, is the only one he separated from Trounisia. Whatever the case, this world…” grandfather’s eyes floated in delight, his paws making wide circles in the air to highlight the beauty of trees and water around them, “stands back to back with Trounisia. There is a flow of energy and spirit between the two places, and our earth receives echoes from ancient Trounisia, across time and space in a way that renders both meaningless. The seas of Trounisia’s magic still ebb and flow, and they reach us here. That is what you felt when you looked at Mt. Bendleway. You felt the mystery of Trounisia flooding this, its daughter world, pulling you into itself like a wave, once it has crashed, rushes back out to sea and pulls you out with it. And yet, connected as the worlds are, we can’t speak of that land existing next to ours at all. Trounisia and its wars all happened beyond millions of years ago, if we are to speak of it in our years. But time is a funny thing. We could also say its wars are happening now. And, indeed, they are.”
“This is where the most evil deed comes in?” asked Felton.
“Very good, Felton,” said Grandfather. “That is exactly right. Never has the wolf been powerful enough to bridge the worlds. It takes a strength greater than you can imagine, and a power darker than you would want to consider, to overcome time itself. Yet that is the wolf’s aim. His goal is not just Elandor, the fourth and unfallen kingdom of Trounisia, but our world as well. Our world stands back to back with Trounisia, and if Markanus can wield his kingdom over that land—if he can conquer Elandor--he may be just powerful enough to…”
“To cross into this world,” concluded Felton.
“Exactly. And in fact, he has already begun trying. I do not know how he got that lair hound into Birchwood Valley, but I tell you it was not a creature of this earth that you saw. It took a tremendous amount of power and magic to send him, but send him Markanus did. If he grows stronger, and his strength is fed by power and the souls of those under it, he could become strong enough. Strong enough to cross into our world, and his army with him.”
After a long pause, Grandfather turned back to the creek. “Markanus draws strength from those he rules. From the souls he dominates. In our world, those who are ruled are held beneath the power of their rulers or, at the very least, under laws and governments, and perhaps it is this way in all lands and in all places. But in Trounisia, a world still seeping with the remnants of Traynon’s magic, it is more literally so. At their creation, Traynon imparted great power to the souls of Trounisians, and that power goes on. Those who are strong enough--and wicked enough--can siphon off strength and spirit from other souls in order to bolster their own strength. But they do it at the expense of those they steal from. It takes the light from the eyes of those so ruled and turns them blind to anything but subservience to Markanus. The wolf rules by fear alone, controlling the will of those under his sway. Once one has been blinded by his power, it is very difficult to escape, for though the darkness is great, one comes to love the power they feel from their captor, even if they themselves are captive.”
Felton felt a frustration which was like gnats flying around his mind, and concentration and listening was becoming almost impossible. He wished that he understood, but he did not. He had heard stories like this before. He had heard his father speak of legends around the fire, none as inventive as this one, but fantastic nonetheless. It was anger that arose in Felton as he began to ponder what he had heard. He began to think, then to suspect, then to conclude that his Grandpaw was crazy. It was the only solution that made sense.
They sat in long silence and Grandpaw, knowingly, said nothing. Finally he smiled and turned to his grandson. “You do not believe me. But you will. It has been appointed that you do.”
It was more than Felton could take. “How dare you speak to me like this!” His outburst surprised him, but he could not stop himself, his voice rising with emotion. “How dare you not even speak to me for all my life and then call me here to tell me legends. Stories! Why do you only care about me now that you think I’m somehow involved in all these things you believe? Wasn’t I—weren’t we, dad and mom and all of us--worth it before?”
Felton was storming away as Grandpaw called after him, “Felton—please stay. Felton!” Despite a torn desire to stop and return to the old fox, Felton could not. A few feet later he was crying warm tears that spilled down his fur. But he kept his pace quick and continued home without stopping.