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Die erste Königin

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This is not a tale the wolfcarls tell.

They do not tell of how a creature that was not quite a wolf, not quite something else, crossed wastes too cold even for caribou and polar bear, fleeing the crude and brutish men who feared and therefore hated her.

They do not tell of how she came down from the wastes to a forest, with her not-quite-wolf bones jutting sharp against her not-quite-else fur, and there found not only prey to fill her shrunken belly, but brethren to fill her empty heart.

They do not tell of how she grew strong, and in her strength discovered that she had inherited her mother's gift; of how she shaped herself to be more wolf than else, and ran with her new brethren in this snow-drifted land, which in those days was yet untouched by human hands.

They do not tell of the challenges against this strange-smelling newcomer; of how her greater cunning and wisdom made her, in time, first among all the wolves; of how she mated again and again with the males in that land, and gave birth to countless litters of pups -- some of whom were simple, and others vicious, but most of whom inherited their mother's cunning and wisdom, if not her gift for the alteration of flesh.

They do not tell the number of those pups, which was more than anyone, wolf or man, could count; for her life was long, far longer than that of her fellow wolves, if not a fraction so long as her mother's.

The wolfcarls tell instead of what came after: the men who dwelt in that land in later years, and the great strength and intelligence of the wolves they found there; the terrible trolls who shed so much blood, and the alliance forged between the minds and bodies of wolf and man, for the preservation of both against that threat. They tell of the great heroes of their wolfhealls, and the great battles those heroes fought; they tell of the dead, and the losses, and sometimes -- when the winter is cold, and the snow drifted high -- they drink, and tell of how they believe it will end, in chaos and desperation and blood.

But they do not tell of beginnings, because the wolfcarls do not know that tale.

This is a tale the konigenwolves tell, from mother to cub, passed down through the long generations from the earliest, frozen nights.