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"My brother," Var said. It was a strange concept to hear from a nomad. They, unlike either the so-called crazies or Soli's community hidden in the Mountain, counted no tie of siblings beyond childhood. Var, although hunched and ugly, had a man's growth and a man's name.

The wolf looked at Soli, his pale eyes gleaming. The wolf would be used to remaining outside a battle circle, as the circle was designated for combat of one man against another, provided no additional help or weapon.

Here at the mountain's height there was of course no marked-apart circle, but the wolf stayed near the edge, paws wide-set, for all the hours while Soli and the wolf's man fought at the center of the flat area. Fought to a standstill, until nightfall hid them from those far below.

When Var held Soli, sharing his warmth against the chill night, his wolf joined them in truce. The animal named as Var's brother was a soft bulk on her other side. His breath made a steady pattern near her closed eyes.

In the morning, the wolf would watch as Soli again fought his brother. Yet through the night, he and Var kept her warm.