Deep in their valley, the wolves sat in council in a snowy meadow surrounded by giant trees. Lupercalia, their leader, stood in the middle of a ring of black wolves, her larger size and the splash of red fur on her chest made her stand out. She had led the pack for many years, but now two of the strong young males were unhappy.
“We are starving here!” growled Convel. “There are no rabbits left! The squirrels stay high in the trees where we cannot get them, and the mountain sheep and the stags all fear us and have moved high among the crags where we cannot go because the ice and sharp rocks cut our feet!
“You are leader here, Lupercalia,” said Olcan. “You must change the Law of the Wolf for the good of the pack!”
But Lupercalia would not be swayed. “The Law of the Wolf has seen us through for generations,” she said. “Yes, we are hungry, but just wait a while longer and surely something good will happen.”
Olcan and Convel only grew more angry, for their hunger gnawed deep in their bellies. The young wolves growled menacingly.
“Come,” said Lupercalia, “We will hunt along the river bank. We have not hunted there since last week, and perhaps there’s still a rabbit or two that we’ll scare from hiding.”
The wolves walked in single file along the slippery bank until they came to a wider place where the water flowed more slowly, forming a deep, ice-covered pond. Suddenly, there on the other side, one of the wolves spotted movement.
“Look, a rabbit!” cried Convel.
“But it’s on the other side of the pond! We can’t get it!” said Olcan.
“Stay here, all of you,” said Lupercalia. “I am the leader, so the risk shall be mine. I will get this rabbit and bring it back for the pack!”
The big she-wolf crept out upon the frozen surface, but upon her fifth step — CRAAAACK — the ice broke under her weight and she fell through! She scrabbled furiously to get back to the bank, but the slow current carried her underneath the ice and away from the hole she’d made. The other wolves were afraid and didn’t know what to do, but at last Lupercalia’s struggling stopped, and all they could see was the red mark upon her chest, pressed hard against the ice.
“Ow-ooooooo. … Ow-ooooooo,” howled the wolves. “Lupercalia is dead! Ow-ooooooo. … Ow-ooooooo. Who will lead us now? Ow-ooooooo. … Ow-ooooooo.”
“I will lead,” said Convel. “I will lead, and I declare that the Law of the Wolf is abolished! And look,” he said, spotting the two families of gnomes walking down the hill, “Here comes our dinner!”
“Ow-ooooooo. … Ow-ooooooo. … Ow-ooooooo.”Click here and continue to Chapter Three