The next few weeks were very tense and exciting experience; I was waiting for the rest of the members of my pack to show up. That first day Rea took me to what is referred to as the Den, where all the new pups live while they wait for their new kin to arrive. I was the first to arrive and settled in, the room was a modestly sized box with a total of 5 beds each of which had a small chest tucked underneath. There was a door on one side that lead to a communal bathing chamber, complete with baths and chamber pots. I was free to explore the academy during my time here but there was only one portion of these fabled halls I wanted to see. My first day as a pup I wandered the halls until I was completely lost, sheepishly I asked a passing maid where the library was. While looking flustered and like she was already done speaking she called directions to me as she bustled off in the direction I came.
I rushed through the halls trying to remember her instructions as best I could. Suddenly after turning a corner I was met with an enormous set of doors. I struggled to push one open but managed enough to fit my small body through. The first thing I noticed on entering the room was that it seemed too big for the rest of the castle, and it indeed is, it's one of 10 magically enlarged rooms in the castle. The rooms ceiling raised 4 additional levels and looking into the large circular room I could see every inch of the wall was covered in bookcases. There extremely large bookcases on the ground as well and navigated my way through the of books until I made it to a large circular desk in the center of the room. The desk was made of a rich mahogany wood and had stacks of books atop it, in-between a midst of books and what looked like scholars taking and sorting books, was a stumpy man sitting at the desk. His name is Miago and he is the master curator to this day. After I had gotten over the initial shock of seeing a Dwarf, for the first time in my life, sitting behind the desk calling orders to hurrying scholars I sheepishly walked up to the desk to speak with the man. Miago is a very, eccentric man. He looked down on me from atop his perch at the desk, his eyes bulging a little in the lenses of his glasses. Peering down at me for longer than would be considered natural, as if he were an eagle watching a louse in a field, we met eyes and he smiled and burst out “Ah! It seems we have a new pup in our midst! How can I help you young man? Did you get lost looking for the sparring yard?” I explained how I was looking for the library as I loved books more than anything and was hoping to read about the history of the Academy. The man's eyes shown, he told me to come around the desk and sat me down next to him. He explained how the library system here worked and what all the Scholars were doing around us. The scholars were White Wolves in training, and they were taking the returned books back to their designated areas. He then went into a length chat about the procedure of the library “The library is divided into segments, each segment contains books in a particular category, these segments are then divided further into more subjects pertaining to the master one. If a wolf or trainee wants to take a book they come to me, if they know the name or writer of the book we can find it for them faster but we can also go off of the requirements the borrower has and determine a suitable book by its genres. Once we have found the book in my ledger, we look at the marking next to it and I will tell one of the juveniles to fetch the book that has the corresponding marking on it. Each and every book in this room has a rune imprinted into it, by myself, when a book is borrowed I will activate the rune and the Wolf has two months to return it here or the book will lock shut and at that point it's better as a paper weight until I unlock it.” I asked what if someone just removed the rune from the book. He explained that while he isn't particularly the strongest Drawer, he is very proficient when it comes to Soul Qi and created the rune and effects himself. In a hushed voice he explained how all the runes are decoys and there is a rune in his ledger that links to the markings in the ledger and the corresponding one on the book. By pressing the one in the ledger and drawing a small amount of soul qi it releases the rune and allows the book to be opened for a short time period. We spoke for a few hours, mainly about each other's favourite types of books, I confessed ones about daring adventures like “The tales of Deumon the Dread pirate” were my favourite thing to read. I blushed after admitting it, how could I confess something like that to a high-ranking Wolf. He looked at me knowingly and told me in a carrying voice “Adventure stories eh? I personally don't read them. No, a good love story is what I like. Never be ashamed of what you read boy; I happen to know Elder Tom is partial to reading books about children's stories. No one will think any less of you for enjoying a good adventure tale.”
I smiled up at him and stood up from the chair getting ready to leave. Before I could finish standing, he clicked his fingers and a girl, who I would guess is four years my senior brought over a small stack of books. She smiled at me warmly as she set them down on the desk, gave a small curtsey to Miago that he brushed off , and went back to her work.
“You said you wanted to learn about our history? Well here you go lad, these books will tell you it all, the good and bad aspects.” I thanked him as I picked up the stack of books and took them back to the Den. When I walked through the door there were two additional people in the room…
There was a slender, frail looking boy sitting on a bed rubbing a sword with a whet stone, despite his slender frame I could tell by the way he was rubbing the sword he knew how to use the thing. He stood up as I entered the room and came over to shake my hand, his name was Michelle and he spoke with an accent from the far north. When I enquired about it, he seemed startled and said he was from a small fishing village in the east of Rathak. There was something about that I just didn't believe, his clothes that's what threw it off. They were far too fine to be from a simple villager, I didn't press the matter however, we all came here for something, maybe he was a Lord’s serving boy wanting a fresh start. In the moments I was pondering the other person in the room got up and came over to us.
Tealum was a short girl, shorter than me and that was a challenge. She didn't look young however, her ebony skin and small muscular stature made her seem a few years older than us all. She shook my hand and I was surprised by an accent I had never heard before. She explained that she was from a small clan located deep within the Karancha Desert, unfortunately due to this according to her father the last outside to visit was decades previously. That was until the Wolf that found her wandered through her village near death of dehydration.
We cleared an area on the floor of our possessions and spent the remainder of the day getting to know each other. Tealum had three older brothers and recently lost her only sister on a hunting trip, the Karancha youths start off on a hard route in life. They’re taught to hunt and track the moment they can use a spear. Tealum’s sister, Willa was bitten by a Sand Striker, a very venomous breed of desert viper. The Wolf that brought her was traveling through the desert when his cargo train was ambushed by a tribe and he lost most of his provisions. He killed most of the attackers but some escaped and in the midst of the battle, managed to topple his water wagon. He lost most of his drinking water. He made it to our village partly carried by his wolf, a beautiful Snowy white wolf. Luckily, he didn't need as much water as his partner, they cut his fur to help in the heat before entering the desert and the white of his fur helped to cool him down. They helped them get back on their feet and they stayed with her tribe for a while and started to take an interest in her. The night before he departed to go back south, he asked to speak with her family and explained how he could sense her ability to Draw. Tealum's parents were hesitant to let her come but she managed to convinced them to let her go with him. They left the next morning for the Academy. A few hours passed with Tealum telling us about her journey and what her Wolf had told her would await her here, it was nothing of consequence however, I can only remember the faintest of details about the more exciting portions; something about a large beast on the border of Burana.
Michelle was a bit less forthcoming in his story. He told us that the Wolf who found him was just passing through their village, he spoke to his parents immediately and ask them to allow him to go to the Academy. Michelle's parents refused to let him come, they would need him there to learn to take over for his father when he passed, keep the family running. He left that night and found the Wolf at the tavern, they got on the next ship south and hopped ships all the way to the Burana Swamps where a week ride got them to the Academy. “Our second night on the ship Belanny, the Wolf who brought me, told me he knew I was going to come and find him that night, something about a gleam in my eye the moment he was brought to me.” he trailed off at that moment and I felt like Michelle was still hiding… something.
The next week went by in a blur, we explored the Academy and met some of the other Wolf packs. Halfway through the next week Barran and Layene arrived.
Barran was a large, plump boy. It was as if he never lost the fat all babies are born with. He and Layene arrived together. A wolf had found Barran and as she was bringing him to the Academy, they had met Layene. Barran was the son of a book merchant, and we grew to be close friends. I love all my pack we are a family, even now after years apart and losses along the way. However, Barran, was like me, we both were boys who loved books and learning. Michelle was a man of action, he was intelligent, but his talents lied with the sword, it's no surprise he chose the Black Wolves. Then there was the story of Layene…
Layene, was to this day one of the greatest friends I ever made at the Academy. We all loved each other like family, Layene however, she was something special.
A boisterous girl from the capital of Ra’Isha, taller than us all even at the age of eight she looked years older than she really was. She met Barran and the Wolf that brought them, Abigail I believe her name was, as they passed through Solivity. Abigail was reluctant to take two trainees at once, I didn't know it then but a Wolf traveling with one child is often paramount to suspicion and dangerous, they tend to attract more trouble. Layene was a stubborn girl, hell she is a stubborn woman as well; she followed the pair for two days, at a distance, until Abigail agreed to escort the both of them. They had to take a bit of a longer route now the party was four instead of three mainly through forests than on the main roads. Bandits, deserters and Rah’s Peacekeepers* frequented the main roadways. They eventually made it to the Academy and that meant one thing. Our pack was now complete, and we could finally start our training. The night they arrived I doubt any of us slept, I know I didn't, my stomach was twisting with nerves. I had finally started; I was going to be a Wolf.
*Rah’s Peacekeepers: a group of religious zealots that preach the word of Rah. They have a particular dislike for Wolves, feeling that only their high priests and the Gods themselves should possess the power of drawing.