The young wolf woke up in a haze. It memory was a bit foggy but his body condition felt abnormal. This was not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it was very good. This was the best he felt in a while. He began to stand up slowly and walk to the lake. He looked at himself in the reflection of the lake; his appearance greatly differed from what he perceived as normal.
His body been covered in dirt and grime ever since he left his cave. His fur was matted and knotted together. This turned his shade of fur to look a bit dustier, maybe rustic. This combined with his own blood and beast blood from him scavenging for food gave him a ferocious look. He also had wounds and scars that covered his body from running through thorny and vicious vegetation. Not to mention his fights from wandering caused him to give off a bloody and savage vibe.
He currently was fully healed. That was the first thing he noticed. His body felt brand new. The best thing was that certain parts of his body did not hurt when he moved. “This is the best I felt, ever.” He chuckled while licking his fur to clean himself. He did it almost unconsciously. This cleanliness gave him respite from her current situation. He looked up at the moon and stars shining down softly illuminating the land. The midnight sky was beautifully reflected off the surface of the lake.
The second thing he noticed was that his fur returned to the shade of when he still lived in that small cave with his mother. He remembered smell like a mix of jasmine and spring water. Her pure white fur was also something he inherited from her. She was so strong and majestic but always looked at him with the softest of eyes. Her eyes always gave him peace. She seemed to know everything. She would tell him random stories about how strong and smart his father was. She would speak about the world and some of the wonders while cleaning his fur.
The thing he remembered most was about was how passionate she would talk about wolf packs and their pack specifically. How they would roamed throughout the land unhindered and free. She would reminisce on when she would team up with his dad to take down stronger beast than themselves. Her expression would have a look of pride and sadness about his father who was the pack leader. He began to smile remembering the time he spent with his mother but it quickly disappeared.
He remembered all the times she left to go out for food and would not return for days. She always warned him to never leave the cave because it was dangerous. He remembered waiting for her to return. He was scared one of the dangers she spoke on would cause her not to return. The sun setting was one of his biggest fears. The darkness would envelop the surrounding hindering his vision which caused him to focus on the howls from the beast outside. The whistling of the wind combined with the unknown caused his fear to skyrocket. It would only settle when the sun would peak it head over the horizon and vanquish the darkness.
The worst was when his mom did not return home. She was gone longer than usual. That was the first time he ignored his mother orders and ventured outside. The first time he saw the vast sky was magical. The moon illuminated the forest and it wonders. He began to believe that his mom always left him to go out and have fun by herself.
While walking around, a few meters from the cave, he caught a familiar scent. He began to run to it. He wanted to hear more stories about the forest and the beautiful moon in the sky. As he got through a clearing of trees and bushes that scraped his fur, on the ground laid his mother eyes open with no color. In her mouth was the tasty boar he always loved but on top of her was vultures picking at her insides. Her lifeless eyes caused him to freeze before the vultures turned towards him and attacked.
Those colorless eyes and the helpless of when he ran away might be the biggest regret in his life. His first venture from the cave was both horrifying and magical. He been on the run ever since. The wolf snapped back to reality. He could smell the rotten flesh as he looked behind him. As he started to look around, he saw the tree with a few strange carcasses some meters behind and the lake in front. The ground on the lake shore was uneven and had craters over the surface.
He began to slowly sort together his hazy memories. He remembered the talk with that imposing and selfish alpha male. How he was hunted down like prey. This all happened while the main pack watched the process like it was entertainment. This caused him to seethe with rage. This was not all directed at the alpha wolf but also himself. If he was stronger; this would not have happened.
He then began to recall his determination to die as long as he quenched his thirst. How the water was the best thing he ever tasted before he drifted off in slumber. Something was off though. His wounds healed, his scars were gone, and his fur has not been this clean since the cave. Even if that water was so magical that it healed him from all his ailments, the monster that resides here should have killed him while he was sleep for stealing such a precious treasure. He was awoken from his thoughts when he saw a ripple across the lake. He took a few steps back and went on guard. Even if he cosigned himself to death, he would fight it to his dying breath.
He first saw a head pop up from the water, followed by a body. This was his first time seeing such a unique creature. It body looked like it was completely made up of water. It stood…rather floated on two legs above the lake instead of four. It did not appear to have fur to protect it from the elements or the environment. That was except for the long fur that came from what appeared to be the creature’s head. The furs that cascade directly from it head down it waist seem to differ from the pelts of animals and the feathers of bird. It was made of water but appeared to have a silky smooth appearance?
It appeared to be useless and would get in the way of combat he thought. It skin was completely exposed like a newborn. Its mouth was small and it teeth seem to be dull. A strange looking nose that greatly different than most beast he knew. At least it lay between its eyes and mouth like normal. The creature eyes were gentle and beautiful to stare at. The ears were on the side of it head and not the top. Strangely enough, he believed he saw this figure somewhere before. Before he awaken from his examination when the creature began to speak.
“You have finally awoken young one. My name is Autumn and I am the master of this lake. What reason have you visited my humble abode?” Autumn stated sweetly with a smile.
The wolf took a few steps back towards the huge tree behind him while staring at her. It appearance was strange and body parts seemed harmless and useless. But this being was a lot stronger than the wolf packs and the random creatures he encountered. He has not seen much of the world but the feeling in his gut told him to be afraid. That this creature was a monster that embodied strength he never felt before.
Autumn saw his reaction and smirked but she pressed on.
“What’s your name little one?” she asked.
The wolf began to howl but she couldn’t understand it. She knew a trick for this. She needed to get closer for this to work.
“You can understand the worlds tongue but cannot speak it. You truly are young or just transformed into a magical beast.” She smiled.
Autumn full body began to slowly come out the lake before she appeared in front of the wolf. She moved so fast in his eyes, she appeared to have teleported. She pressed her head to his before a thin thread like link formed before them that only Autumn could see. He was frozen in shock before jumping back and growled.
“What do you want?” The wolf growled out of reflex. He prepared himself to do a quick attack, then to run away with his life.
“I want to know your name. Is it that you do not have one little one?” she responded to his answer.
The wolf looked confused for a moment. He began to wonder why she would ask such an arbitrary question. Then he froze again. Why could she suddenly understand him? He stared up at her floating body in amazement. Only other wolves understood when he spoke before. He was now even more confuse, surprised but most importantly….afraid. What was this creature? He slowly began to answer while looking around.
“My mother named me Nanna. “ The wolf stated.
The woman chuckled hearing the name.
“It’s a beautiful name but seems a bit soft. Almost feminine.” She tilted her head and continued. “This was the complete opposite of your appearance a few hours ago.”
Nanna began to growl at her. He had a soft spot for things concerning his mother. She was the strongest and smartest person in his mind. He hated those who ridiculed anything about her. This was as small as her naming sense.
“I didn’t mean any disrespect. I actually love the name because it matches your pretty appearance. Your personality doesn’t seem like the pretty type though.” She laughed.
Nanna calm down a bit but still had his guard up. She was at least a lot more reasonable than that damn wolf. She began to ask another random question.
“Did you know that many names have meaning? They are very important in this world. That goes for your name as well. Do you know what the name Nanna means?” She asked.
Nanna looked at her curiously. He really wanted to know what it meant. His mother must have given him an awesome name, He thought.
“This baby wolf is so malnourished but so cute. It’s a male but it fur is almost white like snow.” She thought but didn’t voice her thoughts out loud.
“Nanna means beautiful moon in the world’s language. Your mother probably gave you that name after viewing your appearance. I believe you are a moonlight wolf also. It’s very fitting. I just wonder where she heard it from. Names are very important in this world.” She continued.
Nanna began to stick his chest out with some pride. Nanna didn’t know names had any meaning but he didn’t doubt her for a moment. He just felt that he and his mom were being praised. That unstable movement caused him to fall over however. He was tired so he just lay down comfortable on the floor while looking up.
Autumn just smiled. She then began to transition the conversation to his circumstances. She wanted to know more about the young wolf.
“When you originally came to the lake, you were injured. What happen?” Autumn asked. She knew he had to have some history. He was a lone wolf cub and injured. To be this malnourished meant he have not have a pack or they were all in a similar situation. He was alone now. He could have been deemed useless and abandoned.
Nanna quickly got up and then fell back down exhausted. His body hasn’t completely recovered. Even though he has healed, the blood lost and the lack of nutrition caused him to not be able to move that well. He began to slowly stand albeit shakily. He turned to the direction he “descended” from before. He then turned back around and began to recount his experience.
He began his story with him arriving at the wolf den asking them to join their pack and ending with him fighting the alpha. He spoke about the experience almost as if it wasn’t his story. He only seemed a part of it when he showed anger when the alpha and his son appearance were recounted. It concluded with him figuring out he would die, he would at least want to die after his thirst was quenched. At least his life was not taken by the pack he disdained but by something that was truly strong. He turned and looked at her when he said that last part.
As autumn heard the story, the first thing she loved is his soft voice. Hearing the voice tell a story which was high pitch and extremely cute. Sounded much better than when he was growling. Even though he was monotone telling most of the story; his body language and tail told a different story. You can see the anger, fear and despair with the slight movement in his body language and his eyes while he recounted his tale. It was only natural. However, his sheer anger against that alpha was projected completely. Nanna did not try to disguise his irritation. This also made Autumn wary. He might start walking down the road of vengeance and this path could be dark and deadly. So she had to ask.
“If you could have anything in this world, what you wish to attain?” she probed.
The wolf looked confused at the random question before he began to ponder. Then he remembers the alpha wolf words. “The weak do not get to choose where or how they die. The strong will always have control over the weak.” This caused him to shutter. He finally began to speak. “If I could have anything in the world, it would be strength.” He said.
Autumn looked at his present condition and thought it was reasonable. Not yet a bad sign but she had to inquire about his motives for strength. “I understand what happen to you earlier by the wolf pack but you do not necessarily need strength.” She continued to test the water. “Why not wish for a home that is protected by all threats? This could be a place where you can eat and drink infinitely without worry.”
Nanna thought about the questions for a few minutes. If he could guarantee his safety, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He did not need to be strong himself. That’s the originally reason he would go out and seek a pack. This would allow them to put their strength together and overcome many obstacles like his parents. Even some of the stronger animals moved out the way of the wolf pact once they invaded their land when he was being hunted earlier. But something felt different now. He thought about being weak in a fix area of paradise and it felt off; almost wrong.
“I need strength.” He said with firm conviction. He thought about his inability to wander the wildlands in constant danger. The memories of being chased and having to hide at every shadow and escape haunted him. “I desire the ability to roam free.” he roared.
He remembered his upset stomach starving every night but afraid to hunt because he didn’t want to offend any of the lords in their territories. “I want to eat when and where I want unhindered. The thought of being under someone protection begging them for food is not the future I want.”
He thought about running in a pack. This had it on set of problems though. If they were too weak, they would eventually die. If they were too strong, they might not need him. He thought about his life being in the alpha wolf hands and all he could do was run for his life. “I want to be strong enough to take revenge for those who wrong me.” He growl with some bloodlust.
But last but not least, he thought about his mother. How she would go out many nights and sometimes not return for days. That helpless feeling of not being able to help while she came back wounded with food. How she would always smile and help clean his fur while feeding him. And the biggest regret was not being able to see those gentle eyes while he ate. Those lifeless eyes staring at him before the vultures attacked gnawed at his mental psyche. His actions of running away because of weakness and fear are what hunted him till this day.
That feeling of being weak ate at him. He does not want to experience that feeling again. “I need the strength to protect myself and my family. I do not know if I will have a pack in the future but I want the strength to protect them and my young.” He said with the conviction of someone that wasn’t his age. He did not think he would join a pack but he might create one someday. His body was still weak so he began to sit back down. He had very little nutrition which made him extremely small for his age.
The more autumn heard his answer, the more intrigued with his reasoning. That was until he showed that much bloodlust for a youngling. Beast naturally hunted but they rarely held grudges. That bloodlust was fueled by anger and grief, not the necessity to survive. This caused her to hesitate. She would rather die than raise a natural calamity. The thought of her healing a vengeful beast left a sour taste in her mouth before he continued with his last statement.
Seeing that nanna still thought about protecting others caused her to reevaluate him again. Then she remembered that he was a highly impressionable young wolf cub. She did not know how old he was but she knew he still have not fully developed mentally nor physically. She could help direct him on the right path.
“Do you know your age Nanna?” Autumn ask rather sweetly.
Nanna thought about what the alpha wolf said and replied.
“The alpha said I was around 3 -4 months old.” He looked up curiously. Wondering why such a thing was necessary. He continued.
“I spent about a third to a fourth of my life wondering the wildlands looking for a pack. The rest of the time I was waiting back in the cave waiting for my mother to return home.”
Autumn was inwardly shocked. A wolf this young shouldn’t be out exploring the wilds by himself. He’s lucky to be alive right now. She wondered what happened to his pack but that could wait another day. She believed that he was young enough to still be taught right from wrong. She would teach him enough to not only survive but thrive in the wild. She would not take him in as a disciple though. She began to speak on the main topic.
“I am willing to help you acquire strength. I will give you enough strength to hunt for food by yourself. This will allow you to roam in the outer layers unhindered by any beast there. You will be able to comfortably live in the middle layer of this forest with a few exceptions.” She stated as a matter of fact.
Nanna instantly stood up but fell back down. He then proceeded to stand back up with his tail at attention. He was on high alert. He did not believe that he would gain strength for free. He already being healed was more than he could ask for. He now felt suspicious of her again. He took several steps back instinctually. So he just stared at her for several moments.
“What do I have to do for this strength?” He could not stop his curiosity. He knew he would be strong if he was able to stay alive long enough but he had his doubts. His mom died and she was way stronger than him currently. Even if he was able to survive long enough and gain strength, he doubts he could get revenge on that wolf pack even in the future. He did not believe even his mother could take on a pack on her own. Not even thinking about the future, he needed the strength to survive now. He was not going to look for a pack to join in the future.
Autumn liked his cautious nature. There was no free meal in the world. She decided to be straight with him.
“I want you to sign a magic contract with me. This contract is a contract sign by two individuals and will automatically disappear when the contract has been either completed or broken.” Autumn stated in a monotone fashion.
Nanna took a step forward but his tail stood straight up. He was interested in this magic contract but did not let down his guard. He needed to find out more.
“How is a magic contract made and what happens if you break one?” he asked timidly.
Autumn was a bit nervous at this point. She did not have much more time to live and it all determined on if she could convince this young cub into signing the soul contract. She decided that she would be completely honest with him. That still did not mean that she did not have some tricks up her sleeves to ensure his cooperation and allow her to get the better end of the bargain.
“A magic contract can be made in several ways but that is not important. What’s important is what happens if you break one.” She said in a serious tone while she stared at him. She took a few moments to recollect her thoughts and continued.
“There are multiple levels of magic contracts from basic magic contracts to soul contracts. If you were to break one of the simpler ones, it would just end in a magic or vitality back lash. Simply put, you would not be able to fight or use magic ranging for a few hours to a few months.” She stated as calm as possible and continued.
“More complex magic contracts could permanently leave tattoos on your skin marking your failure or in some cases, also used for slave contracts. They could also cause damage to your organs which can lead to a loss of strength or even death. The conditions and penalties are all set down by the two people who are signing the contract. ” She stated.
Her statement cause Nanna to jump back and attempt to escape. He stumbled a bit before he squeezes out all his energy to break out into a sprint. He did not know what a slave was but death was something he would fight against to his last breath. He felt vines come from the ground and held his feet in place.
“You should not make any decision before you hear everything out. Think for a moment, if I wanted to harm you, my best chance was when you were injured and asleep.” She made her voice as soothing as possible.
He took a moment to think it through but what she said made sense. He was still afraid though. The vines around his feet held him in place but they did not seem to have any nefarious action. They also did not appear to release him any time soon. Autumn continue speaking.
“A magic contract must be signed by two people. The terms and conditions must be stated clearly before both parties sign. Once it’s been signed, the contract cannot be changed. The penalty of breaking the contract rest on BOTH PARTIES.” She emphasized. ” That means, if I break the contract and the penalty was death, I would be the one to die.” She slowly explained.
Nanna stopped struggling but was still on high alert with the water spirit. He didn’t know what to expect from her. He was afraid of this magic contract that could end his life but he was also excited about it. If what she stated was the truth, this would guarantee a better future overall. She would bestow power down to him in some form or another. This would allow him to protect himself and enact vengeance in the future.
Most importantly, this would allow him to survive. He was apprehensive, hopeful and full of expectation. His eyes were shining and tail was wagging but his face maintained a snarl. Autumn laughed on the inside but kept a serious look.
“How would we go about setting the conditions on a magic contract? How would you make this magic contract?” Nanna said, fully excited with the thought of becoming strong soon.
“We would have to set down the terms and conditions for the contract. What do you require from this soul contract? I will tell you my terms afterwards. It is nothing overbearing that shall cause you worry.” Autumn spoke gently.
Nanna thought for a moment before he came up with a dire scenario. He inquired with some strength in his voice. This water spirit continued to float over the lake shore staring down at him. At least her eyes did not show disdain towards him.
“I cannot read and only speak. How does this work with beast that does not have intelligence? How would I know what you writing down is what we originally agreed on?” Nanna spoke with some apprehension.
She did not plan on tricking the young wolf cub but she was surprised he thought about this at such a young age. Too bad he already fell for trap. She had many more plans but the lure of strength seemed to be enough. She truly did like this young wolf cautiousness and intelligence though.
“We will have to fix your inability to read and write in the future. My kind has their separate language but you need to at least know the world language. It is used by everyone on this continent and only not spoken by the demon across the abyssal sea.” With a small amount of hatred in her voice that leaked out. She continued.
“Most magic contracts you need to be able to read before what you are signing with a few exceptions. But a soul contract contents are directly spoken to your soul. You will instinctually know what it is before you have to sign. To sign the contract, you need to use your essence. In my current situation, it would be what I am bound too. For you, it would be your blood and your mana through the contract. This is only if you agree to it. Only the being themselves can sign a soul contract. They must willing sign it themselves or it will not work. Does this give you the answers you seek?” She took her time to explain everything he was getting into.
“Last but not least I will tell you this; I never signed a soul contract with anyone before. I also never heard of a being of my level signing a contract with someone who so young and not yet developed. Someone soul as strong as my own residing in a young body is not something I am familiar with but probably been done throughout the eons. I do not know if these things can have a detrimental effect to your body as you develop but I give you my word that I mean no harm to you. All I am is a soul at this point and my form should not be able to harm you.” Autumn spoke gently to Nanna.
Nanna instinct told him that something was not right but she meant what she said. She did not mean any danger to his well-being. He should be dead already without her and have a high chance of dying from wandering in the future on his own. He decided to believe in his instinct more than her words. He had a feeling that following her would change his life forever. The thoughts of change and strength propelled him forward with his decision.
“I will agree to the soul contract, just tell me how to begin with the conditions.” Nanna shouted before he regained his composure.
“Let us begin then.” Autumn stated with a wide smile.