Sam Underhill was raised a sturdy peasant lad in the bucolic, if chilly, distant reaches of Grizzleheim on a small island known as Lost Isle. His mother was a kindly old she-wolf called Anaa Volk, who was pleased to call him son. Though with her lisp it quickly became Sam.
Anaa had lost her own children and husband to the wars, so when the foundling washed up on the edge of the island no one contested her desire to claim the babe as her own. His childhood was as normal as a human raised by wolves can be, and he never once thought it odd that all his neighbors were bears, wolves and ravens.
He learned hunting, scouting and fighting from his fellow wolves. "You fight like a human!" came the taunts from his pack mates. This may have been due to his using a knife to offset his lack of teeth or claws. He also learned the invaluable lesson of loyalty and being part of a pack.
From the ravens he learned to read and write runes and letters. He memorized all the lore required of the children of Lost Isle. From the bear cubs he learned wrestling, climbing and fishing. But perhaps most importantly, from the aged bear warrior, Med Vyed Saldaat, he learned the rudiments of swordplay, albeit slowly. "You absorb fighting like a duck absorbs water," echoed the constant lament of his teacher. Sam thought that an odd thing to say. (Irony being a lost cause at that
But overall everyone in the small community was polite and accepting. Anaa Volk's legendary wrath put quick stops to any prolonged teasing -- not to mention the loss of her also legendary meat pies until they apologized and behaved. In fact the close knit inhabitants of Lost Isle never even mentioned his existence to anyone from the outside world.
Then one fateful day when Sam was ten years old, he found the treasure chest buried in the back yard. He dreamed of pirates sailing by the island, so off he went to play loudly with a wood stick for a sword against the stationary tree army that surrounded him. That is until his mother came running out of the house bearing a frying pan for a weapon. She used that pan all right, not on Sam's imaginary pirates, but on his backside after she determined there was no real threat. But that evening after making a batch of snickerdoodles, she sat him down (well - she sat anyway) by the fire to tell him a story - a really, really true story of really, really, true pirates
and a lost child.
"Once upon a time," Anaa began, "a child was found in a wrecked lifeboat in the nearby hidden cove only locals and smugglers know of. Most everyone on the island had gone to the edge to look after they heard the thunder of cannons and screams of spells piercing the night, silencing even the ravens. In the far distance an Armada ship could just barely be seen floating away in the distance. We also saw the smoking ruins of a more hapless ship, lit with flames as it slowly,majestically sank below the reddened clouds covering the lower skies. There was no hope of rescuing any more possible survivors. As for the remains of that small boat, it was quickly burned."
Once she has told him of his miraculous rescue, Anaa took a small key from the chain around her neck. The only other thing she kept on the chain was a locket which showed her own husband and children, and Sam. She unlocked the chest and brought out the treasures she had locked away many years before. The first item she removed was an opal ring, bearing a unreconizable crest. The second, a torn piece of parchment bearing unrecognizable ciphers.
The last treasure was a black and white photograph. It showed three humans, a deceptively gentle looking man next to a handsome woman holding a baby in her arms. With a shock Sam recognized them as looking, well... like him.
"Does this mean you're not my Mom?" Sam asked looking up into Anaa's beloved face, frightened of the answer.
"No, my son," she reassured him, "you will always be my child. I am simply not... your only mother." The ensuing hug lasted a long, long time.
But from that day on, the portents started growing ominous. Birds flew from the west instead of the east. Game grew scarcer and wilier. The ravens muttered strange incatations while watching the smouldering contents of their cauldrons. The skyways began to see larger than usual traffic of unknown ships passing dangerously close to the island. Even the smugglers said they smelled something brewing in the air.
Finally, the day she knew and dreaded for almost ten years had finally arrived. She sighed heavily, then regretfully called her son in from chopping the firewood. It looked to be yet another long, cold winter ahead. "Yes, Mom?"
"Sam, my son... it's time for you to... leave." Tears welled up in her eyes as she started crying and enclosed him in her world-encompassing arms.
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