It began with Berand Haldane's death. At the exact moment that he died in battle, before the populace of Rhemuth knew, they heard the long, mournful howl coming from the top of the tallest turrent in the castle. When they looked, they saw the wolf, snow white and larger than any wolf anyone had ever seen before. However, when the guard contingent reached the tower, the wolf was gone, vanished without a trace. Then, when they learned when Berand's death had taken place, they realized that the wolf had appeared at that exact moment, telling the people the sad news.
The second time it had happened was when Ifor and his family were slaughtered by the invading Festils. Once again, the white wolf had appeared on the highest tower to unleash that long, mournful sound. This time, however, something additional happened. One of the Festillic princes lead the small group up to the tower and when they arrived, the wolf was waiting and, according to the terrified guards, proceeded to tear the prince to pieces before their eyes. Then, with it's eyes blazing red, the wolf, it's jaws still dripping blood, proceeded to simply vanish. Except for the fact that the dead prince was lying on the stones, there was nothing to show that the wolf had ever been there in the first place!
That had been the last time the wolf was seen or heard, until the murder of Javan Haldane, a little over two hundred years ago, thought Alaric Morgan. The Deryni Duke of Corwyn was remembering the legend now after talking to some of the guards at Rhemuth Castle.
It was five months after Llyndruth Meadows and things had finally quieted down in Gwynedd now that Wencit of Torenth was dead.
Morgan remembered how he had felt when he had been told that Brion Haldane was dead. It was as if the earth had disappeared from beneath his feet. Now, finally, he had had the opportunity to ask the question that had been running through the back of his mind. He found the guards who had been on duty the cold, November day and had asked each of them, separately, the same question.
"Had anything unusual happened at the castle that afternoon?" Each one of them had given him the same answer.
"Yes. A large white wolf had been seen and heard howling from the highest turrent of the castle, and by the time the guards had reached it, the wolf was gone.
Alaric had nodded and had gone to find his cousin, the priest, Duncan McLain. The brown haired priest looked up as his cousin entered his office and sat in a chair opposite the desk. Duncan looked at his cousin's face and frowned.
"Alaric, is something wrong?" Morgan quirked a lopsided grin and sighed.
"No, not really. It's just that I had to find out something that had been nagging at me ever since I learned that Brion had died and I finally mananged to get it confirmed a little while ago." Duncan nodded in understanding.
"The white wolf appeared that day, didn't it?" Alaric nodded in silence. Duncan then grew thoughtful.
"You know, I thought I heard it, even out in that meadow, and I think Kelson did too, but I dismissed it from my mind right then. Have you noticed that it appears only when a Haldane dies in battle or a violent death?" Morgan nodded.
"I know. I pray every night that it never appears at the moment of Kelson's death, never." Duncan smiled, ever so slightly.
"Does he know the legend?" Alaric nodded again.
"Yes, Brion insisted, even though Jehana said it was a fairy tale made up to scare the children, but then, she doesn't believe in things like that anyway." Morgan then turned his grey eyes to his cousin's face and Duncan saw the fear.
"But, Duncan, what if it does appear again? What do we do?"
Duncan looked at his golden haired kinsman.
"We pray and we hope that this wolf is not an enemy, but is a friend to our king and his line. Look what it did when Ifor and his family were murdered. That reminds me." Duncan continued, pulling out a very shabby, small book.
"I received this a couple of days ago. It was found amongst Wencit's things in his tent after Llyndruth meadows. It's a diary kept by a Festil who was with the contingent that took Rhemuth that night. According to this account, with the exception of a few, including, unfortunately, Festil the First, everyone else involved in the coup were found torn to pieces, especially the ones who had killed the women and children. The men who had killed the Queen and ripped the child from her belly were found, literally torn apart. It had been concluded that the only explanation was that the white wolf seen in Rhemuth that night was responsible for their deaths and after that, Festil the First never, ever went anywhere alone. So, it seems that this wolf is warning and avenger for the Haldanes. I did find one strange entry in a dairy kept by your father. Do you remember the story of the Twelfth Night your parents were betrothed?" Morgan nodded silently. Duncan continued.
"One of the new pages, Krispin MacAthan, was murdered that night and your mother got into trouble because Donal had her use Truth-Read to find the guilty parties?" Alaric nodded again. smiling in rememberance at the way his father had told him about it. Duncan went on.
"Well, according to what Kenneth wrote here, they started looking for the young lad when one of the guards heard a howl and looked up to see our friend, the white wolf on the tallest turrent. That was when everyone began looking for the boy. At first, they thought the wolf had appeared because a child had been killed, then someone remembered the legend and it came to light that Krispin was actually Donal's son by Jessamy MacAthan. Once again, a Haldane died a violent death and the white wolf told the world about it."
Both men went silent, wondering about the legend and when and under what circumstances they would see this creature, if ever. Both men were hoping Kelson would die an old, old man and that they would never see this wolf, ever.