Many different magical creatures permeate the myths and legends of Soluna, but none are more well-known than fairies. What, exactly, a fairy is or what it does varies depending on where the story is being told. What every Wolf will agree upon is that the fairies look rather like diminutive Wolves and come from a small island lost to the sea in an ancient catastrophic event.
A common thread in every story about fairies is a warning against disturbing them. Fairies are known to contain a lot of power, and angering one could have disastrous consequences. One favourite tale involves an unlucky Wolf who, after accidentally wrecking a fairy ring, is cursed to jump through time. The name and location of the Wolf and story changes slightly depending on who tells it, but the message remains the same.
Never anger a fairy.
Hare was well-known in her Tribe as one of the unluckiest Fire-Wolves in all of Scaineadó. If something bad happened, Hare was most likely at the root of it.
So when she was sent out into the Desert to survive for a week, a customary rite of passage into adulthood, many Wolves of her Tribe wondered how long she would last before someone had to go find her.
It only took her a couple of hours before she stumbled into trouble. The hapless Fire-Wolf tripped down a dune and fell right into a fairy ring. And before she had time to realise her mistake, the fairy himself appeared, white fur on end and spitting fury.
“You dare to cut my spell’s threads? So little respect have you for the world that you would destroy it in your blindness,” said he. “I bind you to them, to forever be pulled along the strings of the universe, less you should meet yourself three times.”
Then with a sneeze, Hare was pulled through time by the fairy’s threads of magic. She was pulled through a tunnel of darkness, in which time was but a river. Just when she thought she would be trapped in the dark forever, the threads pulled her out and threw her back down onto solid ground.
Poor Hare only had a moment to collect herself when suddenly the solid ground broke into pieces beneath her paws, and trees shot out of the hot dirt. Wind roared overhead, pulling the trees up into the sky, and fire and water both raged in the banks of a river. And above it all stood two Wolves, the great gods themselves, who howled a song of creation. Hare had been dropped into the birth of the Island.
She sneezed again, moments before a deep furrow appeared beneath her, and was wrenched away into the dark tunnel. Only a few moments passed before she fell once more. To her utter relief, the ground she landed upon did not immediately break apart, and the trees around her were silent and immobile.
Instead a battle tore through the would-be peaceful forest. Wolves clashed with tooth and claw all around her, ignorant of the confused and frightened Fire-Wolf in their midst.
“What have we here?” came a cruel, taunting voice that sent a chill of fear down Hare’s spine. “The Ghost of the Sands returns.”
She looked up to see the leering, disfigured face of Rock, a monster she knew from stories told to young pups at night to warn them against misbehaving. He was much more than a story now, with his claws digging into her pelt.
“My burned face aches every day knowing I let you slip away once,” Rock growled. “But not again.”
“Leave the Ghost, dark ruler of the wood, your fight is with us!”
Two blue Wind-Wolves, their eyes as brilliant as the stars above, appeared and knocked Rock away with a gust of wind. One helped Hare to her paws while the other traded blows with Rock, pushing him back with each attack.
“Go now, traveller,” said she. “You must quickly return home, this is not the battle of your destiny.”
Then she darted away to join her companion. Hare managed to see the Twins engage Rock in a fight that would shake the very foundations of the Forest before she sneezed and disappeared.
Thrice more she jumped, each time landing in some strange time. She saw a sickness take the land and drive the nations to war, and watched as strange creatures landed upon the Island’s shores. She set paw on the familiar sands of Scaineado just as the Moons passed in front of the Sun and cast the land into darkness.
The fourth time Hare jumped, she landed in front of another who looked just like her.
“I was once told I would meet my last descendant,” said the other, “and that would be the beginning of a long line of ill luck for my kin. Tell me, in what trouble have you found yourself?”
“A fairy cursed me to jump through time, forever unless I could meet myself three times,” said Hare.
“I know not of any ‘fairy’, but I do know how to break this curse. The only curse I cannot break is that my own, which is unfortunately the source for all your troubles. Twice more you need to meet yourself, as I am the first.” The other Wolf drew a mark onto Hare’s brow and said, “May this mark guide your travels and bring you quickly back to yourself.”
Then Hare sneezed and vanished once more.
She landed among a large group of Fire-Wolves crowed on the shores of the ocean. They paid her appearance no heed, and kept their attention on the stormy sea and the darkening horizon beyond.
“Lost, it is lost!” they cried. “The Land of the Fox, devoured by the ocean!”
Although confused by their laments, Hare focused her attention on finding her ancestor. The mark on her forehead burned, telling her the other had to be close. Finally she reached the front of the crowd, and there she discovered a Wolf with her appearance standing in the shallows of the ocean.
“The days before us are dark indeed,” her ancestor said. “The Sun above sheds its dying light upon us, and so too will the Moons fade. Our gods have left and our friends across the waters are gone. What have we left?” He turned to her then and added, “Is this to be my dying time as well? What other reason would there be for me to see one who looks just like me, but smells of the sky and darkness?”
“It is not yet time for you to die,” Hare said. “I am from a distant time, cursed by a fairy to travel back and forth until along the threads until I meet myself three times. Twice I have met a Wolf like me, guided by this mark on my brow.”
“Then hasten away, my kin, there is nothing more here for you. It heartens me to hear that there is a future for my descendants, even if they are so unlucky as to be cursed. Such is the fate of our line.”
With a thankful nod and a sneeze, Hare was pulled back into the tunnel. Hope burned brightly in her chest, knowing that she only had to meet herself once more before she was free of the curse. Fear replaced the warm feeling when the mark on her brow turned cold, and she was dropped onto the red sands of the Desert.
She sneezed again and again, each time jumping to different spots in the Desert. The curse did not want to be broken, and fought the blessing bestowed upon her by the first ancestor. Occasionally she would appear in the midst of a group of Wolves, who would cry out in shock and fear, but she would vanish before they could recover.
The mark grew warm again, and Hare fell mid-jump. She collapsed on the sands, grateful for a chance to collect her wits.
“A yellow Fire-Wolf whose form is as inconsistent as a flames, could this be the rumoured Ghost of the Sands?”
The ground opened beneath Hare, dropping her into a shallow hole. Rock stood at the edge, leering down at her. His face was whole and uninjured, and not a shred of recognition lit his eyes.
“My warriors have told me much about this Ghost,” he growled, stalking closer to the frightened Fire-Wolf, “fearing it to be a spirit of the land resisting our power. What fools they are, for you are nothing more than a mere Fire-Wolf, more timid than a dormouse.”
“I am no ghost, and no threat to you, mighty Rock,” said Hare, knowing the Twins would not be able to save her now. “I only seek to return to my home in peace.”
“I cannot let you return, Fire-Wolf. Their fear is baseless, but I cannot have my warriors hesitating. If I bring them your head, they will see that nothing can stand against us.”
With a fearsome snarl and a snap of his fangs, Rock pounced on the terrified Hare. In her panic, she lit her fur on fire and spread the flames to the surrounding sands. The great Earth-Wolf fell back with a cry, a burn devouring half his face.
“You cannot run from me forever, Ghost!” Rock shouted as Hare sneezed and disappeared. The threads dragged her away from the furious Earth-Wolf tyrant and back into the tunnel of darkness.
The mark on her forehead burned hot, and she fell into a small puddle.
“Ah, what a sight for tired eyes. I never thought to see another Fire-Wolf, so far from the land of the Sun we are.”
Hare looked up to see another Fire-Wolf, standing above her. The other’s likeness to her marked her an ancestor.
“You are the third ancestor I have met,” Hare said happily. “Three times I have met myself. The fairy’s curse is now broken, and I may return home!”
“I wish you luck, my descendant, for if you are my kin you will need all of it. I hope that I may escape my curse as quickly as you did yours.”
Hare sneezed for the last time, and welcomed the dark tunnel’s appearance. When she landed just outside her Tribe’s camp, a feeling of peace settled over her. She ran into the camp, eager to see her fellows again, but was shocked to see that much had changed.
“Who are you?” the Wolves of the Tribe asked her when she appeared. “You claim to be of our Tribe, but the last Hare we knew vanished into the Desert ninety years before.”
“It is I,” said Hare. “A fairy’s curse tore me away from my home, but I broke it and have returned. It could only have been a few days since I left, surely not ninety years.”
She was brought before an elder of the Tribe, the only one to remember her from before she disappeared.
“We believed you dead, taken by some magic,” the elder told her. “For you had vanished without a trail to mark your passing. Your mother told me you would one day return, and asked me to wait for you in her stead. A sickness took her soon after you disappeared. For over ninety years I have waited, and it gladdens me to see you return safe and unharmed.”
“What should I do now?” Hare asked the elder. “All those I knew are now dead. My Tribe is no longer my own. I have nothing.”
“You survived a fairy’s curse. Not many can claim the same. Thank Sun-Wolf that you still live, and start anew.”
Hare took the elder’s words to heart, but never forgot the troubles caused by the fairy’s curse. She warned all who would listen about the dangers of angering a fairy, and never ventured into the sands on her own.