The Search of Bandor

The tragic story told around many a fire in hushed tones, explaining why everyone hides quietly in their homes on the night of Bandor’s Eve and the day that follows.

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Long ago, before stories were ever written down, Bandor was the king of wolves. He prowled the ancient forest back when it spanned from sea to sea, across the whole of what we now call Layor.

Lately, a new enemy threatened the wolves, moving into their territory and stealing their prey. The strange, hairless creatures came down from the north, scaring away the deer and the rabbits with their tents and their singing and their fires. The wolves learned their scent and how to fight them. But the humans drew blood with their sharp sticks, and more of them came every year.

One summer, the old gods shocked the world, and a flux shimmered over all the land. The flux did not affect many creatures, but Bandor the king of the wolves was one. He mutated into a dire wolf, primordial and savage and gigantic, larger than any dire wolf had ever been. In his new form, Bandor led his wolves to drive back the invaders.

Then a new tribe entered the forest, humans who worshiped the battle god Kagnar. The Kagnarak were fierce warriors, every one, wearing the heads of slain bears or wolves, or the tusks of boars.

Appalan led the pack—a broad-shouldered woman who wore a wolf head and wielded a monstrous two-handed stone axe. Mighty in her own right, she was also a cleric of Kagnar. In battle, Appalan used Kagnar’s divine favor to change into her animal form, enhancing her size and strength and speed. As fate would have it, Appalan’s animal form was a dire wolf.

When the human pack of Appalan moved too close to the wolf pack of Bandor, he attacked. The humans had never seen a real dire wolf. They assumed this was another human, transformed by the gods, like Appalan. Only much larger. Shouting her war cry to Kagnar, Appalan transformed into her animal self and dove into the battle.

The sudden appearance of this new dire wolf surprised Bandor, but his animal instinct overrode his curiosity. He and Appalan clashed and wrestled and clawed. Bandor exulted in finding an opponent who was even close to being worthy of him. Bandor felt drawn to the she-wolf, and wanted to take her as his mate. He nipped at her, trying to initiate the bonding ritual. He howled out his name to her, but she kept fighting him off.

Appalan strained for any advantage against her huge opponent. He seemed to be toying with her. She feared he was waiting for her to tire, and would attack at full force. Realizing that her transformation spell would soon end, Appalan retreated. She led Bandor and many of the other wolves away from her human companions. Reverting to human form threw them off her trail, and she backtracked to rejoin the others.

Appalan’s tribe continued through the forest, trying to get past the territory guarded by Bandor and his pack.

Bandor kept searching for the she-wolf he loved, but she eluded him. She would suddenly appear in the middle of a battle, tease him with her strength and prowess and she-heat, refuse his advances, then disappear. Even her scent stopped with her tracks, as though she had sprouted wings and flown away.

With every encounter, Bandor felt more drawn to his she-wolf, and more obsessed with bonding with her. One night, after fighting her, chasing her, and losing her again, he howled at the moon so loudly it echoed across the valleys. Bandor vowed to all the gods that he would cross every forest and river, and never rest, until he took this she-wolf as his mate.

Later, Bandor was tracking alone, searching for the scent of his she-wolf. Moving quietly, he surprised a small pack of humans in the woods. He killed two of them before they knew he was there. A woman wearing a wolf head raised her mighty axe in defense, but he was faster. He ripped out her innards with one swipe of his claw.

At that moment, Bandor caught the scent of his she-wolf. It seemed to be coming from that last human. He moved his massive head in closer, sniffing. The wolf’s hot breath washed over the dying woman. She stretched one weak arm up, stroked the fur on his neck, and whispered his name.

Bandor took no notice of the yapping of these soft, hairless creatures. So he did not hear Appalan say his name. The scent of the she-wolf had faded again. This human beneath him smelled only of death.

Confused, he turned to follow the humans running away from the clearing. They did not smell like the she-wolf. Killing them did not make her appear, either.

Bandor had noticed that the she-wolf only appeared when he fought the humans. He sought out more humans to attack, hoping to lure her out of hiding. He and his pack roamed all across the forest, killing anyone they found.

Bandor searched through snow and through rain, under the hot sun of summer, and padding across blankets of fallen leaves. But he could not find his dire wolf mate.

In the fall, the Bear Paw constellation rose on the horizon to chase the Fish across the night sky for another winter. This marked one year that Bandor had been fruitlessly searching for his mate. Frustration welled up in Bandor’s heavy heart. He howled with such rage that the whole forest reverberated with his cries. Flocks of birds fleeing the shaking trees blocked out the sun.

The forest floor beneath Bandor cracked and opened up. The earth swallowed the huge dire wolf, closing over him with barely a sound. The leaves settled back down as though the ground had never been disturbed.

One night, exactly a year later, Bandor clawed his way out of his underground den. He shook the dirt from his fur and set off to find his she-wolf. Again, he sought humans to attack, hoping it would draw his mate to him. He searched in darkness and in light, never stopping, until the sun set. But he could not catch her scent.

He howled his fury at the moon and dove back under the earth.

*    *    *

Every year since then, for one night and one day, Bandor has wreaked bloody carnage on any human settlements or travelers he finds. Then the great dire wolf returns to his hibernation underground. Bandor yearns for the day when he can fulfill his vow to mate with his chosen she-wolf, unaware that he is doomed to search forever.

Some say that the bestial god Horrax gave Bandor the power to cross a league with every step—that he can roam anywhere in this land in one night, wherever his nose and ears lead him. So wherever you are, on Bandor’s Eve and the day that follows, keep yourself indoors, and guarded, and quiet.

Because once he catches your scent, nobody survives the Search of Bandor.

*    *    *

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3 thoughts on “The Search of Bandor

  1. Pingback: About the Blog | Tales from Eneana

  2. Whhoah. That’s a great legend. I love holidays but the idea of one where you’re inside and quiet out of fear for your life, well, that’s a new kind of holiday for sure! I saw a deeper metaphor here, and that is, how much we may destroy that in our partner which is precisely what we are attracted to. I also appreciate how many of your strong warrior characters are female. That’s awesome to read and to let work on the subconscious as a nice counterpoint to the barrage of male-warrior images.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Bandor’s Eve holiday is a bit like Halloween, in that some people *say* it’s just a fairy tale to scare kids, but then, an awful lot of adults are home and quiet on those nights, just in case. I can see the deeper metaphor you mean, although I confess I didn’t intend it — I was thinking more generally, that we can inadvertently sabotage our own goals, with tragic results.

      And yes, I do have a lot of female heroes. Sometimes I have to remind myself to let a man take the lead sometimes! I figure it makes sense to have more powerful women when magic is real (and men are no better at it than women). Also, even though men are still taller and stronger than women on average, you have a “small village” effect at this low tech level and population density, where a woman may be taller and stronger (and a better fighter) than the non-representative sample of men who happen to be around her.

      Like

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