Lone Wolf

Switzerland Maienfeld

Photo © Conradin Wulser via Google Maps photosphere

Whistling at a stray sheep, Inwat followed the herd up the green-blanketed slope, toward a river of spring snow. The climb was hard, but better this than farming.

The wolf was dangerously close before Inwat spotted it, slinking through spare shadows, white against the grass. Inwat spat, clearing his fear, then repeated the words Kala made him practice so often. Lights flashed from his fingers, exploding in the wolf’s face. It ran off as silently as it came.

Someday the wolves would realize that the flash wasn’t followed by pain, not with Kala gone.

Kala had warned him against trying anything new. Inwat figured that’s what Kala did: tried something new. By the time they’d found him, there wasn’t much left to tell by.

Priest said magic was a disobedience. But Inwat was already a disobedient. What was one more spell?

If the wolves came closer, he’d have to try.

Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw prompt. Big thanks to Karen and Josh for hosting this fun writing challenge! This week Pegman takes us to the Swiss Alps– specifically, Maienfeld, Switzerland. Click the link to read the other stories inspired by this gorgeous landscape, and to write your own — everyone is welcome!


35 thoughts on “Lone Wolf

  1. Magic systems are always so fascinating. What are the boundaries? The manner of working. Just everything! So I love this start of Inwat about to explore the does and don’ts of the system…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Louis! I’m glad to hear I’ve piqued your curiosity. I’m fascinated by magic systems too (er, obviously, I’d say). In this case I was imagining that Kala was the only other magic-user Inwat knew, and that the others in the village sided with the church, that he shouldn’t be doing it. That means he doesn’t have anyone to train him on how to take the next steps. And as Kala explained, experimenting to make a new spell can be *very* dangerous…

      Liked by 1 person

    • In our current world, that’s a very good point. In Eneana, they are far from having to worry about that. And Inwat might have to figure out how to hurt the wolves (if not necessarily kill them), to keep them away from the sheep, and away from him. I tried to hint that Kala had cast some spell that hurt the wolves, to keep them at bay, but with him gone, Inwat’s flashy bluffs might not be effective for much longer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Another thought from the way I read it. Inwat of course doesn’t have complete mastery of his magic skills, so this is what he’s taught. But true mastery isn’t just killing a wolf, but being able to control the spell, flash with no pain, flash with pain, killing (if necessary).
        Later in deciding who Inwat really is if you continued this story, is he just wanting to rid the himself of the problem of wolves (so killing them) or does he have a deeper understanding, that everything plays a part. The wolf is being a wolf and has a role to play. So as Crispina pointed out, needless killing is not good.
        Maybe this would fit into the story better if “nature” plays a role in the source of power, or maybe the belief system of some magic users? (Another belief system to be at odds with the church you mentioned in your reply to me?)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good points, Louis, but it feels like an anachronistic (modern) take on Inwat’s challenge. I try to put myself in the mindset of the people living in these other situations as much as I can. In modern day, wolves aren’t a real threat, and we think of them as noble beasts that deserve to be protected. But in an agricultural society, wolves are a serious predator. It’s us against them. I think of “needless killing” as being killing for sport, and no, that’s not good. In Inwat’s world (as in much of our own history), people live on the cusp, depending every summer to grow, catch, make, and preserve just enough to make it through the cold winter. If the wolves are killing your livestock, that’s an attack on the survival of the whole village. Inwat’s sworn duty is to protect the sheep. If he doesn’t, people could go hungry. Someone in that position wouldn’t have the same compunctions about killing a wolf that’s attacking their sheep (especially if it keeps other wolves from attacking later, or saves his own life) that we modern folks would have. And if he could find a spell that hurt the wolves more effectively than his slingshot, he would definitely use it.

        Only some real-life religions/philosophies hold to the “everything in nature has its place” ideal, and many in Eneana don’t. There are some religions (and thus divine magic users) focused on various definitions of nature and natural elements. For instance, there is a forest-based religion that reveres wild animals, but even there they see the animals both as noble and as competitors: a predator’s role in the system is to attack and kill, and your role is to defend yourself, or to hunt it, as best you can.

        Liked by 1 person

      • > But in an agricultural society, wolves are a serious predator.

        I’m laughing at myself because I really fell into modern stereotypical thinking. I love your explanation and it’s spot on! For modern readers it’s a good reminder of people’s mindset back in the day…

        This reminds me of when my ex-father-in-law who grew up on a farm slipped and mentioned when he was young that sometimes they had to drown kittens and go shoot stray dogs that threatened their livestock. I say, slipped, because his wife got so upset at the thought of it. But she was looking at this in a modern light. Note, they did have cats and at that time and he loved them. Well, he tried to explain that shooting the dogs was to ensure their livelihood and the cats to spare them a harsh and short life. It was all very matter of fact back then. She wouldn’t listen…I then helped him change the subject. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh goodness, I could see that scene playing out as I read it. Good thing he had you there to help him out! Situations really do change, and attitudes change with them (but then, I’m a sociologist, of course I’d say that, lol).

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Penny! The way the magic works is already built and that’s easy to include in stories. But I like to add little things in each story (like calling it “a disobedience” instead of “a sin”, which tells you something about that religion/culture) to add to the world.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Dale, glad you liked it! And for so long as the wolves are scared away by flashes of light, that will work. But when they realize that it’s just harmless lights… Inwat will need some other tactic. (cue ominous music)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your stories often have a sense of holding things at bay, that we’re seeing the small emergencies that herald catastrophe. I get that feeling here. There will come a day when he has to use a different spell and will he go the way of Kala? Totally agree with Penny – always such richness in your world building. It’s as if you’ve lived in Eneana and are reporting back to us! Great story

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the great comment Lynn, I really appreciate it! Yes, Inwat might have to take some big risks, and soon, if he’s going to try to replicate whatever spell Kala used to hurt the wolves enough to drive them off. Which of course makes me wonder what new spell Kala was trying to construct that ended up killing him… These are the dangers of experimenting with magic without a good mentor.

      And I’m glad Eneana comes across as so real, because in truth, I’m making up so much of it as I go along. That said, having a clear sense of the magic system, a few major religions, etc. really gives a good basis for my weekly forays at adding “flavor” text.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If you make it up as you go along, it doesn’t come across! And if that’s really true how on earth do you keep track of a world that spans continents, many different types of people, clans, magic over centuries? I struggle to keep one idea at a time in my head 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s mostly the little bits that I make up as I go — the sayings, the specific rituals, the cultural norms of this one little village. I have the main structure of the world figured out, so it’s relatively easy to build on those details. As far as keeping track — you’re right, it’s a challenge! I have a spreadsheet to keep track of any new names, monsters, or terms I create in these stories, although I’m not as good about updating it as I should be. And if I’m being good, I go back and add the new thing to my world building documents. I really do need a new system, though, and a huge chunk of time to sit down and reorganize it all.


      • So in this one, I made up the idea of calling something that’s against their religion “a disobedience” instead of a sin, which makes the person a disobedient instead of a sinner. It sounds like a little thing, but I think it implies a lot about what that religion values.


  3. Good one. My Gr. Grand taught me a song. I’ve been out in the wild and accidentally got between a bobcat and it’s cubs… I sang the song and watched the momma cat calm and I walked away unscathed. Not something I advise doing, but I didn’t know what else to do… for me, that day, it worked. Great story you’ve written here, too. 🙂 ❤ ~Shalom, Bear

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation either. Singing a song seems better than screaming! There have been a few families of bobcats raised in our neighborhood — according to the adorable photos circulated on our neighborhood listserve. They’re all so cute, but yes, I wouldn’t want to get between mama and her cubs.Thanks for sharing your story, Bear!


  4. I agree, great title. I can’t help but wonder if Inwat is playing with fire. Sometimes risks can pay off, but as the backstory illustrates, sometimes it can go gravely wrong.

    I’m not sure I knew you were a sociologist. You capture sociological constructs so well, fashioning entire worlds with them. Now I know why!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Inwat would definitely be taking risks by trying to come up with a spell he wasn’t fully trained on. But then, that’s how all the spells in Eneana were initially developed, by someone trying something new — and surviving the process.

      Yes, my sociology training and mindset influence my world building. I also have training in psychology, human development, family studies, and economics, and all of those are useful too. The challenge is to keep the world building from coming across as too academic. I somehow neglected to also get a degree in magic. 🙂


  5. Pingback: Treacherous Trial | Tales from Eneana

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