THE WOLF FOLK SERIES
THE ADVENTURES OF JEREMIAH TATE
A STORY OF A BOY COMING OF AGE IN AN
Charles W. Bird
Charles W. Bird
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This story is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced by any means without the express, written permission of the author.
prologue; Jeremiah Tate is nearing 16 years old and struggling to become a man in a family without his father. What he does not know can hurt him, yet what he does know leads him to explore further. On his 16th birthday, he is confronted with a situation that turns his entire world upside down, everything that he had believed in was suddenly suspect. When he finally works it all out in his mind, he is no longer the boy he thought he was, nor was he completely human.
background; The Wolf Folk are an ancient race, their exact origins are lost in the mists of time. They are likely the origin of the legends about Werewolves, however they are neither werewolves nor are they wolves. They are shape-shifters who have the ability to modify their physical appearance. They take on all aspects of real wolves in their changed shape. They are telepaths of considerable power and they mentally convince their observer of their wolf status and are able to contact the minds of their fellow shape-shifters over considerable distances and those of ordinary humans are open to them. There were originally six great houses or families of shape-shifters that lived in peace with their human brothers. As civilizations began to grow, those jealous of the Wolf Folk began to harass them. They held humans in great esteem and refused to fight back. As continents began to emerge from the ice ages, the Wolf Folk emigrated away from their homelands and arrived in Alaska about 10,000 years ago, crossing the land bridge with the peoples who became the Hopi, the Cherokee and the Athabascans. The latter betrayed them and were subsequently shunned by the Wolf Folk, although they retained legends of shape shifters as their descendants became the Navajo and the Apache peoples. The senior Family was the Family Zed and the Pack Leader of the Zed was the traditional King of the Wolves. They had few laws among them, however, their traditions would not allow them to hurt a human, nor, for that matter, eat one, despite what old tales said. In fact, the Oath of the Prime Pack Leader states, in part, "in sight of the Great Creator, I shall allow no harm to come to our cousins, the Humans, through fault or deed of my own or those holding allegiance to me. I swear this upon my Ring and my life, so help me God!"
Jeremiah Tate was laying in his bed, daydreaming of being out in his beloved woods.
Not that he wasn't a good student in school, he had been on the Honor Roll every report period since elementary school. He was on the debating team and was captain of the soccer team that had won the Southeastern Regional finals that year. No, it was just that whenever he was out in the woods, he felt alive and he could almost feel the trees, the birds and the wildlife around him, it felt like he belonged there.
He missed having a Dad, his had left the home when he was a baby and his Mom would not speak of him, even when he asked about him.
Some of his friends were a little afraid of him when they were out tromping through the woods, they said that he moved silently, like a wild animal.
He and his Mother lived in a wooded area near Cashiers, North Carolina in a house that had been in his Dad's Family for generations. He knew he had Aunts and Uncles around, but they never came to see him and his mother would speak nothing of them.
Suddenly, his mother hollered, "JERE, you are gonna be late for school!"
Jeremiah groaned and flipped out of bed and headed for the shower. As he was drying off, he noticed that his chest seemed more covered with hair and it was growing in more personal places, thick and bushy.
He had been noticing that lately and when he mentioned it to his Mother, she got very upset, so he didn't speak of it to her again. His closest friend, Danny Gill, who everyone for some reason called him Chub, had told him he was becoming as shaggy as a spaniel.
Danny was as skinny as a fence post; nobody seemed to know how he got the nickname of Chub. Chub was tall and radiated a sense of power and quiet authority.
Jeremiah wolfed down his breakfast as Chub waited for him and the two friends trotted out the door to go to school.
As they jumped off the back steps, Chub said, "Jere, what kind of deodorant are you using, you smell like a wet dog!"
Helen Tate, Jeremiah's Mother, overheard the remark and she sat at the kitchen table, tears running down her face. She sat there for a long time, almost fearing to raise her head; she knew her time with her son was nearing an end and she would be left alone as her beloved son found his destiny.
The school term would be out in a few weeks and Jeremiah's birthday would be the week after school let out. He would be 16, a momentous milestone in a boy's life.
Every time Jeremiah would try and tell his Mother what he wanted for his birthday, she would burst into tears, so he stopped dropping hints.
It hurt him to see her so upset, even though he had no idea why.
The two friends were happily babbling as they hiked over the hill, a shortcut to their high school. Jeremiah did not notice the dark shape standing in the shadows of the thick trees, intently watching them, but Chub did and he nodded to the shape as they passed by.
Jeremiah suddenly stopped and sniffed the air. He looked intently at the trees and thought he saw movement, but, as he continued to watch, he saw nothing so he just laughed and told Chub he was seeing things again.
Chub laughed at him, "You are always seeing stuff that nobody else can see." They continued their happy chatter, Jeremiah not thinking anything more about it.
The dark shape continued to watch the two boys until they entered the school doors. He sighed, "Soon, my son, you will be 16, that is the age of acceptance of our kind. You already show the signs, you will be a mighty prince and warrior!"
The spring weather was warm and pleasant in the North Carolina Mountains, the days were growing longer and the woods were full of life.
Jeremiah spent as much time as he could, tromping around the countryside. He would drop off his books and scoot outside before his Mother could think of some reason he should stay in the house.
Most times, he would not return home until nearly dark, occasionally it would be totally dark before he got back to the house. His Mother would be pacing the floor in near panic and would hold him, crying for some reason she would not tell him.
School finally ended with Jeremiah as number one in his class of rising Juniors.
He and Chub were happily planning what they were going to do during their summer, Chub turned off on the path to his house and Jeremiah continued to his home. Jeremiah did not see his friend turn and watch him enter the house, nor did he see him come closer, as if he were guarding Jeremiah and his home.
Jeremiah mounted the steps and slipped into the kitchen. He could hear voices in the parlor, a man's voice and his Mother's. He walked down the hallway and stepped into the parlor, his Mother was sitting on the sofa in tears.
He looked at the man and demanded, "Who are you and why is my Mother crying?"
His Mother reached for Jeremiah's hand. "Jere, this is your Father, please acknowledge him."
Jeremiah looked at his Mother, "Acknowledge him?"
She replied, "Yes, please address him as ALPHA LEADER"
The man said gently, "Helen, let me tell him." He turned to Jeremiah and said, "Son, let you and me take a walk, we have much to discuss."
Jeremiah was reluctant to leave his Mother while she was so upset but she told him that she was fine and for him to go on the walk with his Father.
The two walked up the hill that overlooked the high school. As they walked through the trees, Jeremiah suddenly said, "It was you standing in these trees this morning?"
The man replied, "Yes, my son, I have been watching over you all of your life. There were times when I thought you had seen me, despite all my care otherwise." He continued, "Let us sit under this tree and talk."
After they had sat down, he continued. "You are not a Junior, my middle name is Jeremiah but my given name is Franklin."
Jeremiah asked, "What did Mom mean – to call you Alpha Leader?"
Franklin said, "Do you know what a Werewolf is?"
Jeremiah said, "Those are just stories, errrrr, aren't they."
His Father smiled and large canines dropped from his mouth and hair began shooting out of the skin of his face. Jeremiah dropped his face and looked at his own chest, "Is that why………" he asked.
His father hugged him, "Jere, the age of 16 among us is our majority. At that age, we become what we will be. I can see your wolf just below the surface, in a few days he will begin to manifest himself. That is a dangerous and difficult time for our kind and I will be with you every step of your journey."
He clasped Jeremiah in his arms, "You will never have to face that alone my son, I and your circle with guide and guard you through your emergence."
Jeremiah looked up, "My circle?"
Franklin replied, "Yes. You already know some of them." He called out, "Chub, will you come here please?"
Danny stepped out from the trees and replied, "I am here Lord Alpha, command me." Behind Danny stood 4 men and two women, all young looking and fit.
Jeremiah was shocked, "Phil? Kevin? Paul? Donny?" They were all members of his Soccer Team, the girls he knew, but not well, Betty and Mantha.
They all responded, "Lord Alpha, Command me."
His Father continued, "They are all older than they look and were picked to guard you with their own lives if need be. Son, you are the Lord Prince Wolf of The South Eastern Pack of Wolves. We cover the entire southeast and into parts of Georgia and Alabama. We are the oldest and largest Clan in the new world. We are the Senior Family of all Wolfdom. We are not truly werewolves, but that would be what the Humans would call us."
Chub came up to Jeremiah and said, "Jere, we are cousins, you and I. I have watched over you since you were a tiny baby. I have been the Group Alpha of your protection circle all your life and do not plan of stopping now. We are bonded to you for the rest of our lives, wherever you go, there also shall we."
Chub knelt before Jeremiah and the rest were ranked behind him, "We pledge our lives and our souls to the Lord Prince Alpha Jeremiah Franklin Tate. We forfeit our lives should we fail our duty."
Jeremiah looked at his Father, Franklin whispered in his ear, "Accept their pledge, my son."
Jeremiah replied, "I, Jeremiah Franklin Tate, Lord Prince Alpha of the South Eastern Clan of Wolves, do recognize you, Danny, Phil, Kevin, Paul, Donny, Betty and Samantha as my Guardians and Protectors. I in turn will respect you and treat you as I would treat myself. I shall never abuse you or your trust in me and I shall treat you with the honor and respect you deserve."
Jeremiah was a bit frightened, he did not know where those words came from, but they seemed right to say.
Franklin was amazed at his son and he said, "Well said, Prince Alpha.
Franklin announced, "Tonight is the full moon, we must remain here on the mountain, for tonight the Prince Alpha howls."
They cleared a small circle and built a fire, more for ceremony than for heat. Chub sat next to Jeremiah and whispered to him, "Jere, do not be frightened at anything that happens, you will go through some terrifying changes, but you are stronger than any of us. Just remember, I am sitting beside you, squeeze my hand or whatever you must do, we will help you through your first change."
As they sat there, Jeremiah saw shapes in the gathering darkness and eyes reflecting the firelight. Chub whispered to him, "The Folk gather, to witness a Prince in his first change is a great honor among us. Only those closest to the Lord Alpha are allowed to be here."
Just then, Jeremiah was struck with a convulsing pain in his gut, he grabbed his stomach and bent over, thinking he was about to vomit.
Chub held onto him, "Fight it My Lord Prince, do not let it control you."
The wave of nausea passed and Jeremiah sat upright, his face white and beads of sweat running down his face." Samantha handed Chub a towel and he wiped Jeremiah's brow.
Chub smiled, "Jere, you need a shave!"
Jeremiah felt his face, it was as hairy as his chest had become.
Another spasm of pain shot through him, his head felt as if it were ready to explode, as he ran his hands over his face, he felt something sharp, he touched his face again, there were large canine fangs protruding from his lips.
He was on the verge of tears, his pain was terrible and he did not understand what was happening to him.
Chub held onto his hands and rubbed his back, trying to sooth his frightened friend. In a few minutes, the pain began to subside and Jeremiah could catch his breath.
He asked Chub, "How much more, how long will this last?"
Chub replied, "It is different for each of us, it took me all night to complete my change."
Donny and Paul came up to Jeremiah and sat with him on the opposite side from Chub. When the next wave of pain hit him, all three boys held him tight. The pain was so intense, Jeremiah would have stood and run had he not been held. Later, he would realize that was why his friends were holding him so tightly.
When the pain had lessened, he saw that his clothes had been split, his arms and legs had split the seams of his shirt and jeans. His skin was hairy and muscles bulged through the split clothing.
The next wave was the most intense of all, Jeremiah tried to scream, but the only sound he could make was a coarse howl. He could feel his shape changing and he dropped onto all fours, ready to run. He heard in his mind, "We are with you, lead us Prince Alpha!"
He looked around, there were six large wolves surrounding him, a large red wolf stepped up to him and he heard in his mind, "I am Chub, remember me? Let's run!"
Jeremiah did indeed feel like running, he took off into the trees with his six companions hot on his tail. His wolf instincts took control as he raced over the hills, his companions keeping up with him easily as they were all experienced wolves.
When he finally ran himself out, the moon was just going down over the trees. Without thinking, he howled at the moon, wishing it would stay in the sky a bit longer.
His mournful howl sounded across the forest, his father heard it and responded.
In his mind, Jeremiah heard the message carried in that howl, "Come back son, you and your companions have one more task."
Jeremiah motioned with his muzzle for his circle to follow and he started off at an easy trot that gobbled up the miles.
Jeremiah was in the lead, his companions fanned out behind him, with Chub at his shoulder, but slightly behind his Prince Alpha.
When they arrived at where the campfire had been, Jeremiah's Father was standing there in his wolf.
Jeremiah heard, "It is time son, you must change back or forever more remain a wolf. Think hard on what your human looks like, it will hurt but if you are to be among us, you must know how to change, otherwise, all is lost."
Jeremiah loved his wolf and the freedom it gave him, it made him part of his beloved forest. The huge wolf looked at him knowingly and he heard, "You must not forego your human, if you remain your wolf, you will become an animal forever."
The red wolf, Chub, stood beside him, "Jere, you must do this, otherwise we will lose you forever."
Jeremiah concentrated on what he looked like as a boy, the wolves surrounding him could see his human shimmering and trying to emerge. They knew they must remain quiet, this was something only Jeremiah Franklin Tate could do, if he failed, they would lose their Prince Alpha.
After several minutes of struggling, there was a flash of light and Jeremiah, the 16 year old boy stood before them, a smile nearly from ear to ear.
His companions "popped" in their own change and stood before their Prince as humans.
Franklin returned as human, a proud and happy father.
As Jeremiah looked around there was a crowd of people standing in the clearing and they all went to their knees, "We accept Jeremiah Franklin Tate as our Lord Prince Alpha, heir to our Alpha Leader, LONG LIVE THEM BOTH!"
Chub and the others of his circle rushed up to him and hugged him. Chub said, "You are the first successful Prince Alpha of our Clan in 500 years!"
Jeremiah was to wonder about that statement, just how long did these werewolves live? He heard in his mind, "I am Chub and I am 480 years old!"
Jeremiah's eyes bugged out, "uuuuhhh, how old is my Father?" Franklin hugged his heir and whispered, "Son, I was the last successful Prince Alpha. My own Father lived to be 1500 years before he abdicated and went into seclusion. He lives still, that was 500 years ago."
Jeremiah spent the summer learning the lore of the pack and, more importantly, its laws and customs.
Contrary to popular stories, Werewolves do not prey upon humans nor are they creatures of evil. They are of a race older than their cousins, man, and have protected humankind throughout their long history. They were already in North America when the first Europeans arrived, they had been known by the Native Americans since before they both crossed the land bridge from Asia.
Even today, most American "Indians" revere the wolf and have many tales of "shape-shifters".
The Law of the Pack was simple, DO NO HARM, ALLOW NO HARM, PROTECT FROM HARM ALL OF HUMANKIND!
Jeremiah preferred that his Circle call him Jere and, since he WAS the Lord Prince Alpha, his word had the effect of law.
His Father, Franklin stayed the summer with him, explaining the sacrifice his Mother had suffered. In bearing a Prince Alpha, she could no longer bring forth her wolf, she was trapped as a human for the remainder of her days. She would live out her long life on two legs, never again knowing the joys of the forest.
She would be forced to move as she was only 600 years old, and would have to become a new identity each human lifetime.
Jere continued to grow that summer, he was larger and stronger than those of his circle and he had to be careful among humans as he could easily hurt one of them unintentionally.
Chub became his constant companion, even though Jere associated with all those of his circle. He understood that, at some point, he would need to breed, he had no particular wish to be constantly in the company of a female of his kind. This was not looked down upon by Wolf Customs nor was it shameful as in human society. Alternatively, he could adopt a wolf son and he would be accepted as a Prince among their kind.
He was out, running in joy through the woods with his companions, it was a cool fall day, just before school was to reopen. He heard in his mind a scream, "Oh, God, I have fallen, I think my leg is broken!"
Jeremiah was just learning that he was telepathic, a gift not all wolves shared in power equal to his own, but Chub was one who also shared the gift. Chub, being more experienced than Jere, sent, "Join with me, Prince Alpha, we shall contact his mind and find him."
The two wolves sent their minds outward until they contacted the fallen human, it was a boy about 14 years old. Through his eyes, they could identify where he was and the group started off at a fast run.
They found the boy near Willow Spring, his leg was truly broken. By now, Jeremiah was the largest wolf in his circle, standing over 5 feet at his massive shoulders. Jeremiah told Chub to shift to his human and lay the hurt boy across his back. Jeremiah carried the youngster to the Wilderness Ranger Station, with Chub keeping the boy from sliding off Jeremiah's back.
As they entered the clearing, Jeremiah shifted to his human and carried the boy up to the porch and knocked on the door. As soon as they heard footsteps, both Chub and Jere ran into the woods, changing back to their wolves.
For the remainder of his life David Piner would claim that he had been rescued by two wolves who changed into two naked boys.
Most humans attributed David's story to delirium brought on by his injuries, but the old Chief Ranger, Wild Ox Daniels, a Cherokee Indian, suspected there were Shape-Shifters about in his forest. His people had legends of such, going back into the mists of time.
Like all of his people, Wild Ox knew that the shape-shifters were protectors of humans, only the white man called them Werewolves. He knew joy whenever he heard the music of Jeremiah and his companions running through the forest and his most fervent wish was to someday meet a shape-shifter face to face.
School had started and Jeremiah was growing out of all his clothes, his father had always seen to it that he and his mother had sufficient money for their needs, but, this time, Franklin Tate wanted to take his son himself and get his new clothes.
Instead of going to Sears or WalMart, he took Jeremiah up to Charlotte and they went to upscale men's clothing stores. He outfitted his son in several fine suits and school clothing he felt befitted a Prince Alpha. He let Jeremiah pick out his Wranglers and pull over shirts, but he also insisted on dress up clothes. He said, "Jeremiah, you are my heir, you are the Lord Prince Alpha. You will represent me in all you do, everywhere you go. We are the oldest and largest Clan in the world and all others look up to us for leadership."
They continued shopping and Franklin asked his son, "Have you your driving license yet?" Jeremiah replied that he did, so Franklin took him into the Ford Dealership. A salesman walked up to them and said quietly, "How may I serve you, Lord Alpha Leader?"
Jeremiah's eyes bugged out and his Father continued, "This is Jeremiah, the Prince Alpha." The salesman bowed low and replied, "How may I serve you Lord Prince Alpha?" Jeremiah looked at his Father and Franklin leaned over, "Pick out what vehicle you wish. You may choose anything you really want."
Jeremiah started to say what he wanted and he heard in his mind, "Anything you wish, you choose, my Son."
Jeremiah learned something in that exchange, one, he was the son of a very wealthy being who truly did love him and two, he could mind speak with his Father.
He asked to see a Ford F-150 pickup truck with four doors. The salesman took them to a bright red truck that had Jeremiah drooling.
Franklin told the man to have it delivered to the house in Cashiers.
Jeremiah asked, "He knows where I live?"
His Father chuckled, "He had better, he has helped guard you since the day you were born."
The two returned to Cashiers with armloads of purchases, Jeremiah insisted on showing his Mother the suits his Father had purchased for him.
His Mother looked at the new clothing admiringly and said, "You can wear this one to the Winter Conclave."
Jeremiah asked, "Winter Conclave?"
Franklin said, "Yes, on the Winter Solstice we meet with all the leaders within our Clan. This year, it will be near Table Rock. There, you will be introduced to all our folk as the Heir Apparent."
Jeremiah replied, "OH!" It was finally hitting home that his carefree days were ending, he was heir to his Father and would have to learn much in order to fulfill any duties required of him.
Franklin hugged his son and mind sent to him, "Yes, you TRULY ARE my son and heir!"
While his Father and Mother were talking, Chub came over and, despite their true age differences, they remained close friends. Jeremiah showed off his new clothes and told Chub about the F-150 Truck that would be delivered the next day. Chub was excited for Jeremiah and was anxious to see the truck for himself.
We shall next see Prince Alpha Jeremiah as he is introduced to the Clan Conclave and exposed to Werewolf politics. Jeremiah will have to set up his own residence as the Prince Alpha and represent his Father.