Kairulan Facts of the Week #7:
The story of Tris
The story, told by Tris
My name is Tris, and I am a lupus. I am also â€“ and this is what makes me unique even among the few Omega lupi in existence â€“ a sylvan. There are no other sylvan lupi on Kairula, for one simple reason: I am the first of my kind in over 100 years to have met a lupus, or even a human. My people â€“ my former people, I should say â€“ keep to themselves in a remote part of the Westerwood, where the only visitors are the occasional moredhel who strays too far south on a hunting trip, or who urgently needs our healing skills for one of their own people. While the eledhel may be skilled workers of green magic, the moredhel have sadly lost this affinity over their centuries of dealing in darker forces, and so they must turn to us for healing.
I say â€œourâ€ and â€œusâ€ from habit, but the truth is that the sylvans I grew up with would not now consider me to be one of them, and I am beginning to find that I do not, either. When I lived in the forest enclave that was my childhood home, I felt continually stifled and restricted by the strict rules laid down by the elders â€“ which, I grant, are the reason the sylvan race has survived so long, but it has always seemed to me that mere survival is a poor substitute for truly living.
This attitude, which seemed to my thirteen-year-old self to be unique among my people, is a large part of the reason why on one particular day, in the summer of 1982, I was walking through a part of the forest that was quite near to the eledhel city of Lothiliviel, and had the fortune â€“ or misfortune, as my family would have it â€“ to hear a child screaming for help quite close by. As, I am sure, any rational person would have done in my place, I rushed towards the sound â€“ and saw my first lupus, although I did not recognise him as such at the time. I saw an orange-haired human child, a boy perhaps three years my junior, whose foot had caught in a rabbit hole and caused him to trip, breaking his leg. There were no other people in sight, nor could I hear any coming to his aid.
One of the cardinal rules of our people, which had been instilled into me from a very young age, is that no sylvan may ever show himself to an outsider without permission from the elders. If I wanted to help the child, I would have to approach him, and therefore break that rule. Most of my peers would have dismissed the human and moved on, but there was something about this boy that fascinated me. Perhaps it was simply the allure of the unknown; he was, as I have said, the first person I had seen that was not an elf or another sylvan, and therefore strange and new. Perhaps I was simply looking for an excuse to disobey the elders.
Whatever my reasons, I approached the boy, spoke to him and healed his broken leg. We exchanged names, and I learned that he was Arthur Pendragon, a prince and the son of the King of Theriven. He was in the Westerwood, rather than at home in Camelot, because his father had brought him to Lothiliviel to meet his future bride. I then helped him find his way back to the lupus guards who were looking for him, and went on my way with mixed feelings: I was happy to have helped Arthur, and to have used my powers to do something good for another person, but also felt nervous and guilty because I had broken a rule.
I had originally hoped that I might be able to hide my infraction from the rest of my village, but it was not to be. My younger sister Maie had followed me and seen everything, and naturally she immediately told our mother, who was horrified and dragged me before the village elders. For breaking one of the cardinal rules and potentially endangering the enclave, I was banished and sent out to roam the forest alone, and that might have been my fate for the rest of my life had I not encountered Arthur, for a second time, five weeks later.
During those weeks, while I had been living wild in the forest, he had been in Lothiliviel in the lap of luxury. However, he had grown tired of the strictly vegetarian diet of the eledhel and had persuaded his father that they should take a hunting party into the Westerwood to obtain some meat. In his youthful enthusiasm for the hunt, the boy had been separated from the rest of the party, and subsequently cornered by a large, brown mother bear protecting her cubs.
As I happened upon the scene, a paw the size of a dinner-plate was poised above the young princeâ€™s head, about to deal a crushing blow. Leaping forward, I pushed Arthur out of the way, the bearâ€™s claws leaving three gashes down the side of my face. I carry the scars to this day, but the boy survived unharmed and has now ruled in Camelot these last nineteen years, in his fatherâ€™s place.
For saving the life of his son and heir, King Uther rewarded me with a place in his court, as assistant to his healer. It was not very many years before I was the royal healer myself, my master having declared that he had no more to teach me; indeed, he had learnt more from me than I ever learnt from him.
I am now forty-four years old, and I have been a lupus for the last nineteen of those. When I was twenty-five, I came before Arthur and his father, having thought about the matter at great length, and petitioned to become a member of their pack. My petition was accepted as a fair reward for my twelve years of service in Camelot, and I was turned at the next full moon. The King and Prince were delighted to find that I was an Omega, the first the pack had seen in nearly half a century, but their feelings could not compare to the joy I felt at finally having a place to belong.
A picture of Tris: