|Favorite Civic:||Military State|
|Favorite Wonder:||Form of the Titan|
He was lost. The realization suddenly dawned on him, in all its cold and inescapable horror. He had no idea where the camp was. He had been taken along on the hunt, for the first time, but now the others had left him here. He was about to panic, but he steeled himself against the cold and loneliness instead, remembering what could happen if you lost control out here.
Charadon wandered about the windswept plains for some time, catching a few rabbits and eating them raw, as his father had taught him just a few weeks--an eternity it seemed now--earlier. As twilight gave way to moonlight, he saw a hill close by, and decided to climb it.
To him, wolves had always been defined by the distant howling at midnight, or the shadowy shapes sometimes darting at the edges of the campfire's light. He had never had the chance to behold them in their stark glory before. Their graceful figures, stalking across the land, always poised to strike, never letting their guard down. Their thick grey fur providing shelter from the wind and ice. Their powerful jaws, with teeth fit for crushing and grinding.
For the next few weeks, he followed the wolves. Always taking care to keep a safe distance, he diligently observed the behaviour of the pack with a child's curiousity.
One thing he noticed was the sheer brutal efficiency that signified its progress, not constrained by the human emotions of compassion and mercy. If one among the pack had been hurt or struck by fatigue, the others merely left it for dead on the icy ground, unless prey had been scarce lately, then they welcomed the food supply their weaker kin provided.
If a young pup was born weak or crippled, it was the father's prime duty to crush its neck and throw it aside, as a human would throw down a broken spear. When the hunt was on, and a prey was taken down, the wolves did not share the spoils equally, but fought to the death for it, young as well as old, male as well as female.
At first these things horrified the young Charadon, but gradually the horror gave way to admiration. Because the wolves, thanks to these measures, were very efficient at what they did. By rooting out the weaknesses of individuals, the pack managed to survive. In a world as harsh as this, unyielding cruelty was the greatest tool in the struggle for resources.
One day, as he climbed a hillside to get a view of the progress of the pack, he spied the smoke of campfires in the horizon. Greatly uplifted by the sight, he made his way towards the camp. As he approached the camp, moving slowly down the hillside, he gazed at its inhabitants. What a contrast compared to the wolves! Here, the elderly were brought food by the hunters, the children nursed in their mothers' tender embrace and the sick cared for by herbal medicine and gentle treatment. They were glorifying weakness. At this sight, and this realization, something deep in the heart of Charadon went cold and dark. With a clarity both liberating and dreadful, he suddenly knew what he had to do.
Charadon stood on the hillside and watched the slaughter. His people had been taken completely by surprise by the pack of wolves. His face was expressionless as he watched them drag his mother out of her tent, and fight over her entrails. His father attempted to stop them, only to be ripped apart by the leader of the pack. As he stood there, silently waiting, what was left of his people, the strongest and fiercest among them, finally managed to drive the wolves away. The worthy ones. He made his way down the hillside, to join up with the survivors. There would be a place for them in the future after all.