Story of Liulf, the Firewolf

Revised 17 October 1996

My ancestors came from a little town called Llwyn Blaidd (pronounced chlooeen blithe) or Wolveswood. Wolveswood is in county Glamorgan is southern Wales. Of course, Wolveswood wasn't always a small village. It was once one of the wealthiest places in the whole of the country. There was, after all, so much that the land had to give to the people. The wealth of the land was so great, in fact, that everyone wanted to move to Wolveswood. And those who already lived there, wanted to raise many children in that glorious place.

With so many new people in Wolveswood every single day, the farmers had to continually plow more fields and find better was to harvest crops. It was hard to keep up!! But they managed to do it, and they enjoyed it because they lived in such a great place. And the farmland stretched out over the surrounding hills as far as the eye could see.

The hunters that also provided the town with food also had a harder time finding game. Every week, they had to go farther and farther away from town to find enough meat to feed everyone in Wolveswood. But they too, enjoyed doing this for the sake of living in such a wonderful place.

In fact, the only bad thing about all the new people in Wolveswood was that some of them had diseases that spread very rapidly to other villagers. There were so many people in Wolveswood that it was very difficult to stop these diseases.

All of this went on for a number of years. The village now had so many people that no one knew everyone else in the town. So it took a few days before the existing residents of Wolveswood realized that no one had entered the town recently. This seemed a bit odd to everyone, but they didn't worry about it too much, for they lived in the greatest place already! Why should they worry about whether other people moved there?

It was a little while longer before some of the residents realized that friends or family had not returned from short journeys away from Wolveswood. And search parties sent to find the missing people never returned. For the first time in the history of Wolveswood, the people knew fear. They had no idea what was going on.

Then there were the happenings at night. Long, low howls that seemingly went on for hours, and a single pair of eyes that could be seen on the hills around town. Bright, big, glowing eyes, looking down into the village. No one could look at those eyes of in the distance without getting a chill up and down the spine. And I mean no one. Even during the light of day, people were afraid to venture out of town.

Then the crops in the fields began to fail. The same crops in the same fields that used to produce food in abundance now were all but barren. And the hunters could no longer travel far enough to hunt game because of the terrible thing that lived in the surrounding hills. The townsfolk were often forced to go to bed hungry.

As people remained closer and closer to the village, the eyes too, came in closer and closer. Then one day one of the hunters ran into town screaming wildly. No one could stop him! Finally a group of the strongest men in town were able to catch him and hold him down. And they still had a hard time doing it even though there were seven of them! Everyone gathered 'round and tried to figure out what the hunter was screaming about. The only word they were able to understand was "liulf". Firewolf. Now they knew that the eyes in the darkness belonged to a wolf of enormous proportions. The townsfolk were even more frightened than before.

When winter came, conditions became even worse. Food was more scarce, and the Firewolf was often seen near the town. And still, no one entered the Wolveswood, and anyone who left the town was never heard from again. The Firewolf's eyes seemed to grow even brighter too. It's eyes would glow red hot even on the coldest nights. Her gaze turned snow into water, and melted even the bravest man's courage.

I referred to the Firewolf as a she there, but no one really knows if the Firewolf is male or female.

Life continued in this horrible state for a long time in Wolveswood. Then, still long before my birth, a hag came to our village one especially bright morning. She was the only one who had been able to make it through the woods past the Firewolf in a lifetime. She told the townsfolk of the only way to release themselves from the grip of the Firewolf. The townspeople, desperate and afraid, agreed to work with the hag to kill the Firewolf. They immediately went to work on shields and swords for the hag to instill with her magic, in preparation for the impending battle. At the end of the day, the hag was given the only empty hut, on the east end of the village. With a hard days work behind them, all went soundly to sleep.

Early the next morning, all arose, ready for the impending battle. But when the people left their homes, smoke filled the air. Sometime in the night, the hags hut had been burned to the ground. No one had heard or seen a thing, but no one asked what had happened. They just knew that the Firewolf had to be responsible.

Downtrodden and frustrated, the people threw their shields and freshly sharpened swords into the river. They were not accomplished fighters, and would stand no chance against the Firewolf and his minions without the aid of the hag and her grand magic, if indeed there had actually been any magic to begin with.

Also that morning, midway through the night, a woman gave birth to twins, born by the light of the only two fires in the village. The woman died later that morning, and her husband had died a fortnight earlier when his cart broke and fell upon him. The townspeople all decided to take care of the children together. The children, on general consent, remained nameless since their parents weren't able to name them.

Years passed, no one else left or entered the village, and the two twins grew into smalls. They were strong and intelligent for their age, and were the pride of the town. Not a moment went by that one of the townsfolk wesn't with those two little boys. Never were they left alone.

But one day, the armourers hut caught fire, and all of the able bodied townsfolk went to help put out the fire. The unattended twins, not knowing what else to do, wandered off into the woods. As soon as the fire was put out, the townsfolk realized their two precious boys were missing. Several of the men decided to go and find them. Their love was that strong. So strong that they would venture into the woods from whence no man had ever returned.

The men did not return by nightfall. Nor did they return in the morning. The town mourned for its great loss. But, the townsfolk of Wolveswood continued on through many seasons, working in the fields as best they could, and making their wares, all in solemn isolation from the outside world.

Then came a day when the armourer woke to find a strong young man in his shop working a piece of metal. The armourer was not sure whether to be cross at the interloper or delighted that someone had been able to get past the Firewolf after so many years. The armourer approached the stranger warily. When the young man turned around, the armourer instantly recognized him. It was one of the twin boys, that had disappeared years ago during the fire.

The young man turned and greeted the armourer as if he had never left town. The young man told the armourer that he knew the way to return to the peaceful time before the Firewolf. He said that he was making the ultimate weapon. The armourer was overwhelmed. Not only did one of the beloved twins return after so many years, he was going to help the town kill the firewolf! Well, the armourer ran out of his shop and began yelling at the top of his lungs for the town to come to his place to hear the great news. When the townsfolk had all gathered around the armourer told them that one of their long lost twins was in his shop making a weapon to help them defeat the Firewolf.

Everyone tried to squeeze into the armourer's shop to see this glorious sight and to see this wonderful weapon that could kill the infamous Firewolf. As the residents filed in, the young man gave each person simple metal ring with a crude likeness of the Firewolf in the center. The people were still excited, but were growing confused. Where was this weapon the armourer had spoken of?

The young man had to explain his point several times before the people began to understand what he was saying. He had already given them the means to fight the Firewolf. The townsfolk were incredulous! How could that little piece of metal kill that huge wolf!

The young man explained that the Firewolf had already stopped tormenting the village of Wolveswood. Indeed, no one had heard it's long low howls last night! The townsfolk thought that the young man must have already killed the Firewolf and began to praise him. They immediately gave him the name Uleric, "wolf ruler".

But Uleric had not slain the Firewolf. For you see, the Firewolf only came to restore the balance that once belonged to Wolveswood. There were too many people in Wolveswood before. They killed all of the game for food, and chopped all the trees for new huts, and cleared the land for more fields of crops. Uleric instructed the townsfolk to go outside and look around. Were there not now deer in the fields around town? Yes! Were the beautiful trees not beginning to grow on the hills around town? Yes!

The people lived in such fear for so long, that they hadn't noticed these things returning to Wolveswood. Uleric then asked everyone to look at the simple medallions he had given them and said "This is thy weapon 'gainst the Firewolf and my brother, who hath made firm to remain with the Firewolf, symbolic of this new union we need keep. Set thy eyes upon this medallion and be joyful to live here in Llwyn Blaidd. Take care not to take more than Llwyn Blaidd can give. For this glory of all places in which we live, is the wolves' wood too."

And ever since that day, the people of Wolveswood never remove their medallions. And they continue to heed the advise of that great ancestor, Uleric. Never do they ask more of each other or the surrounding hills then that person or place can provide harmoniously. And to ensure that life continues on like this, they have kept there town a secret. So secret, that you'll not find Llwyn Blaidd or Wolveswood on any map.

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