The Sparrow and the Wolf

She will be your only weakness.

Prologue

Ragged gasps echoed through a forest that was surreally quiet. No animal dared to make a sound save for breathing. All eyes were on a creature in the center of the forest: a dark creature with luminous golden eyes. The anger, the fury: the confusion that radiated from an animal far too dangerous to be trifled with was what kept the others silent. Only the wind whispered through the trees, stirring the branches with its breath, taunting the black animal.

He was a wolf—at least, that was what his appearance led others to think. His golden eyes were sparkling in the darkness with a rage that was unfamiliar to the other occupants of the forest. His head cocked as he listened to the voice that spoke to him: a voice that a human could never hear. Left ear twitching, he snarled and bared his teeth, but there was nobody to threaten. He paced the clearing where he stood, the pads on his feet brushing over leaves and branches without making a sound. No, he wasn't a wolf.

Quicker than the blink of an eye, a young man stood where the wolf had been pacing. His dark hair, black silk in the moon's light, reached past his shoulders. He ran a hand through the dark tresses and shook his head in frustration. His golden eyes, framed by long lashes, narrowed in anger.

"I refuse to believe such a thing," he declared in a low, gravelly voice. "No mere human ever has nor ever will claim my heart. I understand the consequences of such an occurrence."

The wind quieted for a moment. Then, it softly replied to his words. Eriwyn will be the first to die. By the time you realize who she is, it will already be too late. She will be your only weakness.

"What you really mean is that she will be the cause of my death!" the young man shouted.

The wind blew loudly, playing with the young man's hair. Closing his eyes, he tilted his head back, waiting for the one word that would make anger boil in his veins.

Yes.

His eyes flew open, enraged. "I can stop this!" he protested, waving a hand in the air. "I have created my own sanctuary. Humans pass through this forest without knowing that I exist! Those that see me… Well, they don't live to tell the tale. Unlike Melina, I don't encourage interaction with…mortals."

Melina will be the only one left to fight against those who will cause our lands harm.

The voice of the wind belonged to his brother, Ciel, who had tried to betray them all. If he closed his eyes, he could see his brother's face as well as Melina's and Eriwyn's. He refused the urge to do so; after living for thousands of years, he could not dwell on the past for even one moment when his life was nearing an end.

"What is her name?" he asked.

The wind did not answer his question. Eriwyn will die soon. She always was naïve, wasn't she? I'm surprised she lasted as long as she has.

"Ciel!" the young man all but growled.

I will not reveal anything more to you, Lycan. You will be happy if that's any consolation. The enemy has begun his journey toward our sacred lands. The scrolls, the old ways: all of it will be gone if he succeeds.

"Will he succeed?"

The wind stilled before it spoke. There is a way to stop him. You will play your part before your death. Melina will ask you for your help. You mustn't refuse her. The most beautiful girl in all the lands will bear a child. No harm must come to that girl before the babe is born.

Lycan crossed his arms casually before he spoke. "Why should I help Melina when I'm going to die? Forgive me for feeling resentful about this."

Ciel's voice carried amusement when he answered. You won't feel resentful.

The young man returned to wolf form and turned his back on the wind, lying down in the grass. "I don't believe you," he replied. "Humans irritate me. Why should I believe you?"

A chuckle reached his ear, and he twitched the appendage in irritation.

After thousands of years, you still sound like a whiny little child. You haven't matured at all, have you?

"And you're just as spiteful as always. Tell me, brother, are you happy being the way you are? What will you do when we're gone and nobody can hear your voice? I suppose that it may be better to die than to be ignored and forgotten."

The wind didn't answer. Closing his eyes, Lycan concentrated. Who was she? Where was she? He'd have to kill her before she stole his heart. His vision was blurred on the edges, but he could make out the house. Smoke billowed from a chimney. If only he could get closer…

Inside, there sat a handsome man with a scraggly beard and a pretty young woman. The ring on her finger proved that she was married or had been at one point in time. Although she was pretty, he felt nothing for her. No, there had to be someone else.

Yet, he couldn't see anyone other than the man and woman inside the home. Had he checked the bedroom upstairs, he would've seen a young girl. But he lacked patience and soon gave up, declaring Ciel to be a fool.