The Collector Series: The Wanderer

The Wanderer Book Five

From Book 4

The outside world was growing, and humans and their wolves were moving from the protected areas that had sheltered them and were recolonizing the world, as the years passed, more and more outsiders found their villages and made the trip in an effort to trade. It would not be much longer before the evils that had destroyed the world of the ancients would return. The wolves and the felines would be the humans' first line of defense against the evils of the outside world.

Chapter 1 - LONG ROAD HOME

The trickle of immigrants from Old Village kept the memory of their old home fresh in the minds of the folk of the four villages. The way was long and difficult and certainly not for the faint of heart. There were, however, a considerable number of humans and their wolves still living in Old Village and the emerging entrepreneurs of the new villages sensed an opportunity for trade.

They began a campaign in each of the village councils to open a road to Old Village. It was not opposed as many humans and their wolves had relatives still living there and some of the finest blade knappers still lived in the old village. The matter was brought up several times in Council as support for the project grew.

Finally, the idea had sufficient support so that the councils were forced to consider the matter. It was decided to lay out and open a trade road from Paradise Village to Old Village on the Plain of Nev. Eager traders began immediately to stock up with trade items they thought the villagers of Old Village would be interested in trading for.

It would take them two warm times to finally open the road and, almost before the last stone had been rolled from the pathway, traders with their hand carts were racing over the pass to be the first to carry Old Village goods down the mountain to the new villages and beyond.

An influx of finely wrought knives, spear tips and war blades came into the new villages. In return, spices, seeds, dried meats, water grass grains and new medicines were carried back to Old Village. The diets of the folk living in Old Village improved almost immediately.

Perhaps as important as the new products was the information about families and friends long separated by the difficult trail. News was always a precious commodity and the startling news about Pol and his Great Feline family had Old Village aflame in rumor. No one, human OR wolf in Old Village could believe that felines could live in peace with wolves and humans. It was so startling an idea that two human younglings, Lac and Noa decided to go see for themselves. Accompanied by their wolf companions, Kle and Mes, the group left Old Village in mid-warm time.

They traveled with a group of traders and earned their keep during the long journey by keeping the traders supplied with firewood and camp meat. In return, the traders allowed the younglings a place to sleep at darkfall and provided them companionship.

The sun made many winks before they arrived at Paradise Village. The four companions kept looking around for the dreaded Felines said to be living there. They had almost given up, believing that the felines were mere campfire tales. Just at that time, a feline kit came trotting by, the kit, Loa, told the two human and two wolf younglings a courteous "Good Morning" as she passed by them.

Unknown to any of them, her grandfather, Pol, was watching from his favorite tree limb. The four from old Village were so stunned that all they could do was stare at the small feline kit as she passed by.

Lion & Cub JPGJust as they began to follow Loa, Pol dropped from his limb overhead and landed with a thud behind them. They twirled around and found themselves confronted by a huge male feline, his face held a grin of terrible teeth. He thought to them, "You are not thinking of harming my grandkit are you?"

The four friends were backing away from the terrible apparition, frantically looking for a place to run. They all sent back, "nnnnnoos no ssir!" Pol grinned and replied, "That's good fellows, let's all go lay in the warm sunshine and get to know each other."

The frightened visitors were hesitant to follow the huge feline, but they saw other humans and wolves casually greet the huge beast, so they followed him to a sunny spot beside the pond.

After a few moments in talking with Pol, they soon lost their fear and were eager to learn all they could about the felines living in the new villages.

The two boys spent several five-days in the village with their new companions and they became firm friends of the felines before deciding to remain in Paradise Village. There was too much for them there, they did not want to return to the hardships of Old Village. In Old Village, food was scarce, the weather was bleak and the game was difficult to come by.

They sent messages back to their families by the traders, hoping their families would come and join them. Unfortunately, their families, human and wolf, were not as brave as their sons and they elected to remain in Old Village.

Stories of the Great Felines, however, continued to intrigue youngling males of both humankind and wolfkind and a small but steady stream of younglings made their way over the newly opened road to Paradise Village. There, they would be confronted by POL, who had read their minds at least two days out, before they ever reached Paradise Village.

Many of the youngling humans were already trained in the skills of their fathers and they found a ready market for the tools, weapons and utensils they were able to make using the old traditions. Their finely made tools and weapons found traders anxious to market their products in the new villages and traders were anxious to export them along their new trade routes to distant tribes. Both parties took profit and came away from the trade happy in their dealings.

Blaq, a near-adult human who had left his family and home in the old village, had traveled to Paradise Village to seek his fortune. The son of a potter in Old Village, he discovered a bank of fine white clay near the small stream that fed the pond.

He experimented with it and was soon turning out fine pottery that improved over time. When fired, the clay was strangely translucent and his work was in high demand. He was able to fashion large bowls and platters that were in high demand among the village women as well with the traders.

Two youngling brothers, who had been taught brickmaking by their father, they were tired of the hardships of the old village and they immigrated to Paradise along with Blaq. They discovered a nearby deposit of adobe clay and they were soon producing finely molded bricks that did not easily break and the cold time storms did not turn them into a gelatinous blob of goo.

Their bricks were being sold almost before they had been cooled from the firing! Their new bricks did not crumble in the rains and they did not leave a coating of clay dust on everything inside a home constructed of them. They had sold some of their bricks to a trader for several fine knives and a spear point. They were anxiously waiting for the next warm time, when the trader had promised to come back and tell them how their bricks fared in his home village.

Like Blaq, they needed to hire other boys to keep up with the demand and, before long, mothers were eyeing them as possible mates for their daughters! They were not opposed to such a deal, but they were having too much fun with those same daughters right now to be overly interested in settling down with just one of them.

The four villages were becoming a hub, roads went off in different directions to places where small communities of humans and their wolves were springing up. It was a time of expansion, for the first time in several thousands of years that families were having more than two children.

The pool of human younglings outnumbered the rest of the population combined! All the villages were bursting at their seams with people and wolves. The Great Felines stayed pretty much to themselves and they all looked so similar, the Humans were not sure just how many of them lived among them.

Everywhere anyone looked, there was new construction going on, a few of the traders were setting up permanent shops in addition to their trading carts and every five day, there was a market in each village. The whole area between Paradise Village and the lake had been turned into a trading field and villagers came from the outlying villages to trade. It was like a fair and traders would come for the entire season.

Originally, the markets were for produce, but bread was added, then leather workers set up shop, as did those who made foot coverings. Potters began displaying their wares and a whole row of booths was reserved for food vendors.

The wolves delighted in visiting the booths and enjoying the smells and companionship of the humans congregating in large numbers. Even the normally aloof great felines were not above accepting an offering of cooked meat on a stick!

Wander and Gar roamed the new villages, delighting in the vibrancy of the newly evolving culture. It was exactly what they had been sent there to accomplish. Their reports back to the Star Council were received with great satisfaction, the ancient race of Humankind had been pulled back from the brink of extinction!

Wander was not seen again for many years, he had been sent elsewhere. But Gar did not pine for his life companion, he KNEW what was to happen, besides, he had all these new humans for companionship.


Nearly every day during the first part of the warm time, there were groups departing one or more of the new villages to settle in some far-off place. In one group, there was an unlikely pair, a young female Great Feline, Lea, and a young wolf, Taz. Both were friends since their early times and Lea yearned for the adventure that so many of her youngling wolf friends had told her about. Not wanting to go alone, she talked Taz into going with her.

A seed trader, Jam, had agreed to lead the two across the empty plains to the small village of Lorn, where he had contracted with a grower to produce vegetable seeds for him.

Lea and Taz were to keep predators and thieves away from his cart in both directions. There would not be many who were sufficiently brave to steal from a cart that was guarded by both a Great Feline and a huge Wolf!

Both the youngsters thought it would be a grand adventure and they would still have human companionship with Jam and his young son Dik. It would be the best of all possible worlds!

They set off on a cloudless morning, headed in the direction of the late-day sun. The way was easy and the path was well marked by the wheel ruts of previous travelers. The pair walked on either side of the cart, other travelers on the path gave them a wide berth upon spotting the two huge beasts.

Jam stopped each late afternoon, giving them a chance to prepare a meal. Lea and Taz always brought a rabbit or a grass bird for the humans to prepare for their supper. It was all dry land, covered in grasses, with a few waterholes scattered around the landscape.

Lorn was one of the furthest out villages and it took them three five-days to get there. It was a small village, surrounded by fields where the villagers grew their seeds.

There were ten neat homes and a dozen wolves came out to meet the travelers. The wolves were a little hesitant to accept Lea, but Taz vouched for her and the local Pack Leader, Mal, had heard of the Great Felines living among the villagers.

The Trader and his son planned on staying two five-days before they would head back. They had many trade items collected during their travels, to trade for the seeds and bulbs they had promised the villagers in Paradise.

At night, either Taz or Lea slept under the wagon, after the first intrusion, the wagon was never bothered again. Lea had a swatch of trouser material that she rested her head on and the story of how she got it soon spread all over the village!

A shamefaced village youngling had to explain to his sire just why he needed a new set of trousers!

There was a whole new territory for Lea and Taz to explore and they roamed the countryside seeing the sights and learning of new plants and animals. They were making a name for themselves and the Trader they had come with.

A more unlikely pair could never be imagined, but they were happy in each other's company and the Trader was delighted that nothing had disappeared from his cart!

Near the end of their stay, Lea and Taz were exploring a creek and they heard a noise they did not recognize. Checking the bushes, they discovered a small human pup, he could not have been more than four or five warm times.

The mother instinct in Lea rose to the surface and she curled around the crying pup, snuggling him to her chest and purring. Taz checked the surrounding area and found no trace of the pup's sire or dam.

He backtracked the pup's steps and found what horrified him, a burned shelter and the decomposing bodies of two adult humans. He sent to Lea what he had discovered and she replied, "The pup is sleeping now, when he wakes, let us take him to the village, surely a human family will take him in."

Chapter 3 - A NEW FAMILY

The pup slept into the darkfall, so they waited until the next morning to return to the trader's camp. None of the villagers wanted anything to do with the orphaned child and Trader Jam agreed to carry the child in his cart back to Paradise Village as the trader's son, Dik, came to love the young human orphan.

As they were leaving, Taz told Pack Leader Mal of the shameful way the humans had treated a helpless human pup, the wolves were greatly shamed and two of their strongest members refused to stay in a village with such unkind humans and they stalked out of the village to join with Lea and Taz. They made sure the villagers knew why they were leaving!

Two lights away from the village, Pack Leader Mal and his pack caught up to the Trader and asked to join with him. Mal later told Taz that the pack's honor would not permit them to remain with humans who lacked honor and refused care to a helpless pup!

Dik pleaded with his father to allow the young human orphan be part of their family. Dik's dam had died earlier and it was just him and his sire. Jam could not resist the pleas of his son, nor the sad eyes of the human child and, in less than a light, he caved in and agreed to accept the tiny human.

They named him Kaa and he was to prove that ancient adage, "From tiny seeds, mighty trees grow". In a few short warm cycles, Kaa would prove to be a mighty warrior, standing head and shoulders above other humans and would protect his father and brother against all foes. He proved to be a powerful mind speaker and a leader of other men. His great fangs and blood-red eyes came to young Kaa at an early age. He was a fearsome warrior and an even more fearsome Vampire!

Like Wander, who he greatly resembled, he would live many years beyond those given ordinary humans and be of a like stature, many would wonder if there was a blood tie between the two huge men.

The trader and his now enlarged party arrived back in Paradise, their cart loaded with seeds. Trader Jam brought samples of the plants the seeds would become, and even in their dried state, the plants excited the folk and his cart was empty in less than a five-day! The trip had been so profitable, Jam decided to make the trip each warm time. Taz and Lea stayed with Trader Jam, making the trip each warm time with him. Kaa stayed with them and was a valuable member of the trading team.

As Dik grew into adulthood, he and his father added a second cart to their enterprise and their business thrived, they began trading in live plants and small trees as well as seeds. They were becoming a thriving business and it didn't hurt that the giant Kaa and their two animal friends traveled with them. Kaa so resembled Wander that people came to wherever he was just to see the giant man.

Kaa gained much wisdom in his travels and he became famous as a teacher, much like the being he so closely resembled. Taz grew beyond what those of his kind did and, soon, the rumor began that he was The Beast come back among them. When he was asked, he smiled, as much as a wolf can smile, and change the subject. Was he The Beast reincarnated? Nobody knew, but rumors of sighting of The Beast continued to grow.

Dik tried adding a few leather goods and foot coverings to his load and they sold out immediately. Emboldened, they both began carrying other goods on their travels. Their carts were becoming so heavy that it took two adult humans to push them.

He began thinking of a way his cart could be pushed without the backbreaking labor. As he was headed to an outlaying village, he passed a field where two humans were plowing a field with a plow pulled by a herd beast. He wondered, "Could not a herd beast pull my cart rather than a human push it?"

When he returned to Paradise, he traded some seeds for a young herd beast and he began experimenting. Before long, Dik's cart had become a larger wagon and was frequently seen along the trade paths heavily laden with trade goods.

Jam soon followed his son's example, to some it was a scary sight to see Jam's heavily laden trade wagon coming down the path with a Great Feline, Lea, sitting on top of the load like a queen!

Kaa followed his older brother and his father into being a trader. They were beginning to get reports of trade carts being robbed and the traders murdered. Crime was also returning to the human world!

When someone tried to rob Kaa's wagon, the rumors of The Beast again, came streaking across the land. No matter how he denied it, the rumors persisted, so he just ignored them.

Jam had a knife maker make a special metal knife made for his youngest son, Kaa. It was to be made of irn, the most difficult metal to work. Only such a man as Kaa had become, could wield such a heavy weapon and, after a few lessons, the bandits learned to leave the huge human and his strange irn long knife alone! They were unsure which was worse, the rumors or the Knife itself!

Lea had found herself a mate and Jam's house became a nursery for Great Feline kits, her first litter was four kits, two males and two females. She and her mate, Gos, were proud parents.

There remained a few diehard humans in Paradise that did not approve of the felines and they tormented the little kits until their Great Grandfather, Pol, got wind of it. He went to have a discussion with the humans who did not like his great grandkits, he left the humans with the terrible need to clean out their trousers.

The rest of the humans and all the wolfkind accepted the felines and Lea found herself scolding her kits for eating so many treats on market day!

As the kits grew, it became a trademark of Jam's family, each wagon load carried a Great Feline riding on top of the load. Theft and pilferage went to near zero! Even those traders who did not have a Great Feline on board benefitted, a would-be robber could never be certain he was not going to become feline food!


Wander had been missing for many tens of warm times, children had grown to adults and then they grew old, all wondering if the savior would ever return. His look-alike, Kaa, seemed not to age and the rumors of The Beast persisted.

It was a warm day in Paradise, the children were down for their naps, curled up with either a kit or pup and the adults were taking their ease while the teens planned for their evening Carry Ball game. Gar and Pol were sitting in the shade, where the main path entered the village, as if they were expecting someone.

They were!

They sensed two individuals coming down the trail and they KNEW who they were. Wolf and Great Feline stood, with their heads bowed as the pair came closer, both sent, "Welcome Home Great Wander and thy mate as well."

All the wolves in the village began to howl and the great felines began roaring in a joyous welcome. The wolves and felines lined the path and bowed as the two passed, then they took up station behind Wander and the other Great One, whom they recognized as a female.

All the villagers gathered to find out what the roaring and howling was about. They went wild with joy when they saw that it was Wander who had entered their village.

The younglings, human, wolf and feline had never seen Wander before, but their sires and dams had made sure that they all know of the Great One who had saved them from certain starvation. The younglings crowded around the two, wanting to touch and be touched by this living legend.

Holding on to his companion's hand, Wander sent to all present, "This is my mate, you cannot pronounce her real name any more than you can my own. Her name to you shall be MOTHER, as she carries my babe! I have been released from my service to the Star Folk and we shall live out our lives among you. Mother and I shall guide you and help bring back the good that was once yours, YOU, the folk of this world shall again take your place among the folk of the stars. You think Mother and I are different from yourselves, but, I tell you, our ancestors and your ancestors were the same folk. Now, where is my brother, Kaa?"

The village went into a riot, food were brought out and young girls and boys were dancing on the Carry Ball field. The most powerful mind-speakers began calling to their brethren in the other villages to let them know what was taking place.

It would be several five-days before those of the furthest villages could arrive and the Great Felines and Wolves would have to assist those of Old Village in crossing the mountains, but, at that moment, all of humankind and their companions, the Wolves and Felines, knew that Wander had returned with his Mate, Mother.

Searchers were sent out to find Kaa, now they knew the truth of the rumors that had circulated for so many years.

In the days that followed, Wander told the Humans of the History of Humankind. How they had sprung forth from this world to the stars and found few others among the pinpricks of light seen in the heavens. Through wars and time, only those who had come from this world had survived, they were alone in the Great Cosmos and Wander had been sent to save what remained of their own ancestors.

Wander turned to address the Great Felines and the Wolves, "The Counsel of the Stars has directed me to invite thee, the Great Felines and the Wolves to join the Family of Earth, this world, and take your places among the Star Folk. Elect your representative, for at the end of three five-days, those whom you elect shall be transported to the Great Star Chamber and you will be part of the governing body of all our folk."

So it was that the home world of the last remaining Star Folk rejoined the Family of the Stars and again walked upon worlds they had never dreamed existed.

Wander and his mate, Mother, refused to again leave the world of their race's origin.

The child that Mother carried was born, a girl child whom they named Star Shine. Over the years, three more children were born unto them, Day Star, World Star and Wander Star. They were all boy children and showed early promise to equal or even exceed their father's stature.

Each of the four children bonded with a Wolf and a Great Feline as their companions and, as they grew, they assisted the villagers in beginning a new phase in their lives.

Succeeding generations of the Home World Folk lived longer, grew taller and began redeveloping their world to receive their own children.

Finally, Kaa returned! He knelt before Wander and said, "I have done as you instructed me, my Lord Brother. Those who would have harmed the humans of this world are no more, I and the Great Beast inside me have destroyed the last of them. Humankind is free of the Great Evil and his minions who walked this world from the beginning of time. I return to thee that I might have communion with you and thy Mate. I shall stay with thee until the end of time."

Kaa held out his hand and a female of their kind came to stand beside him. None were to know from where she had come, but it was obvious she was with child. It would be a boy, whom they would name K'oo. Two more boys would follow, Lam'l and Ge'li. They would be as long-lived as their sire and the Great Wander and they would help watch after the Humankind and both the Wolfkind and the Great Felines before they mysteriously disappeared six thousand years in the future.

Wander, Kaa and Mother stayed with them for the next two thousand cycles of the seasons. Upon Wander's and Mother's death, a whole world went into mourning and the Council of the Stars met on the grass plains of Harmony Village to pay tribute to the Man and his Mate who had saved humanity, the last surviving member race of the Community Of The Stars.

Star Council President Oren Richarding spoke at their funeral. "The people of the Stars rejoice that the being known as Wander and his mate, Mother, lived among us. For, had they not, our days would have been numbered. We had lost the ability to have children, it took the folk of this world, the Mother World of all our kind, to replace what we had so foolishly thrown away. Rejoice folk of this world known as EARTH, for you are the progenitors of our kind and the saviors of us all. To you, we give thanks and wish you to know that never again shall be so foolish as to forget from whence we came."

Wander's and Mother's son, K'oo, continues his parents' quest, he remains to guard against those who would do harm to this world. Do not try to seek him out, he lives still and has taken a mate of his own. His son is his father's progeny and will continue the Guardianship of The Beast" granted to him by his Uncle K'aa. He and His Brothers remain in seclusion, watching over Humankind. It is rumored that two great animals have bonded with each one of them, a Great Feline and a Gigantic Wolf. Some say these animals are their mates, but none shall know the truth, it is their secret alone.