The adventures of two foresters in an imaginary near future where science and mysticism work together to create harmony between men and nature by cooperating with a mysterious intelligent creature under their forest called woodsweaver.
Silent noises came from the bushes, wings flapped in the height, the air was full of sounds of bugs interrupted by an owl sometimes. Pale moon-light shone through the thin clouds, a wolf cried in the distance, the wake sheep looked nervously around, the asleep ones was shaking frightened. Franky lied on a triangular sheet stretched high between the trees looking into his infrared binoculars. He wasn’t interested in the brights spots of sheeps on the field, rather the yet invisible ones on the border of the forest. The ones also looking to the field for prey from the hiding between the trees. He stared into the darkness looking so hard that his eyes dried out.
– Ahhh, damn it! – he dropped the binoculars disappointedly – they will never come. That drunkard shepherd had surely miscounted its sheeps.
He looked aside to see whether his dampened words made any effect on Tibor, but he was in deep meditation. Or he was asleep as Franky supposed spitefully with a mischievous smile. Then he rolled his eyes and lied back on the sheet.
– What are we here anyway? Security guards? The dogs got day-off? – he murmured further.
He rolled on his back and watched the stars through the tree canopy. The preparations went on all the day: making the camp, installing the tech, getting comfortable for the watch. All because the shepherd’s stories about the wolf attacks made quite a lot of people nervous and everybody wanted proofs that wolves really attacked sheep in the woods. The task of Tibor and Franky was to get this proof. But the exciting task quickly turned into a boring, endless waiting for something to happen. He couldn’t talk, work, read or listen music in the hiding, just watching the border of the clearing and waiting, waiting, waiting. Actually the most comforting answer for the forestry was the most worrying for Franky: if there would be no wolf attacks then they had to wait all night for nothing. Franky was wondering again about the automation of the process. They had all the motion sensors, cameras, microphones and drones of the world, but Tibor was insitant to do the watch personally. All his objections was useless.
– But that is not the end of it – thought Franky, who had an overall plan for reforming the forestry – This night will be the beginning of a new era. No more magic and wizardry, night-shift, shivering and soaking, the technology will take it over soon. My loyal tools will inform me in case something happens and there is a need for a decision, but otherwise they will watch patiently and I can sleep in my bed.
– They’re coming! – said Tibor suddenly interrupting the dreams of Franky.
He didn’t even understand first what the old man said, then he realized he meant the wolves and he rolled so quickly, he almost fell off by the edge of the sheet.
– Where? – he raised the binoculars scanning edge of the forest.
– Patience! – Tibor calmed him – I feel them coming.
Franky just realized that his mentor saw nothing, but alerted him by the feelings he had from his meditation. He grinned. He was skeptic about such use of the wood’s voice. But before he could explicate his opinion supported by scientific references a new heat-spot appeared on the forest border. The vague spot had moved slowly, almost imperceptibly towards the clearing. It was too far to see its shape but it was clearly visible in the background of the cool ground. Then it suddenly accelerated and rushed towards the sheeps crying out frightened. As it ran it split and it was already two shapes charging on the herd. At this moment two large shepherd dogs jumped out from the herd and began their counter-attack. The two spots that now clearly had the shape of wolves turned back in a wide curve when they spotted the dogs and tried to escape towards the treeline each with a dog in its tail.
– Well these beasts won’t feast on sheep today – said Franky disappointed as he expected some more action.
But the sheep still sounded nervous crowded in the middle of the clearing. The shepherd was watching his dogs hoping that they can catch at least one of the wolves. Meanwhile the sheep started to cry out desperately and running along the edge of the woods pushing each other. Franky turned his head towards the sheep and spotted a group of spots running out from the trees. It was no doubt they were wolves. A whole pack. They reached the herd in seconds and the sheep scattered, most of them escaped to the center of the clearing, where the shepherd was heading calling for his dogs for help, but some of the sheep jumped into the woods running from the wolves between the trees. The herd stopped around the shepherd and his dogs, while the wolves disappeared with along some of the sheep. Their struggle could be heard for long time from the woods.
Tibor and Franky fell into the office exhausted. The horizon was already getting lighter to the east. After the whole night watch it took another long time to find the run-away sheep or what left of some of them. Then they had to listen to the complaints and curses of the shepherd, who swore that he will shoot the wolves the next time he sees them. He was rightfully upset, but the wolves were protected since their reappearance in the forest. It was a difficult situation to resolve. Tibor and Franky traveled wordlessly back to the forestry and now they were both watching the computer display.
– Any success? Did you catch them? – asked Tibor impatiently.
– We have plenty of signals – pointed Franky on the map – but it includes the ones that we took off the sheep. I have to filter them first. Franky turned off the net of routes and turned off the points that lead to the clearing and was already inactive. The remained three points indicated the trackers that sticked in the fur of the wolves. They placed the tiny tiny instruments in the bushes before the night came in order to collect data about the movement of the pack.
– These must be the members of the pack – he said, while he was naming the trackers to Pack-1, Pack-2 and Pack-3. – So far they moved together. We will need a couple of days to map their territory.
– We have no days and we will find out nothing else than the pack returning to the herd every night, until the shepherd starts to shoot the down. – said Tibor.
– Then the shepherd should send his sheep down to the valley, while we finish the investigation.
– That would be good, but he doesn’t really look like that. He is quite insitant about this field. No wonder, it has much better grass than the exploited valley fields.
– Well, who let him bring his sheep into the deep forest anyway?
– It is an old story. It started centuries ago and the wolves already disappeared because of it once. We cannot let it happen again.
– I have a feeling that uncle Tibor already made up his mind, so why don’t we jump to the next step? – hurried Franky with tired voice.
Tibor hesitated for a moment, then he told the plan that he kept to himself until that moment.
– We will find the pack and face their leader.
Franky froze for a second not knowing whether his mentor is talking seriously or it was only a tired irony after a long day. Finally he decided that it is the latter and he stood up from his chair stretching out.
– Good. At least we can study the first vegetarian pack of the World. – looked on Tibor with a tired smile and he grabbed his backpack.
– Where are you going? – asked Tibor surprised.
– Home. Where else? We were up all night. I’ll check the trackers when I wake up.
– I just told you that we have to find the pack.
– Damn. – thought Franky – he really said it seriously. – He was too tired to start any argument or even to show his surprise, his doubts or deep discomfort with the situation. He just dropped back to his chair with one deep sigh and started to look at the map.
– They are past the crow crag in the northern pines.
Tibor nodded and walked out without a word. Franky shut his eyes dreaming about a system administrator job at an accountant firm for a second, then he stood up, got his stuff and hurried after the old man.
They parked the jeep at the bottom of the crow crag and continued on foot. Because the trackers sent only one message per hour they didn’t know where the pack was exactly, but Tibor walked like he knew where they were going. Meanwhile the sun rose, its yellowish light covered the forest. Franky followed Tibor from a distance, he didn’t like the whole thing. The undergrowth was wet and slippery from the morning dew, they had to proceed carefully not to make much noise. They went around the crag from west and started up on the slope. Soon they reached the border of the pines, the undergrowth disappeared, but instead the low branches of the pines blocked the way. However, Tibor knew the place well and found a way through the maze. They arrived to a rocky clearing, where Tibor stopped.
– You wait here and watch! Keep the drone outside a mile, call it only when I tell.
– That minute while the drone arrives can be really long if you are chased by wolves.
– They’ve just fed themselves with sheep. They won’t attack unless I provoke them. The woodsweaver will help in the communication.
Franky made an I’ll-believe-when-I-see grin and got occupied by his wrist-display. Tibor sat at the leg of a tree and started to meditate. Nothing has happened for a long time, Franky saw nothing in his infrared binoculars even though the trackers indicated the pack only a few hundred meters away. About a quarter hour later Tibor got up from the tree and walked out to the rocky clearing. Nine wolves appeared from behind the large boulders and made a half ring around him. The leader stepped ahead in the middle, it had grey fur and blue eyes with a white collar around its neck. Its size was like the others but its behavior made its position clear. The leader looked at Tibor and Tibor back at the leader. They looked at each other as equals. Franky watched them anxiously. He heard no word or sound, neither of them moved, however the animal’s eyes showed intense emotions. The negotiation did not seem to go well. The leader looked angry and stepping towards Tibor threatening. The half-ring of the pack closed around Tibor, who had no more space to back. His fingers made small circles in the air, Franky understood the sign and called the drone in, but it was already too late. The pack leader jumped on the old man and pushed him to the ground. The scary fangs were just inches from his face. Franky could not watch passively, he had to do something. After a few moments he stepped out from the bushes with a flaming flare in his hand and he started to run towards the pack with a desperate cry. He was followed by an army of various drones rolling, bouncing and flying, making noises and blinking lights. The pack leader looked at them and the wolves in the ring turned towards them, but did not retreat a step. Franky stopped in front of the scary wolves not knowing what to do. The drones zig-zagged around them harmlessly. The leader’s look returned to the frightened Tibor intimidated by the scary fangs. Tibor tried to meditate, to ask the Woodsweaver for help, but only made the wolf even more angry. He felt the breath of the animal close, he felt the smell of the sheep’s blood in its mouth. The world started to get dark around him, he started to loose his consciousness. The air was vibrating and he saw a bright light far ahead of him getting stronger and larger. He wanted to reach the light, he wanted to fly to it, he stretched his hands towards it. Then something grabbed his hands and pulled him up and he started to raise, they were flying. Flying over the trees, into the clouds, away from those wolves.
The drone landed at the forestry. Tibor was devastated, but not because of the wolf. He was terrified by the message of the Woodsweaver carried the pollen and emphasized by the pack leader. That the clearing was theirs, it belonged to the forest and there was no place for men and any of the men’s animals there. Tibor always thought about the Woodsweaver as a piecefull, endlessly patient intelligence. But this time it was accompanied by unstoppable will. He was clueless. He put his whole life to the mediation between men and nature. He thought he is a diplomat between the forest and the people living around it. This conflict was a complete failure for him. Franky tried to calm him down. They had the proof, they did their task. There were others who could deal with the problem. But Tibor didn’t accept it, he didn’t trust the others. They argued endlessly without any result until they were too tired to continue and fell asleep in the office. A few hours later Franky woke up on noises. He looked on his watch and saw that they hardly slept any. But Tibor was already up packing hiking gear in a large bag. Tent, mats, cooker and food for many days disappeared in the bottomless bag. Franky leaned back grumpily and tried to go back to sleep, but the noises and the sun shining in through the window did not let him. He stood up from his chair and made some unbalanced steps towards his bag, looking Tibor from the edge of his eyes.
– Are you going to hike uncle Tibor? – he asked carefully.
– Indeed, and you are coming with me. – came the answer that Franky was so afraid.
– Well, I don’t think so. Not me. I’m sorry. And I think uncle Tibor should also not go back there. It would be a shame to be eaten by wolves. And a lot of paperwork too. So … I think … I rather – the look of Tibor made him uncomfortable, so he stopped.
– Did you finish?
– I finished.
– Then here’s the plan. I thought about yesterday and understood that we don’t have to go back to the wolves.
Franky blow out the air relieved.
– The whole story started at the Woodsweaver, so it will end at the Woodsweaver. But to solve this situation I will not only have to listen to it but also have to negotiate with it, discuss with it. It will take a long time and I need someone to look after the camp, while I’m doing it. Someone, who I can trust. Someone, who can keep this in secret. So what do you say my friend? Are you coming?
– Well, my opinion is that it is still around the top of the list of crazy ideas, but since it doesn’t involve wolves, I think I’m in. Also, I cannot let an old man wonder in the woods alone. – smiled Franky.
– Great! Nobody else can know about it. You have to leave all your funny gadget behind. – smiled Tibor.
– No, no, no. That is not an option. I don’t go anywhere without them.
– I packed a book. You can read.
Franky stepped to the bag and dug his hands in it raising the book that Tibor was telling about out.
– Pocket bird encyclopedia?!
– Did you read it already?
Franky held his head in anger and despair, then he stepped to his desk, pulled out a drower and took a Rubik cube out with a grin. Tibor just nodded one and smiled.
Six days and six nights they spent in the forest, hidden from the world. The people in the forestry was looking for them without any success. Tibor chose an old, dead oak deep inside the woods for his meditation. Franky built their camp next to the tree, he guarded, cooked and mostly was terribly bored. Tibor was almost continuously in meditation, hardly slept, hardly eaten anything. Sometimes he told about the small proceedings with a tired smile, mostly when they finally understood each other with the Woodsweaver. The negotiation was slow beyond imagination. Every idea, all little gestures had to go through a long transformation until it become understandable for the other. But they proceeded and in the second half of the week Tibor was more and more sure that they will find a resolution. In the morning of the seventh day he claimed that they are finished. Franky removed the camp with an extreme enthusiasm and excitement, while he was telling about his new records with the Rubik cube, showing no interest to Tibor’s negotiation results. When they returned to the forestry everybody wanted an explanation to their disappearance, but they only answered that they were following the pack of wolves analyzing their territory and habits. Fortunately, their bosses were too excited about telling the news about the wolves, so they didn’t dig deep in their story, but started to tell that Tibor and Franky already knew, but they still listened very carefully and tried to look very interested. The wolf attacks stopped two days after their disappearance, nobody seen them around the sheep after that. Ironically the sheep would never again wanted to eat on that field, they just stood there sadly or tried to go away to find other fields. Nobody really knew the reason of it, so they took samples and started to analyze the soil and the grass. Meanwhile the shepherd took its sheep down to the valley before they would start losing weight. So the forestry through that the situation was resolved by itself and Tibor and Franky did not hurry to change their minds about it. They asked for a day-off referring to their real tiredness and went out of the building. When they were alone at the exit, they both knew that something was ought to be said, but didn’t know what. Finally Franky broke the silence.
– So we worked like dogs for more than a week, saved the forest, we can be glad not to be suspended, and I am not even surprised about it. I think something went wrong a long ago.
– The situation has been resolved, we are unhurt, for me everything seems perfectly alright. – answered Tibor after a short pause.
– I just don’t like the thought that this can happen any time again. What happens if the Woodsweaver get greedy and claims more of the areas around the forest?
– I rather hope that it will be the men who learn from the Woodsweaver and not the other way.
– Amen. But I’ll never go close to wolves again.
– I don’t think it was that bad. They just emphasized their point of view.
– Well, next time we should listen to their point of view rather from the air if possible.
Tibor wondered about it for a while and then waved good by to his apprentice. Franky grinned, then yawned and started go to home.