Howl of the People

Season One - Episode 3
Mid-Season Interlude

Season One, Episode 3

Podcast Episode #8

Character Screen Presence this Episode
Bear 1
Singing Bird 2
Swift Paw 1
Watcher 2

Swift Paw faces his family’s disappointment when he returns from his battle, yet Bear still lives. Singing Bird travels back to her natal pack for help, forcing Watcher to swear to keep the secret from Swift Paw, lest he fail them once again.

But Watcher’s reluctance provides enough for Swift Paw to catch on that his brother has decided to hide something from him. He doesn’t figure out what precisely, and presumes that Singing Bird has abandoned them, while Watcher realizes the disappointment his mother will feel when she learns that he failed to keep her secret.

Far away, Singing Bird reunites with her natal pack, her older sister Cloud, and their brothers. She meets a wolf adopted by her pack, called Tiger Stripe, who has come hunting a darkness that has spread among those packs who have returned. Singing Bird tells them about Grey Bard’s death, and about Bear. Her pack agrees to go to war to help her.

Back at the den, Bear approaches with an offering of tobacco, asking Watcher to heal him. Torn between Bear’s desire for healing and his father’s geas, Watcher runs off.

The episode ends with Bear pawing plaintively at the ground where Singing Bird normally slept, then curling like always into a far corner of the den, so he would not touch her.

Season One - Episode 2
Swift Paw's Spotlight Episode

Season One, Episode 2

Podcast Episode #4

Character Screen Presence this Episode
Bear 1
Singing Bird 1
Swift Paw 3 (spotlight episode)

Swift Paw makes a deal with a raven to help him kill Bear. The raven will pretend to lead Bear to an easy kill, but will instead lure him into a grizzly bear’s den.

In a flashback scene, we see Bear on his journey to the Promised Land pausing to find fish downstream from the same grizzly the raven has in mind. The grizzly threatens him, but Bear fights him, and despite his sound defeat, he nonetheless gives the bear a wound that gives him his name: “Scarbelly.”

Swift Paw shares the plan with Singing Bird and Watcher, who agree to the plan. Then the raven comes back with a new idea: to lead Bear to two genuine kills before leading him to the grizzly bear on the third. The pack reluctantly accepts.

The next few days, when Bear, Swift Paw, and Watcher go hunting together, the raven leads them to old or sick caribou and elk—just as promised. They take the animals down together and bring them back to the den. Despite himself, Swift Paw begins to warm to Bear, who fits the mold of a model pack alpha so well, leading the hunts expertly and joining in the most ancient of wolf rituals, the hunt.

When the day comes to lead Bear to his death, Swift Paw is torn. He relays his doubts to Singing Bird and Watcher, who dismiss him. When the trap is sprung, Swift Paw follows Bear into the gully. Bear and Swift Paw take the grizzly on together, but the grizzly ends up beating them up, sending their bodies flying over the edge of the gully to careen down the hill.

Bear compliments Swift Paw, anointing him with blood and calling him a warrior, making Swift Paw feel even more conflicted. The ravens taunt Swift Paw from the tree branches as he and Bear struggle to their feet and head back to the den.

Season One - Episode 1
Bear's Spotlight Episode

Season One, Episode 1

Podcast Episode #3

Character Screen Presence this Episode
Bear 3 (spotlight episode)
Singing Bird 2
Swift Paw
Watcher 2

Without Gray Bard around to lead the hunts, the pack has been going hungry. Worse yet, Singing Bird ran off after Gray Bard’s death, leaving Watcher and Swift Paw alone. While out hunting for whatever small creature they can get, Watcher and Swift Paw catch scent of Bear, who is also hunting. They track him. Then Watcher has a vision of Bear with a gigantic, bloody hole in his chest—he is clearly missing his heart. Watcher warns Swiftpaw against following Bear, but Swift Paw insists. Soon, they’re lost in a clear-cut area—they don’t know where they are and they’ve completely lost Bear’s trail. The brothers set up camp for the night, hoping to find their way back home in the morning.

The morning comes—the brothers have overslept. When they wake up, they see (and smell!) Adam the hippie. Watcher barks at him to get him to go away. Adam looks horrified, but also fascinated, and he stays put. He gives Watcher his bag of weed. Watcher bats the disgusting-smelling thing away, then approaches Adam slowly, warily, and yips a greeting. Adam hands him something that smells vaguely like food—and is edible! Starving, Watcher wolfs it down. Adam pets Watcher, then walks away, leaving both Watcher and Swift Paw deeply confused.

Meanwhile, Bear takes down an elk. He heads toward the pack’s den, where Singing Bird is resting. She has been trying to hunt whatever she can, and regurgitate the food for her sons. Now she’s tired. Bear walks right up to her and regurgitates all his elk meat right in front of her. He growls for her to submit. She does so, and eats some of the meat. Bear walks into the den and lays down. Singing Bird is resentful, but too weak to stop him.

Still lost in the woods with Swift Paw, Watcher has another vision, this time seeing Bear in the family den, heart still missing. At the same time, Bear is asleep, and in his dream, he sees Watcher looking at him. He begs Watcher to help him. But Gray Bard’s voice warns Watcher not to help him, for he is cursed. On their way home, Swift Paw and Watcher reach the haunted grounds of their father’s murder. Watcher feels himself being pulled into the shadow world. Gray Bard’s spirit, in the form of a massive swarm of insects, tells him he has to kill Bear to set things right again. Once out of the spirit world, Watcher convinces Swift Paw to help him kill Bear.

Season One Pilot
Introducing the Eagle Cap Pack

Podcast episode #2

Season One Pilot

Character Screen Presence this Episode
Bear 2
Singing Bird 2
Swift Paw 2
Watcher 2

Scene I

It’s a beautiful spring day in the Oregon Eagle Cap Wilderness. In a valley, along a wet, marshy flat, we see a pack of wolves running: Singing Bird and her sons, Watcher and Swift Paw. They run up a creek to a waterfall and the landscape opens up. They see, off in the distance, another wolf is running, looking focused. This is Bear.

He’s made no secret of his presence. He’s been leaving his marks all over their territory, and that is what has brought the entire pack out to confront him. He stands there, huge and scarred and tired—and slightly familiar. He looks at the pack approaching, expecting to recognize someone, but doesn’t. He growls.

An eagle lets out a piercing cry. Watcher suddenly seizes up with a dream he had a few weeks ago, and has tried to forget. In his dream, a gigantic black eagle sweeps down on his family, sending them scattering, then coming to rest with his talons dug into the soil as if he owns the ground. He fears that only bad things can come from such a vision.

Watcher snaps back and yells a warning to the rest of the pack: “Stop! Wait!”

Swift Paw’s ears perk up. He looks at Bear. He’s suddenly twitchy, scared.

Bear lets out a howl, reciting an ancient wolf epic about a dead father and two brothers who were brought to war. He’s calling for his long-lost brother, calling him out to confront him.

Singing Bird finds the song so beautiful that, even though she’s somewhat afraid, she feels her heart breaking, and she wants to welcome this wolf with this powerful voice.

A piercing howl erupts from behind the pack, as Gray Bard, Singing Bird’s mate, trumpets his arrival. He’s an old wolf, but strong. He spies Bear. A deep growl rumbles in his throat.

“It’s true, Watcher,” Gray Bard says. “I know this one from long ago. “He is not to be trusted. He broke my trust—broke up our family, back in the old country. I will destroy him as I should have done long ago.” And with a yelp of excitement, he charges down the slope towards Bear.

Bear snarls, teeth bared, “Father’s dead.”

“Good,” Gray Bard says, and goes straight for Bear’s throat.

The two wolves clash into each other like boulders. Dust kicks up; the fray has begun. Gray Bard has been preparing for this: he manages to drive Bear off. Bear backs away, taken aback at his brother’s ferocity and strength. Gray Bard lets out a triumphant howl of victory. It carries from valley to valley, triggering another scream from the eagle.

The echo is so loud, he can’t hear Bear growling under his breath as he limps away: “Maybe our father isn’t as dead as I thought.”

Scene II

On a soft moss bed next to a quiet babbling stream in a grove of cedars, Singing Bird licks Gray Bard’s wounds. Swift Paw and Watcher are snapping at each other, messing around as siblings will.

“Long ago, in the old country,” Gray Bard intones, “my youngest brother and I would quarrel. And it’s partially for that reason that I left. My parents could see no wrong in him—they never saw the animals he killed and left without eating, the eagles he mocked with his song. Never a respectful wolf, never mindful of sacred things, he rejected even the wisdom that an older brother could give to a younger one. In that place, I could get no rest. That is why I left. And that is why, to see him again, I realize that there must be a reckoning. He must be driven from this place, or he will destroy our world with his discontent.”

“But why would he come back, father?” Watcher asks. “Why would he come back after all this time, and come searching for you? I don’t understand.”

“Even older than the old, older than my father’s father’s father, this place was our land,” Gray Bard says. “I came here to meet my love, Singing Bird, and to create our family. I came here on the song of our ancient ancestors. It must be the same song that has brought him back on this trail—brought him to break our family apart. I tell you, sons, whatever happens to me, you must protect your mother. I do not think this is the last fight I will have with my brother, Bear. He was a formidable fighter even as a young pup. I could tell you stories … I could tell you stories.”

“Yes,” Watcher says. “He was a great, dark eagle in my visions, his power more than evident. But we must stay strong—we must stay together, right? We can keep things the way they are, despite these ill tidings.”

“Yes, it’s only too true—and I cannot imagine how Bear would treat my meadow blossom here, in my absence.” Gray Bard nods to Singing Bird. “Ever the disrespectful one, ever the one that ran with the angry wild ones of the hills… In a famous family story from my childhood, he even tussled with a bear once upon a time, thus earning his name. Though I don’t doubt my own strength, I do doubt that we can stand against his persistence. So we must be ever watchful. Does everyone understand that?”

The other wolves all agree.

Scene III

Back in the marsh, the family is nosing around in the grasses, hunting ground squirrels, listening for their peeping calls. Suddenly, Watcher is overwhelmed with a feeling of dread.

“I feel the presence of Bear… like the bears that steal our food so often, I feel this Bear is coming to scatter our family. Now… I feel his presence.”

“You have a perceptive cub there, Bard,” Bear growls. He steps out from the reeds and snarls at Gray Bard. “Filled their heads with your stories, haven’t you? Oh, you tell such pretty stories, brother. Of course, you always could. I was the one who took Father’s beatings and bites. After they let him go from that prisons where the two-leggeds kept him for all those years, twisting his mind and teaching him to hate, oh, he couldn’t hurt pretty little Gray Bard. But Bear? Hah! How do you think I learned to be such a fighter?”

Watcher flattens his ears against his head and growls. Below, there is an eruption of squirrel voices, peeping, calling out their alarm. Gray Bard howls and charges Bear once again. Rocks fly, squirrels scream, and the family pack whimpers as the two brothers claw at each other, slashing noses, ripping eyelids, snapping bones, tearing ears to bits. With one last violent snarl, as Gray Bard goes into what he thinks is the killing blow, Bear comes in from below, grabs his throat, and rips it open. Blood pours out across the ground, splattering Singing Bird’s face, getting into her eyes.

Bear throws Gray Bard’s limp, tattered body into the muck with a splash of mud and blood. Ground squirrels run frantically and ravens fly from their roosts. Singing Bird rushes to Gray Bard’s side.

Choking on his own blood, Gray Bard rasps: “My love… Singing Bird… run… save yourself…”

Singing Bird nuzzles him, then yips for Watcher and Swift Paw to follow her before taking off. Watcher instead lets out a keen howl and lunges at Bear, hoping beyond hope that hurting Bear will bring back his father. Swift Paw also leaps to attack. Terrified, Singing Bird yips and howls for her pups to come follow her—but to no avail.

Bear bats Watcher away almost effortlessly, but while Watcher is distracting him, Swift Paw comes in from behind and hits Bear. Bear turns around to be slashed again by Swift Paw. He is still tired from his first fight, so Swift Paw is quicker than he is, attacking Bear again and again.

Bear manages to slip away, though. And as he’s limping away, he mutters: “It doesn’t matter… he’s dead.”

Scene IV

That night, Bear returns to the creek. Gray Bard’s body lies there, flies bothering his nose and eyes, crowding around his wounds. Tiny, minnow-like fish nose at his carcass.

“Finally got what’s coming to you, you self-righteous son of a bitch. Always telling me what to do and how to act and how I should listen to my wise older brother. So wise. Who was the one who took the hits? Who was the one who took the bites? He beat the hell out of me, and where were you, older brother? You ran away. You left me there to rot. I have to admit, I didn’t expect to find your scent here on the other side of the mountains. But I did. And you act just like he did—always first to bite. All I ever wanted to do was set up a territory of my own, but no, you had to drive off the ‘shadow.’ That’s all I ever was to you. Just like him. I never even had a chance to tell you how he died. The old mangy cur finally got too old, but he didn’t let his hate grow old with him.”

The wind changes direction. All the insects go silent. The Gray Bard’s corpse is suddenly inhabited by his not-yet-departed spirit. The sinews and broken ligaments of his jaws click against each other. “Curse you,” he growls, bubbling into the water. “Curse you.”

“You spent your whole life cursing me,” Bear snaps. “I’ll live a long time to outlive your curses.”

“You have a black heart. You were born with a black heart.”

“No… I wasn’t born that way. You made it that way. You and dad. By the way…” His voice lowers to a hiss: “I killed him.”

Gray Bard lets out a throttling choke as a string of bubbles come out of his broken mouth. Little minnows scatter in the dark water, a cloud of flies lift up.

“You should have learned the same lesson he did. Don’t abuse someone that you can’t beat down.” Bear skulks away into the darkness.

Fade to black.


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