THE SHEPHERD OF SNOW
EXCERPT FROM SABLETHRUSH HERALD
AVALANCHE BURIES HISTORIC SITE
NOVEMBER 15TH, 1885
On the morning of November 13th, a disturbance atop Timber Peak in northern Cassan caused a devastating avalanche to barrel down the mountain and destroy Colden North End, a historic abandoned mining town that has been preserved for 50 years. The avalanche is believed to have been triggered as a result of an accident that occurred on Whisker Pass, one of the scenic roadways weaving through the Troutwhiskers. A small procession of stagecoaches was conducting sightseeing tours when the carriages were flung offroad by their horses, which were reportedly being attacked by what witnesses described as an ivory-colored bear. The attack caused enough commotion to disturb a sensitive cliff that created a cascade of snow down the mountainside. Local authorities have since closed several roads affected by the avalanche and have issued a warning about an aggressive predator in the area. Local biologists have voiced confusion as to the nature of the attack, citing that there are no local species that fit the description of the animal involved. Pieces of the frontmost carriage that have been damaged by large claw-marks, along with a recovering injured horse, are being evaluated to determine exactly what residents should be on the lookout for.
EXCERPT FROM WILDHEART MAGAZINE
POLAR BEAR IN CASSAN NATIONAL PARK?
DECEMBER 4TH, 1970.
Amatuer wildlife photographer Sean Doyle captures what appears to be a grainy picture of a small polar bear during an outing to Loon Mountian in Cassan National Park, West Ryeland. Doyle claims that he was attempting to capture some of the wintering wildlife in the area and following a backcountry trail when he caught sight of multiple scratches on tree trunks and fallen branches that appeared to come from a black bear. Assuming the large predator was foraging in the area, Doyle turned back and found himself having to set up camp for the night in a nearby frozen bog. "It was around three in the morning and I hear all this noise. Just bangs and crashes from what sounded like a hundred yards ahead of me. I get out of my tent to see if I could tell what was going on, and after the crashing stopped, I hear an animal on my left. I thought it might be the bear, so I panicked and started shouting and making more noise, not sure if thats what you're supposed to do. I take out my flashlight and there he is. This angry-looking polar bear low to the ground. He began to run off when I did my best to take my camera out and snap a photo." In an effort to get a better photograph, Doyle returned to the trail the following morning, only to discover a large ice sheet from a higher elevation had fallen through the area the night before, dislodging boulders and destroying the place where he had found clawed trees. Local rangers say, "He already should not have been there. That trail doesn't connect to any loops and is for park employees only. Had he continued on, he could have been trapped up the mountain with no way down and no way of anyone knowing he needed help." Wildlife experts have examined the photo and have voiced skepticism, citing that it is impossible to tell the species pictured, but also that it is equally impossible that a polar bear has somehow made its way into Cassan.
There have been many accounts and interpretations of the meaning and existence of Hodir, the legendary white wolverine of the Troutwhiskers. Here are some of the most popular accounts:
JOURNEY, A COMPILATION OF LOCAL FAIRYTALES
THE SHEPHERD OF SNOW
There are friends to be found in the wild, from the deepest lakes to the highest mountains. Take Hodir, the neighborly shepherd of snow. Hodir is a ghostly wolverine that has helped people steer clear of winter’s wrath for generations. He was born one December night a long time ago. He and his two siblings were raised high in the mountains and enjoyed life hunting and frolicking under the watchful eye of their mother. As they grew up, something strange happened. Hodir never lost the snow-white coat of fur that he had been born with as a pup, and grew so big that he towered over even his own mother. Much to the delight of his family, Hodir became so camouflaged with the snow in his adulthood, and so strong in his giant size, that he made for an excellent hunter and intimidating protector. He carried himself with honor in this role and ensured that those he loved were safe at all times. Hodir developed a special connection with old man winter and safeguarded his family from the icy season's perils by scouting their territory and marking trees that signified the end of a safe boundary. Hodir did this until the day his mother passed, and his siblings struck off for homes of their own. To this day, the honorable wolverine’s soul lives on in those mountains come wintertime. So if you are ever on high peaks, or venturing into uncharted woods, look to the trees for Hodir’s carvings. If frosty doom awaits you past a certain point in your travels, Hodir, the shepherd of snow, will have issued you a warning.
EXCERPT FROM GEOFFREY LANE'S JOURNAL
JANUARY 9TH, 1936.
Some strange things are going on in those mountains this time of year. I call just about everyone who thinks they have a reason to go up there a fool. Last year I was up skiing over on Elk's Paw with my friends Arlo and Phil. There was good skiing there, don't get me wrong, but the place was giving me a bad feeling the whole time. I don't know what it was, but it seemed like we were the only ones on the mountain. At some point Arlo comes up to me and says that the snow was picking up, and the small flurries we were getting were starting to storm. Phil was too concerned with the fun being over though, so we kept on going for about an hour or so. Call me crazy, but I had the funny feeling of being watched. There was this stump that marked the end of one of the slopes that I could swear had no scratches on the first run, and was covered in them on the second. Arlo and I started worrying about wolves or something, but Phil said we weren't making any sense since there wasn't any tracks to be found . After a big argument, Arlo and I split from Phil, who carried on skiing while we headed down to the lodge to wait for him to be satisfied with the whole experience. As we're making our way down, Arlo turns on this blind corner. When I get around to it myself, I have to stop dead before accidently crashing into Arlo, who's suddenly just standing there staring off into the mountains. I'm giving him an earful for scaring me half to death when he points out to a cliffside and says, "Look there, a wolverine." I can't see what he's talking about, there wasn't anything but ice and snow on that cliff. Then he says, "That’s a bad omen. I heard that's terrible luck from somewhere. We have to go back for Phil." I call him nuts, but he insists, so when we got to the bottom of the slope, he takes the gondola right back up alone. Arlo's always been a bit superstitious, so I let him go on and got to the lodge. I waited about two hours, the snow started coming down hard. By the third hour of waiting it was a blizzard and the sun was going down. I went up to the staff at the gondola station and told them they better radio up the mountain to look for my friends. The guy's face went pale, he said something about a staff shortage and that no one should still be on the slopes I named. There was a big fuss, but two days of searching after that and rangers drew up blanks. I never saw either of those boys again. What Arlo said seemed to turn out to be true, and I'd say there's ghosts up on those cliffs.