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The Ancestral Trail #25:

Fenrar, the Desert Stalker

Danger and Deceit at Dead River Sands


On the Twenty-Fifth Day...

Walking underneath the sun,
Do not fear the vision double.
Do not waver! Do not run!
Falsehood now is not a trouble.
Shifting shapes amid the sand
Travail the three by Wizard's Well.
A toothy welcome is at hand
To chink ajar the gates of hell.

As Syrus lifts his finger to finish Richard off with a single spell, Richard hears a voice inside his head, the voice of Golan telling him that the spell that freed them will also kill. Remembering that speaking their names backwards three times had freed them from the bubbles, Richard calls out Syrus' name three times backwards. The genie at first seems only angered by hearing such words and prepares to kill a dejected Richard.

Just then, Syrus' arms and torso begins shrinking, all being sucked inward towards a red sphere that suddenly appears inside Syrus' body. The genie collapses inwardly into himself, compressing himself into the red sphere like a black hole. When the red sphere is all that is left, the disc itself begins shrunking, until it disappears in a whiff of orange smoke.

With Syrus dead, the trio run through the door to find the Landsmen, who are waiting for them a short distance down the tunnel. They all cheer happily when they learn of Syrus' demise, and the group begins marching through the tunnel once more. Soon, they burst through the end of the tunnel and find themselves on top of Sorcerer's Falls, beside the lake that feeds the waterfall.

Richard asks Ronek if he knows anything about Wizard's Well, where the last pod remains. Ronek mentions he only knows that many creatures guard the pod and offers to accompany the trio to the desert. Richard declines, saying that the Landsmen need to return to Golan. Reluctantly, the Landsmen bid the Chosen One and his friends farewell and depart for the Ancestral City.

As the Landsmen depart, Richard and his friends read the Book of Propehcies, which doesn't shed any light on the creatures that guard Wizard's Well. Instead, he is more fearful of the shifting shapes mentioned, which Orkan points out could be the desert itself. With this knowledge in hand, the three resume their journey once more, climbing their way down the mountain and using the Path Finder to head through the last portion of the Yellow Stone Peaks. Eventually, they reach the edge of the desert.

The desert proves to be quite a foe for the three. Despite using the Path Finder to lead them, the desert makes sure their movement is slow and laborious, as dunes shift with the winds and the sun beats down upon them relentlessly. The leather straps of Richard's new armor digs sharply into his skin, but the surprisingly light armor feels like a welcome safeguard against whatever might lurk behind the dunes.

Just then, as the three arrive on a flat plain, the trio sees three figures approaching them from the horizon before them. Because the haze blurs their vision, they cannot make out who they are. Orkan suggests getting in a single file and the trio does so; to their dismay, the figures do the same. Orkan orders his friends to get down, and they do - their foes mimic their actions.

Richard draws his dagger and sees one of his foes do the same. Realizing what was happening, Richard throws his weapon into the air and sees a mirror image across from him. He quickly tells his friends that the three figures are nothing more than mirages, and does a jig to demonstrate; Orkan and Melek are amazed to watch one of their "adversaries" copy Richard's movements exactly.

Their scare over, the trio continue their trek. As their mirage counterparts disappear into the desert haze, several more shapes start to emerge. Orkan quickly denounces them as another mirage, but as they get closer Richard realizes that the shapes are real trees and exclaims that they've arrived at Wizard's Well.

They enter the trees and find themselves in an oasis of palm trees surrounding a crystal blue lake. The three head for the water, but are cut off when a large lizard darts out from behind a clump of rocks, a lizard that resembles the ones freed in Dragora's Lair. The lizard introduces himself as Fenrar in a very friendly tone.

Richard asks Fenrar if he's seen the Life Force Pod, but Fenrar doesn't know and offers the three a chance to swim in the lake before they search for the pod. The trio, needing no encouragement, head towards the water, cast off their weapons and belongings, and dive into the refreshing water. Fenrar watches them quietly through slitted eyes.

While the three are occupied in the water, Fenrar carefully starts moving all of their belongings behind a sand dune. When all of their weapons and items are hidden, Fenrar resumes his spot underneath a tree. Richard, sensing something is wrong, at this moment turns to face Fenrar, and watches the lizard changing shape. To his horror, Fenrar morphs from a lizard into that of a wolf, who howls into the air to announce his presence.

Finally understanding what the prophecy and Ronek meant, Richard and his friends scramble out of the lake to get their weapons, but Fenrar laughs when they find their belongings gone. Fenrar bounds lightly towards the trio and surveys them quickly before settling on Melek. Richard and Orkan have no time to react when Fenrar grabs Melek and shuffles away from them, the naked scribe positioned in the wolf's jaws and ready to be eaten.

Melek cries for his friends to save themselves, while Richard and Orkan watch helplessly, knowing they can't do anything without their weapons. As Richard looks around for something to help, he sees something in the sky and gasps in amazement. A winged horse is approaching the oasis from the sky, soaring towards the water's edge and sailing across the surface with beats of its mighty wings. Richard recognizes the horse as salvation, and Fenrar does as well when he sees the white creature.

Fenrar drops Melek, who scampers back to his friends, and Fenrar doesn't waste any time. His wolf body begins transforming once more, becoming that of a winged horse, only black instead of the trio's savior's white. The white horse lands before Fenrar and the shape-shifter lunges with its hooves. But the white horse manages to knock Fenrar so powerfully that it sends him off balance. Taking advantage of this, the white horse uses its hooves to send several powerful blows against Fenrar into the ground. Fenrar, defeated, finds his body morphing into several creatures simultaneously before his body vanishes into the air.

With Fenrar dead, the white horse approaches Richard. He introduces himself as Ravan, sent to help the three complete their quest. Richard tells Ravan that Fenrar took everything they had, but Ravan points out that Fenrar had hidden them behind a nearby dune. Their things retrieved, Richard pulls out the Path Finder and uses it to see out the remaining pod. He finds that the pod is nestled in a palm tree with razor-edge needles, and realizes he can't climb the tree.

Ravan assists and flies up to the top of the tree, and grabs the Life Force Pod from the tree's nest of leaves with his teeth. He then flies back down to Richard and gives the Chosen One the final pod. Richard, realizing his quest is nearly over, takes the pod with glee.

With the pod quest completed, Ravan tells Richard and his friends to climb on his back so he may take them to the Ancestral City, where the final battle awaits. The three friends climb onto the horse's back and Ravan soars into the air, carrying the trio towards the end of their journey. As they fly, Ravan brings them up to speed with the latest news, saying that Golan has amassed all of the Ancestral World's forces together and is only waiting for the pods and Richard's return.

But Ravan also brings bad news: Amor, Guardian of the Common Beasts, was killed by Cozards while attempting to reunite with Broon and his troops. Also, the Evil One's forces are also congregating towards the Ancestral City, and look to be fiercer than the last final battle before Richard's arrival in the Ancestral World.

As Ravan carries the trio, they see the skies ahead of them growing darker. Richard suspects the darkness has more to do with the Evil One, than anything. Conversation grows sporadic as the possibility of death in the coming battle enters their minds.


Fenrar is a creature that dwells within Wizard's Well. It is fair to label Fenrar as a general "creature" or "beast" because he is a shape-shifter who can change his appearance to any creature he wishes, though it is plausible that his primary appearance is that of a wolf. It can also be assumed that Fenrar holds allegiance to the Evil One, as he guards one of the Life Force Pods inside Wizard's Well. Fenrar's primary weapon is deceit: he lures unsuspecting prey to the oasis, lures them into a false sense of security, and pounces when they can no longer defend themselves.

"Fenrar was changing shape. His legs were getting longer, his tail shrinking. Ears pricked on his head and his jawline sharpened into a canine muzzle. Dark, wiry hair sprouted all over his body. The transformation was complete within seconds. In place of the lizard there was now a wolf. Fenrar raised his head and gave a ferocious howl."

Ravan is a winged horse that was sent by Golan to assist Richard in completing his quest. Little is known about Ravan other than he is one of the Mystical Beasts of the Guardian Tuska. Since Ravan was sent near the end of Richard's quest, it can be assumed that Ravan was only sent after Tuska and the Common Beasts, having been freed from from the clutches of the winged lion Kronis, arrived at the Ancestral City to take part in the final battle.


The twenty-fifth issue of The Ancestral Trail can at first glance appear quite shallow, but upon closer inspection there are some fascinating items to glean from this issue. For starters, and most importantly, the final Life Force Pod - the very items that Richard was meant to retrieve - has been found. Along the way he has faced many evil creatures, saved many of the Ancestral World's races and most of their Guardians, and grown from a timid boy to a battle-hardened fighter. It was once remarked that The Ancestral Trail is an elaborate allegory for growing up, and while that is a simplistic idea, it is a well-founded one.

Another item of note is the arrival of Ravan, the winged horse who saved the trio from Fenrar, who looked like he had them in his clutches. Many will see Ravan as nothing more than a deus ex machina, a creature brought in to save Richard at the last minute when no other feasible solution could be found. But Ravan is a little more than that: he is the embodiment of Richard's quest's fruits. By saving all of those races from the Evil One's power, creatures like Dion and Ravan could be sent out by Golan to assist the Chosen One in finishing the quest.

Also, the issue pulls quite a startling turn of events when it reveals that Armor, the Guardian of the Common Beasts, was killed by the Evil One's forces. This unexpected death simply reaffirms that death is a horribly deformed aspect of the Ancestral World under the Evil One, and no one - not even a Guardian - can escape it. This brings up the question of what will happen to the Common Beasts later on? Who will be their Guardian now?

On a final note, the last Life Force Pod has been retrieved, and I can reveal that, unlike in previous issues, this pod won't show its power to Richard in the next issue. Therefore, I can state that this Life Force Pod is the Pod of Truth.


"Surys! Surys! Surys!"

Richard: "There is one more pod at Wizard's Well. Do you know anything about the place?"
"Only that it's in the desert and guarded by a host of different creatures."

Richard: "Well, appart from a toothy welcome, it doesn't throw any light on the beasts that Ronek mentioned. It seems more concerned with deception - falsehood and shifting shapes."
"It could be the desert itself. The dunes move every year, creating new landmarks and covering the old. In the desert you can rely only on yourself. Nothing else is certain."

"It's okay. It's a mirage. There are millions of specks of sand floating in the air. When the sun hits them at a certain angle they become a natural mirror. We've been scared of our own reflections! Look."

"He's taken everything."

"I'll take you first."

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