On a bloodied field, covered with bodies, an old white wolf lay dying.
Konstancy bin Lev, the Gali Khan, was spread on the ground, his wounds grevious, his breath coming slow and shallow. Marfisa Mongrane held his hand. "Just... keep calm," she said. "I... I've called the chirurgeon."
"He would come too late," said the old man with a slight chuckle. "And I've lived too long anyway."
Marfisa bit her lip. "No--don't..." She looked away. "Don't say that..."
Konstancy smiled at her. "But it is true, Marshal." He coughed. "I am... glad to have known you. You've made me feel a younger man. For as long as I needed to, at least."
"You can't die," muttered Marfisa.
"I have very little choice in the matter," said the Gali Khan. He raised a faltering hand and patted her lightly on the cheek. "But do not be sad. In this life, I am old... and tired. I go now... to the Great Plain, guided by the blessed hand of our Unholy Mother in Darkness, and there... there I will see my father, and brothers, and my ancestors, and the Great Wolf whose descendent I am." He shut his eyes. "A land of cool breezes, and gentle fields, and where the hunting is always good..." His eyes snapped open. "Where is Ostrogog? Where is my son?"
The younger Kizak, who had been standing away from his father, eyes filled with tears, moved forward slowly. "I am here, father." He knelt at his father's side.
Konstancy reached out swiftly, and rested a hand on Ostrorog's forehead. "You are the Gali Khan."
"I am the Gali Khan," replied Ostrorog with a nod.
"Run swift, run fierce, and run with justice," muttered Konstancy bin Lev.
"I will try, father," said the Gali Khan.
"You will do," said Konstancy bin Lev. "You will do."
The Gali Khan nodded. "I... will see that your body is born back to..."
"No! No!" said Konstancy with sudden energy. "I have crossed the river for the last time! Do not force me to pass it again. Bury me here! Here, where so many brave men of Night, and of Light have died. Here... which has seen my passing, seen the passing... of an age." He shut his eyes. "Bury me... here...." He gave a deep sigh, that sounded like a growl, and then he was gone, and all that lay there was the body of great white wolf.
"He died saving my life," said Ostrorog softly.
"No," said Marfisa, sniffling. "Don't think that. He died... being him." She shook her head. "I... didn't know him long, but I know... he didn't regret a thing."
The Gali Khan nodded. "Still, he was my father. And still I will mourn." Ostrorog tipped his head back, and howled. Around him, Kizaks in the field began to join the howling. Marfisa sniffled, and then did her best to join it.