It was long after midnight and the party was finally winding down. At least for the night. Come sunrise, Peter had no doubt the festivities would continue. He'd be surprised if it didn't last the traditional three days usually reserved for major celebrations.

            He sat on the small hillock overlooking the small Russian village. The moon had risen long ago and now hung in the sky like a glistening drop of milk. Fortunately the wind had died down. Still, the night was cold enough to require a thick jacket, if not a full coat.

            His grandfather had been asleep when he'd left the cabin. Otherwise the old man would have forbidden him from traipsing out in the middle of the night, outside the protective fence surrounding the property. Even if he had, Peter knew he would have disobeyed his elder's orders. The same way he had disobeyed in all the years he'd been under the man's care. Peter loved his grandfather, but there were times he felt that he was being stifled to the point of strangulation. If the man had any firmer grip on him, he'd have Peter chained to the walls of his bedroom.

            A howl in the distance made him sit up. The sound was like fire in his blood, and his heart sped up. The wolf's cry had always affected him like that, as far back as he could remember. There were many times when he remembered lying in his bed, hoping to hear the sad and often melancholy sound drift in through his barred window.

            Wolves had been a fact of life for the town for many decades. Packs continually roamed the forests surrounding the village, and he had heard a thousand tales of wolves making off with infants, children and even lone adults. Which was why he understood his grandfather's angry insistence that Peter stay within the protective walls.

            Even so, there had been something about this particular wolf that drew Peter to it. He'd first seen it two years ago, on a bright Sunday morning. Since that time the wolf never strayed far from the cabin. Every time it reappeared, he knew it was the same animal. This one had a strange white streak on its right shoulder. Twice his grandfather had hired men to go in search of the wolf and to either kill it or take it elsewhere. The hunters had returned with wolf pelts, but Peter had known that none of them belonged to his wolf because of that slash.

            His wolf.

            Which was why he was still in a state of disbelief over the events of today. Over the fact that he had managed to do what trained hunters and marksmen had been unable to accomplish. He had caught his wolf, and he had done it with nothing more than a length of rope.