A Wolfrider’s Reflections lyrics

These lyrics are taken from the long out-of-print Wolfrider’s Reflections songbook, originally published by Off-Centaur Publications in 1987 to accompany the album by the same name, available from the Wolfrider Store. The copyright to these lyrics are held by Off Centaur, the individual songwriters, and/or Warp Graphics, and may not be copied, republished, or posted to any other web site. Thank you!

Introduction to the Songbook

By Richard Pini

I remember reading once that the sense of smell is the most ancient of senses, the most primitive, evolutionarily speaking. This is because smell is a chemical-based sense, and way back early when we were one-celled critters, it was purely the chemical environment we reacted to. Surely everyone has had the experience of having a new scent suddenly call up a vivid memory of one thing or another; the olfactory nervous system goes directly into the deep, old parts of the brain where images and reactions live.

Well, if all that is true, then hearing must run a very close second to scenting as an ancient and evocative sense – and in humans, because we’ve largely lost the sensitivity in our noses that our mammalian ancestors once had (and just about any animal today still has), I’d argue that hearing is the most primal sense. The most stirring. If you want proof, try the following experiment: Get a video recorder and watch Star Wars with the sound turned off. Then close your eyes and listen to the soundtrack to the movie. There’s no comparison, really, is there?

I believe that we were chanting around the campfire well before the first cave painter took up his (or her) frayed grass brush. As soon as we began to know that this grunt (meaning "food") was different from that grunt (meaning "rock") we put tones to the grunts and invented songs, storytelling, and probably drama and theatrics in one fell swoop. A good speech can stir the mind, but music stirs the blood.

Elfquest, had the story been created way back when, would have been told in song around a roaring fire. The saga of the Wolfriders and their adventures is one of movement and cycles, clear highs and crashing lows, of lulling rhythm and pained dissonance, ideally suited for song.

(It’s no secret that music has been connected to Elfquest since the tale’s beginning in 1977 – and even before that. Wendy Pini, a fantasy artist from the start, often works to music which crystallizes a mood-in-pictures. A little bit of Mike Oldfield’s Ommadawn here for spirit things, a touch of the soundtrack to Wolfen there for dark doings.)

And now songs we have, real songs that run the gamut from Strongbow’s rage and Two-Edge’s brooding to Petalwing’s manic cheer. Here is wistfulness, love, shock, warmth, soul-searching. And just enough of playing fast and loose – witness "Catatonia County Rag." This music adds a new facet to the images, helps to conjure mood, sticks in the mind.

Ever since it was conceived, Elfquest has evolved into different dimensions. From simple story outline, it grew into pictures and the pictures added a dimension. The picture-tale budded and yielded a collection of songs – new interpretations. Ultimately, everything will merge into animation, the illusion of life; and the original imagination-seed will have come to full fruition.

In the meantime, however, I hear that there are more songs in the works for Elfquest. I hope that they’re not too long in coming, for it’s starting to get dark outside the caves once again, and the bonfire’s being built even now. Gather round. Listen – with ears and with blood. There are stories being told!

The Tribe: Children of the Fall

words & • Music: Cynthia McQuillin

Once we followed the star-ways, we children of light The high ones, yes, they knew the reason. Now we run on the ground and we hunt in the night, Uncaring we follow the seasons.

And we howl at the moons and we run to the kill, With companions of fur and of cunning. We survive in the ruin, and take pride in our skill, And find freedom and joy in the running.

Deep in our blood runs the dream of our race, Memories rise up unbidden. The question is, "Why did we come to this place?" The answer must still remain hidden.


A life short and wild is the fate of our kind, Passion and movement the savor. Sometimes we must hunger for peace in our lives, But violence spices the flavor.


The green of the forest gives ease to our souls, We take comfort in loving each other. We run with the pack, for alone we’re not whole, So we ride like the wind with our brothers.

Bearclaw: Fun and Games

Words: Mercedes Lackey • Music: Leslie Fish

Pack leader Bearclaw riding through the forest, Chief’s duties left behind, Bearclaw wants to play. Looking for adventure and a little bit of mischief Sunlight and leaf fall, High Ones what a day!

Sharp eyed is Bearclaw, hiding in the shadows, Spying on the human folk out working in the sun. Sees a little man cub, no one near to guard it, Runs and snatches up the brat – Bearclaw’s having fun.

Swift rider Bearclaw, humans run behind him, Leading them a merry chase, afraid of what he’ll do. Bearclaw leads them up and down, ’til their yelling bores him. Ties the baby in a tree – on to something new.

Mischief maker Bearclaw gambles with the troll king. Troll king thinks to cheat him, Bearclaw makes him pay. Bearclaw wins his shining sword, Bearclaw wins his bracelet, Bearclaw drinks up all the wine, laughs and runs away.

Wine happy Bearclaw, riding home and Holtward, Night shadows hide the trail but Bearclaw knows the way, With his new sword at his side, a bracelet for his lifemate Moon rise and pack howl, High Ones what a day!

Cutter: Tam’s Song

words & • Music: Julia Ecklar

Brothers in heart, Soul-Brother, are we, Though in blood we be no more than friends. I value your life with all that is in me, More than my life or its too brief end.

Earth-humbled, Skywise, How it must hurt your heart when you look to the skies. Together we stand in a world not our own; Skywise from the sky, and me from my home.

For too many seasons we’ve lived in this sand, With no deer and no trees to behold. I can hear the Holt call like a maid in my dreams, And a cry of pain howls from my soul.

Wolfbrother, let’s ride To the land of sweet greenness where out fathers died! No Sun People we, our hearts must run free! If I run to the sun will you still follow me?

When I finally have peace and my own family, How can discontent stir in my mind? Why do I want to run back to sad memories With the wolf and my friend by my side?

My wolf-blood runs high Every night that the moon shows her face in the sky. This life was not meant for those made such as we. Run away with me, Skywise, our homeland to see.

I’ll not stay still too long, for this is not my home; To a place far from here I must flee. I know you, friend, will come to that land of our own, To the Holt we were both loath to leave.

Soul-Brother Skywise, Let no one tie you down in your search for the sky. They can’t tame a wolf’s soul, or set soft chains on me. Let us run from this safety and once more be free.

Timmain: The Calling

Words: Mercedes Lackey • Music: Leslie Fish

Timmain, Shape-Shifter, your people are exiles. Wandering aimless, your people are lost. Hated and hunted, with fear their companion, Chilled by the windstorm and pierced by the frost.

Timmain, Self-Shaper, your people are hungry. Far from their homeland, they founder unfed. Here in the new land their magics work twisted, As often to conjure up stones as their bread.

Timmain, Shape-Changer, your people are dying. You cannot harden your heart to their cry. See how the snow and their enemies slay them. Timmain, oh Timmain, can you watch them die?

Timmain, Change-Maker, your shape is a new one. Sharp-toothed and keen-nosed, at one with the storm. Hunter to track down the life for your people, Finding the shelter to keep your folk warm.

Timmain, Self-Changer, is gone through the Springtime. Summer fast follows, and Fall runs behind. She hunts with the wolfpack, accepts them as kindred. And builds her own world now away from elfkind.

Timmain, the Wolf-Shaped, has sent them a leader: Wolf-blooded elfchild, young Timmorn, her pride. Duty fulfilled, she returns to the hunters — Wild heart within her no longer denied.

Madcoil: Nightcrawler

Words: Mercedes Lackey • Music: Julia Ecklar

Something lingers in the dark, waiting in a pool of shadow. Something tainted leaves a mark in the place it lies unseen.

Crippled magic, left behind, grows in strength and grows in evil. And its casters now would find it has grown foul and obscene.

Lightning splits the angry skies. Cat and serpent locked in struggle Come too near to where it lies, feeding on the lightning’s fire.

Now it takes them unawares, molds and twists and shapes and severs, ‘Til within dark magic’s lair something rises from the pyre.

Something new is born this night, born in hurt and fear and anger, Creature formed of magic’s might, born to hate and rend and kill.

Hunger nothing can appease, for it feeds on pain and dying, Everything before it flees, lest they be caught by its will.

Something more than mortal hate, spoiled like a thing long left dead, Feeding on its own dark rot, basking in its dreams unclean.

Something lingers in the dark, waiting in a pool of shadow. Something tainted leaves its mark in the place it lies unseen.

Pike: All About Berries

words & • Music: Julia Ecklar

Let the summer sunshine trickle through your tickled toes, And run like water through the pines. It’s the sunny summer that I love the very best; The silly silken summer time!

They hang like jewels, dark and divine, The hunter’s friend, and the finest purple wine; They make dreams come true, they’re the forest’s dearest vine: The berries of the very friendly feathered forest fine, The berries of the drunken summer time. The berries of the drunken summer time.

There’s no sweeter flower, there’s no treasure held so dear As their bushes and their prize. In the whole wide forest there is not another one Who makes dreams right before your eyes!


When Life’s days are too long, and the nights grow short and grim, And the hunt has not been fine, Remember that the berry bushes grow to make our life more sweet, To ease our ancient, weary minds!

They hang like jewels, dark and divine, The hunter’s friend, and the finest purple wine; They make dreams come true, they’re the forest’s dearest vine: The berries of the very friendly feathered forest fine, The berries of the drunken summer time. The berries of the drunken summer time. The berries of the drunken summer time.

Tyldak: Shadow Pact

Words: Mercedes Lackey • Music: Leslie Fish

I can ride in the clouds on the birds that we rule, But that isn’t enough, and temptation is cruel. Though he flies where I will, still he’s carrying me. I crave something more, I need to fly free!

I can stand in midair by the strength of my will, But that isn’t enough, and it doesn’t fulfill. For I tire too soon and I fall from the sky. And I don’t truly soar — I don’t truly fly!

How it burns in my heart, this true passion for flight. How I yearn for the freedom the birds have by right. I would pledge my own soul if I could buy these things. Any price! Any pain! I would pay to have wings!

Winnowill: Shades of Shadow

Words: Mercedes Lackey • Music: Leslie Fish

Softly as a shadow’s sigh shadows walk, and there walk I. Shadow’s darkness in my soul, shadow power is my goal. Power to give, and power to take, power to build and to unmake, Power to make you writhe with pain, Power to take it back again.

You shape wood, and earth, and stone. I shape flesh, and brain, and bone. Soft tree-shapers, Healer-wives; You shape living. I shape lives.

Softly through our shadowed halls my thoughts steal, and rule them all. Some have tried my rule to end; pain and power are shadow’s friend. For he spoke insult to my face; I stand here, and he is Brace. She who sought my rule before; I was stronger… She is Door.


Free the Flyers, but it remains that they’ll return to seek their chains. Hooded falcons who think they’re free, and follow to my lure, and me. For every thought they own is mine; my will wreathes theirs like a vine. For the love I cannot have, Pain and power my balm and salve.


Strongbow: The Confrontation

words & • Music: Julia Ecklar

Fourteen days kept in a cell; captor’s face I learned to well. Skin of pearl, eyes of black, length of sloe hair down your back. Alien filth within my mind — You thought you’d win if you’d had time. Wild wolf spirit you would break, my rebellious freedom take.

Hatred burns me, dark and strong; Even wolves know right from wrong. She snake, pry, black wasp, lie. Now’s my chance to watch you die!

My Chief’s cub within your arms — Tempt me! Do the wolfling harm! Prove you’re a fool as well as liar, setting the whole tribe on fire. We’d hunt you ’til your lair was found; then, like an elk, we’d run you down. But you’re still here within my sights, and I want you with all my might!

I’ve a friend to keep my bowstring free, Hatred draws and aims for me. You scoff me, but soon you’ll see — That you never should have set me free!

Turn around! Turn around! I want you to see who can best you! Eyes a-gazing, spirit blazing. Dare you, witch — turn around! Turn around! Turn around! Turn around!

Petalwing: The Remembering

words & • Music: Julia Ecklar

High-things build things, High-things know All the strange ways High-things go. High-things brought us; they survive. High-things send things to keep alive.

Dig-digs tunnel through the ground; Dig-digs would not stay around. Dig-digs hidden, be afraid. Dig-digs live inside their graves.

Big-things bad things hunt and kill. Big-things hate things; go where will. Big-things stupid; they don’t know Who belongs here, who must go.

We-things know things, we preserve. We-things cling to who we serve. We-things, High-things, know things true. We-things, High-things, wait for you.

The Wolf Pack: Strange Blood

words & • Music: Leslie Fish

Strange blood in our veins — too late we understand Strength and size and long allegiance to the Elfling band. Strange blood — for its gifts the price at last comes due. Strange lands and stranger duties has it brought us to!

Strange blood and its gifts we gained from long ago. Shape-Changer gave us this, for cause we’ll never know. Strange blood and its wisdom long since changed our track; Wherever it may lead us now, there is no turning back.

Strange blood! We are wolves, and we are something more. Now it brings us endless wandering, hunger, rage and war. Strange blood kept us fed and brought us help at need. Now it draws us, by our blood, to go where others lead.

Strange blood! No regrets. We would not turn aside. It brought us safely through the fire where all the others died. Strange blood! Howl again, for now we know too well: Better a friend on paths unknown than be alone in hell!

Skywise: A Wolfrider’s Reflections

words & • Music: Julia Ecklar

The trees lay below me, much smaller from the sky. The stars have always called me, But they sing to me of glory when I fly. Ooh… when I fly… Ooh… when I fly…

I’m a warrior from my boyhood; and a dreamer in my prime; A man who’s boyhood’s over, I realize my own smallness when I fly. Ooh… when I fly… Ooh… when I fly…

Now the stars, they are no closer as we thunder through the skies. And my burdens, they are no lighter, But the world becomes unbounded when I fly. Aah… when I fly… Ooh… when I fly…

Alone upon a mountain, tears in awe-filled eyes. Bound to Earth by wolves and warriors, I’ll never again know the joy to fly. Ooo… the joy to fly… Ooh… if I could fly…

Picknose: True as Gold

words & • Music: Cynthia McQuillin

When I was a young troll I had brave ambitions To murder my uncle, his treasure to win. But he was the stronger, he laughed at my folly. He’ll die of old age, his gold buried with him.

So we hack and we hew with our picks in the stone For the treasures we take from our old mother’s bones. No joy will we know ’til that treasure we hold, For troll maiden’s love is as true as your gold.

I dreamed then of battle, the conquest of humans. I’d strip from their bodies fine silver and gold. But sunlight is dreary and hinders my fighting, And at night all the humans hide safe in their holds.


I fell in with companions who said we would prosper By trading with elves for the goods they could sell. But Wolfriders tricked us, and fled with our weapons, So now I have chosen as a bachelor to dwell.

And I hack and I hew with my pick in the stone For the treasures I take from my old mother’s bones. No joy will I know ’til that treasure I hold, For troll maiden’s love is as true as your gold.

The Wolfriders: The Hunt

Words: Mercedes Lackey • Music: Leslie Fish

The moons have risen round and bright. No clouds will dim their steady light. The stars like eyes have pierced the night. To see the hunters pass. Our quarry grazes in the dale. The breezes carry us the tale. The scent is hot upon the trail. And dew is on the grass. (Hunting call) He starts to run. (Hunting call) The hunt’s begun. (Hunting call)

Across the glade, among the trees, Our quarry panic-stricken flees. We taste his fear upon the breeze And howl upon his heels. Blood-madness fills our brothers’ minds Fear-madness now our quarry blinds. He searches for escape and finds Our spears and sharpened steel. (Hunting call) He stands to fight. (Hunting call) His blood is bright. (Hunting call)

He slashes out with hoof and horn. His sides and neck are rent and torn. He cannot know no stag was born Escapes us when we ride. The quarry’s down. His life is fled. He falls before us, stark and dead. Tonight the cubs will sleep well-fed, And all the pack besides. (Hunting call) Wolfriders we. (Hunting call) Howl victory. (Hunting call)

Two-Edge: Troll Hall

words & • Music: Leslie Fish

I am tall. I am strong. I live deep in the hill. And I love a good brawl, and I love a good kill. And that’s all I hold true in this whole world of lies. Damn its heart! Damn its guts! Damn its eyes!

Oh my sire was a troll, and my dam was an elf. They had plans for my use. I had plans for myself. From his frame I grew strong. From her wit I grew wise. Damn their hearts! Damn their guts! Damn their eyes!

I forge chains of intrigue. I make fine tools of war. I shall stalk through your hold. I shall take every door. I shall drag down my foe; I shall laugh at her cries. Damn her heart! Damn her guts! Damn her eyes!

I’ll pit elf against troll, your dead peace I’ll destroy. See me now, Mother Dear! Are you proud of your boy? To my hall they’ll all come to the end I’ve devised. Damn your heart! Damn your guts! Damn your eyes!

Lord Voll: Marking Time

words & • Music: Leslie Fish

How long? How long? Hold on, Safe within this womb of living stone. Nothing changes, nothing grows, fly out as we will. And yes, I hold us to it still. How long? How long? Hold on.

How long? How long to stay? All that we could want within these walls, Except… we have no children born as long years stretch behind. And, one by one, the shadows take our minds. How long? How long to stay?

How long? How long ’til night? The world outside is only endless foes. Shall we wither in the dark, or risk our lives in war? Is there hope outside worth fighting for? How long? How long ’til night?

Fly on, fly on ’til dawn. We shall wait no longer for the dark. Take the chance, take hold of life, do battle with the night. Follow in my last and bravest flight. Fly on, fly on ’til dawn!

The Lovers: Triangle

Words: Mercedes Lackey • Music: Leslie Fish

"Why, Scouter, why can’t I love where I will? Strive though I may, I am bound to him still."
"Caught in this spell, there is naught I can do. Little wolf-savage, why must it be you?"
"Dewshine, my love, that I’ve loved for so long, How can the Bloodbond have chosen so wrong?"

"Tyldak, how altered you seem now to me. Is it your former shape that I can see?"
"Little wolf-creature, how can it be true? Fly where I will, I am drawn back to you."
"What are they seeing in each other’s eyes? Why is he stricken so? Why does she cry?"

"I don’t love or want you, I want to be free."
"How could I love one so alien to me?"
"I’d give my soul to trade places with you."
"Can’t anyone tell me? What can I do?"
‘Both of us helpless to alter our fate!"
"Why is she bound where by right we should hate?"

"I cannot love you. I won’t even try. But I’ll fight no longer what I can’t deny."
"Then, little wolfling, come finish with me. The bond will be broken and let us fly free."
"Go an be done, yet my love will abide. As long as I live, love, I’ll stay at your side."

All: "Why are we bound where the heart will not go? How could our fate have imprisoned us so? Cruel Recognition that falls on us still, Breaking as nothing our love and our will. Yield to the night and go free with the dawn; Love will endure when this passion is gone."

Leetah: Healer’s Hands

words & • Music: Julia Ecklar

It was the excitement: If I’d thought, I’d not have moved. I guess killing’s like that. It’s an end, not a tool.

Hands of a Healer, after centuries of care. You can’t betray me so! You cannot dare Treat a life like a lamp flame and so cruelly put it out In a moment. But in a moment, your Healer’s oath’s in doubt.

Hands that have worked so, do you not Death abhor? You’re trained to lessen Death, not to deal more! It’s not one life that matters, it’s the heritage betrayed For a moment. But in that moment, a life lost to my blade.

Oh hands without callus, you have not known Death like this. You’ve led men back from Death, but you’ve never dealt its kiss! But for once the pain is lovely as the foe slumps to the ground. And for a moment, shining moment, you forget to what you’re bound.

Hands of a Healer, can you heal this wrong you’ve done? Ah, yes, you’ve scored a kill! And the battle’s just begun! And they’ll all be proud come morning of the killing by these hands. Of the moment, the damned moment, that no other understands.

Of the hated, horrid moment That sprayed blood on Healer’s Hands.

Kahvi: Marching Orders

words & • Music: Leslie Fish

Go-Backs, going back — but held here. Go-Backs, halted here in the snow. Go-Backs, with the trolls before us, War before us. Shout the chorus: Someday, someday, back we’ll go!

Tall deer, that we ride, snow-shrouded, Tall deer, with their daggered horns, Tall deer, carry us to battle, Warriors’ cattle. Hard hooves rattle. Leap and leap, ’til the ice is torn.

Hard hearts, like our weapons wielded. Hard hearts, tempered strong as steel. Hard hearts, as the ice has made us, Hope betrayed us. Trolls invade us. Strike and strike, for the fire we feel!

Go-Backs, in a rage of hunger. Go-Backs, only show us how. Go-Backs like your answers, stranger. Welcome, ranger, to our danger. Mount and ride and go back now!

Oddbit: Suitors

Words: Mercedes Lackey • Music: Leslie Fish

King Greymung had a favorite — me, Which shows his excellent taste, you’ll agree. He gave me nice things, golden brooches and rings. How I wish I hadn’t had to flee!

No matter how far this girl may drop, Somehow I always come out on top. No matter how far this girl may drop, Somehow I always come out on top.

Then Picknose came and carried me away, Brave enough to face the light of day. He pledged me a hoard; I’d be Lady, he’d be Lord — So with Picky I decided I would stay.


Picky never found his treasure, it’s true. So what’s an impoverished girl to do? Guttlekraw has gold; he’s a King, and bold. I’ll trade Picky in on someone new.

Rayek: Pridefall

words & • Music: Leslie Fish

If I were skilled at hatred, I’d have split your wolfling heart. You can’t know all the reasons that I’ve come to take your part, Or why we fight as allies on this long and bitter quest. We know which one she loves the more, but which one loves her best?

You came to us a desperate few, with hard but open hands, And never knew you’d drive me out to drift in alien lands. Your honesty, your innocence — they broke my life and pride. Yet I have reasons, more than one, to battle at your side.

My home and love and standing, all, you fairly won away. I could not live defeated, so I could no longer stay. Yet it was I who challenged, and by my own hand I lost. Now I look back on what I’ve gained, and wonder at the cost.

Indeed I’ve changed, old rival! Now among my hard-won gains I wield the power to win your war, and take what prize remains. And yet, through loss and victory, one truth I can’t decide. Did I love my own true love less than I loved my pride?

Catatonia County Rag

words & • Music: Julia Ecklar & Leslie Fish

I suppose it could be worse; you know, I could be parked outside With rain and snow to splatter me, and bird-lime on my hide. So here I sit by day and night, ten yards above the floor. You know, it isn’t easy being Door.

And here I am, a real open-and-shut case, A psychic-burnout catatonic nut case. I tangled with sweet Winnowill, and that’s where I went wrong. Now I just shut and open all day long.

They say some folks are humorless; they find laughter a bore. But elves should take a joke; we live a million years or more. Well, I sneaked hair-remover into Winnowill’s shampoo. So Winnowill played me a joke or two.


Now misery loves company, and I was all alone, And so I gave the walls a shake and made the ceiling groan. Sweet Winnie looked for earthquake faults until she found a trace, So now I’ve got a partner, name of Brace.


It’s a lousy life we lead here, but not so bad as some. Brace says we will elope someday, but someday never comes. So ’til someone come to free us, or Blue Mountain wears away, We sit, and shut, and open, night and day.

And here I am, a real open-and-shut case, A psychic-burnout catatonic nut case. I tangled with sweet Winnowill, and that’s where I went wrong. Now I just shut and open all day long, all day long. I just shut and open all day long.


  1. Is there a place to find the music score for these songs?

    • A songbook containing a simple scoring of the music was published by Off-Centaur Music, back in 1987. It’s long out of print, but copies may be found on eBay or similar sites. It may be possible for us to track down the rights owners and see about a reissue. Watch this space for news.

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