Each spring, there would be war between the village shepherds and the wolf-men. Each spring, the village shepherds would watch in fury as the wolf-men would steal their sheep. Each spring, many would die: villagers and wolf-men alike.
One spring, the villagers decided they’d had enough. A village council was called where all in the village could speak.
“Those no-good rotten thieving wolf-men!”
“Who do they think they are, that they can walk into our pastures and steal our sheep?”
This continued for quite a while until a young woman found the courage to speak.
“But… what if they don’t know that what they’re doing is stealing?”
Silence rocked the village council until a belligerent voice called out, “But how could they not know? It’s obvious those sheep are ours!”
More angry voices rang out, but the young woman, now that she had found her courage, would not be silenced.
“But what if they don’t know? What if we’re killing each other over a misunderstanding?”
The village council decided this question was worth investigating and decided to send an ambassador to the wolf-men. The young woman was chosen as the ambassador, marked with a brown stripe down her chin, and given a bucket of mutton chunks to carry with her to attract the leader of the wolf-men.
She set out into the woods, fear leaping out at her from every movement. Yet she kept on walking, deeper and deeper into the forest, until she no longer knew her way back.
Lost, and tired of smelling the mutton chunks, she tossed the bucket away and sat down to rest.
As she sat leaning against a tree, she noticed slight movement in front of her. Scared but resolute, she didn’t run away when the leader of the wolf-men approached her.
“Why have you come out this deep into the forest? Are you lost?” He asked.
“Yes, I’m lost.”
“But why have you come?”
“To ask a question.”
“Why do you steal our sheep each spring?”
Taken by surprise at her question, the wolf-man paused a moment before answering.
“Steal? You think we are thieves?”
“Well, yes. Those sheep belong to us.”
“But they are outside. Does this not mean they are free for anyone?”
“No, we keep them outside because… well, because it’s easier than keeping them in our houses.”
Now it was her turn to pause as a new question came to her.
“Wait–if you didn’t know you were stealing, why did you think we were attacking you?”
The leader of the wolf-men shrugged. “We just thought it was something you humans did each spring, like some kind of weird ritual. Like, ‘Oh, now it’s March, time to kill the wolf-men!'”
After another moment, during which both collected their thoughts, the leader of the wolf-men dared to ask, “If we stop… stealing… the sheep, would you stop attacking us?”
And they lived happily ever after.