Shade began life somewhere far to the northwest of the Bourne, as an ordinary wild wolf, before the Great Unweaving changed the Realm. He was the leader of a pack of wolves that hunted in the forests and tundra of the north, and at that time he had no name, nor did he have the ability to speak. He was an utterly wild wolf who had never met a human being nor suspected the existence of such a creature. For the wolves the greatest joy in life was the hunt. Shade and his pack hunted many animals, including the great, caribou-like deer called the tarand.
Then creatures of a kind the wolves had never met before began to appear in their territory. They were Nightbane in the service of Malabron, and they had come to trap wolves. For the first time, Shade's pack found themselves running and hiding from something that was hunting them. But the Nightbane weren't out to kill wolves for sport or trophies (as some supposedly intelligent humans still do today). They were trapping the wolves in order to twist and mold them into nightmare creatures who would do their bidding, who would hunt and kill other Storyfolk on command (much as the conquistadors used vicious dogs in their battles with the indigenous peoples of the Americas).
Shade's mate was trapped by the Nightbane. She fought so fiercely against captivity that the Nightbane were forced to kill her. Shade caught up to them and killed many of them, but they wounded him very badly and he escaped into the forest to die. How he lived, and became a companion of the Stewards and was given speech and a name, and in time became the friend and protector of Will Lightfoot, is told in The Shadow of Malabron.