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I ran through the dark forest. My paws falling into a quick pattern of speed. Thump, thump, thump, thump. The wind is blowing through my jet black fur, I can feel it rushing over my face, hear it whooshing in my ears, and I can taste the moonlight on my panting tongue.
I love the night. It is a sanctuary for me, where I go to think and relax, but not now, right now I am here to hunt, to make the entire forest fear me and the scent of the Sanguis tribe. My sleek nose points to the sky, searching for the scent of food. I prefer bear cubs, and normally save rabbits and squirrels for snack. But right now, in this moment, my mind is full of bloodlust, I am hungry, I need to kill. Finally I catch the scent of a badger. I pivot on the heel of my paws and bound towards the glorious scent.
I love the hunt nearly as much as I love the magnificent serenity of the night. I love the tingling sensation that flows through my body when I pounce, the brawn that courses through my veins when I sink my teeth into the soft, sweet flesh of the pathetic animal, and tear it limb from limb, and the marvelous taste of victory when I am finished and blood stains my nuzzle. I am about to dash forward again, in search for another meal when a voice stops me in my tracks. It is my father’s.
Caligar come back now.
Even in my mind his voice is sharp, I can sense the urgency in him.
Yes father, I’m on my way.
I turn back the way I’d come, racing back to the cave I call home, to gather with my father and the rest of my tribe.
When I arrive at the cave, I transform back to my human form and immediately skid to a halt. Something is wrong. I can smell the tension in the air.
“What is it father? What’s happened?”
He turns to me, but does not answer. Nobody does. They are all human and standing in a secluded circle, their heads down, grieving. I ask again.
“Father what’s going on?” And then a strange feeling overcomes me, someone is missing, their presence almost erased. It is only a moment before I put my finger on it. “Father,” I say slowly, “where is Tenner?”
He looks up, and I realize there are tears in his eyes. Actual tears, I cannot believe it, we are the Sanguis tribe, the most powerful and dangerous tribe, around, nobody can beat us, no one can diminish our strength, and we most certainly do not cry. And then suddenly I understand. I dart my eyes around the cave, at the grieving people of my pack. And I feel a sick sensation in the pit of my stomach. I bring my eyes back to my fathers, and hold his gaze, and the sadness radiating from his soul is more than enough. People turn their heads, and move aside quickly, letting me enter their grieving circle. I walk up slowly, my feet feel like lead, and when I am close enough, it is painfully obvious of what I am seeing. There, in the center of all this grieving, lays the body of a brown wolf, blood gushing from the side of his stomach.
I drop to my knees. I feel sick. This awful, twisting, tying, dreadful pain in my stomach nearly consumes me. I feel like the world is spinning. And then I feel tears forming in my eyes. I sit there, on the cold, stone floor for a long time, trying my best to keep my breathing calm, but it comes out in painful, ragged breaths. For a prolonged amount of time, I feel like this pain will never go away. But I make myself stop. I make the tears disappear back inside me. I will be strong. I rise to my feet, slowly. And turn to my father, newfound strength stirring inside me.
“Who?” I question. My voice cold and raspy.
He looks at me as if he does not want to answer, as if telling me will lead to terrible things. But then he sighs, and admits to himself that I have the right to know. I am, after all, the heir to ruling this pack.
I feel my teeth clench firmly behind my grimace. Of course, the highest of the five packs we have yet to overthrow. My hands are balled into fists, shaking, I want to punch the wall of our cave, but I control myself. I take long, deep breaths, and nod coolly at my father, to show that I understand. And then I turn on my heel, and walk out of the cave, and into the cold bitter darkness of the forest, racking my mind for ways to avenge my little brother.
THREE YEARS LATER
I run through the forest, the sound of my bare feet falling in pattern with my heart, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump. The sunlight trickling through the spaces in the leaves; I can feel it absorbing on my bare chest, its warmth and power flowing into me. Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump. I knew that I shouldn’t be out here, father had strictly told me to stay near the cave, but I had soon grown bored of the limited things to do, and I had took off, as fast as I could, letting the wind blow through my sandy blonde hair. Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump. I wasn’t hungry. Not by a long shot, in fact, I’d just eaten a few hours before. But there was a tingling urge streaming through my veins, I wanted – no, needed to hunt. And so I picked up speed, in search for a large chipmunk of some sort, but when I lurched forward, I was stopped dead in my tracks by an enormous silver wolf. He growled at me, but I could tell instantly it was my uncle Deceus, and could only stand there and grin.
He spoke to me through his thoughts in a firm and unyielding tone.
Caligar, go home now.
I smirked. “No, thanks Uncle, I’m really enjoying myself out here.”
He snarled viciously at me, his paws, spread apart as a sign of supremacy.
Caligar, need I remind you that you are still a boy, and I am your elder, your father requests your presence immediately, go to him, now.
I rolled my eyes, and grunted. “Yes. Uncle, right away, Uncle.” I said mockingly, and turned around, and sprinted back the way I’d come.
When I arrived back to the cave, I could instantly tell that my father was extremely angry.
“Caligar!” He boomed, the moment I entered the clearing in the forest where our home was. I didn’t even have time to walk up to him before every head there turned toward me. I jogged toward my father, ignoring all the eyes that followed me.
“Caligar, what did I tell you when I left this afternoon?”
I stood with my back straight, and my eyes staring straight at my father’s gaze which looked as if it could burn a hole right through me. “To stay near the cave.”
He took a step closer to me. “And so why…” He said staring at me, and then, so quickly I couldn’t register it, he made it, so that only his hand formed into that of a wolfs and swiped his claws across my cheek as he bellowed, “did you disobey me?”
Instantly, my hands flew to my face, and I stared panting at my father who was radiating such intense rage from his soul that I swore everyone there could feel it. I was silent for a while, before I realized my father expected an answer.
“I wanted to run.” I mumbled.
He glared at me, as I tried my hardest to hold his gaze, I would not drop my eyes that would be showing him that I was weak, that I was letting him win. He stepped closer to me, so that his chest was touching mine.
“You are only seventeen, Caligar,” he growled. “You are still a boy, and you must obey my orders until I die.” He glared down at me, to see if I was paying attention. “Do I make myself clear?”
I nodded, still clutching my cheek which now stung with pain. “Yes father, crystal clear.”
He stepped back and nodded, finally satisfied. “Good.”
I wanted to walk away, and I was just about to too, but I saw my father’s gaze and decided I should wait until he dismissed me. I stared at him, waiting patiently until he spoke the words, allowing me to leave. To return back to my designated section of the cave. But when he turned around and began walking back to the cave, he turned to me and spoke loud enough for everyone to hear.
“You are to stand there all night Caligar.” And then he walked off into the mouth of the cave.
I stood there. In the middle of the clearing, just as my father had told me. It had been early evening when father had punished me in front of the entire pack, and by around eight my stomach began to rumble. I stayed put. By about nine everyone had returned from the hunt, I could smell the blood, and my stomach growled, but I stood there, as stiff as a pole, just as my father had told me. By about ten thirty most everyone had gone into the cave to lie down for bed. And shortly after it began to rain. I continued to stand without moving a single muscle. The rain poured harder, and the wind blew ferociously against my cold, bare skin. I stayed put. By now, the wound on my cheek had gone numb, and I was grateful. The rain continued for several hours, until at least three in the morning. By then, both of my legs had fallen asleep. I ached to sit on the grass, even for just a short moment, but I did not, I could not risk the chance that my father, or someone else would be watching me, or my inability to stay awake. If I was found sleeping in the morning, my father would punish me even more severely.
Finally, when the sun began to rise, my father stepped out of the cave. I did not see him approach me, but I could hear his footsteps on the soft, lush grass, could smell his scent flowing through the wind, and could sense his presence walking behind me. He walked right out in front of me, held my gaze, and after a long moment in time, a faint smile appeared on his lips.
“Well done, my son.” And then with a wave of his hand he dismissed me. For a long time I continued to stand, continued to stare. I tried to walk, but my feet refused to cooperate.
“Caligar,” my father said waving his hand in front of my wet, stone-like face. “You can go now.”
I nodded and managed to trudge my stiff body across the clearing and into a dark corner of the cave, away from everyone else, where I instantly collapsed and fell into a deep sleep.
I awoke to the sound of a raven cawing. I rolled over sleepily, desperately trying to get back to sleep, but after just a few moments, I knew it was useless. I heaved myself up into a sitting position, grunting when I found I was sore all over. I stood up, and walked out of the cave, and into the bright, unflattering sunlight. I moaned in protest, and covered my eyes.
“There he is!” I heard my uncle call.
I blinked a few more times, and saw my uncle jogging toward me, a gigantic smile on his face. He swung his arm around my shoulders. “Finally you’re up!” He grinned wider. “I have good news for you boy.”
I groaned and shook him off of me. “That’s wonderful, uncle.” I grumbled.
He laughed, and I grasped my head to try and stop it from throbbing.
“Come along Caligar,” He said chuckling. “I think you’ll enjoy this.”
I was still sleepy, and I was not in the mood for my uncle’s foolishness. But when he told me my father would be upset if I didn’t come, my body jolted awake and I ran after my uncle through the forest.
We arrived at a clearing in the woods. One I’d never seen before. As soon as my uncle burst through the bushes, with me on his tail everyone erupted into a cry of joy.
“Caligar’s here!” I heard someone yell, and all the heads turned in my direction.
“Umm… hi everyone.” I took a few steps forward, and my father greeted me instantly.
“Caligar!” He boomed, smiling wickedly, and embracing me with open arms.
“Father, what’s going on?” I looked around me to see every single girl from my pack scowling, sulking, moping, or crying. Which instantly confused me; I was the eldest of the Sanguis tribe, heir to the throne, and I had every single girl from every pack we’d ever conquered head over heels in love with me. And why shouldn’t they be? What, with my glossy sandy blonde hair, glistening silver eyes, gorgeous tan, and terrific build. Why were they so upset? My father turned to me and smiled.
“Come with me, son.” And so I did. I followed him through a huge crowd of smiling people who patted me on the back as I walked by, gave me a thumbs up, a few of my friends howled and pumped their fists. And I grew more confused by the minute. Finally, the crowd moved out of our way, and I was standing face to face with three people. A petite woman with glossy black hair that flowed to about her waist, a tall, rough man with no shirt on, instantly blending in with everyone else, both were smiling, except for one, the girl in the middle. She was about as tall as me, she had gleaming, light brown hair that reached mid back, her eyes were a vibrant purple, she was dressed in traditional female werewolf clothing of shorts that allowed easy mobility and a tight t-shirt cut off right above her belly-button. And she was frowning. But even so, I couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous she was.
“Caligar,” my father said, noting the smile on my face, and motioning toward the girl, “This is Violet.”
Violet was a member of the Abrecume tribe, one of the many tribes we had overthrown, and she had been chosen to be wed to me, I couldn’t have been happier, this girl was gorgeous, but as I soon found out, she had been forced into this, and was heavy-set on doing anything but marrying me.
When I’d met her at the clearing, I had walked up to her, smiled intensely, and offered her my hand, stating my name with confidence. She grimaced, spit at my feet, and turned her head. I’d stood there, shocked while her parents uttered embarrassed apologies, and all the other girls gasped in utter disbelief. For whatever reason, this girl despised me immensely, and I was going to find out why.
That night, she was staying in our cave, but early in the morning, while everyone still slept heavily, she got up and walked out into the woods. And I followed her. I shadowed her footsteps, being as quite as possible, as she entered the forest. After she’d gone deep into the forest, to a region even I was unfamiliar with, she turned around and scowled at me.
“You’ve been following me for at least an hour, what do you want?” She said coldly.
I was shocked, how had she known I’d been following her? I’d kept a safe distance, hadn’t made a single noise.
“Well…?” She asked, crossing her arms.
I was so amazed I couldn’t help myself from asking her, “How did you know I was following you?”
She scoffed, “Your scent is overpowering, and you make a lot of racket.”
I was astounded. This girl was more amazing than I thought.
“So?” She asked icily, “What do you want?”
I took a step toward her, and she narrowed her eyes and growled. I stepped back, holding both my palms out in a sign of peace. “I want to know what it is you hate about me.”
She sneered. “You’re part of the Sanguis tribe.” She stated. As if that was an obvious explanation.
I stared at her confused. “I don’t understand,” I admitted, “I always thought that would be a reason to like me.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fear not like, there’s a difference you inconsiderate spurius” She hissed.
I stood there bewildered, “But what’s so bad about being a part of the Sanguis tribe?”
She threw her arms into the air in frustration. “You’re an outrage to packs! To unity! To family!”
I was still very puzzled. “How is that?”
She took a few steps towards me, and I found myself stepping back, until there was no place to step, and she had me pinned against a tree.
“You are a werewolf.” She hissed. “I am a werewolf; all the other packs you’ve attacked are werewolves.” With each word she pressed herself closer to me. “So why do you feel this need to overpower them? We are all the same.”
I stared at her, wonder in my eyes. “Because my father wants our name to be known as the best, the strongest,” I paused. And glared down at her. “And we are.”
“But why do you want that so badly?” Why must you be the “best”, the “strongest”? Is it not enough to just be a part of this magical race?”
I was about to speak up a witty retort, when she spoke again, this time in a lower, softer voice.
“You should leave the other packs alone; learn to stick with our own kind, not to fight it.”
I stared at her, contemplating what she’d said. She had a point, I guess, but what about all the things father had taught me? Ever since I was a young boy, and especially after Tenner was killed, I had always been told that I should always be feared. And to be feared, I could not fear, I had to be tough, to not feel pain, to not feel anything. I was a Sanguis warrior, and I would make my father proud when he passed.
Violet was staring at me, and then she spoke again, in a gentle whisper, even softer than before. “That’s really sad.”
And I suddenly realized she could hear my thoughts, all werewolves could hear each other’s thoughts. I blew my sandy blonde hair out my face, and kicked at a stone near my feet. And for the first time since my father had taught me never to do so, I dropped my gaze. She walked up closer to me, and before I could stop her, she threw her arms around me and embraced me with her warmth.
The next day I went to my father. I had been thinking all night of what Violet had told me. And I decided to raise the “issue” with him.
He turned to me and smiled, “yes son?”
The wind was blowing hard, tousling my hair, and I stared into my father’s eyes, searching for the right words. “Is it wrong that we are taking over our kind?”
“What nonsense Caligar, it is the exact opposite, now where on earth did you get that sort of idea?”
Violet’s words echoed through my mind, “You should leave the other packs alone; learn to stick with our own kind, not to fight it.” I shrugged.
“I don’t know, maybe I’m just too tired to think straight.”
My father must have known I was lying, he must have heard me remembering what Violet said, but he only smiled, and waved me off. “Then go rest, my son. For we advance to the East side to finally conquer the Lumen, Sideria, Impetues, Crastulos, and Zepirus tribes in only two days.”
That night, I met with Violet in the woods. “Look,” I said. “I’m sorry about how you feel, and that you have to marry someone like me, but I will not go against my father’s wishes, I will stand by his side when we battle the Eastern tribes, and we will win.”
Violet threw a rock at me. “I should have known you were a coward.” She hissed.
Anger boiled up inside me, “Coward?”
“Yes,” she hissed. “You are nothing but a worthless coward.”
I was ready to shift, to tackle her, and take her down, to make her pay for the words she said, but she held up her left palm.
“Don’t bother, I’m leaving anyway.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. “What?”
“I’m leaving.” She stated again. “I will not be a part of such foolishness.”
“Save it, Caligar. There’s nothing you can say to change my mind.”
I wanted to say something, something reasonable, but all I could find were desperate pleas for her to stay, I would find some way to fix it for her, I just couldn’t stand it if she left.
She smiled at me and turned to leave when I called out.
“Violet wait! I–”
She turned toward me, waiting for me to finish.
“Please don’t go.”
She walked towards me, and pressed herself against me. “Why? Why should I stay Caligar?”
I knew that she knew why, she could hear my thoughts practically screaming it. I love you! I love you! I love you! So why did she continue to look at me like that? She knew how I felt, why couldn’t she just hear that and stay? And then I understood. She wanted me to say it, to speak the words aloud, to prove that I did have courage, that I wasn’t a coward, and then she would have reason to believe that I would change all of this, and start to stick with our own kind instead of fighting with them. But I didn’t know if I could do it, I had never been good at expressing emotions, I had always been taught to hide them, ever since I was only six years old, and my mother was killed and my father struck my neck with his claws, and told me with intensity that I was not to cry, that I was a Sanguis, and that we did not cry. I brought my hand to my neck then, to feel the scars my father had left me then. And then I looked at Violet, I stared into her stunning eyes, and found the words I’d been thinking all along.
“Because, I love you Violet.”
And then a smile grew quickly on her gorgeous face, and she pressed her lips to mine. I grinned and kissed her back, with such intensity I thought the forest would catch fire. And when she finally pulled away, she stared at me and smiled.
“Will you run away with me Caligar? To start our own pack?”
I nearly collapsed with shock. “I–, Violet…”
“Please, Caligar, we could get away from all of this fighting, and argument, we could leave all of this behind, and start a new beginning.”
The response was a reflex. “But Violet, I don’t think I can.”
She wrapped her hands around my neck. “Why not?”
“Because, I’ve lived like this all my life, this place is my home, these laws are a part of me, I wouldn’t know what to do if I ran off I’d have no sense of anything.” I paused, and stared at her. “We would die Violet.”
“Be daring Caligar, take risks. You know that what your pack is doing is wrong, so why can’t you back away from it?”
“Because they are my family Violet, they’ve raised me and cared for me for seventeen years, I owe them.”
She shook her head, “not if what they are planning is wrong, and it is, it’s wrong Caligar.”
I stared at her, I loved this girl, I honestly and truly did. But I couldn’t abandon my family, I just couldn’t.
“I’m sorry Violet.”
She stepped away from me, and anger filled her soul.
“Fine.” She said, and then without even a simple goodbye, she turned into a gorgeous, wolf of pure white and took off running into the forest. I didn’t stop her. How could I? I had no right to choose for her, no right at all.
The night before we attacked the Eastern tribes, everyone was preparing, Violet’s disappearance was, as my father put it, “an unfortunate occurrence, but we would not let it falter our plans.”
Everyone had gone to bed early that night, preparing for the battle ahead, but instead, I went out to the woods to think. I should have gone with her I thought, she was right, what my pack is doing is wrong. Frustration overtook me and I punched a hole right through a huge oak tree. And then my hand dripping with blood, and sweat sticking to my brow, I shifted into the form of my jet black wolf and scampered off into the dark forest, hopes of finding the girl I’d loved so dearly.