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Morkaen glanced at the den. His tail was twitching with both impatience and excitement. He couldn’t hear anything yet, besides his mate’s hard breathing.
Soon, he thought. It will be soon.
He heard one of the other wolves rise to their feet, and walk toward him. He turned his head to see it was Atu, one of the best members in the pack. Morkaen raised his head and tail until they were above Atu’s, and waited to hear what the dark grey wolf had come to say.
“Morkaen, I’ve been watching how you keep glancing at Asheenu’s den. Would you like to come wait with us?” Atu boldly said, while looking slightly to the left of the leader, as not to upset him.
Morkaen glanced at Asheenu’s den once more, and accepted Atu’s request. All the other wolves had their head in their paws, waiting as well. Morkaen sat down a few feet from Anaki, the pure white wolf with one black-colored paw. She wagged her tail a few times, then lay still again.
A short while later, there came high-pitched squeaks from the den. They had finally arrived! The pups! Morkaen howled his happiness to the whole world, and soon the pack was howling together. Once all was quiet, Morkaen went over to the den. He stopped a few feet away from the entrance.
“Asheenu?” He called softly.
“Morkaen! Come in,” she whined.
Tail wagging, he slowly entered the den. It had a short, low tunnel that led into a wide circle. And against the far wall of the circle sat Asheenu. And suckling at her belly were five little pups. Morkaen yipped with joy, ad advanced further, but Asheenu snarled at him.
“Do not come a paw’s length closer,” she growled.
Morkaen’s eyes flashed, but he backed out of the cave. Of course, Asheenu would be very protective over the pups for a while. He paced back and forth angrily outside the den, for he was stung by his mate’s insult. To Morkaen, to insult the Alpha should result in severe consequences. The rest of the pack, sensing his anger, did not interrupt him. Once Morkaen stopped pacing, he took a deep breath, and let Asheenu’s insult bother him no more.
Pups! He thought joyfully. His own pups! And they would grow up to be magnificent wolves. In his mind he pictured them all grown up, and looking up to him. He went over to Atu, Markish, Anaki, and Rosa, and together they spoke about the pups.
Over by the bushes, lying in the sun was Storm Tail, the Omega of the pack. His tail wagged faintly, for he, too, was overjoyed by the pups, but not nearly as overjoyed as Morkaen or the others. He had his own version of the pups all grown up. He sighed contently, and dozed off.
Storm Tail was the kindest wolf in the pack—he never complained about being Omega, always helped anyone in need, and had earned the respect of the pack.
Morkaen, seeing the wolf dozing in the sun instead of being with the rest of the pack, grew angry. He got up, and Markish whimpered quietly, for he had seen the anger in Morkaen’s eyes when he had glanced at Storm Tail. Atu, Rosa and Anaki heard him, and turned their heads to watch what would happen.
Morkaen stood a few feet away from the wolf, glaring at him. Storm Tail twitched in his sleep, feeling the alpha’s anger toward him.
“Storm Tail, what are you doing?” Morkaen snarled.
Storm Tail jerked to his feet, blinked a few times, but did not answer.
“I said, what are you doing?” Morkaen snarled again, his voice rising.
“I’m thinking about the pups,” Storm Tail replied softly.
Morkaen continued glaring at the black wolf; Storm Tail looked obediently away from the leader, while keeping his head and tail respectfully low.
“Well then, why aren’t you with the rest of the pack, celebrating the pups?” He asked, confused. Already his anger was melting away.
Storm Tail did not answer, for he didn’t really know the answer to that question.
Morkaen growled, his anger returning. “If you don’t rejoice the coming of the pups, like the rest of us, then maybe you don’t belong with this pack!” He said harshly.
Storm Tail whimpered, and his head drooped lower while his tail drooped on the ground.
Satisfied, Morkaen turned proudly away from the hurt Omega, and sat down by the foot of Asheenu’s den.
Storm Tail sat down, his pride faltering. Atu got up, and went over to where Storm Tail sat. Anaki and Rosa looked at each other, then got up as well. For a moment, all three of them stood silently around the Omega. Anaki was the first to speak.
“Storm Tail, do not listen to what he says,” he began. “He’s a little too proud right now, and isn’t himself.”
“Yeah,” Rosa agreed, “don’t worry. Morkaen will come around soon enough.”
“We know that his insults hurt you, and it wasn’t right of him to say such things. We know you have your own way of rejoicing, and it’s not right for Morkaen to try and force you to rejoice his way,” Atu said gently.
Storm Tail looked up into the eyes of his pack, and his spirits lifted.
“Thank you,” he said.
Back in the den, Asheenu was watching her pups with love. She dozed off a few times, but was reawakened by one of the pups suckling a little too hard. Their eyes and ears were closed, and they would be for a while. She stayed with the pups, day and night. Whenever Morkaen brought her meat, she would let him come a few feet into the cave, and then growl at him whenever he got too close to the pups.
After about two weeks, the pups opened their eyes. Four of the five kept blinking, trying to adjust to the light coming from outside, but one pup blinked twice, then seemed to adjust fine to the light. After another week, the pups were able to hear. They started talking amongst themselves, and to Asheenu. Once the pups could hear, Asheenu decided to name them.
The dark grey one, who seemed to be the boss over the pups, and was a little mischievous, she named Armak.
The pure black one she named Black Paw, for he seemed to enjoy the dark.
One pup was very curious, and he sometimes got a little too curious. Time and time again, he tried to escape out of the cave. This one she named Flash.
The last two pups were girls. One of them was a mirror of Armak; bossy, and a tad mischievous. She named her Armik.
The last one was shy, yet bold. If Armak or Armik told her to submit to them, she’d stand strong. This one she named Ashu, for she was just like her mother. They had the same personality, and the same light grey coat.
After about four weeks, she led the pups out of the cave for the first time. Everyone else in the pack was anxious and excited—especially Morkaen. His eyes shone as he watched his mate guide the pups out of the den. The pups stumbled over one another as they stared at their surroundings. The only one who didn’t seem affected was Ashu; she stayed by her mother’s side, staring at the pack members.
“Mother,” she asked in her soft voice, “is that Father?”
She was staring right as Morkaen.
Asheenu smiled at her daughter. “Yes, that is him.”
Ashu did not respond, for she felt something deep inside Morkaen—something she did not like.
Morkaen padded over to the she-wolf and his daughter.
“Asheenu,” he murmured, nuzzling her.
Asheenu nuzzled him back, her tail wagging.
Ashu walked away from the two, not wanting to interrupt. She walked over to where the other wolves stood, watching. She felt inside them, and saw that they meant no harm—they were merely content.
She looked around, and saw a black wolf lying in the grass who looked similar to her brother, Black Paw. She looked inside him, and immediately liked him. She walked over to him, her tail high.
Storm Tail heard her coming, and opened his eyes. The little pup staring at him looked so happy that he didn’t know what to say.
“Hello,” she said in a high, little voice. “I am Ashu.”
“I am Storm Tail,” he said, trying to figure out this strange pup.
“Storm Tail,” she repeated softly. Her tail started to wag.
Storm Tail grinned, for he liked this little cub.
Then Ashu’s tail stopped wagging. Storm Tail looked up, and saw Morkaen glaring at him. He wondered how the little pup had known that Morkaen had noticed them.
Ashu had felt the dark feeling grow inside her father, so she knew he had noticed the two of them. And apparently, he didn’t like what he saw. And, to her horror, he started to walk toward the two wolves.
“Well, Ashu, it seems you have met the Omega of the pack,” he growled.
Ashu looked up at Morkaen, but did not reply. Storm Tail was surprised at the courage inside her.
“Well, aren’t you coming to meet the rest of the pack, my daughter?” Morkaen asked her, starting to lose his patience.
She still did not reply. He glared at her, waiting for an answer. Out of the corner of his eyes, Storm Tail saw Morkaen’s tail twitch impatiently.
“Perhaps she will meet them later,” Storm Tail said.
Morkaen turned his eyes, and cringed at the amount of anger in them.
“You will stay out of this, Omega. I was not speaking to you,” he snarled.
Then he turned, and walked into the forest, muttering to himself.
Ashu whimpered. Storm Tail looked at her.
“He wanted to get me away from you,” she whined.
Storm Tail cocked his head at her. “How do you know that?”
She looked at him with eyes full of fear. “I just do. Can’t you feel it?”
“No,” he replied.
She stood up, and walked away, puzzled. She glanced over her shoulder once at Storm Tail, then walked toward her mother.