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A Grey's Lament
Winter had taken quite a toll on the battle-scarred territory of Fallight. The quiet breeze but the harsh cold was misleading. Fallight wasn’t that big of a territory either, well compared to the other kingdoms in the area. Only a square mile, the lonely kingdom sat in the middle of the peninsula of Wintsun, thus the mainland detached years ago.
A moderately broken down building housed some of the only survivors. The building was made of a few trees, with some wood bark built around.
Inside, laid a small wolf. His fur was a smoke gray, and he lay on the floor, his breaths were shallow. He had a huge gash in his side, which had already bled all over the wooden floors.
Next to to the tiny wolf was a slightly bigger one taking care of him. The wolf had a white coat of fur, with a hint of gold behind his ears. The smaller wolf yelled in pain as he applied pressure to the wound.
“OW! Cut it out!”
“No, this’ll help, I promise.”
These are brothers, named rightfully Ash and Snow. Ash was the younger one. After the battle, had the brothers not taken refuge in the building, they might’ve died.
“Here, hold up,” Snow strained, quickly grabbing a bandage with his other paw. Ash winced.
“Make it quick.”
With a quick wrap, Snow had wrapped the bandage around his brother’s waist.
“It’ll heal, just don’t struggle too much.”
“Thanks, Snow. You’re the best!” Snow hugged his little brother.
These two brothers had the closest bond ever since both parents had been lost in the war, between Greys and Whites. Their parents were of both, so Snow knew having Ash in the white territory was dangerous. He swore to protect his brother no matter what it took. No matter what danger was thrown their way. He knew that his father, who was the Grey of the family with Ash, would kill him if Ash was killed in war. Fortunately, he knew where to go. The grays knew that his father had him and Ash; himself being a white. Being the highest part(below the king, Shade) of the monarchy, the king allowed him to have the children. So Snow knew what to do next.
“Ash, we gotta go back to Grey territory,” Snow cautioned.
“Wait, why? Don’t you think it’s dangerous, big brother?”Ash replied, grabbing Snow by the ankle.
“It’s the only way. If we make it back to Grey, we’d have a safe place to hide.”
“ . . . Alright. Let’s go, big brother, lead the way!”
Snow nodded. He helped his little brother up, and felt the lean of the smaller wolf on his side.
“I promise I won’t let go of you.”
A Month Later, January 15, 20XX…
I wish I could’ve said the same thing, Snow.
Ash genuflected next to Snow’s body. Only, it laid dead in the snow (yes, Snow lying on the snow). Ash kneeled in the bloody cold, trying to hold back the tears.
It wasn’t working.
He felt tears run down his muzzle, and sniffed.
“I wish I could bring you with me, big brother.”
There was no reply from him. Ash sniffed again. The wind howled, and Ash thought he heard a voice that breathed, “I wish I could too.”
Ash extended his paw and felt his brother’s pendant around his neck. He took it off and put it around himself. The pendant glowed a deep blue.
Wasn’t this what Snow got for his birthday? Yeah, it was.
This was the symbol of the high prince. I guess I’m that now. The wind picked up, blowing more harsh cold into his nose. He looked down at his brother.
“I’ll miss you,” Ash whimpered, holding his head up to Snow’s.
A moment passed.
Ash finally laid Snow’s head down, and left the body of his dead brother behind.
He couldn’t help himself from crying as he left.
Ash could not go on any longer. Grey territory was still miles away, and the snow had already taken him up a stump. He shivered, let out a sneeze, and almost fell over again. The snow howled louder than any wolf he had heard.
Ash stopped behind a tree. He collapsed in the snow, panting in exhaustion.
“I-I’m gonna d-die of f-f-frostbite before I c-can even g-get killed by any w-whites.”
Ash felt the wind pick up again.
I g-g-gotta find some shelt-t-er.
He slowly shuffled his way through the deep snow. His paws were freezing. It wasn’t helping that the snow hadn’t stopped since morning and was up to his chest. There was no way he could make it if he kept going.
Ash suddenly heard someone shout him. He turned his dazed head around in all directions. In this state, he couldn’t tell if that was real or if he was making this up.
“Hey! Grey one!”
Ash was too cold. He still couldn’t really tell. Suddenly, he got snagged by another wolf. He was dragged into a cave with a fire burning inside it. He felt the warmth of the fire against his fur, melting the snow of it.
“Get up, Grey one,” murmured a voice. There was many voices.
“Is that really who I think it is . . . ?”
“No, it-t-t c-can’t b-be. . . . ”
“How would he have gotten out here . . . ?”
Ash knew he couldn’t have listened without having a heart attack. He was scared to open up his eyes.
“Grey one! I know you’re awake! Get up!” Ash opened his eyes in fear, to see a white wolf staring at him, “Are you alright?”
“AAH! Please d-don’t hurt me!” Ash cried, holding his paws over his head.
“Woah, woah, woah, calm down, we’re not gonna hurt you,” the white wolf whispered, glancing at the others in the room.
Ash didn’t dare look around, and couldn’t anyway. He shivered.
“T-T-T-Too . . . c-c-cold . . . ” Ash felt himself collapsing of exhaustion.
“Uh oh, Stormy, get the- . . . ”
“Wait . . . Ash . . . ? Ash . . . !”
. . .
“Snow! Snow! Snow! NO! NOOOOOOOOO!”
. . .
“Snow, please! Wake up! WAKE UP SNOW!”
. . .
. . .
“ . . . You’re really gone-”
Ash gasped as he woke with a start, glancing around the cave. This time, a grey wolf stood over his side.
“Don’t worry. We’re not going to kill you.”
“U-um, okay. W-where am I . . . ?” Ash felt the wolf hold him by the head.
“Are you Marquess Ash? The son of Duchess Ivory and Duke Smoke?” the wolf asked, wide eyed.
“Y-yes, wh-” he couldn’t finish his sentence before the wolf jumped in excitement.
“Oh my! Guys! It IS Marquess Ash!” The rest of the wolves gathered around yelling questions at Ash.
“Where were you?”
“Why are you here?”
“What c-c-can we d-do?”
“Where are Ivory and Smoke?”
“Where’s Marquess Snow?”
“Where’s Marquess Snow?”
“Where’s Marquess Snow?”
“Where’s Marquess Snow?”
“Where’s Marquess Snow?”
. . .
“Gone. They’re all gone. Snow, mom, dad, they’re all . . . ”
Ash sniffled as tears run down past his muzzle. He didn’t stop himself. It was justified. The wolves looked at each other, exchanging worried looks. Ash sniffled once again, remembering that moment.
“ . . . You’re really gone. No, there’s no-”
Ash felt the warmth of his brother’s fur. The white wolves that killed him looked terribly at Snow’s body.
“Oh no, what have I done,” said the one with blood on his paws. His companion growled angrily at him.
“Look what you did, Polar! This white is dead because of-”
The two white wolves stared in shock as Ash howled at them.
“HAVEN’T YOU ALREADY DONE ENOUGH DAMAGE?!” Ash’s voice started cracking.
They both exchanged regretful glances and ran off into the forest as fast as they could, leaving the small wolf by himself.
“I can’t believe you got in their way to protect me,” Ash whispered, looking at Snow’s soulless eyes. They had tried to kill Ash, and Snow had gotten in their way to protect him. Unfortunately, he did not survive.
“I know you’re not listening, but just please don’t tell me you’re gone.”
Ash had his eyes closed the whole time, tears staining his fur under his eyes. He felt the paw of the fellow grey.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Marquess Ash.”
Ash wiped his eyes, trying to stay serious.
“So, if duke Smoke is no longer alive, are you the next one in line for representative of Grey Duke?” one of the whites raised a brow.
A moment passed.
“That’s right. There’s no one else to take duke spot. You all must help me. I must get to grey territory and end this war,” Ash announced, standing up without realizing it.
The wolves looked at each other reluctantly. Ash now had time to realize that in this room, there were 5 wolves, 3 whites and 2 greys. They were surviving together.
This must be the ones that don’t want to fight.
Two whites were burly soldiers, both with an equal share of battle scars. The other white was a girl, who looked as delicate as a rose.
A snow rose, as is.
That’s kinda racist.
The male grey was scrawny and hungry looking one, who twitched every few seconds. The female was the one who he woke up to. She looked a lot less elegant than the white female, with her fur kind’ve matted and uneven.
Her name must be . . . Stormy, right?
The taller white stepped up. He nodded, “I’m in. Join me, for we must stop the war against whites and greys.”
“It-t-t’s g-g-g-gonna work,” stuttered the scrawny grey, letting out a nervous chuckle before saying, “I hope it-t-t will.”
“I’m in,” chimed the other white male, anxiously standing next to the taller one to the right of him, “as long as the war ends.”
“I’m in,” smiled Stormy patting Ash’s back, “I do it for Ash’s sake.” Ash smiled back at her. The only one left the white female. She scoffed as everyone looked at her.
“Alright, I’ll do it, as long as you don’t my hair dirty.”
Ash nodded, “We must leave immediately, for this war cannot wait any longer.”
The snowstorm had calmed down and left a cold afternoon in it’s wake. The temperature had rad risen by only two fahrenheit, leaving the frost to sit in all corners of the quiet valley. The margarine plants had stopped growing, leaving buds in the frosted dirt.
Ash led the way towards grey territory. It was a good . . .
Whole day walk, I’m pretty sure.
Ash suggested that they do some icebreakers. It was kinda awkward, but he definitely convinced them to do it.
“The name’s Alpine,” yawned the tallest white. He pointed to the elegant white, “this is my twin sister Crystal.”
Crystal threw her head upwards, “I had to save this goon from the heat of the war.” Alpine jumped upwards and blushed.
“My name’s Cloud,” introduced the smaller white male, “I’m the private to my general, Alpine.” He tried not to meet Alpine’s eyes.
“I’m F-F-F-Foggy,” began the scrawny grey one, twitching and chuckling to himself, “I uh . . . don’t-t-t-t h-have a family t-t-to return t-t-to. St-t-tormy is my sist-ter.”
“Yeah, I’m Stormy, blah blah blah, I’m not relevant,” Stormy rambled, frowning angrily. Ash stared at her in confusion. Fortunately, he wasn’t the only one to looking at her with long faces. She sighed, “I’m Stormy, and this is my brother, Foggy,” she finished, elbowing her brother in the side. He let out a quiet playful laugh.
“You guys know me already, Ash,” Ash repeated. It felt like to him that he was bragging when he said that.
I really hope it didn’t.
Crystal gave a rhetorical scoff that it was.
“Well anyway, Marquess, how long is the walk?” Crystal gave a smart remark, with Alpine kicking her in the shin.
“Well, my estimation is . . . uhh . . . ” Ash pondered, holding a paw to his mouth.
“A day, if we aren’t gonna stop for anything,” Cloud interrupted, quickly getting hit by Alpine in the back.
“DON’T interrupt royalty, private,” Alpine growled.
“Oh. I apologize Marquess,” Cloud whimpered, putting his head down.
“No, it’s alright,” Ash assured, turning his head. Alpine let out a low growl. Ash mused, “lay low general.” He let out a chuckle afterwards.
“Your lucky we’re for the same cause, GREY ONE,” Alpine threatened, towering over the tiny wolf. Ash whimpered involuntarily.
Stormy chuckled, “This is gonna be a long day.”
It had been around four hours since that conversation had been spoken. The sunset had already started, leaving an orange tint in the sky with streaks of red parallel to the horizon. They were only a mile away from the central grey kingdom of NimboStratus. The temperature was starting to drop, and they had to get as far as they could without freezing to death. Ash panted as he stumbled forward.
“Hey, why don’t you slow down, prince?” Crystal called, the distance of the call delaying Ash’s reaction.
“No, I m-must keep going,” Ash slurred groggily.
“Marquess Ash,” Alpine exclaimed, catching up to the grey, “I sincerely suggest that you take a rest before continuing.”
Ash repeated, “No, I have to keep g-going.” Ash looked half-dead.
Alpine stopped and grabbed him by the tail, with Ash letting out a high-pitched yelp. Alpine repeated, “Please, you must stop. The rest of the walk will take another hour, and the sun will have set by then. You’ll freeze!”
Ash turned around, and saw Alpine and everyone staring at him in concern, Crystal being the only one not.
“Ash,” Stormy called, looking into his eyes. She gave him a stern look, and stared down at him from a distance. Ash sighed, a warm steam exhale erupt from his mouth. He nodded, before letting out a violent sneeze.
Alpine lead him to a small cave nearby, which the others had gotten a head start on warming up once Cloud had started a fire.
Ash instantly fell down next to the fire, shivering. Stormy curled around him.
“Marquess Ash, I suggest you rest. We can continue in the morning,” Cloud suggested, scratching his head.
“You are t-t-the young-g-gest out-t-t of all of us, r-r-right Ash?” Foggy asked.
“Me and Crystal are eighteen,” Alpine announced.
“I’m sixteen, and Foggy is fourteen,” Stormy injected.
“I am thirteen,” Cloud revealed, “so how old are you, Ash?”
“I’m only Ten.”
A moment passed.
“Snow was only fifteen.”
It was an hour after sunrise, and Ash had already woken up the others to start.
They were thirty minutes away from NimboStratus, and it was colder than yesterday. Ash wasn’t fairing well.
He coughed, and used his non-dominant paw to wipe his nose, which had mucus running from it. Stormy kept herself around him, with Alpine close behind.
“How’s he holding up, chief?” Cloud asked Alpine, catching up to the bigger wolf.
“Not very well, private. Seems he’s suffering from a terrible cold,” Alpine whispered to Cloud, trying to cover up.
“How are you, Ash?” Stormy asked.
“I-I’m fine,” Ash reassured, “don’t worry ab-b-bout me.” He sneezed once again.
“No, Ash, we have to worry about you. Guys, we have to make a stop again,” Stormy called to the others. They seemed to all agree.
“What? N-no, we’re so close, we just have t-to keep going, we can-”
“Ash, now’s not the time,” Stormy said sternly, “You can’t keep going in the cold like this.”
Ash turned around.
“T-There’s no t-time . . . we have to,” he turned around to the others.
A minute passed.
“Alright, get on my back,” Stormy sighed, crouching down, “there’s no way we can get you to council alive if you keep going.”
The small grey climbed onto her back, sighing as he felt her stand up.
“Don’t concern yourself, marquess,” Alpine assured, catching up, “we’ll be there soon.”
They had reached the town of NimboStratus. Ash had gotten a bit better since Ash came down with it, but was still sick.
NimboStratus was usually a big, bustling town full of merchants, townspeople, and grey wolves that would trade and go with their business around town. Cubs would run around and chase the butterflies, laughing as they’d trip over each other in a rush to get home. Now, being the biggest kingdom, came with being attacked.
The city let out a creepy vibe from the empty shacks, to the coincidentally cloudy sky, and the sounds of what Ash thought he heard was incoherent whispering from the dark corners of dank alleyways.
“T-T-This look-ks different-t-t than when we were last-t-t here,” Foggy whispered, inching closer to Stormy.
“That was a long time ago, bro,” Stormy assured, looking up at Ash, “I don’t remember this, or this, or this . . . ” Stormy was pointing to different things around the town. Ash coughed again, this time, gagging right after.
Cloud winced, “Oh, hold on Ash,” As he caught up to Stormy, and put his hand to Ash’s forehead. A concerned look spilled onto his face, “Oh my stratus. Foggy, could you hand me some snow?” Foggy dug his paw and tossed it over to Cloud.
Cloud put it to Ash’s forehead, and it instantly melted. Alpine looked at Ash in confusion and worry.
“What the flake? What’s going on, Cloud?”
“Holy sleet! Stormy, we gotta run!” Cloud dashed in front of them.
“Ash is burning up. We won’t make it if we don’t hurry!”
“I . . . won’t . . . give in. . . . ” Ash mumbled, gripping tighter onto Stormy’s fur.
“Don’t die yet, Marquess,” Stormy muttered.
“I . . . cannot . . . *sneeze* give up . . . “
“We’re here,” Cloud announced, pushing open the massive wooden door. It took him a bit of force, but Alpine forced the door in a rush.
“HEY! WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!” screamed a grey wolf inside, “THE WHITES ARE HERE!” But before any grey in the room could act, Stormy pushed to the front.
“STOP! WE-” she stopped by the sound of Ash falling off her back. He stood as tall as he could, trying not to look as sick as he was.
“Please . . . ! Don’t . . . hurt them!” He slurred, using all of his energy to stand up.
“Marquess Ash?” called a voice in the council. It was his grandfather, who was not a part of the council, but visited to see his son, Smoke.
“Grandfather!” Ash ran up to him and stumbled into his grandfather’s grip.
“Where’s Snow? And Ivory? And Smoke?”
Instantly, Ash started bawling.
“Grandfather, this war has taken all of them.” Ash sniffed again, shaking out of his hands. His expression turned serious.
“We MUST stop the war,” Ash pleaded, looking up at him.
“I know how to stop it.”
Alpine viciously leaped at Ash, lashing out his claws. Ash got scratched, but Alpine was quickly taken down by the guards. Ash felt the side of his face. It bled.
“CLOUD! HELP ME YOU-” Alpine fumed as the grey guards held him down.
“I- um . . . don’t-” Cloud stuttered to figure out what to do.
“CLOUD! FOLLOW YOUR COMMANDER!” Alpine stared at him very angrily. Cloud staggered backwards in worry, but then suddenly stood his ground.
“I’m sorry commander. But this is the only way for the war to end.”
Ash stepped over Alpine. He gestured his head over to the side to tell the guards to send him to the jail. As he was dragged away, his screams of dismay echoed throughout the hall.
“YOU TRAITOR! I will get you back for this!”
Cloud had tears running down of his snout. He kept a stern face as he sniffed. Ash looked at the him.
“You did the right thing, Cloud.”
“Don’t worry about me, greys,” Crystal pleaded, “I don’t fight. Plus, I do want this war to end. I don’t have any family to return home to, anyways.” This was the first time Ash saw a different expression other than a sarcastic smirk on her face.
“What do we do next, Ash?” Cloud looked at his friend. The rest of the grey council, including Stormy, Crystal, and Foggy locked on.
“Grandfather Shade, schedule a debate with the Leader of Whites.”
Ash sat in a room of the main hall inside the white wolf town of AltoStratus. Around him were two guards, Cloud, Crystal, Stormy, and Foggy. He sighed and stared at the other wolf entering the room. The leaders of Whites.
Glacier looked at the tiny wolf. He sighed.
“So . . . this is the next in line for Duke of Greys?” He studied the tiny wolf.
“Duke of Whites, Glacier,” Ash bowed, “We must end this war as soon as possible.”
“What’s the meaning, little Marquess? Your kind was the one who started this.”
“How so, Duke of Whites?”
“Please, call me Glacier. Duke Smoke started this after we struggled to decide a kingdom separation. The kingdom of Fallight.”
That’s where he promised.
“Well,” he continued, “we argued if Fallight should go to us or you.”
A moment passed.
“That’s it? That’s ALL you guys started the war about?!” Ash looked at the duke in anger.
“THOUSANDS OF WOLVES HAVE DIED BECAUSE OF THIS WAR!! INCLUDING MY PARENTS AND SNOW!!” Tears started to run down his eyes, “YOU MUST STOP THIS, BEFORE ANYONE ELSE DOES!!”
“ . . . Uncle Glacier,” Crystal suddenly interrupted, revealing herself, “this war cannot go on any longer.” Ash hushed his mouth to listen.
Crystal and Alpine are royalty TOO?!
I feel like I should’ve known this.
“Niece Crystal? Where’s your brother?”
“He was confined for almost killing Ash. This war must stop.”
A moment passed.
“Where’s Frost?” Glacier asked, looking actually concerned.
“She was slain in the war, uncle.”
Frost must be her mother, and Glacier’s sister. But she was slain.
“This war must be stopped. What shall we do about Fallight, Ash?”
Ash thought for a second.
“Simple. Use it for a trade town, since it’s in the middle and cannot be given to one of our kingdoms.”
A week later…
“I’m glad this war is over.”
Ash sighed in relief as he stood on a cliff over the town of Fallight. He saw whites and grey both trading and laughing as they did their business in peace.
Stormy, Cloud, and Foggy sat next to him. All stared at the town with him.
“So, you’re the new duke?” Cloud asked, nudging him. Ash nodded.
“So Crystal headed back to AltoStratus?” Ash questioned this time. Stormy nodded.
“What-t-t k-kind of things d-d-do we d-d-do now?” Foggy looked at Ash. He shrugged. Now that the war had stopped, Foggy, Stormy, and Cloud had nowhere to go.
“Don’t you have any duke-duties to do, Ash?” Stormy asked, staring at him. It felt incredibly awkward since she was so close to him.
A long minute went ticking by.
“I can ask the committee if you guys can stay with us at the main hall.”
The others looked at him in surprise.
“Really, Ash? D-D-Do you really t-t-think they w-w-will?
“You were the ones who saved me from the brink of death. You were the ones who helped me get here. It was you guys that got me to this point.” Ash chuckled as the others smiled at him. Then he remembered to do something.
“ . . . I gotta go,” the tiny wolf stated to them. They nodded in understanding, as Ash called goodbye to his friends.
Ash stopped at a familiar building. He asked the committee if they could rebuild the broken down building. The same one that he lay in pain as his brother patched him up. He rubbed his shoulder against the rough bark of the wood as he walked.
He entered, and looked inside. There stood a big tombstone that read, “here lies all that died during the war.” No one was inside. The grey wolf slowly strode towards it, holding back multiple tears.
Ash stood in front of the altar, and placed his paw on the tombstone and closed his eyes. His pawt felt millions of souls resting inside this tomb, all silent and very content. They all were watching him, staring at the new duke in silence.
Ash felt the pendant around his neck. The pendant of high prince. He smiled and meekly spoke,
“I did it, Snow. Are mom and dad proud?”