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A Wolf Story
I was born the same way as everyone else. With 5 litter mates, 4 paws, and two sealed eyes. My mother said I looked exactly like my father. We shared the same jet black fur. She would tell me softly at night when I couldn’t sleep that I would grow up to be just like him. The only difference between me and my father was our eyes. Thunder, that’s what Mother said his name was, had depthless coal eyes.
“They are the kind of eyes that look straight through you and cause you to fall to your hunches,” she would tell me. She expected me to have the same eyes as him. But the day my eyes opened was a surprise. Mine where a bright blue. The whole pack came in to the first viewing, my first viewing, the day my eyes opened. I had been able to hear for awhile and to smell for even longer but sight was a big deal when it came to pack life. They all crowded into our small den watching intently for me and my litter mates eyes to peak open. The color of a wolf’s eye tells a lot about them many said. Our nanny wolf who would come watch us when Mother went hunting, use to tell stories about wolves and how you could tell what they truly were by the color of their eyes. As I opened mine for the first time I heard the collective gasp as my bright blue eyes shined in the dim light. The last wolf in our Pack to have blue eyes was the greatest wolf in our history. He was the largest wolf, the one who had fought away the bear clan that had tried to take over our land. Everyone expected great things from me from that moment. And from my size and fighting skills I was living up to those expectations.
I could tell that Mother was paying me more attention. I got the best scraps of meat, the warmest place on her belly to sleep, and the longest tongue baths. I asked her one night why she was doing this. I could see my little skinny sister with light yellow eyes in the coldest spot. She was so skinny I could tell that she didn’t get milk or meat often.
“Why don’t you pay attention to her Mother?” I pointed with my muzzle towards my yellow eyed sister. “She needs your attention much more than I do. She seems sick and I’m strong and healthy.”
“She wouldn’t get special attention if she was outside this den so why should she get it here?” She said coolly looking at her daughter in disgust. “The weak don’t survive in the real world. If she can’t survive in here and I saved her I would only be saving her to burden the Pack. Learn this lesson well my son. The strong go on to breed and have strong pups. The weak only live to drag the Pack down and feed the predators of the forest.” I couldn’t believe her. How could she look at her daughter and know she is going to die in here and not want to help her.
“Nanny Wolf is old and can’t do much to help the pack but watch us. So isn’t she a burden as well? Shouldn’t we kill her off?” I asked hoping I wasn’t pointing out something that would lead to one of my favorite wolves’ death.
“You are not listening son. Nanny was once a great Tracker. One of the best this Pack has ever seen. She earned her place in this Pack and worked well to help it while she could. And now she helps by watching you so the strong wolves can go out and bring back food.” She told me speaking slowly. I fell to sleep that night thinking about my little yellow eyed nameless sister. The next morning she did not awake with the rest of us.
I think I was the only one who noticed Mother lift my sister’s lifeless body and lope out to the forest to place her among the trees. Now it was my two brothers, my other sister, and me left. At 2 moons old no terrible thing lasts long in your mind. And I quickly forgot that I had ever had more than one sister.
We were allowed out of the den on occasion when the whole pack was home from the hunts. I loved being outside where the wind would bring smells that made my mouth water and stomach rumble. I longed for my naming day where I would become a true member of the pack and follow my parents on my first hunt. Nanny Wolf told my litter mates and me how Mother would pick a name for us based on our personality and strengths.
“Wolves must earn their name. Play hard my dears and show your mother that you deserve to be a part of the Pack.” This was one of Nanny Wolf’s favorite sayings that she found time to put into our conversations at least 3 times a day. She loved telling the story of the nameless wolf. She said that he had not play fought with his litter mates, had not worked on his howling, or tracking, or stalking. And so when his naming day arrived he was deemed unfit for a name and the entire Pack chased him away. She says that if you listen hard on cold winter nights you can hear him howling for his name and the warmth of the Pack. None of us wanted to be unworthy of our names and so we practiced hard. When we fought it was apparent that I was the best. I was stronger, meaner, and bigger than my litter mates. It was on a day of fighting when I was taking my litter mates 3 to 1 that my father, Thunder, came to see us. You don’t just stop in the middle of a fight not even for the Alpha and especially not if you have to fight for your place. So we kept going and the fighting didn’t stop until I had pinned my brothers and sister and forced them to submit to me. I was proud of myself, Thunder had sat and watched the whole thing and I could tell from the twinkle in his eye that he was proud of me too.
“Come here boy,” He boomed at me. Mother had said that is voice sounded like thunder but I still wasn’t prepared for the earth trembling tenor of his voice. I did as he commanded and walked to him with my tail up. I would not show submission to him. He was my father and I was going to follow in his large paw prints as Alpha. He chuckled at my sign of dominance but the twinkle in his eye got bigger.
“Well, I can see why Breena talks about you all the time. You are a great fighter boy. Much like I was when I was in the Den.” He smiled at me. “You are probability bigger than I was at your age; well go back to your fighting. Train hard boy the Naming Day fast approaches.” He got up and walked out. The only thing I notice is that I came up to his knee already. He had left a mark in the dirt as he had walked and I ran over to it. Looking down I placed my paw in my fathers print and saw that my paws were bigger.
2 Moons passed from the time my father had first spoken to me. We had not said a word since but I could tell from the way his eyes twinkled and a slight grin flashed across his face that he was proud of me. Tonight was the full moon. The Naming Day. The day I had been waiting for since I had gotten my first lungful of fresh air. The Pack sent of the scouts that day to make sure there was pray nearby. They returned at dusk with the news that Caribou where only a mile away getting ready to hunker down for the night. My mouth started salivating at the thought of sinking my teeth into that first warm bite. All the meat I had had was brought back to the Den after the kill in either small chunks or my Pack mates stomachs. The thought of ripping through the flesh steaming off of a new kill was mouth watering.
A howl ripped through the Pack. Causing a wave of fear to wash over me. It was time, Mother was calling the Pack to order. The Naming had begun. Mother lined me and my litter mates up related to what rank she felt we would become. I was in the very back, the last one to get named, due to the high possibility that I was the next Alpha. The first up to be named was one of my brothers. We had fought many times but he wasn’t very good at it. He was too submissive but he had a good nose on him. When we would play hide and seek he would always find my litter mates and I, there was nowhere we could hide that he couldn’t sniff us out. Nanny Wolf was very proud of him, having been an exceptional tracker herself, she spent many long hours telling him stories of pray she had tracked down when no one else had. Mother…I mean Breena, for that’s what we were expected to call her now that we were no longer pups, deemed my brother fit for his name.
“This pup has worked hard and proven that he will be an asset to this Pack. Do you accept him as your brother?” She said loudly to the entire Pack. 15 wolves howled back their agreement. Breena turned her head to face her son, “Then I call you Nose for your exceptionally keen sense of smell. Turn brother and take your place among the Trackers.” Nose smiled and loped over to the group of trackers that included Nanny Wolf. Her eyes shined in the dim light with a motherly joy and pride. Nose took his spot at her side and lay down to watch the rest of the naming.
Next up was my sister. She was slender but fast. It didn’t matter that I was a whole head taller than her and my legs and strides longer; if we raced, I lost. She walked up to Breena, looking graceful and light on her feet. My sister too was deemed fit for her name.
“This pup has worked hard and proven that she will be an asset to this Pack. Do you accept her as your sister?” Breena repeated this traditional line, asking the Pack their opinion. Once again the whole Pack howled back yes. “I name you Swift-foot for your extreme speed and grace. Turn sister and take your place among the Runners.” That was a very high honor and I could tell from the look on my sisters face as she walked to her spot that she was pleased. Only the fastest wolves made Runner because they had one of the most critical jobs on the hunt. It was now Swift-foot’s job to run the pray until the tired so the Hunters could come in for the kill. Runners trained for hours working on their speed and stamina. I knew my sister would make a find Runner.
As Breena called up my other brother, the one I had decided I would take on as my 2nd, I got nervous. What if the Pack decided not to accept me? What if they were afraid of me and kicked me out? I wouldn’t be able to survive on my own I don’t even know how to hunt. But looking at my father and remembering the pride I had seen in his eyes calmed me. The Alpha could override any decisions made by the Pack and I new he would not allow me to be kicked out. My panic attack had caused me to miss most of my 2nd’s Naming.
“…Padfoot for your quite steps as you stalk. Turn brother and take your place among the Hunters.” Breena said just as I started listening. This was good, I was afraid my brother would be chosen as a Mule since he was extremely strong as well. A Mule would not look good as a 2nd but a Hunter; that is the kind of 2nd you want.
And then it was my turn. The nerves started to come back but I would not show any anxiety as I walked up to face my mother. I stood as tall as her and I was still going to grow. I knew that I would be big but the surprise that flashed across Breena’s face made it clear she hadn’t relived I had grown. I lay down so she could address the crowd. “This pup has worked hard and proven that he will be an asset to this Pack. Do you accept him as your brother?” Breena announced with only a slight edge of fear to her voice. The Pack hesitated in their agreement howl and I saw Thunder stand up. The howl rose seconds later though.
“I name you Storm for your immense size and ferocity. Turn brother and take your place among the Hunters.” Breena said, as I stood up to turn Thunder rolled across the plain.
“Stop Strom and turn to take your place by my side, my son.” Thunder announced to the collective gasp of the entire Pack. This was unheard of Thunder had not only never called one of his offspring son but no one was ever asked to sit by his side.
I turned away from the Hunters and walked to take my place beside my Father. I stood at the 2nd’s traditional place. Thunder stood up next to me and I heard the gasp and yelps of surprise. Not only were Thunder and I an imposing image. Two giant wolves standing side by side, night black fur; merciless coal black eyes calculating on one, storm blue eyes instilling fear on the other. But next to my father everyone could see just how large I really was. Even though I was only about 5 moons old I stood with my head just reaching Thunder’s shoulder. It was a sign. I was going to be enormous, the biggest wolf in our history. I was going to do something great. The day’s events and my size proved that. No one would get in my way. I was Storm, in name and description. A shudder swept through the Pack as my gaze looked at my brothers and sisters. The family I would one day be in command of.
That was the moment my world shattered. That was the moment they came. Their scent preceded them, musky and pungent. It hurt my nose and raised the hair on my back. Danger was coming the whole Pack was on alert. They walked out of the forest. Deer and Caribou hides hanging around their body. Walking forward on their back paws while in their front holding a wicked looking stick. More and more kept filing out of the woods. There were at least 12. Thunder barked out an order and the Hunters formed rank. Thunder at the tip with his chosen 2nd by his side; the rest of the Hunters file into order based on rank. The Runners flank the sides slightly behind the Hunters, ready to take off at full speed if the treat were to turn tail. The Trackers and my litter mates and I are left in the very back. Trackers warm up their noses ready to sniff out any that get away. Padfoot, Nose, Swift-foot, and I stand with them unsure what to do. All I know is that I want to be in the front by Thunders side. Leading the attack on these strange creatures that threaten our home. The over-powering urge to rip and tear flesh causes my hackles to raise and a deep growl to escape my bared mouth.
Thunder lets out a deep howl the signal the Hunters have been waiting for. I see the strange creatures stop as the howl rolls to where their standing. Thunder’s voice is enough to cause the most hardened predator fear. The Hunters take off, running at top speed toward the threat. I see some of the creatures turn and run back into the woods; this is the Runners signal and they take off after them. Thunder, as leader is in front. Running straight for the lead creature, which raises the stick in its hands just as Thunder leaps, mouth open to rip out the animal’s throat. A deadening boom shakes the earth and smoke rises from the creatures stick as my father is blown backwards. He lands limply on the ground; dead. Howls of agony rip though the group and the attack is intensified. In my anger I run at the creatures ready to rip and tear and die. I lunged just like my father, but they did not lift their death stick to me, and I didn’t get my teeth on anything either. In my rage I had run straight at the thing that had killed my father forgetting to look around me. I didn’t see the creatures Pack mates come up from the sides with a bad and rope. I didn’t see the rope thrown till it was wrapped around my neck pulling me backward. Only then did I notice the trap I had run into and I cursed myself as I was shoved into a bag and the top tied closed. Next thing I knew I was being lifted into the air. I smiled as a heard the heavy huffing of the creature carrying me. It was very uncomfortable in that sack. My body was much too big to be twisted into the angles it was in. It was a painful relief to be dropped gracelessly on some hard flat surface. It smelt like wood but it was hard to make out with the horrible scent of the creatures around me. Suddenly the thing I was on was moving. I could hear clopping sounds, like those a Caribou makes. I could tell we were moving fast, as fast as a wolf’s lope. How many of my brothers and sisters died tonight? Where was I being taken?
As the night wore on I heard the sound I had been waiting for. The howling of my Pack, but it was far away, very faint. And it was not the call of the hunt it was a cry of grief. My heart ached as I picked out my mother’s howl calling out loudest of all. The Pack howled for their lost brothers and sisters tonight and I was one of them. I could tell that several had been killed the howls were fewer than just this morning. I lifted my muzzle and tried to join in but my jaws were tied shut. I whimpered hated these things that had taken everything from me; I knock on my head sent me into blackness.
When I woke up I could tell it was afternoon. The birds were chirping there mid-day songs and I could smell the sun’s heat in the air. The hot made the creatures smell more choking and it started to make me gag. Which only reminded me that I was starving, we hadn’t eaten yesterday anticipating the hunt. I was just about ready to start barking until I was given food or knocked out again when the rolling wood stopped. It tipped and I was dumped, hard, onto the ground. I kicked trying to get free and the bag opened. I was blinded by the light which was just enough time for the creatures to get a rope around my head. When I could see I looked around trying to get my bearings. This most be the creatures Den. But there were so many of them. Many had little pipes on top that were smoking like it was on fire but I could see no flames though I could smell them. The Den reeked like the creatures and feces and some other smells that I couldn’t place. I smelled flesh though it smelt burnt but even so I made my mouth water and stomach grumble. I started walking toward the smell, it was coming from the biggest Den in the center but I was stopped. I looked around ready to bite the paw of whoever had stopped me but there was no one. Looking closer I saw that the rope around my neck was tied to a pole. I was trapped there was no way out. I tried to gnaw through the rope but it was hard and cold and hurt my teeth so I had to stop. For the rest of the day and all that night I watched the things I hated move around. Many would stop and look at me but I would rise my hackles and growl and they would run off. Looking silly and gangly on their back paws. Some of the Dens even had pups, small creatures running around with dripping noses and dirty paws. The next morning brought a surprise. More wolves walked into the Den, prancing along beside the creatures, like it didn’t matter that the things were horrible. They walked towards me and I growled, these wolves were traitors, they lived with the wolf killer’s and would die with the wolf killers. They all stopped and submitted to me, not even one challenged me. Where was the Alpha, why would he give control to his Pack to me without even a fight? The wolves walked as close as they dared and sat beside poles much like mine where the Wolf Killers came and tied them up. Next they threw a big hind leg to us and I ran to it egarly. The other wolves didn’t approce the leg until I had eaten my fill and walked away to clean my face. They growled and yipped at each other not using words at all. I barked asking them to shut up and they didn’t seem to understand. They couldn’t talk I thought to myself. Great did the Wolf Killers have some way to take away a wolf’s voice? Was I next to lose my ability to understand?
All I knew was I needed to get back home. I missed my mother and the warmth of my brothers and sisters. I missed the fields surrounded by the forest where me and my litter mates had played. Would I ever see my family again? Surly by now they had sent out a search party to look for me. Or would they be happy I was gone? Who had control of the Pack? I saw my father’s 2nd shot just as my father was, so who had claimed Alpha? And would he look for me knowing I would take his place when I got back? It seemed unlikely. No Alpha would look for the one wolf that would force him down in ranks again. I was on my own. Somehow I had to find a way out of this. My destiny was not to live on a chain in a smelly Den ruling over a Pack that could no longer speak. I would get out of here if I had to kill every single thing in my way. I would make it back home. But how?
-To be continued-