Dusk sat quietly as Predin spoke as he had for many weeks now. I sat as well and watched diligently with Trilla. I had learned quite a bit from his lessons along with my brother through Predin’s lessons, most importantly was the information on the Packs of wolves around Rodons territory.
Predin taught of the Elders pack where I had lived before was a place where families would go to have their pups, feeling free from fear or conflict, but my parents were not blessed with that luxury. The Split paw was a group of strong wolves that lived in a survival of the fittest fashion. There was no order of power, just merely whoever was strongest or sneakiest, was the one you needed to listen to. That was why after Rodon defeated their pack in a battle, they tended to leave him alone and allow him whatever it was that he wished.
Though the ones he emphasized upon was the wolves who would unknowingly help us escape. The matriarch’s were a huge group with many side packs scattered throughout their territory to sustain their order. They went and exalted the females of their packs, believing that though the males were granted strength and brutality, the females were blessed by the gods with the ability and greater strength to bare and give birth to young pups from their bodies. They lived for their children and to have them to expand their packs. The alpha female was always strong and could carry and raise pups without ever breaking her role as a leader. She would carry the pups of whomever she thought had strong genes, that being a source of pride for every member.
The alpha female has many pups in her role before passing it down to her first daughter. Though the alpha female had a superior ranking and participated in meetings, all the wolves treated one another respectively under the idea of protecting the next generation and not just their rank in the pack.
And who else would the alpha female of had children with not long ago than the alpha of the prophets, the strongest of this lands wolf packs. They did not attack families that resided in their territory when they move through, and though they don’t offer them protection if they don’t join their pack, they don’t allow intruding packs to harm any wolves under their wing. They believed in freedom from the old wolf ways, and instead keep a court of advisors with a leader that listens to them. To accompany these ideas, they seek out anything human. They thrive in cities that most wolves avoid due to fear or instinct. They use human tools and technology to advance past their species and terrify wolves who don’t understand the ways of them.
I myself was terrified as Predin gave stories of these long metal blade the wolves held in their teeth. Ones that shined with sharp edges and swung with deadly precision by the special wolves who use them. The prophets even had a legend to face against Rodon’s own myth. The pursuer killer, who wears a wolf skull over his face and upper snout, appropriately named Fang. His fur was black, his presence phantom like and his killing swift and painful, striking fear in all those who oppose the packs he protects. Thankfully after the last battle Rodon attended the packs regrouped and were waiting for something to happen.
Though today, was not a day for learning of special killers, or groups to fear, but a reading lesson. Predin stood before my brother and pointed to the words on the page of a book in front of him. “Here,” He exclaimed to my brother. “Read this segment.”
Dusk peered to the paper and looked over the short stanza. “‘How can that be, unless she drownded’-” “Drown’d” Predin chimed in with the correction before dusk started again.
“‘How can that be, unless she drown’d herself in her own deaf-ence.’ Predin how do I say this word again?” Predin looked to the word that Dusk pointed to with his paw. “Defense. The first E seems to say its own name while the second stays calm and merely hums an ‘in’ like noise. You know that.”
Dusk looked to the page and nodded storing the information in his mind. Though he slowed in his growth he had gained an almost uncanny learning ability that I never could have had at his age. I was never givin a task such as this when I was a couple months old. The extent of my struggles was learning old wolfen, but Dusk has not only been studying that, but also how to read the books of the humans. I didn’t ask how he learned how to read in the first place, but I suppose in a world once occupied by humans, it wouldn’t hurt to know the things they knew. I was just in awe of how fast he had learned. I can only imagine what suckling a goddess can do to your mind, but whatever it could do, Dusk got the better part of it. He learned almost instantly and his vocabulary quickly grew from a baby talker to common conversation by almost 5 months.
“Predin,” Dusk began “why is it that Hamlet left after killing that other wolf? Killing is natural.” Predin smiled and shook his head. “They were a different kind of wolf Dusk, wolves that had an order where killing was never something you needed to do. So he was afraid of trouble.” Dusk nodded. “Well that’s enough today. You read through an entire act and began another. Good progress for such a squeamish pup.” Predin snorted. “And you’re a good teacher for an arrogant old fool.” He barked back and they both laughed. I gave a chuckle as well at their bickering and felt as Trilla’s tail laid against mine, I wrapped it up and felt it coiled around my own. We didn’t look at each other but appreciated the company. Ischien had begun recovering well from his mental tragedy, and he walked more and more with Ahria every day, a smile on his face and compassion in his eyes.
We had all been working hard on how to escape, but every time we bumped into the same problem. The pursuers. They protected all around the territory and nobody could get in or out. Predin was unsure of how many there were but he knew of their abilities. He said that they could do everything we could do, but they were masters of their craft. They lived to kill and they were good at living but they were unpredictable. Rodon needed us for few reasons other than to be a countermeasure for them. Though at the moment it was the other way around. So we merely waited, hoping for an opportunity to arise and allow for us to leave.
I stood back on my hind legs and front door allowing Dusk and Trilla to trot outside and I followed, closing the door behind me as I went and followed behind Trilla as Dusk shot off into the yard, yipping at the other pups that had gotten used to their prisoner brother. Sitting down I had to wonder if they were not all prisoners, stuck here in this twisted home.
“Hage, what will you do once you reach the east ocean?” Trilla asks. Moment of pondering before the answer “I’m not sure. Just live there by the ocean with Dusk. Maybe I will become a story teller, I’m sure plenty of families live up and down the coast.” She chuckled. “I could see you doing that.” looked to her, “Trilla, I actually-” Before I could finish a cry from another female interrupted and I looked out. The female wasn’t in pain, but was pained by a sight in the distance. Parents around me called to their dear children and they ran to them to keep from seeing the wolf coming into view from the side woods, red covering much of his body.
“Oh gods,” Trilla ran inside to fetch her father and I yelled for Dusk to go inside while I ran out to meet the wolf. At first I held my tail high and my teeth were snarled but as I approached the face and fur began to be recognizable. His right eye was scratched out and bleeding horribly with the right side of his snout sliced cleanly with his teeth and red flesh showing. His sides had several marks and punctures with a pelt dripping with blood. His tongue lolled out of his mouth and his breaths were long and heavy.
I was shocked and it took willpower not to spill the contents of my stomach. He stepped towards me and I naturally took a step away even though he obviously was seeking out a bit of comfort. He stepped and I stepped back and he looked at me even more, longing for help but I did not want to give it. He stepped again but this time when he put pressure upon the paw he teetered on it before falling upon his side with a yelp. Before I could even think about helping I am pushed aside by the Alpha. Rodon’s words were sharp with me but swooning for the hurt wolf. “Anuier, what happened? Who did this?” Anuier didn’t speak at first till Rodon asked again as an order instead of a plea. “Near the northern border of the territory; at the town. Matriarchs, prophet metal users. I didn’t know,” “It’s alright, you’re tired, rest easy now.” Rodon told him. He nodded with heavy breaths before laying his head down and closing his eyes. Rodon called Kina who came without haste and told her to take Anueir to her mother for healing and rest.
“Vinator” The masked wolf who had followed Rodon out stepped forward without a word. “Gather the pursuers that we can spare without abandoning borders. We must enforce our packs strength to both of the groups.” He turned to his daughter. “Are you well enough to-” “She still has your wounds, she is not.” Predin piped up to respond to his brother words. The alpha looked to me, peered at my body and saw that I was well fed since my entrapping, undoubtedly. “Then Ischien and you will go with us. We will leave in a short time, take whatever preparations you need till then.” He declared and then the wolves dispersed helping Kina take the bloody wolf up the steps. I looked back to the house and for a split second, I saw a glimpse of white.
“What do you mean if you don’t come back? Why do you need to go?” The pup looked up to me with sadness and anger. “I’m just doing this to keep you safe. If I don’t come back then you need to do whatever Trilla and Predin say alright? Do you understand?” The pup looked at the ground and I repeated my last question. He nodded without looking at me. I reached my paw out to him and pulled him closer to me and held him there but he didn’t make a sound. “Listen Dusk, next to the moon you can always see a single star do you know which one I’m talking about?” I felt the pup’s motion of understanding against me. “That will be our star for now on, and as long as it is lit I will come back and find you. Okay?” He looked up at me with eyes full of tears and he nodded with a single word of accepting reply and Predin asked for him to come with him and I motioned for him to do what he says and the two of them left the library. Trilla stepped through the door after they left and sat down next to me. “Well quite the mess you have gotten yourself into. I won’t be there to pull your tail out of the fire this time.” I smiled and shook my head. “I beat you that day in the rain don’t you remember?” She chuckled. “Just stay near Predin, that’s all I’m asking; for both of your sakes.” I agreed and told her “I didn’t plan on dying so you can rely on me”. We talked of tactics and worse case scenarios till a call rung out through the house for us to leave and I stood and began to leave, expecting her to follow, but she did not. I turned back to her and caught her eye covered with the bandage and her other eye, and the fire was not there. She smiled to hide her grief and I smiled back before I left for struggle.
Dusk and Predin were waiting for me on the porch along with the other females and males who could not go for some reason or another. Their mates kissed them for the last time or the wiped the final tears from their pup’s eyes. Ischien and Ahria too came around the corner of the house when he thought that nobody was looking; showing the last bit of secret affection he could share. It was a moment of finals that haunted the air either for short or forever.
“All right. Let’s be on our way.” Rodon barked and Kina trotted back to the porch waving to him goodbye and Rave standing strongly to him at his left and the masked Vinator to his right. Around the wolf stood others of the strangest sort, with deep dark hellfire eyes and big frames. The pursuers, a breed unlike any that I had truly seen before and with the 5 of them standing together I had to imagine what they could if they worked in tandem with one another. All of the wolves including myself turned towards the road and we were off. I turned back to the house once to see all of those families watch us leave. The old wolf, the mute wolf, the pup, the healing mother stood on Rodon’s balcony howling a goodbye and the red wolf with the one wounded eye stood in the doorway watching me go.
I found my place next to Ischien as we ran and he grinned to me before facing forwards to the masked wolf. He watched us constantly with a single eye as if we were going to stab him in the back. I leaned over to my friend and wanting to pass the time I asked, “How did Rodon manage to recruit the pursuers?”
“I don’t know fully; Predin says that he prayed for them and they came.” He replied. “He offered them a home and food and promised future battles. They accepted and so as long as they are content with that then they are his to command, though sometimes they stay for more.” “More?” I prodded wondering if it had more to do with their dedication. “Lust, my father was a pursuer and he fell in love with my mother and when they became mates I was conceived. Due to their code my father got to see me be born and then was killed; my mother died not long after due to a disease and that took my brothers and sister as well. She was a dear friend of Predin so he raised me.” I looked at him for a moment; realizing that my father had to have met the same fate, and whoever my true mother could be dead somewhere. “What about Trilla? She told me that she didn’t know her father and lost her mother as well.” He was hesitant to answer but did come around to it.
“Trilla will never talk about it, but her mother was a prisoner of a battle. She was the enemy but one of the pursuers saw her differently and took her against her best desires before she could escape. A few months later she gave birth to a litter, and the male came to her and allowed himself to be killed by the young mother’s fangs,” “Because of the code” I interrupted and he nodded. “That did not help her though. She was able to catch minimal food for her to feed her pups, being raised in a pack all her life. Trilla stepped forward to help her mother. She caught mice and helped to feed her whenever she could and her mother praised her but continued to grow thinner and thinner. One day she told her eldest daughter that she loved her and she needn’t worry about her anymore.” His ears laid back against his head as the group moved to a trot. “She passed not too much later and the others perished one after the other. Rodon found Trilla on the way to recruit a family. I heard that she was wild, she was able to use the halt then and would have killed Rodon and the pursuer with him if she had teeth more capable of killing.” “Daughter of one of my best. She was a little devil” I looked forward and the masked wolf was watching us again from the corner of his eye, listening in on our conversation. “Standing there, protecting her dead family. So ready to fight and kill, perfect, without hope.” He spat the words at us. “Then you and Predin softened her.” Ischien’s feathers were ruffled and he barked back. “We gave her a reason to fight again, as Rodon did for you.” The masked wolf grumbled, “Our only purpose is to answer our alphas call and live by our code.” “What exactly is your code?” The masked wolf puffed his nose and looked forward refusing to answer. It took a little for Ischien to speak back up. “Don’t let Trilla know I told you, she would kill me.” I nodded, and exchanged a smile with him and we ran. I thought about the sea.
It took quite a bit of time for us to reach where we were going but I wish it would have taken longer. My father or well my adopted father always told me to stay clear of the old human settlements. The dens were ours to claim but the settlements were disastrous. He told me of the dangerous overgrown buildings that were far too large and at any moment could crumble under their own weight. This settlement’s buildings were not very large but in the distance I could more easily see the shining towers of what Predin had called the city.
Our collective steps echoed off the buildings on either side of us. It was eerie and it made my hackles raise on the back of my neck. “Everyone step lightly and stay quiet.” Rodon’s words split through the quiet like a claw. Ischien let out a hushed growl from beside me, I didn’t turn to him but I whispered. “What’s the matter?” He hesitated. “I smell blood.” I peered at him and his fangs were rolled out and gums pulled back, full ready for a fight but there was none to be had.
Rodon’s tail went into the air and we all stopped looking to him. Vinator stepped up to him from the crowd and they spoke quietly to one another for a little before looking to me and ordering me to step forward. I did as such and when I stepped forward I saw the pool of blood that they stood beside.
“Smell it”, Rodon ordered and I looked at him with distaste for only a moment before I remembered the last act of rebellion and the harm it caused and I leaned down over the blood, closed my eyes, and breathed in the aroma.
“Please let me go! I didn’t mean to come near your territory!” The coward Anuier groveled, two larger male wolves stood over him with a paw on either side of him holding him down. His sides were already bloody and red, his nose dripped a bit of crimson and his eyes dowsed with tears. Another wolf stood before him with a collar like wrapping around his lower neck, just in front of his shoulder with several loops. Small metal rods stuck through them with one end coming to a point and the other being completely flat. His front leg also had a wrapping close to the shoulder, a small blade sheathed in it; the mark of a pursuer. His face was very young with a powerful frame and a standing of greater mind that what he must have thought was right. Gray furred with a white chest and a black paw print like marking on his eye.
“Then why were you out so far, few wolves come near the towns and cities.” The wolf asked. “I was merely unaware of where I was going. I lose track of my surroundings all the time, especially when I chase a rabbit!” “Liar!” “No please I beg of you, believe me! I meant nothing, my pack is a friendly one!” “Really?” He knew already the answer, no doubt his pack had descriptions of every member in the pack; but he leaned forward and sniffed his fur to confirm his suspicions. No doubt wreaking of his alpha or the house. “You are a member of Rodon’s pack, correct?” Anuier nodded. “Well then you must be telling the truth.” He motions for the wolves to let the pup stand. They released him and he didn’t rise, his body shook and his tail and ears laid back for a while before he stood. “You’re not going to kill me?” He still said with fear. The wolf shook his head. “I couldn’t kill you, truly there must be no more of an honest wolf than your leader.” Anuier smiled and nodded in agreement to the statement. “Truly, I am in your debt, I will be sure Rodon will never forget you!” The fool was giddy. The wolf looked at him sternly, his jaw crooked. “I’m sure he won’t.” He said solemnly before a quick sleek motion, one that was so fast I could hardly believe it happened. The wolf had flung his head around and grabbed the blade from its sheath, bringing it down upon his snout and everything I saw went black and sounds rung in my ears of Anuier’s cry and the sound of liquid roses.
My eyes shot open and I felt my pupils shrink in a moment of short bursting breaths. “Well?” The alpha asked. I looked up to him with eyes begging for a moment but his expression gave me none. “It’s Anuier’s blood, he was attacked by a metal user,” A bit of unease stirred in the crowd and could even feel the pursuer’s paws get restless. “There were two other males, but I couldn’t tell much about them, I couldn’t see a female matriarch.” “I doubt they would have attacked Anuier had there not been one though,” Rodon exclaimed. “They’re likely still here, I’d bet they didn’t expect us to come back seeking revenge so quickly!” He shouted out and the town echoed with the bark of the alpha. There was no reply but his own voice against the cars and walls but there were ears who heard.
Rodon had us split up into four groups, each with a pursuer, his group having two for extra protection. I didn’t want to be split up from Ischien but he was too tense to be of any friendly comfort anyways so I went with my group of four wolves and searched the buildings. They were maze like with shelves and tables thrown everywhere, blocking paths and opening others. Containers which Predin had called cans scattered about the ground, corroded or broken. The pursuer who accompanied me was quite rude and he pushed me out of the way any time I was in front of him and proceeded to sniff around. When we reached the back of the building and there was still no scents to lead us the pursuer turned and shouted back that it was clear. On the way out we heard another shout that their building was clear, another second and Rodon’s voice call back the same. My group came outside and looked around to the others that exited their buildings and Rodon exited looking agitated at their inability to find anything. The final group called and exited and we proceeded into the next buildings. This one was not nearly as cluttered with stands but instead metal tables turned over on their sides and seats flipped onto their backs. Everyone sniffed around the place pushing away the clutter if it got in their path and I had to wonder what this place was before.
“I’ve got something!” A voice called from outside and my group turned with peaked ears to the exit and trotted to the door. In the building across the road Fana’s mate Ados stood in the doorway. “We found some bedding and the place wreaks of their scent.” Rodon stepped out from the building beside mine to listen. “Good job Ados, alright wolves let’s get-” He stopped his sentence as a bit of motion caught both of our eyes. A string lifted off the ground and began to pull away from the doorway of Ados’s building till it was pulled tight onto the street and into a large metal heap where I could barely catch a glimpse of familiar gray fur. The string suddenly jerked and fell limp into the dirt, a several metal rings attached to its multiple ends without much sound for a few seconds. I was about to call that I saw the wolf but before I could Rodon roared an order. “Get out of there!” I didn’t know what on earth any of it could mean but I knew that if Rodon feared it then it was worth it and I thought of the evil symbol and the world slowed. I ran to the other side of the street and grabbed Ados from the doorway by the nape and began to pull him away but just as I got halfway to the other side of the road I lost control. A thunderous sound rung through the air and I turned in time to feel a great force push me flat onto my side and time continued. The boom was like no force I’d ever felt before and it sent a high pitched ringing in one of my ears. I saw two other wolves scrambling to get to the door but just as they did the frame collapsed, trapping them inside as the rest of the structure fell onto them from above filling the streets with dust. I would have thought that the pursuer would have helped them escape but he had been right next to Ados and when I looked down I saw a sight I wish I hadn’t. A leg of a wolf rested in front of me, it was the color of his fur and red at the end of its dissemblance and I turned my head the moment I saw it as not to vomit.
Ischien ran over to me a nervous mess. “Are you alright?” I nodded back. “Gods you idiot, what were you thinking?” My ear was still ringing but I responded. “What was that? Why did it happen while I was in the halt?” I looked up to Ischien and my eyes go wide for behind him was the gray wolf standing atop a metal heap with the blade in his teeth one of its sides jagged with serrated teeth. Ischien goes to reply just as the wolf lunges for us. I leaned forwards and grabbed Ischien by the throat in my jaws. He choked for just a moment before I flung my head up and threw my friend out of the way just as the other wolf landed upon me. He held his blade in my face trying his very hardest to force it into my skull. I had managed to wedge my legs in between us and hold him up as he stood over me. One of my paws pressed into his snout keeping the blade from cutting into me.
“Come on you bastard” He pressed down harder and the knife got closer. I turned my head and looked at him out of one eye. “Just die!” He pressed again and I felt my legs almost give out. I hadn’t seen Ados stand from nearby but I was glad for it when he ran from nowhere and slammed into the wolf, sending him rolling. I jumped up just as the wolf rolled to his feet and snarled at us. I looked around for the other wolves to run at him but I couldn’t really see anything, the dust of the building completely clouding much of my vision other than Ischien, who rubbed his throat where I bit it, and Ados. I could hear it though, struggles, snarls and cries of pain. Orders being spouted between pursuers and wolves.
The enemy metal user barked a swear at us before turning into the dust. Ados and I ran after him, and when I realized Ischien wasn’t following I turned but he was gone, likely fighting somewhere else so I continued on.
The dust was all consuming and it was almost impossible to follow the wolf through the cloud. He was just as fast on his feet as he was with the blade. As we passed by an ally, with a quick motion of his head the metal user’s blade slipped across the throat and the wolf fell to the ground. His eyes went wide, the ground splattered suddenly with red as he fell with short sharp gasps. As we passed I saw his face, he was a pursuer, so quickly dispatched with ease of this warrior, completely unable to use the halt because he didn’t expect the sudden moment. This is how they do it, they counter the unnatural speed with trained swiftness. Sudden strikes, outsmarting movements, un-predictableness, anything to keep us from using the halt and even if we do it would require so much of it that we would be at least exhausted to the point of dormancy, or heart failure.
“Hage, look out!” Ados grabbed my nape and flung us both to the side as another thunderous explosion billowed in our wake. The sound rang again through my ears and I wondered if another one happened, if I’d be able to hear again.
Ados coughed from beside me. “Damnit, they must have those things everywhere, this whole thing was a trap.” Rodon’s voice suddenly roared through the dust and both me and Ados jumped up, it was a cry of pain and we ran towards it. It was but a moment away but the now settling dust was so thick that it was hard to tell. Rodon stood with Venator and the other two pursuers at his side but they obviously were not enough protection from the sporadic blade users. Rodon clutched his shoulder in pain and as I approached he snarled at me. “Get back you little shit! Keep fighting!” I wanted to help him, his wellbeing and Dusk’s were intertwined and so I needed him alive. The dust had settled down now and we both looked up and down the street. Ischien stood with tongue lolling on the other side of the road. One of the wolves who had held Anuier down laying before him dead the other rested in the middle covered in blood next to another wolf whom I had not seen before thus he must have been an enemy. Though it was for their three that we had lost far more. The rude pursuer who had accompanied me on my search laid dead where I had seen him cut down. The bodies of three wolves whom I had recognized scattered on the streets, not to mention those crushed under the building or obliterated in its trap. So quickly was a group of seventeen or so wolves cut down to ten. The other three wolves sat about the streets exhausted and scared still for the metal user who still walked about. Young wolves who just witnessed their friends or family murdered, how many of them have mates or pups that were fatherless or motherless.
Rodon’s throat rumbled with a hateful sound, “Find that metal user, if you can catch him alive then do so!” He moved his paw for a moment and I saw one of the small metal rods sticking into his shoulder, blood seeping from beneath its piercing. “Make him suffer!” He called out an order and the wolves stood and un-eagerly separated, checking again the cars for signs of the wolf; I did the same. Capture him alive? The mere thought sounded crazy, if he had avoided us thus far then how could we catch him.
I thought that maybe I could track him through the scent of something but the air was still so thick with the smell of blood and dust that my nose could not take it and I gave up the attempts. But as I walked about the cars with little to no success a sound hummed a tune, a short and quiet squeak, one that was scared and I knew it well. I looked to the metal heap and stepped around to the back of it where I had heard the sounds source and found a lever. I leaned to it and like the houses doorknob tucked my teeth under the latch and pulled, there was a clicking and the back lifted so slightly that I stuck my snout under it and lifted the hatch and was shocked to see that I had been correct. The sound was that of a pup, a little one, eyes still sealed by young age. It could be no more than a two weeks old, maybe one, its fur was dark gray and its body frail and feeble, and it was not alone, but I only had a moment to see them. Three siblings, a juvenile and a female. The other brothers and sisters squirmed right beside him with colors of dark and gray, various markings covering their faces, alterations of genes. The juvenile male sat beside them, shaking in his dark black coat with various white markings. He couldn’t be much older than Dusk. The mother gray like the metal user rested behind them quietly hunched her eyes horrified at the sight of me, her heart no doubt racing for the fate of her children.
I would have let her be, I had no quarrel with her and less wanted to see Rodon get ahold of her but on instinct the parents reacted to protect their children. I suddenly felt my feat knocked out from under me and I was toppled to the ground. The metal user had been hiding under the car, concealed by scent and silence but with the pups endangered he reacted. He rolled out from under the heap before springing to his feet, the blade in his teeth and he slashed at my face. I threw my head to the left and barely felt the blade cut through some of the hairs on my ears. I countered and lunged at his throat but he jumped back and in a blur of movements he spat the blade into the ground, reached around and grabbed one of the small rods before jerking forward and sending it shooting towards my neck. My heart was racing and it only took a bit of the symbols image to cause time to slow. I stepped to the side and knew that I had won, he had failed to keep me from the halt and thus had lost. I ran to his flank and released time, ready to tackle him onto the ground.
The moment I released time though the wolf saw I was not where I was before and immediately whirled around on himself with a roar. Another small rod in his teeth and I couldn’t react. He shoved the sharp tip into the side of my neck and I shouted in pain. I collected myself in a split second and grabbed hold of his neck with my teeth pushing back, hoping to keep him from piercing into me any further but he kept pushing. I felt blood slowly drip from the wound and I winced but pushed back his neck too starting to bleed. Any more and the both of us would fall but the sound of the struggle had alerted the others and it was one of the few times I was glad to see Rodon. The large wolf lunged from out of sight and tackled the metal user, his huge paw stabbing into the gray wolf’s back and pinning him to the ground. The gray wolf whimpered before crying out for the female to run and I saw in a flash of moments the female lunged from the car with a small pup in her teeth but before she could even land Vinator appeared beside her, no doubt using the halt and he shoved a paw into her neck and slammed her from the air into the ground.
“NO! Cheaters! Devils!” The metal user roared at the female’s captor. Ischien ran from between the cars with the other wolves behind him and he slid to my side. “Holy hell, you are just attracted to trouble.” He swore with an upset look on his face as he saw the metal rod in my neck. He motioned for Ados who ran off and returned with an old piece of clothing. “This is going to hurt” Ischien comforted before I felt him use the halt and in that he grabbed hold of the rod and pulled it from my flesh before covering it with the cloth and applying pressure. It was a whirl of pain and I nearly felt myself become light headed before swearing every word I knew. To pull my mind from Ischien’s work I looked to the other source of vulgarity. The metal user who squirmed and shouted from under Rodon’s foot. “Let her go! Let her go damn you!” He snarled at Rodon who only scowled down to him and looked to the female who reached out for the pup who laid still on the ground. The other two pursuers had stepped to the car and looked inside making sure the youngling didn’t try anything.
“Tell me, what is your name?” Rodon asked which the wolf only replied with “Go to hell!” Rodon nodded to Vinator who pressed harder into the female’s neck and she squeaked a whimper. “Nail, its Nail! Please let her go!” He cried, his heart yearning for what I presumed was his mate. “Well, Nail, you killed some of my good wolves. Murdered them, what of their families? What of the innocent wolf who you cut up?” Rodon growled in his ears and he did not shutter at him but he shivered for the fate of his mate. “I don’t care what you do to me! Just let her go! Please!” “I want you to suffer like my wolves.” Rodon nodded to Vinator and he smiled. “Hand me the knife,” he ordered one of the pursuers and he did as such, grabbing the blade from the ground and stepping towards Vinator.
“What are you doing? Stay away from her!” His voice was drowning in fear and sorrow. The wolf passed Vinator the knife and grabbed the female by the nape, picking her up off of the ground. She squirmed and her eyes were frantic as she called for her mate’s name. Vinator stepped to the side of her and held the blades point to her throat. “No, don’t touch her!” He demanded but Vinator ignored him and pushed the blade forward into her pelt. She cried out for her mate to help her, cried for his name and he yelled for them to stop. “Fenra, Fenra look at me, look at me Fenra!” She couldn’t, her eyes were closed and tears streaming her face. Blood began to poor down the blade onto Vinator’s face. Nail clawed in her direction, digging rifts into the ground. His teeth snarled from under his lips as his eyes sought compassion, a cruel mixture of anger and distress. Vinator slowly pushed the blade and its long sleek side slid through her throat with ease.
I only caught one glimpse when the blade began to cut through her throat before having to turn away, a final gurgled call for her mate her eyes wide as the sun, red painting everything. I only looked back once I heard a thump and turned back to see Vinator standing over the female who laid motionless, gasping still with spasmodic mouth movements and with it the wolf seemed only to grow more ferocious. He swung his head back his fangs gnashing at the air, trying so desperately to catch Rodon’s flesh in his fangs.
“I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you, you monster!” Rodon looked to Vinator, “Good my friend, you broke his heart, now break his spirit.” Vinator nodded first to his master and then to the wolves who stood next to the car. The first reached in and grabbed the black youngling. He flailed and demanded to be released and the metal user cried more threats at them but they paid little mind. One held him and the other snapped his teeth around his neck. Blood of dripped down and mingled old with young and Nail again was yelling but his voice was softer, weak, breaking. The pursuers dropped the youngling and returned to pull out two more pups. Ischien, Ados, and many of the others turned, instinct unable to let them witness the death of a child but I couldn’t stop myself, I witnessed. The two through the pups in the air at great heights and laughed at them as they reached the tip of their arc, flailing for a moment before plummeting to earth, crushed on the ground. Motionless as the red swirled and covered much of their bodies. Vinator shoved the tip of the blade into the ground and trotted over, taking out one of the blind pups who cried out whines of fear from what it knew was danger. It too went up as its siblings did and so too did it come down and crack upon the earth. Nail had stopped snarling and instead began to grovel, he began to whimper and his voice began to be thick with horror and I spoke up as the last pup was pulled from the door, the dark gray pup. “Stop! Can’t we raise the pup, can’t we replace these numbers lost with this pup?” Rodon looked at me along with everyone else. “What purpose does killing the pup have other than to torture the father?” Ischien tried to whisper an order of silence but I was not about to hear it. I had stayed silence against my better judgement since Trilla was hurt and I couldn’t stand much more.
Rodon looked to the pup hanging by the pursuer’s teeth. “What do you see there Hage?” He asked and I answered. “A child, one that has no idea who is good or who is bad.” He smiled, “How naïve, it is not a child, it is an enemy, one that if brought into our home could one day bring forward as much death as his father has caused us.” Nail begged for him to reconsider and take the child to be raised but with a quick push into his back the metal user fell silent again. “Think Hage, how many of these wolves who died here today had children?” I looked around and saw absence of faces that had kissed mates or licked children before they left. “Quite a few.” “Yes, and when they hear that their father or mother won’t return what then?” I thought of how much hate I felt for the symbol that was my killer’s mark. “They will have hatred for the killer.” He nodded very proudly. “Now that is a spark Hage, a spark that burns them and makes their family more, they become martyrs. What if this pup is part of our pack and one of those children finds out where his blood stems from?” “They would hate him, kill him.” “Exactly, if this pup is taken in then even if he doesn’t know his past and someone else does it could cause irreplaceable damage to the bond of a pack. We are sparing our pack by killing this pup. So that is why you must do it, to find your place in this group.”
My heart has always beat faster than normal, now I know it stems from my genetics and powers, but it also makes it that much more terrifying when I feel it stop. “Me? I just stood for this pup you think I will kill it?” He stared into me with a sternness that I know all too well. Nail looked at me too but with fear, and begging eyes. “You will do it, or else your pup will join it.” I wanted to call him a bluff but I knew better than that and I looked to Ischien who motioned towards the car, telling me to go and do it. Nail’s face told me “No” told me “Please”, but I couldn’t deny this threat, I knew it all too well to be truth. I walked slowly to the pursuer and as I did Nail sniveled for the pup’s life but I was held accountable for what I heard and so I forced myself to block him out.
I took the child in my teeth and was about to throw him in the air when Rodon ordered me to stop. “Take its life with your fangs,” He said and I growled but he gave me the stern look and I regretted taking a moment to hear what nail had been spewing. “Hage, he called you Hage. Hage, if you have a pup think of him, think of what you would do to protect him.”
I am. My teeth sank into the tender flesh and father mixed with son in my jaws. I felt the slight sensation of his heart beat slowing through my teeth. His body squirming and panicking from the pain, fighting in a pup like way to prolong its life long enough for the parents to arrive and assist, but none would come. I hated it, I hated it so much and I heard the voices of my head calling me out, calling me a monster and freak just as Nail called us. Most of all though I heard a voice of a female whispering so tenderly as if from right next to my ear. Her words almost breathed out into my ear. “Good,” it said. “Taste it,” it commanded and I tried to block it out but it only stopped when the sensation in my teeth faded and the body of the newborn fell limp and I cried, but Nail merely went limp just as the body of the child.
Rodon lifted his paw and allowed the wolf to crawl over to the children whose bodies laid broken and lifeless in the blood along with his mate, he looked up to me and the pup in my teeth. I knelt down and gave the pup to him and he claimed it ever so delicately in his teeth. He laid it down with the others and scooted them close to the mother and the youngling and covered in their blood he laid his head on them and sulked.
We sat there, I sat there, welling up in my own mind over what I had to do. The sun was getting low in the sky by the time all wounds were tended to and we were ready to set off for the home. Ischien often looked at me and seemed as if he wanted to say something but he always held his tongue. This is why we must leave this is why we need to escape. How long till Rodon needs to use Dusk as an example of pack loyalty. Rodon looked to one of the pursuers with tired eyes from the day. “Stay posted here. No wolf will likely come this way with the scent of battle in the air but just in case.” Vinator chimed in “ And draw the mark.” The pursuer nodded and trotted to the pool of blood. Dipping his paw in it. “Alright wolves!” Shouted Rodon “Let’s go home. We will return for the bodies of the fallen tomorrow but you all deserve a night with your mates and some rest.” They all cheered and began to walk behind their leader and his guard, the other pursuer pushing along Nail in front of him, stripped of his weapons, honor, and family; he was a husk of a spirit. I was hesitant but Ischien motioned for me to come along and I did but as I got a few steps away I heard the voice again, a lucid hissing voice of a seamstress of thoughts. “Turn around,” it said and I did but I wish I hadn’t. The wolf had dipped his paw in the blood and marked on the side of the largest metal heap an insignia. One that I read and knew as “He who stands in our path faces judgment and execution. Do not trifle with us,” In old wolfen but its style. The markings seemed dripped though due to the wet blood and I saw it, the similarities, the marking. It was the marking on the chimney, they marking over the bodies of my mother and father.
I turned forward, these bastards, these pursuers, they were the ones responsible. I felt a billowing growl raise up in my throat, my teeth felt sharper than ever and I stared at Rodon and Vinator. The both of them un-expecting, unprepared, the murderers, they had done what they did today to my family and I hated them. I felt my heart go faster and faster and just as I was about to charge time slowed and I was stopped by another.
Lupus stood before me, her eyes as tender as they had been when she had been feeding Dusk. She stood between me and my targets though and I snarled at her. “Hage, I beg of you, do not do this,” She begged. “Why?! They killed them! They butchered my family, my future, my joy! They made Dusk an orphan and me a slave to their will!” I was far past anger now I was savage. “Think of your brother now Hage, he is practically your son, Vinator will kill you undoubtedly, you cannot fight him upfront like this, not now.” He barked anger at her but she did not move. “Hage, think, this is not a time to kill and be killed, this is the time to live and run. This place, this place is the entry into both of Rodon’s greatest enemies’ homes. His troops are exhausted and he is wounded. This place only has one pursuer, a hard fight but nothing else. Flee Hage while the time is still right, I have taken a risk for you and you must flee because of it.” She said, her voice tender and hopeful that I will listen to her words. “I give you back your time.”
The world unfroze and I felt a slow in my heart rate, she must have done something, An amount of time like that in the halt would have done far more than leave me breathless but I was glad for it. I peered at Vinator and he looked back to me with an ordering face, he sensed that I had used the halt and he was not happy. “Hage come on” Ischien said again, I nodded and trotted up to him in order to catch up, only looking back once to see the mark and wish again a quick death by my teeth.
The voices in my head didn’t stop the entire way home, in fact they were louder in the quiet of a traveling group. Though at least they were all my own and they talked of how I could easily kill the wolves here, but I knew that to be a lie. If Vinator could sense my use of the halt then I’m sure he could counter it somehow. I pushed them to the back of my mind though as we approached the house near sunset. Rodon whispered to the remaining other pursuer and he nodded guiding Nail in another direction towards the hell of a prison while we continued on. When Rodon pushed the door open we were flooded by mates, trainees, and pups alike, all searching for their missing members. Rodon stood high amongst them and announced the news. “We took hard losses today, seven good wolves, only two of them were pursuers. We were victorious though and the wolf responsible, taken down with as much suffering as he may have caused you! Never forget the names of your mates, your teachers, your siblings, your father.-” Rodon began to name off those who had passed but I paid little mind to him and instead turned my attention towards the Library where Dusk, Trilla and the others were exiting from. Ischien and Ahria met before I did with Dusk and they wanted so deeply in their hearts to lick and love one another but they held themselves to keep from letting others see. They all encompassed me and I thought Dusk would never let me go and I held him tightly back. I wanted so dearly to hold tightly to him but I only had one thing on my mind. “Predin,” I whispered. “It’s time.” He looked at me with shocked eyes. He knew what I was referring and he was not expecting such a thing to be said. “We haven’t a plan. How did you come up with an idea?” “Divine intervention” I retorted. ”When do you plan to leave?” He asked and I replied again with a hushed voice as to hide under the great voice of Rodon. “We leave tonight.”
The gods all sat about the roof, lounged in their places, ready to witness any move that Hage would take, enjoying themselves as the others who had joined in have. Arora sat upon the roof of the home with a smile as wide as it could be. “Mother, I swore I would not directly affect his life any more if you did not and we held true to that. Yet now you have betrayed our oath. You know what this means correct?” Lupus nodded without looking at her daughter. “You get one move.” The motherly goddess spat and Arora laughed at her mother’s distaste. “Skirmish; Mother has given our lead an advantage, please even the field. Tell your pursuers to patrol more hurriedly, you never know when someone might tread past the borders.” He smiled and his body shifted to mist and slid away into the darkness. “You never know mother, perhaps this struggle will end the same, just with more entertainment.” The mother wolf’s body grew in size, her eyes filling with the white light of godliness. Her true form showing through her rage. She spun around on her daughter and barked a threat before she turned a sliver of light and shot upwards into the night sky. “Run mother, run run as fast as you can. Just like your little Hage.”
The mother wolf reappeared in the universe, the origin of all things where her mate had created everything including her. He was there too, his figure larger than hers but his fur purer than any snow could be. He watched his universe which twinkled and faded with all the beauty of anything. He rolled a great orb of light on the surface of the nothingness. “Canis?” The female piped up. “Canis, you rarely call me that.” He chuckled just as young and strong as he had ever been, he was just as loving as his mate in his voice and was sure to show that. “How, how is your little child? Hage, I think it was.” Lupus said nothing for a few moments and the father of all things noticed. “Not so good I can tell.” He never looked to her but he knew what her expression was. “My dear, the child forced my hand and I had to save him from making a terrible decision but I fear that I have only allowed for something worse to befall him.” Lupus claimed and Canis rolled the orb with a little more haste. “Our daughter is an evil conniving creature and I am certain she has something planned. I beg of you help him. Our children made an oath to me that they would not interfere if I did but you, if you did something then they can do nothing against-.” “Lupus, enough. You know that I do not participate in mortal lives, not since man was wiped from existence. I tried to help wolves after and they all abandoned me, cursed me. I don’t care for mortals anymore, so I will stay here.” Lupus got frantic. “Please my dear, I beg you!” Canis turned to her and his eyes glowed the purest white, godly and unstoppable if he wished something then through him he could do it but he instead wished nothing and spoke one word. “No.”