Thank you! larkaputnar, you have single-handedly saved my story from the black depths of wherever deleted posts go. I admit I support fantasy wolf stories (see my accidently posted in the wrong place and so locked topic.) but this was a challenge. I write fantasy myself most of the time. For the rest of us who write fantasy, check out Fanfiction.net. It has a place for WolfQuest, too. Only realism belongs here. I agree with that. I never said I didn't.
I think I will continue this. It'll be harder to write without WolfQuest's basis, but I can do it. I know more about wolves than is good for me.
For those of you who don't want to write a review, there is a poll up there. Please use it.
Here goes. [EDIT: The rest is now only in this post. I have moved this here to make reading easier for any new readers/returning readers. The Sequel is on page 10 I think.]
The Wolf Quest Adventures of Zephyr Part 3:
By AshWolf Forever
Ruger curled his tail closer to his body. At twelve weeks old he was too big to be easy prey for much of anything save a bear. He now ate from his parents’ kills when they made them. Hunting was dangerous, of that he was very sure. His agile mother had come home with a deep gash in her shoulder. Apparently the “elk” had kicked her and she only just dodged it. He knew what an elk was, he’d even seen one. But it didn’t move. It was hard for him to imagine being hungry enough to attack something so huge. The thought of it scared him silly. When did it get so cold?
thought Ruger. He barely noticed it, but even the smallest change was unpleasant to him. He also didn’t like being alone while his parents hunted. He could still dimly remember when he hadn’t been alone, when Seth, Dreamer, and Layla had romped with him under the branches of their new home. His father said he’d grown up like this, too. But three of his siblings had lived the next year because he’d been there to help. Ruger laughed to himself as he remembered the expression on his dad’s face when he’d found them playing with Uncle Snapdragon and Aunt Marigold Blossom. It had been Layla’s idea to go see the strange wolves. She’d said they smelled like their father, so they had to be safe. Loopy Layla.
Without warning, something small, cold, and white began to fall from the sky onto his coat. Ruger leapt to his feet and shook, trying to rid himself of the foreign substance. Only it was hopeless: no matter how much he shook off, more came down. He’d been drenched in a summer rain, but this was different. One of the cold-wet-white-things landed on his nose and he licked it off. It was on his tongue for a moment then gone. Intrigued, he snapped at the falling white stuff. Same result. Hmmm…
Zephyr tried hard not to laugh when he got back to find his son scampering around in the new fallen snow. Ruger looked more like his white great-grandmother than his reddish-tan father. Sequana, however, jumped and ran in circles with him, almost a puppy again herself. He got buried in snow as they rushed past him. Laughing for the joy of being alive, Zephyr and his family danced and howled, celebrating the first snowfall of the season.
**************************** “I’ve got to what?”
asked Ruger. He couldn’t believe his ears. This was a joke. It had to be a joke. “Follow your mother and do as she tells you,”
said his father.
Ruger gulped. This was his first hunt with his parents. He was shaking in his fur. He whimpered. “Stop being a baby.” Huh?
Ruger shook his head. He could’ve sworn he’d just heard Layla. Then he realized it was just his memory of the many times he cringed away from his sister’s latest adventure. Well, if I’m the baby, which of us is still alive? Sheesh.
snapped his father. “Pay attention! One wrong move can mean death out here.” “Yes, sir.”
Ruger crouched low beside his mother in the snow. Slowly they crept forward toward the herd. His father was nowhere is sight. The huge animals pawed the snow to get at the grass below. They were hungry, too. His belly growled. His mother nudged him with her nose.“Watch and learn.”
He scanned the horizon. What was he supposed to learn? How to eat grass? Then his father burst from his hiding place and rushed the herd. Only a couple of the great beasts even moved. One took off running. Ruger saw to his surprise it was stumbling as it ran. His brave father snapped and rushed the cow elk, always making sure to stay clear of the sharp hooves. He circled around and around, not letting it pass him. Inch by inch they came closer.“Move slowly now,”
said his mother. They crept closer toward his father, just as Zephyr and the cow moved closer to them. What a strange dance this was. “When your father gives the signal, rush it.”“WHAT?!?”
Ruger yelped, not taking into account that his mother wasn’t the only one who would hear him. “ARE YOU NUTS?”
The elk wheeled and saw them. Letting out a bellow of fear, it charged the cub and his mother. Ruger’s eyes grew wide as he leapt to right and his mother leapt to the left. Snow went flying as the elk hurtled though the place they had been seconds ago. His father barked a warning, running to their defense. Ruger spun around and froze. The elk was thundering straight for him. I’m dead! I’m dead! I’m dead!
“You’re such a whimp!”
Layla’s voice rang in his ears. “What are you going to run from next, the flowers?”
he countered. I’m not the one the coyote ate!
Zephyr watched in horror as the elk barreled down on his son. He tried to make his legs move faster. After all the hardships, would this be it? Would he lose his last living pup like this? Sequana rushed to save their son. Zephyr barked at the frightened pup.“Move, Ruger! Run!”
~*~ I’m not going to die here!
thought Ruger viciously. No matter what you say Layla!
The eight-month-old wolf gathered his legs under him and leapt as far as he could to the right. The elk stumbled as his mother threw herself into its side. His father took advantage of the moment and closed his jaws on its hind leg. Ruger heard a loud bellow as it tried to free itself from between his father’s strong teeth. He mother pressed for a throat bite as the elk rolled to the ground. At once there was blood on the snow. His father moved to grab its nose. The elk struggled, but soon enough stopped fighting. Ruger could hardly believe it. His very first hunt was a success! They had done it!“Hooray!
” he yelled. “We did it! We did it! We – oomph!”
growled his father, knocking the prancing pup into the snow. “You were very nearly killed! And why? Because you didn’t listen! Did you learn nothing today? You nearly died, and yet you strut about like you struck the killing blow! Life is not a game, Ruger.”
“I – I’m – I won’t let it happen again, Dad. I promise.”
“It’s not me you should make that promise to. You put your life on the line and ours as well. This pack has only begun, son. Its continued existence is in your paws. Guard it well.”
Ruger lowered his head, his ears flat against his skull.“I won’t fail you, Dad. No matter what it takes.”
Ruger’s belly growled loudly. If only that dumb bear hadn’t shown up they could’ve feasted for days! Okay, maybe not that long, but still. His parents reluctantly allowed him to accompany them on another hunt. He was better now, but still not as smooth as his father. They crashed through the frozen underbrush after the elk. They tried unsuccessfully to attack, but the sharp hooves kept flying toward them.
Ruger rounded the trees to the left, while his mother took the right. His father was ahead of them, snapping at the cow elk. He could smell the scent of the other pack’s border. They were close to where they had to cross through when his parents took him to the summer den. He just hadn’t recognized it all covered with white.
Suddenly Ruger’s paws slid out from under him. He spun in circles across the frozen river, scrambling for a foothold. His mother let out a yelp and abandoned the hunt to try and rescue him. He came to a stop neck-deep in snow bank. His father just shook his head. Ruger whined. Would he ever get this right? Now they would go hungry. Again. All because of him.
~*~ “Dad, I – I’m – ”
“Just get up, Ruger. We have to try again.”
Dejectedly his son got to his feet. Zephyr was forced to admit Ruger had some HUGE problems with his self-confidence. And while it was the reason he’d survived this long, it wouldn’t help him now. Sequana gave a small yelp. The Leaders looked at each other. What were they going to do with him? Then all their heads whipped around as they heard a growl.“You don’t belong here!”
snarled the gray wolf. “Get out!”
Beside him stood two other wolves: one was a silvery gray, a female, while the other was light tan with a black mask and streaks down his back, a eight-month-old male. They had run into the leaders of the neighboring pack, Zephyr’s birth pack, and one of their pups.Oh, dry bones!
thought Zephyr. They’d crossed the no-wolf’s land into the Druid Territory. Could this day get any worse?
Ruger stared in surprise at the three strangers his nose identified as his grandfather, great-aunt, and uncle. His uncle, a pup no older then himself, was a dead ringer for Layla. Or what she’d have looked liked if she’d grown up. He watched his father make appeasing gestures to his grandfather, while his mother rolled onto her back and whined in front of his great-aunt. As for himself he just stood there. The attempts at subterfuge were in vain. A fight broke out between his parents and the Druid Leaders. The Layla-look-alike pounced on him, biting his shoulder. And Ruger was taken back in time to when it was Layla and his brothers…
**************************“Ow! That’s my ear, Layla,”
he yelped. “Let it go!”
His sister leapt off him while Seth and Dreamer laughed. He whined and pawed his sore ear. Layla glared at him in disgust.“You are such a big baby!”
she complained, grooming her fur.
He growled as Seth and Dreamer pounced on him.“Baby! Baby! Baby!”
they chorused.“Stop treating me like a wimp!”
said Layla. She bit his tail, sending him into a whining fit. “As soon as you stop acting like one!”
Ruger would never fully understand what happened next. Zephyr pinned his father under him and they stood locked in battle of wills: neither removing its gaze from the other, neither ceasing his growls. Sequana tried to gain an advantage over her combatant. A strange feeling went through Ruger as he threw off the Layla twin. He’d never felt it before.I can do this,
he thought. I CAN!
With a growl Ruger lunged at the other wolf, and, after a brief snapping of teeth and tumbling in the snow, had him pinned. The stranger whined in submission. Ruger felt a warmth growing in his chest. But he still didn’t know what it was: self-assurance. Pride, too. It was very new to him.
****************************“Okay, you win!”
cried Stone Voice at last. With one last snarl Zephyr let his father up. The gray wolf got to his feet. “Enough, Tree Whispers!”
The Druid Lead Female growled but moved to her mate’s side. Sequana did the same. Zephyr turned to his son.“Let him go, Ruger!”
Reluctantly, but for what reason Zephyr didn’t know, Ruger did as he was told. Sequana bathed his injured shoulder. Zephyr kept his eyes on his father and aunt. He gestured for Sequana and Ruger to back away.“How many?”
he asked, indicating his little brother.“Four. All still with us.”
“Good. Go in peace.”
Zephyr turned and led his family away. Sequana and Ruger followed willingly.“Same to you, son.”
Stone Voice growled as his younger pup tried to jump Ruger. “Down, Storm Runner. Let them go.”
Zephyr watched Ruger from the corner of his eye. He walked with a aura of confidence. Sequana noticed it, too. She leaned close to her mate.“Whatever else you say,”
she whispered, “this was good for him.”
Zephyr nodded. It seemed Ruger had come into his own at last.
Ruger’s heart pounded in his chest as he and his parents slashed at their prey’s rump and legs. A slight blood trail marked their progress across the landscape. Eight-and-half-months-old now, Ruger was almost as smooth as his father. Nimbly he ducked and dodged the deadly hooves. His mother darted to the side, herding the cow elk into deep snow. His father slowed his pace a bit to gather his strength for the spring.
Something smelled wrong about their prey, at least to Ruger, who didn’t quite grasp the scent of a sick ungulate. The sound of the prey’s labored breath was music to his ears. His paws were sore from their many failed chases. All they’d eaten was a few hares since the clash with the Druids. His teeth tore a shallow gash in the rump before he dodged the oncoming hooves. The blood on his tongue only increased his hunger.
His father lunged and closed his mouth over its snout. Sequana dove in and tore at the soft underbelly. Ruger joined her, growling as his mouth filled with the savory taste of hot meat. The elk felt like it was still kicking while they fed, but its struggles had ceased. Zephyr then joined them, and the three wolves filled their empty bellies.
This story relies heavily on the following wolf reference books:
The Wolf Almanac by Robert H. Busch
Facts About Zephyr: For the sake of this story, Zephyr is from the Druid Pack. This is in no way, save the names and a few back story events, in any way related to the true story of Zephyr that I’m working on.
The Wolf Quest Adventures of Zephyr 4:
RETURN OF THE GREEN SCENE
By AshWolf Forever “Do I ever get to see my brothers and sisters?”
asked Ruger of his father. They had been standing near the den for hours. He could hardly wait to meet his new siblings. These pups would grow up with the best big brother in history. Zephyr laughed at his son’s enthusiasm. “You have no idea what you’re in for, son. But we won’t get to see them until your mother decides its time.”
Ruger’s face fell. He lay down and put his head on his paws. His tail flicked dejectedly. He and his father had found a half-eaten elk carcass, revealed by the melting snow, and brought back as much as they could after they’d eaten themselves. What was left after his mother had eaten was buried just far enough away not to attract scavengers.
At just that moment his mother emerged from the den. She smiled at them, wearing that proud look only a mother has. Zephyrs inclined his head. Ruger’s shot up, and his tail began to swish. They waited.“Three,”
Sequana announced. “Two girls and a boy.”
“What are their names?”
asked Ruger, smiling. “When can I see them?”
“I don’t know yet,”
his mother asked. “When they begin to show their personalities, we can come up with names. And you can see them when they are old enough to be seen.”
“Oh, dry bones!”
complained Ruger, making his mother laugh. “You are so much like your father.”
~*~Four weeks later…
Ruger waited beside his father with feigned patience for his mother to bring his three siblings out into the predawn light. Finally, Sequana stepped out, whimpering encouragement to the three behind her. Three glittering sets of eyes shone in the den’s entrance. The first to come out, with a bold leap, was the male. His coat was a rich pure black, new puppy eyes a sky blue.“This is it?”
he demanded, looking around at the dimly lit clearing. His shining eyes and quivering body betrayed his excitement. “Big deal.”
Ruger laughed under his breath. He was already familiar with his little brother’s sarcastic voice. His parents shook with silent laughter as well.“Cian, meet your father and you big brother Ruger. They’ve been waiting to meet you.”
said Cian, rolling his eyes. “Real pleased to meet you.”
“You don’t have to be a jerk, Cian!”
said one of his sisters, nipping his ear. She was so light gray that her coat appeared to be an iridescent silver. Her brother growled.“Is that your term for realist?”
The silver pup ignored him.“Hi ya, Daddy! I’ve been waiting to meet you, too, Ruger.”
Ruger wagged his tail, but not before he saw a pained look in his father’s eyes. Zephyr gulped loudly.“What did you name her?”
he asked his mate.“Moonstream.”
Ruger froze as he understood. His grandmother, his dad’s mom, had been named Moonriver. This pup must look just like her.“What’s wrong, Daddy?”
asked Moonstream. She nuzzled his leg. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, its just you remind me of someone very special to me. She would have loved you.”
“What about me?”
called the other she-pup. She ran out and skidded to a stop in front of him. “Would she have loved me, too?”
Ruger told the little stone-gray pup. “Grandmother would’ve loved all of us.”
“My name is Riverstar,”
she said shyly. “Glad to finally meet you, Ruger.”
Zephyr looked so proud he would burst. Sequana was smiling, glad her family was together at last. Ruger laughed as Cian pounced on his tail, tugging at as if it was some kind of monster. The two sisters joined in and leapt on their big brother. At the moment Zephyr threw back his head and howled. Sequana harmonized with him, her soft voice a counterpart to his wind-like one. Ruger’s deep voice joined in the song, and the three pups’ yipping howls added to the chorus.
Away to the distance, the Druids answered, their eight voices in perfect harmony. Not for the first time Zephyr wondered what had become of his brothers. Their voices had been gone from the Druid chorus for many moons. He suspected some had died in the winter. But he would never know. He looked again at his children. They were the future.
~*~ “Oh, Ruger…”
The yearling sleepily raised his head.“Huh?”
“Your mother and I are going hunting, so you’re on babysitting duty.”
cried Ruger in horror. “No! Don’t leave me alone with the little monsters!”
Unfortunately, his loud protest woke his sleeping siblings, who looked at each other and started whispering. Ruger looked apprehensively at them.“Whatever you’re planning, please don’t!”
he begged with a whine.
They started to laugh, then bolted in opposite directions.“Stop!”
shouted Ruger. “Get back here! You’ll get hurt!”
Zephyr watched with amusement as his elder son chased after his younger siblings. Very like the original four, you could not keep them at the den site for long. Sequana had just left, and while he should have joined her but he couldn’t resist watching this for a moment longer. Ruger piled them up and fed them half his lunch.“Food!”
they cheered, pouncing on it and wolfing it down.
Ruger sighed, and sat down beside them“Peace at last,”
The three looked at each other with what could only be described as mischievous expressions. They were off again in seconds. Ruger herded them back again and again, while Zephyr laughed.“Stop laughing and help me!”
“Not a chance. You’re on your own.”
Finally Ruger thought he had them all back at the den. He raised a paw and patted each, counting.“One…Two…Thr -”
He stopped short. “One…Two… CIAN!!!!”
Zephyr laughed as he trotted off to find Sequana. The pups would be fine, even if Cian was becoming just as much a pain as Layla. His elder son was perfectly capable of handling them.
~*~In Druid Territory…
“I wonder what Zephyr’s doing right now,”
said Marigold Blossom to no one in particular. She scratched her shoulder.“It doesn’t matter!”
snarled Stone Voice. “He’s no longer part of this pack, nor are any pups of his. You weren’t this concerned when Splash died.”
Splash, one of Storm Runner’s female littermates, had died in a hunting accident moons ago. They’d been more short-pawed than they were used to as Cypress and Snapdragon had dispersed. Both Marigold and the blue-gray Pine Needles missed the black she-wolf. Tree Whispers didn’t speak at the mention of her daughter. The past was the past and no amount of howling could change it. One thing she felt her nephew had never learned. “Stop being so hard on her, Stone Voice,”
said Bright Sun, one of Tree Whispers’ brothers. “She’s been through enough.”“Don’t. You. Correct Me. Again!”
Stone Voice snarled and the two wolves tumbled into the dirt. Bright Sun used his added size to pin the pack leader. The two wolves stared at each other growling. Storm Runner was reminded of last winter when Zephyr had done the same. The two wolves’ eyes never wavered.
~*~Four weeks later…
Zephyr led the small procession as he, Sequana and Ruger each carried one of the pups to the clearing around the summer den. He sat down the struggling Cian, who’s eyes still retained their puppy blue. Ruger sat down Riverstar, while his mother released Moonstream. The three pups eagerly explored the area while Zephyr left to re-mark the old borders. Along the edge of their territory he caught a scent that froze him to the core. It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t.“Snapdragon,”
he whispered to himself.
Snapdragon wandered the no-wolf’s land between his elder brother’s territory and that of their birth pack. He was alone now despite the fact he’d left with Cypress. His brother had died when they entered the Slough territory, following the scent of a female lone wolf. The Slough had not been pleased, to say the least. There was little hope left in Snapdragon’s heart. He’d barely made it “ ‘I've no ties to you! Mari and Dad made that very clear,’ ”
Zephyr had said. “ ‘These pups and Sequana are my family.’ ”
Not to mention the fight with theiir father before that. Snapdragon sighed. It was one or the other. He was between a rock and a hard place.
asked Sequana, licking her lips nervously.
Zephyr just nodded as he stared over at his children. The three pups slept soundly around, and in Cian’s case, atop their big brother. Zephyr still remembered when it had been Snapdragon and his littermates sleeping with him. He had to admit he missed his younger brother. But what if he wasn’t hethrough the winter, scavenging what he could, hunting small prey, and going hungry when he found nothing. He was a born follower, not a leader like Zephyr or Cypress.What do I do?
he asked himself. Should I go home, and face father? Or try my luck with Zephyr and his pack?
The memories of happy times with his elder brother made him smile, but then he remembered the last time they’d met. But what if he wasn't here for a family reunion? What if the pups were in danger? And after the last two meetings with the Druids, could Snapdragon even be trusted?
~*~ “Who’s Snapdragon, Ruger?”
asked Cian the next morning after Sequana and Zephyr left.
Ruger looked at him, startled.“Why do you ask?”
“Because Mom and Dad were talking about someone named Snapdragon. They said he’d come back around here and they weren’t sure what to do about it.”
“Would you like to hear a story, Cian?”
“No. I want you to answer me. First things first.”
“We want to hear a story Ruger,”
said Riverstar and Moonstream in chorus.
Cian growled under his breathe. Ruger sighed.“The story is the answer to your question, Cian. When I was little like you, I had two brothers and a sister. Their names were Dreamer, Seth, and Layla. Dreamer was almost all black like you, Cian. He was kind most of the time, but he was a follower. Seth was like Mom, and he was playful and thought he could make friends with anything. Layla was mostly black, but she would’ve been more tan had she grown up. You know how you all play-fight to see who will lead that day?”
They nodded.“We did that too. And Layla always won. So we had to follow her. One day shortly after we moved to the new den, we came across two strange wolves. She insisted that because they smelled like Dad, they had to be safe. So we went over to meet them.”
said Moonstream. “Ruger, you’re not apposed to talk to strangers!”
said Ruger with a laugh. “Layla didn’t care. It turned out they’d come to check on the new pack here. When they found out it was Dad they wanted to see him.”
“Because their names were Marigold Blossom and Snapdragon. They’re Dad’s little sister and brother.”
“So Snapdragon is our uncle?”
asked Cian skeptically.
Ruger nodded.“So he’s safe?”
“I don’t know. Dad told us to get away from there and ran them off, though. So maybe not.”
“What does he look like?”
“Just like you, Cian.”
The pups were very quiet.“What happened to Dreamer, Seth, and Layla?”
Ruger’s eyes grew very sad. His head dipped.“Two coyotes killed them. A pair of mates found that life was easier in our territory, where they could steal from Mom and Dad’s few kills.”“Did Dad kill the coyotes?”
asked Cian, angry that someone had caused this kind of pain to his brother and parents.“One of them. I don’t know what happened to the other one.”
“That’s why you’re so bossy isn’t it?”
asked Riverstar. “You think you’ll lose us, too.”
Ruger only nodded. Moonstream nuzzled her elder brothers face tenderly. The other two curled up next to him, offering what comfort they could. Ruger sighed and laid his head on his paws.
When Sequana and Zephyr returned with large chunks of meat for the pups they found them very subdued. Ruger said nothing, just got up and started up the way they’d come, so he could eat as well.
The dark sandy brown wolf watched as the black wolf ate a hare he’d managed to catch. Beside him a storm cloud gray wolf whined. He growled, silencing his brother. The elk herds had migrated to the far edge of the Druid Territory. The pack was growing weaker from the lack of food. This same stroke of fortune favored the Windwater pack, as the herds were crossing into their lands. There was no longer room for even one more wolf in the Druid Pack. Bright Sun turned and left the border, with Gray Cloud in tow.
Snapdragon howled, asking his relatives on both sides of the no-wolf’s land for their counts. Zephyr’s six answered, and Snapdragon smiled at the little puppy voices. But on the Druid side only seven wolves replied. His ears pulled back. Stone Voice was missing. Just what had he missed? The black wolf ventured as near as he dared to his birth pack’s borders. His nose told him the answer: Bright Sun was now the pack leader. He wasn’t sure if his father had been killed or driven out. It either case he wasn’t surprised. He’d known it was coming, as he’d often told his disbelieving littermates. One of his gifts was that he got more out of one’s actions than their words. He howled again, asking the crucial question of his brother.“May I join your pack, Zephyr?”
Zephyr and Sequana looked at each other. Ruger watched his parents with his sisters between his paws. Cian had an aggressive stance beside them. Whatever happened, they would face it as a family. Zephyr was still adjusting to the fact his father was gone. While in truth it didn’t matter to him, it was a little disturbing. He would have to answer Snapdragon, one way or the other. He looked at Ruger.“Before I found you,”
he began, “did Snapdragon try to harm you and the others?”
“No, Dad. He was pretty nice really. But he may have changed.”
“Sequana? What do you think?”
“One more hunter would be a good thing. And he is your brother. I doubt he’d harm our pups. But it’s your call, Zephyr.”
Zephyr paced a moment, running over in his head everything he knew about Snapdragon. Whatever reason for the fight before, he was loyal, kind, and a born peacemaker. The only problem was the havoc it could inflict on their hierarchy. Finally Zephyr stopped and let out a long, drawn-out howl. His pack joined in, creating a haunting piece of music that spoke their answer to the lone black wolf.“Welcome, brother, come join us. The Windwater Pack accepts you.”
Ruger stared in wonder at the bedraggled black wolf as he strode cautiously forward. He was thin, his fur disheveled, and almost save his scent unrecognizable as the proud wolf he’d met as a pup. His ears were back, and he didn’t look as certain about this meeting as he had about the last one. His already low tail brushed to the side. Zephyr moved forward and sniffed his nose. His ears still back, Snapdragon returned the gesture.“Hello, brother,”
said Zephyr. “Where’s Cypress?”
“He died many moons ago Zephyr. How are your pups?”
“Three of the four you met have joined my mother in death. But you should remember Ruger.”
Zephyr tossed his head toward his eldest son. Snapdragon wagged his tail happily, and a smile crept across his face.“You’ve grown strong, pup.”
He turned back to his brother. “The pretty she-wolf must be your Sequana. And who are these three?”
“The black pup is Cian, the silver one is Moonstream, and the stone-gray is Riverstar. Pups, this is your Uncle Snapdragon. Say hello.”
The pups walked forward slowly, unsure, but then Snapdragon dropped into a play bow. The pups rushed him, pouncing on his back and pulling at his unkempt fur. Then the Leaders of the Windwater Pack howled, beginning a song to welcome their newest member into the chorus. The wild music drifted on the breeze across the forest. Six was now seven.
The Wolf Quest Adventures of Zephyr Part 5:
COMING OF AGE
By AshWolf Forever Eight weeks later…
Cian reached a conclusion shortly after Snapdragon joined them. The bigger version of himself was kind of fun, but no substitute for his big brother. He missed Ruger babysitting them. He and Snapdragon had taken turns with that until they were big enough to stay by themselves. His sisters were a bit put out with their uncle as he had usurped their big brother’s place as Second about a moon after he joined them. Even with the confidence he had gained over the winter Ruger didn’t like to fight and wasn’t willing to defend his position against an older, stronger male. Cian wasn’t that concerned about it. After all, he might challenge Ruger himself once he was old enough. He was a bossy soul, and already he was the highest-ranking pup. He was the one most likely to disperse.
But for now, the blue-eyed wolf was content to play with his pack-mates. He looked around and found his sister Riverstar was dozing under a nearby tree, with Moonstream stalking her. With a mischievous smile on his face, he crouched down on his belly and crept up behind her. Moonstream pounced on her sister and tugged on her ear. Riverstar yelped and rolled onto her back, barking at her.“Stop it, Moonstream! That’s not funny!”
“What if I’d been a trespasser? I could’ve killed you in your sleep!”
“If you’re going to be such a coward as to sneak up when your prey is asleep –”
said Cian, closing his jaws around Moonstream’s neck. “And now you’re both dead because you're chatterboxes.”
Moonstream threw her brother off. She growled.“Why don’t you show us how it’s done then, brother?”
Cian laughed. He dropped into a play bow.“Fine. Both of you against me. Bring it on!”
Riverstar leapt to her feet with a grin and bowed back.“Ooh, goody! Any rules to this game?”
In answer Cain jumped on her back and sent her tumbling into their sister. He landed a foot away and laughed.“Win,”
he answered. “That’s the only rule.”
Snapdragon laughed silently to see the two girls tumbling around with their brother. They had him cornered against a tree for a moment before he kicked off the ground and leapt over them laughing. But not for long, as Ruger simply pounced on his little brother and pinned him. He smiled down at the struggling black pup.“I think we can call that cheating,”
said Cian, pushing at his brother’s forelegs with his paws. Ruger let him up. Riverstar chuckled.“You did say winning was the only rule,”
she reminded him.
Zephyr sighed, shaking his head.“Don’t you three want to sleep yet?”
they answered. Their parents laughed.“Tag, Ruger! You’re it!”
said Moonstream, racing in circles around the clearing.
The other two bolted off in opposite directions. Ruger laughed and chased after them. Sequana shook off the few leaves that had fallen on her while she slept and joined her children in the game. They raced through the thick carpet of red, orange, brown, and gold, kicking up a whirlwind of leaves. Unable to resist, Zephyr and Snapdragon got up and stretched before joining the game. They were all covered in bracken when they finally collapsed, panting, into the browning grass.
~*~Two months later…
The cold wind whipped around the seven wolves as hunger drove them forward through the deep snow. In a single file line they walked: Zephyr, Sequana, Snapdragon, Ruger, Cian, Riverstar, and Moonstream. The last of these was muttering under her breathe about the poor view. Zephyr kept moving into the wind, trying futilely to find a scent in the constantly shifting torrent. If so many hunts hadn’t failed they wouldn’t have been out in this storm. Then the mouthwatering scent he’d been searching for blew past his nose. A small herd of elk was bedded down about a mile from them. Zephyr looked back at his family and wagged his tail.“Dinner is served.”
Cian and his brother went around to the left, while their mother and sisters took the right. The leader and his brother stalked carefully forward. Cian trembled with anticipation and liked his jaws. Ruger looked sideways at him. If there was one thing Cian lived for, it was the hunt. Even though they had yet to make a kill.“Calm down, Cian. It’s okay not to get it right the first few times.”
“Ruger, stop it. I’m not you, okay? I can handle this.”
“Sure you can, Cian. I just remember what it was like to be your age.”
Cian bristled.“MY age? Brother, you are one winter older then me. Get over yourself.”
said Ruger, paraphrasing Layla, “just as soon as you do.”
At that moment the whole herd got to its feet and tried to run in the deepening snow. Cian could see his father and uncle chasing one toward them. He crouched, ready to spring. Ruger did the same. When their prey stumbled past them all five wolves sprang from their hiding places and charged after her. Behind them Zephyr and Snapdragon slowed, conserving their energy for the kill. The wolves ran at different speeds, switching off to wear down the cow elk ahead of them.
Cian felt his sharp fangs tear flesh even as he dodged the dangerous hooves. They were creating a blood trail behind them. Finally their prey began to slow and the seven wolves closed in around her. Zephyr was in the lead again, with Sequana beside him. Snapdragon flanked the elk on the other side, with Riverstar and Moonstream bringing up the rear. Cian tried to push past Ruger, wanting to be the first on the kill if he could.
Then something happened that at the time Cian did not take into consideration. Riverstar leapt at the elk’s left hind leg, closing her teeth around it. But the elk kicked her off, and a hoof caught the underside of her jaw before she could move. She was knocked several feet back into the snow, tumbling over and over until she came to a stop.
Zephyr didn’t see the fate of his daughter. At the same moment as her fall he closed his jaws around the elk’s throat, and Snapdragon locked his over her muzzle. It wasn’t until the great beast stopped kicking and the pack began to feed that he noticed that his daughters were missing from the feast. He looked around as Cian growled at Ruger, who was trying to push him aside, and found Moonstream whining and pawing at his sister’s body.
Riverstar’s head lay at an odd angle, snow-covered fur red with blood. Silently Zephyr walked over to Moonstream and nuzzled her cheek. She whined and licked his muzzle. Her eyes held the same sadness as his. She pressed her head into his chest. Zephyr pulled his ears back and rested his neck across her back. Finally he spoke.“Come and eat, Moonstream. You can’t starve yourself for her sake. I’m sure Riverstar doesn’t want you with her that soon.”
~*~Two months later…
Moonstream followed her pack through the dark night. At least she thought it was night. It was as dark as a night with no moon. She’d slowly grown used to Riverstar’s death: To not seeing her face when she woke, to not being pounce on while she slept. But the ache in her heart never left. Suddenly she became aware that something was wrong. She could still smell most of her family, but where were they? Looking around she saw they had curled up to sleep. She counted each: “Daddy, Mom, Uncle Snapdragon…”
Moonstream looked around franticly. Where were her brothers? “RUGER! CIAN! WHERE ARE YOU?”
She howled and howled until the other three wolves opened their eyes and looked at her as if she should know where they were. She began to shake her head in defiance. It couldn’t be. Again she howled for her brothers. She refused to believe they were gone. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t.“MOONSTREAM!”
yelled a voice form somewhere beside her. She turned and snarled, slashing her fangs at the intruder.
Cian pawed his sister gently. She was obviously having a bad dream. She’d become prone to them ever since Riverstar died. He hated how much his family was hurting, how much he was hurting not that he’d ever admit it. A part of him blamed himself. He’d been so eager to be in on the kill that he hadn’t been watching his sisters. He barked out her name, trying to wake Moonstream from whatever terror held her. Abruptly she came at him with her teeth bared, slashing his foreleg. Cian jumped and put his paws on her shoulders, holding her still.“Moonstream, wake up! Dang you, sis, you try that again I’ll snap you like a twig! WAKE UP!”
she asked, blinking her eyes in confusion. “Cian? There you are! I couldn’t…”
She sniffed, and looked appalled. “I bit you! Oh, Cian, please forgive me! I thought you…”
“Tell me about your dream,”
he said, letting her up and lying calmly beside her. “You were whining in your sleep. What happened?”
“It was dark, so dark. I couldn’t find you and Ruger. You were just… gone. And everyone was looking at me like they knew and I should, too. I started howling for you both and then I heard my name and I couldn’t tell where it came from so I lunged at it and… Then I woke up.”
“You’re afraid you’ll lose us, too,”
he said, licking her cheek. He winced as he realized that Riverstar had once said the same thing to Ruger. “I can’t promise that you won’t, but each of us dies, Moon. And when we die we feed our blood and kin. Body to earth, earth to grass, grass to prey, prey to wolf, we live on. All is a dance of life and death.”
Moonstream snorted.“You’ve been spending to much time with Uncle Snapdragon.”
Cian laughed a moment, and then sobered.“You want me to wake up Ruger?”
he offered. “Just so you can see we’re both still here?”
Cian walked over to where his big brother slept. Carefully he pawed Ruger’s side.“Wake up, bro. C’mon, Ruge I need your help.”
Ruger looked up groggily.“What is it, Cian?”
he asked with a yawn.“Moonstream had a dream that she couldn’t find us. She needs to see that it wasn’t true.”
Ruger got up without a second thought and walked with Cian over to his little sister. “You okay, Moon?”
“I am now,”
she said as he brothers curled up beside her. “I’ve got the best brothers in the world. Thank you both.”
Soon all three slept peacefully under the stars.
~*~ “He wants to leave,”
said Snapdragon to Zephyr as they watched Cian stare up at the stars. A gentle spring breeze ruffled their coats. Zephyr nodded.“But he won’t,”
replied the Pack Leader. “Because of Moonstream.”
“And Ruger, too. Even if more pups are coming soon.”
Zephyr looked over to where his mate lay asleep. He smiled at the thought of more little ones playing around them. But then his eyes tightened as he thought of losing his grown children. Would Cian lead the other two away with him? Or just disappear one night as his father did over a year ago? Zephyr didn’t know, but either thought pained him.
Cian looked up at the stars, imagining pictures in them. He felt the same strange stirrings he’d felt since the last moon. The same desire to leave, to wander the land, and find a mate of his own, to be the leader of his own pack. But Moonstream’s nightmares hadn’t ceased, nor had Ruger stopped looking at them like they would blow away in the wind. He shook his head. He sometimes wished he could feel nothing, do nothing but please himself. But that was not the life of a wolf.
Moomstream watched her brother, filled with dread that soon she’d lose him, too. She knew Ruger would most likely never leave the Windwater pack, but Cian was another matter. He was a born leader: wise, kind, and dominant when the situation called for it. He would never be content with playing second fiddle to his father and uncle. He had already usurped Ruger. She whined uneasily. He would go and she would stay, and she might never see him again.
~*~That spring… “I can hear them!”
called Moonstream. “It sounds like there’s four! Cian, Ruger, come on. You’ve gotta hear this!”
Cian looked at his brother,“Were you this bad with us?”
Zephyr laughed and Ruger looked like he would blush if he could.“No, Cian,”
said Zephyr. “He was worse.”
“One little, two little puppies,”
sang Moonstream happily. “Three little, four little puppies! My new siblings are here!”
Cian, Ruger, and Snapdragon laughed.“What?”
she asked, looking at her brothers and uncle curiously. “Nothing!”
they said in unison.
Moonstream dropped into a play bow and growled.“I’m gonna get you three! Look out, here I come!”
said Cian in mock horror. “Revenge of the silly singing sister! Run for your lives!”
“Ooh, now you’re gonna get it!”
Zephyr just laughed as Moonstream chased the other three males around the clearing. He lay beside the den listening to his newborn pups, watching his three grown children play with his brother. All was right in the world, or least his tiny corner of it. For now, anyway.
Four weeks later…
Moonstream and Ruger sat outside the den, waiting for Sequana to bring out their new siblings. Zephyr lay beside Snapdragon and Cian not far from them. At last, Sequana came out of the den, followed by four small bundles of fur. Three of them were gray wolves; one a dark stone gray like Riverstar, one near silver like Moonstream, but with a black mask, and the last one was the true gray with hints of tan. The last pup, though, was pure white. Zephyr looked at Sequana.“What are their names?”
“I thought I’d let each of you choose.”
Moonstream looked at the dark grey pup, a female.“Starla?”
she suggested, an obvious combination of Riverstar and Layla.
Sequana nodded with a smile. Cian looked down at the black-masked pup, a male, tilting his head back and forth before he spoke.“Julian?”
he asked his mother.
Sequana nodded. “Ruger? How about you?”
Ruger was playing with the brown-gray pup. He looked at her with a smile, and then turned thoughtful.“Charday,”
he said at last.
Sequana nodded, then turned to her mate and his brother playing with the white male pup. “And you two?”
They looked up and said as one:“Lightfoot.”
And so the newest members of the Windwater Pack were named: Starla, Julian, Charday, and Lightfoot. As one the pack howled, announcing the arrival of these treasures. The yipping voices joined them while away to the distance the neighboring packs answered. The eldest of the Druids were gone, replaced by Storm Runner and his new mate. Even farther away the Slough howled as well. All around them changes were taking place.
Four weeks later…“Come on, little ones,”
called Sequana, herding the four young wolves. “We’ll be there soon enough.”
The pups whined, and Lightfoot grumbled aloud about his sore paws. Cian laughed to himself. Three seconds later all four pups said, for the thousandth time:“Are we there yet?”
“No, and stop asking that,” said Zephyr. “Cian, Ruger, Snapdargon, come with me. We should hunt before dawn. Moonstream, stay with your mother and help watch your little brothers and sisters.”
Moonstream nodded, happy to for any chance to play with her siblings. But all four pups curled up and went straight to sleep. She watched her mother do the same. Sighing, she lay down beside Sequana as well.
Cian ran side by side with Zephyr, noting with some unease that he had to keep his strides in check more than ever to match his father’s pace. The details of the following hunt faded from his mind as he saw once more that not just his mother had grown slower on the kill. Soon enough one would be too slow, and they would join their ancestors in death. He, for one, did not wish to see this. Already he planned to leave the next moon.
They returned to find the females crouched defensively over three of the pups. A mass of bloody white fur spoke of the tragedy of the eagle’s strike. Cian dropped his burden and rushed the airborne hunter. It took off to the skies with an indignant shriek. Like the wolves, the eagle was only doing what it must to live another day.
After their meal the pack made their way to the river, to find that the last few nights of summer rains had flooded the bank. Zephyr and his brother swam for the other side and waited for the younger wolves to join them. Sequana lifted Starla into her mouth and shot into the water. She fought the pull of the pup’s weight to keep her head above water. Her daughter whined anxiously as her mate until she gained the opposite bank. Starla shivered and sighed as he father’s tongue bathed her wet fur. Then it was Moonstream’s turn. “It will be alright,”
she whispered to Charday, picking up the she-pup before walking to the water’s edge. With a powerful leap she plunged into the cold river, paddling hard against the current. It was a tense few minutes as her family watched from both banks. At last, she and Charday were safe on the opposite side. Cian and Ruger looked at each other.“You or me?”
asked Cian, glancing down at Julian.“You’re stronger,”
said Ruger. “I’ll follow you.”
The brothers dove into the water, Cian’s head straining against Julian’s weight to keep him from drowning. After what seemed like an eternity their paws touched solid ground. Shaking their soaked coats out for a moment, the Windwater pack was soon on the move once more.
It was well past noon when they finally arrived at the summer den. Cian watched two of the three remaining pups play with Moonstream. Starla had grown into a near-copy of his lost littermate, and Ruger swore she was worse that Riverstar and Layla both. Charday was like their mother: kind, soft-spoken, and gentle. Julian wasn’t like anyone. He wanted to be caring but the means of this eluded him. At that moment he bit Cian’s tail.“Ow! Sheesh, pup, what do you want?”
asked Cian of his little brother. The puppy looked at him sheepishly.“Thank you for carrying me across the river.”
Cian blinked. He hadn’t given it a second thought.“You’re welcome, Julian. Why aren’t you playing with our sisters?”
“They just want to play tag and keep away. It’s been a long day. I just want to sleep.”
Cian smiled as Julian curled up next to him and was promptly fell a sleep. The black yearling wolf took a cue from his little brother and soon both were fast asleep under the stars.
~*~Some time later that night…
Julian awoke and looked around. His little nose sniffed, trying to locate his pack. He was curled up in a bundle with his three sisters. Ruger slept a stone’s throw away. As his eyes adjusted to the limited light, he found his parents and uncle as well. But one wolf was missing. He looked around again. His brother was nowhere to be found.“Cian!”
cried Julian. “Cian! Where are you?”
His panicked cries woke the rest of the pack, and within moments they were all on their feet howling. The sounds echoed into the night, but went unanswered. Ruger sniffed around and soon found Cian’s scent trail. Without a backward glance he raced after his brother. About a quarter mile away he found the blue-eyed black wolf sitting on a bolder staring up at the stars. Ruger took a running leap and landed beside him.“Cian,”
he panted. “Didn’t you hear us calling you? You about gave Julian a heart attack.”
“I heard. I just needed to be alone for awhile.”
“What’s wrong, brother?”
“Have you been watching Mother and Father? They’re getting older now, fading like the leaves in the fall.”“All is a dance of life and death,”
quoted Ruger.“That doesn’t mean I have to see it.”
Cian leapt off the bolder and trotted off into the night. Ruger called after him.“Where are you going?”
“Nowhere. Somewhere. I don’t know. Tell the others I said good-bye. Maybe we’ll meet again someday.”
Ruger watched as his brother’s dark coat faded into the night.
The Wolf Quest Adventures of Zephyr Part 6:
By AshWolf Forever “The great Overdog, That heavenly beast,
With a star in one eye, Gives a leap to the east.”
~Robert Frost, “Canis Major”
Cian wasn’t sure how long he’d been traveling. The sunrises and sunsets did not concern him. He hunted when he was hungry, slept when tired, and occasionally turned his thoughts to the pack he’d left behind. He thought more than once that he should have told the others farewell personally, but as it was Ruger’s face still haunted him. He would never have been able to make himself go if he’d had to face Moonstream, Julian, Charday, and Starla. Or his mother and father. So for now he wandered, no longer sure what life held for him, but ever certain he would find it.
********************************Back with the Windwater Pack…
Cian had been gone several moons and the pups were growing fast. Julian was now the biggest, with Charday close behind. Starla had mastered fishing, perhaps due to her dunking in the river. Sequana and Zephyr maintained a calm control over the pack, while Snapdragon, Moonstream and Ruger jostled now and again, rearranging their status on a near daily basis. When the pups were eight months old they joined the hunt like their elder siblings before them.
They crouched in the snow waiting for their parents to drive the limping cow elk toward them. How it had even made it this long was a mystery to Ruger. Julian and Charday trembled beside him, both eager as could be for this, their first hunt. Ruger chuckled as he realized they reminded him of Cian. They were nothing like him on his first hunt. He remembered his abject terror and smiled. How times had changed.“Now you be careful and don’t pull any stupid stunts, Starla.”
“Moon, I’ll be fine. I’m not going to pull a Riverstar on you.”
said Snapdragon. “You’ll announce our presence to all and sundry!”
Zephyr and Sequana strolled carefully out into the open, preparing for the flush. Their prey was unaware of them until they rushed it, sending it dashing in terror to where their children waited. Snow flew as the elk barreled past the six waiting wolves that gave chase. Running as if in a relay, the wolves switched speeds in rapid succession, becoming blurs of slashing fangs. Zephyr saw with pride that the three eight-month-olds were holding their own. He and Sequana led the chase to the best of their strength.
********************************Returning to Cian…
Cian raced across the snow, chasing down a hare he’d flushed from its showy cover. The black wolf and his prey zigzagged across the white landscape, in and out of the trees. He was enjoying the chase so much that Cian didn’t pay attention to his nose. Just as he was about to close in a large white shape burst out into the open and snatched his prey up in its jaws. His mouth fell open. Before him was a stunning pure white she-wolf, maybe a year older than him. Her golden eyes simmered as she gazed at him, daring him to try and claim his hare. But food was now the last thing on his mind.
****************************Back with the Windwater Pack…
Ruger panted as they pursued the cow elk across the deep snow. He saw his father and mother move in for the kill. The others were panting as well, their frozen breath creating a fine mist around them. The stars twinkled above them as his father sprang for the cow elk’s throat. His jaws closed around it and he pulled the elk down with him. But with a last desperate effort the cow elk reared and tossed its head, forcing Zephyr to lose his grip. Ruger watched in horror as the deadly hooves came down on his father’s skull. Snapdragon rushed forward and closed his jaws around its nose. Sequana took her mate’s place at its throat. Together they held on until the struggles ceased. Then the pack turned as one and stood by Zephyr’s body.
The great wolf’s head was split open, and his blood was slowly darkening the snow. Sequana whined and let out a heart-breaking howl. One by one the others harmonized with her is a song that spoke of loss of their father, mate, brother and above all pack leader. Their fragile social ladder had been shattered. As the last notes faded the pack turned back to the feast. Food was too precious to be wasted even in grief.
The she-wolf finished off the hare and stared at him. She growled. Cian pulled back his ears and turned his head away.“I’m no threat to you,”
he said, and wagged his tail. “I am Cian. Who are you?”
“My name is Moira,”
answered the she-wolf. “Are you alone?”
“For now. As to the future…”
“I am alone as well. You are the first wolf I have seen since I dispersed. Have you been wandering long?
“Time means little to me anymore. How about you?”
“Little over a moon or two. Where are you are you from?”
“I was born to the Windwater Pack. And you?”
“I am originally from the Slough. You seem to be a bold wolf.”
“No more so than you.”
She laughed.“I suppose I am. Perhaps I can make it up to you.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“Two wolves should be able to scare up something to eat better than one. Shall we hunt together?”
Cian tossed his head and dropped into a play bow.“Sounds like fun. Lead the way, my lady.”
“Just see if you can keep up, yearling.”
She took off across the snow, forcing Cian to push himself to match her stride.“This is only my second winter, true, but I can keep pace with you and not break a sweat.”
“In your dreams, blue-eyes.”
*******************************Back with the Windwater Pack…
The tattered remains of the Windwater pack struggled to keep their society together. Sequana took on her mate’s role to the best of her ability but they were in danger of splitting apart. The only stoke of luck they had was that the three adolescent wolves weren’t old enough to really care about their place in the grand scale chain of command. They were content to scrap amongst themselves and leave the leadership to the adults.“Ruger,”
said Moonstream. “Where do you think Cian is?”
“I don’t know, Moon. He could be anywhere by now.”
“I wish he’d come back. He’s a true leader. He could pull us back together again.”
Ruger was awake most of the night, thinking over Moonstream’s words. It was true that Cian would be the best to lead them now. But who knew when he was coming back? Then a thought came to him as he remembered one of Moonstream’s old nightmares. Perhaps it would work. Maybe he could save his family. Ruger stood and walked over to his mother and gently woke her.“Mom?”
he asked softly. “I need to talk to you.”
Sequana raised her head and turned her eyes on her eldest child. Ruger winced to see them filled with unspoken sorrow. He cleared his throat and spoke with as much conviction as he could.“I’m going to look for Cian. Maybe, if I can find him he’ll come home. He could lead the pack now. Mom?”
“Go with my permission, son. Find your brother for us. Bring our wayward wanderer home to save us all. I will explain to the others.”
Ruger nodded and turned away from all he knew. His pack’s survival depended on his finding his brother. But would he find him, out there in the wide-open world? Ruger felt uneasy as he past the territory’s border for the first time in his life. He had never thought it would come to this.
**********************************With Cian and Moira…
“He dances upright, All the way to the west
And never once drops, On his forefeet to rest.”
~Robert Frost, “Canis Major"
“Isn’t this close to your homeland, Cian?”
The large black wolf looked around in surprise. He was maybe a mile or two from home. How strange. And instead of pulling him away, the strange stirrings tugged at him, guiding him forward. Thoughts of his family, all but buried, flooded his mind. A long howl broke the silence around them. Cian’s ears twitched as he recognized the voice calling his name.“My brother!”
he cried, looking at Moira with a grin. “Come on, you have to meet him. Ruger’s amazing!”
He howled back, his voice rising and falling as they ran. The trees and snow rushed past them as the two contrasting wolves ran side by side toward the voice that was a stranger to one and beloved brother to the other.
***************************Back with Ruger…
The tan wolf could barely believe his ears. Could Cian really be that close? Was he already coming home? Ruger broke into an all out run, tearing through the snow toward the howling wolf. Hope swelled in Ruger’s chest as they got closer and closer…
Moira watched her mate’s now golden eyes sparkle like she had never seen before. Her apprehension faded as his joy and confidence seeped into her as well. They burst into a clearing and up ahead a tan and gray wolf came running toward them. Cian never slowed his pace even as she fell behind to watch this meeting.“Ruger!”
The two males crashed together, jumping and nipping at each other playfully. After they were reacquainted, Cian led the wolf over to meet her.“Brother, this is Moira,”
Cian smiled at her, and tossed his head toward the other wolf. “Moira, this is my big brother Ruger.”
“Pleased to meet you,”
said the tan wolf with a wag of his tail.
She smiled at him and wagged her tail in response.“And you, Ruger. Cian speaks of you and your family ever now and again.”
“How is everyone?”
Ruger hung his head. Cian’s eyes grew wide.“What have I missed?”
he demanded.“Father was killed in a hunting accident some moons ago. Mother has held us together but tensions are high. Cian, we… we need you to come home. Even Mother admits it. Please come home, Cian.”
Cian was silent. Moira looked at him as his eyes dimmed and then darted back and forth. Who knew where his mind had gone?
********************************Father dead? The pack in shambles?
thought Cian. I shouldn’t have left. But, then why did I come this way in the first place? What about Moira?
Cain raised his eyes to his brother and spoke carefully.“I’ll come home, brother. But only if Moira can come too.”
Moira looked up at him and laughed.“You didn’t thnk you’d get anywhere without me, did you?”
“I’m sure the others will love you, Moira. Let’s go, Cian! Before Moonstream has a heart attack!”
The three wolves ran back down Ruger’s trail howling the news of Cian’s return to all and sundry.
Moonstream’s ears twitched. Her head lifted from her paws and her tail started to wag. She leapt to her feet as the rest of the pack joined her. Julian, Starla, and Charday danced around each other. Snapdragon’s tail whisked his back and even Sequana’s eyes glistened with joy. Cian, Ruger, and a strange white she-wolf burst through the trees. Julian ran to up to the black wolf, rolling onto his back and licking his jaw. His siblings followed suit. Moonstream laughed and licked Cian’s muzzle.“Is that really you, Cian?”
she said. “What happened to my blue-eyed brother?”
He laughed.“I guess I finally out grew them. Hey there, Julian. How have you been?”
“Cian! Cian! I missed you so much!”
said his brother.“Are you here to stay forever?”
asked Starla and Charday.
Cian’s eyes went to his mother and uncle.“If you’ll have me and my mate, Moira, I’m here for the rest of my life. How about it, Mother? Uncle Snapdragon?”
Snapdragon walked over and licked his nephew under the jaw. Sequana seconded his gesture and wagged her tail.“Welcome home, Cian my son.”
***************************************“I’m a poor underdog, But tonight I will bark,
With the great Overdog, That romps through the dark.”
~Robert Frost, “Canis Major"
The next night under the watching stars the new leader of the Windwater Pack leads his family on the hunt. The story of their passing was written in the snow behind them as the wolves ran in single file. As long as there’s the moon, the stars, the sun, and people who were willing to understand them, the wolves will be there. They will still enchant us, inspire us, and teach us. May the nights be forever filled with the wolf’s songs, and our minds with their mysteries. Here, on the hunt we found Zephyr, founder of the Windwater pack; and here, undisturbed, we leave them. “… when we die we feed our blood and kin. Body to earth, earth to grass, grass to prey, prey to wolf, we live on. All is a dance of life and death.”
If you would like to read the complete Frost poem, please use this link: http://www.internal.org/view_poem.phtml?poemID=115
*I'll not be posting in "The Windwater Pack" topic any longer as the thread is dead. Any info on further installments/developments will be on my website, which has a link on my profile.
That said, gonna try and be more active, if I can figure out how to get back in the swing of things.