I guess I should start this story by telling you who I am, dear reader. I am Shatterclaw of the Niima River winged wolf pack. The Niima River is a river that runs completely straight down through Dereath, and my pack is located near the southern border of the country, about five hundred miles from the desert border and the dehmon menace. But there was a menace much closer to home. Its name was man.
Morning… Sunlight was just beginning to leak in through the den entrance, and I could feel a small patch of fur being warmed by it. So I slowly rose to my feet, and winced when I felt my bones creak slightly. I couldn't believe I was already getting old at the age of five, or maybe it was just the cold. I laughed quietly to myself at the joke. Suddenly a tingling sensation in my nose alerted me to a sneeze, and I stifled it. But then it was back with a vengeance.
"Achoo!" I sneezed loudly, ruffling my feathered wings and snorting loudly afterwards. Looking around I began to wonder where my mate and pup had gone. Now that my nose had cleared itself out, I could smell something… What is it? I thought, inhaling deeply. My eyes widened, the smell was smoke… Why was there smoke in the forest? It was thick and heavy, and along with it came… the scent of burning flesh. I practically fly myself out of the den, my paws barely brushing the bare dirt in my panic. Smoke was filling my nostrils, and I couldn't seem to snort it out.
"Blackwind?! Bluepaw!" I was searching for my mate and my pup. There was confusion as I saw several wolves race past me as if hell was on their heels. Little did I know it was.
I jumped back, looking at the arrow that had lodged itself in the ground before me. Wildly I looked around, looking for the source. Then I could hear it, the sound of hoof beats.
Shhhunnk! Shhunk! Shhunnk!
Rapidly three more arrows lodged themselves in the earth, one barely grazing the back of my neck. I wasn't going to stand there for much longer, and I took off in the direction the other wolves had gone. Arrows were flying past me, but I did well at dodging them. Now the smell of death came at me, and I knew what was happening. It was a massacre. My pack was large, with over a hundred wolves all living peacefully in this forest. We did not raise a claw against the men, but it seemed that they would deal the first blow. Since most of our dens were close to each other, it made it easy for me to dive into a den. Now I was beginning to wonder, what had happened to our guard? We usually had several wolves patrolling the area, day and night.
Instinctively I crawled into a den. It was a deep one, probably one of our birthing dens. I hid myself in the darkness and dirt, my brown fur blending well. The only part of my fur that stuck out was my white underbelly, face and tail. Also the white spots on my paws and rump. The darkness had limited my vision, and when I stepped in a puddle I jumped back. Surprised by this, I sniffed the sticky stuff on my paw. It was blood. My eyes had finally adjusted to the light, and I could see better my surroundings. There were small pools of blood every so often, and there was a wolf cowering in the way, their wings spread out to block the passageway. Silently I approached.
"Wolf, state your name and rank." My voice held firm, and exuded the air of confidence, like I had control of the situation. The wolf's oddly colored fur shined distantly in the dim light. It seemed like the fur was greenish-gray, and the creature's yellow eyes almost seemed to glow.
"My name is Grassfur, I am an omega…" The voice was male. Quietly he sniffed at my nose, hoping for my acceptance. Looking him in the eyes I nodded slightly, a sign for him to relax.
"What happened here?" I asked, referencing the blood on the ground. He looked worried, taking a step back, his wings fluttering.
"Gracious leader Shatterclaw, I will show you what happened…"Carefully he backed up, and into the open space of the den. My assumption earlier had been correct, it was a birthing den. Another wolf was huddled in a corner, looking quite dazed, along with what looked to be a furry lump. Obviously it was another wolf, but it wasn't moving, and blood was pooled on the ground under it. Slowly and carefully I picked my way across the dirt floor of the den over to them. Grassfur resumed his post in the passageway.
"You," I looked at the wolf who looked dazed. "What is your name?"
"I am Waterwing ma'am…" She said quietly, looking at me with river blue eyes. I leaned down to let her sniff my nose, and caught the scent of the wolf lying on the ground next to her. The realization of who it was made a stab at my heart. It…. It was my own sister, Brightpaw. Her white fur was stained with blood from a wound in her side. With my paw I brushed her face, moving her head so I could see her eyes. They were blank and glazed over, no life left in them. My eyes began to sting, and I felt the pain in my heart.
"What happened to her?!" I snapped at Waterwing, my voice cracking with anger. She collapsed under my wrath, becoming a ball of trembling feathers and fur.
"I did nothing Alpha Shatterclaw! She was killed by the men! We found her here!" She yipped worriedly, her pale blue eyes staring up at me.
"She must have crawled into here to die." Grassfur said stolidly. Tears slid freely down my cheeks, leaving a dark stain in the fur. Waterwing whined quietly, disturbed by my crying.
"My only sister…. Is dead…" I said, feeling the finality of the words. It was like being dragged into the sapphire waters of the river and being held there. How could this happen so early? It was morning… how did the men kill so fast…? The den seemed to spin and shift, so I wildly gripped the dirt with my claws. I couldn't seem to control which way was up anymore, and I felt dizzy and sick. Then as fast as the feeling came, it disappeared, replaced with determination and hate. My hate began to burn like the fire that was raging in the forest. One swift swipe of my paw threw Grassfur aside, and he yelped as my claws dug into his side. My claws gripped the earth as I tore my way out of the passageway, dirt flying out behind me.
"Shatterclaw!" I stopped in my tracks, turning towards the voice. A fairly large grey wolf faced me. His muzzle was white with age, and his frost colored grey eyes stared me down. "Ma'am, what are you doing?"
It was my advisor, Frostfur. The old wolf had been the advisor to my father, and has served me faithfully my three years of being alpha. He had become my advisor when my father had died during a harsh winter one year, and since he had known me as a pup we were close. Quickly I rushed to him, burying my face in his chest fur.
"Dear Shatterclaw, what did you see in there? You ran like you were ready to kill."
"M-my sister…." I couldn't seem to form the words as I choked on a lump in my throat. I could feel the old wolf tilt his head to the side.
"What about her? She had guard duty last night… I haven't seen her since." He said, not getting what I was trying to tell him.
"D-dead…" I stuttered, still choking on tears and pain. Now he understood.
"Ma'am, you have to pull yourself together. Your mate is already gathering a fighting force to try and force the men out of the forest." His deep voice was cracked and weary with age, but still firm and gentle. Quietly I swallowed my sorrow and stood up tall.
"Yes sir." I said softly. He nodded.
"He asked me to tell you to help gather the wolves; he said he'll hold back the men as long as he and the rest of the guard can."
"No! He'll be killed!" Frostfur eyed me wearily, daring me to defy my mate's wishes.
"He didn't ask. He commanded you to do it. Blackwind will not let you near the battlefield, and he asked me to make sure it doesn't happen." I knew by the expression on his face and the tone of his voice that if I tried to go to Blackwind, he would attack me.
"Then let's go." Anger now gripped my heart as I entered the den. "Grassfur! Waterwing! Come now." The two slowly crept out of the den, checking for men. Now that they were both in the light, I could see them much better. Grassfur really did seem to have green fur, probably because of the unique mixture of brown and grey in his fur. Waterwing had fur so grey it looked like an odd blue that went well with her eyes. We began heading for the next den in the area. I broke into a trot, catching the scent of a wolf I had known since pup-hood. Following the scent led me past the den and into a patch of bramble bushes. A scent I hadn't paid attention to now brought me down to reality. A dead man lay in the bushes, his bow lying near him. I stepped back, looking around, and expecting to be attacked from any side. Nothing came, no arrows, no cries of anger. Using that as a cue, I went back to following my friend's scent. Blood pounded in my eardrums, drowning out the sounds of protests from Frostfur.
"Nightrun?" I called, hoping for his answer. Silence surrounded me now. The wolf's scent trail had led me to another den. I also picked up the scent of blood, and I probably could have just followed his trail by the crimson blood on the ground. It seemed to be worse the closer to the den the trail got. My ears lowered, and I felt my fur bristle. I could smell more men nearby, as the wind blew the scent straight at me. The smoke rising from the trees was behind me now, and it didn't bother me at all. Worriedly I crept into the den, calling out again.
"Nightrun…?" A gurgling noise came back as a reply, and I felt fear claw at my stomach. The passageway was fairly narrow, so I ended up crawling on my belly to get into it. There I saw the inert form of my friend, his black fur darker than the shadows in the den. An arrow jutted out of his neck, and his blood was pooling on the ground. He made another gurgling noise and tried to move to see me. "Nightrun… It's me…" I said, walking over to him and nuzzling his head carefully.
Crimson dripped from his mouth as he mouthed my name. I nodded so he could see me. The intelligent gray eyes I had known since I was little were dimmed with pain and weakness. There was no way for any of us to save him… Gently I brushed his wings with my nose, ruffling the feathers.
"You'll be okay…." I whispered into his ear, choking down more sorrow. "I-it'll be just fine…" My body shuddered, knowing that I was practically lying to him. But it seemed he understood, and relaxed, closing his eyes. Knowingly I left. Those eyes would not open again. Maybe I would see him again in heaven. The rest of the wolves were standing silently in a half-circle around the den entrance. Frostfur touched his nose to mine, and then walked down the forest path, asking me to follow without words. He must have found something while I was busy with Nightrun. His silence then became unnerving and I began to get upset with it. There was something horribly wrong, and I was the only one who didn't seem to know what it was yet. Unable to hold it in any longer I yelped.
"What's wrong? What happened?!" My voice seemed to almost echo in the silence. Frostfur and the others had stopped, and stood next to a den. I recognized it as the den I gave birth to my daughter, Bluepaw, in. Glancing back and forth between the three, I gingerly sniffed the air. The scent I caught caused panic and fear to simultaneously attack my insides.
"BLUEPAW!" I screeched, throwing myself into the den. Burrowing my way deep into the passageway, I finally broke out onto the open area. I froze, my breath taken away at the scene before my eyes. The whole floor was covered in blood, and the bodies of pups were strewn carelessly on the ground. A club lay only a few inches from my paw. And one of the pups lying in the blood… was my own Bluepaw.
"NOOO!" Screaming wildly I slid across the floor and laid in the blood with my daughter. Sobbing hysterically was all I could manage to bring myself to do. Nuzzling and licking at her broken body, I howled with grief and anger. A light brush against my flank alerted me and I snarled, baring my fangs as a weapon. "STAY AWAY FROM ME!"
Frostfur practically leapt backwards, surprised at my yell. Then he snarled back at me.
"Leave her! She's gone!" I couldn't hear him; I was too busy with licking my daughter again. She couldn't be dead… She just couldn't be! It just wasn't possible, I won't accept it! I thought desperately, hoping it would become reality. But deep in my heart I knew that it wouldn't come true.
"Ma'am…. Please… You have to come now…." I wailed in response, ending it in a mewling whine. He growled, getting angry with me now. "If you won't leave, then I will leave you!" Frostfur snarled at me, walking out of the den. Now my loyalty tugged at me, drawing me up from the ground and forcing me to leave my only offspring on the ground. I breathed harshly through my mouth, as if I had just run nonstop for several miles. The fire that had started in my belly earlier burst into an inferno, a horrible rage that would not be satisfied without bloodshed. Too bad poor Grassfur was standing in front of the den entrance. My paws churned over the earth as I charged him, lunging at his throat and catching a chunk of fur. The second snap was more successful, as hot red blood gushed over my face and into my mouth. Both Frostfur and Waterwing stood astonished at my actions.
Grassfur slumped to the ground, gurgling as his blood pooled out around him from the gaping wound in his neck. Triumphantly I panted, enjoying the taste of his blood. Turning to Frostfur I grinned, watching him back up.
"Shatterclaw! What are you doing?!" He yelped at me, baring his teeth and looking very upset. I could hear Waterwing as she ran away, and I took off after her. But before I knew it, I was off my feet, having been tackled to the ground by Frostfur. "SHATTERCLAW!" He screamed, holding me down as I struggled against him.
"AWWHOOOOOOOOO!" I howled at him, finding my voice had disappeared and was replaced with a simple animalistic noise. I couldn't help but struggle, snarling and raging. My body was getting weaker and weaker as I expended all my energy. Now all I could do was growl, too tired to fight anymore. Carefully he stood up.
"Are you okay now…?" He asked, watching me with cold, hard eyes. Taking a deep breath I nodded, finally killing most of the fire that had just destroyed Grassfur. I hadn't even realized I would be capable of doing such a thing… We both blinked, hearing the sound of screaming and hoof beats. Instantly we recognized it as Waterwing, and knew that the men were coming. Glowing red, the fire the men had started was catching up with us. A horse neighed nearby, and I slowly climbed to my paws. Another voice yelled incoherently, and I knew who it was. Blackwind had come for me! My tail waved back and forth, knowing he was near. We both heard the screaming neigh of a horse as it died. Gathering a new burst of energy I ran towards the sound, knowing it had to be Blackwind. Suddenly crashing through the bushes another horseman came at me, hoping to trample me with his horse's hooves. The beast rose up on hind legs, getting ready to pound down. Cringing down I waited for the blow that never came. I opened my eyes to see Blackwind, his black fur nearly stained crimson. The horse and the man lay on the ground, both dead. I looked at Blackwind, the silver streaks on his face and sides were nearly gone now because of the blood. His green eyes looked me over, as if asking questions I knew I couldn't answer. With a flick of his wings he urged me to come with him and away from the fire that was nearly upon us.
"We are leaving here, I've already sent the rest of the wolves north, and hopefully they'll make it up to the Jelto lakes and hide there." His voice was calm; as if he hadn't just killed anything, or that the fire was raging behind them. "We will leave as soon as we get to the clearing. There's no room to take off here." He stated, breaking into a run. Frostfur and I also broke into run, getting the urgency that was needed for this. I could see the clearing ahead now, it was getting closer and closer with each bounding step. The sound of the river pounded nearby, and I realized that we were near the rapids. Soon our paws touched grass, and we were running across the clearing.
"Now!" Blackwind shouted, spreading his wings and taking off. Frostfur followed his command and did the same. Quickly I flared my own out, flapping wildly to get myself off the ground. Then we all heard a noise we wish we hadn't. The sounds of men yelling came out from bellow.
Arrows began flying at us from all directions, so we tried to get higher into the air. Blackwind and Frostfur rose easily, but my tired body didn't want to gain altitude. Weakly I called out for help, but I knew it was no use. Sharp pain entered my left wing, causing me to spiral downwards into the forest below. With a crash I broke through the trees, landing hard on the ground. My mate's scream echoed through the forest, but he had to know that I was gone, for he didn't come down to me. I stumbled through the forest, trying to outrun the men who seemed to be everywhere. My scream pierced the air as another arrow lodged itself in my flank. I heard cheers and calls as I tried to get away. They were closing in now, but I still tried to run. I could hear the river, and realized I was nearly to the bank. Splashing into the water I began begging the moon spirit to let me live, I couldn't leave my mate like this. Another arrow bit into my flesh and I squealed and fell into the water. My vision wavered and blurred. Now I surrendered to my fate… It was just unavoidable. I blinked, seeing the image of a bright glowing wolf in the water. Smiling weakly I knew it was the spirit come to watch over me as I lay there. The footfalls became louder.
"There it is!"
"Hurry up and shoot it!"
"It looks dead already though…"
"It's still breathing, look!"
I listened half-heartedly to the men's arguing and waited for the next arrow. My ears picked up the sound of it being nocked, then suddenly it released.
A/N: Well this is the first entry for my short stories... Hope you review! I need the help with my writing.