Tears slid openly down Teiru's muzzle, as he was too heartbroken to even remember the human form that would hide him from a hunter's eye. Urufu…the legend of the pack…had died in battle…fighting for his kin and taking as many enemies as he could with him. It had been two days since that happened, but a formal burial had only now begun as the few remnants of the once proud pack had made their way back to the territory. So few…so few had returned after the ordeal. The dead, regardless of pack, had all been given a hero's funeral, because…in the end…it didn't matter really who you were or had been, you were still a wolf and you carried the pride of your people.
The great searing flames that had cleansed the battlefield had been doused so that only one could remain. Urufu, would be hailed as the greatest leader they had had, but, his heir…Karasu had barely begun the role…
Teiru watched as Kitsune, clad in the fur of her people, stood proudly before the blaze; her tears the only remnant of her grief. It was her duty to address the pack after the bloodshed, as it was the duty of the pack to listen. Teiru felt a flicker of justice in her words as she recited a cipher more ancient than the wolves themselves.
"Fire is the creator of life. For everything burned, two things shall be given life in the burnt's place. Without fire, there is no death, no heat, no life. As a respect to the element, everything made from fire shall thus be returned to the flame." Kitsune had recited that for the living, but she silently prayed for the words to reach the dead and calm their battle torn spirits. She watched with glistening eyes as the great pyre was set aflame, the copper blood easily feeding the searing tongues. Urufu was only now being given the burial, due to his and Kitsune's relations. That was what made Teiru cry…that and the fact that he also considered this to be Karasu's funeral as well.
"May you find paradise…Karasu." Teiru whispered, another crystal bead sliding down his cheek for his elder brother. His eyes closed wearily as he grieved silently for the lost alpha and his mentor, Urufu. Unbidden, the memories of that night of bloodshed returned to him while he wept against the bleak emptiness of his closed eyes.
'Run…run faster…faster…' He thought, angrily cursing his "lack" of speed as his feet sped forward. He could never match their speed, but he hoped he would be fast enough to deliver it…
Teiru felt the frost of the wind clawing at him; stinging down his throat and burning in his lungs as he gulped it in as a man dying of thirst. Muscles screaming in pain and cramping, lungs burning through frozen oxygen, and eyes smarting horribly with the glaze of tears from the merciless lash of the winds were his only companions as he ran through blades of grass. Nature seemed not to notice his passing, the sea of jade rolling in a seemingly endless fashion.
"Karasu-sama!" He yelled, the effort of it nearly throwing him off balance in his running, almost plummeting him into the emerald foliage beneath his feet. He paused to regain his balance, a beating in his head telling him of the precious seconds that were trickling away faster than he could believe. Gaining a second of momentum, he ran forward again, towards the largest of the grass covered hills where he knew they would be. A stroke of purest luck granted truth to his words as he spotted the two; alpha male Karasu and alpha female Kitsune.
Fear started to grip his mind, entangling it with the parasitic function of panic in his eyes and the remembered smell burning in his nose. Would he ever get close enough? Why weren't his legs moving faster? Would he…fail? He almost fell right then and there if he hadn't seen them…Karasu and Kitsune were both in sight now, giving him a bit of hope that he would make it in time. Please let him make it in time.
He shakily stopped, the force of all his shattering muscles and fiery lungs pounding with the intense feeling of pain in his skull from cornering that traitor. Who knew that Nezumi would have had friends? The burning in his side from where that defector had slashed him as he ran only doubled his anger. He had to bite back a growl as he tried to flush away some of the fear and anger before speaking.
"Karasu-sama…I was sent…tell you…enemies…northern border…" He grimaced, choking on a large gulp of air as he realized how incoherent he was being. A sudden coughing fit gripped him as he bent double from the pain of too little air in his lungs for such a long stretch of time. His amber irises revolved slightly as he peered up at Karasu's arm on his shoulder.
"Slow down, Teiru. Breathe before you speak." Karasu spoke gently to Teiru as he lightly rubbed his palm against the cramped muscle of Teiru's shoulder. The gentle massage helped alleviate some of the pain in his shoulder, but he couldn't relax. Not now.
'This is urgent, I have to think clearly!' Teiru mentally chastised himself. He took a moment to recuperate and breathe much more deeply, slowing his racing heartbeat and steadying himself. He needed to think clearly before speaking because he couldn't risk anymore time being wasted on his being incoherent.
"Urufu-sama sent me to report to you that enemies have broken through our northern border." Teiru said clearly, watching Karasu's facial expression deepen to a mask of rage and vengeance. He started to speak faster in order to get it all out. "Others have already been sent to—Karasu-sama!" He yelled, being taken off-guard as he was knocked over by the sheer force of the wind rushing by as Karasu ran past him, towards the northern-most part of their territory. Kitsune flashed a small, apologetic look, but it was only a few bare seconds before she too was gone, her long legs barely catching up to Karasu in time to match his speed. Teiru straightened quickly, regretting it when he felt the throbbing in his knee. Biting back an oath, he knew he would have to take it slow on the way back or he would risk serious fatigue before he even got to fight anyone. He started a slow walk towards the way he had come, hoping that he would be of some use when he returned to the battleground. The cuts on his side stung rhythmically to his boiling anger as he drew blood from the force at which he was biting back his frustration.
"This is ridiculous!" He growled and immediately took to a fast canter. It wasn't at the speed he had been running at before, but it was good enough and it helped keep his breathing regular while giving him something to concentrate on.
By the time the melee had come into view, Karasu and Kitsune were mere blurs before they had vanished and Urufu was nowhere to be seen. Growling to himself, he launched forward, claws etching into the back of a small russet-cream colored wolf as he ripped it off the back of his best friend, Roiyaru. Roiyaru was a big wolf, about an inch or two on Karasu all around with about fifty more pounds, but that wasn't fat. He was a pure monster in battle, but a real sweet-talker and very careful not to accidentally hurt someone.
They gave swift nods to each other as Teiru finished the small wolf, a smear of blood on his reddish furred muzzle, sliding down his claws, and dripping from his incisors.
"You seen Kitsune-sama or Karasu-sama?" He yelled over the pandemonium to Roiyaru.
"A minute ago! They cleared a path to Urufu-sama and that was the last I saw of them!" Roiyaru yelled back before sinking his teeth into another enemy that had stepped too near. Roiyaru's violet eyes were filled with a welcome experience that only came in the heat of battle. The moon shone like silk against his crimson-smeared white pelt. He stood out like a blood smeared moon in this battle field, or at least he thought so until another albino wolf tackled him to the ground, fangs digging into the bone of his arm.
He released a horrid scream before adrenaline ripped through his spine, giving him the energy to clamp his jaw over the wolf's face, feeling an immediate release as he forced himself to crush downward on the wolf's skull. A momentary taste of bile rose to his throat as he released the useless lump of what had once been a wolf. He gave a few dry heaves when he realized it had been a female wolf, but the moment passed as he tore his eyes away from the mutilated corpse.
Teiru's eyes caught someone he recognized through the mass of tangled bodies: Kitsune-sama. He felt his feet finding their path towards her, the bloody ground saturated enough to cover up the base of his paws with the sickly cold concoction of mud and blood.
"Kitsune-sama!" He yelled out just before he recoiled, narrowly escaping a blow from a wolf at least twice his size. He reverted to the practice he had done against Karasu and reminded himself just how quick he was as he ripped a gapping hole in the larger one's belly. The scream torn from that wolf's muzzle was unusually piercing to Teiru, but he had to keep going and get to Kitsune-sama.
The dying brute was swallowed in the fray as Teiru pulled away from him, trusting his instincts as to which direction Kitsune had vanished off to. He caught her emerald eyes for a brief moment as she started to help Urufu-sama closer to him. A pair of wolves tumbled in front of him, forcing him to move back and obscuring his view of the elder and female. Snarling menacingly, he turned to the pair and attacked the intruder out of the two. They carried a different…feeling than that of the rest of the familial pack he knew, making it easier to sort them out.
Teiru jerked his head up as he saw a male that could have outweighed Karasu's great size knock Kitsune against the ground. 'Such power!' His thoughts screamed, his mind becoming blurred as he was too stunned to do much more than watch. Urufu was on his feet, pure white flames in his eyes as he snarled deeply, a more menacing picture couldn't be found. Teiru hadn't even realized he was growling and snarling right next to Urufu, nor could he even remember moving, he was just there in the brief seconds it had taken him to watch.
Together, he and Urufu-sama gripped the back of the male's already torn hide and started ripping. It didn't matter that blood and bone were revealed, nor that Teiru could barely breath for all the blood filling his nose and mouth. He just gripped another area and shook the fur and flesh until it pulled from its tendons and the muscles snapped.
Urufu managed to sink his teeth around the male's throat and ripped out a gory substance that flickered with a momentary pearl gleam that could only of been bone. But…Urufu's heart had given out as he stumbled backwards against a clean patch of the jade grass. The male had died before Urufu's last breath escaped him, choking on his own blood as the life drained from his eyes making them glassy and dull.
"Urufu-sama!" Teiru howled, his vision blurry as his body shook unbidden from the great depression of adrenaline loss. The old wolf's eyes peered up to Teiru as he smiled faintly, his face set into a justified repose as his life faded. Teiru felt tears spilling down his muzzle for the elderly wolf as his body shivered in response to his sobs…
He felt the dried runs of where tears had been on his cheeks…it had only been one two days past, but it felt like years had widened the loss between him and the dead members of the pack. The memories would always be engrained there behind his eyes like great, fiery images as he watched the pyre light up. The old veteran would always be imprinted in his mind with that last image. His head lifted up as he smelled a fresh breeze rush past him. He lowered his muzzle slightly, amber irises watching Kitsune-sama come closer to him, her tears all cried out as well. What would the pack decide to do now? He thought tiredly, feeling drained in body and mind.