Prologue: Past and Present

It was revered by the living for its power and majesty, for its silent chilling strength, its cruelness as well as its dominion over all who challenged it. To those who knew it and understood its purpose, its competitive nature was a fear to even the most stout hearted. It was unpredictable, unbridled and unchecked save by the sun. Yet even as the great yellow eye shown down, it sneered at the great stars efforts to bring warmth to the earth. It ruled the world, had ruled for millenniums, it, the still element. Ice.

By night, the pale glow of the moon cut through its tall dark ridges with light, the weak silver shafts nearly penetrating to the deepest reaches of the earth. Then as the dawn came, as the golden ball breached the horizon cutting a path through the heavens, a trickle of red bled across the vast expanses of the sky, casting a pink hew so that the world sparkled under its gown of crushed diamonds. Cold lay thick upon the air.

A small wolf pack came, making its way slowly through the bare trees, warily searching for things unseen by any but the predator. Their eyes glowed brilliantly in the coming darkness cunning and instinct constantly driving them to survive. But something just as strong as instinct drove them now as the wind picked up and nipped at the family with jaws of frost. Fear.

For the first time in their lives, they were the hunted.

They came in single file, their heads bowed against the might of the storm that howled about them.

First came the alpha pair, carving a path through the snow for the others behind them. Next the beta wolf, her ears up and alert at the danger they all faced. Now and then she would slow her pace, padding alongside her two brothers, the old wolf that whimpered constantly or the omega wolf, her sister, who trudged along wearily at the back.

They came like leaves blown across the land, a land some would in future marvel at and wonder, a land of soaring mountains, rolling savannas, forests, hills, deserts and secrets. A land of rich variety and scope that was once a world of its own, a land lost in the mists of time, faded from even the histories of man, the great land, Pangaea.

Even in those days there were stories of a beginning, of belief and faith which influenced the lives of all. In that time, man was young, an inexperienced member of nature. He had come from the east with his burning fires, his vibril (the wolf word for tame livestock) and dwellings consisting of stone and clay at times and wood and thatched roofs which smoked eerily with mans burning air.

They had come from a place none could fathom, a place beyond the mysteries of the world. At times they were still able to understand nature in all of its great complexity, still able to see and know the secrets of the wild. Yet, there were others of their kind who ignored the world around them, caring nothing for the rich young world they lived in.

But man wasn't the biggest threat to the pack. For within that last age of ice many other creatures roamed the earth. Great birds of prey, some plumed with crude violent colors and more dangerous than most predators, fish of the deep sporting razor sharp teeth and unseeing eyes and giant beasts with keen instincts as well as hard scaly armor that safeguarded them against their enemies.

Above all the greatest legends, none haunted The Great Land like that of Nimivi, the pale lion, last of a dying breed. Stories of his famed strength and wisdom spread across the wild world like a hungry fire. Among other deeds of fabled glory, Nimivi was the only living creature to have traversed the high slopes of Dandeer, a range of mountains forever allayed in a powdery blanket of snow that had never melted, molded onto the rock and stone for eternity.

Some said Nimivi had communed with the great ones upon its summit. Others, that a power had awoken within the hunter, secrets of nature that had been lost, a power to live, to see, to become and above all to understand.

What he had really found was unknown and so a legend was born. Myth stemming from speculation growing with the telling of each tale.

Sadly, it had become a legend of fear, for now the lion had gathered many to his cause, bending all life to his will and fulfilling his single purpose, to rule The Great Land.

Such cruelty the wolves had witnessed as Nimivi had set about conquering all in his path. Even now they fled him, turning the northern most lands, journeying to their meeting place, not only to save themselves but also to secure safety for the new life that lived in the she-wolfs belly. The trek had been difficult for the family especially the omega who had been trailing behind all that day.

Without warning she slid on a hidden patch of ice. Yelping is surprise she toppled head long into a snow drift drawing the attention of her family.

Worry glowed in their golden eyes and even as the wolf tried to stand, blood stained the snow where the ice had cut the pads of her paw on its sharp edge.

The alpha wolf left his place at the front of the group reaching her just as she had began to raise herself from the snow. Worry was apparent in his body language.

"I'm sorry Kaviir" she growled shakily. "I'm just so tired and it's so cold."

"We all are Kela" Kaviir snorted in frustration. "We must hurry. Silas says that we're getting closer."

The wolf was angry not at Kela but because of the danger they all faced. They all felt it, the hopelessness of their flight, and the despair of defeat dragging at their wild spirits like some forgotten demon, wronged by the past and so taking revenge.

For all of our sakes, I hope we find the cave soon.

"Silas" he growled raising his voice above the wailing wind, "you are the only one that remembers the way to the cave. Try to find it. We'll follow you."

Silas was the oldest member of the pack, respected and steadfast. Patches of white adorned his muzzle not just from the storm but from a long and happy life of wild freedom.

At Kaviirs request, the old wolf lifted his snout in agreement. Then tail tucked in respect, his nose to the ground, Silas led the wolves on.

Their progress was painfully slow. The bitter wind whirled in their faces, stinging their eyes and ravaging their fur. Silas led them urgently searching the snows for anything that would stab his mind with memory.

Night fell gradually, draining the sky of color and gently pushing the cloud banks further and further out of visibility. As they went, the ground dipped down a little as the mists lifted to reveal scattered stars now twinkling above. A full moon illuminated tall cliffs towering ominously close, natures silent statues.

As they went, the ground dipped down a little as they neared the cliffs, the track swinging sharply here and there winding its way through the pass flanked on either side by the great rock walls. Here the snow was less deep and their pace quickened as hope came to them. Upon entering, apprehensions chill penetrated their hearts, for the wolf prides itself in its freedom and hates confined places. Yet they came one by one following each bend, twist and turn within the rock canyon.

Kela was limping and would sometimes cry out or whimper in pain as her paw was burned with the cold. The wound had continued to bleed, only making her weaker and slower as she tried to keep up.

Kaviir kept close to her, nudging her on when she faltered, or whispering encouragement to the she-wolf. But in his heart he wondered if he had chosen the right course for his pack, if fleeing Nimivi had been the right choice.

Now, he could only see the pain that that choice had caused his loved ones, the sacrifices they had all made to escape the war and chaos that had brought hate and confusion to The Great Land.

He had watched from afar as the wandering nomad had disappeared up the slopes of Dandeer and upon his return his rise to power. He had seen the cruelty with which Nimivi lived, had witnessed with his own eyes as the lion killed for pleasure alone without the need of the predator. Nimivi was heartless, ruthless, utterly dangerous and unpredictable.

No, in the end they had had no choice.

Lost in his thoughts, Kaviir was startled and relieved when Silas howled out excitedly ahead signaling that he had at last found a place for the family to spend the night.

The path opened out into a gorge floored with stone and shielded from the elements by the overhanging recesses of rock above them. Set back into the cliff face lay a cave, just big enough for them to all fit warm and safe in the shadows.

They lay in a circle; the silence of the night was broken by the cry of an Oilbird as it flew on its hunt for smaller creatures such as gadflies, bats and grubs who were foolish enough to venture out of their hiding. Her ears pricked forward the beta wolf listened closest to the sounds that drifted to her on the air. She was confused and frightened and angry at their predicament.

Behind, in the cave members of her family had fallen into fitful sleep, their dreams of hunting producing the occasional growl or grunt as they gave chase to the imaginary prey in their minds. All except one. She could sense her fathers wakefulness. Then within the dim light he shifted opening his yellow eyes.

"Jade, come, rest. Tomorrow is an important day and you'll need your strength" he growled softly.

"I…. I can't. Not yet. There's so much to think about."

"What's on your mind?"

The wolf is a very intelligent animal and although his daughter had yet to voice any feelings she had, he could tell that the she-wolf was troubled. Besides communicating with their words, wolves use body language as well to understand each others feelings and moods.

"l .. I'm worried about mother. Winter is harsh and with cubs coming we won't have a chance unless we find the meeting place soon. And what is to be done about Nimivi?"

With a sigh, the wolf raised himself careful not to disturb his pack mates. Silently he joined Jade near the outside, taking a place at the edge with his back slightly propped against the cold stone. He shuddered, but soon the warmth from his own body had spread across the rock.

Kaviir knew he had to try to comfort her, but he wished Jades' fears had been different, for in truth deep down they were his own concerns.

"Jade, I have the same worries. I'm scared too. But I promise you that I won't let anything harm you or your mother."

"Yes father, thank you" she said in exasperation.

"What is it?"

Jade sighed as she looked up at the full moon glowing silver in dark. Stars blinked through the dark expanses as a sudden breeze howled through the cave.

"When I was a pup, I always thought… I always knew that you were the strongest wolf. That as long as you protected me nothing could hurt me, Kodi, Shaft, Silas, Kela or mother."

"I used to believe that with you protecting us that I had nothing to fear. I was naive."

"When all is said and done you will fail upon the day you fall prey to death, and the truth is that I fear that day…. I don't want to lose you or mother…ever."

Listening closely to her, Kaviir saw his daughter with new eyes. He had never guessed at her deep admiration for him, nor of the thoughts of life and death that troubled her. Even as cold as it was he could feel fear radiating from her in waves.

It unsettled him to see her torn by something he could not protect her from, something he himself did not fully understand.

"Jade" he growled slowly, "what you say is true."

" I will die someday as will your mother, your brothers, your sister, old Silas won't last forever and even the cubs will. But life is more then the endless struggle to survive. It's in the hunt, the joy of the chase, the anticipation and then the thrill of the catch, the fulfillment of gorging yourself and feeding those you care about. It's the piece you feel being part of a family, the friendship, the teamwork, the love and yes even the loss."

"The awe felt when you wake to a light breeze and a hopeful sky. These are not pointless feelings, ideas or experiences. And while in future they may be lost to time, forgotten by those who come after, you will always remember your life. You will remember that what you did you believed in, that you stood for something and fought to the end to see it realized. We must live for the future, learn from the past and enjoy the present."

"But… how will a light breeze or family help me? How they can they defeat something like Nimivi" Jade snorted?

Kaviir gave her a sad smile.

"I don't know if we have everything to stand against him, or if we could ever truly put an end to him. But I do know that we will have to try sometime soon."

"For now we must sleep" he said yawning. "We must have our strength tomorrow to meet the others."

"I will sleep soon" the she-wolf assured. "I just need some time."

"Don't be too long" he whispered gently licking her between the ears. He left her silently taking his place next to Rowan. Maybe what he had said had not been enough, maybe it had. As he lay there his mind wandered aimlessly through his own life.

With a smile he remembered his own parents, so strong, so wise and so powerful, his mother, gentle and loving, his father firm and caring. Were they still alive and if so where were they? Had Nimivi found them?

Dawn came, casting warm rays of light into the cave, bringing a small reprieve from the cold. As the family roused themselves, they greeted each other with yips of excitement.

Distant mountain peaks shone like teeth in the golden brilliance of the day, while cloud banks moved almost unnoticed up above. The snow was a soft powder that crumpled beneath their paws as they left on their way to the meeting place.

As Kaviir led his pack to scout this territory, hope swelled like a freed creature in his heart. The day was beautiful and full of promise. The feeling spread, growing stronger with each step he took until he couldn't keep it to himself any longer.

Lifting his voice to the wind, he howled informing the world of his happiness. Soon his family had joined him in the song adding their voices to his and blending into one solid splendid note that carried for miles and miles echoing, reverberating across memory and time. Kaviir knew that he would remember this day, when everything seemed new and full of life and life itself full of hope.

Author's Note: Hope you like my story, I would love reviews whether they are criticizing or whatever. Please tell me what you think-I love feedback tanks 8D