The Packs Of Auran

Prologue

The wind howled and thunder cracked the earth somewhere in the distance. Sleet pelted down upon the rocky cliffs that towered up above the tundra. They rose up into a world of ice, snow, and unforgiving cold that seemed to sink into the very bones of any animal that dared to journey into the frigid temperatures of the arctic.

Below was a stretch of snowy earth and above there hung first a layer of clouds, and then past that a dark sky of splattered white stars that seemed to engulf the world. Upon the peaks, or the headland, a group of wolves gathered. They came together in unison upon a plateau, their snow like hides silhouetted against the night sky. Upon one of the higher peaks, a lone figure emerged – a large wolf. She stood still to gaze importantly down at her pack, her eyes flashing in the world of gray and white. For a moment, it seemed as if she were invisible for the thick pelt that cloaked her was as white as the snow around her – only her amber eyes and dark gray nose gave her away at first glance.

Another wolf, not quite as white as she, emerged from behind her. "There you are, Alphess Tayska," the second figure remarked as she trotted over. "The pack is ready for another hunt."

"Yes, I suppose they would be – there are many new pups on their way," the Alphess, or female leader of the pack, replied. But her mind seemed elsewhere as the watched the figure of wolves running along the icy horizon.

The second figure stopped beside her and took a moment to gaze down at the others as well. Her dry nose twitched as she sucked in the familiar scents of their pack mates on the bitter wind.

"You say that as if it's a bad thing," she finally pointed out to Tayska. "But surely more pups means more members for the Pack to grow strong."

"And it means more mouths to feed," the dominant female pointed out sternly, pensively. Her eyes remained glued to the other wolves that were now vanishing among the world of snow-capped hills that were being pelted with curtains of falling snow.

The second wolf remained silent as the Alphess finally turned to look at her.

"Misten," she uttered. "You are my Beta and my most trusted member besides my mate. So I will trust in you the deepest and darkest fears that I have... "

Her voice trailed off as if she were waiting for Misten to object. But she didn't. With a deep sigh that coiled into the air like twisting mist, Tayska began importantly: "The pack grows stronger everyday. But with every new winter, our lands are becoming entangled in a world of frozen snow and fangs made of ice. This is causing lack of prey... The last of the southern muskox have long since vanished northward, and the woodland caribou herds are slowly dwindling away. It seems as if our territory is seeing less and less prey, but more and more snow." She paused for a heavy moment, then growled lowly, "We may need to leave our territory – we may need to leave Aura."

Something like fear, or perhaps even anger, flashed behind Misten's piercing yellow eyes. "But Tayska," she gasped in alarm. "The Pack has been at Aura for generations – before Aura even became cloaked in ice and snow!"

"Enough," the Alphess growled.

"And what about packs of the way north? If those packs can live in climates worse than this, then so can we."

Tayska immediately shook her nose. "Our northern kin – the Arctic Brethren – can survive such conditions because they have been born into it, for many many generations."

Misten gave a hopeful yip, "Perhaps that means that we can learn to adapt."

"Without food?" Tayska challenged abruptly, and her lips slightly curled back in a dominant though harmless snarl. "And to move us so far north with so many young pups would be suicidal."

The Beta cringed in despair then, knowing what her Alphess spoke of was true: if they stayed in their territory, Aura, then the Pack would starve to death; if they moved further north, the Packs would die from the elements.

Then Tayska continued pensively, "It hasn't been decided yet, but I am going to call a congregation tonight with our council and all of the Auran Packs. Instead of hunting, we will be discussing important matters that will seal the fate and future of the Pack as a whole."

Misten was silent for a moment, staring at nothing but with an expression that clearly said she was in shock.

The Alphess suddenly wagged her tail. It was something that alphas did not do often, but in this case it was a gesture of kindness and assurance. Misten looked up as her leader slightly wagged her tail, but she said nothing.

"Come." Tayska then uttered, and she padded forward into the snows, Misten trotting loyally at her side. "Our kin calls for the aid of all fangs to bring meat to the Pack."

They vanished together into the snows.