~~The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.~~
The fresh, crisp wind gave signals to all birds and bees that the time for play and caring for young was over. Winter was coming and the food would become scare. Tala beamed she loved this part of the year. This season was the time hunting was the greatest. Squirrels danced across the trees and brown leaves, searching for the perfect places to store his nuts while he survived the winter, and cleverly planting seeds for the next trees to grow. The apples were Tala’s favorite smell during this time- that and the smell of Caribou- their sweetness that turned slightly sour as the rotted silently away. The wet leaves thank fully made it so each step Tala and the other’s steps onto them were nothing but ghosts of sound, perfect for hunting. The air brought up beautiful scents of apples and nuts. However, it held another, a scent not pleasing to any of the creatures in the forest, the scent of humans. Sure, when young and naïve they were completely harmless. Nevertheless, once the human grew older they cheated the way of the forest, played with it, shaping it so that it was not but tar to the residents of the forest. The most confusing thing of humans was that even though needing food, they did not hunt for it. Never did they come in the forest stomachs grumbling. When they came, they carried machines that boomed with thunder and made animals bleed with a metallic essence hidden in their blood scent. The humans’ usual targets were squirrels, rabbits, and the caribou. However, sometimes they shot at the wolves that occupied the forest. Tala did not know why they shot both sure maybe they were hunting for food, but not even the cats nor bears attacked wolves for food unless the wolf had stumbled into its territory which rarely happened. Not even with lone wolves. In fact if anything the wolves should attack them as the humans were, were the ones stomping through their territory. Men just pranced around as if they owned the place. Tala broke out of her thoughts as the scent of a snowshoe hare tickled her nostrils. Leela and Olive stopped noticing the mouth-watering smell also. The tender quivering animal hid ahead somewhere. The trio stood silent, ears swiveling to find where the rabbit hid. Usually the scent would give away the position of whatever they were hunting, but the wind blew behind them making the scent hard to locate. At first, nothing stood out in the air, it whistled in the trees behind them and squirrels started up their chatter above oblivious of the danger frozen on the ground. Far off there was the boom of thunder and muffled of the pitter-patter of rain miles away. To the right bushes rustled for a minor moment, as if something had brushed past them. After a couple seconds of silence, Tala crouched. Her tense body facing the bush that still vibrated from the tap it had received. Leela did the same on the right as did Olive on the left. A smile crept onto Tala’s face despite of herself. This part of the hunt was agonizing and fine at the same time. Tala started flicking her tail back and forth so the others would know when to jump. One. A flick of her tail signaled that they must wait. Laughter fought a battle within Tala wanting to escape. Two. Tala tensed ever more until her muscles hurt. Three! The threesome pounced on their pray in perfected union, one that might rival the swiftest of wolves. Tala eyed see her prize, a white spotted hare lay unmoving under her its neck snapped at an unnatural angle. Crimson blood wet Tala’s claws tingeing them red where her pounce had punctured the skin of the cottontail. The sweet aroma of rabbit blood drifted up to Tala’s nostrils, in the next moment another hare’s scent hid under it. Four other snowshoes allayed, paralyzed to the north in this clearing. What luck! Thought Tala, a whole family!
Tala rolled in the mud, browning her body and fur. Laughter escaped her throat as the rain pelted the ground. Olive at first had been unsure whether to play; not liking her food to become wet just after death but soon followed Leela and Tala in their romping. Alpha would surely reward such a successful hunt with perhaps an honorary hunt with him, his mate and his Betas. Tala gasped with delight. He might even finally bring up her and her friends rank from Omega!
“Imaging that you guys,” both of the she-wolfs glanced up from their wrestling. “imagine if because of our luck of this family of snowshoes that we might not be part of a joke in the pack, we might become one of the hunters!” Olive and Leela continued their wrestling with barks of happiness that the catch would bring, and even though they were the omegas of the pack, and they possessed little to none respect from any of their fellow wolves they felt that the days would become better. The pouring rain fell even faster and the soaked group looked like a couple of darker southern territory wolves, what with all the mud coating their fur.
“Is this only all of what you have brought me?” the Alpha demanded, the mud coated adolescents who now looked down as if the ground would answer for them. “Winter is coming and this measly amount of food is it? And why are you covered in mud?”A whimper started to escape Olive but was quickly shushed by the other two in questioning. With a deep breath Tala spoke, her voice slightly quivering.
“We were celebrating our luck of a family of rabbits that we had found Alpha,” Tala forced herself to look Alpha in the eye, his bristling cream fur made him look even bigger and sterner than usual for it was the darkest in the pack. “We had lost track of time, and we are willing for the punishment you put on us.”
“I see,” Alpha nodded, punishment now would follow for he always said that before punishment “because of your carelessness of hunting and bringing in as much food as you can, for the coming winter. I decree you shall not eat until you each bring in a caribou, twenty hares, or fifty squirrels, each.” The omegas yelped in agony, Alpha had never served a punishment this severe, but the Seer had predicted a terrible winter this year.
Slowly everyone turned to leave; Alpha had told set his law for the three omegas. Lastly, Olive and Leela turned to leave, looking back at Tala once before sprinting off into the forest to bring in their required food before they starved to death, but Tala just stood still until the Great Rock was empty and the crowd in the clearing dispersed. When not one person was around, she finally stood her long white fur trailing after her. With a deep breath, she crept forward, her ears and eyes, and muzzle catching everything searching for any movement, any at all. However, there was none, not even the wind blew here. The clearing was sacred, it was hidden to all but wolves of the Kyan pack. Tala stood before the base of the rock, she started to walk, not just walk though she pranced up the hill.
I wonder what it would be like to be an alpha, she wondered as she looked over the forest. The view was great and serene, all was still and all seemed to be under her power like all she had to do was look at whomever would dare challenge her and they would just cower begging for forgiveness. As they sub missed below her she would give mercy and forget their sin again and just as before had happened unto her her.
“you are not supposed to be up there you know,” Tala snapped her head down to see who had caught her and hoping they would not give her away to alpha.
“I-I-I I uh I was just… Don’t tell Alpha!” sputtered Tala still trying to find who had spoken while dashing down off the rock. From behind a near tree came out Marrok. Tala could not help herself from rolling her eyes he was always watching her and messing with her head.
“Leave me alone Marrok,” she muttered
“Why were you up there in the first place?” Tala glared, hinting she wanted him to leave her alone. When he did not take the hint and kept following her nagging her about why she had been on the rock, and how much trouble she was in.
“Hey, hey, hey, hey,” Marrok was obviously enjoying this very much. Still, Tala said nothing. “Fine,” Marrok stopped, making Tala look up confused because he never gave up. “If you are not going to tell me why you were up there I just have to ask Alpha.” Marrok stood to leave and started to walk toward the meating place.
“Wait!” Tala called after him standing in alarm “please don’t tell I am already in trouble I-I will tell you,” Marrok turned practically grinning.
“Go do tell,” Tala took a deep breath and thought about what she were to say.
“When I am… I feel that when I am up there, all alone of course,” Tala added this because if Alpha found out he would surely execute her, as the rock was for Alphas only, punishment was death or banning for betas even, Tala did not want to think about what would happen if alpha or his mate found out. “Well I feel that I am invincible and like I am pure wolf and not something else. I feel I have stepped out of this furless skin. On the rock I feel as if I belong.”
Tala opened her eyes she had not even noticed she had been crying and in front of all wolves Marrok. She whispered a sorry and stood to leave.
“Wait!” Tala turned expecting disapproval, but when she looked up at Marrok there was no confusion nor disgust but sympathy and maybe even understanding? “You think you are not pure Wolf? You are the most wolfiest wolf that ever wolfed, sure you’re an omega I don’t care,” Tala smiled fresh tears filling her eyes. She walked back and sat with Marrok.
For a while, the two just sat there looking at each other, both trying to figure out the other. A full moon shun brightly into the clearing, as if a spotlight on the two. Far off they could hear the sounds of a party something. Whenever there was a full moon, everyone howled. This was to celebrate a good last moon and ask for a merciful next moon. Tala looked up and started to howl. Not like the wild ones of the party at the meating place, or the more formal ones from the higher wolves, but a long one full of hope and wishes. One wish in Particular, which she had howled for as long as she could remember was of being loved and feeling belonging. Reluctantly Marrok started up too but his was filled with his own wishes and hopes.
“Why were you not at the party?” Leela asked rolling in the dirt sashaying up dust.
“Yeah where were you?” Olive repeated to Tala who seemed not to be listening at all, but in fact was completely focused on drawing happy little circles in the dirt.
“Hello any one in there?” Leela joked, swatting at Tala’s head.
“Huh?!Huh?!” Tala all of a sudden was on top of Leela. Tala started laughing, as did Leela and Olive. “You scared me you scat-face!”
“We asked you a question you know,”
“And what would that be?” both Leela and Olive looked at each other smiling.
“Where had you been last night? You were not at the party,” both spoke at the same time, starting another laughing fit.
I stayed behind to be alone” Tala replied nonchalantly“no biggy.” Leela had already lost interest and was looking out for any wolves in case they were going to hurt them at any point. However, Olive knew something was up and demanded that Tala tell what had happened. Which Tala finally replied “Then Marrok came and we talked- though he black mailed me you know’” Tala now could not hide the smile that had spilled its way onto her face.
“What is so funny?” Olive asked suspiciously. She had not liked Marrok since they were pups for he always had picked her ears to pull, and her tail to bite. Yet when Tala said nothing and started to drift back out of reality she gasped, but Leela was still completely oblivious. “You did not-you do not think that you are mates?!”
“What no! I – um well perhaps I mean I did feel something click, but we con not be mates I Ugh! I am confusing myself!” Tala could not think straight could not even imagine what would happen next or for any matter ever she could not even comprehend her life at how it was at that very moment. Leela now very interested in what seemed to be a butterfly, whose wings were red and blue with spots of orange seemed to be dreaming of flying for she was chasing the poor bug trying to eat it as if that would make it so she could fly and be substantially happy for all eternity. After a while of playing with the helpless bug all three decided to go out hunting for the faster, they brought in food for the pack the better. Therefore, with spirits high and heads held higher the three Hungry wolves headed out to gain food and trust for themselves under the watchful eyes of Alpha