At the foothold of the Eastern Mountains there had laid the dwellings of the Clearshadow pack. Many caves and fallen trees provided suitable shelter for many of the animals but such abundances gathered many of a kind to make society, cities one might say. Primitive though they seemed, animals still some had skill and skill to even build and furnish homes from the fallen trees or whatever the land provided.
Few wolves stayed behind compared to those that went out to battle. They had either been cubs, pregnant, or just ordered to guard the dwellings to merely wait for the pack's return overnight. Young pups snuggled in the dens while the elders worryingly stayed awake and waited for a sign. After a long period of time the sign had finally come. In the distance one of the lookouts in the front hill heard a faint howl. Others heard this but still the first one that heard had alerted the others with a howl of his own spreading throughout the pack. The pack had returned victorious.
A white pelted wolf named Veridia had resided in her den for the night. It became hard to sleep knowing the battle going on, and worrying for Camien. Sleep eventually came over her and slowly arrived without her knowing. She slept of the future to come. The pack, Camien, herself, their cubs. She could see four of their furry faces playing around the celestial dreamscape. She and Camien laid by each other side by side and watched them.
The cubs began to grow and become larger aging to adults. They same happened back to her as their coats grayed and bones weakened. The dreamscapes formed more wolves alongside her cubs' sides, some favored more than others. One especially became more meek than his other siblings.
She became so fixated on the cubs that when she looked back to her mate, he was gone. She got up on her paws and desperately searched. A howl answered in her ears as she gazed up to what she now saw as the night sky. The moon had Camien's face embedded in it as he and many unseen voices howled. Her vision became blurred and her body weak as she slumped down aging to an old cur.
The cubs walked away and started to fade away. "Get up?" she heard.
Veridia roused from her sleep with the nudge of a snout. "Wake up." She heard the voice again. Her eyes snapped open and quickly got to her feet from the dream. "Are you okay?" She saw the wolf in the torchlight of the den. It was only her friend, a bright brown wolf named Juliet.
"Just a dream." she grumbled. Her head pounded from the sudden awakening still being night and barely sleeping at all. "Juliet, what is it?"
"The fighters returned! They've won!" Veridia perked up to the news. She immediately galloped to the entrance but the sharp pains in her side stopped her in her tracks. "Slow down! You'll hurt the cubs."
"Right. Sorry I.... I just wanted to see Camien."
"Don't worry I'm sure he's fine. Just take it slowly."
They both walked out to see their fellow pack members young and old gathering along the path. It led narrowly from the mountain ledge making trafficking such as this difficult, but became wider as the slope became less steep. There where more dens and homes to be found further down the mountain. Only the strong, noble, or spirited can live further up. Veridia was of course of these traits. Well known among the pack for her compassion and successful hunting. She of course also courted with the alpha's son giving making her status in the pack higher than some females.
Down and down the winding path they went until they reached the base of the great bonfire. Lit for this victory by the fire makers. Wolves whose specialty in the pack was to make fire and in return receive their share from the hunts. The fire this night stood tall to symbolize the triumph over foes, and many of the wolves below pranced and ran around the fire celebrating as the first of the fighting force returned to the pack. They barked, howled, and bantered upon return and joined to their awaiting mates and cubs.
"You see them?" Juliet hopped up and down above the crowds trying to get a good look. Veridia on the other hand Simply nudged her way up to the front.
"No." Veridia grunted making her way through the crowd. "It's hard to smell them with everyone around.
Before they knew it the first of the force returned celebrating at the bonfire. Finally Veridia and Juliet had space to walk and to their surprise many wolves still remained waiting. They kept their gaze to the distance to await their pack's homecoming. Fewer wolves came now, some carrying bodies, and from what could be seen far to the path, the rest of the force would be carrying dead.
They came few at a time. Some wept and mourned their deceased and other embraced those who were thankfully still alive. Still Veridia couldn't find Camien or his father yet. She let out a whimper for each minute that passed by. Seeing more and more wolves dead or alive coming back.
A familiar scent came to her nose that caused her to circle with glee. Another one too. No doubt in her mind told her that was Camien and Azerfere. "Juliet! You see them?" She couldn't contain herself she felt so relieved to know he was well and fine, but why was he at the end of the trail? Why is he and his dad so far behind? She knew from fighting herself how bad things can really get, but being in the the end like that is never a good sign. "Juliet? Can you see them?"
The the great bonfire was well within sight where they were, along with many smaller fire along the mountain. Each step started to strain Azerfere's wounds, which caused him and Camien to stop many times along the way home to recover. He refused help from anyone else other than Camien, letting his Liden be carried by them and them alone.
"Let's stop again," Camien felt concerned for his father. He'd never seen him pushed quite like this before. "we'll stop one more time, then take the rest of the way." the words of encouragement he provide throughout the trip however were not to encourage him to go faster, but to slow down. The more they walked the more Azerfere bled and weakened; Camien knew though he wouldn't stop tip Liden returned with him.
"Arhg! Fine." He collapsed down on the snow and began to count '1, 2, 3 ,4.....' he wished to take no time resting now with what he could call home within his sight.
Camien also set his mother's corpse to the snow and took a moment to behold the eastern mountains of the Clearshadows. Wide, Smooth, appeared endless from what he saw, but knew well it ends 20 miles to the south and about 18 to the north.
'16, 17, 18........'
He could smell quite the feast going on at the great bonfire. Of roasted hares, birds, mice, and as appetizing as it was he cared less for it (though he had the hunger for it). He could only think of Veridia waiting. He scanned and search for her until he caught her scent.
'28, 29, 30'
"Let's go." Azerfere got straight to his legs again and ready to continue.
"Good. Then we won't stop again." Azerfere chuckled.
So they did continue without further stops and Camien only anticipated Veridia's warm welcome. Well within sight Veridia saw them and darted straight up to them. "Go for her pup." the aging wolf teased him as Camien decided that his father can make it from here, and went to her. The both collided into each other exchanging licks and nuzzles.
"Easy," Veridia calmed first "I can't do much like this" she referred to her impregnated state, but only encouraged him to continue his advances. "Hey! What did I just say?"
"Sorry I just needed that is all."
"What happened to your father and where's your mother?" Camien's ear drooped to that word, "mother". It took a minute, but She realized what she just said immediately felt like a rotten log for asking. "I'm sorry."
"You don't have to, but dad is taking it the worst." they looked over to Azerfere finding him dragging Liden back on his own and getting ever closer to the two.
"You look terrible," she took notice to his battle scars and wounds "why don't you go ahead to the bonfire."
"Why won't except anyone else's help. Also your pregnant."
"A little lifting won't hurt. I'll be able to convince him." She brush her coat against his dark grey, and brush her tail to his nose before going to Azerfere. He look over a while watching them talk to each other. From what he saw she made no progress getting to him, yet by some miracle he stopped and let Veridia help carry Liden.
"She's quite the convincing wolf." He felt relieved walking to the bonfire and helped himself to a cooked hare.
'No wonder I fell for her so fast.'