For a while the woods were at rest. The fight between two species, ones of pure malice towards each other had left the forest litters with their masses and soaked in their mixed blood.
All that stirred within this forest of death were the scampering of wolves sorting out the bodies of their dead. They dragged them in their mouths, lining them up behind the hill where their own territory lie.
As quickly as the silence started a howl whistled through the air across the the trees on the hilltop. Several more of the wolves joined in giving their own cries of victory. Cries of sorrow for their pack members that died in the fight against hundreds of cougars.
Up on the hilltop gazed the wolf prompting the victorious howl. His scraggy winter was gray all over with white strand amplifying his age. It was obvious he too had partaken in this bloody fight. His mouth stained with cougar blood and scars covered the rest of his body. He was a true survivor of nature staring death countless times and grazing away from it’s foul maw. Through the seasons and years he has seen his own die. Each time it became even harder to bear witness each of his own slaughtered and wished to join them eternally; only that the curse of his natural instincts kept him living through each ordeal.
Some wolves mournfully walked up to him with tails between their legs. One wolf walked up to him. Limping from a possible broken bone.
“Azerfere, my leader, are you okay?” She advanced closer to him only being stopped by the sudden gaze of her leader’s blue eyes. They were as the color of the night sky lit by the moon. "Yes, I’m fine for now.” his pack members at some ease, but still acted as a pup who had stuck food from the pile. “Where are the cougars now?”
“Our pack is driving them far from the hills as we speak.” a brown young wolf stepped forward to speak.
“And our deaths?”
“In the hundreds. At least 300 dead.” Azerfere turned away and looked back at the ground. “Liden?” he looked back with in his eyes filled with concern; realizing his mate also fights for the pack. The injured wolves just stood in silence refusing to give answer. Not like an an answer was needed.
“Take me to her.”
Azerfere and the other wolves sprinted out to were the dead were being dragged off to. He was being lead by the other wolves, but couldn’t help running ahead from them. A wolf his age and condition could nearly be on the verge of death exhausting himself like this. The pain of his torn skin and broken bones didn’t bother him as he ran.
He passed his fellow pack mates; looking through them as he did.
‘Where is she?’ his heart pumped faster the more bodies he passed, but none were Liden. Finally Azerfere caught his eye up ahead on a familiar face. It was his son Camien, who also spotted him and bolted towards his birth father.
“Camien.” he never heard his father so urgent, but he could only expect as much right now ”Son, have you seen your mother?”
“I-“ Camien choked up on his grief couldn’t bear to tell his father directly. “I was sent to find you. I’ll take you to her.” He whined like a pup as led his father through the trees. Some wolves stopped their duty carrying the dead of their own curiosity. It didn’t take long for Camien to stop running when they reached a wolf dragging a body. His immediate reaction when he heard the footsteps coming was to stop and see who it was. His ears drooped and his tail curled between his legs when he found it was his Alpha.
“T-there was n-nothing we could-“ Azerefere just walked past him completely ignoring his existence. To him right now, there was just him, Liden, and the trees around them. His heart sunk lower and it’s beats grew louder to his ears the closer he came to Liden’s body. Claw marks covered the majority of her body and a huge bite marks surrounded her neck. Her once lush gray fur became mangled and bloodstained, compared to his own at the moment. Her face remained the the least torn up to Azerfere’s comfort. He nuzzled his own against it and long awaited tears came down releasing all the grief of his miserable and prolonged existence.
Before their matehood they knew each other cubs. They endured hardships together and Liden was always was an embodiment of solace to him. She kept him going as an leader, as an wolf, as a survivor. Now more than ever Azerfere wanted to give up on himself lay there and die. Pass on. Leave the pack.
First it seemed like he would go through with it. He was already laying down. His wounds now started beginning to burn like fires on his skin.
“Father?” Azerfere’s ears perked at the noise. He could only recognize it as his son. The pack started running through his mind now. So far he led them without problem, they listened to him, they looked up to him more than any other wolf. ‘What would happen to them,’ went through his mind. He earned his keep among the pack. No one would be as skilled or capable leader in his eyes. Not even his own cubs. At least not yet he guessed.
‘Camien isn’t as strong as the other wolves. He’d be rejected the chance.’ his own subconscious fought against him again. Like always it wanted him to live.
‘It’s my time. I want to stop.’
‘I’ve never given up you’ve been in worse conditions than this. Get up and live!’
‘It’s different this time. She’s gone. I have to go with her.’
‘She’ll never leave you fool! The spirits of the fallen are in the moon every night. Suck it up! What would she say if she knew you died like this? The great Azerfere, the very meaning of survival dying of love sickness!’
Azerfere’s confidence in himself rose back up. The pain started going away. ‘I will fight for my very life even if death itself comes to hunt me!’
Camien could only watch as his father sat there by his birth mother. Everyone around him was completely silent watching the display.
‘He doesn’t look good.’ as a cub he’d heard and seen his father survive thing many wolves could never live through. Now it seemed it could be it for him. His old heart could take this kind of pain. Hope for him was regained however, seeing his father rise up as confident as he usually was. The old wolf limped to Camien and looked into his eyes once again. He always saw the same color each time but his mother told him that you can always read the true emotions of another. Here he saw a proud leader hiding emotions of deep regret and sorrow through his body language of bold pride. His eyes though still welled with more tears he wished to shed holding back all of his remorse and anguish, to reassure all was well.
“Camien,” Azerfere spoke “I’m afraid I’m in no condition to carry your mother back alone. Will you help me?” Camien voluntarily went over to his mother waiting for Azerfere to come over not before turning back to the audience that had been attracted. “Go back to the camp! The fallen will not forgive us if they not reach the moon by dawn!”
The crowd disperse and continue the task of rounding the dead and returning to camp. Azerfere returned back to Liden where their son waited, carefully holding one end of her body with his mouth. Azerfere then picked up the scruff of her neck and they both began the trek back home as the woods soon became silent once again.