Chapter 1 - Exhilaration (Part 3)Mature

Two brown and white wolves lingered around a dead thorn tree in the center of camp; a male and female.  The female was more chocolaty brown with gray fringes at her forelegs and stomach.  Ivory.  I can’t say I liked her very much.  She was too timid, too weak when it came to physical force, and too….prissy.  Although, I loved her name; it’s the sort of name that bides terror, sends a quivering sheet of ice crashing around you.  She didn’t deserve it.  She should be named Daisy; she acted like one of those revolting flowers.  Always strutting about like she does…. Anyhow, at this particular moment, Ivory was portraying her usual self. She had a gentle slim figure, dainty paws, and a lithe, bouncy build.

            The other wolf was her brother.  He was just as small as she, but his fur was never sleek and shiny.  He was a dull light brown on the back and legs, but had a pure white head, belly, and part of his tail.  His name was Trout.  Trout was the pack jokester.  He found almost everything funny; and always goofed around.  His sister was the only reason he probably still had his own hide.  But, I got to admit, he was pretty amusing.  He was also a brilliant fighter.  He was maybe the best in the pack, besides Silhouette and I.

            Trout swatted at dead leaf, acting like a pup as he often does.  Ivory just looked on, probably waiting for us to return so she can become an official warrior.  I growled into the wind, but it was only carried back behind me into the receding forest.  I stripped my lethal glare away to analyze the rest of the camp.  A bramble bush that had been stuffed with ferns and twigs rattled.  In the back of the bush was a tunnel that leads underground into a hollowed out cave.  This was the nursery, where the Pup Mothers, Pups, and Mother Wolf slept.

            The Mother Wolf was a retired she-wolf that has had pups before. She helps the new mothers in giving birth, and raising the young wolves. In the Nursery Cave, there were several holes. One was a tunnel that leads into camp, and one that lead deeper under ground to a shallow puddle.  There was also a smaller hole that provided light and acted as vents for the steamy hot air, or frigid cold air so it was never musty inside. When it rained, little droplets of water ran to the little pool, but the mothers and pups stayed dry.  The tunnel with the puddle was also a lot lower, so the main cave never flooded.

            Maple, a grayish brown she-wolf, stepped out of the bush.  Trailing her was Heather, her all gray apprentice.  Why would the Healer and Healer apprentice be in the nursery area?  Confusion struck me, until I realized what I had missed earlier.  Of course!  Flicker was expecting Chaos’s pups.  She might have birthed while we were gone.  I snorted. What self-respecting female would ever want to have pups?  She had no right, after all.  They are not the Alpha’s pups, nor the beta’s pups, and my mother is most likely going to kill them.  This is not prime pup season.  I, personally, would never put myself in a position like that.  All it is another, worthless weakness.  But this could wait, I’d let my adoring mother deal with it later.  I trekked my way down into the camp, my paws dragging up stifling clouds of dust and dirt.

            I trotted to the center of camp.  I stopped in front of Ivory and gave her a cool look.  Trout stopped playing with the leaf and stood up straight beside his sister, looking over her shoulder at me protectively.  “Hello Ivory, it appears you made t back alive.” My voice was slicing the air, and I saw her flinch slightly.  I smirked at her and began to circle the siblings. “Pity,” I said, putting on a bored tone, “I’m sure a crow would have had a decent meal off the two of you.”

            Ivory ignored me, but her brother wasn’t so smart.  He turned around, abandoning the leaf and growled a warning at me.  Like he would actually attack me!  There was no chance of that, the sniveling wimp would more likely make it as an underdog, hiding his snout from where it doesn’t belong.

            I feigned a smiled and swiped my paw at Trout’s muzzle.  I could tell this was going to be fun.  Trout yelped and shook his head, clearing it of the dazedness.  He whined and bent on his forelegs in submission to me.  I snorted at his cowardliness.  Ivory glared at me and spoke flatly, “Agony, we have returned from our mission successfully.  Now we should be accepted as full warriors.  What are you trying to accomplish by taunting us?”

            I narrowed my eyes at her.  Her cool tone seemed like a challenge of wills, and she knew not what trouble that was.  Anger buzzed in my thoughts, along with a heavy stream of curses that I wanted to drown her in.  I stopped my circling behind Ivory.  Trout whimpered at this movement, he lifted his head slightly and I growled at him.  He quickly ducked again. He needs to fear me, I am his better.  “Ivory,” I said, “you are to be accepted into the pack after accomplishing your mission.  That doesn’t make you a warrior within us.” It was her turn to be angry, I could see I had hit a nerve as she spun around, suddenly abandoning her attempt to stay cool.  She snarled at me and took a step closer, baring her teeth.

            Trout began to back up into the crowd that had gathered.  I quickly picked out Silhouette spitting at Ivory, Fear (a teen about a moon younger than Ivory) enjoying himself, Night (a white female warrior who was also a friend of mine) pawing the ground in anticipation of this turning into a teeth-and-claw fight, Blood (A black male wolf with russet-colored ears), and a few other wolves that mingled out of my vision.  The wind blew around us, rain promised on its winds.

            Ivory made a hissing-like sound through her teeth and grudgingly muttered, “What is it that you want today Agony?” Her tone was snappish and agitated.  I smiled at her, fancying my teeth meeting her pretty little coat, ripping the pelt off of her back.

            “I believe that it is custom for us to celebrate with a feast tonight. Silhouette,” his ears pricked when I said his name, “and I were so kind to gather an exact feast on our trip.  I believe that you and your brother should go gather it.  After all, it is in your honor, so shouldn’t you show that you’re dedicated to the pack enough to gather it for us?” I barked at her and murmurs rose around the semicircle.

            Ivory snorted, her eyes blazing with fury and bloodlust as her tail lashed in the dirt.  She was probably imagining attacking me.  I smiled at her, just daring her to make a move.  More than half the wolves around us would support me, and besides, I was the best fighter in the pack.  She would be dead at my paws before she could have even sprung at me.  Of course she knew this, that’s probably why she held back.  She doesn’t even know how clever she was.  “What!?” she yelled, “It’s your catch!  And besides, we’ve already proven ourselves.”

            “You’ve done what was required of you, nothing more.  Besides, how dare you speak to your better that way.  I should give you the punishment you deserve right here, right now!  Welcome t the pack Ivory, let’s find you a place.”  I flicked my tail and laughter rose up behind me. This was just too great.  Ivory was shaking with fury, and many wolves taunted her from the sidelines.  She growled at me, and I answered her with a sound that crept under my fur and was likely to singe any untamed spirit.  Ivory was about to be dominated.

            “My better!?” her voice was shrill, “Is that what you think you are!? We are equals.  You, Agony, are not the alpha, you are not my better, and you will not do this to me.”  She howled straight in my face, blinded by her rage and she leaped.  I laughed and sprang.

            We met in a clash of claws, a frenzy of howls, yelps, flying fur, and spilling blood.  I crashed into her, and using my strength, slammed her into the hard packed earth.  She whimpered and I slashed my claws across her flank, ignoring her exposed stomach.  I could have easily killed her, but that was not my goal…Yet.  I was showing my dominance, and proving to the world that I was not a coward.  I. Was. Agony.

            I was on top of her, blocking all escapes and pinning her down. Adrenaline coursed through my veins and foam frothed at my mouth.  She struggled under my grip and nipped at my forelegs.  One of her frantically flailing claws snagged my tail.  I howled in pain, and then shot a dirty look at her.  She caught my gaze and froze.  She relaxed and whined beneath me, trying to huddle in a ball.  Just like a pup.  I bent forward and gripped her ear in my jaws.  I clamped my jaws down and she cried out.

            Blood seeped into my mouth.  I let go of her ear.  I was bloody, raw and a bit was missing from it.  This was my mark.  was her better; I had one this fight of honor.  And out of pure mercy let her live.  I never should have, it will haunt me forever, straight to my grave and beyond.  I got off of her and shook my fur.  Dirt, blood, spit, and twigs fell out of it.  I promptly sat on my haunches and began to clean my tail wound, closely watching Ivory get up.

            It took a few minutes, but Ivory finally turned to look me in the eyes again.  Hatred brewed in their glossy depths.  I smirked.  “Well then,” I said, looking up at the sky, “It’s about to rain.  You better hurry up and gather that prey so we can celebrate your ‘acceptance’ tonight.”  She glared at me, and then spun around.  She lifted her tail and head proudly, bearing her scars like she had won.  I snorted in disgust at her.  Trout bounded over to his sister and angrily began to whisper to her.  He said something as they walked out of the camp entrance side by side, and she just shook her head and ran ahead of him.  He sighed and followed, picking up his pace.

            I watched them momentarily, the turned around to face my crowd. Silhouette was the first one to reach me.  He was laughing and shaking his head.  “Dammit Agony, give her a break every once and a while.”  His tail wagged, and suddenly he was replaced with Fear.

            “Good fight Agony!  I bet Ivory never saw it coming.  Well, then again, how couldn’t she?   Your, like, a legend when it comes to fighting! She should have known better than to--ow!  Dream! I was talking to….”  A teen named Dream was facing me now.  She was all white with black ears.  Ivory was her elder sister.  She snorted and spat at me.

            “That was hardly fair.” The white wolf said, her blue eyes reflecting the blood around my muzzle.  “You completely provoked that fight; there was no way she could have won it.  She was too angry!”  Suddenly, she yelped and began to back away from me.  Night had stepped up beside me and was harshly scolding the young teen.  Her ears flattened and her tail curled up between her legs and Dream raced away from us.  You better watch that one, said my voice.

            I was feeling smug, so I turned away from everyone and began to pad to the thicket that marked the warrior’s den.  I trotted up to the entrance confidentially, but was stopped in my tracks.  “AGONY!”  The howl rose up in the camp.  I could hear crows cawing and fluttering with fright in the distance.  Slowly I turned to face my pursuer. The male wolf glared at me from beneath the high rock, his white fur hidden under a shadowy veil of mud and dirt.  Hatred boiled under my skin and crawled around my mind to pit a sick feeling in my gut.  I lifted my head proud and sneered.

            “Focus.”

The End

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