~ Chapter 2 ~
“Young ones,” Elder Naiven began, “you all know why we have brought you here. To battle, to fight, threaten and kill, for the highest rank possible in the Mieni Pack: Alpha. And when one of you becomes Alpha, your priorities will abruptly change. You must be aware of that. You will have to battle the Fire-bearers every autumn; challenge, fight and win over any rebels; provide food, water, shelter and safety for our Pack. Through thick and thin you will be there to guide us at any waking hour”. He attempted a smile of reassurance, but it turned to a grimace.
Verta’s eyes narrowed as he shot glares towards Alpha Hendrag and every other contestant. Hendrag gave a dismissive growl which baffled everyone in the clearing except Verta.
“You will be mighty Alpha Hendrag’s successor and the life, soul, hope and ultimate willpower, of us.” Elder Befgah rumbled with an unnatural grin.
“The contest will begin at zon onder.” Elder Laike stated, like a headmaster firmly telling the children about terribly important exams.
Everyone dispersed into smaller groups: Verta with Alpha Hendrag and the Elders, the two younger males with Zed and Grih who had just returned. The harsh breeze ruffled the wolves’ fur while Verta approached his two friends. If they would let him call them ‘friends’ anymore.
“Will you be competing?” Verta asked Grih, blatantly ignoring Zed. Grih’s muscles relaxed and his eyes returned to their usual ash instead of the furious black that they were when he had chased after Zed. He shivered at the thought of how angry Zed was with Verta, and probably vice versa. ‘Yeah I will, and I’ll wipe the floor with your butt!’ Grih thought with relish.
“No, of course not. You’d wipe the floor with me!” Grih plastered on a fake smile and spoke through his gritted fangs. ‘I’d like to rip you apart with these babies’ He thought whilst pointedly running his tongue along his teeth ‘and I wouldn’t hang about letting Zed join in!’
The evening wind picked up speed, leaves rustled in the trees and the whole Mieni sat in their main shelter; built from rocks, tree bark and branches a couple of metres above the battling grounds. In the dusk sunlight you could barely see the 10 or 15 brown, black and occasionally grey wolves or their electric blue, brown, yellow and black soulful eyes.
‘Ha! I’ve won!’ Verta thought triumphantly, ‘I’m gonna slit your neck, rip off your arms and shove them down your throat.’ Paws clamped onto one of the younger males’ chest, Logan, Verta growled and thrust his jaws forward to collapse around Logan’s neck. But not before Logan had rolled over and thrown Verta into a nearby tree stump. Bravely, Verta regained enough strength to stand and attempt to beat Logan once again. Verta felt something wet and warm trickling down his jawline. Logan’s eyes clouded over and he began to back away from Verta.
“Y-You’re b-bleeding?!” Logan stuttered in almost a whisper. He stood paralyzed and just stared at the red liquid escaping from a wound behind Verta’s ear.
“Of course I’m ruddy bleeding you nearly ripped my ear off when you threw me at that tree…” Spat the bloody-faced wolf, gearing himself up to pounce on the, somewhat freaked out, Logan.
“I’m s-so sorry... Stop the fight!” Logan whimpered.
“No! Carry on! What’s wrong with you? You aren’t even bruised?” Verta roared.
The moment had come and Verta was too frustrated and annoyed with Logan’s cowardice. Logan looked up just in time to see the large black furred beast leap towards him.