Published: August 31, 2016
ATHENA & RAPHAEL
It was a bright day, good weather for a hunt, and Athena had decided now was an appropriate time for Teva to hone her skills. Her daughter was, as usual, unhappy with the arrangements. But Athena felt confident in Vasilis’s ability to manage the young she-wolf’s headstrong nature, and thought it might do Teva some good to learn from another packmate.
Raphael was present as well, though only an observer. He seemed eager for the opportunity, though Athena had to fight back her own personal reservations about it. Her son was still weak, unfit to hunt, and she did not want him getting ahead of himself. Cricket was already pressing his boundaries, and if he get hurt… she didn’t even want to think of it.
Teva stared ahead at the herd of bison. It was a pathetically small herd - just seven or so individuals. Really, it would have been no problem to take on by herself but her mother insisted that the gross old, scarred wolf Vasilis ‘teach’ her. The black wolf couldn’t help but roll her icy eyes as she remembered her mother’s words. Honestly, why didn’t the Lady of Aryn just teach her own daughter?
Perhaps Teva could have lived with the arrangements - albeit begrudgingly - if it weren’t also for the fact that Raphael was watching. Raphael. As in her sickly, coddled brother who got to skip out on the last hunt and now got to watch her hunt. Something about the entire thing got under her skin but she kept the disgusted look on her face in control for the most part. The alpha pup had been trying her hardest to live by her father’s words but she still found it hard to believe that someone like Vasilis had anything worth knowing to share with her. If not for her deep desire to lead Aryn one day to fulfill the role for her she might have outright refused this entire training session.
With an exaggerated sigh, Teva began to descend the hill she’d been perched on with her ‘partner’ and head toward the bison at a steady speed. There was really no cover for her here, not even in the tall grass thanks to her dark pelt. She didn’t mind though. The young adult was more of a charge in and worry about the rest later type of hunter.
Teva realized part way down that her wanna-be mentor wasn’t following. She paused her trot for a moment to look back with an icy glare. “Come on.” The words were curt and dripping with impatience as she turned her back on him to continue on her path.
His gaze swept the vast view before them, lingering on the casually milling bison herd far below before turning to the young night pelted female next to him when she uttered an audible sigh. His face did not alter from its flat look other than a raising of his brows as she started forward without a single word to him. Hmm. One small scarred ear flicked as he again looked at the herd and lifted his nose to the air to make a quick assessment of the wind direction. There was very little in terms of even a breeze, but what did subtly flow about was coming from their side. Not as good as fully downwind, but it would help.
Teva’s sharp words caused his gaze to snap to her and a light frown creased his forehead before he picked up his pace to follow the impatient youngster. His long legs easily carried him back to her side, and upon arriving Vas lowered his head to speak softly to the Alpha pup.
“Teva, don’t let your impatience overcome you.” he chided gently, “We need to move around so we are situated fully downwind..” his words were spoken softly but rapidly, so he could attempt to get her to shift position before running up too far onto the herd.
Teva’s blue gaze looked off away from Vasilis as he spoke to her. She wasn’t interested in being scolded by some low ranked wolf - well, low ranked to her. Still, the young she wolf knew that her mother was watching so she couldn’t quite act the way she would have liked to.
It was only when Vasilis spoke of the wind that she turned her face to him. “What wind?” Teva almost seemed to spit but as if the spurn her, a breeze ruffled her fur. With a groan, she moved downwind from the bison as Vasilis had said. Her eyes never left her prey as she trotted to a point she felt was ‘good enough’.
It was once Teva came to a stop that she returned her gaze to Vasilis. “Now?” She seemed to fidget impatiently now.
As they settled into a crouched position, the older wolf took a moment to study the herd.
“There’s an older cow near the outskirts to the right..that’s our target.” he shifted his eyes back to the impatient Teva, his visage turning stern, “Remember, stay alert to your surroundings. They have been known to defend one another at times. Yes, now.”
He only hoped she would remember the reminders spoken by Chakara, and would listen to him as well.
“Older cow…?” Teva seemed to mumble as her eyes searched for what the old wolf spoke of until she found it. It was standing just a bit further out from the rest and seemed a bit more gaunt than the others. Just some pathetic weak prey on its last legs. She couldn’t help but think that her thoughts earlier were right - she could have handled this on her own.
“Yeah, yeah.” Teva dismissed Vasilis’s cautions as her mind locked onto the idea of taking this prey down on her own. She could see Lazarus’s face now. He may not believe her at first but there would be three witnesses. He certainly couldn’t deny their mother’s testimony at the very least.
The dark pelted she wolf began a steady pace toward the old cow, progressively moving faster and faster until she was in a full sprint. Her tongue lolled out of the side of her mouth as she smirked - confident this would be a quick kill. However, before she could reach the bison it saw her. The big animal’s eyes widened and it bellowed loudly to the others. Before she knew it, a stamped had begun but the cow couldn’t keep up with the rest of the herd.
If she could take down this bison, she could take care of Aryn as a Lady just fine. The pack would be safe with her and well fed even if she had to hunt alone. Spurred by adrenaline, Teva pushed her legs harder to widen the sprint and gain more speed so that she ran beside the large beast. The nimble she wolf easily dodged the animal’s horns as it swung its head lazily at her.
Teva pushed herself so hard that she ran ahead of the beast, looking back at it from the corner of her eye. Certain she had the space to do it, the alpha pup turned her side to the cow with teeth bared. She kept a sideways gait but she couldn’t keep the speed she’d had in her sprint. She wasn’t worried though. Surely the cow would stop, right?
The previously weak looking cow seemed to change before her eyes, its charge more confident and eyes more fierce.
It wasn’t stopping. Instead, the cow lowered her head to deliver a lethal blow to the young she wolf.
The duo took off together, but in only a few strides Teva dashed ahead and Vas’s ears snapped up.
“Teva!” he growled, trying to catch her attention without further startling the already stampeding beasts. The dark brown male dodged past thundering bison hooves and lowered his head, picking up speed to race nearer to Teva as she began to run into the worst possible place..the very path of the old cow. His jaws parted, muscles screaming as he pushed himself even harder, kicking up dirt and dust as the old scarred male bolted out of the scattering stampede and rushed upon the scene just as the cow lowered her head.
“No!” he snarled, as if he were aggressively chastising a naughty pup, while he lunged forward and shoved his head against Teva. The following moments were a blur as his paws left the ground, the world around him tumbling as he went flying as a pained squeal ripped through the air, one that he didn’t even register as his own. The breath was stolen from Vasilis’ lungs as he hit the ground, the force of impact sending up a translucent veil of dust and through this dust the male caught a glimpse of a large hoof falling downward over his head before the world went black.
Something hard slammed into Teva’s rib cage - she wasn’t sure whether it was the bison or something else but she could have sworn she’d heard Vasilis shout before the collision - and knocked the wind from her lungs. There wasn’t time for a reaction before her world was tumbling. The horizon line spun dizzyingly around her and she could not longer tell what was up or down. She yelped as something heavy seemed to step on her side and then leg but the sound reached no ears amidst the loud thundering of bison hooves. Finally the ground felt solid beneath her again but when she opened her eyes the world still spun. Squeezing them shut she tried to sit up but immediately fell over again - her body seemingly still confused by the event.
Teva sucked in a breath and attempted to open her eyes again a few moments later. The world still seemed to sway but it no longer affected her ability to see what was around her. The bison were gone - somewhere off in the distance in a cloud of dust - and now the field was silent.
Her pride hurt at the failure but not as much as her body did at having been trampled. The she wolf’s eyes sought Vasilis, half expecting him to be returning with news about how he took down the bison for her since she had messed up so severely but no wolf ran toward her. Finally she looked to her right. She could see Vasilis laying on the ground.
A lump formed in her throat but she forced herself to stand up and limp over to his form. She could not steel herself to what she saw.
It seemed to drench the ground all around him - the earth hungrily soaking it up. A gash in his side spoke of the horns of the ‘weak’ cow but the true horror was Vasilis’s head. Perhaps if it had just been the gash she could have believed he was alive but there was no denying the old wolf was gone because of her.
Teva fell back on her hindquarters - her legs so numb the seemed to not exist but her eyes remained frozen open and locked on Vasilis. Her maw parted slightly as though a scream wanted to escape but no sound left her throat.
Teva, the future Lady of Aryn, had killed a packmate.
She’d watched it unfold, a waking terror the Lady of Aryn was powerless to prevent. Teva had charged ahead, aiming to cut the bison off as though it were some newborn fawn, and not a hundred-stone bulwark armed with hooves and horns. She was slowing down! She was going to get herself k-
“NO!” Athena wailed, losing sight of her daughter and Vasilis as the herd charged past, kicking up heavy clouds of dust. The alpha bolted from the lookout, ears pinned and eyes wide with terror. No Teva, not Teva!
Rising panic overwhelmed the Lady’s senses, burning her paws and blinding her to her surroundings. As if she could possibly reach them in time. Not my daughter! Athena crossed the smoke-line, and the silhouettes came into view. A dizzying wave of relief struck her as she found Teva, alive. “TEVA!” The mother rushed into her daughter, nuzzling her cheeks and embracing the young wolf tightly, needing the assurance of touch to be sure that her young heiress was unharmed.
He froze as what should have been a simple hunt, his first opportunity to convince Mother to allow him to learn the basics, turning into something more akin to a nightmare. Teva and Vasilis vanished in a flurry of hooves and dust, and before Raph could really understand what was happening, Athena was rushing across the field at a pace he had not previously believed possible.
Understanding only that something had gone wrong, Raph followed behind, bristling at the fear in the air and another, sharper tang that he soon recognized as blood. As the Lady saw to his sister, Raph hesitated. Where was Vasilis? Was he that... crumpled heap on the ground?
Cricket looked between his family and the still form beside them. Vasilis… his face… it was… There was so much blood… The young wolf suddenly felt sick.
“M-mom...” Raph croaked. “Mo-om he’s…”
The sudden formation of a silhouette in her peripheral made Teva tense up and look in terror at what could possibly be coming at her. Was it the bison? Had the herd turned around? She stumbled to her paws but immediately fell back into a sitting position - her legs refusing to cooperate. The young she wolf wanted nothing more than to run.
Her fur bristled - making her look much bigger than she truly was - save for a few places slicked down by blood as the form came even closer at an incredible speed. Teva had yet to recognize who it was until her mother was embracing her. A part of her wanted to hide in her embrace like a newborn pup but another part was so drenched with shame she wanted to shove her mother away and disappear into lands unknown to Aryn. She did neither. Instead, sat frozen, stiff to her mother’s touch with her eyes fixated on Vasilis again.
Teva hadn’t seen him approach but when Raphael began to speak she didn’t jump. His words echoed loudly in her head making her heart pound. Somehow hearing the horror from another wolf made it all the worse and more real.
Her voice seemed to return as distressed whines began to emanate from her as she crumped to the ground. Teva couldn’t handle it - the sight, the smell. The young wolf tried to close her eyes to the horror but instead the image behind her eyelids seemed even more vivid than the real one before her and it made her cry out.
“He’s dead! He’s dead!” Teva wailed with tears flowing freely, all confidence gone - lost in the sea of horror around her. The she wolf opened her eyes, staring at Vasilis’s lifeless form and mumbled, “I killed him.”
ATHENA & RAPHAEL
Raphael’s whimper stirred Athena out of her preoccupation with Teva. And then suddenly her daughter was screaming, and the Lady turned to find that no, they had not escaped the horrors she’d feared.
Athena’s brows furrowed, expression grave as she stepped toward the broken form of the Courser. He was dead. It could not be in question. A buzz in Athena’s ear threatened to drown out the Lady’s surroundings once more, her earlier relief evaporated in an instant. Athena glanced back at her children, their horror stirring her to push her own despair aside.
“Raphael. Find the Rah’at, and bring them here, now.” She did not want him here, idle and afraid. He needed direction, and Athena’s first concern must be Teva. Cricket stared with wide, glassy eyes and then turned and fled unsteadily back towards the densite.
“Teva… Teva look at me.” Her mother entreated, stepping between the girl and the body. Her heart clenched painfully. This shouldn’t have happened. None of this should have happened. What had she been thinking? Sending Teva with only a single Courser to supervise the hunt! She knew how reckless her daughter could be! This is my fault…
She hadn’t noticed or heard Raphael leave. The next thing Teva was aware of was her mother’s face blocking her view of Vasilis. She obeyed, looking at her mother but rather than feeling safe she only felt afraid. Afraid of the consequences, afraid of the mangled body lying behind her mother and afraid of the images burned in her head. A hard lump formed in her throat, eyes welling up with tears again.
“I’m sorry.” It was a whisper at first but her voice grew thick with regret, shame and sorrow. “I’m sorry.” The phrase kept repeating in her head over and over again but no words could right this wrong. Teva tucked her tail beneath her, ears flat against her head as she stared at her mother. “I’m sorry.”
“I just..” Her breathing quickened as the events played in her head. “I just wanted..” Teva averted her gaze to stare at a hoof print in the dirt. Did it matter why anymore? The reason for Teva’s actions had little effect on the events that would play out after this.
Would she be banished by her own parents?