Published: November 24, 2016
Gentle rays beamed down from the sky to cast a golden glow on the lands of Aryn. Autumn seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye. Even the unusual warmth of the day couldn’t hide the fact winter would soon be upon them. For the meantime, most of the wolves within the pack greedily enjoyed the day.
Within the Vicar’s den, a lone wolf laid sprawled on the ground, enjoying the cool sensation on his stomach. Small particles of soil danced in the sunlight as he exhaled loudly with a bored sigh. An odd mixture of herbs blended with the dark colors of his pelt. Wounds from a fight with a loner had been tended to by Aryn’s best and brightest. Luckily, all the cuts were merely flesh wounds, yet the one of his neck was particularly stubborn in healing. The fact his hip continued to ache was one he kept to himself.
He sighed again. Limbs stretched forward before rolling onto his side with a flop. His body felt oddly restless and his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. What exactly did he want to do? Go for a walk? Out for a hunt? What? It felt like his mind and body were on different wavelengths.
Black ears flickered to the pitter patter outside the den. Curious, he rolled back on his stomach and raised his head.
Well, if I can’t join them, might as well do some wolf watching.
Athena and Alcatraz were the first to cross his path. They strolled side by side, completely in sync. Athena’s jaw moved and he faintly heard her silky voice followed by a laugh. The large Alpha glanced down at his mate with affection shining in his yellow orbs. No pups trailed behind them – an odd sight these days – so the Courser wagered the two were enjoying the peace and quiet while they had it.
Moments later, a white wolf blocked out the sun. Kane, the gentle giant, had stopped in his stroll to let Julia catch up. Panting slightly, they shared a smile before continuing on their way.
Lawson smiled, letting his head rest on his paws. The two were definitely related. He felt a faint pain in his tail at the thought. He met them both teeth first when they had been tiny pups. Hard to believe that Kane was a member of the Rah’at and Julia continued to grow every day.
The hustle didn’t stop there. Soon after, Raphael walked back with a troubled look on his young face. Lawson’s head rose to stare at him and as if sensing the gaze, the wolf glanced over his shoulder. They shared a smile before a bark of laughter broke the air. The ground shook with the stampede from Lazarus and Seven charging towards their unsuspecting victim. It took all about five seconds for the two young wolves to surround Raph and rope him into whatever shenanigans they had planned.
More and more wolves came and left the den site. Echo with a rabbit between her jaws, Teia and Raghaalar chatting away, Adrian and Merrill going… who knows where, and the cluster of Hawthorn, Killian, Nero and Tzuriel enjoying their youth. Paws of all different colors and sizes marched past him with a nod from their owners here and a pleasantry there. Each footstep seemed to be in time with the thumping of his heart.
All of these faces, these wolves, held a place in his very soul. Aryn was more than just a pack, but a family unit. They cared and supported each other in the best and worst times. Not even war could tear their loyalties apart.
Love, life, and loss – a cycle they experienced time and time again. He remembered when he met the first litter. Not long after, Charaka and Alexandro welcomed their own family. More pups were born while older wolves fell in love. Of course, two wolves no longer were here to welcome the changing of the seasons. His ears flattened against his skull at the thought of Kris and Vasilis. He hoped they found happiness, wherever they were.
So much had changed since the faithful day he left home. A naïve wolf ran to the boarders of an unknown pack with a dream of adventure. That certainly was what the last few months had been. Though there were days of darkness, the light always seemed to find a way to push through.
A gentle stir snapped him out of the thought.
There was one more.
Slumbering beside him was a small she-wolf. Leaves also covered nearly the entirety of her shoulder. Seeing it made his stomach clench and blood boil, yet a gentle smile spread against his maw when she settled back to sleep.
She held a special place in his heart. Despite the fight and loss of her brother, her spirit never dampened. Without the doubt, the best thing about taking a chance and leaving home was meeting her.
His ears flickered with uncertainty. Gulping loudly, he stretched his neck out until his muzzle just brushed the fur of her paw. His flared nostrils inhaled her sweet scent while the close proximity made the follicles dance in the mock wind. A secret longing begged him to be closer, but this was enough for now.
Aryn was home.
Aryn was family.
Lawson was thankful for all of it. For all of them.