The puppy sniffled, huddling against the tree trunk coldly as the sun began to set. She was far past rethinking her little excursion, she was regretting the thought of it. Her whole ‘adventure’ was a waste. She never found the Gorge, in reality, she hadn't even gotten far before she became too cold to continue. She always thought her coat was rather thick, and being so young she did not realize how quickly puppies her age get chills, even in the brief amount of time she'd been alone.
She'd managed to dig out a small indent in the snow she would called a pit against a tree trunk, the snow could not fall on her here, and the indent seemed to help her preserve a small deal of heat; though she could still be heard crying softly from below the low-hanging branches of the pine. The lower the sun moved, the more fervently she cried. She hoped someone would find her, the cold was biting her more than it ever had in the past as she watched the sun move closer and closer to the mountain peaks, the day slowly closing in on her.
Her small, raspy whimpers echoed through a small portion of the wood. Her ears were pinned down flat against her head, her limbs tucked closely together and her, thankfully, overly long, fluffy tail wrapped around her in the fashion of a small blanket. Her sobbing paused briefly as a small sneeze escape her pink nose, causing her cries escalate a bit more dramatically in response to the situation; what she'd give right now to snuggle up to her parents and sisters, ‘adventure’ was the last thing she wanted right now in the midst of it.
She couldn’t have gone far, Alcatraz knew as he swept the areas around the main den site with his pale yellow eyes scanning for any sign of a little black pup. Daenerys had been nestled safely with her siblings one moment and gone the next, off to the One knows where, and half the pack was out searching for the Alphas’ daughter. With a cold winter night creeping in, time was of the essence.
“Daenerys!” Alcatraz barked, hearing his strong voice echo off the trees. He let out a frustrated growl. He wasn’t afraid at first; pups wander off from time to time without incident and usually they were easily found. But his little daughter was proving elusive. And it was getting to that point where every second would count.
The snow was gone at the center of the winter den site, so there had been no prints to follow from there. But deeper in the forest the snow remained, and it was the sight of a little break in the white that caught Alcatraz’s attention. The dark Lord frowned, going over to the prints, where he then saw that they continued. This is her. He followed at a brisk trot, freezing suddenly when he heard her voice. She was crying! Feeling his paternal instincts flare at the sound of his baby’s cry, Alcatraz let out a growl loud and gruff with concern, “Daenerys, where are you?” His eyes fell on the little divot in the snow by the trunk of a tree, where the pawprints lead and where the cries were originating, and advanced on it.
She was beginning to settle into the cold terrain, her body slowing down as the cold began to take her to where she'd never be found. She rested her head down at her paws, her body shivering tiredly as she subconsciously began to give up.
Her thick puppy ears pricked up when she heard her father’s voice, hope swelling up within her once more. If anyone could save her, it was her father!
“F-father I'm here!” She moved her head up, looking from under the branches to see if the Lord was close by, she could hear him, he had to be.
Shortly after her response, she watched as his large snout poked under the branches. Her quakey, chilled legs wobbled as she pushed herself up over the ditch enough to touch her face again the he-wolf’s snout, her cold cheek touching his warm one.
“P-papa I'm cold..” Her long tail stayed low, laying on the floor under her legs. She was bound to be in trouble; she knew her mother must be worried, and she more or less figured her father would be frustrated with her for breaking the rules they'd taught her about leaving the den alone.
Alcatraz approached slowly, alert for the possibility of Daenerys burrowing in the snow underpaw. But it didn’t take long for him to see the ball of black fur that told him exactly where she was, and then her little voice cut through the air. He rushed forward more rapidly, letting out a breath of relief that she was okay.
Alcatraz checked on his daughter first of all, pushing his nose toward her. She returned the touch, pressing against him. She was not lying when she spoke; she felt like ice. “I know,” he said softly, then lifted his head to look over his shoulder. He barked a loud bark that echoed through the forest, indicating that the missing baby had been found. The closest patrolling wolf answered with a bark of her own and Alcatraz assumed she would let the others know that the search was over.
He turned back to his daughter, “There is time to explain when we get back to the den.” He leaned down toward her and nosed her again, breathing in her scent to check for other injuries and thank the One for her safety. It seemed she was mostly just cold. Good, though the cold was serious enough. “You will be explaining,” he emphasized sternly, “but for now be still. I’ll take you home.” Alcatraz used his strong jaws to grasp her gently by the scruff of her neck and then he lifted her up and turned to trot back to the den.
Her voice was soft and quakey, even more raspy than usual from her sore throat in the cold. “B-but Papa, Raphael was telling me all about the Gorge, He-he said it was huge and the water jumped and danced like deer!” She looked up into her Father’s big amber eyes, pleading her cause. ”Uncle Kane says I’m too small to explore b-but I’m not! I j-just wanted to see it for myself..”
Her face frowned, thick, stubby ears flicking back on her head. She whimpered softly, to his stern words, it was true, she was in trouble when they got home..
She grunted and grumbled hoarsely as she was picked up off the floor, her legs folding in a bit and her tongue poking from her mouth. At least she would get a ride home, she didn't want to walk any longer today. “How did you know where to find me Papa? I-I thought I was gonna be alone forever.” Her violet eyes twinkled in the cold light bouncing off the snow beneath them as she watched their surroundings, she always loved it when her Father carried her, even if she would be in trouble soon..
As he began his smooth walk back to the den, he answered her, his voice muffled through her fur, “Thank The One you had not traveled further out than this. Or that the day was not warmer. Or you may have been” Alcatraz had faith that they would have found her even if she had been further out, in truth. It was important to make a pup feel safe and secure… but Alcatraz believed it even more important to instill fear, or at least respect, of the dangerous outside world. Making her think this was okay would do her no favors. “I happened to find your tracks in the snow, and followed it to you.” A wolf had many tools to track, beyond just the nose, which although the most powerful could be compromised.
He thought back to what she had said first. Alcatraz was happy for the bond between the litters, but there was always a risk when it came to respected big siblings stuffing the heads of the younger ones with such wonders, encouraging them out to see for themselves. He was glad for Kane’s intervention, though unfortunately that had gone unheeded… Will there ever be a solution to pups trying to kill themselves? The Lord tended to doubt it. Since long before their time, and long after, pups would wander away. It was by the good grace of The One that more often than not the little one was found. Through her fur he spoke again. “You should listened to your uncle,” he rumbled, “though the truth is that you are old enough to explore. But not by yourself. If there is somewhere you wish to go, tell someone and perhaps the pack can schedule a trip.” Words, words. A pup would never recall them. He would have to find a more impactful way to get his point across.
“Though you will be escorted nowhere for the next quarter moon. If you behave yourself until that time, I will take you to the Gorge myself. Perhaps we can convince Raph to come as well.” The punishment, given with an incentive. Surely that would encourage good behavior.
”Mama says that the Rangers are the best at tracking.” Her oversized tail wriggled enthusiastically behind her as she conversed with her father. Although she knew she was in for a lecture, and perhaps even a scolding, she took full advantage of this one-on-one time with her father, even if she was still chilled to the cold.
”You're not a Ranger, Papa, but you found me anyway.” Pride swelled up in the little baby wolf to the thought, her father could do anything, and he'd always help her, even though he liked to pretend he didn't by saying he was ’lucky’ to find her. Her tongue poked from her mouth happily as her tail continued to wag behind her, little violet eyes blinking and searching the cold for the first marks when they'd come to the den.
She had started to hype up excitedly, but her emotions dropped the moment she was declared her punishment. Though just as quickly as her hopes shattered, they were risen up once again at the Lord’s promise of a personal trip to the Gorge escorted by himself. Her voice was soft and raspy still, a little more so now as she complied to his word, ”Yes, Papa..” While her tone was sullen and sad, her tail continued to wiggle beneath her in the air as she thought on his promise.
When he brought up her elder brother Raphael, she couldn't help but wiggle in excitement, huffing and sniffing in her enthusiasm as most puppies did in such scenarios. ”Yay, Raphael!” she yelped loudly, licking up toward her father’s muzzle, thanks to the laws of physics, to no avail of course. She greatly admired all of her older siblings, but the idea of being able to spend quality time with one was indeed something she could look forward to during the next quarter moon,.
Alcatraz grunted in agreement with her statement about Rangers being the best trackers. “That is correct,” he mumbled through her scruff, “but the most useful wolves are well rounded and can do many things. Every wolf has a nose and eyes, so every wolf should learn to track to some degree.” And when you are as old as I am experience makes you pretty well rounded. Although not old enough to be considered old the Alpha male certainly had a lot of years behind him. A lot of time to learn many things.
Alcatraz flattened his ears, lifting his muzzle a bit to grimace irritably as she began to wriggle in glee. “Yes, yes, very exciting,” he said impatiently, “now hold still. You are still in trouble, young lady.” By now they had entered the main den site, and Alcatraz went straight to the den. If they lingered out here Daenerys may get a good amount of attention from relieved packmates, and it would do her no favors to get the idea that wandering off got her attention. Unless that was negative attention, anyway. And that he planned to cover himself.
When he entered the den her three sisters were there. He used his stern, pale yellow eyes to gesture to the entrance, signalling them all to leave. They saw that Daenerys was in trouble, and heeded their father. Alcatraz knew that Athena and the others in the pack would watch them and keep them warm until he was finished with this private word. In truth he could have taken her somewhere else for this little one-on-one, but he wanted to send a message to his other daughters too, as they waited out in the cold, learning via their sister’s misjudgement what happened when you wandered off.
He put Daenerys down in the soft bedding and sat down himself, looking down at the black pup from his full height. “Tell me what you learned today.”
The baby plopped onto the floor of the nest, her baby chub and fur plushing out to her sides as she grunted softly, then pushed herself into a sitting position to match her father as he faced her. She knew she was in big trouble.. her stoic little face stared up at her father respectfully, but her eyes spoke volumes of her true emotion. Fear wasn't known to the child, but this time, the fear of disapproval hurt her in her heart.
She took a deep, raspy little breath, then began her answer to the Lord. ”I already knew I shouldn't leave..” she started, her voice a little arrogant as she spoke, ”But I learned that I don't know what's right for me yet, even if I think I do. I should have listened to you and Mama, and brother Kane.” She’d kept an incredibly stern lock on her father’s amber eyes. She was a quiet soul, and always had been, but beneath her stoicism there was a flame that showed itself at times.
Though, for this statement, she figured it best to look away from her father’s eyes, staring down at the earth beneath them, ”I should respect the words of those wiser than me.” She stayed in her sullen expression for a few brief moments, thinking on the trouble and stress she'd caused before finally looking back to her father’s disciplinary eyes as her voice cracked. ”I'm sorry, Papa..”
Alcatraz frowned down at Daenerys, his pale yellow eyes meeting his daughter’s gaze throughout her speech. She still had some fight in her it seemed, though she was certainly not enjoying this interaction, and her words were what he wanted to hear. That was the more important thing. He could only hope she meant them. He was a little surprised to notice his mate in her. Independent, fearless, but a diplomat, and always with some pride and composure even during a scolding. He hadn’t known Athena until they were both well into their adulthood, but he couldn’t help but imagine her acting quite similar as a cub in the face of discipline. He pushed that thought away. He could not let himself find this endearing. Athena had survived such incidences, if that was even true. He had as well. But it was luck. Others had not. Many others. And it had cost them their futures. He couldn’t let that happen to his daughter.
Finally she broke off from his gaze and finished by explaining what her next steps were, and then she looked up again to apologize. Her voice broke as she said it. She sounded sincere. Alcatraz was silent for an additional few moments, not moving or removing his gaze from her, considering.
Then he gave her a curt nod. “I trust that you mean those words, little one. As long as you mean them, then your apology is accepted, and I shall relay it to the rest of the pack as well.” He got to his paws. He knew he shouldn’t give her a nuzzle but he leaned down to do so anyway. He had been afraid too, after all. “I will send your sisters and mother in now. Remember our agreement.” He knew it would be difficult for Daenerys to remain in the den site for a quarter moon, even when her sisters may be taken somewhere else to play. But this could not be something she forgot in a day. Hopefully she would keep her eye on their little field trip at the end of it and restrain herself until she could reap the reward of good behavior.
Daenerys nodded solemnly to her Father’s instruction. She really did mean it, and she was glad he knew it.
She met his gently nuzzle with a one of her own, though she didn’t dare to allow her tail to wag until he reminded her of their agreement. It wagged back and forth happily as her ears folded forward to the prospect, watching him leave the den to explain the to the pack what had happened. ”Thank you, Papa.” her smile grew as she dwelled on the prospect.
As her mother and sisters came back inside, she bundled up into the pile. She wanted to tell them about her adventure, but that would have to wait until another day. She had much to tell
of the sunset on the snow she’d seen, and she would not leave her punishment out of the story, either; but for now, she was just grateful to The One that she was back in the warmth of her family, and wouldn’t rather have been anywhere else.