Alcatraz raced after the rabbit, his long legs carrying him in huge strides across the field as he pursued his victim. He expected it to duck away at any moment into a rabbit hole, but was determined to chase it until it did. After all, he was outmaneuvering it with his well practiced hunting prowess.
Although this was usually a plentiful time of year, and he still had a thick layer of muscle and fat from eating well over the years, Alcatraz found himself very hungry after days of not eating due to the showers that force most animals to stay out of the open.
He was practically drooling as he sprang the final bound, covering the rest of the distance between himself and the gray-brown mammal and then it was over. Alcatraz sank his jaws into its back and severed the spine with a quick jerk. It squealed a bit as it died and Alcatraz flattened his ears. He was usually such a efficient and precise hunter and never had he killed anything so sloppily... He felt a bit guilty for making the creature suffer so much. He would have to be more careful. But at least the rabbit did not squeal for long for it died in seconds. He bent his head down to pick up his prey. Between the rabbit scent and his focus on getting himself a meal, he had no idea that he had just crossed the border into Chandor territory.
Looking left and right, Phen guided herself between trees and over obstacles in her attempt to follow a sweet scent. She hadn't had the taste of rose hips in a long time, since she had left her old home territory in search of a new life. Treats were so abundant in the areas where she used to live, but even in Chandor's diverse environment, there were very few of the enticing delicacies. After the short rain they had the other day, the ground had cooled down enough for it to be comfortable to take a walk. No longer caring about being in the shade, Phen trotted carelessly around, with the few rays of sunlight that penetrated the canopy dancing on her back. She felt more at ease than she had in a long time, and pack life was really beginning to appeal to her again.
She wasn't necessarily hungry, but she longed for something on her tongue. Arriving at a small stream that carved itself between two hills, Phen lowered her long neck to lap up some of the cool liquid. It was plain but refreshing, and she finally dipped her entire muzzle into it just for a moment. Phen whipped her head back, spraying some droplets over her pelt and onto the ground. She flicked the excess water off and took a deep breath. The water helped to sharpen her nose, and now the berries smelled more enticing than ever. Licking her lips, Phen bounded over the small hill joyously, her tail held high in the air, only to run headfirst into a strange brown male. He was tall, muscular, well-kempt for a loner, and a noble-like air. His dark brown coat blended well with Chandor’s woody forests.
Phen had to plunge her front claws into the dirt to keep from sliding down the still-moist side of the hill and barging right into the loner. Perhaps she had focused too much on the berries and not on what was around her, and she hadn't detected the male sooner. No matter what happened, the strange wolf got really
fast, and he was standing just feet below her carrying a dead rabbit in his jaws. The size and appearance of the loner, plus the fact that she was surprised at his presence, caused her to go into an alarmed state. The fur along her neck and tail fluffed out, and her ears pinned back against her skull. She probably would have chosen a wiser thing to say if she had been calm. ”Who the hell are you?”
she barked, still scrambling upwards. Her voice was unstable at first, but turned firm and assertive towards the end.
Alcatraz heard the pack wolf coming from a bit away and meant to make his leave quickly, but she arrived sooner than he had expected, nearly knocking him right over. She was a slender black she-wolf and she looked shocked to see him there, scrambling backward up the muddy slope and demanding to know who he was.
Alcatraz narrowed his eyes, half confused and half irritated. Who was this she-wolf parading around and demanding to know who other wolves were? She had no authority over him. The rabbit smell in his nose masked her Chandor scent, and he did not even think about the possibility that he had run over the border. "Why should you care?"
he responded through his rabbit, his voice having an edge to it as he glared up at her. From her clumsy appearance he had decided that he was not afraid of her. Although he was not afraid of anyone, so sure he was in himself and his ability to win any fight.
A little surprised at the loner's reaction, Phen raised an eyebrow and steadied herself. She had expected him to either apologize for crossing the border, or spit back some snarky remark. But the wolf just seemed annoyed at her, which she didn't understand. Her tail was lowered just a bit and there was an obvious kink at the base, showing she was only threatening and not hostile. But it was still tense, subject to change at any moment depending on how the male reacted. His voice was muffled through the rabbit, and probably sounded less irritated than it should have been. But it still seemed to imply that he belonged
there when he didn't, and that made Phen extremely frustrated, if not angry. Was this loner just playing with her? The male seemed to be judging her capabilities, and that worried her somewhat. She hadn't been trained in a while, since she left her pack, and so she probably couldn't take on the larger male in a fight despite her reflexes. However, she could always outrun him and fetch the guards if this loner really was that stubborn."You ought to know"
, Phen retorted, her voice acidic. "You're in Chandor territory, and although we are not a hostile pack, I can't let you go any further"
. She may have had a clumsy start, but she had the upper ground right now, and she had rights over him. Her glare was both critical, and daring him to object.
Alcatraz snorted. He would have noticed crossing into a pack's territory! But then... her appearance and behavior would all make more sense if he had indeed crossed over to Chandor... perhaps it was worth checking. He sniffed. All he smelled was rabbit. Perhaps there was the problem...
Glaring at her, he put the rabbit down and lifted his muzzle, taking another sniff of the air. Sure enough, the thick scent of Chandor was clearly laid upon this land. He let out a frustrated inward sigh, feeling his face turn hot with embarrassment. Luckily his dark fur hid any sign of that. Oh well... all he could do now was act cool about it."So I am."
he said nonchalantly. He looked up at the she-wolf. "I do apologize, I suppose I must have missed the border in my chase. I shall be on my way, then."
he said with a polite dip of his head.
Phen was watching the loner expectantly as he grumpily sniffed the air. She gave him a very light, "I told you so"
look once he finished, but it was more of an enforcement than a rude gesture. She was surprised that the male hadn't realized he was in pack territory. She thought he was simply trying to be obnoxious, but he acted proper enough once he realized his fault. She was glad that the brown male wasn't looking to pick a fight with them. Phen let out a small snort and nodded her head towards the direction of the border in a casual way. "Thank y-"
, she began, but was interrupted almost immediately by a harsh, imposing voice."What do we have here?"
another male spoke, his voice booming over the forest. Phen's tail flew upwards again and she whipped her head in the direction of the noise. She smelled the loner before she saw him; It suggested he was healthy, and carried the scent of an aggressive wolf. The loner was about the size of the brown male she had just met, with a mottle brown, black, and tan colored pelt. A jeering grin was plastered over his face. Phen was about to make her move when two more, smaller wolves crawled out of the bush behind him. This loner's coats were off-white and reddish, and seemed to walk behind in unison. Phen rethought her strategy, and decided that it was too dangerous to approach three loners head-on. The subordinates acted submissive to the first wolf, with their heads lowered and tails low. They appeared noticeably less fit than their supposed leader, and a few ribs showed out of their sides.
The first male walked right over to the brown loner, keeping two feet or so of space between them. His tail trashed around in the air. "I see you have a nice-looking rabbit there"
, he drawled, baring his fangs. "But you'd best hand it over, little mutt, unless you want to be shredded and fed to the crows"
. The two other wolves yipped, ready to back him up. But they seemed mildly unsure about facing the brown wolf, and their eyes flickered between him and Phen, who still stood atop the hill. Breaking her position, Phen growled and trekked slowly down the slope, her shoulders low. She felt uncomfortable with all these loners suddenly popping up. The brown male wasn't her friend, but she knew who to ally with at any time.
Alcatraz turned to go when he saw a huge male come through the bushes. he stopped, fluffing out his thick fur and raising his own tail threateningly. He did not like the look of the male wolf. He was completely unphased as the three approached, his head high and his pale yellow eyes locked angrily on the leader male.
Alcatraz stepped forward daringly as the male faced him, the distance between the two very small now. He did not bare his large fangs, meeting the big wolf's gaze with a resolute composure. His unshakable confidence would surely be his downfall, but it sometimes served him well, for he was still quite formidable and often could even scare away enemies before a fight broke out. "Go ahead. Take it,"
he invited, his voice chillingly calm, "See for yourself what your crows will be feeding on."
He had nearly forgotten that Phen was there at all, or that he was in Chandor's territory. Nor did he even acknowledge the two smaller wolves at the big male's side. In his mind they would be mere mosquitoes, minor annoyances. If a wolf approached with such a disposition, Alcatraz didn't care where he was or who he was with. He would put these wolves in their place.
There was a small falter in the loner's perfect expression for a moment upon hearing his remark. He was probably expecting him to cower in fear, but instead he stood his ground. But it was soon replaced with a look of anger and annoyance, his nose wrinkling. The rogue's subordinates seemed a little more intimidated by the brown loner's calmness, taking a step back each and looking at their leader expectantly. A growl escaped the rogue's throat. "Very well then"
, he snarled, poised to attack. His tail whipped towards Phen, indicating for his two helpers to focus on her instead. At this, she stepped back hesitantly. She wasn't supposed to be any part of this! The rogues were after the loner's
prey; she was just there to observe.
There was, however, an issue. Chandor's laws didn't approve of violence unless "absolutely necessary". And although she wasn't sure just how serious this rule was, she knew that she should at least try to quell the fire before anything bad happened. This was their territory, after all. Stepping down closer to the brown male and the rogue with her tailed lowered, she spoke clearly. "Just hold on a minute. Can't we settle this elsewhere like civilized-"
. Unfortunately, the calico male wasn't listening, and immediately barged into the brown loner, aiming for the rabbit. Phen had to jump out of the way to prevent being caught in the mass. Immediately, the two subordinates charged for her
, trying to keep her away from their leader. Phen hissed as they ran into her, grabbing her by the scruff and front legs in order to drag her away. She had never gotten into a real fight before, not even when she had lived as a loner. This was a whole new experience to her. What was this sharp pain she felt in her leg? What was dragging her away by the scruff? Although Phen had been trained to fight by some of the best elders, she had never put her skills into use.
It was a pretty awkward scramble, as Phen was completely clueless as to how to handle the situation, and the two loners subsequently unsure of the dark female's power. Not wanting to be badly hurt, Phen lunged forward like a snake, latching onto the red wolf's muzzle. Her fangs dug into his nose, and she tried to bring the wolf's head to the ground. But it was hard to get anything done with the other rogue constantly pulling on her back legs. The gears in her head were turning, trying to remember the techniques and moves she had been taught back in her old pack. But it had been so long... all of her training was rusty by now. Phen couldn't even see what was happening with the brown loner and the rogue leader next to her.
Alcatraz did not hesitate as the loner shoved past him. With a vicious snarl, he opened his large jaws and brought his sharp teeth down on the mottled male's neck as he went for the rabbit. The male let out a furious snarl, yelping and trying to pull away. Alcatraz kept his tight grip until the male swiped him hard with a front paw. He let go and backed up a pace, only hesitating a moment before leaping again. The male rose on his hind legs to meet him and the two fought like boxers with their paws trying to knock at each other and their jaws snapping.
Alcatraz soon had enough. Quick as a flash, he dropped down on all fours and drove himself upward into the male's belly before the male had a chance to know what was happening. The force of the impact knocked the breath out of the huge male as he crashed to the ground with Alcatraz's teeth clamped on his soft pale belly. The loner let out yips of pain and struggled to get away, but Alcatraz used his two front paws to keep him flat on the ground.
His pale amber eyes darted to the dark female. She had her jaws locked on the red male, but the other seemed to be making a meal out of her back legs. He let out a snort. Pack wolves not knowing how to fight! Ridiculous. Well... he supposed he ought to help. He released the male, hoping he had injured him sufficiently for him to give up, and he charged at the male on Phen's back legs.
He tackled the male head on with no hesitation and the male released Phen so he could yelp in pain. Alcatraz had him pinned to the ground. "Who do you think you are, eh? Running around double teaming innocent wolves like a pair of filthy savages?"
he raged, then his voice dropped to a menacing hiss as he growled "I ought to kill you."
The little male let out a yelp of fear, struggling desperately to get away from the dark wolf. Alcatraz would not kill him, of course, but it was a disgrace to double team a wolf, especially when they were attacking her for no reason! It was just despicable! Inexcusable! Alcatraz did, however, plan on giving him a few nasty bites to think about.
Phen was thinking wildly about how to get out of the rogue's grasp when she felt his teeth being yanked out of her back leg. She let out a small yelp of pain but quickly collected herself again, feeling the relief of not being dragged away from behind her. As she and the red wolf struggled, she half-heard what the brown loner was saying behind her. The male sounded furious with him, growling how it was despicable to gang up on her like that. Phen felt a prick of frustration at herself for not being able to handle her own opponents, relying on a loner to help her. She needed to regain herself, somehow. She was a better fighter than this, and she knew it. Phen let go of the struggling red wolf and shoved her claws into his face, aiming for the eyes. The loner yelped in surprise and ducked, giving Phen an opening to go for the loner's neck. She bit down from the left side, feeling for the vein underneath the rogue's thick neck. The wolf attempted to bite her, but she placed one paw on his jaw and slammed his face into the ground. Her other side pressed onto his lower shoulder, preventing his front legs from thrashing. Surprisingly, the male was weak and easy to pin down, and she thrashed her head around violently to tear his neck open. She had grown a little stronger with the help of her pack, and dealing with a half-starved loner was not a problem, even for her.
Phen's mind faded from that point on, keeping her eyes shut and simply allowing her teeth to dig in deeper. For a moment, she forgot that it was a wolf she was dealing with, and instead a piece of prey that she had pinned down. She ignored the yips of pain coming from the rogue, and once blood coated the male's neck, she released her grip, breathing heavily. But seeing the wolf still alive just made her angrier. Her gaze flickered to the calico male, who's stomach was torn and bleeding. Because she didn't see him moving, Phen assumed he had killed him. She looked to the brown loner, who had the white wolf pinned down and was giving him a piece of his mind. I need to finish him off!
she thought, forgetting Chandor's rule about nonviolence. Picking up the loner again, she flung the body around violently, trying to cause more pain to the red wolf, before finally dragging him over to his leader. Phen tossed the body onto the calico wolf, hearing a yelp as his subordinate fell on top of him. He's still alive?
Phen realized, surprised. She then turned towards the brown male, her teeth and lower jaw stained red. She didn't really know what to say, until her ally was done taking care of the last rogue.
Alcatraz lunged forward with his jaws wide, sinking his teeth into his helpless opponent's shoulder. The loner yelped and yipped, struggling but getting absolutely nowhere under Alcatraz's heavy weight. After the wound was sufficiently deep, Alcatraz released him. The wolf ran away madly, looking back only to see how his friends were faring. Upon seeing their bodies he just ran faster.
Alcatraz turned to Phen and his eyes widened, his hackles raising a bit. "What the-"
he mumbled in shock as he saw the red wolf's body bleeding on top of his wounded leader. His surprised gaze flicked from her bloody jaws and then to the dying wolf nearby. He could not decide whether to be horrified or impressed. Either way, he walked past her and to where the two wolves were piled up. He rolled the red loner off the calico male. The big male stared up at Alcatraz in terror. "Get out of here you filthy rat. You're buddy went that way."
he snapped, pointing with his nose toward where the white loner had run off. The big male scrambled to his paws, stumbling away.
Alcatraz turned back to Phen. "You're.... impressive."
he admitted, shooting a glance at the bleeding red wolf beside him.
Phen watched warily as the calico male scrambled up, terror in his eyes. His run was abnormal due to his injuries, but surprisingly fast from his desperation to get away from the brown loner he had tried to steal from. Phen was surprised by his compliment and had no clue how to respond. She simply followed his gaze to the motionless red wolf. She had been half-conscious of killing him, but now she realized the size of the wound she had made. She noticed that the loner had let the two other rogues free with injuries to think about, but she on the other hand had slaughtered her own opponent. Phen had never even fought another wolf before; was it right for her to do such a thing? She frowned, wondering how her alpha would react to her violent actions.
Phen looked at the male and then looked at the ground. "Thank you..."
, she murmured, barely audible. She had never applied her training in real combat before, and the fact that he was impressed was somewhat of a relief. The brown loner had been quite the adversary himself, taking care of the rogue's leader quickly and easily defeating the white male that was giving her trouble. The two had run off completely stripped of their dignity. "You're quite a profound fighter yourself"
, she continued, returning the favor. She was always respectful of those who could defend themselves, yet didn't abuse their powers. Phen licked the blood from her lips and stepped over the red wolf, heading towards the rabbit that he had caught earlier. It was lying on the ground pitifully, and it's scent was still fresh."I believe this is yours"
, Phen said simply, backing away from the prey and looking away. The attack from the band of loners was unexpected, but at least they had triumphed and kept their dirty paws away from his kill.
Alcatraz watched her as she began to realize what she had done. She didn't know what the dark female was thinking, but he watched her rather wearily as she was quiet. And then she thanked him, complimenting him as well. Yeah, I know,
he thought, but he did not say the words. That would be far too rude. "Thank you."
He looked at the rabbit and was reminded of his hunger. "Hm."
he grunted, bounding over to it. He looked at it and then at Phen. "Is your leg okay?"
he asked her, remembering that she had been injured by the white wolf he had sent away.
Remembering that the white loner had been latched onto her leg not too long ago, Phen twisted her head around and attempted to look at her left leg. The male had sunk his teeth into her calf, and there were obvious puncture wounds where the fangs once were. Although it was still sore and bleeding somewhat, Phen decided it wasn't such a big deal. After all, she couldn't act weak and overly sensitive after getting her first wolf-inflicted injury. At least it wouldn't leave a scar. "I'll be fine"
, she said with confidence, putting it back on the ground to prove it. Still, she winced a little, and decided to sit down
Next, Phen looked the male over, trying to search for any wounds. He didn't seem to be bleeding anywhere, and the only signs that he had been in a scuffle were a few tufts of fur sticking out randomly. Honestly, she was glad her ally wasn't injured, though she barely knew him."Well... I guess..."
, she began, and then ran out of things to say. She tried to forget about the fight and focus on the present instead. This was a loner who had stepped into her territory, and he had to get going. "Thanks for the help, um... loner"
, she said diffidently, not knowing what to call him. "Loner" seemed like an inappropriate title, but it was the best she could think of.
Alcatraz looked a her doubtfully as she winced, about to ask if she was sure, and then he shook his head and looked away. What did he care? She had a whole pack to protect her and feed her until she had recovered.
He dipped his head to her as she thanked him. He looked down at the rabbit, then back at the female. "Would you like it? I was on your land when I killed it, after all. It was a Chandor rabbit when it died."
he pointed out.
Phen blinked in surprise at the loner's offer. Give her
the rabbit that he had caught? Phen was aware that it had been killed in their territory, but she didn't think border laws were really that strict. She didn't feel too hungry, and she knew that loners had it a lot tougher than pack wolves did. The male probably needed it more than she did, and after all, it was he who had hunted it down. Still, she was intrigued by his generosity. Phen shook her head vigorously. "I couldn't"
, she argued, nudging it towards him with her paw. "It was your kill, even if it did stray into Chandor territory"
Well, there wasn't much more to say. The brown male would go on his way, and they'd probably never meet again. But there was one more question Phen wanted to ask, which was what she always did after meeting a stray wolf. "What's your name, anyways?"
she asked carefully, sounding as if she were just curious to know.
Alcatraz shrugged, but did not argue, taking the rabbit back for himself. He was awfully hungry, after all, so if she insisted than he decided it was wisest to accept.
He lifted his muzzle as she asked him his name. "Alcatraz.
he said. Some wolves were weary about giving out their names, but Alcatraz never had a problem. He didn't care what others thought of him (well, subconsciously he does, but he doesn't think he does). Now he wondered how he would remember this dark and intriguing female. "And yours?"
Phen mulled over the name for a moment, wondering how she was supposed to remember that. The loner had said it so simply, but the name sounded like quite the mouthful. She had a habit of forgetting other's names rather easily. She solved this by repeating it in her head a billion times. Alcatraz
. The name had some sort of spark to it, and held a noble air.
Phen looked up when she realized he had asked her a question. "Oh. Um..."
, she began, "I'm Phen"
. She tried to say it as clearly as possible so that they wouldn't mess her name up. She knew it was a strange name, and she was always somewhat reluctant to tell it to others whenever they asked. Her flicked one ear backwards and turned her head down, looking to the side passively.
Alcatraz listened to her name. Phen.
He repeated to himself. Simple and elegant. He liked it. He watched her for a moment longer. She looked thoughtful, and then turned to the side passively. An odd thing to for a wolf in her own territory to do.
He decided not to push her hospitality any further. "Well, Phen, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for your..."
he glanced briefly at the loner's body, "assistance."
He thought of something as he saw the loner's body. "Oh, would you like me to remove him from your land? Surely a rotting wolf is not something your Chandor would want within their borders."
Phen's gaze follow the male's towards the carcass, and she licked the last of the blood from her muzzle. Blood still stained part of her neck, though, and it was starting to dry uncomfortably. Phen gave her neck a quick shake before padding over to where the red wolf lay. It seemed like his essence was already starting to fade, and it wouldn't be long before it stopped being a living creature altogether. Phen didn't really want to give Alcatraz any more trouble, and she felt like it was her
responsibility to take care of it. She had killed the wolf, after all. But she had no place to properly bury the carcass, and her pack mates might discover it. Better safe than sorry, she decided. "Well, if it doesn't give you too much trouble, I would be grateful if you just left it outside the borders"
. She flipped her head towards the direction of unclaimed territory, though he probably knew where the border was already. "Thank you"
, she added quickly, getting up as if she were already leaving. She stumbled when she put more pressure on her leg, remembering her injury. Their pack didn't have a shaman yet, so she'd have to figure it out on her own. Best not to worry her pack by staying here any longer.
Alcatraz dipped his head to her, padding to her side and taking the small wolf's nape in his jaws. He began to drag it in the direction of the border. As he did so, his pale eyes darted at the black female as she went to leave. She seemed to be stumbling. He put the body down. "You sure your leg will be alright?"
he called to her. "Your pack has someone knowledgeable about that sort of thing, yes?"
he knew there were such things as medicine wolves, even if he didn't know much himself. Why learn it? He would never need it.
Phen stopped in her tracks and pressed her lips together reluctantly. She didn't want to send off any alarm by telling him they lacked a shaman, but he had already asked her. "Well..."
she admitted, "Our pack is still new, so we've yet to find a healer for the pack"
. Then she added quickly, "B-but it doesn't even hurt! I just need to put some... some stuff on it"
. Phen actually did have the tiniest bit of knowledge about medicinal plants, bits of information she picked up from her other tutors. She had no idea what they were called, but she would be able to find them by scent, if they happened to be growing around.
Phen turned back to Alcatraz, giving him what she hoped was a reassuring smile. "Just forget about it"
, she insisted. "But I should be getting back to my Alpha now to report what just happened"
Alcatraz shrugged. "Alright."
He said. Hopefully she was right, and hopefully the wound was not too deep anyway. He didn't know, since he never got a good look at it. He didn't say anything else as he continued to drag the body toward the Chandor border where he would leave it to decay somewhere hidden in the trees. The red wolf would give back what he took from the world, as they all did at some point, and melt back into the ground that bore him.
Alcatraz soon found a nice place to leave him and straightened, clearing his throat. he gave one last glance toward Chandor, toward where Phen had disappeared, before turning back toward the east and trotting into the forest.
Phen turned back one last time as she heard Alcatraz dragging the body away. She saw, just in time, his tail disappearing behind the covert of bushes and trees. "Bye!"
she stuttered at the last moment, but she didn't think he really heard her. Sighing, Phen walked forward again, limping slightly on three legs. She needed to find a river quickly to clean the wound before it got infected. She raised her nose and let the scent of water guide her in it's direction. In the back of her mind she though about the dark-brown male she had just met. He already seemed so distant, and Phen pushed the thought away before continuing on her journey. There would be plenty of time for thinking after she got cleaned up and reported to Lyn.