It had been a long journey from Aryn to Heyl, but the autumn weather had been quite mild despite the fact it was cooler on this northern side of the mountains. He had brought a large number of packmates to ensure safety, but luckily there had been no issues.
The group waited at the southern Watchman’s Peak, accompanied by some Heylians who had escorted them to this point. Alcatraz had appointed Lawson in charge of the group as he spoke with the Alpha of Heyl, but for now he sat among them, waiting. Alcatraz didn’t know the Heyl Alpha, but representatives from his pack had come to Aryn once in hopes of finding a cure for a disease of theirs. Unfortunately they had been unable to help, but news had spread since that the disease had been cured. Alcatraz wanted to check in with the Heylian alpha about the state of his pack, as well as warn him of their recent issues with the Blutwald rogues and their kidnapped youngster. Hopefully with this meeting a positive relationship could begin to be established between their packs.
Fitu padded with a few envoys to the Southern Watchman's Peak. A large group from Heyl's neighboring pack, Aryn, had arrived. Fitu had never personally met with either of the Arynian alphas and was suddenly nervous. He wondered what they'd come for.
How should he act? The only other alpha he'd met before was Nahimana, and that had been very different. As they neared the peak the pale alpha shook out his mane and tried to collect his thoughts. A proper greeting should be enough to start with.
Scaling the incline at a calm pack Fitu prepared the words in his head. "I am Fitu, alpha of Heyl. Welcome to our humble-"
the words vanished instantly when he reached the outcrop. A very familiar brown-and-gold ticked pelt brought back a sudden tirade of memories. "Alcatraz-"
he breathed, not knowing what else to say. "You-you--"
Alcatraz turned when more wolves from Heyl approached. This must be the Alpha.
He stood, facing the approaching wolves, taking them in as they climbed the path. He didn’t expect to recognize any, so was surprised when he saw a familiar white pelt, all posture indicating he was indeed the Alpha of Heyl. Looks like Fitu…
Alcatraz mused to himself, but at first he didn’t really think much of it, after all white wolves were quite common. Alcatraz thought about the young wolf rather often, wondering where he had gone after Alcatraz had needed to leave the Chandor area to be with Athena in Aryn. Alcatraz had hoped that Fitu would have joined Aryn with him after his journey to find his mother, but Fitu had never come. Alcatraz had assumed that perhaps he had decided to stay with his family, or something else came up, to keep him from visiting and reporting how the journey went. That is what he had to hope, anyway, for there was always the more… violent possibility as to what had held Fitu back. He’s always been clever, and a quick learner… he’s alright.
Alcatraz had assured himself. But for Fitu have become an Alpha, well, that was not at all something Alcatraz would have expected, though certainly would explain things he had to admit…
As he approached his features grew more familiar, not less, and Alcatraz bristled slightly as he started to wonder. He is much too large to be Fitu,
Alcatraz thought to himself, though Fitu was barely grown last time I saw him…
Could he have filled out so much?
When Fitu met his gaze Alcatraz knew then that it indeed was
Fitu, and his eyes widened with shock. He could see that Fitu was just as surprised, saying his name in bewilderment. “Great One, my eyes deceive me…”
he murmured. Questions whirled in his mind as he tried to get words. He was then aware that the others were likely quite surprised to see this diplomatic meeting turn into an unexpected reunion. A smile broke out over his muzzle and he dipped his head, trying to get a hold of his surprise but it was still quite clear as he fumbled through the proper greeting “Litla Fitu Einn, Alpha of Heyl,”
he greeted using Fitu’s full name, after all who knows how formal this pack was. Fitu as an Alpha, come so far from the anxious young wolf he once was, was the shock of a lifetime. Alcatraz felt that nothing could catch him off guard from here, and he was eager to hear what had happened in Fitu’s life to lead him to such success. “You address Lord Alcatraz, Alpha Male of Aryn. I’ve simply come to talk.”
Fitu couldn't suppress a laugh in response to Alcatraz's proper greeting. He noticed some of his own pack member startle at the mention of Fitu's full name, something most of them didn't know. He'd refrained from using it in case any of them felt embarrassed at having trouble remembering it. But Alcatraz had remembered-Fitu's heart warmed at the thought."Oh, old friend, no need for titles! My packmates just call me Fitu-well, most say "alpha Fitu" but I s'pose it's a habit mostly everyone has. Oh-look at me, talking far too much as usual! But look at us-both alphas- never thought I'd see the day."
his tail wagged uncontrollably, hopefully making his packmates more relaxed rather than embarrassed."It's alright!"
he said to the Watchmen. "Alcatraz is a very old and dear friend of mine. No more need for precaution, introduce yourselves!"
he suddenly grew hot behind the ears and turned to Alcatraz. "That is, if your wolves are comfortable to be met? I don't know what your customs are..ah, if your packmates give their names to strangers? Though I'm hoping we can change that-being strangers I mean"
Fitu was embarrassed himself now at having lost some of his composure. Being around Alcatraz transported him back to the days of his awkward youth. He remembered vividly the days when they trained in the forest, Alcatraz helping to build his strength and confidence.
An amused smiled crept across Alcatraz’s muzzle as Fitu spoke. He carried himself with much more confidence and might than he had before, of course, and by the One had he gotten large! But through his words Alcatraz could still see the eager young wolf he had once known. His own tail was wagging amiably as well. “Never knew such a day could be,”
Alcatraz answered, a subtle admiration in his tone. For Fitu
to be alpha
, how far the little youth had come since his bison days.
Alcatraz continued to watch in quiet amusement as Fitu spoke, clearly his composure thrown off by the very odd nature of this situation. But in a good way, it seemed, there was no doubt that Fitu was as happy as Alcatraz. “Yes, my wolves would be glad to meet yours. Our packs, like their Alphas, need not be strangers.”
he said, nodding to his rather large patrol to indicate that they were free to socialize however they liked. He looked back at Fitu, “While they do, perhaps we can step aside to chat? You have a lot of explaining to do,”
he said with a grin, and then added, “And there is a reason I came all this way besides.”
Alcatraz had had no idea what he would find in Heyl, who knew what sort of leader would be at the head of a pack. But this was a pleasant surprise, the best scenario. Fitu was more than a good wolf, he was a trusted friend. One that Alcatraz certainly felt comfortable discussing the difficulties of his pack’s situation with.
"You have a lot of explaining to do."
Fitu nodded quickly, laughing. "And there is a reason I came all this way besides." "Oh yes, of course!"
Fitu said, but was suddenly concerned. Of course, Alcatraz hadn't known Fitu would be in Heyl. No, a much more serious thing-more serious than a simple pack-to-pack greeting must be behind this, or he wouldn't have had so serious a tone. But Fitu wouldn't probe until Alcatraz said something. He decided to start with the first order of business, if anything to loosen the mood first.
The pale wolf led the gold-ticked one around a corner, onto a smaller plateau of grass. "Yes, so much to talk about...and explaining myself I suppose. I apologize for never having sought you out to tell you about it. A lot of things happened so quickly-"
He paused, smiling nervously, and glanced at his shoulder. "Well, I realize, just now, that my scars somewhat tell the story, at least of Oden and my travels. This one on my shoulder, ah, was a bear that attacked us. I was foolish to take it on from the front and it left me with this. We barely made it away, and it was Oden who tended my wounds...my first real taste of healing. It intrigued me already at the time. Later, we, well, we did find my family..."
He suddenly realized the news was bigger than he remember. In fact, it might shock his friend. "My mother greeted me with this"
he blinked his left eye, where a scar ran from his temple to his throat. "But it turns out, my father was alive. I realized that I'd never known for sure whether he'd died from his wounds. My mother had howled that night-I had been sure it was in mourning. But he was there, just with...a big scar on his neck. And he was happy to see me, can you believe it? After what I'd done...and then I left again. I sometimes wonder now if that was a mistake."
Fitu paused in his story to look up at Alcatraz, realizing his own eyes were beginning to grow liquid with the memories, and was suddenly embarrassed.
Alcatraz padded along after Fitu as the other Alpha lead him to a grassy ledge, sitting down in the pale greenish brown autumn grass. He faced Fitu, his stern face broken into a smile that he couldn’t shake off as he just looked at Fitu. Little Fitu… not so little any more. “Nights change, seasons rush by… and the next time you take the time to glance up at the moon you’re an old wolf,”
he chuckled a bit. It felt like a lifetime ago since he had seen Fitu, now that he looked the pale wolf in the face. Yet in his mind, before he really thought about it… it hadn’t seemed so long ago at all.
In all honesty, with the shock of everything else, he had hardly registered Fitu’s new scars. His pale yellow eyes scanned the white wolf’s muscular features. He really had gotten scratched up. Alcatraz had to stifle a laugh as he explained the origin of his shoulder scar, “Taking a bear on from the front! You’re lucky the beast left Oden with enough of you to heal.”
If the incident had been more recent Alcatraz might have been more concerned, but the thought of the scrawny young Fitu racing head first at a bear, it was as outrageous and stupid as it was admirable. But he had a brave heart, that much could never be denied. And the fact he had got away… even more admirable.
He perked his ears, his face growing sober when Fitu brought up his lost family. Alcatraz remembered advising the young wolf to face his past, the past that tortured him so. He was keenly interested in how it had played out. Turns out his mother had been less than enthusiastic. He raised his brows at the true twist in the tale, though, Fitu’s father was alive. Alcatraz smiled softly. That must have been… quite a shock. He saw that there were tears in Fitu’s eyes as he remembered. He leaned forward, bumping his broad head against the white wolf’s cheek in a brotherly gesture, “I’m happy for you, Fitu,”
he said, withdrawing again. He could understand Fitu’s concerns, but he thought he may have some insight from his own experience. “I have many children now,”
Alcatraz answered, “I love each of them and I’d like for them to be close. But even more I’d like for them to be happy, and have a fulfilling life. Any father would feel the same. Do you have a happy and fulfilling life, Alpha Fitu?”
Fitu smiled at each of Alcatraz's responses, especially when he mentioned his large family."Oh, that's wonderful!"
Fitu said. "I'm sure if they take after you they must be fine wolves.”
But at Alcatraz's last question the smile faded and Fitu's face turned solemn, his eyes wistful. "I...wish I could say so."
he said. He didn't like to elaborate on this. In fact, he never really talked through it with any of his packmates, though he was sure they wondered how he felt about it. But Alcatraz was an old friend, and was no doubt wondering what Fitu meant. "We actually just recently returned here"
he began.“When the earth shook-no doubt you felt it in your territory- some of our caverns collapsed, and water flooded the rest when the sea suddenly rose. We moved across the mountains to another territory..."
here had had to pause to keep himself from beginning to cry. "I may look bigger to him, but it's obvious I'm not much stronger."
he thought to himself. "And the pack of Dawnguard came with us. The alphess, Nahimana, and I were close."
he realized he hadn't spoken her name in a very long time. "Very close. And we only grew closer once we were neighbors. We...decided to marry, and join the packs. Nahimana gave birth to our children, though only one was left alive. Our little Nova. I had a family, yes. And I was happy. But it wasn't meant to last."
at this the tears came back to Fitu's eyes and he didn't stop them. So much remembering this day...Fitu realized he'd hadn't really allowed his thoughts to go back like this. He couldn't...not if he wanted to remain strong for Heyl. "A plague came over us. It was thought that one of the Dawnguardian deities started it. It poisoned the water and the prey. Some died, including my mate. And some left, including my daughter, and my little sister...I forgot to mention her, haha. She was born ill, and our parents brought her to Heyl when we were here before the earth shook. She traveled to the new territory but left before we came back. It was an avalanche that told us our god"
Fitu took a deep breath and shook out his mane. "Like I said...a lot has happened."
he gave a weak smile. "I'm surprised there's any pack left after all of it."
he gave a laugh.
Alcatraz smiled a bit at Fitu’s remark about his children, “They are… for the most part.”
He knew that his children had flaws… just like every other wolf, himself included. It didn’t make him any less proud of them.
He frowned, his eyes narrowing at Fitu’s loaded response to his question. He nodded when Fitu referred to the earthquake. It seemed that event had been felt by every wolf. The devastation it had caused for Heyl clearly still shook FItu deeply, the anguish was clear in his bright amber eyes. The Lord of Aryn was silent as the white wolf explained.“Fitu…”
Alcatraz murmured solemnly when Fitu spoke about the death of his children, and then his mate, and then the leaving of his little sister, tears in his eyes. Alcatraz felt a deep and sullen sympathy. All were griefs he could not bear to imagine… “I’m sorry.”
Despite it all, Fitu managed to smile. A weak smile, but a smile nonetheless. He was stronger than he seemed. Such devastation to the pack he lead, such tragedy to his family… that would be enough to break any wolf. Could Alcatraz even power on through such trials? Athena has suffered similar…
Alcatraz reflected. She had lost everything, even her pack. She had risen from the ashes like a phoenix, full of beauty and strength. It was perhaps what he admired the most about her. And Fitu showed just such resilience. To carry on and keep control despite unimaginable circumstances. Only the truly great could perform such a feat. “Yet left they are,”
Alcatraz remarked. “Your path has not been easy, nor has the path of your pack. Still you lead them all with a steady paw, and a compassionate mind. Your wolves think highly of you, as I’m sure you know.”
He has spoken to a few of them, so it was no empty statement. “You’ve always been a spectacle, Fitu,”
Alcatraz went on with a smile of amusement as he remember that first time they had met, the young white wolf bellowing bizarrely into his face. Even after he had never been normal
from Alcatraz’s experience. Nevermind Alpha material. Yet here he was, perhaps one of the finest Alphas Alcatraz had met given how tall he still stood after everything that had happen. “Who would have thought you’d turn out to be so spectacular as well.”
Tears freely flowing now, Fitu could only respond with a laugh which ended up more as a puff of air from trembling lips. "I-I'm-thank you...I wish I could believe it was true."
he said, now laughing, wiping at his face with a paw and trying to sneeze his tears away. "I'm sorry to say all of that...I suppose I haven't talked about it in too long."
he said. "There's been so much I suppose...I should've expected it would back up like this. But...I don't want you to worry about me, or-or any of us. We've....been through a lot. They're incredibly strong, to the point where I can scarcely believe it."
He looked over Alcatraz's shoulder in the direction of the voices of his wolves mingling with Alcatraz's, and smiled. "Indeed, I often can't believe my luck with them. You'd never expected a pack built as a haven for the ill could be so full of strong wolves...look at...talking about them as if they were my children. They've made me very proud."
Now afraid to continue, Fitu decided to redirect the subject. "But that's...not why you're here, yes? I hate to take up your time with...stories about myself. I know you've something you've come here for."
Alcatraz watched sympathetically. It was easy to feel responsible for all hardships as an Alpha, Alcatraz knew. But no wolf was perfect, unfortunately, and he just hoped that Fitu wouldn’t be too hard on himself. For a leader, self-doubt was a self-sabotaging characteristic. But it seemed Fitu loved his wolves, and cared about them immensely and that was the most important thing. “Mmph, in some ways they are,”
he mused. He would be lying to say he didn’t feel at least somewhat paternal to all his packmates. After all, they depended on him and Athena to guide them through everything.
Alcatraz shook his head, “It was a story I needed, and wanted, to hear,”
he assured the big white wolf, then nodded. It was time to get to his business, “Yes, the reason I have come. Aryn has had some difficulty lately with rogues from the extinct pack of Blutwald. They infiltrated our pack, posing as friends, and then turned on us during a hunt and stole one of our juveniles. They also injured many. We have yet to find them since. I ask if you have seen any suspicious wolves in the area, and if not to keep out an eye. And also I warn you to be wary of outsiders for the safety of your own pack. Blutwald and Aryn have a past that has left many bitter, so it’s likely Heyl would not be a target for the rogues. But it is good to be careful nonetheless.”
Fitu listened concernedly to Alcatraz's words and gasped. "Blutwald?! I..I've only heard of them on the wind, and that they'd long ago disbanded. They're...still around? "
When Alcatraz spoke of his pack's loss Fitu's ears knitted back. "I'm sorry, my friend. I assure you if we see any sign of rogues we'll send an envoy to you."
Fitu's muscles tightened. It seemed there was a never ending source of problems in this world. No pack was allowed rest."Thank you for telling me."
he said to the other. "If you need anything from Heyl, we will give it. The only thing, I'm afraid, that we cannot do is aid in violence. We can aid in driving wolves off, but it is our creed not to kill."
Alcatraz grunted an affirmation as Fitu expressed his disbelief, “Yes, during a fight one of ours recognized a former member of the disbanded pack,”
Alcatraz explained. He nodded when Fitu offered his condolences and assured him that he would send word if anything came up. “Thank you,”
he said solemnly. Another pack of eyes would be invaluable in their search for these rogues and their missing packmate.
Alcatraz was not surprised to hear of Heyl’s peaceful ways. They were known as a pack opposed to violence. “A noble creed,”
Aryn had a similar one, unless circumstances required otherwise in any case. “Aryn will offer the same in return.”
There. Alcatraz had never been much of a diplomat, and even less so now that it was Fitu he was interacting with. Their packs had been allied in Alcatraz’s mind as soon as he had seen the white wolf at the head of this peaceful group. With the purpose of his mission complete, Alcatraz adjusted his weight and looked out at the view of Heyl from this height. It was a beautiful land that Fitu had settled, mountainous and rugged. He let out a sigh, “I still think I may be dreaming, finding you here, ruling over this lot.”
he said, giving Fitu a good-natured smirk.
Fitu smirked in return, and opened his eyes again to look where his friend's eyes had drifted. The golden light of late afternoon caused the field and peaks of Heyl to glow. "I sometimes feel that I'm dreaming myself."
He looked at Alcatraz, imagining his friend's pack bowing their heads to him. A most worthy wolf, indeed. Fitu felt in absolute awe of his friend, and a bit inferior. Alcatraz had the makings of a true alpha. "I hope someday to visit Aryn too. I'm sure it's a splendid territory."
Alcatraz looked at FItu when he mentioned visiting Aryn, his ears perking at the mention, “You would be welcomed any time. I would like for you to see it…”
he remembered when he had left Fitu all that time ago, knowing that he had to travel to a new land with Athena to help her establish Aryn. He had felt guilty leaving Fitu behind, he knew the white wolf in his youth had been scared to lose his teacher. He wanted to show FItu what that had all been for. And beyond that he saw Fitu as a bit like a little brother. Now that they were reunited again he wanted to share more of his time, and his life, with him. Though since both of them were tightly bound to their packs that was not possible. So visits would have to do, and he would make the most of them. “For now, come! I’d like to introduce you to my packmates.”
And one wolf in particular, Lawson. Neither Lawson or Fitu shared blood with Alcatraz, but they felt like his brothers just the same, and Alcatraz knew that the two would get along. He never dreamed a day would come where he could stand with one on either side, and he looked forward to that moment. And even aside from that Alcatraz was accompanied by Aryn’s best, who were sure to give Fitu and the Heylians a good taste of Aryn decency. He was eager to meet Fitu’s packmates too. He knew a few Heylians but it would be good to get a greater sense of the sort of wolves Fitu kept in these parts. Though more than anything he was eager to spend time with his old friend.