Alcatraz stalked along the border with Chandor. He had returned to Chandor several times since his encounter with the white wolf Fitu, determined to help him learn a bit more about fighting and thus make Chandor a more formidable pack to protect his childhood friend Gabitrix. He liked to think that they were making progress, but learning anything took time. Luckily Alcatraz was more patient than he had expected being when faced with eager youths. As long as a wolf was trying, he found himself with a vast amount of patience (not to say he wasn’t still a bit blunt and even seemingly irritable with them, but dealing with others that way was a habit for him at this point).
He also had something very important to tell the young male this afternoon. He was leaving the area and joining the new pack Aryn. He would no longer be able to visit, for he would be occupied with his new pack. He had to admit, he had grown to like the quirky young male, and to say goodbye saddened him more than he expected.
Alcatraz arrived at their meeting place just as the sun reached its height. He glanced around the forest, waiting for his apprentice’s appearance and looking grumpy, as usual.
Fitu woke with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Spring was here, no more starving and no more belly-deep snow to trudge through! It was an especially wonderful day because he knew his mentor Alcatraz was scheduled to meet him at the usual place to further their training.
Fitu felt he was making progress, but felt a little guilty that he was relying on Alcatraz so much. Despite this, they both seemed to enjoy the training and now that the snow had melted, training would be much easier!
His nose brought him to their training area, a small and secluded clearing with fine dirt underpaw and several tools they sometime used in fighting. Boulders for pinning enemies with, roots to trip the opponent, even a stream for making a quick getaway and to cover their scent. He smelled his mentor in this clearing and was overjoyed to see that the dark wolf was there waiting for him. He had seemed more distant than usual, as though something were on his mind."Alcatraz!"
He called to the large brown male. "I'm here! Lovely day isn't it? I can't wait to get started!"
He chirped happily, bounding over to his mentor and bowing his front half in a submissive and playful demeanor, something Alcatraz had taught him to do when confronting friendly packmates. It was better to be friendly than stiff with them, the male had said, for friends could be made far easier that way.
Alcatraz was surprised when the first indication of Fitu’s arrival was his appearance. His steps had become more stealthy and measured, and he made not a sound as he moved through the forest. Alcatraz smirked in satisfaction at their progress.
He got to his paws as Fitu approached with a friendly yet polite bow. His amber eyes were bright and his behavior was more wolf-like every day. ”Yes, perfectly adequate.”
Alcatraz agreed, less enthusiastically, but with a warm tone of voice. He had debated starting with telling Fitu he was leaving, but he had decided to wait. There was one more lesson he wanted the young male to learn. “I have a special lesson for you today. There will be times when you are desperate. You will be put into a fight you cannot win and you will need to take drastic measures.”
Alcatraz paused, glancing into the depths of the forest beside them. It was still bare after the long winter, but spring was on the way and birds sang through the trees as the sunlight bathed the clearing in a pleasant glow. It was at quite a contrast to their morbid topic. He glanced back at Fitu, “Killing another wolf never feels like a good idea. But when your life and the lives of your pack mates are at stake, you do what you must.”
Alcatraz waited for the young male’s reaction at the news that they would learn how to kill today. He did not know of Fitu’s past, or how he had killed his own father. In fact, the last thing Alcatraz would have expected would be to hear that Fitu had killed someone. As far as the dark loner knew, this would be Fitu’s first consideration of the concept of murder.
Fitu beamed at Alcatraz's agreement and sat down before the wolf, ready for his mentor to announce the subject of this day's training. He was in no way prepared for what came next. A thousand sensations hit him at once. It felt as if ten hundred trees had fallen on him simultaneously, as if water colder than ice had filled his body and washed him dry of his previous joy. Killing...another wolf?
Unbeknownst to his teacher, Fitu knew all too well the taste of blood. Only a few months ago, he had committed the accidental but horrifying act of murdering his own father after not recognizing his scent. It had haunted the juvenile ever since, torturing him with nightmares and fits of rage, constant paranoia and extreme fear of confrontation, not to mention a lack of trust in himself. To face this again, the act of murder, but on his own terms was unthinkable. Fitu couldn't breathe, he couldn't think. Without explaining himself he began to shake and his pupils dilated. He looked at his mentor briefly but flashed his gaze downward again. How would he tell him, how COULD he tell him?!"I-I....I can't...!!!"
He gasped, his claws sinking into the earth to prevent him from collapsing but the effort proving futile as his his forelegs began to slip father and father in front of him as he he sunk to the ground in a spasm of terror.
Alcatraz watched Fitu’s reaction, and he brow furrowed as the white male’s eyes dilated and he began to shake uncontrollably. ”...Fitu?”
By now it was clear that Fitu’s mind was a whirlwind of confusion and fear.
Alcatraz took a startled step back to avoid the young male’s sprawling paws as he dropped onto his belly in terror. Alcatraz quickly realized that such a subject meant more to Fitu than he ever could have guessed. Something
had happened that Alcatraz had no idea about. ”Fitu, get a hold of yourself!”
Alcatraz barked, ”What’s wrong with you?”
It was Alcatraz’s way of showing concern, however gruff it sounded.
Amid his internal frenzy Fitu heard Alcatraz say his name was but in too much of a terrified stupor to respond. This must all have been such a shock to his mentor, the young wolf hoped a reprimand wouldn't follow but certainly expected one. What a scene he was making! If he wasn't shaking so badly he would have been more embarrassed, but now all he could could think was how to tell the wolf before him why he was acting this way. He was aware of Alcatraz's moving away from him, and felt even angrier at himself for this ridiculous pup-like outburst. The sun and trees, the grass and dirt all seemed to be laughing at him. He had to say something instead of writhing like the worm he felt he was.
When Alcatraz snapped the trance broke and Fitu flinched tremendously, as if he'd been stung by a wasp. Fitu looked up at his mentor with dilated pupils and tried to find the words."I...I...I know what it is to feel blood on my maw... I've...I've felt the flesh of another between my teeth and..I-I know...what it means to...kill..."
he said shakily, pushing each word out of his throat like lumps of clay, shaking with every one. He lowered his gaze, unable to face the wolf who had trusted him, believed in him. How could he put it? He had already killed a wolf, as a young wolf! It hadn't been out of self-defense, he hadn't needed to, it was all in the defense of his fake family, and what he had destroyed was the real one, the real family he had hardly known.
Alcatraz watched the young white wolf with narrowed yellow eyes, his mind a whirl. What on earth could have this pup so worked up? And what was he
to do? He had never had another wolf melt down on him like this! But Fitu, he had come to learn, was full of surprises. And he was just about to say the largest surprise of all.I know what it means to… kill…
The terrified white wolf’s voice was trembling violently as he managed to choke out the words. Alcatraz’s dark ears flattened as the young wolf’s gaze dropped to the ground in shame and mortification. Clearly Fitu wrestled to this day in forgiving himself for what he had done to his victim. Alcatraz was silent for a moment, processing the words, and trying to think of the best way to deal with it… he remembered back to when he had admitted in shame to his friend Charaka that he had lost his battle with Ivan, and then he knew what to do.
The dark loner took a few steps forward, leaning his huge head down and around the little pack wolf’s chest in an nuzzle-like embrace. His thick brown mane nearly engulfed Fitu as the loner did the best he could at what he considered comforting. Of course, Alcatraz had never been good at such actions… he tried to pick his words carefully, but he felt almost as if he was throwing stones into a dark cave. ”It’s okay, Fitu… “
he rumbled. His brutish voice was not meant for such comforting words, but he was trying his best, ”it’s okay…. your past doesn’t define who you are now...”
Fitu could feel Alcatraz's eyes on the back of his head. What must he think of the young wolf? Did he think he was a tail-tucker, a fool, a scatter-brained maniac? This would most certainly be the last straw. Alcatraz had proven to be patient up until now, but this would surely push him over the edge. What would would ever want to deal with this sort of behavior? For what Fitu knew of wolves, none would. He wondered where the punishment had gone, why he wasn't being told to straighten up. Instead what came next shook him to his very core.
He suddenly felt his mentor's neck around his, and any trembling that remained ceased. He sat still with shock for several seconds, unable to process what was happening. Even when his alpha Aethelynda had shared her meal with him and allowed him to join the pack he had not felt such intense shock as this. His heart slowed to a calm beat and the warmth came back into his blood. When Alcatraz told him it would be okay, that his past couldn't define who he was, he crumpled down again, not in misery, but in utter disbelief of the kindness of the wolf before him. A long series of sobs began to shake his body. He was beyond caring about his actions, his emotions had taken control of him. In Alcatraz's embrace he almost felt that things really could
turn out alright, but his mentor didn't know the whole story yet, and Fitu suddenly felt a pang of guilt for having kept this secret from the wolf he trusted so much.'I...I'm so sorry about this, I...I don't know what came over me...
Fitu stuttered. He pulled himself from Alcatraz's fur to look with tearful liquid eyes at the dark wolf."There's.....something I need to tell you,-something I've been keeping a secret...I'm sorry I never told you before, but...its because I thought you would ... that you would think I was...a monster...or something..."
He said shakily, still numb from his experience.
Alcatraz felt the young wolf melt in his embrace, and he kept his strong chest against Fitu as the sobs overtook him again. Alcatraz could not tell yet if he had comforted Fitu or not. But the frantic fear coming off him in waves had ceased. Only sadness seemed to remain. Sadness and emotion. Alcatraz was silent, waiting for Fitu to speak again.
The white wolf backed up, the grief shining in his bright amber eyes as he met Alcatraz’s sandy yellow gaze. Alcatraz listened with dark ears perked, his expression serious and attentive. This was clearly a huge deal to his apprentice, and Alcatraz felt responsible for his well being now. He wanted to help all he could. ”Everyone has things in their past that they are ashamed of… some more than others,”
he paused, still unsure exactly what had happened, and how it would compare to, say, his own past regrets. From Fitu’s reaction, however, he guessed it was probably worse. Even if Fitu was more eccentric than most, everything about this was out of character even for him. Fitu had killed someone… but… how
? And why
? What had driven the timid Fitu into such a violent act, an act Alcatraz had not even known Fitu was capable of? “I have been training you these last few weeks and I know who you are, Fitu. You don’t need to be afraid of confiding in me.”
Fitu listened solemnly to Alcatraz's words, but with the last part came a contradiction. He didn't know Fitu well, at least he didn't know the extent of Fitu's unknown rage, and the crime he had committed would no doubt shock his mentor, no matter how prepared he was. Perhaps the young wolf should start at the beginning, simply starting with the fact he had killed his father wouldn't much explain the true story. He sighed deeply and looked at his mentor squarely."Alcatraz, I think for you to completely understand what I am about to tell you, I must start at the beginning."
Fitu said as calmly as he could, though his voice still wavered."I was born to a small pack on the white islands of Ellesmere. We had been traveling when one day I was picked up by a hawk and dropped into a river. I survived by pure chance and was just old enough to know how to hunt things like mice. I lived on my own for a long time, and was following a herd of musk oxen. I began to feel like they were family to me. One day a pack of wolves attacked them, and I came to their defense. I attacked the alpha male and was only able to slice his throat because he hadn't expected my lunge and couldn't smell me coming...... He somehow recognized me and said my name..."
Fitu had to stop for a moment, bending his head low and swallowing a sob.No
He wouldn't cry again."I found out that wolf was my father. I had just rendered him as good as dead, and my former pack came running up to me...my father somehow managed to tell them it was me, the pup they'd seen carried off, as good as dead. But that same pup they could see had mauled his own father...who bleeding out...on the grass. My mother looked at me, horrified at me, and I ran until I came here, hearing her howl in mourning. My dreams have been nightmares ever since and I can sometimes still feel his...my dear father's.... blood filling my mouth. That is why I can never kill another wolf. Even if my own life is in jeopardy.... I could never sin like that again."
Fitu's speech had left him empty. He hadn't told a single wolf of his past since he had arrived in these lands, and now because it was out, he felt hollow, and alone. Only his past had filled him, because he had no happy memories. Now there was nothing, only a void.
Alcatraz nodded as Fitu said he would explain the full story and he cupped his ears forward, bracing himself for what was to come. He was silent the whole way through the story and even after Fitu had finished as he tried to wrestle with the extend of Fitu’s error and the toll it was taking on him to know how he had undoubtedly destroyed his own family.
It was a shocking story to say the least, and Alcatraz had no idea how to respond. He could see the pain in Fitu’s eyes, and knew that the anguish of the past was as vivid to him as if he had committed the crime only yesterday.
But Alcatraz trusted that Fitu could recover. Alcatraz knew this because Alcatraz had seen the white wolf happy. Alcatraz had seen the true nature of Fitu as they had trained and as he had watched him learn and grow from the timid juvenile he once was. His past was a terrible one, but Fitu could carry on.
It was a bit hard to believe that now, however, even for the dark loner. Fitu looked absolutely broken as he finished his story, his eyes dull and empty as he entire posture portrayed defeat and hopelessness.”Your father… would want you to learn from your experience.”
Alcatraz said slowly. He got the feeling that Fitu loved his father, and therefore his father was most likely a very respectable and wise wolf, ”and he would not want you to hang on to your despair for ever. You messed up, sure, and it’s okay to be regretful and to grieve... But there comes a point when you need to come to terms with that fact that it was just a mistake. There is nothing you can do…”
Alcatraz paused, realizing that there was
something he could do, ”What you need to do is find your mother.”
Fitu prepared himself again for any reaction his mentor might have. How would he
react if someone had told him they'd killed their own father? He would think them a villain, a traitor, a wretch
! But Alcatraz didn't yell, didn't snap, nor did he leave. He kept a level tone and spoke calmly to the young wolf before him. Again his patience and understanding moved Fitu deeply.
His father might not want him to suffer over it, but then, he hadn't really known the wolf. He didn't know anything about his parents outside of the fateful day they last met. Everything from his early puphood was a blur. He was brought back to attention when Alcatraz mentioned his mother. He should..go...to her?
The thought had never occurred to Fitu to go back. In fact, he had thought he would NEVER go back as long as he lived! It would be far too painful to face his family after what he had done. But his mother would wonder where he was, wouldn't she? She had lost her mate and her son in the same day, and that must have torn her apart. How selfish he was, living in hiding! He should have apologized in the LEAST! But he had said nothing, he run like the coward he was."B-but...I don't know how I'd face her...what would she THINK of me?"
Fitu asked warily. "What would I do? What COULD I do?"
He asked, beginning to panic. What would Aethelynda
think of this? He couldn't simply ask to leave, he'd be kicked out of the pack! He wouldn't stay with his mother, he couldn't, but what would he do after seeing her? Where would he live?
Alcatraz shrugged his shoulders. It was true… it would be very difficult for Fitu to face his mother. Alcatraz had no idea what she was like. For all he knew she was furious and plotting for revenge on her murderous son. Honestly, judging by Fitu’s nature, Alcatraz doubted it, but one could not rule out the unexpected…”I dunno what she would think of you.”
Alcatraz said bluntly, ”But your past will haunt you until you find some way to come to terms with it. What happened was a mistake. You didn’t know what you were doing until it was too late. If your mother cannot forgive you, her own pup, then that is no longer your problem.”
Of course Alcatraz was a little less sensitive than others. In his mind, if a wolf was unable to accept a sincere apology it was their fault from then on, not the fault of the offender. Simple as that. He was not taking into account the pain and suffering Fitu’s mother may have gone through upon losing her love as much as he perhaps should. But even if he did, surely she would be able to forgive her pup, for she must love and miss him very much. ”In any case, visiting her will give you closure, whatever her reaction. If you want my opinion, I think that is the best way to overcome your grief.”
Fitu listened to his mentor's words silently and turned them over in his mind. Any number of scenarios could come out of it, and his mother would no doubt be shocked by his sudden appearance. He wondered how she'd been feeling during these past few months, losing a huge part of her family in one fell swoop without warning. Alcatraz was wrong on only one of his points, and that was the fact that it Wasn't Fitu's fault. He had been picked up by the hawk because he had wandered off too far, and his father had died because his son had failed to recognize him. None of this would have happened if Fitu had just stayed close to his parents, but now there was nothing he could do about it. All that could be done was to see his mother and apologize at least after all the suffering he had brought her and the pack.
He heeded Alcatraz's last words carefully. Yes, closure. It would be good for Fitu, but also for his poor mother. Yes, it was the least she deserved."I...I'll think about it...I just- I don't know what I should do, what I should say, or even what I could say to her..."
Fitu murmured, looking up at his mentor."Even if she didn't lash out at me, what if she would want me to stay? I could never stay, I wouldn't even be able to stay for seven sunrises..maybe four at most..."
He trailed off."And anyway, how could I convince my alpha to let me go? Would she let me back into the pack?"
He asked warily.
Alcatraz mulled over the young wolf’s questions. Those bright amber eyes were fixed on him so trustingly. Alcatraz could tell how much Fitu looked up to him, and for some reason that made the dark loner a little nervous to continue on. He knew nothing about Fitu’s family, or their customs, or their mindset. What if he sent Fitu off all hopeful and cheery that he would make everything alright again, only to have him slaughtered by the vengeful fangs of his former pack? The very thought made the corner of Alcatraz’s mouth twitch down into a frown.
Alcatraz shrugged his broad shoulders, unable to answer any of Fitu’s question. ”I don’t know, Fitu. I don’t know what you should say to your mother, and I don’t know what you should do if she asked you to say,”
and that was the full honest truth. Fitu himself was the only one who knew the answers to those questions. ”As for your Alpha, I don’t know Chandor well but they seem quite lenient.”
he said the word with slight contempt in his voice. Clearly he disapproved of the haven-like pack who sought out peace and friendship. ”But regardless of what she thinks, a wolf’s got to do what a wolf’s got to do. Simple as that.”
Alcatraz’s words portrayed how long he had been a loner, and how little he cared for the loyalties that binded a pack together. In his eyes, there was only one option. There was little point for Fitu to stay in Chandor, eaten alive by grief and guilt each day. Such instability was unhealthy. He needed to act.
Fitu's heart sank a little in his chest at Alcatraz's words, but he realized he shouldn’t have been relying on his mentor for every answer. He didn't know Fitu's mother, and therefore could not have answered the question. Fitu sighed and looked up at him."I suppose you're right then... I'll just have to think about it while I travel..."
He paused when Alcatraz spoke again, noting the sour tone with which he used when mentioning Chandor. He hadn't realized it until now but it made sense. Alcatraz wasn't very fond of Chandor. Fitu wondered why but said nothing. Instead he answered as best he could." I understand, Alcatraz...It's really been too long since I've seen my family, it's the least I can to to at least let them know I didn't starve this last winter! Maybe I could even bring my cousin with me! I'm sure he'd love to visit his aunt!"
he said cheerfully.
Alcatraz smiled at the hopeful tone in Fitu’s voice. And he had a cousin? Alcatraz hadn’t known that, but it made him feel loads better knowing that Fitu would be traveling with someone. ”Good. I’m sure he would like that to. And traveling in a pair is always safer.”
Alcatraz liked to think that he had taught the little white male a thing or two about fighting and defending himself, but he still worried about his safety. Alcatraz himself would have volunteered to chaperone Fitu on the journey, but there was a reason he had to stay… and he supposed now was as good a time as any to tell him. ”I will not be here when you return from your journey. I will be assisting my dear friend in the formation of Aryn in a territory just north of the mountains.”
he gestured with his muzzle toward the mountain range north of Chandor territory. He looked back at his apprentice and blinked slowly, ”This will be the last time I see you before I must go.”
It helped Alcatraz to know, however, that Fitu would also be leaving on his own quest. He had grown attached to the young male, and he expected that Fitu enjoyed their time together as well. That Fitu would have a distraction such as his own personal journey to complete, Alcatraz know that his leaving would be less difficult for both of them.
Alcatraz's reassurance soothed Fitu in a way he did not fully understand. Somehow he felt that as long his mentor felt something was right, it must be. He looked at the dark wolf before him admiringly, hoping that one day he too could become as wise and confident. Hopefully this would come with further training. Again, however, his mentor caught him by surprise."Y-You're leaving? But...what will I do then? I don't know everything I need to yet!"
Fitu wailed desperately."That place sounds so far off, and I don't think I'm not ready to be a full wolf yet!"
He cried helplessly.
Alcatraz’s ears flattened at his apprentice’s cries. He was afraid of this. At least it was almost over with… ”I’ve taught you plenty. And it’s not too far off…. just a few miles…”
he glanced in the direction of Aryn. Fitu was not the only one who would miss their training sessions. Alcatraz had found that he really enjoyed the young wolf’s company. Fitu felt almost like a little brother to him, or even, in some odd way, like a son. Alcatraz tried not to dwell on the emotion. He was a lone wolf, and he needed to move on…
...but he wasn’t a lone wolf anymore. He would soon be part of a pack. A pack where emotions such as camaraderie and affection were essential. Instead of swallowing it, he would be embracing it. He gave Fitu a long look…. the white wolf’s well being was important to him. He knew that he would often think of Fitu as he lived his life in Aryn, and wonder about how he was doing, and if his training had been enough.... perhaps, for once, he should not just push this feeling away. ”There is another option.”
Alcatraz said finally. ”You could return from your journey and join Aryn.”
Fitu's heart was racing with fear. He can't leave, he just CANT!
Even if it wasn't far, it would never be the same!"No, no! It's not enough! I'm not ready! I-...What?"
Fitu gasped."J-join Aryn? But...What will Aethelynda say? I pledged myself to this pack, I couldn't- Well... maybe..."
He trailed off.
He could think it over on his trip with Oden, and even ask his cousin's opinion on the idea. It'd put them farther apart, but being with Fitu's mentor was what he needed
to become a new wolf, ready to face the world." I-I'll think it over....on my trip, alright? I'll ask Oden what he thinks. I'll have an answer for you when I get back. How...How does that sound?"
Alcatraz’s pale amber eyes watched his apprentice’s reaction to the idea. He held his tongue, and his opinion on what Alpha Aethelynda would say. Chandor was the most relaxed pack he knew. He doubted they would fight for anything, nevermind the custody of a juvenile who desired to switch homes.
Alcatraz dipped his head, satisfied with the answer, ”Yes, that will work.”
Alcatraz glanced again toward the mountains that beyond them lay Aryn. ”If you chose to join me in Aryn, follow the river through Polished Pass. You will find Aryn just through the mountains.”
His eyes met the amber eyes of Fitu, ”If you are lost howl and I will find you.”
Alcatraz said. He blinked slowly as he looked at Fitu. He supposed this was goodbye…. for now, anyway. ”Good luck finding your family. Remember your training, and I wish you only the best, Fitu.”
Fitu listened carefully to his mentor's instructions, repeating the directions in his mind Follow the river through Polished Pass...you will find a pack there.
The young wolf looked up at his mentor, feeling tears burn in his eyes again. This may be their last goodbye, but it may also be just another checkpoint if they should see each other again. Even if he did decide to leave Chandor to join Alcatraz in Aryn, there was no guarantee he would survive the journey. But he wouldn't cry again not again
He blinked to keep the tears from spilling over the rims of his large eyes and spoke softly and wistfully to the dark wolf he admired so much." I will do my best, Alcatraz. I will use every lesson on my journey and back, and will no doubt have an answer for you, one way or another. Thank you so much...for everything!"
He rush forward and pressed his nose into Alcatraz's shoulder, a sort of symbol of respect, and backed away."I'll be off then! If I'm not killed by my pack, I'll see you within the next three moons, I swear on my marrow! I'll come back a new wolf, however that may be."
He called. The young wolf kept his eyes on his mentor, looking back over his shoulder at the wolf that had taught him to be strong, to be brave, and above all how to become one of the world of wolves. He dipped his head and called out and howled, long and as low as he could. Trotting briskly away, he began to plan out his journey towards home, to the islands of Ellesmere, with no idea what might lay ahead.