The soft thud with each step was beginning to become a constant, unexpected comfort. The stride and rhythm rarely changed as the male continued his directionless trek towards an unknown destination. The terrain was beginning to change from an open prairie to a small coniferous forest, which was evident by the proud pine trees off in the distance. The young adult tried not to sigh in frustration. Being lost, by this point, seemed to be a bit of an understatement. This land was so new, so large, that it felt like he had been wandering for days and days. It didn’t help to know that this strange land possibly held even stranger occupants. The scents of wolves seemed to come and go, teasing his tired senses.
His rather optimistic mindset was getting beaten with each scratch of a branch, sneak attack of a hidden root, or whatever stupid surprise this terrain had. How had it gotten to this point? Oh, right. He had woken up with the bright idea to leave everything behind for adventure
. Great choice that was. He lifted his head skywards with perked ears, stopping momentarily to get his bearings. The scents of numerous wolves filled his nostrils and he felt a wave of relief crash over him. Maybe he was in luck - it could be a pack!
With more thought, his ears folded against his cranium and he frowned like a sad, angry puppy. Crap. There was nothing he wanted more than to find the company of other wolves, but that desire also came with a price if they were hostile. “That’s just a risk I’m going to have to take,” he mumbled to himself. Puffing out his chest and filled with new-found drive, he continued walking towards the forest.
Alcatraz prowled along the border near Pinefell. The little Southern forest was in a tucked away corner of the territory, which made it just as likely as anywhere else to be invaded by their Blutwaldian foes. Alcatraz would take no risks. He patrolled constantly now, stopping only to sleep and eat. His sandy yellow eyes were narrowed in an eternal scowl as he stalked along, his muscles ready and waiting to be used in combat. Alcatraz had been a lone wolf for a long time, and had grown used to fighting and hunting. He was rather good at both, and trained hard in both. His large muscles and sturdy form indicated his success in the arts.
Suddenly the dark wolf froze, lifting his head high as a peculiar scent caught his nose…. it was not Blutwald. It was a loner. But Alcatraz would take no chances. He took off quickly toward the scent.
He soon was on the border. He saw a gray shape making its way through the conifer trees. Alcatraz moved silently, his lips pulled back in a silent snarl and his thick chest fur bristled, making him look quite large. Finally he stepped out of the undergrowth and into the sight of this interloper. ”You will come no closer.”
Alcatraz said, his voice a menacing growl, ”You have encroached upon the lands of Aryn. State your name, and your business.”
His raised tail, flicking at the tip, and flexing muscles indicated how little it would take for this intruder to meet his fangs.
It all happened so suddenly. His mind was so focused on watching his step and daydreaming, he didn't hear the other male approaching. A sudden twig snap made him stop dead, ears perked, eyes wide, scanning the area behind him. As he turned back around, he nearly bumped right into the large brute, stepping back quickly. Instinctively, his tail tucked and lowered his head to show no threat.
Aryn? Is that where he had stumbled? He had heard of the newly established pack through passing but had no inkling he trespassed on their borders. Clearing his throat and lifting his gaze, he gathered some courage and remembered to mind his manners. "My name is Lawson. I am from a pack far south from these lands." His normal reaction would've been cheerful and confident, but the intimation this stranger was showing was clearly a warning - one Laws did not want to send off. "I have been traveling in hopes of joining a pack; to contribute how I can," he added slowly, trying to be polite and courteous as possible.
Alcatraz watched as the intruders head and tail went down. This was good… however this went, the intruder did not appear to have harmful intentions. It was probably just a harmless mistake from a careless young wolf. Unless, of course, this wolf was looking for something else… Alcatraz’s frown deepened critically as the wolf began to speak. He was scrutinizing every word.
In any other situation, Alcatraz would have given the stranger a tongue lashing and went them away with naught. But these times were different. Aryn was at war and they could use all the help they could get. Finally, after a long pause considering, Alcatraz spoke, ”Why should I trust you with my pack, Lawson from the south?”
The constant stare was causing his chest to tighten and make it hard to breathe. Normally, meeting someone knew would send him into a social tizzy, but this was a delicate situation. Not only had he crossed into Aryn lands uninvited, he was asking to join them! It felt a bit silly to be so submissive, but this was a delicate situation, and he didn't need his big mouth getting him into trouble.
The silence was unbearable so much that when the brown male spoke, Laws jumped slightly. To his fear, he as asked a question he wasn't sure what the answer was. His gold gaze shifted to the ground while he thought, mouth shifting into a line. After a minute he raised his gaze, head, and inhaled loudly. "I wouldn't be risking my safety with a non-sincere request. I left my pack to find somewhere - something
- new. You can
trust me. My words may not be reason enough, but they're all I have."
Alcatraz frowned critically. This wolf had a point… it was only words he could give. Alcatraz had no way of knowing whether they were true, but Lawson had no way of proving them true. Not until Alcatraz gave him the chance to prove them. He let out an irritable sigh. The truth was that Aryn needed wolves. They were at war, but Alcatraz needed a little more convincing before he believed that this wolf would be an asset. ”Something new.”
Alcatraz echoed severely, ”Everything that is new becomes old. Aryn is at war, Lawson. We cannot afford to take someone in during such dire times unless we know they are committed. Once in the pack are you sure you will not gain the urge again to leave your pack to find something new.”
Well, shit. That hadn't gone exactly as planned. Then again, what did Lawson expect? That he would be welcomed with open arms and made an immediate member of the pack? Reality came crashing down hard. At the end of Alcatraz's speech, his lips were pulled back into a half frown, ears back, and gaze stuck to the ground. Lawson wasn't sure how to word how he felt; it would be easier to be blunt but that had a bad habit of turning into rudeness.
He awkwardly cleared his throat, attempting to hide his worry about the word 'war.' "But... isn't trying to find something new a part of life?" he asked slowly. "It gives you a thrill in the beginning but, like you said, it becomes old and that comes with comfort." Huh, this is some pretty deep stuff
. "So, yes, I hope to find that here. Please."
Alcatraz considered the male, silent for several long moments after he was finished. The dark loner looked to the side with a sigh, an irritable scowl on his face. After another moment he looked back at Lawson, his yellow eyes no less cold than they had been before. ”Very well, Lawson. I will take you to Lady Athena. She will decide what to do with you.”
Alcatraz turned, padding toward the main den site. He glanced behind him, ”Hurry up, I haven’t got all day,”
he snapped, even though it had been less than a second since he himself had begun walking.
As the two began to make their way toward camp Alcatraz decided to lay down the law now. ”Lady Athena will decide whether you shall stay or go, Lawson, and you will honor her decision. She is a great Alpha, and will not be disrespected.”
Alcatraz wanted to make it perfectly clear to Lawson where he stood before the dark loner was anywhere near his beloved Alpha.
There was that silence again. His throat went dry, constantly swallowing to find some relief from his nerves. Laws shifted his weight absentmindedly, becoming slightly impatient, masking it as best he could. The air was thick and tense between the two brown wolves until the larger one finally spoke. Lawson broke into a smile with a small tag wag before putting on a more stoic expression. Before he could even react, the other male was up and barking orders, catching him completely off guard. He scrambled for a second then trotting after him, quickly following into stride, though he remained a step back to show some respect, head lowered.
The rules made him gulp but he nodded, eyebrows furrowed in determination. "I will not disrespect her," he announced with his gaze forward. An unexpected motivation and excitement coursed through his veins. This type of experience was something he only heard about in stories. Meeting other wolves, proving his worth, being apart of something new - it was such a thrill! Even for a lazy wolf like himself, the thrill of adventure was too much to ignore.
Alcatraz was unconvinced. But he was always unconvinced. ”Hmph. Good.”
He growled. They made their way through Aryn. As they reached the main den site Alcatraz slowed. There was one more thing
he wanted to say to this loner before there were other wolves around to hear him. ”Should Lady Athena allow you to stay, know that you are not in the clear yet. I will be watching you closely. And if your intentions are anything but pure, I will find out. And I will end you.”
Alcatraz had turned to face the loner at this point, snarling the words with his pale yellow eyes boring into Lawson’s face. It was certainly an ominous thing to say, but Alcatraz was not lying. The Warden knew that Athena may not appreciate him scaring away prospective soldiers for the war. But at the same time, Alcatraz did not want to take any chances with his family.
With a soft snort, Alcatraz swung his head around and lead on. It was now time for Lawson’s judgement.
It felt like he passed the first test. It wasn't the reaction he had been hoping for, but this was no time to argue. To be seen before Lady Athena was probably more than what most loners got a chance at. Although he didn't say it out loud, the male was grateful.
Once again, the brown brute got the upper hand and swung around before Lawson had much time to react. He stopped suddenly, a front paw raised towards his chest, and fell to his haunches with a quiet grunt. As Alcatraz growled the dire warning, Lawson's stomach twisted into painful knots, gulped loudly in honest to goodness fear, and stared up at him with wide eyes. It took him a second to recovery as he remained seated, starting stupidly after his guide with his mouth slightly ajar. It felt like a lifetime before he could collect himself to keep following his guide. It was hard to decide if it was terror or adrenaline leading him to what could be his new pack.