Alcatraz stalked into the Aryn den site. It was a lovely spring afternoon, and Alcatraz had some patrolling to do. He saw Raghaalr resting in the clearing and decided he ought to bring her along. The more time he spent with her the more he could judge whether or not she could be trusted. ”Raghaalr.”
Alcatraz barked, ”You are coming with me on a border patrol.”
He said, very clearly a command. He watched her with his pale yellow eyes.
While it was a perfect day for relaxing and dozing off, some seemed to think it would be just as good for running around the territory. Raghaalr didn't have a problem with this. She'd much prefer going on a patrol when it was nice and breezy rather than humid and hot or stormy. She rolled quickly to her paws at the demanding call, shaking some of the debris that had stuck to her thick shaggy fur. Facing the brown-colored male, she stretched contently and then wandered over, movements loose and springy. "Sure,"
she rumbled out as she neared, expression calmly curious.
Alcatraz narrowed his eyes at how calm she was, as if suspicious that she was mocking him, and then he turned and lead the way into the territory. He did not speak as they headed toward toward the border. His ears and nose were alert for unfamiliar sounds and scents and the dark shape of his companion he kept in his peripheral vision. He kept the pace at a steady lope, not too fast or slow, as they went.
She did not mind the silence much, quite aware that Alcatraz was not one for simple chatter. Matching his pace smoothly, the she-wolf strode along as they left the clearing, her tail gently whisking behind her. She let her attention wander over the forest, studying the movement of the leaves and sunlight that flickered down from the canopy. With a slight shake of her thick fur, Raghaalr ambled onwards. For now, anyway, she was fine with keeping quiet, but she had a feeling she'd be attempting some sort of small talk before their patrol ended. Her ears flicked forwards as she lifted her head slightly, catching sight of a squirrel fleeing through the branches above.
Alcatraz’s yellow eyes followed the squirrel’s movements, and then he noticed that the forest had grown quiet… he lifted his head, tasting the air. Bear.
Alcatraz looked at Raghaalr sideways ”Stay alert… we are not alone.”
The Warden growled. He crept forward uncertainly. Perhaps the scent was drifting in from farther away…
The air seemed too still. Raghaalr's pace slowed ever so slightly as she peered about, jaws parted to drink in the breeze. It came to her in a flash of dread. She heard her companion speak up, and merely twitched an ear in acknowledgement, keeping her eyes darting about in search of the source. The fur on her neck had lifted, and her ruddy eyes were narrowed. She stepped after Alcatraz, though, muzzle wrinkled up. Everything seemed deadly silent; the crunching of the wolves' paws too loud on the leaf-strewn ground. There was a heavy snorting noise from ahead, and then the quiet was broken by a bellowing roar.
A vast brown shape reared from the undergrowth. Raghaalr had come to a halt, her eyes wide. The bear stared down at them, dark eyes angry and teeth bared. It was time to leave.
Alcatraz stared up at the bear in shock as it reared up in fury. The Warden darted to the side, shoving Raghaalr heavily with his shoulder as the bear’s huge paws came crashing down on where they once stood. At that moment, Alcatraz forgot about his suspicions about the she-wolf and she was just his packmate again, a packmate beloved by Athena and Charaka and the rest of the pack, and thus one he needed to protect. ”Raghaalr, get out of here, I’ll take care of this.”
He growled, and then he lunged to the side, snarling and growling to draw the bear’s attention to him so his packmate could escape. Alcatraz had been a lone wolf for a long time, he knew how to handle bears. He prowled around as the bear turned to meet him, swiping angrily at the big brown Warden. Alcatraz dodged each blow, luring the bear toward the border as he went.
Grunting slightly, the ragged she-wolf stumbled away, lurching before she found her balance again. She lowered herself slightly and took a few steps backwards, her eyes locked again on the towering shape of the larger predator. Catching Alcatraz's hurried demand, she rose up, her muzzle wrinkled in mild distaste. Some, perhaps, would have been eager to flee, but she wasn't fond of leaving the fight to a companion. Nonetheless, she dared not get in the way, and obliged by backing into the nearest shrub. She wasn't going anywhere, though. Skilled or not, she wouldn't leave her packmate to face the bear alone. One wrong move and he was a goner. Initiating her stealth mode, Raghaalr slipped around and began to tail after the pair.
Alcatraz struggled to keep the bear occupied. It was completely focused on him now. He snarled and snapped, leaping forward before feining back and darting this way and that. The bear could not keep up, lumbering after him with furious swipes and roar. Alcatraz lunged forward, nipping the bear’s ankle, because leaping away. But too slow this time. The bear’s huge claws swiped to the side, knocking the Warden’s back legs out from under him and sending him tumbling forward. He struggled to regain his paws, but the bear was quicker, pinning him down beneath two huge paws. Long claws dug into his thick fur as Alcatraz struggled in vain to get away, but the bear’s strength was greater than his own. He had no chance.
She poked her head up, trying to see above the tangle of vegetation. Yes, there they were, trundling through the forest with much snarling and crashing. Raghaalr darted forwards, weaving around to keep the pair in sight but not enough that she would be caught tailing them. After a moment she saw Alcatraz vanish, and the bear sank forwards. A prick of panic struck the dark she-wolf, and she barreled into action. With a bubbling growl, Ragha launched from the ferns, straight into the bear's side. Her momentum was enough to make it stagger to one side, freeing the trapped male wolf. As the bear struggled to find its paws, the shaggy-coated female snapped her jaws and prepared to jump again, either towards the bear or away. With two of them, leading it to the border would be easier. Ragha thought little of what her companion's reaction would be, only that she was here, helping out.
Alcatraz fought ferociously, but with no avail as the bear crushed him further and further, its jaws gaping as it prepared to close them around his head. But then a fierce snarl sounded from nearby and the weight was lifted as the bear stumbled to the side. Alcatraz wasted no time rolling to his paws and springing away to safety, gasping and shaken. His pale yellow eyes were pale as he turned to see what had happened.
Never had he been so happy to see that dark pelt and glittering red eyes as Raghaalr faced the bear fearlessly. She had returned to save him, and now her own life was at risk. He shook his head to clear it. Raghaalr looked ready to flee or fight, so Alcatraz called out to her, ”Raghaalr, fall back with me! We will lead it away together!”
Alcatraz ordered. The bear, furious, was already giving chase.
Huffing her anger at the bear, she backed a pace away, her ears flicking up to her superior's voice. With no hesitation she turned and leaped away, just missing a swipe of the angry predator's paw. Raghaalr didn't look back as she began to flee towards the Aryn border with the yellow-eyed wolf, knowing by the sound of many thuds on the ground and deep snarls that the bear was tailing them.
Turning her head slightly to glance at Alcatraz, the shaggy-coated she-wolf sped onward, putting all the speed she had into her paws now. It wasn't her greatest strength, but hopefully it would be enough to solve this issue. She tucked her head and ran, legs pumping in and out as the forest rushed by in a blur of greens and browns.
Alcatraz kept pace with his packmate, glancing at her and looking her over to make sure that she was unharmed. She was fine, to his relief, and so he focused on leading the bear away with her. Soon they shot over the border and now Alcatraz knew that they had to find a way to lose the bear so they could return safely. ”Any ideas?”
He panted to Raghaalr between breaths, wondering if she perhaps had a plan of how they could lose the bear. In the meantime his own mind whirled as he tried to brainstorm a solution.
There was a moment of satisfaction as they crossed out of Aryn lands. It vanished quickly when Raghaalr felt her muscles twinge and burn. The bear was still following, still very angry. Ears twitching to Alcatraz's panted question, she gave him a quick look, her expression somewhat worried. But she thought fast, determined not to let him down. She could only come up with one idea. "Split up and hope the bear's too tired to pursue either of us?"
she puffed out, paws thudding. The landscape didn't offer any grand plans either; no rivers or sudden hills that might help with their problem. The dark female rolled her shoulders, tongue lolling out in her exhaustion. Soon she'd begin to falter. But, if her knowledge on bears was correct, their pursuer would be struggling to keep up as well.
Alcatraz nodded curtly at her idea. With the landscape offering no help, perhaps that would be just enough to convince the bear to give up its efforts, ”Alright,”
he said, then then turned his head to look at her and snarl, ”Just be careful. Howl if you are in need of assistance.”
With that the huge Warden veered off to the side, racing into the undergrowth in a zig-zag, putting in an extra burst of speed. He only hoped that Raghlaar had followed suit. His ears were angled backward, straining to hear sounds indicating where the bear might be. She was right, the bear was angry right now but by the two splitting up and suddenly disappearing from view, it is possible that the bear would stop and, and its anger would fade and it would go on its way.
Giving only a twitch of her dark ear in response, she licked her jaws and glanced around quickly to take in her surroundings. As the male wolf barreled away, Raghaalr put on a burst of speed as she changed direction, wildly turning. Her tail whisked out behind her, and she pricked her ears to listen for the bear's reaction. She heard it give a bellowing roar, obviously irked by the wolves' decision. They'd probably gained time, now, as it was likely the bear had slowed in its confusion on whom to pursue. She didn't hear footfalls after her, so perhaps the bear had given up? Praying it hadn't followed Alcatraz, she began to loop back around, weaving through the forest to make her scent trail more haphazard.
Alcatraz was not being followed so he too doubled back, his ears perked forward. There was no sound of a struggle, but still he was anxious until he saw the large black shape of his companion. ”Raghaalr,”
He said with a sigh of relief as he raced forward to greet her. ”Are you alright?”
For the first time since they had met, he seemed genuinely concerned for her.
It was painfully quiet except for the thunder of her paws. At least, until a second set was heard through the woods, coming nearer. A quick scent check told her it was Alcatraz, and a few moments later she saw him appear from the foliage, trundling towards her. Ears pricked up with contentment at his seemingly unharmed figure, she slowed her own pace to meet him. Nose twitching at his words, she gave a nod. "Fit as a flower in May."
she reported jovially, her red gaze darting over him. "You good too?"
Raghaalr asked, just to confirm.
Alcatraz nodded, ”Fine.”
He answered, then said, ”We must report this, and place extra patrols to ensure the bear does not return.”
He cast a weary glance behind him and then began to lead the way toward the camp. He was silent for a moment before saying, ”Thank you for your assistance. I owe you my life,”
the Warden mumbled.
Flicking one ear, the she-wolf dipped her head in agreement. Another encounter with the beast wouldn't be fun. They'd already had trouble with bears before, and it was never something the pack wanted. Raghaalr gave her thick coat a shake as she padded after the brown-colored wolf, tail swinging out behind her. After he broke the silence, she lifted her head and set crimson eyes upon his mud-hued face. A simple blink was given, and then the slightest of smiles. "Of course. We are pack."
Was her rumbling reply, hinting warmth towards the burly Alcatraz.
Alcatraz felt oddly unsatisfied with her answer. Not with her, of course, but with himself. He paused again, clearly this type of conversation was not one he was used to having…. ever. ”We are… but I haven’t been acting that way. I’d like to apologize. I judged you too quickly… without even getting to know you. It’s been a while since I have been in a pack… and I fear for my new one. I took that fear out on you and acted irrationally. Please forgive me.”
Alcatraz said, flicking his previously downcast eyes up to look at her.
When the he-wolf stopped once more, speaking up, Raghaalr's eyes widened slightly. Taken aback by his rather long spiel, she merely blinked a moment as she absorbed all his words. However, she quickly gathered herself, and allowed a faint grin to appear over her dark maw. "Apology accepted, and I understand."
she rumbled, dipping her head slowly to the male. More thoughts lingered in her mind, but she couldn't figure out how to word them, so she left it at that. Her ruddy gaze was warm. Beckoning slightly, she started walking again, tail waving gently behind her.
Alcatraz noticed that she looked startled for a moment, but then a smile came onto her muzzle and her red eyes were warm. As she continued to walk on, Alcatraz felt like she truly did understand that he was being sincere. He smiled in return and trotted to catch up to her, making his way back to the main den site with the she-wolf he finally accepted as part of his new family.