Ramona was thankful that Charaka ordered them to be unharmed, but the look she gave her before running into battle struck Ramona’s heart with guilt. She scanned the area; it seemed like everyone around them was fighting and she and her mother were in the middle of hell, untouched by its fury. Blood, fur, teeth, claws...Could Ramona really stand by and watch her pack mates die for her? It wasn’t a hard decision. Ramona knew what was right; she had to fight, she had to leave Crash and help
She turned to the smaller female with a face of sorrow. “Mother- go find a place to hide, quickly.” She said hastily, giving Crash a lick on the face before she shoved her toward the line of trees that she and the other Blutwald wolves had emerged from. She steeled herself for battle and put all thoughts of what might happen to her mother behind her. She couldn’t let that worry her now- if anything, she needed the thought of her mother safe to keep her going. As she turned back to the fray of bodies, her red orbs caught sight of Athena, the alpha of Aryn. Suddenly Ramona felt the rage well up inside of her for what the alphess had done.
Perhaps it wasn’t her fault that the battle began, but she did nothing to try and stop it, she only used her pawns to defend her land. Before she knew it, Ramona was wading through the fighting wolves toward her like a white she-devil, her hackles raised and a snarl on her taut lips. Her vision became only that of Athena and soon she was at a run, charging head-first at the dark female.
A streak of motion caught her eye, and the Lady looked to see a pale wolf charging her in headlong sprint. Crash’s daughter, Athena realized, and a streak of anger cut across her face. Clearly young and inexperienced, the white female seemed to be fighting without strategy. Too easy.
Expression hardening, Athena turned on light feet to face the attacker, poised with fangs bared as if to retaliate. She stood like one preparing to hold their ground - to meet the attacker head-on. But the Blutwald wolf looked a good two stones heavier, and larger besides. In a flat charge like this, they would trample Aryn’s Lady easily. They would also have difficulty maneuvering. It was a foolish move.
Waiting for the other wolf too come too close to stop, Athena sprang out of the way, a black shadow fluttering out of reach. In one clean motion, she spun on her heels and lurched after the white wolf from behind, aiming for a hind leg which could easily be lamed or broken. It would also be a simple task to pull Crash’s daughter off balance this way, and keep her own heavy fangs well out of reach from Athena simply by continuing to jerk backward - much like when dealing with a poisonous snake.
The Blutwaldian soldier snapped her jaws defensively towards Charaka, and was completely unaware of his presence off to the side as he readied himself as backup if need be. His ears were swiveling constantly however, the exploding sounds of snarls and bodies colliding with each other. Even the smells of blood and individual scents were beginning to distract him, making it harder to focus on just one wolf at a time. A flash of white ran off in his peripheral vision, causing his head to snap in the direction of the bolt of white. He recognized her immediately as the nameless albino female he had come across in his training days moments before the cold war between the two packs was announced. Their meeting had been cut short once Seaver had arrived to bring him home. His eyes followed the direct line she was running in, realizing right away that her target was Mother. The fur along the edge of his spine rose defiantly, feeling a fiery urge to protect and ward off any danger that came to her, the same dangerous burning he felt when Veron challenged him for Alexis.
With a snarl, he propelled forward towards the albino female’s trail, swiftly dodging the wolves engaged in combat and snaking his way through possible attacks that were lunged blindly at him. He was growing close, close enough to call out to them, but suddenly a wind from the north shifted strongly through the wolves, blowing away any distracting scents that had blocked his nostrils. It blasted its fingers through the thickness of his alabaster coat, but there was something else. Not only was the wind cold as the touch of death, there was a scent carried on it. One that didn’t belong to anyone or anything currently among the battlefield. He felt something stop him, a force similar to Fallon’s breeze as if he were telling him something. Because of this sudden feeling he skid to a stop, the sounds around him suddenly becoming dull and muffled as his head looked around, trying to pinpoint what he was detecting. This wasn’t normal, something was wrong, he never felt this way about anything before. It started his heart and made him almost feel vulnerable, as if the eyes of the Deceiver himself were watching him.
Too distracted by the sudden wave that overtook him, he did not realize that he was standing completely frozen in the middle of a battlefield. With his head constantly swiveling, he remained idle for too long and in turn he felt the immediate force of something huge and heavy collide with his face from the side, sending both of their bodies tumbling off to the side. The sound returned in his ears along with a profound ringing from collision, and his head pounded from the pressure. He was disoriented and confused, and when he tried to rise from the ground and open his eyes he cursed loudly, shutting his eyes tightly once more while trying to wipe at his eyes frantically with his paw. Blood and dirt had completely soaked his face from the impact, temporarily blinding him.
Ramona was pleasantly surprised to see Athena turn and face her, ready for the challenge. So perhaps she wasn’t all that cowardly. Ramona let out a loud bark and charged the female, her jaws spread wide in an attempt to drive her canines into the shewolfs flesh. However, at the last moment, she danced out of the way, sending Ramona skidding to a halt and almost eating a mouthful of dirt. Coward! Ramona’s conscious screamed. She turned quickly on her heels, quicker than most large wolves could pull off, and was facing Athena once again. She wouldn’t admit it, but she had hardly any fighting experience. The adrenaline rushing through her veins now though completely disregarded that fact. All Ramona could think about was getting revenge on the black shewolf for holding her mother hostage.
Ramona tried to remember what she’d witnessed the Blutwald warriors do in their spar matches as she circled Athena. It seemed like such a long time ago; now that they were in the midst of battle, normal everyday life was a thing of the past. Once she was confident with a form of action, Ramona took the opportunity to strike. She lunged forward, seemingly to bite at Athena’s face, but instead she feinted away moments before and aimed for her legs.
Her outstretched jaws closed on nothing but thin air as the pale wolf spun faster than Athena would have thought possible. The girl clearly had raw talent, the prowess of one bred for battle. Not like Crash in the least… Who could her father have been? “Back off!” Athena snarled, ears pinned and grey eyes flashing with fury. “I’ll not warn you twice, girl!”
The shift in Ramona’s tactics was obvious, Athena should have noticed it and made a feint of her own. But the warcry of Alcatraz crashed against her ears and the Lady’s attention focused to her beta, charging Rhaegan headlong. It was a critical error, and she realized too late the lunge for her face was a bluff.
Belatedly, Athena tried to dodge. She saved herself from a crippling blow but could not escape Ramona’s jaws entirely. Fangs clamped down hard on Athena’s thigh and she let out a sharp hiss of pain, twisting around like a viper to bite viciously at her attacker’s face before they could retreat. If she was lucky, she’d take an eye. Otherwise, the retaliation should at least be enough to grant Athena more room to maneuver.
Ramona ignored the shewolfs words as she closed in on her legs. She tried to dodge, but her evade was sloppy and Ramona caught Athena’s thigh between her jaws, clamping down like a croc on it’s prey. It wasn’t the best bite, but it was enough to inflict some damage; Ramona smiled to herself as she heard her opponents painful hisses. However, just as she was about to open her mouth for a better hold, Athena snapped back and lashed out at her. Thankfully, she caught the movement just in time to shift her face in such a way that Athena’s fangs caught her brow and cheek instead of her eye.
She gritted her teeth and suppressed a yelp, but as she yanked her head away, she couldn’t help the cry of pain that came with it as the flesh that was caught between Athena’s jaws ripped from her face. Once out of her attackers grasp, she jumped a few paces back, putting space between them once again. Ramona had to be more careful; if she let Athena get that close to her face again, an eye wouldn’t be the only thing she could lose.
The moment Ramona’s jaws loosened, Athena shot forward, giving herself room to maneuver. She’d given Ramona an ugly bite, but not a crippling one. It looked painful - frightening at the very least, especially for a stranger to warfare. he hoped it would be enough to dissuade the runt from continuing this foolish assault.
Athena kept her weight on all four legs even though the sticky red blood oozed from the wound with each pounding of her heart. But Athena would not let her opponent see her pain. Around them, wolves were beginning to break and flee. Athena saw Ruebane, bloodied and beaten, retreating to the treeline. Bloom was down, Caspian fled. Rhaegan had abandoned the fight with Traz and was closing in on someone else - but who, she wasn’t sure.
“Away with you!” The Lady snapped, “Blutwald has lost!” She kept her fangs bared just in case the albino decided not to retreat.
Ramona circled the alpha of Aryn, readying herself for attack. Her words about Blutwalds loss only infuriated her more, made her want to never give up. However, as she stopped and tensed her muscles to charge again, a familiar figure in the distance caught her attention. Her mother was huddled in the middle of the battle. She had to get her out of there, she couldn’t just let her sit there and get attacked. Ramona knew that she needed to give up and leave Athena, but the burning fury she felt for her made it difficult for her to do so. Her red eyes snapped back to the dark shewolf and she snarled with frustration.
“This isn’t over.” She said, the determination and hate brimming off of her. “Maybe Blutwald lost, but the war is far from finished.” Ramona had never felt such anger toward another before and in that moment, she wanted nothing more than to see Athena pay for what she did to her home, her family, and her friends. “I’ll make damn sure of that.” With that final declaration, Ramona didn’t wait for a reply and instead raced to her mother's aide.
The longer it took to clear out his eyes, the more frustrated he felt. He sneered and cursed at himself, trying his best to wipe away the bloodied dirt concoction that soaked his face, standing awkwardly with his paw swatting at his eyes. While trying to cleanse himself from his handicap, he tried his best to listen to his surroundings for a status report of the war. The battle cries were dying down now, either due to death or retreat he wasn’t sure. The presence of wolves around him also dwindled, however no one had attacked him during his disability, which led him to believe that Aryn was winning. Taking a chance, he slowly tried to open his eyes, which blurred with red and stung but not as badly as before. Blinking, he tried to regain his surroundings as blurred visions of wolves moved around, his eyes still not able to focus yet. He squinted, now determined to locate the presence that had caused him to freeze in death moments before he was blindsided. As his vision returned, so did that bone chilling feeling of death at his back side. It seemed to be coming from one direction he soon realized, and he slowly moved his head in the direction of the north towards the mountains, and there he could see it.
His entire body was still as his eyes were wide open now, locked onto the distant figure of a wolf. The white male could see his deathening green gaze clear as crystal from his position, this wolf was watching them with purpose. The longer he stared at this wolf, the more the darkness was beginning to swallow his vision except for his self awareness and this wolf, who stood with his front legs poised together and chin tilted downward into a neat point which rested in the crook of his throat, surrounded by a massive black mane. His coat was of gold and black, left side tattered in old scars on his leg, shoulder, and eye. Suddenly he felt unreal, as if nothing he knew was real. The emptiness he felt in his stomach was replaced with the icy sounds of rattling chains which bound the beast of destruction inside his heart. He knew it existed there ever since he battled with Veron, but it’s presence wasn’t the same as before. It was as if it was reacting to seeing this being’s presence. This wasn’t an ordinary onlooker, no… He wasn’t even sure if he was looking at a wolf. Everything around him was darkness except for the stench of death that this wolf emanated, and he couldn’t even look away.
With whatever clarity he still clung to, he tried with all of his strength to find his voice. Without daring to even blink, he called out the first thing that came to his mind. “Athena! Mother!” Eyes of a demon, the body of a monster… “Who.. is that…?” Feasts off the blood of his fallen victims in joy, a Deceiver of heavenly divine. A vessel of Hell...
She snarled in response to Ramona’s threat, grey eyes flashing like lightning. Be wary of promises you can’t keep, girl. Athena thought scaldingly, watching as the albino fled the battlefield. Only when they were truly fleeing did her posture relax, and the Lady took some weight off her wounded leg.
There wasn’t much of an opportunity to relax before Riley’s desperate cry sent Athena jerking to attention. Her first, most immediate fear was that he’d been injured. Red lines trickled down his pale face. The Lady ran towards him, ignoring the splinters of pain in her thigh. After a heart-shredding moment she realized he was at least ok, even if not completely unscathed. Something terrible was in his gaze.
Jerking her head in the direction of his motioning, she saw a dark, unmistakable figure hovering above the rocks. “Vektren.” She breathed quietly, ears pinning back. What in God’s name are they doing here? Could the pack of demon worshippers have been involved in this somehow? Had Rhaegan made a pact with the dark ones?
Looking around, she saw the fighting was dissipating. Her stomach lurched at the sight of several motionless bodies in the dust. There was little comfort in realizing none of them were her own family. It had been complete victory and yet, nothing about any of this felt triumphant. How did it come to this?
Athena’s gaze turned again to the mountainside, suspicion rearing up inside her. “Some rogue come to gawk, no doubt.” She replied in a sharp voice, the anger clearly directed at the figure watching the battle. There was no need to cause panic now, with so few answers and so many questions. But Riley wouldn’t be deceived by such a simple answer. Giving him a secret look, she added under her breath, “Later.”
However, the leg she crunched down on wasn’t the grey backed wolf. Another pair of fighting wolves, absorbed in their own fight, pushed between Charaka and the Buttworm female and Charaka wasted little time switching targets to snap the leg of another enemy. The cry of terror and pain told her that Buttworm would soon fall to the other Ayrn wolf so she side-stepped them to try to resume her destruction of her target.
She spotted her on the other side of a large swath of fighters. Whether the sow had ran or the throng of wolves separated them before they could act Charaka couldn’t tell. Either way, she would never reach her target before the battle ended. Furious and feeling uncompleted, her fangs flashed towards another stupid Buttworm’s leg. And another. And another.
Charaka waded steadily through the battle, delivering startling blows to enemies on par with Aryn and spending more time damaging those overpowering her packmates.
Vision was darkening, but she fought to stay awake. The sounds of the snarling wolves had just become noise, no longer could she contrate on the actual words the wolves spoke. The only thing she realized was that Rhaegan had left. Probably because she looked half-dead. Hearing her mother’s cry, it woke her slightly, but she couldn’t get up. Seeing Alcatraz stand before her and protect her from Rhaegan, it lightened her heart. Heh, perhaps now she can die in peace. Hardly seeing or even hearing her mother, she closed her eyes to allow herself some peace..
The dark Warden’s ears were perked forward, honed in on his opponent, yellow eyes burning against red. A small voice drew his attention and his gaze flicked to the side to see the red Alphess of Blutwald, Winema. Her lovely green eyes were fixed on him, pleading. Alcatraz felt sympathy tug at his heart. Blutwald wolves were fleeing all around him, and her pack and family were falling apart before her eyes. All because of one wolf. In a fury, Alcatraz turned back to Rhaegan as Winema fled, feeling a new hunger to make him pay. But he only saw the flash of Rhaegan’s cruel white teeth as the dark male sprang away. Alcatraz snarled and went to pursue, but the silence that now surrounded him stopped him in his tracks. The fight was over. And there were more pressing matters. He whirled around, his yellow eyes scanning quickly the Aryn wolves. He saw Lawson, Athena, Charaka, all still standing or finishing off their opponents.
And then his eyes found the little red shape of Bloom as she lay right before him, blood welling from her wounds. He felt a sudden, instinctive urgency as he darted to her side and stooped down beside the young she-wolf’s body. “Bloom,” he choked. Was she alive? Had he been too late?? He pitied Bloom for her situation when she was in Aryn, so he treated her gently, but he would never had said he particularly liked her. Still… she was a good wolf with a heart genuine and she acted with motives as real and reasonable as those of any wolf. To die like this did not seem a proper way for her to go. And he felt strangely responsible. “Speak, girl!” the Beta barked, sniffing at her fur.
Bloom. A voice. It seeped into her mind, her mind that was clouded and numb from the pain. She didn’t want to open her eyes, if she did the pain would come back. Warmth. Someone’s breath whispered against her face. No. Wanting to slip away into nothingness was her goal. It was all she wanted. Now, feeling someone’s nose against her fur and the demand to speak. Alcatraz. His voice sought her out and to pull her back to the pain. With a gentle whine, she opened her green eyes and stared up at him. Staring up at his eyes, she winced.
“You..aren’t gonna..let me die..are you?” She sighed. Her emotions were torn, the pain in her gut told her to fade away. However, she still had Mother to live for. If she survived her battle with Rhaegan. It frightened her, that her Mother may not come back for her.
The Warden let out a heavy sigh of relief as those sylvan eyes opened for him, staring up at him meekly from where Bloom lay panting on the ground. Alcatraz’s eyes flicked from her face to her wound. He was no healer, nor was he well versed in injuries of any kind. Heck, when he had received the wound on his shoulder he thought it would die. And it had looked much worse than this… but did it, actually? Because it was certainly likely, he figured, that in his pain and fear his mind had allowed the wound to grow seemingly larger than it truly was. So maybe Bloom’s was worse… maybe she was going to die… he had no idea. But letting her know his uncertainty, of course, was never the right thing to do. So he kept his pale gaze hard and even slightly irritated, as if he was no longer concerned that she was in danger and more just aggravated at this difficult situation.
Alcatraz felt his heart twist at her words. She lay here bleeding and dying before his paws… but she was an enemy. Her packmates were tearing at his own family even as they spoke. The true thing to do was to leave her and run to assist the others. But the way she looked up at him, her question still hanging in the air that was also filled with snarls and yelps that all seemed somehow distant, he knew he would protect her for the rest of the battle. ”No. Rhaegan is gone, and no Aryn wolf will harm you further. I will stay with you until this farce is done. Just… keep your eyes open. You mustn’t pass out on me.” He crouched beside her, putting one paw protectively over her fallen body as he lifted his head, his pale yellow eyes scanning the fray around him. He didn’t know who exactly he was looking for… were any of the Aryn wolves here educated in healing? Winema was long gone, as was Crash, so there were no Blutwald wolves he knew that could keep her safe and find her the treatment she needed. In the end his yellow eyes were searching for Athena more than anyone else. His Lady would know what to do with Bloom, surely. She always knew what to do.
Heaving a heavy sigh, she winced. Alright, deep breaths hurt. At least she’d succumbed to the idea of dying..and the mere thought did not let her heart pound more blood to the wound. Her eyes felt heavy and she wanted to close them, but the knew the possibility of not opening them again was there. Keep your eyes open. It was so hard to follow his instructions, but as Alcatraz lied down beside her and placed a paw over her body, she shuddered. Closing her eyes for a moment to rationalize her mind that Alcatraz wouldn’t hurt her, she opened her eyes back up.
“I..guess...Blutwald is over..” Bloom whispered, trying to keep herself awake. Green eyes scanned the area. She couldn’t see her mother, or her siblings. Not even Crash was anywhere to be seen. Frowning deeply, she stifled a sob. One little mistake brought Blutwald to separation. Where would she go now--if she survived?
Movement from above caught her eye. A falcon? Wincing slightly at seeing the bird of prey, made her cringe beneath Alcatraz’s paw. The falcon landed beside the two wolves and looked at Alcatraz warily, before turning his yellow eyes to Bloom sympathetically. “Don’t worry, I’m friends with your Mother.” He looked down at his feet and she now realized he had some moss in his talons.
“This is all I can get to help with her wounds.. I don’t know much, but I know this..stuff can help stanch the bleeding until..she can help.” He explained and hopped backwards to let Alcatraz apply the moss.
Everyone appeared to be very occupied as the Blutwald wolves fled into the undergrowth and Alcatraz let out a low growl of frustration. He did not know what he was supposed to do with this injured wolf. Blutwald was fleeing, did that mean Aryn would need to take her? And where had Winema gone, surely she belonged with her mother. He recalled Rhaegan chasing the red she-wolf and shuttered… perhaps he should have chased him… because Rhaegan was here to kill, and it was very likely that Bloom’s mother would not survive.
Alcatraz glared down at Bloom as she spoke, her green eyes scanning the battlefield. The Beta Warden felt his heart fall as Bloom’s world became nothing but rubble around her. And in a pretty direct way, Aryn had been involved in that occurrence. ”Seems that way.” the dark male murmured quietly.
Alcatraz did not notice that falcon until it landed nearby. He glared at it suspiciously. And then it spoke. “The falcon speaks as well?” he growled, exasperated. Not that he disliked Joseph. Alcatraz had never interacted with other species before coming into Aryn, and now it seemed like there were many animals that befriended wolves. Sometimes he wondered why… to avoid being eaten, he wondered? And what next? Was a deer to become the ally for the next battle? Despite his bigoted views on the matter, no one could deny that the bird’s appearance was useful, perhaps even life saving to young Bloom. He leaned forward to snag the moss with a claw, and he pressed it against Bloom’s oozing wound. Surely that would stop the bleeding, yes? He gave the falcon a curt nod, feeling a bit silly but he knew that he would be cruel not to thank him for his help. ”Er, thank you.” He said, applying gentle pressure to the moss as he glanced around again with yellow eyes, looking for Athena. ”Winema may be in trouble. The brute who did this went after her.” He told the falcon. ”Not sure what you can do, but…” the dark Warden trailed off, avoiding the falcon’s gaze as he looked around in case other of his packmates would be in need, and because he knew he could be of no further help to the Blutwaldians. He had done enough for them helping Bloom escape Rhaegan.
Shuffling nervously, he remembered seeing Winema being chased by a large brown male wolf before he landed to help Bloom. Feathers ruffling anxiously, he turned his gaze toward the forest line where he’d seen Winema run off. It was in the direction of Aryn. “She’s headed into the forest of Aryn..” He muttered, then glanced at Alactraz, “Confusion and fear probably made her run that way..” Trying to protect his friend. Winema had been through enough, she couldn’t handle being chased anymore. “You seem to have Bloom covered, thank you. I’ll go to find Winema.” Without any more words, Asku took off into the sky to follow after the trail.
Pleased that the falcon would help her mother, but her body tensed and she tried to stand when her mind registered what Alcatraz said. Rhaegan was going after her mother! As Alcatraz placed his paw against her stomach wound with the moss, she flinched. With a huff, she lied back down feeling dizzy.. She couldn’t help herself..no way could she help her mom. Hopefully the falcon would help her..
Charaka quickly disengaged her fangs from the backside of one of the last Buttworm wolves to flee off towards who cared where. Tail curled proudly behind her, she watched the scattering wolves with a soundless laugh on her lips. Aryn had won! She raised up a quick howl of victory as if to tell the entire Domain of Aryn’s prowess and strength, before returning to her role as a Warden.
“Let them run! Those who are still able stand in front the heavily injured.” Charaka roared out as she scanned the chaos for her Alpha. She spotted Lady Athe next to Riley. So that’s where that little bugger went! She made to call out to them, asking what Lady Athe’s orders were when something in their posture made her hold back. Charaka hesitated, but it seemed that Lady Athe was too preoccupied with some unknown thing to call out orders so she quickly took up the job.
“VICARS! HELPERS! FIRST AID ON THE DOUBLE!” Charaka roared towards Aryn’s treeline. Even without her order the wolves that stayed behind and out of battle were already hurrying towards the wounded. Lady Athe’s plan to have those unable or unwilling to fight prepare first aid for the battle’s aftermath was naturally a good one even if it was last minute.
However, one small part of her wished the battle had gone on for much longer. She did have her fun shown by the abundance of blood on her pelt, both Blutwald’s and her own. Her minor wounds did nothing to expend the adrenaline high she was currently experiencing. Buzzing with energy, she weaved restlessly between her comrades before spotting Master Alcatraz and making a beeline towards him. Some falcon that was next to him flew off and Charaka leapt, barking like a foolish pup before returning to the ground.
Smiling and wagging her tail she swaggered the remaining distance and started chattering. “SUP TRAZ! You should have seen me out there! Those Buttworms didn’t know what hit them! Some of them hit me though. Nothing I couldn’t handle! Why’re you laying down like that? Don’t tell me the great and powerful Master Alcatraz missed out on the action becau-wait is that Bloom?”
Her bragging came to a complete halt as she finally recognized the still form cradled next to her friend. A drop of blood from her soaked muzzle fell on Bloom as Charaka sniffed quizzically at the former prisoner’s belly. “Rhaegan.” she snarled. She could smell his scent all over the girl. She scowled at the many slashes and tears the dark one had inflicted and mentally tsked. Rhaegan may have grown stronger and more skilled, but his fighting still needed work. That much time to make those wounds and yet all it would have taken was one. Although if Bloom didn’t receive expert help soon she would die anyway. “WE NEED A VICAR OVER HERE NOW! SHE’S SEVERELY WOUNDED!” Charaka called over the chaos. She could hear one of the Vicars finish giving instructions to a helper and hurry over. Was it Adrian? She hoped it was Adrian. She’d wipe the blood off on him and then he’d complain and she’d joke about it later to Alex and…
Exhilaration and Bloom forgotten, Charaka spun around to search out her mate’s charcoal fur amidst all the red-stained pelts. She saw him heading for the and away from a tan wolf with a ripped throat. She started running too, but towards Lady Athe. There was only room for worry in her eyes as she skidded to a halt in front of the Alpha. Char could see both of them were injured but those would heal. Alex’s might not. “Please! Let me go to Alex!” she pleaded to her, and as soon as she received permission she turned and ran as fast as she could after him. Lady Athe was more than capable of wrapping up the rest of the aftermath.
Alcatraz dipped his head to the falcon, “Yes… she will be in good paws. I will see to that myself. Good luck.” the Beta said as the bird took wing. The battlefield was empty by now except for the other wolves of Aryns looking around in confusion as they tried to register what had just happened, and he saw the dark pelt of Athena and thanked the One that she was safe. He heard the booming screams of Charaka and flattened his ears, toning her out as he looked down at Bloom and focused on stopping the bleeding. Bloom tried to scramble to her paws to help her mother, Alcatraz used his other paw to hold her down and she sank back to the ground. ”Stay down. There is nothing you can do for her. Except live.” the Warden growled. He knew that even if Bloom could stand, Winema would not thank him for allowing her daughter to get herself killed. Especially not after the Alpha herself had begged him to take care of her daughter. “You are safe now, Bloom. Aryn will take care of you until you are well.” He said, trying to comfort her. It was not his place to say so, but Blutwald or not, Alcatraz knew that Athena would not let this wolf die. And Bloom was probably afraid over many things right now, but he did not want her well being and her future to be one of those fears.
Alcatraz was so focused on working with his moss, since he had no idea how to do anything having to do with wounds, that he did not see Charaka approach until she was right beside him, howling a cheerful greeting right beside him. He jumped, startled, and landed on his pack legs, realizing with a painful jolt that he was injured. He sat back down to take his weight off the injury and glared at her irritably. It irked him how happy Charaka looked and how jolly she was as she bragged of her accomplishments. Yes, they had won the battle, but it was a battle that should not have been fought. A battle that had wounded many of their wolves and Blutwald’s wolves. And even lives were lost. All innocent. Alcatraz felt no joy or triumph over the events that had just occurred. Yet Charaka’s brown eyes glowed with a light he had not seen in a long time. Was this a game to the creamy Warden? He turned back to Bloom wordlessly, returning to his moss pressing. He heard Charaka call for a Vicar as she finally realized how injured Bloom was. Finally she says something useful. He thought bitterly. And then Charaka was off, suddenly looking alarmed. His yellow eyes darted after her and wondered what had suddenly gotten her so afraid. Well, maybe she had come to her senses about the horrors of battle. Alcatraz glanced at a Vicar who padded urgently over to him and told him to bring Bloom back to the den site where she could rest and they could get the needed supplies to help her.
A dark shape caught Alcatraz’s eye as the Vicar hurried off. Lawson! His ears perked in alarm as he remembered his friend who he had left to fend off that red Blutwald wolf. Blood streamed down Lawson’s shoulder as he limped forward, and something about him seemed…. off. Alcatraz was silent for a moment as he watched him, a tired expression on the Warden’s face. Lawson was a peaceful wolf, never having wanted to even train for a fight. But he had assumedly driven off that red Blutwald wolf, and that meant he must have really hurt him… ”Lawson.” Alcatraz finally spoke up, his bark crisp and commanding. He knew that sometimes wolves in shock craved another wolf telling them clearly what to do, and give them a task to distract their mind from what had just happened. “I will need help bringing Bloom back to the den site, if you are well enough to assist.” He said. Once he had said what he needed to, he went on in a more gentle voice. “Are you okay?”
And like that, it was over. The brown wolf seemed to be frozen in the middle of the battlefield, though luckily it was finally coming to an end. The metallic smell of blood was overwhelming. The crimson liquid staining the ground was a mixture of the two packs. It swirled together, not caring from which pack the blood came from; it was just from some dead wolves.
Charaka's cries and howl of victory brought him out of his trance. What once were bright, enthusiastic eyes seemed dead, tired, and full of sorrow. Ruebane's taste was still on his tongue and his scream kept ringing in Lawson's ears. He had wanted to do what was necessary to save his family - Aryn - but this was too big of a price. What would've happened if he killed the Blutwald wolf? Would blinding him be the death of his red enemy?
Scanning the field, he spotted Alcatraz, not registering the wounded wolf beneath his paws. Lawson just wanted to get to his Beta, his mentor, his trainer, his friend. Alcatraz would know what to do, right? How to help? The brown wolf limped slowly towards him, teeth clenched to help block out the sharp pain with each step. His ears perked at his name and barked out a mixture of a sob and a laugh. Wait, help with what? Glancing down, he finally registered Bloom and all the...
"Oh no," he rasped and turned, dry heaving violently, then forced himself to take a few steps away to empty the contents of his stomach. Lawson snarled and closed his eyes to stop the tears threatening to fall. After a few seconds and deep breaths, he slowly made his way back over to the Beta and the poor Blutwald female. Averting his gaze from the blood, he nodded slowly. "H-how can I help?" the young adult asked, purposely ignoring Alcatraz's question.
Alcatraz watched wordlessly as Lawson looked down at Bloom. He looked positively sick and stumbled back. It tore at the Warden’s soul to see his friend like this. He wished in that moment he had opted for anyone else to be in the combat patrol. Anyone except for Lawson. But the dark male swallowed his grief and stepped forward bravely, offering his help.
Alcatraz continued on as if he had not noticed Lawson’s reaction. ”We will need to move her.” He said, his paw pressing the moss into the wound. He had hoped it would stop bleeding, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen so easily. Already the moss was dark with blood and it stained the pale fur on his pads. He glanced around. Branches littered the ground around them, one large limb had branches with soft bristled radiating from the stem, large and wide enough to hold the young wolf. The dark Warden stalked toward it, grabbing it and dragging it toward the two, limping to avoid putting weight on his back leg. He dropped it right beside Bloom and turned to Lawson. “Once we get her on the branch I will drag it and you make sure that she stays on. Walk beside and keep pressure on her wound with this moss. We are taking her home.” Alcatraz felt like it was a bad idea putting Lawson in charge of a severely injured wolf with so much blood on her, but he was stronger than Lawson was, and Lawson’s shoulder looked painfully injured. Lawson would just have to try and control his distress until they made it home.
The two dark Arynians worked carefully to move Bloom, Alcatraz constantly keeping the blood-sodden moss against her wound as they slid the branch beneath her. Alcatraz stepped back to examine their work and nodded as he was satisfied that she was safely boarded. He met eyes with Lawson and dipped his head curtly, indicating that they were ready. He limped forward, grasping the branch in his jaws and lifting the end. He kept his head low as he began to drag the branch, as quickly and smoothly as he could on three legs. His yellow eyes flicked frequently to Bloom, and sometimes Lawson as he lead the way. He was concerned for both in much different ways. Bloom lay bleeding on the sliding branches, but Lawson looked nearly as dreadful. He followed along obediently, but his amber gaze looked positively broken. Alcatraz didn’t know how his encounter with the red Blutwald wolf went, but he could only assume that Lawson had done something terrible while defending his home. It was not unusual for a wolf to be affected by their first battle, and it was clear that Lawson was no exception. Still, something about his expression when Alcatraz had first called him over disturbed the Beta even now. Lawson was not just any wolf. Alcatraz sent a brief prayer that he would be able to recover, and made a mental note to see to it himself. Battles were hard but they were a way of life. He hoped that he could help Lawson understand, and move on from this traumatic experience.
Such a whirlwind the day had been… it seemed like ages ago he had been standing beside Athena, watching Crash and Bloom return to their pack at long last. And then everything had fallen apart in a fraction of a heartbeat. But the Warden had no time to think on it, nor let anything sink in. He needed to focus on get Bloom back to the den site.
Separating from Riley, Athena watched Char chase after Alex, and then Alctraz and Lawson as they drug Bloom’s mangled figure into the forest. Her pale eyes drifted over the valley, now a bloody battlefield, and she felt something inside of her fracture. It was small, barely noticeable, but she knew it would grow. Seasons of preparation, planning, praying. And in the end, war had brought all of that crashing down. One wolf’s hatred had been all it took for everyone to cast aside the notion of peace.
She remembered then how truly fragile the balance was; how quickly the better notions of wolves could be cast aside. The thought troubled her, but she pushed it aside for now. There were more important things to deal with now. She was the Lady of Aryn. She needed to see to her family.
After that, there would be time to grieve for what had been lost.