Alcatraz x Phen x Athena
Alcatraz trotted down the border of Aryn. He let out a sigh. The birds sang and the sun filtered beautifully through the trees, but Alcatraz was far from blissful on this beautiful morning. So much was going on in his new pack. Aryn had a Blutwald hostage in their midst, causing a constant threat from the larger pack. Alcatraz was constantly afraid that the aggressive pack would attack, and he feared that his little pack would not make it through such a battle. He had one experience with Blutwald, an experience that had given him his large shoulder scar. Anxiety swam through his belly like live fish almost constantly and he seemed to jump into action at every movement in the shadows or snap of a twig.
He glanced out into the unclaimed land beyond Aryn's border and thought back to his old life. His old life... somehow, he missed it. Much more carefree than his life now... but he would never go back. His family meant too much to him... it was times like this, however, when he wondered about his other loner friends. Most of his closest friends were now in Aryn, but one he had not seen in a while; Phen. He had grown fond of the dark loner after their several encounters, and wondered how she was doing... he hoped she was still alive... he pushed the thought away. Of course she was. Phen was a survivor. She'd be fine. Alcatraz focused his mind back on his duties. He needed to focus on now, not the past.
There was a romantic, almost unnatural atmosphere to the sparse forest; rekindled with life by the warmer weather. Phen padded slowly but decisively around branches and towering oakwood trees, treasuring the blissful feeling of walking on soft grass once again. Perhaps she had gotten enough sleep last night or she had eaten a good meal, but Phen felt more alert than she had felt in a long time. There had, of course, been the shock of finding her childhood friend in the pack bordering this area. There was no real harm of lingering around for a while as she learned to accept Adrian’s life decisions, right? Itching to scrutinize his new home, she tentatively nosed her way around any landmark she found of interest.
A gust of wind brought the pack’s borderline scent to her nostrils, and Phen took a step back warily. It wouldn’t do her any good to wander too deep into these woods and risk being ambushed by a patrol. Though, by the scent of the place, the pack wasn’t fortified by the quantity of it’s members. Narrowing her eyes, Phen took in a deep breath, attempting to further analyze the pack’s current state. A familiar scent immediately sparked her interest, though it clearly wasn’t Adrian’s.
Could it be Alcatraz? Phen frowned, clearly unsure of why her old friend would be wandering around these unfamiliar, occupied lands. She hadn’t seen him since early winter, and she was eager to speak again after they had both conformed to the new season. It was possible that he was unaware of the pack’s existence. Of course, he could simply be curious.
Phen broke her repetitive stride and began to sprint, crashing clumsily through the brush in order to alert anyone nearby. The trail was definitely more intense now. Phen let out an experimental”Hello?” into the distance, craving her friend’s response, yet trying to remain undisclosed from unwanted guests.
Alcatraz’s dark ears perked forward, his thoughts breaking immediately, as he heard a loud crashing through the forest nearby. He curled his lips back in a snarl, taking off with near silent paws toward the sound. He was close to the border, so perhaps the sound had come from beyond it, but either way he needed to make sure his pack was safe, especially with this Cold War between Aryn and Blutwald. No one was getting into these borders without clashing fangs with this huge beast of war.
But the scent that hit his nose was not unfamiliar or menacing. He stopped in his tracks, his brow furrowing in shock. It was…. Phen! As if on cue he heard her distinctive voice call tentatively into the forest. Alcatraz trotted the rest of the way forward, and soon she was in sight, ”Phen!” He greeting, his tail wagging happily.
Although she was heading in his general direction, Phen didn’t manage to detect her friend until she saw his figure a couple meters into the distance. Alcatraz’s bulky shape was impossible to miss, even with the snow now replaced with woodland shades of brown and green. As he approached, a huge grin diffused over her slender face, and Phen leaned forward in preparation to greet him. However, there was a foreign, unsettling new aura that seemed to waft from him, and her muscles froze in response. What had he been doing with other wolves? Before she had the chance to question him, she saw the oak-brown male loom in front of her, looking uncharacteristically friendly. Phen had to laugh it off.
”It’s great to see you, Alcatraz”, she barked gleefully, promptly nesting her nose into the right side of his neck. It was only natural for her to greet her old friend, but she also wanted to scrutinize the male further. As she sniffed the male’s scarred shoulder tentatively, it occurred to her that his new scent was the same as that of the local pack. Phen frowned, pulling away from him abruptly, though not unkindly. A moment passed without words exchanged as Phen took a moment to recognize the male’s strong stare and bear-like physique. Nothing else about him seemed off-center about him...
”Did you get into another skirmish with the locals?” she jeered, an image of the younger version of him staring back at her aggressively when she had encountered him in her territory. There was no way the more experienced wolf before her would miss a border. ”Or have you finally decided to start being more social?”
Alcatraz nuzzled her in return, although noted how confused she seemed at his new scent. Her scent, on the other hand, was largely unchanged, indicating that she still lead the life of a loner. He enjoyed its familiarity. She drew back and he faced her with ears cupped forward. He did not usually greet others so happily, but with the uncertainty buzzing about Aryn any reminder of his past more carefree days as a vagabond boosted his mood. Phen was certainly a reminder. ”You as well,” He said. He did not speak at first, although he was sure she could surmise what had changed since their last encounter. He waited for her to be done with her examination, and she then presented her two potential conclusions.
He snorted a laugh, ”I guess the latter option.” he said, then stated the obvious, because for anyone who knew him well as a loner, he never seemed to have the intention of settling down, so perhaps it was not exactly obvious. ”I have joined Aryn, a new pack that inhabits this area.”Alcatraz explained, ”what about you? What are you doing in these parts?”
Phen’s humorous expression melted into a look of mild amazement. Was he referring to this pack? It hadn’t been more than a couple days since she crossed this area, and would have missed him completely if an old friend hadn’t shown up and motivate her to linger a bit longer. Ignoring Alcatraz’s question for the time being, Phen faced the male with an air of incredulity. ”No way”, she murmured, trying to recall his exact words regarding his views towards settling down. She could hardly imagine him surrounded by packmates, and it was even stranger that a proud, independant wolf such as him would bend to the orders of another. ”I’ve simply... decided to hang around for a while. Earlier, I met an old childhood friend...”, who is also your packmate she realized suddenly, ”- Adrian, and I wanted to catch up on things. I certainly never expected to findyou here”.
Peering over the male’s shoulders, it was suddenly Phen’s turn to be worried of his packmates sneaking up on them. She was already aware that this neighboring pack, “Aryn”, wasn’t the most populated, but it was for the same reason that they would be suspicious of outsiders encroaching on precious land. Slinking towards Alcatraz as a pup would do when unsure, Phen turned to him again, this time aware of his somewhat healthier and more robust appearance. ”Who is your Alpha?” she asked, reaching for a safe question. ”Would he be okay with you talking with an outsider?”
Alcatraz shrugged, knowing how shocking this must be for her. Under normal circumstances she would be correct. But he was not exactly of the mind set he once was on… he was… infatuated with the Alpha, and he had many friends in the pack. He wanted to help them all any way he could, and it had turned him into the wolf he was today.
Alcatraz’s ear perked forward in interest. ”Adrian, is that so?” Alcatraz did not know his packmate well, but he was kin to Athena. Perhaps Phen knew Athena as well. ”It appears you have many friends in Aryn.” He said, his voice hinting one thing to her… she should join Aryn as well. ”Is he that friend you were searching for when we last met?” Alcatraz asked, but he had a feeling it was not, or he felt she would have introduced Adrian differently. The meeting between Phen and Adrian sounded unexpected.
He watched as Phen moved a bit closer to him, unsure. Alcatraz realized her concern when she asked the question. ”She. Her name is Lady Athena.” Alcatraz said with a bit of a smile. He was proud to be following her. ”Of course she would-” and then it occurred to him that, well, maybe shewouldn’t. He needed to remind himself again… he wasn’t a loner anymore. He was a member of a pack, and those not in the pack were now his enemies… but…. not Phen, right? No, they were friends. She would never be his enemy. Athena would understand that. And Adrian too would vouch for her. He finally nodded again, his answer a bit more careful as he answered, ”You are not an outsider to me, Phen. And you have other friends in Aryn. I know you, and I know you would never mean my new family harm. Athena will listen to me if I tell her you are a friend.” the dark wolf assured her.
Rolling her eyes to the side dismissively, Phen shook her head gently in response and then looked to the floor. So far, the only wolves she knew in Aryn were Adrian and Alcatraz, which wasn’t many compared to a dozen or more other members. She was surprised he had remembered the “friend” she had mentioned before, but old Corvo certainly wasn’t the wolf she had been searching so avidly for.
She? So it was an Alphess? Though female alphas were not unheard of, Phen was a bit surprised by the fact that a stubborn wolf like Alcatraz would so willingly some random she-wolf’s orders. From his expression and the “Lady” embellishment, he seemed to think highly of her as well. Unfortunately, his confident demeanor didn’t last long. Phen immediately leaned back when her friend refused to reassure her that the Alphess wouldn’t take off her head. She wasn’t sure what she had expected, really. After all, not all alphas would be as tolerant as those such as Lyn. Still, the thought of herself being considered an enemy frightened her.
Despite her doubts, Phen couldn’t help but feel condoled at Alcatraz’s words. She felt honored that he trusted her with the “family” he seemed so determined to protect. Family. Suddenly, Phen was reminded of the recent conversation she had with Adrian. He had passively requested that she join, which she had sheepishly said "no" to. Nonetheless, she had promised to consider it. Even though she barely knew Aryn as a pack, Phen felt more of a connection to this place than any other. There were at least two wolves here that were very dear to her. If she were to slowly integrate herself into the borders, she would have to quell any feelings of distrust as soon as possible.
”How about right now?” she asked suddenly, standing up straight before the sturdy form of her friend. She sounded uncharacteristically assertive, probably due to her diplomatic instincts kicking in. She knew that the Alphess may not accept her, which made it important that she set things right immediately. Not to mention, she was deathly curious as to what kind of wolf “Lady Athena” truly was. ”I don’t know when I’ll be leaving, Alcatraz. I could stay around here for quite some time. I don’t want to leave you or Corvo”. She shuffled, wondering if he realized her possible future intentions. ”Maybe you could introduce me to your Alpha? If she’s a decent enough leader to order you around, then I would die to meet her”.
Alcatraz’s smile faded as Phen shook her head with her gaze low. He did not press her further… it didn’t sound like her plans had worked out as she had hoped… but what was important to Alcatraz was that she was here now, and she was alive.
Alcatraz perked his ears as Phen asked that she meet Athena now. Alcatraz nodded, ”I don’t see why not. But if you hope to join Aryn… I think you may want to commit.” He pointed out. He wasn’t sure if Aryn was open to temporary members… but then again, they were at war. Perhaps Athena would simply be happy for all the help they could get. And Alcatraz, at least, trusted Phen enough to accept her whatever her plans were. ”Yes, let’s go. Come with me.” With that Alcatraz turned and lead the way toward the main den site. They were several miles away, and Alcatraz let out a low howl as they walked. If Athena heard him, then perhaps she could meet them halfway. Alcatraz had a feeling Phen may be more comfortable when not completely surrounded by unfamiliar pack wolves, even if hopefully she knew that Alcatraz would not allow any harm to come to her.
Alcatraz's call brought Athena out of the main den with a smile. She hadn't seen much of him today and quickly crossed the clearing toward his howl. It was probably a report, nothing of any great importance, but she may as well hear it.
She saw the stranger before Alcatraz, and Athena's posture instantly shifted. But the growl hadn't left her throat before Traz came into view as well, and now the Lady was confused. Studying the other she-wolf critically, Athena swiveled an ear back. "Who is this?" She asked cooly. The stranger was about Athena's size, with the same dark fur and grey eyes. What a coincidence. "A friend or a prisoner?" When had Alcatraz ever invited a stranger into Aryn?
The slow journey into the heart of Aryn territory was nerveracking, to say the very least. Phen busied herself by contemplating how she would greet the likely unsuspecting leader, trying to ignore the pack’s thickening aroma. Like a powerful perfume, it almost made her sick. The only solace she could find was in the reassuring presence of Alcatraz, who tred forward with an unwavering confidence she wished she had. Phen stuck to his right throughout the journey, her size grazing his scarred shoulder.
It wasn’t long before, after a sharp turn in their path, a distinct figure manifested into view. The she-wolf was facing her. Dark, fleetfooted, and sporting an air of seniority; even as the newcomer’s demeanor changed from welcoming to rigid. She might have marveled at their physical similarities if their encounter had been less edgy. When the she-wolf spoke, Phen realized she was addressing the bulky male next to her. There was no doubt now that this was indeed the Alphess, Athena.
The realization came with little surprise. The female was vigorous in both movement and speech. Her scent conveyed a high position; Beta at the very least. However, she had yet to show her intelligence and leading capabilities. She still knew hardly anything about her leadership, let alone her personality.
”Greetings”, Phen managed, almost inaudibly. However, her expression showed no sign of discomfort. She side-glanced at Alcatraz through wide eyes, urging him to explain her presence before his Alpha got any wrong ideas. There was much at stake.
Alcatraz did not glance at Phen, answering Athena immediately after the black she-wolf’s quiet greeting. He could feel her gaze on him, though, anxious. Alcatraz felt no nerves, however. He would not let Phen be harmed, and Athena would not harm Phen unless she had reason to in any case. ”A friend.” He confirmed. ”Phen is a wolf I have grown to know well over the course of my travels as a loner. She is brave and capable… as well as loyal.” Alcatraz recalled the way she had killed a dangerous loner during their first meeting, and more recently she had kindly helped him make a den for himself. He had nothing but good experiences with the she-wolf. ”She is also a friend of Adrian’s, I learned today.” Alcatraz explained, figuring it could only help to know that she had befriended Athena’s own kin. Now he stole a sideways glance at Phen to see her reaction. He hoped his introduction was sufficient.
With a tilt of her head the Lady returned the stranger's greeting, before turning her eyes on Alcatraz to watch him speak. At the Warden's assurance, Athena's frown lessened in intensity. He sounded strangely protective of the loner, and though the mention of a friendship with Adrian gave Athena pause, she looked back at Phen with more curiosity than suspicion. The newcomer wore a sense of urgency, but carried herself thoughtfully enough. Though the Alpha mistrusted Adrian's judgement, she had always found Alcatraz's choice in friends to be sound.
"Any friend of Alcatraz is a friend of mine." Athena replied finally, a faint smile playing at her lip. Now speaking directly to Phen, she continued, "Tell me then, why does a wolf so brave and capable and loyal come to the heart of Aryn? You do not bear the scent of any pack."
Greatly reassured by Traz’s praiseful introduction, Phen made herself somewhat more visible to the alpha, tentatively stepping away from her friend’s side and into the scattered sunlight. She stopped in her tracks, however, when Adrian’s name reached her ears. While her childhood friend connected her to the pack, she wouldn’t be surprised if their secret relation aroused suspicion with Athena.
Nonetheless, the black she-wolf seemed unperturbed by the realization. If anything, she appeared encouraged. Phen nodded nervously, trying to maintain steady eye contact. ”That’s true; I once belonged to Chandor, but later left to pursue other endeavors. I befriended Alcatraz during my travels”. Silence. Realizing she hadn’t addressed the more important question at hand, Phen continued:
”I appologize for my sudden appearance. As you are already aware, I know some of your pack well. Adrian was my childhood friend, and I’ve been thinking about settling down somewhere after so much time as a rogue. This may be the pack I have been searching for”. She emphasized the “may”, as she didn’t want to make any unsure promises.
”However, I’ve heard that your pack is currently locked in conflict with another. I wasn’t sure if I was welcome; if you were too wary of outsiders during this time to accept me. So, I came with Alcatraz to meet you first”. Done. Phen looked up at the alpha earnestly, not sure how she would react to such a story.
Alcatraz smiled softly as Athena declared Phen a friend. He and Athena were good friends, but still it warmed his heart the trust that she had in him. Phen stepped forward to introduce herself properly and Alcatraz was silent, allowing the two she-wolves to discuss. His ears perked in interest as Phen implied she may be willing to join Aryn, and then his pale yellow eyes flicked to Athena, awaiting her response.
"I see." Thoughtful, Athena looked again at Alcatraz, catching the hopefulness in his demeanor. The Warden seemed eager to let this outsider in, and to the alphess that was more meaningful than Phen's explanation - however well spoken it might be. But Athena was not inclined to rely solely on Traz's judgement and turned every word around carefully in her mind before coming to her decision.
Aryn's family had grown considerably since the first days of the Blutwald conflict. Most of those newcomers had proven loyal and hardworking. They came from all places but all were brothers and sisters in their hearts. And Phen seemed to have strong ties within the pack already. It was too early to be sure, but the lone she-wolf appeared mannerly and sound of mind. Moreover, she recognized the threats the pack faced and was willing to accept them. That spoke of courage or loyalty. A spy would be more likely to play dumb to the tensions between the packs, rather than flash that fact in the open. Athena supposed Phen could simply be stupid... but that seemed unlikely given her approach to the matter.
Still there was a tone of uncertainty in Phen's voice that caught Athena's ear. "It's true, the feud with Blutwald has made us more wary of late. But we gain nothing by turning away from our friends during such troubling times." She said finally, and though her expression was serious, Athena's tone was inviting. "We would be honoured to call you a sister of Aryn, Phen. Loyalty to one another is our great strength."
It wasn't meant to pressure her, yet there was an underlying meaning to the Lady's final sentence. Phen might need time to think it through, to see what manner of being Aryn was, which Athena could respect so long as profitable consideration did not fail to indecisiveness. Phen could not be a part of Aryn in half measure, and though Athena didn't doubt the ebony rogue had left Chandor for good reason, she would have to be committed to the friends who's pack she'd now sought out. They would depend on her, perhaps even with their very lives.
Phen was relieved to see understanding in Athena’s expression. There was always the chance that the alphess of a warring pack would have little patience towards an outsider such as herself, especially one who couldn’t make promises concerning their future allegiance to the pack. Yet, Phen could see only thoughtfulness on the she-wolf’s face. She waited, apprehending her decision.
When she finally did speak, Phen’s demeanor lightened with hope, and an uncontrolled grin stretched over her maw when she was offered a place in Aryn. Despite her only just having met her, a spark of appreciation grew within her chest. Alcatraz, Adrian, and herself; they could live and work together once again.
Of course, Phen couldn’t take her invitation for granted. It was obvious from the alphess’s deliberate tone that her complete devotion was necessary if she were to call herself an Arynian. And it definitely made sense; a disloyal, faithless pack was a weak one. And that disunion could be their downfall during these dangerous times. Trying not to seem overeager, Phen dipped her head in gratitude.”Thank you for accepting me”, she murmured, ”But I realize you do not make this offer lightly. And I would hate to disappoint you or your pack”. She glanced at Alcatraz warrily.
”Please, allow me time to explore this area and to think of my final decision”. Surely, she would understand? It would take time for her to let go of the wild, unpredictable life of a loner and integrate herself. ”In the meantime, I’m sure it would do you a service for me to keep around your eastern borders and be on guard for any suspicious happenings? Although Athena had already welcomed her, hopefully such a gesture would further earn her trust.
Alcatraz wagged his tail slowly as Athena announced that Phen is welcome to join Aryn if she wished. He could see Phen’s joy at the news and was relieved that it appeared Phen would join their pack. He met her silver eyes as she mentioned her unwillingness to disappoint the pack and then he glanced at Athena. He would think that Athena would most likely allow for a transition period before swearing complete allegiance, and he hoped she would. ”Are these terms acceptable, my Lady?” Alcatraz asked his Alpha.
Though Phen seemed eager enough, Athena could not be sure whether this was a promise of devotion or a balk at the idea of committing to the pack, but she knew well the struggle of adapting back to pack life and could not hold it against Phen for wishing to treat carefully. At Alcatraz's prompt, the alphess turned to study him, and seeing his enthusiasm was enough to make up Athena's mind.
"Very well." She replied with a smile, "I will inform the pack of your arrival. Please do not hesitate to approach me with questions, or else Alcatraz and Adrian as well. I'm sure the three of you will want to be reacquainted. Your offer of help is most welcome. I will send other Arynians to accompany you from time to time as well, in order to ease your integration." And also to keep an eye on Phen, though Athena left this part secret. Just as Aryn would have to earn Phen's trust, Phen would have to Aryn's.