Roady's Story

Chapter 1: The Valley

A lone wolf stands at the edge of a forest, a cool breeze wafting through the trees, blowing orange and yellow leaves to the ground. It is dusk, and darkness is near on this mid-autumn day. The wolfs head hangs low, as he ventures into the forest alone. Unsure of what lies before him, and unsure of just how he ended up here in the first place. Still wishing he was back with his family, but knowing that is impossible now.

The terrain is new and unfamiliar. This is the first time he has been away from familiar ground. His family had always patrolled their territory, and those forests and foot hills were familiar to him. But out here, he is unsure what is around the next corner.

He ventured on, going over the last days events in his memory. As darkness falls, he realizes that he has to put that behind him and pay attention. He is hungry and needs to find some food. But he also needs to pay attention. He had heard rumors of another wolf pack in the area. Sniffing for scents or food, he continues on along a worn path. The freshly fallen leaves crunching below his paws.

A sweet smell arouses the wolfs attention. Following his nose, he finds a grape vine. He begins to excitedly harvest grapes with his teeth, pulling at the grape vines, and breaking clusters of grapes free, as he savors the sweet juices of the fruit. Unaware of just how much noise he is making, he continues to pillage the wild grape vine until he hears some movement from nearby. Freezing in place, grapes hanging from his jaw, he quietly looks around.

The darkness and shadows play tricks on him from every direction. Hearing nothing he drops the grapes and turns around, away from the grape vine, to face the sound he had heard. Sniffing the air for animal scents is not working too well, as his nose is overwhelmed with the smell and taste of sweet grapes. He knows he heard something, but can't see anything.

He begins to prowl around the area, circling out from the grape vine. He hears a twig snap behind him. Growling, he swings around, but again sees nothing. He scratches his head, then proceeds to investigate towards where he had heard the sound. He begins to smell an unfamiliar scent. The scent, bitter-sweet smelling, gets stronger the closer he gets to an old dead log. He sniffs at the log, but finds it only smells like damp rotting wood. Confused he looks around.

A shadow moves in the corner of his eye, and he growls and decides to pounce into the unknown darkness. Landing in the midst of a thorn bush, he yelps, as the shadow quickly scurries off. He spends the next several minutes picking thorns from his body, as the bitter-sweet smell fades away, leaving him with the smell of rotting wood on one side, and the sweet smell of grapes from the grape vine.

. . .

It has been a rough night for the wolf. Slightly paranoid, and jumping at every strange noise, he realizes that it is tough going it alone. Without the safety of his family, he is quite vulnerable.

Having taken a nap at the edge of a meadow, he awakes to the sun rising through the morning fog. Getting up he shakes off the dew which has settled on his fur, and looks around. Dew shines from the blades of grass in the meadow, looking like a million small stars blanketing the field before him. He stretches his legs, and wanders into the meadow.

Rounding the top of a hill, he stops and stands tall, seeing a large glacial valley before him. In the distance, a large baby blue lake captures his attention through the fog. Lowering his head, he knows where he needs to go. With a purpose, he begins to journey towards the lake.

He finds a stream which is flowing downhill towards the lake, and follows on its bank. The fall colors on the trees reflecting in the streams churning water, so as to look like a flowing river of lava. The sun has burnt off most of the fog now, and is shining bright on the leaves of the trees.

The earthy scent of the leaves and moist ground on this damp morning is however interrupted by a musky scent. He slows and takes to the brush for cover. Approaching the edge of the lake, He stops as he hears a great deal of snapping. A tree topples over nearby, then comes to rest on the ground. Silence falls yet again. The wolf is just about to continue on, when he hears a rustling over by the toppled tree.

From his vantage point all he can see is the fallen tree shake and begin to move across the ground, as if it were alive, and crawling away. The branches of the tree, now mostly void of leaves due to the trauma the tree has just been through, move horizontally towards the water. Curious, he adventures forward. Emerging from the brush he sees a brown ball of fur, about a quarter of his size, with a big flat leathery tail. The creature sees the wolf and hurries into the water with a splash.

Curious at this new creature, the wolf calls out "Hey there, I am sorry, didn't mean to scare you."

Puzzled, the creature replies "Yeah, but you are a wolf!."

"Hardly feel like one these days" The wolf replies, "I have no pack, and have no idea where I am. Can you tell me a bit about this place?"

Wading closer to the shore, the creature replies "Oh, so you aren't from the Scajaquada Pack then?"

"Sca-jack-what?"

"Sca-jack-wa-da, they are a big Grey Wolf pack. They sometimes come this far out. They will usually try to kill me, if they see me out of the water."

"Oh... No, I am from a Brown Wolf pack. I won't kill ya. My name is Roady, tell me more about the valley?"

"Well I am not inclined to trust you right away Mr. Wolf, but I am glad you seem friendly." Says Fred, "If you are looking for a new home however, this valley is a nice place. Maybe you will start your own pack and will respect the other animals, and not just kill for the fun of it like the Scajaquada's."

"Thanks, maybe you will see me again, I am going to explore a little more here" Roady says, as he turns to wander back into the brush.

Roady thinks about what the Beaver said about the other wolf pack. Shaking his head he just can't believe that a pack would kill for fun. The musky scent of the beaver fading as he wanders further away, his senses return to normal. The earthy smells of a damp mixed forest taking over, as a chilling gust of wind blows through the trees, blowing leaves down all around him. Wiggling his nose, he picks up a scent. Stopping to sniff the air, he tracks the scent deeper into the forest. The scent, sweet but earthy, gets stronger, and overpowering as he nears a clearing from which he can clearly see smoke rising. Listening he hears some movement, and the soft crackling of a fire.

Part 2: By The Campfire

Approaching carefully, Roady sneaks towards the clearing. A shadowy figure laying by the fire catches his attention. A large black lump of fur curled up by the fire pit is murring softly as it breathes, barely audible above the crackling fire. He sits and watches for a while, as the fire dies down. His eyes barely visible through the dense underbrush on the edge of the clearing as he watches from between a few broad leaves. The creature is obviously sleeping, but what type of creature is this, he wonders.

Eventually the creature stirs, and rises to its feet. Large black feline body, large padded paws, and a thick tail. Roady also noticed that this creature is wearing black leather bracelets around each of its ankles, and a leather collar with metal studs. The fire, mostly just coals, is just smoking enough to mask the cats scent from Roady.

The large cat sniffs at the air, and looks around carefully. Roady, suddenly aware that he has been sitting there for a while, becomes nervous but stays put. Prowling around the clearing, the cat begins to sniff towards the underbrush. Approaching his spot the cat pauses for a minute and sniffs towards the area where Roady lay hidden. continuing on, it seems like the cat has lost interest, lazily sniffing around the rest of the clearing, before slipping away on the far side of the clearing into the brush.

Relieved, Roady comes out of hiding, and creeps into the clearing to sniff the area where the cat had been sleeping. Interestingly the scent was the same bitter-sweet scent he had encountered the night before. Looking around, he ponders how safe it is to stay here very long. He walks over to a rock and sniffs it. Strong with the cats scent, he decides to test his luck. Lifting his hind leg he sprays it with his own scent, then heads towards the edge of the clearing.

Pausing and turning, he senses he is being watched. Sure enough, across the clearing, the cat is prowling out of the underbrush hissing at Roady. Tucking his tail, he lowers his stance, growling. He watches as the cat prowls over to the rock He just marked, and sniffs it. The cat looks up at him and hisses again.

"What gives you the right to claim territory within my territory little wolf?"

"That wasn't my intent... I am just looking for friends, I am alone." Roady replies.

"Likely story" the cat replies.

The cat prowls around Roady's right flank, as he begins to prowl around the cats side. Circling they seem to be at a standoff, sizing each other up. The sun lowering, making the clearing dark enough that the small campfire casts some flickering shadows of the two animals on the trees.

Roady trips on a root in the ground, and stumbles just enough to distract him for a second. The cat strikes, pouncing towards the wolf with all its strength. Roady is unable to move, and is struck by the force of the pounce, knocking him down on his side. Growling he snarls and snaps at the cat, but the cat is quick and dodges. The cat pins him down with ease. He looks down at one of the cats large paws, near his head. The leather bracelet shiny and reflecting the flickering fire in its polish.

The cat sniffs Roady. "You are a young one, aren't ya?"

He nods, shakily "29 moon cycles".

"Ha!" The cat replies "Just a pup. So where is your pack, young one?"

"I told you I was alone. I have no pack."

"Oh no! A lone wolf. What shall I do?" the cat says sarcastically.

"How about you? I have never seen a cat so large? What are you?" Roady asks.

"Really? You dare ask me that, when I have you pinned?" The cat says, pushing him harder into the ground. "I ask the questions around here, got it?"

Roady grunts at the extra force, and growls as he looks up at the cat.

"Oh, a tough one eh?" The cat says, before lowering her head to bite him hard on his shoulder.

Wincing at the pain, Roady yelps, and kicks his hind legs, knocking the cat a little off balance, but not enough to free himself.

"Nope, you don't seem too tough to me, little wolf. You have to try harder." As she bites him again, not breaking skin, but pinching his shoulder quite hard.

Roady lunges at the cats head and bites the side of her neck. Applying a great deal of force the cat loosens its grip on his shoulder. He eases off his grip on the cat letting her go, and growls harshly.

"That is what I am talking about..." The cat replies, coughing for air as she lifts one of her paws to rub her neck. Grinning down at him, she continues, "... that was great little wolf! Maybe there is some hope for you yet!"

Curious at this response, Roady gives the cat a curious look. "I thought you'd be a little more upset about that."

Grinning the cat replies "I bet you did!" Purring a little, "But I liked it, shows you got what it takes to make it around here."

The cat steps off of him and lets him get up on his feet. "Oh, and I am a Panther."

Roady gets to his feet, his fur all messy as he begins to groom it back into shape. "Ah, I have heard rumors of Panthers." Roady mumbles.

"I hope their all good," The Panther replies, "...Or bad. Either way really. So what is your name little wolf?"

"Roady."

"Interesting. Mine is Angelina, Angel for short" The panther says, circling around Roady, and flicking her tail in his face.

Roady sniffs at the tail as it passes his nose, and then looks over at her, who looks away, pretending to be distracted by something in the underbrush.

"Well, I must be off. I'll see ya around" She says.

"See ya" Roady replies, raising an eyebrow curiously, as the panther trots off into the woods.

Wandering towards the fire, Roady blows on the coals to relight them. Curling up, he lays down to rest. He contemplates stalking the panther, but decides to stay put for the night. He isn't used to all this distrust. Even his old wolf pack was better then this. But then, that was family.

Part 3: The Golden Feather

The night is fairly bright, as the full moon rises through the clouds. The fire flicks its last few tongues of flame out from the coals, and Roady closes his eyes and drifts to sleep. It seems like only seconds later, that he is awoken abruptly by the sound of a howl. In the distance, an erie howl rings out, echoing across the valley from the North. His ears perk up as he pays attention to the howl. Soon, more wolves join in. He can hear 7 distinct wolves all together and wonders if he should chime in, but how would they react to him?

Unable to resist the temptation he stands up, stretches, and howls up at the moon. As he finishes, he awaits a reply. Silence falls for a moment. Then a single howl rings out from towards the hills to the North. He howls back in response, and listens. Nothing. Curiously intrigued, he feels completely renewed with hope and energy. He darts off quickly to the North, following a well traveled game trail. He wonders if this is the Scajaquada pack. Will they welcome him?

Roady enters into a small glen in the forest. The game trail widens to a lush grassy patch. Steam rises from a small pond. A big weeping willow hangs over the water, its branches drooping almost as low as the ground. The grass seems lush and smells fresh. He discovers a shallow, almost beach like, entrance to the pond. Standing on the wet sand, Roady feels its warmth on his paws. Looking around the pond in the pale moonlight, he notices that the rest of the pond appears to be bordered by a rocky wall for a shore. Bare earth often hanging over the edge with grass and small plants clinging to the edge as if they were afraid of the water. The churning water flows down a small creek away from the pond, towards the lake.

Enjoying his surroundings, Roady marks a small tree nearby, and continues on his primary mission. Determined to return here at a later time.

The game trail begins to follow the edge of some small cliffs along the side of the lake. He stops to notice a small rocky ledge peaking out from the cliff over the water. A cool wind blows some mist up from the waves crashing below, as Roady steps out onto the ledge. Shivering, Roady shakes the cool air off, and regains his posture. Looking up at the moon, he howls again. A long lonely howl "AwooooooooooWoooWooOooo" bellows through the cool night air. Steam rising from his mouth and nostrils. Roady stands there, his ears perked, awaiting any reply.

A little while passes, and he sadly lowers his head. He begins to slink back to the game trail, but his ears perk up again as he hears something in the distance. Some rough barking and yipping, along with short yelps. Standing at attention again he tries to determine where the sounds are coming from. He figures that most of them seem to be coming from the North West, and begins to head that way quickly.

Following various game trails, he begins to pick up scents of other wolves. He thinks he must be entering the Scajaquada's territory. Suddenly, he realizes, maybe he is being hunted. What if the other wolf pack is being silent because they do not want any other wolves in the area? Roady decides to play it safe and ducks into the underbrush. Prowling quietly, he scans the area. Shadows play tricks on him as he moves slowly, but he hears nothing to indicate a pack of wolves. The yelping from earlier fell silent long ago.

The scent trails he is picking up become slightly stronger. Carefully reading the scents Roady can distinguish 4 wolves, and one other creature he is unsure of. The scent of this other creature becomes stronger the further North West he travels.

Roady steps on a twig which snaps, and nearby the underbrush shakes as an animal darts away quickly. The scent is strong from this other creature, and he decides to follow carefully in order to figure out what it is. Maybe the wolves were hunting this creature earlier? Maybe that was what he was hearing. Obviously they wont howl when they are stalking prey. Roady ponders this as he prowls through the underbrush, stopping short of a small meadow.

Peaking through some bushes he observes a small flash of orange fur dart across the tall grass, and disappear. Deciding that he would be too exposed out in the meadow, he turns back and travels further into the brush, giving up on the chase of the unknown creature for now.

Carefully making his way back towards the glen he had found earlier, Roady is still deep within the Scajaquada pack's territory. Having lost his bearing somewhat, he is relying on his relation to the lake to guide him back. But traveling in the rough, avoiding game trails, is not very easy. He struggles his way up a hill full of thorny vines. Only to find out that the top of the hill is the edge of a long rocky ravine.

Sniffing the rock at the edge of the ravine, he can tell that this ravine is part of the wolf packs normal route. Hearing some leaves rustling across the ravine, turning to look he sees a lone female wolf, which appears from the brush. The female wolf also noticed Roady. Stunned, he double takes the sight of the other wolf, blinking. The other wolf, dark gray with some silver highlights, appears to be as stunned as him, and begins to back up, tripping over a branch clumsily. Looking carefully, Roady can see some fresh scars on her side, blood matting her fur near her left hip.

She appears scared, and turns to run.

"Wait!" Roady calls out.

Turning quickly, she replies hesitantly "I can't... I must go."

"But..." Roady calls out, as she dives back into the brush, disappearing into the night. Unable to quickly chase her, he feels useless. Frustrated, he follows the edge of the ravine towards the lake, hoping to find a crossing nearby.

Crossing on a large fallen tree trunk, Roady hurries back to the place where he had seen the female wolf. Sniffing the ground he memorizes her sweet scent. Following it, he discovers a large eagle feather on the ground. Golden in color, the feather has a small drop of fresh blood on it. Sniffing the feather he is sure that the blood is hers. He picks the feather up, and tucks it behind his right ear.

Continuing on, he finds that the scent trail ends at the lake. Standing on the rocky shore, consisting of small pebbles, he looks out over the mostly moon lit lake. Clouds roll across the sky blocking much of the moons light, and like curtains falling over the lake, the darkness approaches him from across the lake, and eventually envelops him.

Part 4: Sooleawa

Hanging his head low, he turns and lazily walks back towards the hot spring along the game trail. The cool night air being the only thing that is keeping him somewhat alert. Obsessed with thoughts of the other wolf, Roady doesn't even sense that Angelina is sneaking up on him from behind until its too late. She speeds up, and pounces on him, just as he turns to look behind him. Pinning him to the ground yet again, Angelina looks down playfully.

"Gotcha!"

"Sheez!, Seriously?" Roady replies.

"Nice feather" the panther says, picking it from behind his ear, and examining it. "hmmm, wolf blood? but not yours..."

"Hey, give me that!" Roady lunges at her and grabs the feather back, tucking it behind his ear again.

"Oooo" The panther swoons, " did you find another wolfie?"

"I don't really know. We didn't really meet for long. She was scared of something."

The panther nods knowingly, and licks Roadys chin playfully, "I've been... " - stumbling for the proper word - "Paying attention to your travels." As she grins at him.

"Oh?" Roady replies, surprised, grinning a little at the lick. "You've been following me?"

"No... Not quite." She says, stepping off of him. "I heard your howling."

"Ah, Okay?" Roady says, still laying there, but shifting onto his side.

"And I was fairly close to the wolf that responded to you. So I followed her. I don't think the other wolves liked that she responded. She was heading towards your howl, when she was ambushed by her own pack members. I had to get out of there, so I didn't get dragged into it, but they were not too happy with her."

Roady stays silent, taking it all in.

"She ran off, and I saw her heading South along the shore, away from her pack territory not too long ago. Then I picked up your scent."

"Is she nearby?" Roady asks excitedly.

"Maybe."

Getting to his feet, Roady licks the panthers earlobe playfully. "By the shore you said?"

"Last I saw." The panther replies, smiling at the lick.

"Thanks Angelina." As he darts off towards the lake.

Angelina waits until he is out of sight to continue to stalk him.

Making all sorts of noise, Roady crashes through the brush. Small creatures being woken up, jump and scramble to get away, as he tears through the forest. With the shoreline in sight he slows, and prowls out onto the rocky shore. Waves lapping at the pebble beach which rounds the West side of the lake. Looking up and down the shoreline, he at first sees nothing, then notices movement down the beach to the South. The waves do an excellent job at dampening sound, so Roady doesn't hesitate to jog quickly along the waters edge towards the other wolf.

Approaching the wolf, Roady slows as the female gray wolf turns finally noticing him.

"Oh, its you again." The gray wolf turns and continues to walk away.

Roady prowls up beside her, sniffing her politely. As she continues to walk, trying her best to ignore him. "I am sorry." Roady whispers.

Stopping, the gray wolf pauses, frozen for a second. "For what?" She replies, still not looking at Roady.

"I heard what happened, when you replied to my howl." Roady replies hesitantly.

"How did you hear that, may I ask?"

"I may be new here, but it seems I already have a friend." He replies, "But it also seems I have a lot more enemies."

"They don't like outsiders." Says the gray wolf, as she turns to look at Roady. "They don't like anyone really."

Frowning, Roady says "That is what I was afraid of. I am just looking for friends, I mean no harm."

"Doesn't matter to them, they are a very tight group these days. I wonder why I put up with it, but they are kin."

"They didn't kick you out, did they?" Roady asks.

"No. They didn't. I just wanted to get away from them tonight. They will expect me to rejoin them soon enough I imagine, otherwise they will come looking for me."

"Were you hurt bad? I saw the blood... " Roady says, remembering the feather and hinting upwards with his eyes towards the feather behind his ear.

"Oh... That is mostly healed now I think." The gray wolf turns to let Roady see the wound.

Roady hesitantly moves forward, and cleans the wound with his tongue. His eyes looking into her eyes, locked in a knowing gaze. Blushing a little, the female wolf turns towards him and thanks him with a lick to the chin.

"Thanks" she says. "So, where is your pack?"

The dreaded question that Roady didn't want to hear. "I... Am alone."

"No pack? Then where did you come from?"

"I had a pack. But... don't anymore."

"What happened." She asks.

A tear comes to Roady's eye, as he lowers his head and turns away, ashamed. Looking back at her after a minute he clears his throat, "I was out playing with my kin. We had seen humans hunting in the area, but... that is normal, so we avoided them." Roady hesitated, "But, today, they were not hunting deer."

"Oh gosh..."

"When my brother and sister, and I got back to the den. We found blood, but they were gone." Roady continued, his eyes wet. "My brother and sister were both very mad, and chased after the humans, following their scent trail. I stayed at the den." He sighs, "Never saw them again either... Eventually I decided to wander off on my own, too many memories there."

"I'm so sorry... That is terrible."

"I should of gone with them, maybe they would of been okay... I could of helped." Roady cries, sitting down, turning his face away from the other wolf, "But no, I was a coward. I let my kin down."

Circling around beside him, the other wolf tucks her nose under his chin and lifts it a little, looking into his eyes. "No... It wasn't your fault."

A twig snaps in the underbrush nearby, causing both wolves to look. Seeing nothing, Roady stands up, as the other wolf prowls closer to the treeline. The breeze coming off the lake, making it impossible to try to capture a scent. Roady and the other wolf approach the treeline, sniffing the ground along the brush.

"Ah" Says the other wolf, "it was just that silly Panther." having caught Angelina's scent. "Have you met Angelina yet?" She asks him.

Nodding, Roady replies, "Yes, I have."

"What is your name anyhow?" She asks,

"Roady." He replies, still sniffling.

"I am Sooleawa." She replies, "Nice feather by the way." As she blushes a little.

"Oh... Yeah it is!"

"So, what are your plans Roady? Passing through, or staying in the Valley?"

"Well, I do like it over here on the West side of the lake. I get the impression that your pack claims the North end of the lake, and probably much more?" He asks.

"We do, and also the mountain, and valley on the other side to the North." She says, looking to the North, the large silhouette of the mountain barely visible against the partly cloudy night sky. “There is some good hunting up in those hills. But sometimes the boys get a little carried away." Sooleawa replies.

"I would like to stay" Roady continues, "I have found some nice areas. But then again, it's likely too close to your pack."

"Nice areas?" Sooleawa asks, "Like?"

"I found a hotspring, I still need to explore it however. It isn't too far away."

"Want to show me?" Sooleawa asks, murring softly.

Roady considers Sooleawas request, "Well, I wouldn't want you telling the rest of your pack where it is..."

"I won't, I promise"

Hesitantly, he begins leading Sooleawa up a small hill, and then along a game trail. Passing a rocky ledge, which he remembers howling from earlier, he knows that they are heading in the right direction. Sooleawa follows quietly. After a while, they enter the glen. Turning, he says "Well this is the place."

She walks around him, and sits down by the pond, taking it all in. "I like it."

Roady smiles, "I thought you might."

Sooleawa blushes a little, and looks away, pretending to be distracted. "It would be a good spot for a Den. Warm water, and the snow probably melts away around the pond."

Roady looks around, realizing he hasn't even thought about shelter in the last week. Approaching a large old tree, he begins to dig under its roots.

"What are you doing?" Sooleawa asks.

"Digging a Den."

"I am sure that can wait. Come sit with me."

Roady digs a few more pawfuls, then pauses and walks over to Sooleawa, and sits beside her, next to the water. Grinning slightly, he looks over at her. "I do enjoy it here."

Sooleawa smiles.

"So what does Sooleawa mean anyhow?" Roady asks,

"Silver" Sooleawa replies, nodding her head down so Roady can see her silver highlights in her fur.

He wants to tell her how pretty she looks. But before he can, a crashing is heard behind them in the underbrush.

Roady and Sooleawa both get to their feet and turn to look, just as a large gray wolf comes flying through the air and tackles Roady. He tumbles with the gray wolf, and hits his head on a rock. Going limp, Roady lay where he rolls to a stop, strewn about the ground unconscious. The gray wolf gets up and looks at Roady, growling fiercely, but is pounced on by Sooleawa, "Taima, Stop!" she growls, as she lunges at his neck to bring him down. Taima is a younger gray wolf who has many scars, and always seems to be earning new ones. His fur is always matted and slightly off color around his scars giving him an nonuniform appearance. He always seems to have something to prove.

A second gray wolf pounces on Sooleawa, and a third gray wolf stands aside. The second gray wolf, 'Nodin' is a handsome but skinny looking wolf. Gray with greyish blue highlights and a bit of a lighter, white underbelly, he is always clean looking and well groomed.

The third gray wolf, older and wiser looking, with many beads in his fur, and several feathers and other traditional decorations adorning his body, growls at all 3 of his pack members. "Enough!" The other 3 stop, and look at the older wolf. Sooleawa speaks up, "I am sorry Kachinahey, I didn't mean to run off like that... I promise..."

"Silence!" Kachinahey roars. "You have caused enough trouble tonight. Taima, Nodin, return to the packlands. Sooleawa, you walk with me."

Chapter 2 - Part 5: The Pack

Taima and Nodin run towards the packlands, as Sooleawa and Kachinahey wander back along the same game trail that she followed Roady on to get to the glen. they both stay silent for a while, Sooleawa hangs her head low, barely watching where she is going as she follows Kachinahey, following him almost purely by watching his hind feet.

Kachinahey, older and wise, is majestic looking. But he is getting weak. He is beginning to shrink like the old tend to do, his jaw bones beginning to show easily around his muzzle. Looking back at Sooleawa, he stops at the outcropping overlooking the lake, where Roady had howled from earlier. He turns and sits, motioning for Sooleawa to do the same.

Sooleawa starts to speak, but is quickly shushed by Kachinahey.

"I know what you are going to say Sooleawa." Says Kachinahey, pausing to collect his thoughts "Sooleawa, I am getting old. I fear I may not be around much longer to protect you."

"No, don't say that." Sooleawa says, beginning to tear up.

"Sooleawa, look at me." Kachinahey says softly, "I can't control my own pack, you know it, I know it, everyone knows it. It is only a matter of time."

Sooleawa looks down at the ground again, hiding her tears. "Taima and Nodin have no honor, I do not want to see them winning over full control of the pack from you, you can't give up now." She says, sobbing.

"They bring shame upon this family," Kachinahey says, lowing his head as well. "But there is not much we can do. Even with Nayati's help, I doubt they could be kept in line."

"If you give up the Alpha spot to one of them I will be leaving."

"You and Nayati both, very likely. He feels the same way." Says Kachinahey, shaking his head. "So, tell me about the new wolf?"

Sniffling, as she looks up at Kachinahey, Sooleawa tries to compose herself. "Roady?"

"That is his name?"

"Yes, he is from a pack from the plains. His whole pack was killed by humans."

"Oh," says Kachinahey, frowning "That is unfortunate." Pausing for a moment he asks, "He looked about your age?"

"I don't know, I think so, why?"

Pondering for a moment, thinking about what a young energetic lone wolf could do for their pack, Kachinahey replies, "Maybe he can help?"

"How? I do not think he will fight for us, it isn't his battle. I get the impression he would rather move on, then get involved in our drama." Sooleawa replies.

Nodding knowingly, Kachinahey asks, "Do you like him?"

Blushing Sooleawa lowers her gaze again, "I don't really know, I only just met him. But he seems nice."

"Hmmm" Says Kachinahey, clearly preoccupied with an idea, but changing the subject on purpose, "I am sorry for yelling at you back at the glen."

"It is okay Kachinahey," As she frowns a little, "It has been a long night, I am tired."

"Then we best get back to the den," Kachinahey suggests, calmly. As he gets up and heads back to the Den for the night with Sooleawa.

. . .

Meanwhile, as Taima and Nodin head home, they begin to talk as well.

"Did you see me knock that wolf out?" Taima brags,

"Yeah! That was one mean pounce."

"I was totally going to finish him off, if it wasn't for Kachinahey."

"Yeah, that wolf was trying to steal Sooleawa from us, I could see it. You should of seen how angry she was when she pounced on you." Nodin says.

"Hardly felt a thing, but thanks for jumping in. I wouldn't of wanted to hurt her too much."

"She had it coming." Nodin says, chuckling "Besides, since when has she let us near her lately. It was a nice chance to get physical with her, even if it was in aggression."

"You just have a thing for her. As far as I am concerned, she is part of this packs problem." Taima says.

"She is nice to look..." Nodin says, before beign interrupted by Taima.

"...No!" Taima growls, "She is holding us back. She doesn't respect our leadership. She still follows that old excuse of an Alpha we have."

"Easy brother, easy. I agree!" Nodin says, "I am sure we will win her over. But if we don't, well, she should get out of our way."

"If you think so." Taima responds.

"So what do we want to do about the new wolf?"

"He is as good as dead if he stays around here."

"Yeah, we just have to distract Kachinahey one of these nights. Get him distracted, and we can go down and take care of the newbie."

Chuckling, both of the wolves continue their walk back into their territory. As the morning sun begins to light the sky on the horizon.

Part 6

Roady stirs, as the mid morning sun beams down on his face. Moaning in pain, he lifts his head to look around. Blurry his eyes take time to adjust, as he realizes he is still beside the pond. The last thing he remembers was that Sooleawa was telling him that her name meant 'Silver'. Rolling over, he attempts to get to his feet, but wobbles and flops back to the ground.

"Oh, you are alive." Angelina says, as she gets up from a patch of grass where she had been curled up in, soaking up the sun. "You hit your head pretty hard last night."

"What happened?" Roady asks, a slight taste of blood on his tongue.

"The Scajaquadas" Angelina replies, "They came looking for her."

"I hope she didn't get hurt again."

"I don't think so, but your friend protected you." Angelina yawns lazily, "I think Taima was going to kill you. She stopped him."

Angelina walks over to Roady and helps him to his feet, using her nose to prop him up.

"Thanks." Roady says in response, as he gets to his feet, a little wobbly. "So how do you know all of this?"

"I was nearby."

"What? Stalking me again." Roady replies,

"Nooo, I would never stalk you." Angelina giggles, teasingly.

"So why do you?"

"You need a friend." Angelina states,

"Don't you have anything better to do?"

"Fine, if you don't want me around, I will leave you alone. Lets see how far you get on your own."

"Lot of good your help did last night. Why didn't you jump in to help me when I was attacked?"

"Listen! Did I not, help you find your friend last night?"

"Hmph! Fine..." Roady says, giving up.

Angelina brushes up against Roady softly, and looks into his eyes. "I heard what you said about your pack."

Curious at Angelina's behavior, Roady replies "I figured as much, I heard you in the underbrush."

"My mate disappeared several moons ago. We were never able to produce a litter." Angelina says softly, looking at the ground now. "So we kinda have something in common."

"Oh," Roady's tone changing, "Sorry to hear that."

Roady walks to the edge of the water and looks in to see his reflection. "Hey, my feather! Where did it go?" Seeing that his feather had disappeared from behind his right ear.

"Oh yeah, here it is" Angelina produces it, handing it to Roady, who tucks it behind his ear giving her a distrusting look. "It fell off when you were pounced. I found it in the grass, and held onto it for you."

"Oh," Roady's tone changing, yet again, "Thank you."

"I think she has a thing for you," The panther says grinning at Roady. Flicking her tail lightly against his body.

Blushing a little, Roady says, "I think you have a thing for me." Regaining his composure, Roady continues "But really, I don't know. I barely know her, or her pack. Apparently they don't like me."

Angelina nods,

"You seem to know this place pretty well. Care to fill me in on some of the animals around here?"

"Well, of course you already met Sooleawa. She is a bit of a troublemaker in her pack, er' should I say she is one of the few in her pack who are actually respectful wolves." Angelina continues, "And then there are Taima, Nodin, Yuma, and Enola. Taima, Nodin and Yuma tend to stick together, and do their own thing. They are the bane of the pack. Enola is a Beta female who generally stays with Chitsa, the Alpha female. Kachinahey is the Alpha male, and Sooleawa's brother, Nayati generally travels with him, as does Sooleawa when she isn't off exploring."

"Oh wow, you know a lot about them. Are you friendly with any?" Roady asks, rubbing his head with his paw.

"Lay down." Angelina motions towards the lush grass in front of her, and Roady complies, laying down with his paws under him. Angelina sits on his back and begins to massage Roady's temples softly with her front paws. "Is this better?"

Murring softly, Roady nods, his eyes closed.

Continuing, Angelina goes on "I sometimes stop in to see how Enola and Chitsa are doing. I haven't talked to the rest very much.”

"Last night, up North I was following a scent. I saw what looked like a Fox?" Roady inquires,

"Ah yes, there is a small fox troop up that way. They are elusive, and I don't know their names, but there is a mating pair and a few Kits I believe." Angelina replies, still rubbing Roady's temples.

"What about Fred?" Roady says lazily,

"Oh Fred! He is harmless, but he can be a laugh sometimes. Usually that is where we get our good gossip from. There is also a sociable deer named Fae. Her and her mate, Beryl are pretty good sources of information. That is about it really." Angelina thinks for a minute, "Oh, There is a bear family up in the highlands, but its best to avoid them."

"Doesn't sound like too bad of a place, if only the wolf pack wasn't so bad." Roady replies, stirring a little.

Angelina gets off of him to let him get up, as Roady stands back up, he turns and nuzzles Angelina softly. "Thanks," Roady says.

Angelina just nods.

Pondering for a moment, Roady asks, "Any chance you could take me to meet Chitsa?"

Considering his question Angelina pauses for a moment, and then chuckles "Do you have a death wish little wolfie?"

Roady turns away a little, slightly disappointed.

Angelina corrects herself, "I could, but if Taima and Nodin show up, you are on your own."

"Hmmm" Roady ponders, “Well, it is better then nothing I suppose.”

“Well, no time like the present.” Says Angelina, as she begins to walk North down the game trail.

Part 7: The Journey to the Den

Roady struggles to keep up with Angelina, who is moving quickly through the damp forest. Mist rises through the trees, causing beams of morning sunlight to shine horizontally through the trees. The ground damp, slightly muddy and cold on Roadys feet, as he trots along, trying to keep himself upright. His head still pounding and his co-ordination off slightly, making him feel dizzy.

The damp forest smells sweet and earthy. The dew, dripping from the orange and yellow leaves, erasing any animals scents from the night before, and clearing the palate for a new day full of scents and smells to trail their way through the forest.

Roady hears a familiar sound. Something he hasn't heard in about a week. A faint hum. As Angelina crosses a narrow clearing, Roady stops, looking up. A power line runs between the trees, from pole to pole. The slight hum, familiar to his ears, was comforting. His den was not far from a power line in the foothills, and ever since he was a pup, he had grown used to this sound signaling that he was near his den. Angelina stops and looks at Roady, wondering what he is looking at. Roady looks down at Angelina, feeling that he is being watched. “Sorry, I was just... never mind.”

“Come on!” Angelina says, as she turns and begins to walk northward again.

Crossing under the power line, Roady feels the slight radiant heat from the line. Shivering he speeds up, catching up to Angelina. Unable to sense exactly where he is, he thinks he is deep within the Scajaquada's territory by now. The lake, to the South East, is long behind them, as they work their way up the mountain to the North. Trying to stay alert, but being distracted by new sights and smells, Roady becomes nervous.

“How much further?” Roady asks,

“It isn't far,” Angelina replies, herself looking around, and wary of the situation.

Angelina begins to slow, as she crests a rocky ridge. The trees are smaller up here. The ground, often very rocky, is cold to the touch. The higher elevations often getting snow this early in the year, but luckily it hasn't snowed yet. Cresting the ridge, Angelina looks down the other side. Roady, still a few paces behind her, freezes in his tracks as he hears a faint wolf 'yip' from the other side of the ridge.

“Who is it?”

“It is Chitsa, Enola, and another one.”

“Sooleawa?” Roady asks just before cresting the ridge,

“Nope, looks like... maybe Nayati .” Angelina says, straining her eyes as she tries to focus on the wolves in the distance.

The wolves also see Angelina and Roady, and begin to head towards the pair.

Angelina looks back at Roady, and nods her head forward. “Well, there ya go.”

“You're not staying?”

“I'll stay up here, no need for me to get in the way.” Angelina says, “You should be fine.”

“I don't like the keyword 'should', but alright.” As Roady hesitantly moves down the ridge towards the three wolves.

The ridge is rocky, and runs perpendicular to the mountain it rises up along. To Roady's left, he sees the lake, forests and valley he has become familiar with. To Roady's right, the mountain rises as rock, in a mostly treeless setting. Roady is exposed, but looking around, he sees no other wolves nearby.

Stopping at the bottom of the ridge, as Chitsa, Enola and Nayati approach him, he lowers his head and bows slightly. A sign of respect.

Nayati approaches Roady, sniffing his scent politely. Nayati circles Roady, as Roady watches him. “So you are Roady.”

“Yes” Roady nods, “I am Roady. And you are?”

“I am Nayati, and this is Chitsa, our Alpha female, and Enola our Beta female.”

“What brings you to our Den?” Chitsa asks abruptly, Enola standing beside her, and slightly behind her.

“I just wanted to introduce myself on friendly terms.” Roady replies,

Nayati circles back and sits beside Chitsa, as Chitsa moves towards Roady, sniffing him herself. Enola staying where she was. “It is a welcome change to see another wolf for once.” Chitsa says, “But, sadly, not all of our pack will share that opinion.”

Roady politely sniffs at Chitsa as a traditional greeting as she circles him. “I have gotten that impression already,” Roady says,

“I can see that,” Chitsa says, noticing the swollen bump on his head. “You seem to be a healthy young wolf however.”

“I'd like to think so.”

“Are you staying, or moving through?” Chitsa asks,

“I would like to stay in the valley, but I know your pack may not like that idea.”

Considering her response carefully, Chitsa replies “I have been told that you have found a den site south of our territory?”

“Yes,” Roady answers, “at least a place I enjoy, which is comforting to me.”

“And what if we told you that it isn't safe?” Chitsa asks,

“I would take my chances,” Roady replies, “I was kind of...” Roady fumbles for the right word “...distracted last night when I was attacked. So I wasn't really able to defend myself.”

Chitsa nods, “Ah yes, I heard about your distraction.”

Lowering his head a little more, Roady sighs slightly, “I think both of us kind of needed a friend last night.”

Chitsa nods again, “Sooleawa is caught in between our packs drama right now.”

“No one is really sure where my sister stands,” Says Nayati “but she is often off on her own.”

Chitsa looks at Nayati, and then steps closer to Roady. “Stay alert my friend,” She whispers in his ear, “half of our pack is on the hunt for you.”

Roady looks at Chitsa, as she looks at him, “I know,” he replies, “I wonder if there is anything I can do? It seems that there is a bit of a coo going on.”

Chitsa sits beside Roady, as the other two wolves approach, Enola sniffing Roady's scent as she draws near. “I could not ask you to get involved in our drama, but it seems you already are.” Chitsa says softly. “If you can bring Sooleawa back into the fold, we just may have a chance.”

Angelina starts down the ridge towards them, curious at what is going on, and no longer feeling that she is in danger.

Roady blushes a little, “Why me?”

Nayati speaks up, “Sooleawa liked Nodin, but when Nodin teamed up with Taima she quickly lost interest. Nodin still has a thing for her, but she won't go near him anymore.”

“She also feels somewhat ashamed of having been interested in him, after seeing how he turned out.” Enola says, “I think she thinks that she is the reason the pack is tearing apart.”

“But she isn't.” Chitsa quickly interjects, looking at Enola, then back towards Roady. “We heard she did take some interest in you however.”

Nodding slightly, Roady sees where they are coming from. “I could try.”

Angelina prowls up to the group and circles slowly, sitting down nearby. “Hello all,” She nods at the wolves, as they nod back at her. “So did I hear correctly that Roady will be trying to get together with Sooleawa?”

Roady blushes heavily, as Kayati and Enola giggle, and Chitsa smiles, “It may help the pack,” Chitsa says.

“And Taima and Nodin?” Angelina asks.

“We didn't say it was going to be trouble free.” Kayati says, “Sure, we will have to deal with them soon enough, but with Roady and Sooleawa on our side, we may be able to push back Taima's dominance and put him back in his place.”

“Where is your Alpha anyhow?” Roady asks,

“Kachinahey is off meditating. He usually does in the morning.” Chitsa replies,

“Can I meet him?” Roady asks,

“He should be down this ridge, by the creek.” Chitsa says, “I'll take you.” She nods at the other wolves and Angelina, who stays with Enola and Kayati. She leads Roady down the mountain, glancing back to ensure he is following her. Angelina staying behind to gossip with the wolves.

Part 8: The Creekbed

Roady follows Chitsa, her tail softly swaying in front of him, as they follow a path down the mountain into the pine forest. The ground changes from damp grass and rock, to soft and quiet pine needles, as they walk under the pine trees. Woodpeckers chip away at trees near by, their knocking and tapping echoing from every direction it seems. Small chipmunks can be seen thru the forest floor, scurrying about. The forest floor not as overly lush with undergrowth as the forests closer to the waters edge.

“I am sorry for causing all this trouble,” Roady says shyly to Chitsa as they walk.

“The trouble started long before you got here my dear.” Chitsa replies,

“What happened?” Roady asks,

“I am not the one to tell that story Roady.” Chitsa says, “And sadly, it no longer matters. The pack is so torn up that it might as well be two packs.”

“Oh,” Roady says, frowning, “Well, I guess that is better then having no pack at all.”

“Some days I wonder Roady, some days I wonder.” Chitsa says, shaking her head slightly from side to side.

Roady ponders the situation as he follows Chitsa further down the ridge. The forest becomes harder to navigate as the pine trees become less and less, and the deciduous trees replace them, causing a thicker underbrush. The rocky ridge they travel beside also fades, lowering into the ground diminishing to a rocky scar in the forest floor. Chitsa leads Roady to the left a little, and down a small hill. The morning mist now mostly burnt off as the forest grows even more dense. Rounding a curve in the lightly traveled path, Chitsa begins to speak, but not to Roady, “Oh Kach? Sorry to disturb you hon, but I have someone who wishes to see you.”

As Roady enters the small clearing he sees Kachinahey sitting by a small rushing creek. The sound of the trickling water, soothing and refreshing to Roady's ears. Kachinahey motions for Roady to sit beside him, and then without a word, nods at Chitsa to leave them. Chitsa bows slightly and returns into the forest.

Roady looks over at Kachinahey, his eyes closed, for a moment Roady even thinks he is asleep. Roady looks down at the rushing water in the small creek before him, and closes his eyes too, letting the peaceful sound fill his body. Moments pass before a word is spoken.

“I like a wolf who respects a peaceful setting.” Kachinahey speaks, still not opening his eyes.

“The creek is quite relaxing.” Roady says softly, glancing over at Kachinahey, and then back down at the water.

A moment passes before Kachinahey speaks again.

“You had quite a night last night, didn't you?” Kachinahey finally opening his eyes, and glancing at Roady.

Roady, unable to hide the bump on his head grins slightly, “Nothing I couldn't shake off.”

Kachinahey smiles a little, and is silent again for another moment.

“So you met Chitsa I see.”

“Yes,” Roady replies, “I wanted to formally introduce myself.”

“A brave move considering some of our pack members tried to kill you last night.” Kachinahey says softly.

Roady nods slightly

“Well, you seem like a strong young wolf.” As Kachinahey inspects him from where he sits. “I understand you lost your pack?”

Frowning slightly, Roady nods, “Yes sir.”

“Sooleawa told me a little about you.” Kachinahey confesses.

“Ah yes, sorry abo...” Roady begins to speak, but is interrupted by Kachinahey.

“Nonsense. Don't be sorry about anything.”

Roady stays silent.

“I think perhaps you were destined to meet her.” Kachinahey says softly.

Roady ponders for a moment. “Maybe.”

“I trust that Chitsa already warned you about Taima and Nodin?”

“Yes, she did.”

Nodding knowingly, Kachinahey pauses for another moment closing his eyes.

“Good.” He says finally, “I will let the other wolves know that you are good in my books.”

“Oh?” Roady replies, surprised.

“Yes. I do not consider you an enemy to my pack.” says Kachinahey , nodding “I will spread the word that you are a friend, and those loyal to me should treat you as a friend as well.”

“Wow,” Roady says in disbelief, “I am honored Kachinahey.”

“You have proven your self worthy in my eyes Roady.”

“Thank you sir.”

“Return to your den site for now Roady, for it is still not safe for you here in our land. I will need time to ensure that all my pack knows that you are a friend.”

Roady gets up and turns to Kachinahey, bowing slightly “It is an honor to earn your trust Kachinahey.”

Kachinahey nods and smiles “The honor is mine.”

Roady turns and heads down a trail towards the lake, navigating his way back to his familiar hot spring. Passing the power line he had passed before, he realizes he is going the right way. Jumping down a ravine from rock to rock, he travels quickly, suddenly feeling full of energy and life. Still unaware of exactly where he is in the forest, he begins to pick up a scent. Sniffing, he begins to prowl, stalking through the underbrush quietly.

Chapter 3 - Part 9: The Logging Road

He recognizes the scent from the night before, it is Sooleawa. Following the scent through the underbrush, avoiding some thorny bushes, he noses out to a small clearing. Downwind, his scent is hidden from her. She lays in the short grass, with her front legs extended over the body of a small rabbit. Carefully, she picks out the meaty chunks, chewing on them and licking her lips. Roady approaches quietly from behind her, startling her as she hears his paws brush the small blades of grass behind her. Growling she turns to look.

“Oh it is you.” She says as she sees Roady creeping up on her. “Are you feeling okay?”

“Yes, I am fine, a little sore though.” Roady nods, “I do not remember anything except being pounced. What happened?” Roady asks as he sniffs at the bunny.

“Oh, my kin decided to show up.” She said bluntly, Nosing some of the food over to Roady, “I guess they didn't like you associating with me.”

Nibbling on bits of rabbit, Roady nods, “Well at least Taima and Nodin don't.”

“How...? How do you know their names?” Sooleawa asks blushing a little.

“I have learned a lot today.” Roady says, looking up, a bit of rabbit gut hanging from his lip.

Giggling Sooleawa licks the gut from Roadys lip casually, causing Roady to blush a little. “I am surprised you are venturing into our territory actually.”

“I have been here much of the morning,” Roady says, still blushing a little, “I just met with your Alpha, 'Catch-a-hay-he'.” Struggling to pronounce the name.

“Really?” Sooleawa asks, genuinely surprised.

“Yeah, I met Chitsa too.” Roady continues, “They both seemed to like me, I think.”

“What about Taima and his crew?” Sooleawa asks. Noticing the bump on Roadys head.

“Luckily they were not around.” Roady says as he eats another bit of rabbit.

Sooleawa softly rubs her muzzle against the side of Roadys head as he leans down to eat. “While I am glad you are alright,” blushes Sooleawa, “I was worried.”

“No need to worry about me,” Roady mumbles, his mouth full.

“I was going to come see if you were alright, but...” Sooleawa pauses, “... I didn't really want to be followed again.”

“Ah it is alright, I understand.” Roady says. “Thanks for sharing your food,” As he chews, “I was getting very hungry.”

Smiling, Sooleawa nods, “No problem Roady. So where are you off to now?”

Roady grins slightly feeling playful, and looks around “Well, I guess you gotta catch me to find out.” as he darts off, sticking his tongue out while looking back at Sooleawa.

Sooleawa chases him, kicking up the autumn leaves as she runs. “Oh really?” She exclaims, grinning.

Roady finds the power lines again, and turns, following them, with Sooleawa several paces behind him. Growling at each other, and giggling as well, the pair race up along the hydro lines, and find a small logging road. Roady quickly looks either way and decides to dart right, heading North. Sooleawa follows, right on his tail.

The road, a simple pair of mud ruts with green grass on either side, appears mostly unused. Roady had never seen the road before. The trees hang low over the road, and in some spots fallen trees are brushed aside just enough to allow clearance for a vehicle. It is evident as they explore up the road that it has been used in the past few months.

Still kicking up dirt with his paws as he runs, Roady is having a blast, his tongue hanging to one side of his muzzle. Sooleawa who is catching up to him is panting hard, but also appears to be having fun. The pair round a curve in the road. There is a flash of movement and Roady turns to look as he watches Nodin jump out from the brush at the side of the road, and pounce towards Sooleawa.

Almost tumbling as he tries to turn and stop to help Sooleawa, Roady doesn't even notice Taima in front of him, and runs right into him causing both of them to stumble and hit the ground. Sooleawa, unable to avoid Nodin, gets pounced on and is pinned to the ground. She growls fiercely at Nodin, who begins to bite her neck firmly. Gaging, Sooleawa still fights, strugling with Nodin, making it difficult for him to get a good grip on her.

Roady gets up to his feet at the same time that Taima does, and begins to go to help Sooleawa, but Taima cuts him off. The two wolves circle each other slowly, at a stand off. Each growling and bearing their teeth.

“Let her go!” Roady screams out at Nodin.

“Sooleawa is destined to be mine, you fool.” Nodin replies, still pinning her down, but having released his grip on her neck for now.

Snarling, Taima takes the opportunity to charge at Roady. Roady barely dodges his charge, but gets swiped at on his hind. As he turns to counter, Roady jumps up and grabs onto Taimas shoulder, latching onto it with his teeth, he clamps down hard, breaking skin. Roady feels Taimas blood trickle out into his mouth.

Taima turns, his shoulder in searing pain, as he swats Roadys underbelly with one of his paws. Roady lets go of Taima, his jaw dripping with Taima's blood, as he looks over at Sooleawa and Nodin. Taima is however not finished yet, and jumps up on Roady biting his upper shoulder blade on his back. Tearing into his skin Taima bites hard, Roady howls in pain,but Taima is not able to get a good grip on Roady. Swinging himself around, Roady uses centrifugal force to get Taima off of him. “Get off me you scum.”

Nodin mounts Sooleawa and begins to violate her. Sooleawa yelps loudly, and crys out. “No! Don't!”

“Shut up bitch.” Nodin says, pushing down on her shoulder. Shoving her front half harder into the ground.

Roady watches in horror as he is still trying to fend off Taima, who prowls around him looking for a weakness.

Yuma appears from the under brush looking around. “Get off her Nodin!” He commands upon seeing Nodin on top of Sooleawa, he runs and pounces on Nodin, ripping him off of Sooleawa and pinning him to the ground, growling. “Are you crazy?”

Growling Nodin nips at Yuma, and Yuma gets off of him, letting him up. “Its better we get her, then that new wolf scum.”

Sooleawa gets up and runs off, her tail between her legs. Roady is able to dodge Taima and run off after Sooleawa. Taima stands and watches Roady run off, his shoulder dripping blood down his leg.

Nodin, in slight pain as well, is not running anywhere fast. Sitting down he tends to himself. “What the hell Yuma? Why did you do that?”

“Nodin, do you know how much trouble we would be in if word got back to Chitsa about what you were going to do?” Yuma says.

Nodin mumbles something under his breath.

Taima remains silent, knowing that what Nodin did was wrong, but refusing to get involved. He turns and notices how bad he is bleeding. “Yuma, could you help me for a bit? This kinda hurts.”

“Sure Taima.” Yuma says, as he approaches Taima and begins to clean his wounds. “You know I am always there for my kin.”

Part 10: Sap.

Roady and Sooleawa run for a while, but slow down to a walk once they are a good distance down the logging road.

Limping along, Roady winces in pain with every step. Sooleawa, sobbing heavily, slows to let him catch up, and then paces beside him.

“Are you okay?” Roady asks of Sooleawa.

“I... I am sore, but I think I am alright.” Sooleawa says, sniffling. Herself walking kind of akwardly.

“I am sorry, I couldn't do anything...” Roady says, feeling guilty.

“It isn't your fault Roady.” Sooleawa says, her head low. “Nothing you could of done.”

“I need to rest somewhere.” Roady says, grunting in pain with each step.

“You are badly injured,” Sooleawa says looking over at him. “Do you think you can make it to your Den?”

“I can try.” Roady says, wincing, as he hobbles along.

The pair travel down the clearing, following the power line. The rough terrain difficult for Roady to manage. Clouds roll in, as the wind begins to pick up. Sooleawa, worried about Roady, follows him and tries to help him along.

“Do you want to rest here?” Sooleawa asks, as they reach the point where the power lines cross the game trail that runs along the shore.

“No” Roady answers, finding some strength, now that they are on a trail. “I think I can make it from here.”

Sooleawa's tail now hangs low, but is no longer tucked between her legs, as her concern over Roady increases. Following Roady back to his den, watching him limping and moaning, she feels as helpless as Roady felt watching Nodin have his way with her earlier. She is so lost in thought, trying to remember what Chitsa taught her ages ago, that she doesn't even notice as it begins to rain.

Roady notices, and the cool rain on his fur seems to have given him a little extra energy. Pressing forward, he picks up a little speed. “I'll make it, it isn't too far away.”

Still lost in thought, Sooleawa just replies with a simple “Okay.” as they pass under a fur tree. Sooleawa smells the sweet smell of the sap, and looks over at the tree. A tall tree, the lower branches were all mostly barren. Approaching the tree, letting Roady continue for a bit on his own, Sooleawa sniffs a wart in the bark. Fresh sap oozes out of the wart, like molasses.

“Hey!” Sooleawa exclaims. “Come here.”

Roady turns and looks at Sooleawa “What?”

“Come here, I have something that will help.” Sooleawa says, nodding at the tree trunk.

“How will that tree help me?”

“The sap, it will help heal your cuts.”

“Really?” Roady says, limping over to the tree.

“Yeah, it may sting a little tho.” Sooleawa says as she pokes the wart with one of the nails on her paw, and lets the sap ooze out onto her paw. “Okay, now hold still.” She applies the sap to Roadys back and shoulder, as he winces and shudders. Dabbing it on softly, she looks deeply into Roadys eyes.

Roady relaxes as the sap oozes over his wounds. Looking back into Sooleawa's eyes, he smiles. “Thanks, it feels much better.”

A tear rolls down Sooleawa's cheek, as she smiles back at him and just nods. She realizes that she cares deeply for him after such a short time knowing him. She continues to dab sap onto his back, her own paw covered in the sticky sap mixed with his blood.

The cold rain falls steadily on the two wolves as they sit under the fir. None of them notice Angelina approaching from up the trail. She comes up behind them, her fur soaked, causing them to jump a little as they see her.

“Hey,” Angelina says, “Am I interrupting anything?”

“None of your concern.” Sooleawa says, growling slightly.

“I think we will be okay Angelina.” Roady replies, not thinking.

Angelina looks at Roady's wound. “What happened?”

“It's nothing, don't worry about it.” Roady replies.

“Looks like it hurts?” Angelina examines it from a few paces away. “Are those bite marks?”

Sighing Roady gives in, “Yes, they are.”

“From who?”

“Taima...” Roady.

“Taima?” As Angelina looks at Sooleawa.

“Yes, that idiot who thinks he is the fricken alpha around here.” Sooleawa says, slightly annoyed.

“It doesn't matter.” Roady says, as he gets up on all fours again only wincing slightly at the pain. “We'll be fine Angelina.”

“Okay, okay, I can tell when I am not wanted.” Angelina says, raising her chin up slightly. She turns and walks back up the trail without another word.

Watching Angelina walk off, Roady nuzzles Sooleawa, who is still sitting beside him, her head lowered and eyes closed. “Come on Sooleawa, we should get going.”

Sooleawa gets up and the two wolves continue to Roadys den together in the pouring rain. Sooleawa's paw, sticky with sap, collecting small twigs and leaves along the way.

Reaching the glen, they finally relax. Covered in mud from the pouring rain and, still sore from earlier Sooleawa decides a swim might help her feel a little cleaner. She dips into the warm steaming water. The rain dancing on it like hundreds of tiny insects. “Come on in, the water is great.”

Shaking his head, Roady declines, and decides to try to make some shelter before night falls. Covered in mud, sap and blood, he begins to painfully dig under the tree roots he had started to dig under before. Finding that the mud was easier to dig out then the dry dirt, he makes quick work of the hole and finds an empty cavity under the tree trunk. Entering it, he looks around. A few cob webs and old roots poke into the cavity, but nothing that can't be cleaned up.

Climbing out of the make shift entrance he looks across the glen at Sooleawa, who is curled up alone in the shallow part of the hot spring. He walks over to her and curls up beside her, enjoying the feeling of the warm water on half of his body and cool rain drops on the other half. Murring, he begins to groom her softly, his tongue licking the fur on her neck and shoulder.

Sooleawa, murring softly, enjoys his touch. “I do not want to go back there.” She says softly.

“What do you want to do then?” Roady asks, softly grooming around her ear.

Thinking about it, she pauses, “Well... We could run off together. Maybe start a pack somewhere far away from all this?”

Blushing heavily, Roady ponders this latest development. He liked Sooleawa... Well perhaps a little more then like, perhaps it is love. But did he want to run off and become mated to someone he just met the day before? He stops grooming, mostly out of being distracted in his own thoughts.

“That is a big step.” He finally says. Returning to grooming her neck softly.

“Do you not feel that it is the right step for us?” Sooleawa asks, closing her eyes slightly as Roady's touch again.

“I don't know, I guess it is. A lot has happened.” Roady says, trying to buy himself some time to think about this. “I really can't think too straight right now.”

“I guess you are right,” Sooleawa sighs softly, turning and licking Roady's ear teasingly. “We need our rest. How is the Den?”

“It'll do for the night” Roady replies, getting up, and groaning at the pain. He leads Sooleawa to the Den and allows her to enter first. She steps down into the cavity below the tree trunk.

“Not bad.” She says, “Not bad at all.”

She waits for him to get down into the den, and curls up on the ground. “Keep me warm,” She says softly. The rain pattering away at the tree stump above them.

Roady curls up against her back, placing his paws around her shoulder, cuddling her. “I will.” He says softly nibbling on her neck before closing his eyes and laying his head down to rest. Sooleawa murrs softly, and they are both asleep within minutes.

Part 11:

A heavy dampness hangs over the valley. The rain has ceased for now, but clouds still lay low, obscuring the hills. Outside the den, water drips from the trees and the air remains still. Inside Roady and Sooleawa sleep. Both slightly muddy, but otherwise warm and comfortable next to each other.

A rustling outside stirs Roady who wakes up and, blinking a few times, looks out the entrance of the den from where he lay. He can hear movement. Nudging Sooleawa with his nose to wake her, he gets to his feet, and stalks closer to the entrance as Sooleawa wakes up.

Outside it is dawn, but cloudy, so everything is a smoky shade of gray and brown. Roady sees nothing, but begins to smell another wolf's scent. It smells like Chitsa, but he can't be sure. Staying quiet, he waits near the entrance, listening for anything. All he hears is the sound of paws walking over wet grass. He counts 2 maybe 3 wolves, and he tenses up, ready for another fight.

“Roady?” A soft voice calls out. “Sooleawa?”

Walking out of the entrance to his den enough to see the other wolves, Roady realizes that it is indeed Chista, and Enola. Kachinahey is there too. Seeing him emerge, the wolves all turn and face him.

“There you are.” Chitsa says,

“We were worried about you.” Kachinahey explains. “Is Sooleawa with you?”

Coming out of his den fully, Roady bows slightly greeting the other wolves. “Yes, she is alright.”

“Angelina said you were injured badly.” Chitsa says, approaching Roady, concerned.

“I think I caused a bit more damage to Taima this time however.” Brags Roady, letting Chitsa examine him in the early morning light.

“I haven't seen him at all tonight.” Kachinahey says, “He must he licking his wounds and hiding.”

Chitsa looks at Roady's wound a little closer “Sap eh? I guess Sooleawa did learn a little from me after all.”

Sooleawa pops her head out of the den, looking around. “I did mother.”

“We were worried, we had heard that you guys were attacked.” Chitsa explains.

“No need to worry about me. I will be fine.” Sooleawa says.

“What happened?” Kachinahey asks,

“We were just running along a trail, when we were ambushed by Tamia and Nodin.” Roady explains. “It happened so fast, we were not ready for it.”

Kachinahey growls in anger at Tamia and Nodin.

“Nodin is such a pig.” Sooleawa proclaims, crying a little.

“What did he do?” Chitsa asks, concerned.

Sooleawa, blushing heavily just shakes her head.

“He tried to mount her.” Roady answers, looking around at the curious and concerned faces.

Gasping, Chista shakes her head too. Kachinahey lowers his head in thought, deeply troubled. Enola just stands by, shaking her head slightly.

“Well we can't have that.” Kachinahey says finally. “Can you help us?” he asks, looking at Roady.

“Do what?” Roady asks, curious.

“I need your help to bring them back in line.”

Looking at Sooleawa, whos eyes widen, Roady looks back at Kachinahey. “I don't really know how much help I will be. I am quite injured.”

Nodding, Kachinahey agrees, “I really shouldn't of asked. It isn't your fight to begin with.” Looking over at Sooleawa he prods her with his eyes. “How about you?”

“I wont put up with any of them anymore.” Sooleawa states, a tear rolling down her cheek.

“So you will help us?”

“No”

“What do you mean dear?” Chitsa asks, walking over to Sooleawa to nuzzle her.

“I am not coming back. Taima and Nodin have crossed the line this time.” Sooleawa explains, slightly shrugging away from Chitsa's nuzzle, but accepting it after Chitsa persists.

“I was afraid it would come to this.” Kachinahey sighs,

Looking at Kachinahey, Chitsa pauses for a moment. Then turns to Sooleawa “Do what you must to be happy. We will always be here for you.”

“Are you going to venture off on your own?” Kachinahey asks, looking at Sooleawa.

“No” She says shyly, then glances at Roady who looks back at her and nods slightly. “Roady will be coming with me.”

Sighing, Kachinahey turns to Chitsa “I don't know if we can do this without them.”

“We will get through this.” Chitsa says, frowning slightly.

Roady steps up and nuzzles Kachinahey and Chitsa. “If I was stronger, I would help. But I think I am causing too many problems here to begin with. I need to move on.”

“Nonsense,” Enola finally speaks up “You need us as much as we need you.” Every ones eyes now gazing at Enola. “Don't think running away will solve anything, it won't. There will be bigger challenges to face out there. Challenges that two wolves alone couldn't handle. You have the beginnings of a good family here. It will just take some work.”

Kachinahey just nods, as does Chitsa. Roady blushes, “Well, gee...” He looks over at Sooleawa, who looks at him longingly, tears still in her eyes.

Enola approaches Roady, and licks under his chin, then lowers her head, bowing to him “I beg of you, please help us.” her gray and matter white fur, accented by a small lightning bolt pattern in the fur on her head above each ear, of a redish brown color.

Roady nuzzles Enola's ear, and turns to Sooleawa, approaching her “What do you say? Enola makes a good point.”

Sooleawa lowers her head, and retreats slowly back into Roady's den. She looks back before disappearing into the darkness “Let me think about it.”

Concerned faces all around look at Roady, who sighs and paws aimlessly at the ground. “Well shucks.”

“Listen...” Chitsa speaks up, “I think we would understand if Sooleawa decided not to return, and you stayed with her. In fact, I believe we would prefer that to her going off on her own...”

“...But don't let that keep you from trying to convince her to come back.” Kachinahey interrupts, “We need both of you to support us, and in return you will have a welcoming family.”

“I will see what I can do to convince her. But I may be unable to.”

“That is all we ask.” Chitsa says. “Let us take leave now. We have done all we can here.”

“I will send Enola or Nayati back later today for news and to see if you two are alright.” Kachinahey suggests. “You two be safe, and if I don't see you...” He bows to Roady “Take care my friend.”

“Same to you Kachinahey” Roady says, bowing gracefully towards him.

Chitsa, Enola and Kachinahey turn and jog off, back up the game trail towards their territory. Roady sits down, and stares into the water in the pond. Watching a frog leap around the edge of the water, creating rings of waves as he jumps. Sooleawa joins him eventually, sitting down beside him she sits looking forward, a blank stare into nothingness.

Chapter 4 – Part 12:

Back at the Scajaquada's den site, Kachinahey, Enola and Chitsa return to find Taima, Nodin and Yuma. Growling Chitsa charges at Nodin and pounces on him, pinning him down and biting him, as Kachinahey and Enola flank her.

Nodin growls “What the.. get off of me!” He says, struggling to get free.

“I think Chitsa is a little upset” Kachinahey says calmly, eyeing Taima, who is prowling around cautiously, watching the situation. “She heard about your adventures with Sooleawa.”

“I was just messing with her, I didn't do anything!”

Chitsa bites Nodin hard in the neck, but then lets him up after he begins to choke.

“You need to remember your place young wolf.” Kachinahey says to Nodin who replies back with a mumble.

“I know my place.”

“What?” Kachinahey growls

Nodin prowls around, joining Taima. “I know my place, better then most around here know their place.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Chitsa interjects.

Nodin glares at Chitsa, then looks back at Kachinahey. “I know that I could easily be the Alpha here.”

“Is that so?” Kachinahey asks,

Nodin growls and circles closer to Kachinahey, “Let's find out.”

Chitsa and Enola look at each other concerned, but Kachinahey steps forward, tail held high. He decides to make the first move, and charges towards Nodin, snarling as he does.

Nodin easily dodges and lunges at Kachinahey who turns just in time to block Nodins attack with a bit of a hop, and pushes Nodin to the side with his front paws in mid hop.

Nodin snarls, but struggles to maintain his balance, turning his body to adjust his stance. Kachinahey stands facing Nodin, his tail held high, as he looks Nodin straight in the eye, his nose only inches away from Nodins. The two wolves face off for several seconds before Nodin moves forward, lunging towards Kachinahey's neck. The attack is easily parried by Kachinahey, as he bites Nodins snout. Nodin whimpers and whines as his head is forced down to the ground, and only then is released.

Nodin raises his head slightly, his tail wrapped around his hind tightly as he stands there looking at the old wolf who just took him down.

Kachinahey stands alert, but casually looks around at the other wolves who stand and calmly watch, Nayati just joining Chitsa and Enola's side having just shown up at the den-site.

Nodin growls and lunges again, and this time takes hold on Kachinahey's neck, the old wolf bites and nips off a bit of Nodins ear, but can't get a grip on him. Nodins grip is not all that great, and as he tightens his grasp on Kachinahey, he draws blood, but does not choke him as he intended. Kachinahey, calm for the most part, simple growls and waits. Nodin knows if he wants to pin his opponent he must try something else. Loosening his grip he quickly darts away, as Kachinahey turns quickly to face him.

“Can't pin me?” Kachinahey taunts, chuckling a little as some blood drips down from his shoulder. Seeing that Nodin is a little shaken at his taunt, Kachinahey pounces hard and pushes Nodin onto his back. Nodin, extending his legs, pushing against Kachinahey's throat with his paws to keep him away, whines and snarls.

Kachinahey hops off of him and limps a few paces away, his shoulder sore from the bite. He turns to face Nodin again before he can get up. Nodin gets back to his feet, and seeing the slight limp decides to use that to his advantage. He circles Kachinahey as the old wolf stands there watching him. At the right moment, Nodin pounces. He knocks Kachinahey over, his weaker leg taking the brunt of the force and collapsing easily.

Filled with rage and excited that he finally has the upper hand he bites Kachinahey's neck hard. The old wolf unable to muster the strength to push Nodin away as he chokes for air.

“Enough Nodin!” Nayati calls out.

Nodin ignores him and continues to choke Kachinahey, whose eyes are blinking wildly, as if asking for mercy.

“Nodin!” Nayati yells again, as Chitsa begins to step forward to help Kachinahey. But Taima growls and approaches, defending Nodin.

Chitsa and Enola both growl back at Taima and circle him, drawing him away from the battle. Nayati sees his chance and charges in, pouncing on Nodin and tumbling with him, landing in a dominant position. Kachinahey lays motionless, no longer breathing.

Nodin thrashes wildly, but Nayati is too strong and easily holds him down, and growling down at him, saliva dripping from his sharp teeth. Nodin whimpers slightly, Nayati steps off of Nodin and growls. Nodin gets up, his tail held tightly around his hind, as he whimpers, and slinks away cautiously. Taima easily dodges the girls and follows Nodin off into the treeline.

The rest of the pack circle around Kachinahey sadly looking down at him. Chitsa approaches and noses at him softly, a tear running down her cheek. She licks his chin softly, and gasps as his body stirs back to life slowly. The pack steps back a little, and Chitsa softly nuzzles with Kachinahey as he opens his eyes and looks up at her.

“I love you Chitsa...” He musters to say softly.

“Shhh Don't speak, save your energy.” Chitsa replies softly in his ear, tears rolling down her cheeks faster now.

“I don't have much time left, I fear.” a slight gurgle audible in his voice.

“Don't be silly Kach, you will be okay.” Chitsa mutters, averting her eyes from his bruised throat and bleeding shoulder.

The cold wind blowing up the mountain, sends a chill through the air. The Scajaquada pack circled around their former leader, bowing their heads in a quiet salute to him. And so ended the reign of Kachinahey. The pack howled a mournful howl.

To Be Continued...