The snow flurries tickled her nose but she knew better than to sneeze. Any slight movement could risk the entire mission a failure. Just a second longer and…bingo. She found what she had been looking for. Off to the rear, a lame, elderly, elk had fallen behind his herd. From the way that the elk limped, she could tell that his rear right leg had been damaged. Because of this he wouldn’t be able to run too fast or too long making him the perfect target. Signaling the pack to take their positions, they circled the herd from a distance. Aloni advanced towards the herd and the hunt was on.
Waves of snow flew into the air as the herd retreated towards the hills. Aloni knew that they had to make the kill before the herd reached the towering hills or they would lose their advantage. Not having eaten in days, their entire survival was riding on this moment. Swept up in the confusion, the lame elk stumbled. Picking up speed, Aloni advanced on the opportunity coming at the elk so fast that not even the wind could keep up. Leaping into the air she grabbed the elk’s hide with her jaws and tried her best to hang on. A brown wolf named Onahtah caught up to them and jumped on the opposite side of the elk. Together, Aloni and Onahtah brought the elk down to the freezing snow. Blood splattered into the air as Aloni bit down into the jugular of the elk, her white coat now stained with the crimson liquid.
As the Alpha pair, Rock and Distaff, took their helping of the kill, Aloni and the rest of the pack waited in the distance. The other wolves whined and complained as they usually do but Aloni was content. Her entire life her white coat had been a curse. Often teased and ridiculed, it wasn’t until One Moon made their exodus to the mountains that her monochromatic coat came into good use. Being the only wolf that could blend in easily with the snow, Aloni could get closer to the elk herds without being spotted than the brown and black coats who dominated the majority of the tribe. Because of her successive hunts, she was quickly rising the ranks of the pack. With this kill being her 75th, she had performed far better than even the Alpha pair combined and on this day earned her new nick name “Frostbite.”
Munching on a nearby rabbit she just so happened to catch, kill number 76, Aloni caught a glimpse of an older wolf named Tuwa whose nose was pointed to the sky. “What’s wrong Tuwa,” Aloni asked. “I caught a scent of something…familiar yet different floating on the wind. I thought it might have been more stragglers from the canyons but it was probably just my nose playing tricks on me,” responded Tuwa. That night, as One Moon rested, their bellies full of meat, a low growling was heard. Rock was the first to his paws. Trying to pinpoint the threat, he sniffed the air but smelled nothing. Relying on his ears, the growling began to grow louder and seemed to be coming from every direction. This could only mean one thing, they were surrounded.
Urika, Rock’s most trusted, howled into the night, alerting the pack that enemies were nearby. As One Moon rose to their paws, the outsiders began their attack. Just as Rock predicted they had surrounded the pack and were now coming at all angles. Swift and fierce, the outsiders used One Moon’s confusion against them and gained a few kills. Rallying his pack, Rock caught a glimpse of one of the attackers and advanced.
The attacker had one of the younger wolves named Yazhi pinned to the ground. Lowering his head, Rock butted the enemy off Yazhi but it was too late, his throat was already cut clean through. Enraged, Rock charged after the enemy, beating him mercilessly with his claws. The other outsiders noticed their ally was in trouble and came to his aid. Rock fought valiantly but their numbers were too much. Cut, slashed, and bitten from every direction. The flesh being ripped apart from his body, Rock had no choice but to call for help. Urika and Aloni were the first to hear Rock’s plea and rushed to his aid. With One Moon more organized and a ring of wolves encircling the injured Rock, the outsiders signaled retreat and fled into the unknown as quickly as they appeared.
Distaff, coming to her mates aid, gently nuzzled her head on his cheek. His wounds were severe and would take weeks if not months to heal. As those with loved ones mourned their loss, Distaff gathered the pack for any information pertaining to the attackers. Most wolves didn’t get a clear look at them and the ones who did died for their efforts. Knowing it would only be a matter of time before another attack, Distaff ordered the pack to keep close watch of their surroundings at all times. Since leaving the canyons and encroaching the mountains, they were in alien territory and had obviously overstepped their boundaries. In order to survive they would need to focus on defense.
The next day, Distaff mandated two shields of wolves to encircle the camp. The first shield was made up of those with the strongest eyes, ears, and noses. If an enemy was near the perimeter they would be the first to sniff them out. The second shield, formed just a few yards behind the first were made up of the most robust wolves the pack had to offer. In case of attack, the first shield would fall behind the second shield. In the center of the two shields, the injured nursed their wounds until the pack as a whole was able to move again. The rest of the pack tended to the injured and took over shifts from the shielders when they needed to rest.
With the formation of the shields, the uneasiness of the pack was put a little at ease but as night encroached, tensions returned. It began as low growling and then the glowing red of their eyes burned in the darkness. The growling continued to grow louder until their demonic eyes were barking as if rabid. Distaff advanced to the head of the shield and rallied the pack to keep their wits. “The outsiders are trying to scare us into breaking ranks but as long as we are fortified they can not harm us,” she howled. The pack maintained their defenses and sure enough, after a long nights standoff, the outsiders retreated into the distance at sight of the first rays of sunshine.
Each successive night the Scentless, a name the pack had adopted for the outsiders, would continue to return and with each return they edged closer and closer to the shields of the pack. Finally, when Rock and the injured wolves were able to move again, Distaff gave the order for the pack to continue their march towards the mountains. They were so close now and she would be damned if the dreams of Onestroke died in this whitewashed purgatory. As the pack marched, the rear guard reported sights of figures in the mists trailing them. It had to be none other then the Scentless.
Rumors among the pack had already broke out about who the Scentless were. Many regarded them as the spirits of their fallen ancestors who were angry at them for losing their homeland to King Ibex. “How else could you explain their lack of smell and paw prints that look exactly like our own,” contested on elderly wolf named Kaya. Distaff, unlike her mate was not eager to use her claws to solve her problems but if the situation persisted the pack would be cornered with no way out. It was better to attack first then wait to be attacked so she advised her council and they devised a plan.
With the pack on high ground, One Moon broke up into a new formation. The front and rear of the pack were made up of ranks of the strongest wolves. In the middle were the young, elderly, and lame who were guarded on the side by the remaining wolves. Turning around to face the direction of the Scentless, the front portion of the pack pack marched off to confront their attackers. Behind their veil of mist, the Scentless were taken aback by One Moon’s sudden aggressiveness but their leader Kangal answered the questions their fear was asking by taking the first step forward. The rest of his gang followed and now the Scentless and One Moon were both marching steadily into a battleground that only one side would walk away from.