Today marked the day of the second week since the Elder ceremony: the day the five packs made Titania’s territory their home.
The pack was alight with a cheerful atmosphere. It was sure that mates would be found and strong friendships could be forged. For the Duskfall pack kept themselves to themselves so when packs, from four different countries: Spain, Belgium, Lithuania and France, were travelling to their lands, it was sure to create a change that everybody, surprisingly, welcomed.
Not much was said to the ones giving up their more Human lifestyles near the cities, to now live part of their lives surrounded by nature. A drastic change, but a necessary one. Titania hoped, for the pack’s sake, that the wolves tempers from the meeting two weeks prior had calmed. Right now, alongside her current temperament, she was in no mood to babysit and would talk to the Alphas as soon as they were settled: to ensure they understood her rules.
The Highlands were unforgiving and she refused to lose any wolves to Mother Nature. She’d lost too many already.
Her pack of forty-five scrambled to pull vegetables for dinner, prepare the remaining houses and generally tidy up. The Duskfall pack were prideful wolves, striving to reach their best and they were out to impress. Which they would, with their trimmed grasses, clean windows and fresh hides hung out in the muggy weather of the day.
The pack was alive and with everything according to plan, Titania and her warriors had continued with their training. Not before she gave orders to the others, much still had to be done and she refused to give the other packs anything to grumble about. She had new appliances installed and as soon as the packs arrived she’d compile a list of food items that would be purchased from the next town, two hours away.
Titania had thought through every aspect of this day, and the following weeks of the best route to maintaining the best for her pack and others alike. As winter was just around the corner.
A small red headed warrior made her way to Titania during training. Titania recognised her as one of the regular border patrollers, if she could recall correctly she was one of the few that could scale the treacherous mountain range on the south side.
“Alpha we have wolves coming from the south. Should I redirect them?” She inquired, tilting her head to the side.
Titania had encouraged strategic thinking within her wolves from a young age. What kind of Alpha would she be to bark orders and not bring about empirical thinking of their own? It made things easier when her wolves were sharp.
She nodded to the small wolf, “Please Laura, inform Carlton and bring them from the east. Don’t want them tackling terrain that’s out of their current skill level.”
It was not meant to offend. It took months of hard training to be able to survive such hard lands. Titania did not expect that from her new arrivals who originated from completely different climates and land alike.
“I shall Alpha.” She hesitated momentarily, eying the sparring rings, “Perhaps a spar later?” Noticing Titania’s tired eyes she reworded her previous request, “A run instead?”
“That would be nice, I’m assuming south side?”
The warrior grinned, loving that her Alpha would spend time running her most favourite tracks along the mountains steep slopes. Laura loved the challenge and feeling the nippy winds, lack of oxygen and bitter cold made running that much more exciting. She even had her house situated on the mountain side, her cave was her saviour.
“Aye of course! Catch you after dinner Alpha!” She shouted, dashing back to her patrol.
Nathan watched from the sidelines of the Duskfall pack. Its members distracted from the importance of today that many didn’t notice him slinking about. He had been in his cabin for two full days and had tried to escape three times. Each time, Alpha Titania had come after him, eyes tinted with disappointment. But, she did not speak a word. Simply caught him and did what she promised she would: drag him back.
He ignored her where possible. Which was mighty difficult in a pack that had such a deep sense of community. Nathan had only bumped into her twice outside the times she had come after him, and that was once at dinner and another in the communal bathhouse, on top of a natural spring.
The bond pulled him, forcing him to see her, to ensure she was safe but he scoffed at such feelings. He knew the rumours, heard her deeds yet when he watched her around her pack she was something else. A wolf in her element. A wolf destined to be Alpha.
And here he sat, doing what he said he wouldn’t. He was watching her. Titania’s lean body tempting him by moving with such dangerous grace during her fights that it was no wonder the others couldn’t touch her. Her creamy skin shimmered, effortlessly she looked ferocious and at the same time.... beautiful.
The bond filled with awe as she took down fighters twice her size then continued on to the next fight. He couldn’t comprehend the cold exterior and even more, felt a sense of disheartenedness that the rejection hadn’t caused her to cripple, and wither into nothingness from the pain.
How he wanted to see that. A sharp twist to his chest had him wincing. The bond did not like that thought.
He’d seen rejected wolves and she was not what that image was. Nathan didn’t know how to feel about that but knew he had been proved right; she really didn’t have any emotions other than rage.
Titania finished her current spar and he watched as she towel dried her skin before heading inside. Nathan was just about to leave in case he bumped into her until another male stood beside his spot. Nestled between the packhouse and the bonfire pit.
“Must be great to have a mate.”
The man beside him, Eóghan, looked him over, knowing full well that something had happened between Nathan and Titania. If her bloodshot eyes and necessary need to stay busy was anything to go by, and he knew Titania well, then there was something he needed to know.
Nathan huffed, not meeting his eyes, “Not quite.”
Eóghan straightened, hoping that this male was what Titania needed and not another that would only bring her down. Like a big brother, he frowned at such a thought.
Noticing the scowl now on Eóghans face he turned to the male. Just because he found his Alpha to be a monster, Nathan did not want to spend his time alone in Duskfall.
“I’m Nathan, it’s nice to meet you...”
“Beta Eóghan.” He added, shaking hands with the new wolf, “Welcome to Duskfall. It’s a tough life but it’s rewarding, make the most of it.” Eóghan quickly tied his hair up, fastening it with an array of coloured beads.
Eyes watching the beautiful pieces, Eóghan laughed, a deep throaty laugh that rivalled that of a bear, “These are tradition y’know. Old family heirloom, all the rage in Scotland.” He smirked at Nathan’s expression.
“Nah don’t worry, it’s just me and my brother who wear it like this. No pressure.”
Nathan’s shoulders sagged in relief. While they were impressive to look at, Nathan did not wish to wear them himself.
“Wouldn’t suit me anyway.” He retorted, enjoying the hearty warmth that emitted from conversing with Eóghan.
Eóghan smiled, “You’d be surprised, you’ve already got the kilt. We’ll make a Highlander of you yet.”
Nathan’s smile dipped and his whole expression dampened. “I don’t plan on staying.” He mumbled out, but Eóghan caught the words regardless.
With hawk-like eyes, he watched Nathan carefully. His pack did not see running away from problems as a solution, if anything, it was looked down upon. Life was to be faced and feared by none, it was their motto and whole way of life. Understanding that Nathan was new to it all, he retracted the fangs that wanted to flash at such a cowardly statement.
“And this is because of the Alpha?” He asked.
Nathan shifted uncomfortably and ran a hand through his tousled hair, which seemed to gain a different style each day. His eyes gave it all away.
“I rejected her.”
Eóghan could not stop the utter contempt that covered his features. His eyes narrowed and landed on the offending wolf. He was surely disappointed that Titania’s fated was someone that was so weak willed. With such a mindset, he would not last the winter.
Catching the quick change in his new friend’s face, he put his hands up in surrender. “Don’t look at me like that. I can’t be with someone like her.” He stressed the word and Eóghan refrained from growling.
"She,” he rumbled, “Is a wolf of immense strength. You barely know her yet you reject her like a common hussy.”
“You know her! So you know fine well why I rejected her.” Nathan replied, anger slowly turning his hazel eyes, murky.
Eóghan was close to hitting the wolf that spoke of his Alpha with such ill words. Refraining, and only just, he knew Titania would not appreciate him giving her fated a black eye, so chose to flash his teeth, warningly.
“I know her well and that’s why I’m still at her side. If you watch her instead of listening to every rumour thrown your way you would see that!”
At Nathan’s disbelief, he gave up. The wolf would either need to see for himself or lose the wolf that was chosen for him by the moon. He wasn’t so sure Titania could last through another break as soul consuming as her mate bond.
“You should give her a chance.” Nathan scoffed immediately at that but Eóghan continued, “I’ve got to go. If you need your Beta I’ll either be in the training rings or in my office. Same with the Alpha. Find me and you’ll find her.”
At Eóghan’s small implication of spending time with Titania, Nathan’s chest roared. He slapped a hand over his mouth quickly at the slip and faked a cough. Not as if he could fool a wolf such as Eóghan, who simply gave him a pointed and knowing smile before leaving him.
By eight, all five packs had arrived and all were tired from their long day of travels. To get to Duskfall, up rocky ground, large glens and chilling winds, took up a considerable amount of energy. While the views were bonny and picturesque, it came to no shock to greet the new wolves who were sweating, bodies slumping from the exertion. Titania let the new wolves settle. Hoping that no wolves complained, as Garth and Eóghan did not take well to whiners. The Bleulune and Noirnight packs, both having sullen faces and with a low number of thirty wolves combined arrived, the children did not hold back. Conversing with them in some broken French proved to bring smiles among the older wolves, it was a sight to behold.
Eóghan and Garth shook hands with many of the top rankers. Informing them of the meeting that Titania was having in an hour. At the mention of her name a few faces froze and the males couldn’t help but stifle laughs. Mutters of displeasure were hushed at the sharp glances the Highlanders gave them. This was not their lands. They had just arrived and the males did not like grumblers.
“I hope there’s something cooking for dinner, I’m starved.” A jolly man, the Lithuanian Alpha said.
“Knowing these savages it’s either a butchered prisoner or meat. Always meat. Truly primal.” The Spanish Alpha, Alfonso cut in.
“Meat suits me and I’m sure-”
Eóghan’s chest prickled and he could feel his fur sprout. Interrupting the calming efforts of the Lithuanian Alpha he snarled, “We live by our roots, not pretend like some average Human.”
Watching the showdown between Eóghan, who had the aura of an Alpha and Alfonso, who had been known to regularly speak up against Titania and her ideals and was always a bitter man, the Duskfall members backed away. Recognising, by their rules that violence was how arguments were sorted.
Eóghan growled, Garth, flanking his side while the Alpha watched him through slanted almond eyes. “If it’s a fight you want boy, come and get it. Apurarse Beta."
“Don’t call be a bo-”
“Starting all the fun without me Beta?”
Titania made her presence known and sensing the disapproval, Eóghan backed down. Not wanting to embarrass his Alpha in any way - he had too much respect for her to do that. Garth cracked his knuckles in discontentment, he had never minded dirtying his hands, especially not for his Alpha.
Alfonso flipped his glare from Eóghan to Titania, “I’m glad to see you could finally made it Alpha,” Eóghan and Garth both growled lowly at the disrespectful tone but Titania motioned for them to stop. “Impressive. You have these lobos débiles under control.”
In a whirlwind of raging eyes, Titania positioned herself directly in front of the Spanish Alpha if the term Alpha applied to a man like he, who was one of the most selfish beings she had had the displeasure of meeting. They had continuously butted heads and right now the tension rolled off them in waves.
“Alfonso.” She replied grimly, “Let me remind you once and only once, that you are on my lands. And by any means challenge me but when you insult my wolves I will not hesitate to let them get a piece of you, Alpha or not.”
A scowl twisted his olive features and he tutted at her as if she was merely a child speaking out of term. “Still full of fire but lacking the balls, or shall I say breasts to do anything.” His glare fell to her chest.
If trying to embarrass her she ignored such an attempt for Alfonso was worth as much to her as the bones of the carcass that get thrown away after a meal. She did not bite and instead sent an utterly eery look his way. Iciness jarring the once joyful atmosphere.
“I think I’m handling things pretty well up here. I have the loyalty of my full pack, unlike you.”
The Spaniard snarled at the mention of one of his packmates betrayal, his previous head warriors at that.
“If only you put as much effort into survival other than causing arguments. Such wasteful potential.” She clucked her tongue before becoming totally disinterested in him.
“You rabid wench, fucking perra.” He cursed in Spanish before Titania’s bitter eyes met his, and this time she was far from playing games.
“Curse at me or insult my pack again and I will dispose of you, permanently. Be quiet and don’t tempt me.”
The sheer amount of power that entered her voice told him not to push and to the quiet amusement of the other top rankers, Alfonso sent her a bare look before closing his mouth. Titania knew that Alfonso would be the case of many problems in the future, it was just a case of showing him who’s boss.
Nodding to the rest of the Alphas and top rankers she escorted them around her territory, pointing out main buildings and key markers of the land. Her land would take days to go round fully, in wolf form so she promised them a full tour once they had settled. Garth and Eóghan stood by her, like walking giants and some of the males slowly became uncomfortable in their presence. The wilder wolves had a raw energy around them. Something the city wolves had long lost through dilution with the Humans.
Finally finishing at her office she decided to give a briefing over some specific rules, which applied specifically to the mountains. For some wolves, such as Alfonso, needed to be spoon fed information or else she’d find him dead traipsing her property. Not as if she minded such a thought, but the paperwork would kill.
Her wooden office just managed to squeeze in all eighteen top rankers. But only just. Sat behind her oak desk she regarded the wolves in front with such cold disconnectedness that some flinched.
“I understand everyone is tired from the journey so I will make this quick.” Many nodded in relief. “Welcome to Duskfall pack territory, although temporary, we do hope your stay here is an experience that will teach you many things. Use your time wisely.”
“Firstly, there is a strict no bullying policy. If you have a problem with another wolf you sort it out with words or fists, neither bother me.”
An Alpha raised an eyebrow at such an anti-peace rule but she continued, tired herself. She knew these mountains and knew that primality of one’s wolf was one of the fundamental ways to stay alive.
“Secondly, there will be wolves going down to the nearest town every Wednesday and Sunday to pick up food items that your pack require. Garth here,” She motioned to the smirking male, “is in charge of the deer herds in the surrounding glens so feel free to join. Fishing is also encouraged. But only take what you need. We do not need anyone decimating the local populations.”
“Last but not least, training is imperative and is compulsory for all wolves, all ages, all genders.”
Whispers sounded. The two French packs conversed sullenly between them at the mention of children. Alfonso shrugged and she could tell he was barely listening. She tapped her claws impatiently once, twice, before cutting them off with a low rumble.
“We have lost wolves before to the harsh winters up here and I refuse to allow wolves, who have encountered little death in their lives to be at risk. Training is tough but will enable you to travel the lands and survive the upcoming winter.”
She let her claws retract, admiring them before shifting to and fro. “To begin with, and unless I say so, no wolves will travel the territory alone or unescorted by my own wolves. Do not think that this is simply like your land at home. Up here, as you probably saw on your travels, the terrain is more dangerous than you can imagine and we have lost many to the arrogant attitudes that come with newcomers.”
With a voice ringing with finality, she said, “No exceptions to any of these rules and if wolves break these then they will bring death among themselves. Heed my rules and proceed with caution. Spread the word to your packs tomorrow, you are all dismissed: enjoy your nights.”
Eager to leave the suffocating room filled with dominant wolves, all left. Looking forward to the fine Barbeque and dancing promised later in the night.
Garth and Eóghan stayed behind, watching their Alpha stare at the door.
Titania muttered, “Prepare for some stupid deaths.”
Oblivious wolves do not always recognize the danger they’re in. Titania and the Duskfall pack were in for a tough winter.