Teeth shattered as Titania sent a skull cracking punch to a Spaniard. She didn’t know what he expected when he called her a witch during training; at least now, he knew the consequences.
He spat out blood, rubbing his fractured jaw but smartly remained silent. Just sent a piercing glare her way. He got back up and she whacked him again, sparing no mercy during training, especially when so many powerful wolves were watching.
Titania had already fought two males this morning who sought to challenge for the Alpha position, one being the apparent peaceful Belgium Alpha, Louis, and another a head warrior from Spain. She had shown those males who commanded these mountain tops and now, saw her as a threat. A rightful threat.
“Watch your mouth next time or I’ll do much worse than break your jaw.” The menace hung in the air and the Spaniard slunk away, tail between his legs. "Maybe you'll loose a limb."
Garth threw her a towel, which she caught and eyed the retreating male. “You’d think they would learn.”
“Clearly not.” She wiped the sweat that clung to her skin, then wrapped the towel around her waist, “Just got to beat the stupidity out of them.”
“Usually works,” Garth chuckled. “It did with us.”
She raised a brow, "Did it?"
Appalled, all Garth did was gape at her open mouthed. "Look at us. Strapping young men with a head on us filled with maturity and wit."
His sarcastic and jokey manner lessened Titania's blood lust. A sly smirk flashed teeth as she threw the damp towel at his head.
The salty sweet scent of popcorn wafted through the air and her eyes scanned the grounds. Landing and staying on a familiar tanned figure on the rings furthest away. Fighting against a broad-chested male. Her eyes sparkled as she took him in, glistening skin. Raw eyes. Fire burning throughout his posture as he took on his opponent. Garth grinned at her, as she had missed what he had said twice now. Too distracted by her mate to properly register the conversation.
Titania could feel the bond. Tug. Twist. Tear through her restraint. Two days ago she nearly lost that control and marked him by force. Something she swore would never happen again. She mocked herself, she was stronger than that. She was letting the bond mess with her and it nearly cost her, cost her dearly.
Titania may be broken but she’d never intentionally break her mate, even with the hatred that coursed through him, even with the rejection, she was drawn to him. And subconsciously cared enough to leave him alone.
Despite that she found herself leaving a complaining Garth, who did not like being used as a clothes rack and was making her way to Nathan. She kept her distance as not to distract from the spar. With a keen eye, she observed their technique, careful to not let her eyes wander the wonder that was her mate.
The rogue sent her a warning growl at her proximity but the spar took his attention away. Once against focused on his opponent, he fought hard, innately wanting to show his strength and ability to protect for his mate. A primal instinct that he tried to shake away. His opponent found this second lapse of judgement and managed to clip Nathan’s leg. Jolting his core balance, Nathan toppled over, his opponent straddling him and sending punch after punch to his face. Nathan didn’t give up, instead, the fire churned within his gaze as he fought back with new found determination.
She noted the flaws and moved on. Giving the males their critiques before focusing on the next pairing. For standing around Nathan too long brought her inner beast out to play and she didn’t like the dark, lingering thoughts that the primal beast desired.
Nathan sneered at her notes, to focus. As if he could do that with her standing around, with her scent tempting his wolf. She had praised his drive, which he found hard to believe at first. He thought she was being sarcastic, but he soon found that she was giving notes on how to properly channel that energy and not fight as sloppy, as she had called it.
He found no traces of sarcasm or snarky wit. She gave him and his opposition some pointers before moving on to the next couple, some Lithuanians. He scratched his head in confusion. Titania was seriously messing with his head.
After another hour of training, the main fighters of the Duskfall pack disappeared out of sight. Knowing better than to question their whereabouts the foreign wolves continued with their practice. Although the culture up in traditional Scotland was barren, brute and tough, the males did not want to look weak. It was not in their nature.
Soon, a bonfire lit with flames as tall as the pack cabin was lit around midday. Signalling one of the many hunts. Bright orange flames hovered high, producing heat as the temperatures started to drop. Tiny snowflakes fell from the sky. Winter ever closer.
The newcomers watched in fascination as the higher ups of the Duskfall pack emerged from the packhouse adorning different coloured war paint. Tribal swirls that made the sharp angles of their faces much more dangerous.
The rest of pack cheered and set a low drum beat. Feet stomping to signal one of their very own traditions. A foundation of the pack, for what was a pack built on a saying such as oak and iron guard me well of else I'm dead and doomed to hell, if they didn't risk their very lives for their pack.
Twenty wolves split into four groups, each separated by the varying colours and patterns on their faces. Their Alpha was decorated in a fierce red followed by four others. Garth had purple spots around his eyes, framing his square jaw. Angus, much like his eyes, adorned a dull green and Eóghan, in contrast to Titania, had blue triangles and lines along his copper beard.
All covered in the natural dyes of the dying mountainside plants.
Many wolves simply watched in wonder. Having not seen such a sight in their Human lives. Dressed in minimal clothing and covered in paint, these wild wolves looked like a joke but the darkness and coldness emanating from then proved no such thing.
This was the traditional Duskfall hunting party.
The carnal hunger coming off these wolves made many watch in awe. As some scoffed, others looked on with admiration and respect for the wolves willing to risk their lives to hunt for their dinner. It was not uncommon that some perished on the rough lands and Mother Natures cruel temperament.
Titania’s lips tightened into a fine line at the ridicule. But flicked her raw eyes to the ones behind her who made a move forwards. She inclined her head and linked her warriors not to make a move on the sniggering wolves.
“Males, you will accompany us on this hunt as spectators. Tomorrow we’ll take the females.” Eyes widened. “You will watch on the sidelines while we hunt a herd of Bison to the North.”
“You’re not letting us hunt with you?” A male questioned, eyes narrowed.
“No. You have been on my land for three days, that is not enough time for you to have the endurance, stamina, and strength needed for a hunt. Especially against a Bison.”
Alfonso stepped forward, “Bullshit.”
Other mutters of displeasure sounded around him, also expressing their dislike to the situation. Alpha of the Lithuania pack, Filip also scrunched up his face.
She snapped her eyes to his, “You could manage a rabbit, perhaps a mouse but not much else. The truth hurts Alfonso.”
“I hunt plenty on my own land to be able to tackle a Bison. I’m an Alpha.” He replied as if that statement alone showcased his strength.
“And what do you hunt?” She cut him off. “Deer? Oh, that’s not a challenge for us. In Scotland, we have Bears, Bison, Highland cows, Rams and Reindeer. Each one of those can kill a wolf, no matter the strength. So save me your egotistical Alpha male bravado and let the wolves who know the land and have lived by these animals hunt how we have been for years.”
Her fighters behind her nodded their approval.
Her voice stopped the sneering in its tracks. “Now follow and we’ll show you how real hunting is done in Scotland.”
The wolves behind split and took different entrances into the forest. Many shivered from the cold but the barely clad wolves trudged forward; desperate for some fresh meat. Desperate to let their inner wolves follow their natural intrinsic needs.
Following a trail that lead to a deep V-shaped valley, twenty minutes of running caused them to stop while the Duskfall pack split once again. Four groups stationed themselves at certain points in the land. Their wolves distinguishable by the tribal paint that marked their snouts. Each group had a job to do during the hunt and the pack had used this system to differentiate between each group.
This equalled fewer casualties, less confusion, and less death. A win-win.
Titania nodded for the newcomers to stay put at the top of the valley and told them, no matter what, not to interfere. At the protests, she snarled and said that if they paid enough attention that they could be a part of the next hunt. This alone had wolves falling silent. Content that they would not move from their designated spots she moved to her own. As head of the hunt, the major decisions lay with her and a failed hunt meant in hunger among her pack. Something that she would not allow.
Observing the herd of black Bison she wiggled forwards on her stomach. Layering mud onto her fur, effectively camouflaging her light wolf. The Bison ate from the lush grass, blissfully unaware of the danger they were currently in. Not wanting to wipe out the whole colony, she had made plans for only a few Bison. With mating season came highly aggressive males that would use their sharp horns at the wolves, this was why they needed to be so carefully prepared.
Death was hovering right above this party, in wait for his next victim.
As she shifted, eyes landed on her coat, for years of abuse had lead to bald patches, scars and disfigurement she did not care to remember. Sending a chilling look to the wolves gawking they cast their eyes away and finally; she sent the signal for the hunt to begin.
Garth, stationed further up the valley came charging down. Purple painted wolves keeping a straight line so no Bison got through. They had sectioned off a quarter of the Bison and were shepherding the hormone filled beasts towards the waiting wolves. She howled when the group became visible in the valley then Garth echoed her call. This was Angus’s sign to join the stampede.
His group descended from the steep valley sides and took the east side of the herd. The Bison were grunting, not liking the wolves close proximity. A large male Bison shrugged a wolf to the side and took his escape. He tore through the green group and Titania signaled once more. Eóghan and the backup, took to distracting this Bison, nipping and clawing at the hulk of an animal. Letting the others focus on the other five males charging towards the main group.
With quick efficiency, the herd became visible to Titania and preparing the red group, she howled low and loud. It was time to release some pent-up bloodlust, her wolf agreed, sharpening her teeth at the image of sinking her teeth into a fresh hunk of meat.
Hitting the Bison head on, the red group had the hardest job. The wolves jumped from their hiding positions and collided with the sprinting beasts.
The impact was something these wolves faced every few weeks. They had surrounded the group. Each colour group taking a side while the red dove head first into the attack, forcing the Bison into a circle.
The confusion among the Bison caused two to sandwich Titania and she yelped, feeling the sting and crack within her ribcage. This only pushed her hungry wolf forward. Anger filled her veins as she jumped on its back, stabbing her curved claws into the Bison’s shaggy coat. She pushed them in ever deeper, causing blood to ooze out. The Bison kicked and sprinted away, trying to buck Titania off its back. With aid from two green wolves, the whining Bison went down slowly.
Bison were sturdy animals and took wearing out to take down. Blood loss was a quick way to tire one out and the wound to its back from the Alpha had proved fatal.
The wolves on the sidelines observed and their faces paled. The Duskfall pack were taking a beating and many had been injured, quite severely by the hulking mammals but they soldiered on.
“This is savage.” The French Alpha commented, unable to take his eyes away from the battle.
His Beta shook his head, “I’ve struggled to hunt Deer yet this is normal to them? I’m not sure whether to admire their bravery or comment on their sanity.”
“Do you think we’ll be able to do that?” Another added.
Alfonso stood up, not liking the awe coming from the males.
“This is a piece of cake. The Alpha simply wants to scare us all so we’ll conform to her rules. But I say a big irse a la mierda to that bitch!” He shook himself out before shifting, running towards the hunt that was still in progress. Ignoring all the protests, Alfonso stupidly joined in.
The rest watched. Unable to move but unsure whether to follow. Alfonso cockily took to the Bison closest to him and ignored one that was sprinting towards him. Taking a blow to his torso he collapsed.
“What a nutcase!” Alpha Filip cursed under his breath as the Bison stamped on Alfonso who was on the ground in pain. A crunch was heard as it broke his leg in half.
Titania, recognising the Spanish growl noticed Alfonso on the ground under a Bison. Snarling rabidly and taking a bite out the Bison in front. She motioned for the others to take over while she charged towards the offending Bison, biting its hide to put the attention on her. She was livid! An inexperienced wolf had no place on hunting grounds. She would deal with that insolent wolf later.
The Bison paid Titania no attention, its anger primarily focused on the wolf it had trapped under the weight of its foot. Alfonso whimpered as it crushed his appendix. The Bison moved its head up intending to stab Alfonso with its sharp horn, but in a split second Titania let it pierce her instead, covering Alfonso’s body.
Nathan held his breath. Along with the other wolves watching how Alfonso’s stupidity was playing out. His chest constricted as he watched Titania bleed out.
Titania stood over Alfonso. Shaking as the Bison’s horn pierced her stomach and blood poured out. Sticking heavily to Alfonso’s tawny coat, staining it crimson. He looked up, dazed from pain but in shock from the wolf protecting him. Her chest rumbled and her eyes, a swirling obsidian promised the Bison it would end in an agonizing death, one by her claws.
Eóghan jumped on the Bisons back, a savage snarl tearing out his throat. He defended his Alpha, clawing angrily at the back of the Bisons throat, desperate for it to remove the piercing horn. Grunting angrily it bucked, tearing its horn out her chest cavity it retreated backward.
Refusing to slump Titania forced her body towards it and sent punishing teeth and claws through its coat. She demanded the Bisons submission and she would rather bleed out than leave without her kill.
She growled deeply, luring it away while other wolves carried Alfonso away from the scene. With a final push, she sent her sharpened claws through its underbelly. The beast crumbled and Titania wasted no time in jumping on the collapsed form. Dealing justice how she sought fit. The beast took its last labored breath before dying.
The others rounded around the scene, many unaware of Titania’s wound. Celebrating with cheers at the six Bison that lay dead on the valley floor, the Duskfall pack started sizing up the meat, stacking the desirable hunks on sledges designed for the hunt. This was a good haul for the winter stocks and furs they would be needed in only a few months time.
“Alpha, let me do it. You’re hurt.” Eóghan commented.
“I’m just fine Eóghan, don’t you have your own Bison to carve?”
She shook her head, displacing his concern, muttering how it was just as much her responsibility as the rest of the packs. And so Titania helped, among the others by decapitating the Bison. She wobbled but continued. Not showing weakness. Holding the pain internally how she had learned throughout her life.
On the way back from the hunt, the wounded were carried and Titania held on carefully to the puncture wound decorating her upper chest. Blood trailed down her skin and many of her comrades took on the same appearance. Hunting Bison was no joke and she could see the realisation of such a fact from the fate of Alpha Alfonso. The newcomers weren’t so confident in their abilities now.
She managed to stumble to the packhouse. With difficulty, she had conversed with Garth about the success of the hunt in her office, despite the injuries caused. Struggling to function she could feel her eyelids flutter and with a shout from Eóghan, all she could see was darkness.
And Titania took her last labored breath before fainting.
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