Snowflakes fell. Blanketing the mountainous land in crisp snowfall. Winter had peaked its head and announced its entrance. Cold wind blew, and spending any amount of time in human form could pose the threat of frostbite.
With his hands tied with the complaints from the other packs, Eóghan’s weary eyes took over Duskfall pack lands. It was early December, one of the harshest months for Scottish climate and that came with commotion between the packs used to the sun shining with a blue sky; not mist, snow and an icy breeze that could cause any grown man to hesitate. Argus was aiding him with training but Eóghan still felt the weight crushing down on his shoulders.
He was not meant to be Alpha. Yet here he was.
His morning had consisted of phone calls from the Scottish Alpha’s Rhuiri, Eoun and Fraser. He knew time wasn’t on their side when he heard that the Rosevelt pack was on route to Duskfall. A week at most. A week to find Titania, train the warriors and protect the pack, all while surviving the frozen temperatures.
A knock came to his oak doors, jilting him out of the negative and stressful turn his thoughts were taking. Continuing to observe the increasing snowfall, Eóghan didn’t turn around. “Enter.”
A young warrior pushed the door open holding a wolf by his arm. At the scent of blood tinting the once still air, Eóghan raised a copper brow.
“I caught him on Duskfall lands Alp...” Eóghan scowled and the warrior quickly amended himself. “Beta. Should I throw him in the dungeons?” He spat at the familiar wolf that sported a black eye and multiple cuts.
Nathan caught his breath and struggled against the man, but to little avail. Nathan was athletically built while the Duskfall warrior was like a mountain itself. Unmoving, uncaring and built like stone.
He was disappointed that Nathan had left his cabin without permission but was not surprised at his level of stupidity, Eóghan motioned for the warrior to leave him. This stubborn wolf simply did not learn. He had a whole pack after his throat yet he dared show himself?
Eóghan sighed deeply, pinching his brow. As if he didn’t have enough to think about already. Nathan made his way to the leather seat opposite the desk while Eóghan gathered the will not to have a piece of Nathan himself, his wolf was certainly for the idea.
“Nathan what do you need?”
Fire alit within the man as he wiped blood that was dripping from a cut into his eye, “I know I’ve fucked up-”
“Understatement.” Eóghan cut in.
Not denying the statement Nathan continued, “But I want to help in one way or another, this is...well was my pack and my wolf is restless knowing that I’m secluded at the Eastern border.”
Although he could see the sincerity in Nathan’s hazel eyes, Eóghan couldn’t help the bitterness that seeped into his tone. With tiredness came irritability and Eóghan had come to his wits end. How had Titania coped? He wondered.
“You do realise there’s a reason for you to be isolated.” He started dryly, “If you had stepped up earlier, stopped fooling around and actually cared about Titania and the pack then we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. Instead, I’m sat here, organising a pack I’ve been in for a decade for the possibility for all out war and to top the cherry on the fucking cake....”
“Winter is finally here.” He finalised, walking towards the window. “Do you know what that means?”
Nathan slightly shrunk back but shook his head. “No I don’t but...”
“It means that death is imminent. In a pack winter is manageable as long as we have the resources. But Duskfall is without its true Alpha, has four more packs to host; with none of those packs ever experiencing a winter as deadly as this and we are vulnerable.”
“Then let me do something... anything!”
Eóghan regarded Nathan for a minute. Admiring the stubborn refusal but still livid at this wolfs actions. He clasped his hands together and looked him over.
“Fine.” He scribbled a to-do list on a piece of paper and handed it to Nathan whose eyes showed nothing but hope, a fatal emotion in its own right. But for loosing a mate, it was better that than wallowing depression.
Nathan skimmed over the list eagerly, “No drinking? Eóghan, I meant help the pack not do a self-care list.”
“You’ll be doing the pack a favour if you quit, it helps nobody and I won’t let you do the rest of the list if you don’t tackle your taste for drink.” Nathan sighed but agreed, “Good. Then go follow the list, apologise to the high rankers and find out where you can be useful. If I hear any and I mean any negative reports then you’ll be in the dungeons.”
Before Nathan could leave the office, Eóghan cast him a serious look, “Do this for Titania.”
With more fire than he’d had since Titania left, Nathan walked with determined strides. While wolves passed and growled or flashed teeth at the ex-Alpha male, all Nathan could think of was doing right by his mate. It was time to show his worth.
Garth couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Nathan walking around Duskfall as if he hadn’t given them all a death sentence. Foaming at the lips, he stormed over to him, “What do you think you’re doing?”
Nathan stopped and turned to face Garth’s dark complexion twisted in anger. A crowd started to gather as Nathan recognised many Duskfall members. French wolves tutted and Spanish wolves snickered in the background. While Titania’s rule was harsh, she had gained respect from many of the other packs, especially the Bleulune and Night Noir French packs. Alpha Lumiere and Alpha Jules fully in support of the female Alpha.
The Spanish wolves however, laughed. Watching Duskfall disintegrate day by day. While Alpha Alfonso was still sexist and disapproving towards Alpha Titania, he remained in the background with his comments for he knew blood was about to be spilled. It was only time.
“I was looking for Argus, have you seen-”
Garth’s eyes flipped to pitch black as he knocked a tooth right of Nathan’s jaw.
Hunched over, Nathan spat out blood on the crystal white ground. While knowing he deserved it, but refusing to go down without a fight, his anger flared.
Wiping the blood that dribbled out his mouth he addressed the Gamma, “Nice hit.”
Growls sounded among the crowd, many shouting for a fight. Garth’s wolf was clawing at its confines, wanting to dismantle Nathan’s head from his body.
“You have some nerve showing face in this pack.” He grunted. His once shaved hair had grown out and was sticking out in all directions, adding to the intimidation he was showing.
Although guilty, Nathan stood to his full height. Fate had made him an Alpha for a reason and despite his thieving and none too happy past, he had grown tired of being stepped on. He had taken the beatings thrown at him, was attempting to get out his spiralling depression and now wanted to show that he was more than that.
“Beta Eóghan said I can help, I want to make up for some of my behaviour.” He stood tall and puffed his chest out.
He froze at the maniacal laughing that erupted from Garth. “You...think you can... help?” Giggles could be heard all around Nathan but he ignored them, only focused on his opponent.
Argus walked over with a few warriors in tow, clearly confused at the current events. “What did I miss?” He asked.
Garth continued laughing and pointed to Nathan, “He thinks he can help Duskfall.”
Argus’s eyes clouded and fists clenched, “You’re still here? Didn’t we get rid of you?”
“I want to do something, anything.” Nathan added weakly.
The laughs increased in volume and Nathan’s wolf rose in his mind, snarling at the disrespect. He’d had enough. Anger growing, Nathan slammed his fist into Garth’s gut, silencing the laughter that pissed him off.
The laughter quickly stopped as Argus extended an arm to Garth as his body lay on the ground. He got up and his voice deepened, “Finally grown a backbone? If that’s how you want to play it my wolf will enjoy tearing your limbs off.”
Nathan hid the gulp. While terrified at that statement, Nathan wouldn’t back down. He’d had some basic training with Eóghan and had practised but he knew the fight would be unfairly matched. Swallowing his fear, he faced Garth with his hazel eyes swirling with a challenge.
“Bring it... that’s if you haven’t lost your touch.”
Garth prickled and the fight began. Garth was no stranger to violence and attacked immediately, hitting Nathan’s shoulder and legs. With stamina as strong as his he knew he could keep up the offence easily.
Nathan however was used to running and dodging, especially with his life as a rogue. With height on his side, Nathan had a longer reach with his punches but with inexperience came his weakness.
Both wolves fought tooth and nail. Blood and saliva flying. The crowd ate it up while Argus watched with a calculating eye.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.” Garth taunted, circling his prey.
Nathan gnarled, flashing teeth as his wolf riled up. Fists became clawed until both men adorned cuts and gashes, staining the winter wonderland a gruesome crimson. The blood only served to excite the beasts as both men shifted. Garth’s black fur met brown as they collided in a battle of wills, neither one backing down for that was not what Duskfall wolves were all about.
When Garth ripped a hole in Nathans hide, he didn’t surrender.
When Nathan tore into Garth’s front paw, he didn’t surrender.
Both men were coated in the metallic substance but neither relented. Both wolves had something to prove; Nathan wanted to correct his wrongs and show his strength while Garth was Duskfall’s Gamma.
While Nathan had more physical damage, mentally he was fighting for Titania. And that bonfire had only smouldered, with comments from the crowd continuing to prod at his wolf- which Garth took advantage of- the inferno only served to increase.
It wasn’t until he heard someone mentioning Brett that he snapped. Like a madman, his wolf stopped being defensive and went offensive. Surprising both Garth and Argus, he nipped, clawed and bit his way into Garth. Not giving the male a chance to strike back. The odds shifted as anger took root inside of Nathan, pushing his wolf to the savage end.
Garth struggled to dodge all of Nathan’s attacks and had weakened considerably. The fury within Nathan also caused him to be sloppy, attacking in a spontaneous fashion. The commotion continued as there was no clear winner. Argus had seen enough.
“The winds picking up, let’s call it quits.” And true to his words the afternoon wind whistled between the trees. Garth growled, not wanting to leave his kill while Nathan eyed Garth with malice.
Argus was not a man to fight with; covered in battle scars and a physique more brutish than any of the males in Duskfall he was undefeated in a fight. This was enough for Garth to walk into the woods, not before sending a deep growl Nathan’s way, the promise of pain sweet within its tone.
“There’s nothing to see here,” Argus spoke to the crowd. Wolves muttered as they discussed the fight. It was surprising to most that Nathan had survived against an opponent such as Garth, even more so that had inflicted some damage to the Gamma wolf. The view that Nathan was a weak wolf still existed but now the fact he hadn’t backed down was circulating. That was a strong Duskfall trait.
Nathan licked at his wounds while Argus stood a few feet away, watching him, “now I don’t like you and I’m sure you can see why.” He began, “but a fight is on our hands and we need every wolf at our disposal.”
Nathan’s head shot up as Argus’s pale features remained passive, the cheery man gone from sight, “we may have lost Titania but I refuse to loose her life and the lives within this pack. If you’re serious about this, then go run patrol. Training tonight is at 5pm.”
Signalling that he’d heard Argus, Nathan nodded his wolf head. Argus could tell the male was grateful and before overthinking his decision he made his way back to the packhouse to inform Eóghan of the arrangements. Hearing a long howl within the forest, Argus’s lips tilted in a barely there smile.
He marched into the packhouse. Duskfall had a war to win.