Eóghan’s head hung low as he regarded the deathly pallor of the wolf that lay still on the Doctors bed. His bandaged hand, which had two stumps where his pinky and ring finger had once been - a curtsey of frostbite - hurt considerably less than the current ache that sat deep within his wolf.
“Will she make it?” He asked Doctor Craig for what seemed like the umpteenth time.
The man was working hard to plug her to a heart rate monitor and an IV line. It was hard, considering she was still in her furry form.
“It depends on her wolf healing. The damage to her is extensive, not to mention the fact that I’m unsure if she can shift back to her human form...” He sighed as he mixed a green paste. “I’m going to have to play it by ear. It could go either way at this rate.”
Eóghan shared a look with Angus and Garth who took defensive stances by the door, eyes revealing their misery.
“So, we just sit and wait?” The Beta male’s temper started to brew as he paced. “There must be something that we can do! We did not bring her back for her to die on us!”
Garth placed a careful hand on his superiors back. His wolf could sense the uneasiness of his wolf brother’s spirit; it wasn’t happy as it stalked within its confines. Eóghan looked worse for wear as he wore his disappointment like a mask; despair and darkness swirling around his usually composed aura.
The action calmed Eóghan but he looked at the Doctor expectantly. “Well?”
“You can help tend to her needs and help change her dressings. Apart from that, she’s in charge of her own recovery.” Doctor Craig’s eyes flickered to Titania. “Since she’s in wolf form, it will be harder to care for her so I’ll need help, especially since I’ve got three other patients to see.”
Turning to his Beta, he spoke in a grave tone, one that signalled the real severity they found themselves in. “I need you to bring me some restraints from the cellars. I’m not taking any precautions with this. And in all honesty, I’m not sure anyone has ever tried to heal a feral wolf.”
“Doesn’t mean it can’t be done.” Eóghan snapped back before returning to his pacing.
Using the mind link, Eóghan pinched his nose trying desperately to restrain himself, barely trusting his voice to come out anything but angry and demanding. Go get me two pairs of chains from the basement. The Doctor might be right about one thing, this whole situation is unpredictable.
Garth nodded quickly before he disappeared through the oak door to retrieve the shackles, allowing the elements to touch the room briefly with its cold tendrils. Silence descended over the room for a handful of seconds before the wind rattled branches against the window: the only sound that disturbed the vacant space.
The Doctor added a handful of plants to his concoction before reaching for a clear serum that finalised the foul-smelling mix. With a quick swirl, he sniffed it before looking pleased with himself while the others turned their noses away, the overpowering stench of mint assaulting their senses.
Angus had stood quiet and still, trying to absorb everything the Doctor was saying in a calm and collected manner. The tick of his brow was the only give to a sign of emotion.
“I can organise a care rota for her.” He paused, directing his gaze to Eóghan. “Don’t worry it will only include Duskfall wolves. You have too much on your plate as it is. Just let me worry about Titania.”
Before Eóghan could contest Angus’s proposal, Garth returned. A pair of silver-coated chains resting in his gloved arms.
“Thank fuck the storm is keeping everyone inside...swear there were five pairs of eyes burning into me.”
Eóghan cursed under his breath but resumed pacing. The three males were focused on the chains as the Doctor handled them carefully, warily approaching the bed that housed one of the fiercest Alpha’s Europe had seen. She had not bowed to anyone, not even Mother Nature or Death and remained somewhat alive even after three broken bonds and a rejection.
Even the Gods watched in anticipation of the events to unfold.
Doctor Craig regarded his superior. His deep-set eyes hesitant to the pain he knew was about to ensue. “Beta, I’ll need you to restrain her right side while I do the left. Her wolf will react to the silver, but I’m not sure how. Usually, they lash out so please watch your distance after securing her.”
His attention was caught; eyes swivelling to the uncertainty from the Doctor. A man that had saved thirteen wolves from various ailments, yet Eóghan could see the man was just as lost as he. In that moment, he could see himself in the Doctor: subdued panic, unease and anxiety at the lives at risk from each decision he makes.
With a nod, Eóghan pulled on a pair of gloves and got into position opposite the Doctor. Garth’s hackles rose as anticipation swirled the room. All males were primed and ready; the hairs prickling on the back of their necks from the expected violence that would erupt from the feral wolf.
“I’m not looking forward to this...” Angus shot Garth an icy look.
“Then leave. We’re not playing around.”
With a humph and a shrug of his shoulders, Garth continued, “Remember the last time we had to capture her? She dug her teeth and claws so far into my hide it hit bone. Fucking hell, I don’t want a repeat of that.”
“That’s what the chains are for.” The Doctor butted in. “She’s tied to the ground rock so there’s no budging, just watch your proximity.”
Leaning back against the door with a spark of dread within his gaze, Garth became spectator, silencing his wolf’s need to be close to his once strong Alpha. “If you say so.” He responded, “I’ll stay over here where it’s safe though.”
Angus huffed at the pout that adorned Gath’s face. Garth’s grouchy demeanour had been lifted, if only slightly by finding Titania but still: hope was a dangerous thing to play around with and these wolves were trying hard to hold the emotion at bay.
The Doctor and Eóghan braced for impact as they lowered the shackles in sync. Eyes wide and breaths held, it took mere milliseconds for the deed to be done.
But their ears were met with silence.
Just the slow beep of the heart monitor alongside the wail of the winds outside.
Even with the stench of the silver burning into her flesh, she did not stir. Unresponsive. Only the movement of the haggled breathing of her chest with each strained breath of air. Ribs seemingly poking through her skin.
It was hard to tell whose expression held the most disappointment. All four sagged with the revelation that she didn’t even flinch to the potency of the chains; a sign that might have shown recovery.
For if she stayed unresponsive then her hopes became ever slimmer.
“She’s injured, a logical response to the pain. This doesn’t mean there’s any hope lost...hmm.” Doctor Craig mumbled under his breath, pulling out a notebook to document the odd occurrence. It was not often wolves had no response to silver, even in an unconscious state. “How odd...”
Eóghan’s hands flew through his unruly hair. “This isn’t normal, no...no, no, no, it isn’t.” He looked to Angus who’s eyes homed in on the crazed state of Eóghan’s. “Is it?”
“No, it’s not.” He confirmed, eyes flickering to the Doctors for a sliver of something that would calm their Beta’s rising ire.
The Doctor was now applying the green paste to her wounds, dressing her injuries now that it was safe to do so.
With a few prods he met Eóghan’s crazed eyes, “Her injuries are life-threatening like I said. This-” He motioned to his salve and Titania, “has not been done to a feral wolf so we don’t know what response is expected.” He half-lied, knowing that any wolf should’ve responded to silver.
Even Garth let out a breath of air. “It’s only been a few hours since we found her. Maybe a nap will help.” He suggested light-heartedly, forcing himself to believe the words that fell from his lips while he dejectedly looked over Titania. His wolf creating an itch over its superior.
“I’m off to spar. My wolf is getting agitated. There’s only so much you can take in one day.” He muttered. Angus gave him a nod while Eóghan’s attention was purely focused on Titania, ticking his jaw almost in tune to her heart monitor.
“I need to deep clean her wounds now she’s restrained.” The Doctor pressed Eóghan gently, using his smooth tone trying to get through. The dark swirl in Eóghan eyes made it transparent that he was seconds away from losing control; his mental stability string fraying. “Take this,” He handed him a roll of medical tape, “I need ten strips that are about nine inches long.”
Wordlessly, Eóghan got to work. His brain still trying to process the events that had happened in the past twelve hours, which was a lot even for a normal wolf. It had taken months of planning to find the woman who had brought him back from unimaginable darkness, hard plotting against traitors and rebellion, fighting to keep Duskfall from power-hungry wolves and now he felt the tiny flame he had kept deep within slowly fade as Titania lay in front: showing little signs of life.
Was it all worthless? For nothing? Was Titania ever going to wake up? Had the seven lives lost and three in the infirmary from the rescue mission been justified? All his thoughts swirled into a pit of self-destruction. A feeling all too familiar from his time as an Alpha many moons ago.
With the strips cut, Eóghan resumed his pacing. Angus’s eyes, however, were glued to the Doctor as he used a small scalpel to cut away the dead flesh festering in the gashes that seemed to litter her body.
All three males had grown accustomed to the smell of blood and the rot of Death that clung to Titania’s body. From her pronounced skeleton showing through the thin sheet of her skin to the blood that matted the patches of her fur.
It truly was a gruesome sight and while Angus was transfixed; he flinched as the Doctor did his work. Threading her ear that hung loose back to her head. Stitching teeth and claw marks that had torn through her muscle and bone. Setting her shattered ankle, which had bones puncturing through her skin, back together. And finally, covering her skinless and furless back with moist bandages to promote skin growth. The skin red and raw, blood vessels exposed for the world to see.
True brutality that even the Doctor, a trained professional who had seen it all, had to force back vomit.
“This is something else...I mean. Who does something like this?” The Doctor tutted as he finished his work. His gloves blood-spattered. “I was sure that me resetting her ankle would’ve caused her to respond.” The last part under his breath as he jotted down some more notes.
“A dead sick bastard that’s who.” Seethed Eóghan who snapped his head towards the Doctor, his pacing frozen mid-step. “Perhaps he was undeserving of me killing him, considering that he’s the Alpha’s kill but dam did it feel fuckin’ amazing.”
Chest puffed, Angus agreed with a low grumble, “His wolves that thought they had outrun us had their intestines pulled out. Evil and unforgiving scum that are now left for the scavengers.”
“Alpha Titania is stable for now. While you brag about your brawn, I need to help the other three patients. Frostbite is a silent killer.” Eóghan rubbed his bandage absent-mindfully, a phantom pain lingering.
With that he gathered his bags, discarding his bloody gloves and replaced them with another pair. Before leaving the cabin, he turned to the males, “Make sure this cabin is under tight security. There are whispers and while we try to heal, others seek to destroy.”
His words left a sombre tone in the cabin. But the news was nothing the males didn’t already know. The revelation of Athdara as a snitch for the Rosevelt pack had shaken the higher ranks, especially due to the fact she was considered within the trusted circle. Now, they had no room for error with their trust.
Turning to Angus, Eóghan spoke. “Care for Titania will be split between you and Brett. I have no doubts that he’d give his left arm to be here right now...” He trailed, knowing he had forced Brett to spar to rid him of his wolf’s current state of bloodlust.
“You two, along with the Doctor are the only ones allowed within this cabin. I’ll set up a few placebo cabins so we can keep this location as much of a secret as we can.”
“It was a smart idea to have a cabin so isolated rigged with hidden medical supplies.” Angus motioned to the underground hatch that now lay empty.
Eóghan felt his heart drop. “It was Titania’s idea. All the cabins that on the outskirts of Duskfall are equipped with basic medical supplies. It was so we’d be ready for an attack on any-side and have facilities close enough to save lives.”
“Of course.” Angus’s lip curled in fondness, a moment of remembrance. “She always came up with the best solutions.”
“And that’s why we’re going to do everything in our power to make this right. Even with the odds stacked against us, there’s got to be something worth holding onto.”
The determination in Eóghan’s voice reflected in his eyes. Promising his resolve not just to the motionless wolf that lay before him but to the Gods above who continued their watchful pursuit of Duskfall.
Please stay safe during the COVID-19 going on, I know it’s a difficult time for everyone. My hearts with you all.
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