Males to the left, males to the right, and the most infuriating and irritating male sat opposite.
Titania was absolutely thrilled at the mass of male testosterone being continuously thrown around the room. What a waste of time, she thought, referring to the bickering already starting between the high rankers of multiple packs to her left.
Brett, the Alpha of the Shetland Islands- who, annoyingly had similar pack terrain, values and lifestyle as Titania- refused to remove his eyes from her. They had an alliance, of sorts, and his wolf had made his intentions for her clear. His Human, however, had never made such advances.
Not as if she was remotely interested but the similarities between their packs did slightly cause a lean-to him. He was built like the mountains and cliffs that adorned his lands and, although his harsh exterior brought about a similar reaction from the city pack wolves, she understood the coldness.
The coarseness that wolves inhabiting extreme terrains and climates had. The wolves that suffered great loss at the heights taken to ensure survival. She always received respect from such wolves since they understood the struggle.
Alpha Brett, Alpha Ruairi - Irish Alpha of the lower Scottish Islands, Alpha Fraser of the Outer Hebrides (islands to the north-west) and Alpha Eoun of the Orkney islands all carried this understanding and together, had their own strong alliances with one another.
It was common knowledge that Scotland contained the harshest climate combined with land in the European continent alongside those in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. But those packs had been wiped out for years so, it came to no surprise at the deep connection these five wolves had.
The alliance only applied to extreme cases, as wolves as such did not like asking for aid; but the chilling winter two years prior had led to these packs all living together as one on Titania’s lands.
They had suffered many losses that year, not that any of them forgot.
All five sat straight. The rugged appearance and cold exteriors off-putting to the majority of the packs there. But what those five packs lacked in social skills, they made up for in brute strength and many knew not to cross them, for they were Mother Natures own warriors, forged from iron, ice, blood, sweat and determination.
Titania watched the other twenty-four packs around the table, some from completely different continents, whether about pointless things such as land and rolled her eyes. Why go on about land? Wasn’t what they had enough? Clearly not to these packs whose values were only skin deep.
Languages such as Spanish, Latvian, German and French flittered around the table. Together with their sun-kissed skin, it made a nice change to Titania. She was definitely a people watcher. Their mannerisms, full of energy and life, caught her attention for she was not used to such. It was clear they had not been accustomed to the life she had, full of death, struggle, and destruction.
She watched as deep accents and tanned complexions from three Italian Alphas broke through conversation. She was familiar with the language and immediately recognized that their conversation was about her. A smirk tilted her cherry lips. How amusing, even the Italians had heard of her.
Slow claps from the front of the claustrophobic room drew the crowds attention. Immediate silence followed. The Elder Council, which consisted of three males, those who had lived longer than two-hundred years, stepped forward and took their respective seats.
Curious eyes watched them, the question on everybody’s minds: why had they sent for all the packs in Europe?
“Greetings, I’m glad to see that everybody is in attendance,” the greying man eyed the crowd before smugly landing on Titania, “Titania, what a surprise. Amongst other business, I do hope you find a suitable mate here at this gathering.”
Titania reined in her anger but rose her eyes to meet that of the Elder that was ever so insistent, “You know that won’t happen.”
The heat from Alpha Brett’s gaze was starting to irritate her wolf. Snappier than usual, she repeated, “I am, and will not be taking a mate.”
“Unless you want a repeat of the last three bondmates, I suggest you stop requesting such an idiotic proposition.”
She rung her hands out on the table, already sick of the same discussion she’d had a multitude of times with the Council, “My comrades and I,” she motioned to the Alphas from before, “have travelled for days to be able to attend this meeting and I’ll be severely pissed off to find out that this is all for a mate, a mate I do not wish for. So, can we drop it and move on to the business that refers to the ‘wellbeing of the species’.” She mocked, using air quotes.
With darkened eyes, the Elder Council regarded Titania, the Alphas around her shaking their heads at such disrespect. But, after a quick talk between the Elders, they nodded and returned to Titania’s heated glare.
“For now, we will return to the important issue that we called everyone here for, but this discussion will not be dropped. You are vulnerable as a female Alpha and therefore will have a mate before the year has finished.”
How she bristled at such an order.
Bitterness swept through her system and a chilling, yet feral warning growl tumbled out her chest. The Alpha to her left flinched and she snarled, letting her distaste and utter contempt fill the room. Wolves crumbled under her influence and the darkness that seeped from her pores forced some of the weaker wolves to tilt their heads. Many that had not heard of her reputation shrunk and shot her with widened eyes. Where they were from, females could not hold such power but there she was: commanding the entire room.
“You will not dictate my life and if forced, I will gladly slaughter whoever you choose.” Her words held a threat. Deep, dark and dangerous.
Although, Titania held an unmeasurable amount of strength; she was not as experienced as the Elder Council and in a fight, she could be bested. But her iron will did not let her falter. Not for a second, for nothing was gained through cowardice.
Oak and iron guard me well, or else I’m dead and doomed to hell.
“Ah hah, that may be so but we have decided that the choice lay with you. You will choose a bondmate or find your mate then we will not have any more issues,” he sneered, showing Titania his canines, an action that only continued to anger Titania.
Before she could retaliate he interrupted, “The Council has little tolerance for deviance to the rules and we have allowed you time, as requested, to locate your mate. Failing to do so has resulted in us having no other option. We have given you five years, and it is now time to bring stability to your pack once and for all.”
Titania had used the mate bond as an excuse to wriggle out of bonding with another. But now, all she saw was red. Her time was up. She had to take a bondmate or be punished accordingly, and by the old, patriarchic rules dictate she forfeit her position. A position, that Titania knew full well kept her sane.
She had put too much blood into the pack to let it fall into the wrong hands.
So, with a steely amount of control, she bit her tongue, clenched her hands and said nothing. It was what was best for the pack. Titania would not let the rage consume her like it so desperately wanted to.
Satisfied with the response, the male nodded to his fellow Councilman who took up the head of the table. He possessed a face full of lines. Lines that represented the enjoyment he had had out of his life so far. Elder Talon was the friendliest out the three but at that current moment, that statement could have been argued.
“I won’t beat about the bush, as many of you have traveled far and wide to be here and have families at home.” Many of the Alphas nodded their heads, “So, I’ll get straight to it.”
He exhaled, watching everyone carefully. “Our numbers are decreasing. Rapidly in some areas as I’m sure most of you are aware.” More nods of agreement, “In lowland areas, there has been a spike in fatalities, most when wolves have their first shift and don’t make it.”
Titania tilted her head, she had not encountered any such thing. She noticed Alphas Brett, Eoun, Fraser and Ruairi’s similar faces of confusion. She pondered. This was new information to them also. How interesting.
Elder Talon continued, “This has caused a thirty percent decrease in numbers all over Europe.”
A flurry of whispers erupted, many wolves suggesting lucrative reasonings behind the strange happenings. Titania, however, bid them of no use.
“We have looked into and investigated certain probabilities but have come up short, so we are low on options.” His gaze stopped wondering the room and landed on Titania and her comrades, “Alphas I’m sure you’ve not encountered anything of this sort?”
He was relieved when all five of them shook their heads.
“Then, we have come up with an option until we can figure out the real reasoning behind these casualties. If it continues at the rate it’s going, then in a few years, we won’t have a younger generation. It’s a deadly serious matter.”
“What do you propose?” Alpha Fraser asked his Scottish accent heavy with his deep baritone.
“We,” he signaled to the seated Elders, “have decided that the best way forward, to ensure that our pups survive, is to evacuate.”
Titania sat back in her chair, complexed. She was waiting for the Elder to continue, for him to further explain the decision but the enraged Alphas; which she assumed had suffered most from this anomaly, was none too pleased.
“How will that work?!” A city Alpha barked.
“Let him continue and you’ll get your answers.” She hissed.
He did not like that one bit. He growled and Titania growled right back at him. Claws extended and ready to slice. It looked as though she would be cutting more balls off, just like the last ceremony. How exciting, her wolf purred at such bloodthirsty thoughts.
“Silence!” The last Elder shouted, regaining the rooms attention. Titania still kept her eyes glued to the Alpha, enraged at such a show of insolence.
Elder Talon thanked him before once again continuing, “Since there are no casualties of this sort in the remote terrains, we can safely assume that whatever it is that is a contributing factor to the deaths is not present there. For the time being, due to the uncertainty of what is at fault; meaning it can not be determined if it is the pups or the females that carry them that are affected, all packs will move to land that has not been touched by humans.”
“Alphas Titania, Fraser, Eoun, Ruairi and Brett will each take packs to live on their land. Space should not be an option due to the vast areas there, but I am aware of the authoritative clashes that may come forth. So, seeing as it’s their land, the five Alphas named have command of their territories.”
Titania’s head spun. She struggled with hunting as it was but adding more wolves? The logistics did not add up. Also, throw in the fact of the complete lifestyle change and division between city wolves, well, this was just not going to work.
As if reading her mind Brett spoke up as he ran a hand through the course hair of his beard, “What will happen in regard to game? A remote as we are, we cannot properly feed more than our own.”
“Since the cause of this is unknown, meat will be scavenged from low-land areas and to make up for the difference, the packs hosting will be stocked up with foods other than meat.”
Her head flew to Elder Talon. It was a big ask to completely change their whole way of life and from the protesting of the surrounding wolves, she wasn’t the only one.
“The preparations will commence next week and wolves will move accordingly the week after.” Elder Talon concluded.
The three Elders took their leave, leaving the room to descend into chaos. Typical of them to drop a bombshell then retreat when it impacted.
Titania wanted nothing more than to return to her homelands. The close quarters did nothing but increase her agitation, especially when all were shouting over each other. Idiotic wolves couldn’t see the bigger picture: wolves were dying and this was for the greater good.
It, unfortunately, needed to be done.
So she stood, her comrades doing the same after reaching the practical truth of it all. “I will be ready to take wolves in two weeks. Accept the reality of the situation and be done with it.”
“Easy for you to say, you’re not the wolves moving!” A Spaniard shouted and Titania sharply turned her head to lock eyes with the male.
“My life and pack are changing just as much as yours are. I am giving you refuge in my home to stop wolves dying, but be my guest to stay where you are and watch your grandchildren die. Suit yourself.”
Alpha Eoun, a quiet but thoughtful man, built like a hog with an acute cunning mind, stood by Titania and replied, “In our lands, you may not like the wolves but it is the cold and isolation that will have you at its mercy. Not us.”
The five walked off. Taken aback by such alarming news but also wondering of its significance. Why were wolves struggling to shift? What changed? And the most interesting question of all; why were the packs in the wilderness not affected? So many questions and not enough answers.
But Titania knew the following weeks would be the biggest struggle of all and would have challenges of its own, especially with the conflict that was most likely to occur with the culture shock of the city wolves.
A storm was brewing and Titania had found herself right, bang, smack in the middle of it.