'Fire?' Bogey asks, slowing to stand beside me. I resist the urge to roll my eyes.
'We must be near a campsite.' I answer with a shrug of my red shoulders. Humans wander these woods. They aren't usually so far out, but sometimes the fragile things get lost.
'That's no campsite.' Nicolai says, walking past me. I narrow my eyes at him. The foreign wolf and unfortunately my twin's mate. He fits in easily enough with his red fur, but he doesn't smell quite right. Too human. Humans are a mess. Dangerous and environmentally disgusting. It's what my father says. I happen to agree. I'm ready to argue with my brother in law, when the sky lights up ahead of us. It's about two miles out, stretching over the hilltops as it travels.
There's a thump as the wolves behind us drop the deer we'd grabbed only a half hour earlier. They all sprint around me, heading towards the inferno as I stare. Blinking, I glance back at Samson, the only wolf still frozen behind me. The older male is silent.
'Sam?' His eyes trail to mine.
'It's traveling from our land.' He says turning back to the growing inferno. 'Anyone who's survived will be on the other side.' He doesn't sound optimistic. I don't ask him how he knows this. It isn't the time. Panic begins to make its way into my chest. Leaving Samson, I follow my hunting group's scent, heading straight for the fire that seems to grow as I get closer.
Smoke causes my eyes water, and I find it getting hotter and hotter. I don't know how long I wander, but I become lost in the soot, the trees unfamiliar and the grass an ugly gray. Any sign of life is gone.
'Maya!' I call out through the mind link. 'Mom, Dad!' No response. However the silence I continue to search. It isn't until I spot the first dead wolf that I take pause. Laying no more than fifty yards from me is a familiar wolfskin. Emilia is, was, a year older than me. Her red fur is no longer red, turned dark from the smoke and ash. I back away slowly.
'Ryan,' My sister's voice enters my head. I look up, spinning in a circle.
'Maya?' Flames lick ten trees back. Too close, I'm too close. 'Where are you?' It's then that I see her. Her red fur, like my own is black, but her blue eyes are bright as day. She stands near the tree line.
'Where's Nick?' She asks. Not a hello, are you okay. She doesn't even acknowledge her dead friend. Maybe she's already been through here. I glance at the flames.
'I don't know.' We should be together. Maya knows we went hunting together.
'We need to find him and get out of here. Erik-'
'Mamma!' Our little brother screams so loud in my head I growl. Maya tenses. She looks at me, then at the approaching fire. The flames are loud, almost like a roaring, and it's hot, so hot. 'Mamma!' Maya closes her eyes. Howls echo in the distance.
'Maya don't-'She shakes her head.
'Cam needs me-' Our little brother's five years old. A twin, like my sister and I. I'd let her go get him, but she has her own family to take care of. She's expecting. And she's the future Luna.
'Mom can-' She huffs.
'She's dead.' Her words are blunt, and straight to the point.
'Dad-' She doesn't let me finish, choosing to run right into the approaching fire before I can stop her.
'Our family is dead, gone, Ryan. He's all that's left.' Fucking hell. I chase after her, my paws burning as they hit hot ground. She's nowhere to be found.
'Maya you're pregnant!' She doesn't answer me. She won't answer me. She's always focused too much on other people to care for her own well being.
Fire licks at my ankles, and I yelp at the surprising pain. This is a mistake. Following Maya was a mistake. Now I'm lost. I just start running, trying to find the way I've come from but I can't.
My family is gone. Maya needs to make it back. She has to, because if she doesn't, if I don't, then Erik becomes Alpha. My father's work will be gone. He'll lead them to destruction.
I just keep running, until my fur burns away, and lungs become full of soot. I spot green, just as my body gives out and I fall to darkness.