I was tired of traveling. I avoided it at all costs but when my king commands. Visiting a local pack seemed below me but my pity on the king moved me to obey…even if the visit was pointless.
I had been traveling for several hours of foot. I was able to go most of the way on a royal jet, but this pack was so remote that even a car could not reach. I never cared for solitary packs. Their isolation made them mind warp. Over the years I even had to put a few down as they had lost their touch with reality and had become dangerous to those around them. Maybe that’s why I was being sent there. Either way it didn’t hurt to make sure the pack was still intact.
I had nothing to note on the Ever Green Pack because they were just that, unnoteworthy. If it weren’t for my strong sense of duty and attention to detail, I probably would have skipped them altogether. But a good leader check on all matters. Even the small ones.
My feet padded down a path deeper into the woods. I felt the cold and crunch of the snow seep into the pads of my feet with each step. My breath came out in puffs of fog as the sun finished setting. There have better be a warm bath at the end of this. I was so lost in my thoughts that I had failed to notice a presence had been following me. I wasn’t worried. I was an ancient for Moon Goddesses sake. Almost nothing stood a chance against me. Still better to not let that on and leave it to the element of surprise.
I paused for a second listening around me. It also let the interloper know I was aware of him. I was impressed though. Whoever was watching was good. Silent enough to where I was having a hard time pinpointing where they were. Impressive. I continued walking cautiously in the same direction. That last thing I wanted to do after a long day of travel was get into a brawl with a random wolf no matter how sure the victory.
It was only a few yards further in when my watcher made himself known. A large dark steel grey wolf jumped down in front of me blocking my way. His teeth were snarling at me. Please. I narrowed my eyes at him annoyed, but it gave me chance to take a better look at him. This wolf was large even for an Alpha. In fact, he almost rivaled me. Maybe it was good I didn’t skip visiting. Maybe he had some ancient blood in him. If so, the orders were clear.
While I was staring at the wolf. Two more wolves jumped down on either side of me. Where the fuck did they come from?!?! Now they had my attention. It was rare I was caught off guard and it vexed me greatly that I had allowed it to happen. As I took in the appearance of the two new wolves saw they were almost equally as large at the first. All of a sudden, my chances of winning in a fight were dwindling. It was time to get more tactical.
Before they could ambush me and crouched down gathering my strength before sprinting up and over the steel gray wolf and running further. My best chance was to outrun them. I just needed to make it to the pack, and I would be rid of them. My wolf smiled as I sprinted away from the group. In a conflict speed sometimes was more valuable than brute force. Many packs underestimated the need for stamina.
My victory was short lived however as I soon heard more snarling and howling behind me. How were they keeping up with me? It was obvious these wolves were not normal. I ran up a hill trying to gain the upper ground by was stopped by another short group who were already ahead. I turned to run another direction only to run into another small group. How many were there? Every turn I took was met with resistance. My normally cool demeanor was giving away to frustration. I had no doubt I could out-maneuver them indefinitely.
That was until I came to a stop in a ravine. Those bastards… The ravine was high on three sides. And too steep to jump or climb without being pulled down again. This was the worst position to be and suddenly I realized something. They weren’t chasing me. They were herding me, right to this spot where I would not be able to escape.
Running was now not an option. Fine then. I wasn’t a fan of fighting, but I was no opposed to holding my own when then time called for it. I turned to face the group of wolves. I now realized my mistake. I had let my pride and confidence blind me. Originally, I thought I was dealing with an outlier group. Usually group of those were too stupid to do any real damage. But these wolves were too organized, too prepared. Not an outlier group but a pack. Most likely the pack I had been sent to inspect. Well they were about to be in for a surprise.
It was only a few moments before the steel gray wolf and his companions caught up with me. They slowed once they had reached me. I stared at the leader now furious in my predicament. The leader stared back anger rolling off of him. He crouched down getting ready to attack and that was when I released my own power.
I was an ancient goddess damn it! I would not be humiliated like this. I let my alpha power hit them all with full force. The leader fell before he could initiate his attack and whipped his head back and forth trying to fight against the need to submit. His companion however could be heard whining and yipping as they did what their wolves told them. One by one they fell to the ground lowering their heads in respect to the Alpha in front of them. The leader was the last on to submit, a growl still trying to slip out of his throat. I narrowed my eyes in warning to him. Don’t try and fight what you can’t win.
The leader began to try and raise his head to defy me when his eyes glassed over and his movement froze. Someone was talking to him through their pack link. I waited while whoever was talking to him finished their conversation. It only took a moments before his movement returned back to normal. The wolf stood and shifted into a young man in his 20’s with brown reddish hair. I was thrown off. How can a wolf so strong and cunning be so young? He wasn’t the Alpha was he?
The man stood before me naked and faced me with a scowl.
“Identify yourself?” he called to me arrogantly. Don’t take that tone with me, pup.
I looked down at him in my wolf form.
“I am Lord Edmon Huntington.” I called out to their minds. The leader’s eyed grew wide and several of the other pack members yipped and startles at the response. My inner wolf sneered at their responses. Being an ancient I could communicate with others in my wolf form. I did not have to degrade myself to standing in front of other nude just so I could be heard.
“I am here as a representative of the Royal pack and of that of the King.” I continued letting my Alpha power push through my words. “To whom am I speaking to?” The leader looked to his companions speaking. Unsure of what to do. He turned his gaze back to me before he spoke meeting my eyes to respond. The kid had back bone.
“I am Dalton of the Ever Green pack.” Truth. “What business does the king have with us?” The boy spoke to me in an even dark tone not letting out any hint of hesitance.
“It does not matter what my business is!” I snarled at him. “The only person I answer to is the King so unless you plan to defy him and his order I suggest you escort me to your pack house immediately. I have traveled a long way here and I am not impressed with the welcome I have received.”
The boy, yes, he was a boy now, was stared had me scowling for a few moments before shifting back to his wolf form. He walked up to me and gestured his head indicating I should follow before running off. Annoyed with his lack of manners I figured the sooner I followed the sooner I could rest.
After about an hour of running the tall tree gave way to a large log house. There was light pouring out of windows while several chimneys spouted smoke hinting at the warm that laid inside. A little rugged for my taste, but it would do for now.
In front of the pack house stood a large man with similar features Dalton’s. This must be the Alpha. As I approached the Alpha nodded his head to me in respect.
“Welcome my lord. Forgive us. We were not expecting you.” The man said respectfully. Truth. “I am Alpha Langston. To what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?” Finally, someone decent.
“I am Lord Edmond Huntington.” I mind linked him. “I have been charged by the king to visit various packs and take a census of their statuses. Your pack is one of the last ones on my list.”
The Alpha’s eyes showed concern in them. “Census? Has there been a problem with our paperwork or taxes?”
“Not that I’m aware of. The King just felt a personal visit was necessary for some of the more remote areas.” The Alpha relaxed some.
“Ah, I see. Well then, we shall be thankful for the visit while we can.” Lie. “Please come inside. We will have a room prepared immediately.” The Alpha gestured towards the house and I was only too happy to oblige. The front door was large enough to accommodate my size which I was grateful for as I still had no clothes.
The packhouse opened to a large receiving room wide enough for me to stand in. The tones inside were warm and the heat from the house helped to thaw my frozen paws. A teenage boy also with reddish hair holding a bundle of clothes walked up to Langston whispering something to him. Langston looked at the bundle the boy held thoughtfully than nodded his head before turning to me putting an arm around the boy’s shoulders.
“You met my son Dalton out in the woods already, this is my younger son, Edwin.” The boy bowed his head at the introduction. I acknowledged it with a slight tilt of mine. “Edwin will show you to your room my Lord where you may change and then I will be waiting in the great hall when you are ready.”
I looked at the boy ready to show me the way. The boy nervously fidgeted with the bundle before turning down the hallway. “Th-this way my lord.” he stuttered. As I followed down the hallway after Edwin I looked behind me with my peripheral vision. Langston was walking up to his son Dalton who was now standing in a pair of gray sweats. He tried to speak to him in hushed tones, but my sensitive hearing could still make out the words.
“Artie is in the kitchen.” he simply stated. Dalton’s eyes grew wide as he worriedly looked in my direction before he ran off in the opposite direction.