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Dark Mountain

By Haiden M. All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Blurb

Ice pricked his nose and every breath stung his throat. He tried to murmur for help but his words were slurred, his breathing was slow and shallow. Finally he collapsed from exhaustion and drowsiness, where was he? Did he smell bear? I can’t remember anything... Soturi let his eyes droop and his whole body went numb, he couldn’t even feel himself breathing anymore. He lost direction. The only thing was the steady, rhythmic beat of his heart. After what could have been hours... or seconds, Soturi fell into a dark abyss. The light had finally faded.

Chapter 1

Light filtered through the canopy of trees as two young wolf pups crept through the undergrowth, thorns in pelt and paw, Soturi and Ayza trekked on. They walked with caution to not to even let the slightest crack from the twigs underfoot, or the dead leaves. Prey was scarce, every wolf knew. Every creature knew it was Winter, The Season Of Ice And Snow. Seasons change like time, you need to wait for the moon to rise, the sun to set, the moon to set, and the sun to rise. It was a routine.

Snap! A branch shook Soturi from his thoughts, he flashed his gaze to Ayza as she did the same.

“What was that?” Ayza whispered, then her eyes flickered, she gasped, “Soturi! What if it was a deer?” Soturi’s tail swished at the recognition of the word ‘deer’, he’d eaten them before but never have he seen a live one. Soturi noticed the uneven in her voice. But before he could say anything else, his friend bolted towards the sound of the branch.

Of course, he had followed her through the heather, but not out of curiosity, out of worry. A deer would know better than to be this deep into the territory of wolves, only something that knew it could fight off a group of full grown Protectors would ramble here.

At last, he caught up to his friend who was now sniffing and crouched at the edge of the growth right in front of where the branch had fallen. Soon enough, a deep throaty scent reached his nose, it stank of scorched, sun-beaten fur. Blood lingered in the air. Soturi peeped through the leaves only for his eyes to meet the scarred back of a Human Savage, he had no fur except for a brown patch on the top of his head. The human held a long stick with stone on the end in a hand, and in the other the carcass of a male deer. The man’s fingers were dirt ridden and fowl, they twisted around the scruff of the animal and weapon tightly.

Ayza scoffed at the filthy animal and fluffed up her tail fur as if saying, ‘What could he do to us? He’s so helpless!’ Soturi’s trembled and fog seeped through the foliage blocking his view of the hunter. They had to leave now. Without their sense of sight, neither of them had a way pinpointing the enemy as well as needed. Ayza and Soturi’s choices were a bit too finite, they were either: run, or hide.

If they chose to hide, then they would have a greater chance of being killed if they were caught but less of a chance of being caught. It would be the other way around if they ran. To both their knowledge, running would be a more sensible decision.

“Ayza,” Soturi glanced at the wolf, “on the count of three we run,” But the she-wolf seemed to pay almost no attention to Soturi. “Ayza!” He growled starting to get aggravated, “Listen to me!”

But this caught the hunter’s attention who was now skinning the poor meal, he looked up from his activity and his eyes darted nervously from side to side. Even behind the scent-thick wall of fog, Soturi sensed his fear. It was like a thin tendril of heat weaving in and out of the thicket, it was quick. The man raised his weapon loomed over his victim.

Ayza noticed his attentiveness and flattened her ears, her body trembled. Soturi could hear the blood roaring in his ears, he had to leave.

One... two... three! He dashed away from the clearing just as the hunter's eyes fixed themselves on him.

A human wouldn’t... couldn’t resist a wolf pelt, especially one with the intricate markings Ayza had. At a glance, her pelt would look as if it were embedded in roots, twisted and gnarled over her coat.

As Soturi fled, he realized Ayza’s paw steps weren’t following him as they should. He stopped and listened. Nothing.

He peered over the fingers of dead branches expecting to see Ayza hiding, as she usually did. When they were younger and played hide and seek, she had always won. One time, she was hiding in a rabbits den!

But this was serious, if Soturi didn't find his companion soon, she might as well be dead with the Human about.

He started sniffing around hoping to catch her scent in one of the many nooks and crannies of the forest. He 0ught to find her soon, he always did. Eventually.

At last, he couldn't take it anymore, he took the risk of being caught and called out for his friend. “Ayza!” He howled, nothing.

The worry stung his eyes, where was Ayza? Did the Human catch up to her? Just then he heard a screech, it was sharp and high pitched in fear. “Help! Help! Soturi-” Her voice was cut off, then quick shuffling replaced it.

“No!” Soturi whimpered, “Ayza! I’m coming!” He raced through where his tracks were left and the iciness was sharp on his pads but he still kept his hope up. She’s alive! But she needs me.

But as Soturi broke through the undergrowth he saw something that made his heart sink. Blood stained the snow and it wasn’t the deer. It was Ayza’s.

Her smell was so clear and the crimson liquid was thick, seeping into the snow.

He followed her scent on the snow, it wasn’t far when he realized that her scent mingled with a man’s and a deer, it was revolting.

Soturi slowed his pace to a walk and his hope ebbing away. Shame ate away at him, if Aya was dead, it was his fault, if she wasn’t they would be severely punished. Especially because he was the prince of the mountains, son of King Ajani and Queen Leeva. No wolf under the rule of the Mountains was allowed in the Wryviks Forest under no circumstances.

The old forest belonged to Human Savages after the First War thousands were dead. Light against Dark. Humans had temples that were tall and mighty, they worshiped their god, Adonis. But as they did this, famine grew sicknesses and plagues. Trees were cut and the Mountain Kingdom was almost no more, but the same was happening in the South.

The Southern population moved to the North seeking hospitality but only had death itself facing them in the eye. There was no turning back, the South and the North joined forces, they battled for days on end.

During those times a wolf would kill you for stealing food the size of a mouse tail. After the war was fought, the remaining Human Savages were scattered across the Wryviks Forest, all their minds are set on is food, food, food. Their memory of Adonis has faded and remains forgotten by his followers. Human Savages are dangerous, they would take our pelts for beauty and warmth, our flesh to eat. What they don’t want from us they leave to the crows.

Another twig cracked and Soturi flipped his head around when he turned he noticed a dark figure sitting himself down in the foliage. When he did he started twisting his hands around a brown figure and a cutting sound echoed from where he was. A knife. He was slicing into the flesh of Ayza, he saw her intricate patterns and her small, fragile frame.

A gaping hole opened up inside of his heart, ready to swallow him whole. The cries of Ayza were still echoing in his head and ripping away his hope like a child from its mother. His friend was gone forever and it was his fault.

A sad storm roared in his mind, tearing and screaming at him, telling him to leave. That he would never be accepted, that was all over.

Soturi bolted through the woods so that the aura of death faded and left him. He didn’t know how long he’d run when finally the sky burst with colors as the sun set. But as the sun set, the temperature set as well.

He was lost, he turned his head to see where he was but nothing was familiar. The scent of the area was different, it was cold and fishy. He could see far down the mountain that there was a massive river carving out the Valley.

Ice pricked his nose and every breath stung his throat. It's only going to get worse... I am going to die out here! He tried to murmur for help but his words were slurred, his breathing was slow and shallow.

Time past and his legs were becoming feeble and weak. Hypothermia strangled him, he gazed at the moon. It was so far away...

He became very tired after a while. He tucked his legs under his belly listened to the rhythmic beat of his heart. It was soothing as he started to slip away.

Soturi listened, he listened for a while. So long that he was too weak to move his limbs, so long that he couln't hear his breathing.

Finally, he let go and he felt himself slide into a deeper sleep. That is where he loosened his grasp and tumbled into the darkness.

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