The Gathering is at hand, but not every pack knows they're invited.
|The bushes rustled as a gray figure appeared from beneath the under growth. Merritt had just awakened from a short night of slumbering. He stumbled for a moment then shook the sleep from his head and opened his eyes. It was still dark as the sun crept over the Blue Hills. Merritt, who was still half asleep, was startled by a warm breeze that rustled his fur. He looked around for a moment then raised his head up, sticking his snout in the air. He sniffed for any unrecognizable scents, but finding none he lowered his head.
The wolf turned his glance towards a large rock protruding out of the ground beside a small unsheltered stream. To any creature who didn’t understand the wolves customs would just see a pile of stones, but to the packs that dotted the landscape of Ainu these rocks were known as Pack Rock. This was where all the members of the pack went for pack meetings, announcements, and contacting other packs. Merritt began to approach the group of rocks when he heard something move behind him. He turned on his paws, baring his teeth and hair standing on end, ready to take down anyone naïve enough to challenge him.
“You would not be wise to do that.” A voice said from behind the bushes. Merritt recognized the voice and began to relax his muscles. The voice belonged to his mate, Fang, who stepped out into the dawning sunlight. Her brown fur shimmered in the sun’s rays, defying her old age and fooling the eye to think she was five years younger.
“You startled me,” Merritt said, shaking the bristle from his fur. “I thought you were someone else.”
Fang scrunched her nose in amusement. “Why would you say that?” Her voice was smooth and gentle to Merritt’s aged ears.
The wolf gave a quick answer. “Because you walk with the clumsiness of Green River and bare the smooth voice of Fire Mountain.”
“I heard you snap at least five twigs before you spoke.”
Fang was silent for a moment then pouted. “What are you doing up at this hour anyway?”
Merritt grinned at his mate’s change in subject. “Embarrassed, I see.” He started then turned his gaze back to Pack Rock. His grin slipped from his muzzle and was replaced by an uncertain frown. “I must tell the other packs about the Gathering of Ages.”
“Why must you tell them? They already know.” Fang snapped.
“I know,” he answered. “All of them know, except one.”
Fang could tell that something was bothering her mate. “Green River?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“They’ve been loyal to us for years. Why fear them now?” The she-wolf tilted her head with a soft whine.
“It’s not the pack that worries me. It’s their Alpha that bothers me the most.”
“Demon won’t attack us.” She reassured him, nuzzling underneath Merritt’s chin. “There are too many of us and too few of them.”
Merritt returned Fang’s nuzzle then turned away from her, he didn’t want her to see the fear that was beginning to well in his eyes. “You go back to bed, love. You’ll need your strength for the journey later.” His mate nodded, giving his muzzle a soft lick before turning and heading back to their den. Merritt watched her walk away, waiting for her to be outside of before he turned his attention back on the pile of stones. She doesn’t know what Demon is capable of, Merritt thought as he walked towards Pack Rock.