Not sure why there are large spaces in the there but I fixed it!
Chapter 14 - Well that changes things
I watched the fire burn. The crackle and pop of the flames were eating at my being. It was tradition to burn the bodies of the ones who’d passed to the mother. Had it only been last night that Zora had found Comira dead? Another shock of fear raced through my body, burning my comfortable reality away as easily as the fire consumed Comira’s remains. This couldn’t be happening. What would do something like this? It wasn’t as if she’d been mauled or just killed, but torn apart—
“I am here, Ira.” My mate placed a steady hand over my heart, his black eyes steady as they watched the fire burn.
“What are we going to do?” We, not just him. I was his mate and no matter what I’d stand by him. This couldn’t be easy for him, having a pack member murdered not far from our dens. Everyone in the pack will be unsettled, trapped in our own homes by a threat we haven’t even seen— Well, there was one wolf that had. My eyes caught Koda standing not far away looking at the fire, Alloy standing dutifully at his side.
“I will protect the pack,” he pressed his face into the thick fur of my neck, marking me with his scent. “I will protect you. I swear it.”
A rumble formed in my chest and I returned the comforting gesture, running my muzzle over his head and face. The fear was there in me, running through my veins like a virus threatening to consume me with an incurable disease, but his strength was the my cure. “I never doubted for a second that you couldn’t.” And I hadn’t. I knew in my heart that he would die to protect me, and knowing he would after only being mine for such a short time was a form of love I never thought I’d taste in my life. He wasn’t in this alone, I’d protect him too.
“This is your fault! If you weren’t so busy with that fucking freak this wouldn’t have happened! For all we know he’s part of it. We started scenting these wolves not long after he joined!” Naga shouted from the other side of the blaze.
What? I looked between my mate and the she wolf completely unaware of what she was talking about. These wolves had been scented since I joined the pack? Why hadn’t Zora told me anything? It had to be coincidence?
Zora growled menacingly, tension building between the two wolves. He stepped in front of me, shielding me from Naga. “My mate has nothing to do with what happened or these outsiders. I understand your words are born from you pain, but I am still your alpha.” Zora looked around the pack, all it’s members looking to their leader for direction. “What happened to Comira was unfortunate, but we must prepare for this threat. Fighting amongst ourselves is the easiest way to die. From now on we will travel in groups outside of the dens and there will be watches during the night.”
Upset murmurs began as the pack began to talk among themselves. Their fear was tangible as they tried to voice their questions. “What about the pups?” “How do we fight something we can’t find?” “What if Naga is right?” Their concerns mounted until it was a pile of doubts that towered above all our heads.
“Enough!” Zora barked, quieting the pack instantly. “We cannot defeat this enemy if you are blinded by panic and fear. Starting tomorrow we will begin hunting these wolves and we need to be ready.” My alpha looked back at the flame a tension radiated through his body. “Tonight we mourn.”
I reached out and touched his side and drew him into my large embrace. Zora tensed, but then he relaxed into me as I sheltered him with my large body. It was one of the only benefits of being so damn big. The sounds of the flames seemed to echo through the quiet night, building something sad deep inside my chest that I needed to release. Throwing back my head I howled. My rough song louder than the burning fire. My mate joined in and soon the whole pack followed. Our sad song filling the night.
One month later
I lay beside Dey outside her den, watching her pups play with Comira’s pups. Dey had taken in the little ones after their mother’s murder and I had to commend the she wolf’s huge heart. It had been a month since the horrible night and nothing had happened. Nothing. Not even a mouse missing it’s tail. Complete and utter silence. The pack had been hunting for the threat, even setting traps around the pack lands and close to the dens, but it hadn’t turned up anything. My mate was living with the tension of the pack on his shoulders daily, and I didn’t know what to do to help him.
“You shouldn’t stress, sweet.” Dey said in her usual sing song voice. She was a breath of fresh air among the pack, and in the last month I could say I’d made a friend in her. I also believed she wasn’t insane anymore.
I was definitely pregnant. I wanted to eat a lot more, and I felt my body starting to change. I’d only been carrying a little over two months but I swear my stomach was already descended, that or I’d gained weight. Please mother let it not be that, I was too young to get fat! “I’m not stressing, you’re sure I’m not fat right?” I rubbed a self conscious hand over my belly.
Dey snickered and nudged me with her muzzle playfully. “You are already starting to show. You will have very big pups I think.”
My stomach lurched and I had to swallow my breakfast back down before it came up. Big pups? How big were we talking here? Oh god, what if I gave birth to pups the size of Alloy. I would die! She thought this was funny? Did she hate me? “How is that good!?” I garbled. Yeah I could barely talk I was still holding back some of my food from coming up. Dey noticeably scooted away from me. I couldn’t blame her, no one wants to get covered in vomit.
“Of course it is! Who doesn’t want big healthy pups?”
My eye was twitching a little as I looked at her— I could feel it twitching. “Oh, maybe someone who has no idea where the pups are going to pop out of?” Another wave of nausea washed over me. There would be stretching...and tearing….I think I’m going to pass out.
“Calm down Ira. You don’t know where the pups with come out? There’s only one way.” Dey said it as if it should be obvious. Well for her it freaking is!
“Of course I don’t! I mean there is only one—” No. She was not saying what I think she was saying. Nope. Nope. I don’t want to do this anymore, I am not ready to do this. SON OF AN UGLY HORSE!
“Your body is made to birth your pups. It will stretch just like it does to take your alpha’s knot.” Dey said with a corky little smile.
“My alpha’s knot is not a LARGE PUP!” Oh mother there was probably going to be more than one! “How did your brother do it? Was everything down there the same afterwards? What if I was ruined for my alpha afterwards? What if I couldn’t tie anymore! OH MOTHER NOOOOO!
“Vey was never damaged by birth. He was always excited about giving birth, he’d be so anxious to meet the pups.” The she wolf started to get a far off expression as she likely remembered her brother.
I don’t know about Vey, but I think I was going to be a mess by the time the pups were ready to come. I mean a real mess, not the kind where you just shake it off and put yourself back together but like hold a hostage and break down kind of balls to the wall not all there mess. Not sure if I painted the picture, but I didn’t foresee myself handling birth to well.
“He’d always wonder which of them would be born were like him, or wolf like their sire.” Dey paused and pondered something. “He’d always promise never to abandon his pups like his birth pack had him.”
“Wait, what?” My mind started to race and I sat up to focus fully on the she wolf. “You weren’ related? I thought you said he was your brother?”
“He was my litter mate. My mother found him when he was only a few days old and she took him in.” She smiled happily. “He wasn’t blood related but he was my brother.”
“He wasn’t related to you— where did he come from?” It was possible he was left because he was born different. I was lucky my own dama hadn’t left me out in the woods to die.
“Mother told us that she saw a wolf when she found him. The wolf was huge, bigger than any she’d ever seen, and it was watching from the woods. We always thought she was talking about Fenrir, since she always talked about how blessed she’d been to find Vey.”
Fenrir. The god of wolves, the most powerful wolf to ever exist. It was said he was created by the mother to protect the wolves against any threat and to ensure we would always have our strength. Don’t get me wrong it was all just a pup’s tale but it was my favorite! Dama used to tell me the stories of Fenrir defeating evil and protecting the wolves of the world. “So you don’t know where he came from?” Come on Dey, not a single idea? Was it coincidence I’d found the one she wolf who’d known another wolf like me? It couldn’t be right?
“Well he did go looking for them when he came of age. He was only gone a few weeks but when he came back he said he’d found what he was looking for and that we were his birth pack. I could never get him to talk about what he found but he did say that when our dama found him it hadn’t been an accident.” She finished.
It hadn’t been a mistake? Holy moose farts….was it possible? “Dey I’ll see you later I’m going to go talk to my brother.” I scrambled to my feet trying to think where I’d find my mouthy sibling.
“Oh Ira don’t forget to eat more meat. You’re building body parts in there.” The she wolf snorted at her own joke.
I couldn’t find my litter mate anywhere. I mean I thought it would be pretty easy since he was always stuck to Alloy like a burr and Alloy was hard to miss. After an hour of looking I sat down and tried to come up with some idea where I could find him. I could wait to talk to him later tonight when he surfaced by the dens, but this couldn’t wait. You know me patience wasn’t exactly my best characteristic. So, where could I find Koda? He was with Alloy no doubt about that— so where would I find Alloy? An idea popped into my head that I hadn’t thought about before. I looked towards the woods. This idea would require me to go out into the forest alone, but it wasn’t far - I looked around the dens - no one would notice.
Backing slowly towards the forest I waited for anyone to sound the alarm ‘the alpha mate is leaving alone!’ or something like that. The moment I was surrounded by trees I took a deep breath. No one noticed. After a month of always being with someone is was kind of nice to have a moment alone. I walked through the woods listening to the sounds of the birds and squirrels chattering endlessly. A part of me always wondered what they were talking about - probably nuts, well nuts and ‘oh shit isn’t that the squirrel eater?’. Can’t deny I’ve eaten a lot of their family in the last few months.
I’d been walking for a good ten minutes when I started hearing the strange sounds. Low growls - I realized with a pounding heart. Was it some wolf in the woods? Was is it Koda? Was he in danger? The fur on the back of my spine sprang up as a high pitch sound followed the growls. I started to run. I needed to make it to the pond, I would be hidden there. Panting I ran until I was close to the underbrush that would lead me to the large hidden pond. I stopped the sounds were louder, coming from the other side of the brush. Wait— no way that couldn’t be—
Quietly I snuck through the undergrowth to see what was happening on the other side. The light shown down on the clear water like always, the beautiful clearing as magical as always. Another low growl echoed through the clearing, bringing my attention to my brother and Alloy locked— HOLY PINK PORCUPINES! It took a lot of effort to keep the sound in my throat from bursting free. I think I was blind, I couldn’t unsee it. Oh god he’s tying with Alloy! They were like a mess of arms and legs turned into one creature! I’m gonna be sick.
A grunt of laughter escaped Alloy and more sounds ensued. “Don’t worry I won’t stop.”
Oh mother please make them stop. Maybe I should interrupt them? I think that would be the more polite thing for me to do. Also it would save my sanity. I’ll just make a noise— A hand covered my muzzle and pulled me out of the underbrush. Gasping I started to panic until the scent of my assailant drifted up to my nose. Zora released me, a very unhappy scowl on his handsome face. Oh, I was definitely in trouble. “I bet you’re not happy, but I can explain.” Zora crossed his strong arms over his bare chest a small rumble coming out of him. Yeah I had seconds to explain myself. “I needed to talk to Koda, and I couldn’t find him so I figured maybe he was here with Alloy. I know I’m not supposed to go out alone but it wasn’t far and I didn’t want to bother anyone and then I heard noises and I thought something might be happening and then I saw them— it was so gross anyways I didn’t mean to disobey you alpha.”
“Ira, what were you thinking? Nothing you have said is justifiable for endangering your life or our pups lives.” His voice was hushed and angry. Seeing him upset with me was worse than any physical harm. He was right - I had endangered myself and my pups and for nothing more than my impatience.
“I’m sorry alpha.” I pushed my muzzle under his chin, seeking his forgiveness.
Zora brushed my ears back with his hand as he pet my head, his soothing touch welcoming. “I would be destroyed if you were killed. I cannot even fathom the pain it would cause me. This does not mean that you won’t be punished, you directly disobeyed my order. Let us return to the dens. You can talk to Koda when they return.” Zora shifted and started jogging slowly back towards home.
I dropped to all fours and trotted after my mate. I hope he wasn’t going to make me compost the garden again. I mused over other ways I’d be punished and was hoping it would be something where I’d be with him. Ever since Comira’s murder I hadn’t seen him much, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss him. Up ahead I watched his tail sway as he trotted, his fine wolf rear calling me like a siren. Focus Ira! I moved a little faster so I was beside him.
“When I was young I dreamed about the day I would become alpha of my pack.” Zora said so suddenly I almost tripped. He’d never spoke about his past before so I kept my mouth shut and perked my ears to hear what he had to say. “I also dreamed about the mate I would have. What would they look like? How would I meet them? I never shared my imaginings with anyone, and I have to admit that I am glad I didn’t.” He brushed his muzzle against my chest quickly, the loving gesturing causing my heart to jump.
“Why are you glad you didn’t?” I asked grasping for pieces of his past. I could just imagine little Zora. Would my pups look like my mate? The idea made me so excited that I could barely stand it. I still wasn’t looking forward to birth.
“Because, my imaginings were never as perfect as you.” He nipped at my ear, the bite loving. Sparks fired in my belly. Could he have said anything more perfect? “That’s why I’m punishing you by having you clean out the dens.”
“Wait what?” I stopped, completely blind sided. Was he really leading up to my punishment with that? He was guilting me! That was low, so low.
Zora stopped to and looked at me with a wolfish smile, baring his teeth in a goofy grin he used only around me. “Come Ira. I think I have ignored you too much these past few weeks.”
Yipping excitedly I chased after my mate as he ran ahead.
“Did you know Alloy and Koda were together?” I stroked my hand over my alpha’s back from where he sat up beside me. His hand laid over my belly the same way it did every night. It was comforting and it was turning into my favorite place for him to touch me. Well when we weren’t tying it was my favorite place.
“I had figured something was going on. You have not noticed how close they sleep at night?”
Well I had noticed, but I’d scratched it up to being cold. Now that I really thought about it I’d seen Alloy practically blanket Koda at night. Yeah, in retrospect I’m starting to think I should have caught on a little quicker. “I think making pups is dulling my brain.”
Zora snorted. “Omega you are bramble brained. It is one of your endearing traits.”
I would have argued, but honestly I was bramble brained. I’d forget my own paws if they weren’t attached to my body. I kept touching his back watching his muscles move under my fingertips. It had been weeks since I’d been able to talk to him, it was nice to have his company again. I’d been lonely only talking to Dey and having Koda bitch at me. “Zora, I’ve wanted to ask you for awhile about your past?”
The alpha turned around a curious expression on his face. “My past?”
“I’d like to know how you became the alpha and your dama and sire. How did you and Alloy become friends?” There was so much I wanted to know about my mate. I wanted to be a Zora expert!
My mate smirked and laid down beside me his hand still resting comfortably on my belly. “There is not much to speak of. I’ve lived in this pack my entire life, my dama and sire were life mates. Sahira was my dama and Zoko was my sire. They were both amazing and strong, both of them passed of old age some years ago. Alloy and I were raised together and have always been close. When I became the alpha it was no doubt I would choose him as my beta.”
“What was your dama like?” I wished I’d been able to meet his parents before they’d passed, but I’d have to know them through his stories.
A light smile played at his lips. “She was a very kind she wolf, and very happy— like you.”
“What was you dama like?” I wished I’d been able to meet his parents before they’d passed, but I’d have to know them through his stories.
A light smile played at his lips. “She was a very kind she wolf. Her coat was silver much like mine. I remember when I was only a pup in my first years, she would tell me stories of great wolves that conquered against tyranny and loved their mates indefinitely. She was a very happy wolf— like you.”
A happy rumble escaped me and I curled into him. “You were probably the best pup ever,” and the cutest one.
Zora snorted an undignified laugh. “No my omega, I was horrendous. My mother referred to me as her little demon. It was my greatest ability to cause trouble. I once chased a skunk into the dens and caused it to fill the alpha den with the worst odor. My sire had been furious.”
Yeah I couldn’t picture my stoic alpha chasing a skunk into the dens, but the idea was hilarious. “You must have smelled like hell for weeks!” A laugh burst out of me.
Growling my mate rolled on top of me, smiling wide as he looked down at me. “You cannot fathom the smell.” I laughed as he nipped teasingly at my muzzle.
“Koda!” I loped towards my brother where he lay outside his new den with Alloy beside him.
He and Alloy both lifted their head ears perked forward from where they were curled around each other. Mother, how had I not noticed their relationship? Stopping just short I looked between the two of them awkwardly as I thought about the display of body parts I’d seen yesterday. I could have gone a lifetime without seeing my brothers ass sky high begging Alloy to— Nope Nope Nope NOOOPPPEEEE. “I need to talk to you...alone.” Without thinking about your bits tangled with Alloy’s bits.
“Ok?” He got to his paws and nudged Alloy’s jaw with his nose. “Over here.”
We trotted over to the far side of the dens secluded enough that I could ask him the questions I needed to. It had been bothering me since he’d come here: Why had he left the pack? What was really going on?
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to you. Koda I need to know why you really left the pack. The lie you fed me the first time won’t work. I want to know the truth.” Well go you Ira, standing up for yourself. I just made it worse by talking to myself in third person.
Koda’s ears flattened on his skull as he looked away from me. “I-I found out something and I needed to come find you and tell you. The other’s wanted me to leave it but you’re my brother.”
Everything he’d said made no sense. I was completely lost. “What did you find out?” What could it possibly be that he thought he had to leave. Was dama hurt?! “It’s not dama is it?” My gruff voice became a panicked rumble.
Koda shook his head, his green eyes more serious than I’d ever seen them. “No dama is fine. She was the one who told us the truth.”
“The truth? Koda what are you talking about?” I growled. He was hedging around the topic and I needed to know what it was! ‘Unstuff your hole!’
His ears laid flat on his head as he avoided looking me in the eye, so unlike his character it was disturbing. “Dama, she told us that you weren’t are litter mate. She’d found you.”