~ Alright! Finally getting another chapter up! Sorry everyone, life got busy for awhile there. X/
Thank you to all who reviewed: killthepain62, Dare queen, Marina Oakenshield, skinnylove2625, and Illusive. And I am also very grateful to those who have followed and put this story on their favorites list. ~
I know that reviews are very important to FanFiction authors, myself included, but I find favorites to be just as important to the success of a story. And you guys who favorite and review will be the ones to make this story successful. Not me, I just write the chapters and be forever grateful to you all. XD So thank you again. :)
Disclaimer: Middle-Earth Enterprises has full ownership of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
Now that I have done further research, I can confirm that the wolf skin-changers of my story reside in the land of Far Harad. Since this is the time period of the Third Age and in the time period of when The Hobbit tale occurs, I will say that the men described to reside there were kept out of the majority of available land by the skin-changers. I guess I take that idea from how Gandalf believes that Beorn, as a skin changer, is a descendant from the first men who settled basically in the beginning period of Middle-Earth. Therefore, the wolf skin-changers' presence in Far Harad preceded the people of Harad. The wolf skin changers call this land Jisgirid instead of Harad. (pronounced 'yis-geer-id') What does it mean? I don't know. Thought of it on the fly and I think it sounds cool..so there. XD Oh and the second river that they will be crossing over is not named on the maps, and neither is the bridge that goes over the river and into Harandor. It is the only river with a man-made crossing that the wolf skin changers are familiar with. This is because their kind had to cross the river to get into the land of Jisgirid. And even though wolf skin changers rarely leave their respective territory, let alone venture deep into the land of Near Harad, the name of the river is still spoken with reverence: The River of Mindin, or the Mindin River (rhymes with 'Rin-Tin-Tin'). It was named after the first skin-changer that crossed (leaped) over the river. The first river they will be crossing, that separates Near Harad from Far Harad, has a name; but I can't read it on the map. And since this area is mostly empty of men, the skin changers only know of it as the Ungris River (pronounced 'Oong-ris': 'ris' rhymes with the name Chris).
And for those who like to study maps and understand the distance traveled, the territory of the ForestKin pack is in the northernmost part of Far Harad and closest to Gondor. They are also very close to Near Harad. Out of the three packs, they have interacted with men the most over the years (in a mostly treeless, desert-like environment, a thick forest range would be considered a godsend); though the myths and horror stories told by the few men that have settled around or near ForestKin territory have kept most people from venturing in. Because those that have gone in don't return. Wolf skin changers do not seek out violence, but they don't want the possibility of men trying to impede upon their land again. ;)
Yes I know the distance that Erebyss and Darbin are going to travel (from Far Harad to Beorn's Carrock) is longer than the distance that the Company took from The Shire to Erebor (it took them nearly a year). This couple, however, have many advantages that the dwarfs do not have (enhanced wolf form, smaller numbers, better stamina, no mountain crossings), and are on a far stricter schedule; hardly any time to stop and relax. But the couple also has their own disadvantages, which will be acknowledged in this chapter.
The ValleyKin are located further south and are the furthest away from civilization of any kind. They are the most trusting of the three packs. The RiverKin pack is to the east of the ForestKin territory and its northern border is just a smidge lower than the the ForestKin's northern border, but is directly south of the Mountains of the East.
I also cannot emphasize enough that these skin-changers are very isolated, they know little to nothing of what has happened up North beyond the fact that elves, dwarves, trolls, orcs, goblins (yes I am choosing to make orcs and goblins separate species as Peter Jackson did for his films), men, and other races inhabit the land. They have a vague idea of what each race is supposed to look like (passed on as stories from one generation to the next), and have the most knowledge about men and their nature. Another consequence is that they live pretty primitive lives...well, primitive in the sense of hides for clothing, crude log shelters, etc.
Our main character is also close in age to Fili and Kili, so I have decided that she will be born in TA 2861..which is the year this chapter takes place in. This will make her 80 in TA 2941, which is incredibly young for a skin-changer in my story.
I hope by now you have an idea of how meticulous and thorough I am (I end up being my own BETA sometimes). XD I often find it to be my own downfall. I am trying to make my species fit in with Tolkien's world as well as possible, but since this is a fanfic...it will not fully comply with what Tolkien has written. And that's okay! I think...;)
There is a method to my madness! I also thought you might like to have an idea as to how my mind works when I am writing. Because I seem to have so many details that cannot fit into this chapter, but I still think need to be mentioned. XP
By the time they had reached the Mindin River, almost 24 hours had passed. They knew this by determining the moon's position in the sky.
They had only stopped once to feed the pups, which had been in the afternoon after crossing the Ungris River. Both had agreed that they would not feel safe until they were out of the ForestKin territory and were in the part of Jisgirid where men called the land Near Harad.
The girls were coaxed into their wolf forms so they could nurse without having Erebyss return to her human form. Darbin had been unsure about them being able to skin-change at such an early age, but Erebyss expressed a gentle confidence that he could not argue against.
As she nursed them, she told him of how her Alpha blood ensured a faster rate of development than in normal pups. And since these pups were born as human babes, she had correctly assumed they would skin-change sooner since they were already accustomed to their human form.
Most Alpha pairs that had offspring would almost always mate as wolves in order to give birth to wolf pups; believing that when they are born as wolflings, they would grow to be stronger than the skin-changers who had been born as human children. This often helped secure the Alpha's bloodline to remain in the Alpha position, since wolf-born skin-changers of Alphas commonly displayed an aptitude for physically and diplomatically leading the pack. But unlike human-born skin-changers, those who were wolf-born took longer to skin-change. It took babies at least two weeks two skin-change into wolflings, while wolf pups often functioned in that form for nearly twice the amount of time before attempting to skin-change. Knowing this information was what lead Erebyss to believe her pups would be able to skin-change earlier than most offspring.
Once he saw that the pups were suckling without any problems, Darbin told her he would go and find them something to eat before starting off again. Fortunately, nursing the pups had only taken around five minutes. The pups, however, had a voracious appetite because they had had their last meal the night before. It had been their older daughter's loud wailing that had ultimately caused them to stop.
After the pups were full and sleeping against her soft fur, Erebyss waited for another twenty minutes before Darbin returned. They both ate their fill of the two antelope that he had caught before re-wrapping the pups. Darbin told Erebyss of the continuous, grassy-desert landscape he had seen while they swaddled the little girls. They both agreed that they would follow the man-trodden road up until it connected with the road that would lead them over the Mindin River.
With sparse bathroom breaks throughout the day of traveling for both parents and pups, and another nursing and dinner break, they finally reached the Mindin River's man-made bridge by midnight. Fortunately, there was enough foliage along the river and on the sides of the road closest to the river for them to hide in. Erebyss and Darbin knew that even with the minuscule population of man in the land if Jisgirid, there was always a chance of travelers using the dusty road at any time of day. The two wanted to use the road to walk safely across, because even though the river was narrow enough for a wolf skin-changer to leap over, neither parent wanted to risk jostling the newborns unnecessarily.
Darbin darted out of the foliage first and crossed the bridge on silent paws, his black pelt blending in well with the night. Erebyss followed shortly after at a quick lope. She stopped at his side, following his gaze to look at the barren landscape that lay before them.
"Follow the road?" she asked after a few more moments of uninterrupted silence. The swaddled pups were sound asleep in their leather wraps.
"Yes." he answered after he let the question hang in the air for a few seconds after she spoke. They both knew her question had been rhetorical, but they both took comfort in having a concrete direction to take.
They set off at a run once more, not stopping again until they reached the bridge of the Poros River. Now, all of the following names that will be given of the places that Darbin and Erebyss will pass by are not known as such to the two. The territory was completely new to them. They only knew of the worn road that they hoped would lead them to a safe haven for their daughters.
Unfortunately, this makes them blind to the many dangers that lay in wait for them; dangers that could become obstacles on their journey. It was also early morning by the time they reached this river, meaning there was a higher possibility of people traveling on the worn path. Therefore, their stop was brief before they passed over the cobblestone bridge. With little vegetation around the bridge and river to cover their massive forms, they were fairly visible to the naked eye. But it was the stretch of tall trees in the distance that drove them onward.
Before they entered the forest of Ithilien, Erebyss slowed to a halt. No longer sensing her by his side, Darbin slowed his pace to fluidly turn and look at her.
"What's wrong?" he asked, not wanting them to delay if they could help it.
"I don't like it here...something is off...listen.." she replied, her eyes narrowing in worry as she turned her head to the west. After a heavy pause she did the same toward the east.
"I don't hear anything." Darbin said quietly, more alert now than before Erebyss spoke to him.
"Exactly...there is no noise...no sound..it's eerie.." she ended with a concerned growl, her ears flattening against her broad golden head.
Silence reigned as he tried to listen for any possible sound or a slight rustle of movement. But there was nothing. And they had no way of knowing that Ithilien's population had been driven out by Orcs years ago, or how they were being watched at this very moment.
"Let's continue on then, for this is not a place where our children would be able to safely thrive." he spoke firmly, taking a few more steps to stand before his love.
She slowly looked up to gaze at him quietly, her honey-amber eyes expressing all he needed to know. He turned to lope quietly into the woods, with her following just as silently after him.
The two orcs looked on from one of Mordor's peaks. They had spotted the couple shortly before they had passed the Poros River. For even though the hideous creatures were quite high, the large forms of the two wolves made them easy to spot from a distance.
"Never seen a wolf that large before!" squeaked one orc. Between the two he was by far the most disturbing to gaze upon. His nose was horribly crooked and he had a hunched back with odd protrusions sticking out of it. He only wore a large coat to cover his upper body, because he had ripped any article of clothing that he had tried to pull over his torso.
"They look larger than wargs..." muttered the second. While still a disgusting creature to behold, this orc did not have the disfigured back of his partner. His beady eyes were zeroed in solely on the black wolf.
"Should we tell King Azog?" the first one asked, tearing his eyes away to look excitedly at his compatriot. After scaring off the population in Ithilien, the orcs and goblins had found little to satiate their blood-lust. The wildlife on their side of the river Anduin had fled, leaving only the occasional insect.
"Yes...this will certainly interest him." the second responded with a grotesque grin, watching the two moving figures before turning away and heading down from where they had come. The bulkier orc followed after, all the while thinking of how such flesh would taste on his tongue.
They stayed on the side of Mordor, following the path with the mountains ever present to their right. At one point, Erebyss ended up feeding their daughters on an empty stomach. This was because Erebyss and Darbin gave each other their own separate days of rest. This started at the end of the first day, after they haad left the forest of Ithilien far behind them. Erebyss had slept for mostly all of the second day, not even waking to her daughters nursing against her stomach as she continued to sleep. While she slept, Darbin watched over his two girls. But when he had tried to wake Erebyss and ask her to watch the pups so that he may hunt, she all but snarled that he dare not leave her alone with the pups in a place that made them so disquieted. He relented and continued to keep guard as his love slept.
When Erebyss had opened her eyes to a new morning, she offered to try and find food for them to eat before he slept. Having a feeling she would not be able to find prey nearby, she crossed the river a short distance to the left of their spot.
She returned a half hour later with the necks of two stags in her jaws.
"Erebyss, come look." Darbin called, his voice gentle and his gaze remaining on his two pups.
She padded over to him after setting down the deer, "What is it?" she asked, looking down at the wolflings. Her breath hitched, however, when one of her daughters lifted her head to look blearily up at her. They were still a bit cloudy, but were distinctly a dark green.
"We've been travelling so hard that we missed their eyes opening..." she whispered, her tone full of disappointment.
"But we are seeing them now..look." Darbin said comfortingly before lifting his neck a bit straighter, letting out a soft chuff. The other she-pup looked up at the sound, and Erebyss found herself gaping at her older daughter's sharp, baby blue eyes. Her gaze did not seem to hold the fogginess of her younger sister, but held the wide-eyed look of any baby whose eyes were getting stronger.
"So beautiful..." she murmured, lowering her neck to gently nose the little one's cheek before turning to gently lick her other daughter's cheek.
Darbin said nothing for a short time as he watched Erebyss interact with their pups. Their pups...the thought certainly warmed his heart, his eyes soft and full of love. But remembering the time constraint they had for this journey, he reluctantly got to his paws and turned away to focus on eating his stag. After doing so he curled up near the remaining stag and fell into a deep sleep.
Erebyss ate her share, fed her daughters, and kept watch while Darbin slept. When Darbin awoke, he lifted his head to be met with a golden-brown wolf sound asleep beside him. He could not fault her for sleeping, seeing as the pups were also fast asleep against her stomach; her tail partially covering their small forms. He gave them a small smile before it disappeared, his head swiveling left and right to be sure they were safe. The eerie sense of being watched was still there, but it felt no different than it had the previous day.
"Erebyss..Erebyss." he said softly, nudging her awake.
She lifted her head sharply, looking around with oddly alert eyes before they rested on a pair of silver orbs watching her with quiet amusement. She narrowed her eyes at him before growling, "You swaddle the pups."
She gently nosed the little wolflings awake and nursed them before slowly getting to her paws. "I will be back." she assured him, turning away to head across the great river.
He gave a deep chuckle at his love's feisty attitude, before opening his eyes to be met with two wide-eyed gazes. He blinked, shocked still at the intensity in those tiny eyes. Slowly he changed into his human form, their eyes never widening or lessening.
"You two are too cute." he mumbled with a smile tugging at his lips as he opened the pack hanging loosely over his chest.
The front packs he and Erebyss wore were made of deer hides. And the toggle that helped close the lip of the pack was the small, pointed end of a deer tine. The point, however, was blunted so that the wearer would not cut their finger when opening the pack.
Once a wolf skin-changer reaches maturity, they were given a front pack. They would go to the hide-maker, have their wolf form and human form measured, and would often receive the finished product the following week. The pack itself was always made large enough to cover the skin-changer's chest, with enough room to put clothes and any other necessities. The straps were also made adjustable for those who preferred to use it in human form, but this feature was rarely used. The front pack was intended mainly for the skin-changer's wolf form.
Darbin's front pack was the largest of its make, as the ForestKin's leather-maker had told him when he had presented the carrying rucksack to the large black wolf. And this was why he held not only a change of clothes, but the twins' leather wraps. And seeing as he would be a wolf again soon, he did not bother to put on his change of clothes. Instead he remained in the nude, swaddling both daughters before shifting into his wolf form.
Erebyss returned shortly after he finished, with one deer this time. She took her share of the meal before he did, both still sticking to pack hierarchy. When Darbin finished, they found there was still a bit of meat on the carcass. They didn't think too much of it as they left at a walk, not realizing how there were no carrion birds squawking their arrival.
The land was still eerily silent. And if they had returned to their spot hours later, they would have found the carcasses gone.
The orcs did not descend upon Erebyss and Darbin until after they passed Minas Tirith.
The couple was running at a steady pace and continued to follow the Harad road, staying on the left side.
They did not see or scent the orcs till it was too late.
"Darbin! Do you smell-" she called, her voice breaking off into a muffled yelp as a dark arrow embedded itself into her right shoulder. The arrow had been shot from behind. And while the angle prevented a pierced lung, the pain coming from all the torn muscles in her shoulder was nearly blinding.
Darbin slowed to a stop and turned to look at his love with concern in his eyes before they flashed into the woods, spotting a band of orcs heading straight for them. His eyes widened, before the rest of his face contorted into an ugly snarl.
"Here...take her." Erebyss growled, stopping any thoughts Darbin had of charging the orcs head-on. He looked down at her to see the grimness and fury of a protective mother in her gray-blue eyes.
"You have to protect them...I can't carry either of them if we try and outrun them." she sighed, answering the silent question in his steely gaze. Another arrow zoomed by, grazing her right hindquarter.
"Run." she snarled, the tone in her voice expressing finality and authority. Under different circumstances, he would have ignored her order and killed each of the hulking creatures for her. But they had two wolflings to consider, and he could not simply hide them now when they have already been seen by the enemy.
She turned, her angry features directed at the orcs as they continued to close the distance. She could see one of them was readying another arrow and her eyes narrowed.
"I love you Erebyss.." came the broken and uncertain voice of Darbin, gazing at her with both love and distress. Her eyes widened slightly, saying nothing as she heard his pawsteps quickly receding. Her eyes refocused and she snarled, her sharp fangs making themselves known to the ugly humanoids. She had no time to think about her impending death. And with that she leaped forward, darting to avoid the next arrow that was launched at her.
She could not help the wince and heavy falter in her step as she put weight on her right leg. Regaining her footing and ridding her mind of the pain, she ran forward again. The distance quickly deteriorated between the skin-changer and the orc pack, and the orcs were quickly realizing how large this golden wolf really was. Being nearly 8'0 feet at the shoulders, she easily towered over all of them. Closing the distance between herself and the first orc, she lunged forward, staying low to the ground in order to sink her fangs into its skull. With a jerk of her neck the head was ripped off the orc's body, blood squirting and then oozing as the body fell to the ground. Fortunately, this orc had been the archer and it looked to her that he was the only archer of this contingent.
With the practiced movements of a skilled fighter, Erebyss dispatched each orc. She decapitated, crushed skulls and bodies with her jaws, and slammed their bodies against trees. Erebyss was not, however, without wounds. Her left side had a diagonal slash from a scimitar that was beginning to bleed more heavily now that she had a chance to breathe. She glanced down at the fang marks of one of the orcs that had bit her right hind leg. She had not noticed till now since she had been more focused on slamming an orc against a tree at the time.
She then looked toward the direction where Darbin had run off to. Feeling that she should let him know she was alive, she let loose a powerful, authoritative howl.
When she finished, she gave an agonized smile.
She began to follow the road once more at a limping gait before another howl hit her ears, responding to her. She slowed to a stop, an involuntary shudder running through her. That was no ordinary wolf howl, something was off about the notes she heard in that voice. She slowly lifted her head up to the mountains, her eyes widening in horror at the sight of a group of wargs with riders sitting on some of them. Erebyss ran as soon as she saw them beginning to descend the mountain.
Handling humanoid creatures was one thing, but taking out a pack of wolf-like animals who were capable of being ridden was a whole other issue. Especially considering the state she was in now, she did not feel confident facing off against a pack of animals that could gang up on her.
She didn't dare look back and ran as hard as she could, her pace gradually increasing as miles began to fly past her. Fortunately, her current fear and renewed adrenaline helped reduce the pain in her shoulder to only a sharp twinge whenever she put weight on it.
Making sure nobody was coming up on the road, she ran over it and onto the side closest to the mountains. Up ahead were the Dead Marshes. And seeing how muddy, water-logged, and misty it was, Erebyss knew she would be bogged down and lose her life in the unforgiving-looking environment.
Once she was in Dagorlad, she let her left eye flicker to the corner to look behind her.
With the land barren of all large foliage, she was able to at least glance back without worrying about running into something. But the moment she looked back she really wished she hadn't.
This was because even at a flat-out run, the beasts were still visible and looked to be slowly gaining. A whimper escaped her throat, but she refused to lessen her pace. Doing so would make her adrenaline disappear, and would leave her exhausted and ready to be picked off by the foul-looking animals.
She looked forward again and nearly tripped over herself in shock. For a few miles ahead of her, she was able to make out the loping black form of Darbin. But her heart began to clench as she saw two smaller shapes following steadily after him.
With only one thought in mind, the skin-changer lifted her head slightly and let loose a howl that signaled her authority and a challenge. Two of the wargs behind her let loose their own howls in response, but Erebyss ignored them.
Realizing that the two wargs ahead were ignoring her call, she closed her eyes. And with a surge of burning muscle and desperation, she ran even faster. Fortunately, Darbin looked like he was keeping a steady pace ahead of the two wargs. But when she was nearly a mile away from them, she let loose another howl; louder, fiercer, and more powerful than before.
This time one of the wargs slowed to a stop, slowly turning around to face Erebyss. Its pelt looked to be a sickly white, and as Erebyss drew closer, she realized that this creature was not a wolf. Its face was far too contorted, but its beady eyes were watching her with a sharpness that surprised the skin-changer.
The warg lifted its head and answered Erebyss' challenge with a howl of its own before beginning to run toward her.
Erebyss was able to gauge the beast's Alpha status based on what was communicated in the howl. The only relief she felt came from seeing the other warg abandon the chase of the massive black wolf to follow after its leader.
Drawing closer, she also took note of the orc riding on the warg's back. The humanoid looked confident, not at all bothered that his mount seemed to be taking charge at the moment. In fact, he looked as if he was preparing to attack her with a mace. It was a weapon she had never seen before, but the bulk and sharpness of the object instilled momentary panic all the same.
Fortunately, the warg leaped before she could strategize. The creature seemed to have gauged her height and decided to launch herself at Erebyss' jugular.
The skin-changer snarled as she lowered herself enough to be beneath the leaping white warg before lunging up, her forehead smashing against the canine's throat and her left shoulder slamming into its chest.
With a strangled cry that made Erebyss cringe, the warg flew back, the rider leaping off just before the beast crashed to the ground. The rider did not seem to bothered by the unseating, his mace held firmly in his hand and his eyes glittering with ill intent. Erebyss' eyes narrowed when he spoke. She was unable to understand him, but his tone sounded curious. Sadistically curious. Erebyss growled loudly as he drew closer, her focus more on the rider and the recovering white warg than the ones who had been following her.
She looked to the right, and spotting the approaching warg that had been chasing Darbin. She gave a hoarse bark before darting toward the beast. With the quickness of a fish, she lashed out and locked her jaws over the warg's broad muzzle. Her proportionately large body was what primarily helped her maintain her grip as her neck surged forward, smashing the warg's face into the ground. With no rider and significantly shorter fur than a wolf skin-changer, killing it off after stunning the beast was easier than expected.
Erebyss, however, had no time to react when the white warg latched onto her left hind leg. She released a loud yelp as those powerful warg jaws easily crushed the bones in her leg, locking her in place. Without much thought, her body twisted madly in order to try and snap at her captor.
Within those few seconds, however, Erebyss found herself jerking back with a cry from the arrow that had just lodged itself into the side of her neck. Two more arrows followed, one piercing her chest and the other puncturing the side of her throat.
With her adrenaline dying down and the pain increasing tenfold, Erebyss was able to think clearly and see that these moments were her last. Drawing up all the pain, love, and urgency in her heart, the Alpha female released her final howl to Darbin. That howl held everything she would have said to him as a final goodbye, and she knew he would be able to understand what she was trying to convey.
Since skin-changer howls had a far range, Darbin had heard it. And he had stopped short, his heart freezing at the implications he heard in that howl.
He had never given too much thought concerning the possibility of one or both of them dying in unknown land. He knew Erebyss hadn't either, they had both been too concerned with finding a place safe enough for their young. His heart, however, was growing weaker with the understanding that he would have to try and live without Erebyss. Someone he had grown to love, someone who had loved him, and someone who had given him offspring who he hoped would grow to be as beautiful and strong-willed as their mother.
Without noticing it, a tear strayed out of his eye to make a thick, wet track onto his cheek fur. The twins had heard the howl as well and let out loud whimpers. The distressed notes in their mother's voice had made them unhappy and they began to whimper and whine. He glanced down at the two, his now stormy-gray eyes unreadable before staring off into the distance once more.
A short while later he finally turned away, knowing that he had to keep going till he was far away from the scene. Thankfully, by the time the howl had sounded, he was already out of The Brown Lands and was at the edge of Mirkwood.
He turned and began to run once more, his mind numb at the thought of Erebyss' death. His heart, however, ached in a way that could never be properly described.
The skin-changer ran on and on, stopping only to use the dirt around him. The pups whined uncomfortably in the wraps, and eventually Darbin stopped to let them both crawl and waddle around on their thick legs. But it wasn't long before Darbin was re-wrapping both girls and on his way, unable to handle sitting still any longer.
Darbin finally caught sight of the Carrock the next afternoon. It was almost sunset, and the sunlight was hitting the jutting rock in such a way that it looked to be outlined in light.
Considering this a sign, Darbin ran faster. He knew the Carrock would be where he would leave the pups, it had to be. By the time he reached the bottom of the Carrock, it was nightfall.
Spotting the steps that led to the top of the stony outcrop, Darbin let out a sigh of relief as he began to climb them. Seeing the steps assured him that somebody frequented this place, and it was likely that someone would surely come across and help these pups. The size of the steps also assured him that the humanoid creatures were not the builders of the stone path.
Once he reached the top, he was able to distinguish a scent that was odd but also familiar. He snuffed the air once more after he set the pups down. His eyes widened when he recognized the skin-changer scent and gave a small smile. His exhaustion prevented him analyzing the scent further. He returned to his human form in order to unwrap the pups. He placed the leather cloths inside his front pack. Once done, he returned to his wolf form and settled down beside his two daughters.
Knowing that his pups would be safe and that the journey was complete, he allowed himself to think.
But thinking took the smile off his face, took away his relaxation and replaced it with a shuddering pain. He lowered his head, closed his eyes, and clenched his teeth.
How could he return to the pack without their Alpha? How could he return only to tell them she was dead. He would have to explain what they had actually done, and it would mean Deskin could be in danger as well. Especially with Iravis as the current Alpha. And what would her parents say? Would they blame him? It was highly possible that he could be driven out if he returned to the pack. Or he could challenge Iravis and win, becoming the pack's new Alpha. But he had a feeling many would not take that too well, and thought didn't encourage him. He did not want to be Alpha if Erebyss could not lead beside him.
And it was the thought of his golden she-wolf that finally brought him to tears. His heavy black ruff shook as he mourned silently. "Why did you die? Why did you leave?" he whispered brokenly.
"You had a pack to lead, parents who loved you, pups who needed you to see this journey through..." he growled softly, his claws scraping against the rock.
"And I still need you..." he spoke, his voice more clear this time but no less broken.
A pair of paws pushed against his nose, and he opened his silver-gray eyes to be met with baby blues. His eyes widened slowly, watching the the pure white pup stare up at him inquisitively. He let his eyes travel down to where the other pup had fallen over his right paw, having tried and failed to climb over it to the other side. And now his little daughter was also staring up at him, her dark green eyes now as clear as her sister's. What struck him, however, was the golden pelt that she wore as her wolf skin. He had never truly thought about it during their travels, but he knew now that she would grow to look as beautiful as her mother. They both would.
A few more tears streaked down his face with the realization that these two skin-changers were their legacy. He gave a shaky smile, lowering his broad black head so that the white one's paws now rested against the side of his face. He gently rubbed his wet cheek against his other daughter's body, releasing a tearful smile at her responding keen. "I love you both so much." he said, nearly choking on his saddened tears.
He had to leave soon. He could not stay and impede on the territory of another skin-changer. And he knew he could not raise the pups on in his own in a land he knew nothing of.
Darbin slowly got to his paws, taking in the view that he Carrock provided. He took a deep breathed and let loose a howl that could be heard from as far as Mirkwood.
The twins began to whimper and whine when he finished, confused by how the voice seemed to be a call for help.
"I will always love both of you, no matter what. I pray you stay safe and that the stars guide you to your destinies." he whispered, looking down at them with a sad smile. He lowered his neck to lick their foreheads and nuzzle their cheeks one last time.
After saying his goodbyes, he slowly turned away and disappeared down the side of the Carrock where the steps were. Once he reached solid ground, he took off at a run. He was heading back to The Brown Lands, hoping to find a body he could properly bury. Darbin hoped that the orcs had left her body there, for it was the only cause he could think of fulfilling now. And if she was not there, then he would surely track down and behead the orcs and wargs that had taken her life.
Unfortunately, this is where the story of the wolf man and wolf woman ends. But now that the first story had been told, we can move onto the story of the bear man and his wolf children.
And this story will begin with the Gray Wizard, whom many are quite familiar with, reaching the top of the Carrock to be met with the crawling and whining forms of the two pups our wolf man had to leave behind.
You know, in the end I am not completely satisfied with this chapter. I know I'm acting like every other writer who posts a new chapter, but I feel like it could have been written better... Eh. I will probably revise this chapter at some point...but what do you all think?! I admit to having a 'feels' moment when writing Darbin at the end.
And I decided to leave Darbin's fate unknown...for reasons I can't really think about at the moment. XD Seriously brain dead now.
I know I said in the previous chapter that Gandalf, Radagast, and Beorn would make their appearances in this chapter, but that didn't seem to work out. I don't think Erebyss and Darbin wanted the second story to officially begin in this chapter... Oh well! Rest assured, all three will be in the next chapter.
Here is a short list of songs I listened to while writing this chapter. And most, if not all, are instrumental. One Family - Tarzan Soundtrack, The Long Road Back - Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron Soundtrack, They're All Gone - Dinosaur Soundtrack, Neera Rescues the Orphans - Dinosaur Soundtrack, To Die For (Uncut) - Lion King Soundtrack, Raptors/Stand Together - Dinosaur.
I will try to get Chapter 3 up in a more timely matter. That is my ultimate goal. :)
I shall leave you all now to eat some of those addicting Cutie oranges. Sooo good. :D