Author's note: Ok, two weeks without an update. I'm sorry, but homeschooling kinda takes priority, and my idea fountain ran a little dry for a while. Anyway, This chapter is longer than the first three chapters put together. In other words, should be well worth the two weeks update-less. Hope I didn't bungle it up horribly.
Beneath The Rose
This isn't what I signed up for!
In war, truth is the first casualty. ~Aeschylus
Adam's contingent fanned out through the thick underbrush shielding the clearing where the Southern Pack made their homes. Adam watched as the wolves under his command tensed up and froze every time a squirrel skipped across a branch overhead, or a cricket chirped in the darkness. Each fallen tree the encountered, they took great pains to go around, carefully checking for obscured pits that would have been unseen by any who stepped over the tree. It amazed Adam that they never found any such traps or tricks. How confident was the Southern Pack, that they didn't even employ basic methods of protection? How arrogant?
Suddenly, Michael was at his side. Adam was so wrapped up in watching for any signs of danger, he nearly leaped out of his pelt. Michael simply rolled his eyes.
"You know what to do. Have them spread out, encircle the clearing. Then, and only then, will we strike." Michael whispered in his ear. Adam nodded, not looking at his brother. Michael looked at him for a moment, then headed off into the brush. Adam took a moment to slow his breathing, to calm down. He had to stay calm, keep from getting to excited, or he would risk blowing their cover. But part of him couldn't help but feel giddy. All those months of planning, reconnaissance, battle practice...all of it was coming to fruition.
Adam took up position under a bush, carefully watching the wolves in the clearing. He had heard the stories of the monsters that were the Southern Pack. Savages, Cain had called them. Vicious, brutal beasts, much like the Western and Eastern packs. And now, sitting here, watching them, Adam saw that they weren't too unlike the Northern pack. He watched them as they laughed, and shared stories, and play-fought. Watching them, he didn't feel the disgust and contempt that Cain and the other alphas had inspired in him before, but a sense of peace and serenity. He noticed some of his contingent nearby, waiting in the brush, and saw their eyes filled with contempt, and unbridled, savage rage.
It made him wonder if he was wrong, or if they were.
The thought made him uncomfortable, and so he discarded it. He turned back to watch the Southern Pack. He wished he could sit there for the remainder of his natural life, watching them. Several pups played among the gathering, marked only by their size, and no freer in spirit than the adults they accompanied. So innocent, they seemed, so full of life and wishfulness, and obviously bonded to each other by friendship no less profound than that of the Northern Pack. It made him dimly wonder, if Cain had been wrong about the South, could he be wrong about the West and the East?
Suddenly, the sight that Adam found himself treasuring was destroyed by the sight of three scores of Northern wolves tore out of the brush from all sides, and were upon the southern pack within moments. Adam screamed in protest as he helplessly watched the gruesome scene unfold in front of him. The shouts, however, sounded like just another war cry to the attackers, who continued to slaughter their cornered prey.
He watched, frozen in place, as his friends and companions tore into the Southern yearlings, children, and elderly wolves first, staining the ground of the clearing with their blood. He watched as they tore into the pack's leader with the same amount of casualty that Adam had when he took down a caribou or elk. He saw his brothers, Michael, Gabriel, And Enoch, as they savagely murdered innocent pups. He saw their eyes, and the blank emptiness that spoke of soulless, brutal cruelty.
Finding his ability to move once more, Adam charged into the fray, desperately seeking a way to end the nightmare before it was too late. With a sense of dawning horror, he realized that there was nothing he could do. There was no way to save them. His horror, turned to outrage, turned to fury, and struck out at the closest thing to him, a young wolf presumably from the Southern Pack, who had been blindly running from the attackers.
It was in that moment, that Adam became as his fellows. He did the unforgivable, in stealing the life from, not only another wolf's eyes, but the eyes of a child. Adam stared disbelievingly at the corpse, blood pouring into the ground from where the juvenile's throat had once been. Grief, self-loathing, horror, rage, and thousand other emotions raged within him, rendering him inert, both physically and mentally.
It was over within minutes, but to Adam, it seemed like a lifetime. The survivors were rounded up, and herded into one of the dens. The dead of both sides were left forgotten. For among the Northern Pack, if you were too weak to live, you were too weak to be remembered. Adam was dimly aware of his brother, but what he said, that was painfully clear.
"I'm proud of you, Adam. You have finally learned what it means to be a warrior of the North!" Michael said. Adam smiled bitterly at that. He certainly had learned what it meant: to be the monster his father had described. To be the beast. The savage. The nightmare.
" We'll send a messenger to Father, inform him of our success. You will be honored greatly, I'm sure." Michael said. Adam felt his bile rise, and he tuned out then and there. Honor? There was no honor in what he had done. He suddenly wondered what he had been serving, for what he had done to have deserved praise.
"And soon, we shall march in all our glory on the Eastern and Western packs!" , He heard Michael say, his voice full of triumph. Adam sat there, stunned. He couldn't allow this nightmare to happen again. He refused it as a possibility.
This will never happen again, Adam thought. Not now, not ever.
Candu crouched, obscured by the line of bushed outside of the eastern Den. Beside him, sat his companions Duncan and Reese, both looking eager to do what they came here to do, and leave. Candu continued to watch the front of the den for a moment, and certain that no one could hear them, turned to his partners-in-crime.
"Ok, here's the plan," Candu started, pausing when he thought he had heard something. After assuring it was nothing, he continued. " Duncan, you're gonna do that...that...um...what...what'd you call it again? Ventiligism?"
"Ventriloquism?" Duncan said, obviously peeved. Candu simply rolled his eyes and waved his paw dismissively.
"Right, you're gonna do that, lure them away from the caribou. Keep them looking." Candu said. "Reese, you and I are gonna drag it off, before they come back. Hopefully, they'll be looking in all the wrong places, and by the time they catch on, if ever, we'll be back at the den."
Candu looked at both of them, making sure they both understood. Getting the affirmation that he was looking for, he nodded to Duncan, who slinked off into the woods while he and Reese sunk to the ground beneath the bushes. It wasn't long before they heard an anguished howl emanate from the woods, catching the notice of the wolves lounging outside of the den. Before anyone could blink, they were off and running towards where the howl was coming from. The moment the three Eastern wolves were out of sight, Candu and Reese bolted out of the bushes, and grabbed hold of the caribou, dragging it off into the woods, taking an indirect way to the Western Den.
Duncan rushed through the woods, desperately attempting to avoid being caught. He would pause occasionally, throwing his voice to fool those who searched for him. Suddenly, there was a rustling in the forest. Panicking, Duncan dove beneath a pile of stones, hoping is granite-grey fur would hide him. As a group of Eastern wolves passed by, on of their number paused. Duncan's breath caught in his throat, and his heart pounded in his chest, so loud, surely the Eastern wolves could hear it. He prepared to bolt, but the wolf simply shrugged and went on his way.
Duncan let out a shakey breath, and stood up from the rubble. He made his way down the hill slowly, and bolted the moment he reached the base. This would truly be a story for the next Howl...
The mid-day sun beat down on the western den as Humphrey sat just inside the shade of the den, as he watched Candu and his friends, Duncan and Reese, drag a Caribou to the base of the hill, and smiled as the rest of the pack crowded around them, tearing off chunks of venison, and congratulating the trio. Humphrey stepped out of the den, wincing as the hot ground burned his feet, and went down to congratulate them on their successful hunt.
"Well done guys, well done!" Humphrey said. The caribou was indeed large. Bringing down something of this size would have truly been a trial for only three wolves.
"Aw, it wasn't nothin! Just tryin' to keep the pack fed , is all." Candu replied, with a smug grin that said, yeah, It was pretty awesome, wasn't it?. Then, something about the Caribou caught his eye.
"It's already bled out. You guys must have been way out there for it to have done that by now." Humphrey observed. They would have had to have been far into the eastern side of the territory for the caribou's blood to congeal by the time they brought it back. But the question still begged: why would they head that far out? Most of the caribou were in the western territory.
"We were out by the train tracks." Candu replied stiffly. Humphrey pursed his lips and nodded. He saw nothing to be gained by arguing with Candu, so he didn't bother with it. He just let it lie.
"Well, one way or another, the pack gets to eat tonight, all thanks to you three. Good job." Humphrey said. The trio of wolves shared a satisfied glance, making Humphrey all the more curious as to what had truly happened. The whole thing, especially the claim to be hunting down by the train tracks, seemd a little odd. But, still, food was food, and he decided that, for now, he wouldn't question it, instead taking a piece of caribou and finding a place to eat in peace.
He stared out into the forest as he chewed. Kate would be somwhere along the southern border right about now, making sure no other wolves were sneaking across. The most common perpetrators were Southern renegades, though wolves from outside Jasper travelling abroad weren't that unusual either. And while they were usually peaceful, well-meaning drifters, occasionally one would cop an attitude, and refuse an escort across the territory, proceeding to start a fight. This was the exact sort of thing that caused Humphrey no end of worry when Kate went on a border patrol.
A rustling in the bushes surrounding the clearing drew Humphrey out of his thoughts. He glanced over as a group of five Eastern wolves, among their number Claw and Scar, entered the clearing, looking angrier than a bee someone had decided to try and swat. Candu's ears went back and he bared his teeth in a snarl. Reese and Duncan did the same, Humphrey noted. The wolves casually ignored them, heading straight for Humphrey, instead.
This can't be good..., Humphrey thought. He stood, licking the caribou blood from his muzzle, and walked down the slope to greet the wolves.
"Hey, what can I do for you guys?" Humphrey asked jovially. The leader of the group, a grizzled wolf that was bigger than most, narrowed his eyes.
"You can answer a question for me, that's what you can do." He said, his tone cold. Humphrey pursed his lips. He didn't like the other wolf's tone, but he wasn't about to complain. That would just make things worse. Instead, he motioned for the other wolf to continue.
"Shoot." Humphrey said, watching his tone. This guy looked like he was just looking for a fight.
"Yeah, you can tell me where exactly you and your pack of jackals get off stealing our kill!" He snapped. Now it was Humphrey's turn to snarl. He was usually very even-keeled, but accusing his pack of theft? That he would not tolerate. He quickly regained his posure, attempting to maintain a level head, if only for diplomacy's sake.
"That is a ridiculous statement. Why would you suspect us? It could've easily been a group of Southern wolves." Humphrey said. The other wolf simply rolled his eyes.
"Why shouldn't we suspect you? All you Western dogs are thieves! thieves and liars!" The leader shouted, causing the western wolves in the clearing to mutter and shift restlessly.
" Hey, now, we haven't done anything to you. We're on the same side, remember? Garth marrying Lilly? The official agreement?" Humphrey prodded, trying to calm the other wolf down. However, the group's leader refused to listen to reason.
"I don't recall that agreement ever including you having the right to steal our kil!" He snarled. Humphrey desperately tried to think of a way to resolve the situation, some kind of proof, anything... and suddenly, it hit him. The blood, the way Candu answered his questions... Humphrey turned to Candu, who stood there defiantly.
"There something you forgot to mention to me?" Humphrey asked in a tone that sounded as though he were scolding a child. Duncan and Reese looked at him in a way that said shut up, shut up, shut up!
" Yeah, I took their kill. We've been sharing what we catch with them, and the way I see it, it's about time they returned the favor!" Candu snarled, as his friends nervously attempted to sneak back into the crowd, only to be stopped by the other wolves. Duncan and Reese shared a glance, knowing that they had no where to hide this time. Humphrey looked at each of them, dumbstruck.
" I can't believe you three! Do you want a civil war? Is that what you're looking for?" Humphrey said, furious. As if the relations between the two territories weren't strained enough...
"No, I don't want that, but I'm not going to just sit here and let the the pack go hungry because we're too busy playing humanitarian for someone else!" Candu said. Humphrey sighed exasperatedly. The fifth time he had to drive this point home today.
"Ok, what part of this don't you guys get? WE, still with me? ARE. A. PACK. Did you get that, or do I need to go slower?" Humphrey said. This was starting to become a little asinine to him. "We aren't "giving away" to another pack, Candu, We're looking out for our own!"
"Those Eastern mongrels are not our own!" Candu snapped. Suddenly, the leader of the group of Eastern wolves spoke up.
"Look, at this point, I don't care what you think of me, or the rest of us. I just want to know what you're gonna do to rectify this." He said, slightly exasperated with the conversation as a whole. Candu scowled.
"I ain't." He replied simply. The leader's ears went back.
"Oh, I do believe you are." The other wolf reaffirmed.
"I'd like to see you make me" Candu retorted defiantly. The other wolf glared at him.
"Keep it up, and I will." He said, his voice taking on a hard quality.
" Candu, you're gonna fix this. You made this mess, you're gonna help clean it up." Humphrey said.
"I'd suggest you listen to him" The eastern wolf said. Candu growled and leaped at the other wolf, inciting the rest of the group of eastern wolves to action. A handful of Western wolves, Duncan and Reese included, leaped into the fray, trying to either assist Candu, or drag him out alive. Humphrey tried to call them off, to get them to listen, but they wouldn't.
Candu ducked to the left as the larger, and probably angrier, Eastern wolf tried to rush him. As the brute passed, he turned, and snapped at his ankle, trying to ignore the taste of blood as he severed a tendon in the other wolf's leg. The othe wolf yelped in pain, and turned as quickly as he could, desperately trying to grab hold of Candu, but the smaller, lighter Western wolf was too fast. Candu dove under his bite, and lunged for the Estern wolf's throat, ripping it open in a spray of blood. The eastern wolf's eyes widened as he fell to the ground, dying. Two minutes later, he was dead.
When the dust cleared minutes later, all who had participated in the scuffle were bruised, bleeding, sporting minor injuries, at the very least. Others had not been so fortunate. Among them was Reese, who leaned against a stone, his stomach torn and bloody. His sight was beginning to blur, and it was hard to focus.
Humphrey spotted the injured wolf, and noticing the bloody patch of ground beneath him, he rushed over. He took a moment to look over Reese's wounds, and grimaced.
" Hutch, Duncan, get him to the den. Salty, go find Eve. Now!" Humphrey barked. Hutch and Duncan nodded, and began carefully transporting their wounded pack member to the main den, and Salty was off and running by the time Humphrey had said "now". Nodding with satisfaction, he turned to the group of Eastern wolves, who were transfixed by the corpse of their fallen comrade.
"You five! Go home! Go on, scram!" Humphrey growled. The five wolves, not wanting to endure further losses, quickly and quietly left the clearing, much to Humphrey's relief. This was going to go over really well with Garth. Humphrey felt a cold knot of dread form in the pit of his stomach. This could very well push the pack into a full out civil war. One that would leave both sides crippled. All because of Candu's stupid revenge tactic.
Suddenly reminded of the perpetrator of it all, Humphrey turned to see Candu trying to slink off to his den. A group of wolves blocked him off, forcing him to endure his leader's wrath.
"Well, Candu, I hope you're happy. Your best friend is fatally wounded, the only healer we have is a good fifteen minutes away, we may not be able to save him, and in the space of one day, you've managed to all but split the back!" Humphrey said, a sardonic tone in his voice. Normally, he was a very nice, even-keeled guy, but this was a little much, even for him.
"If you're expecting me to-" Candu started, but Humphrey cut him off.
"Save it, I already know what I'm going to do. You are hereby stripped of your rank as an Alpha." Humphrey said. Candu's ears went back, and his head down.
Ten minutes later, Eve arrived on the scene. She looked around, and turned to Humphrey, and gave him a sweet smile.
"Humphrey, dear, what the hell happened here? And better yet, why did you let it get out of hand?" Eve asked politely. Humphrey's ears laid back, and he gulped.
"There was nothing I could do. They wouldn't listen to me, and they initiated the fight faster than I could react." Humphrey said, trying, nay, fighting to keep his voice from wavering. He had a firm belief that Eve applied to other wolves what wolves applied to prey: strike at the first sign of fear. Eve nodded, in an understanding way.
"Well, just be sure it doesn't happen again, or I'll have to remove your internal organs through your anus, and put someone more qualified in power. Understood?" Eve said, in a still-sweet tone. Humphrey shuddered, and nodded. Eve smiled sweetly.
"Now, where is your friend, Reese?" She asked, as if the previous, horrifying, exchange never happened. It amazed Humphrey , how she could do that.
"In the den. Here, let me show you," Humphrey offered. Eve waved him off, however.
"I"ll look at him, don't worry. I haven't been gone long enough to forget my way around!" Eve assured Humphrey. Humphrey simply smiled and nodded. When she was in the den, he let out a sigh of relief. The less time he spent with his mother-in-law, the better. Humphrey sat down, trying to sort out his next move. He'd have to talk to Garth, that much was for certain. He didn't want to drag it out either, because it would look as if he was deliberately avoid him, and Garth would believe something shady was going on, and proceed to jump to conclusions. But he couldn't leave in good conscience with Reese the way he was. Dealing with an outraged Garth or no, the wolves under his leadership came first.
Some time later, Eve emerged from the den. The look on her face filled Humphrey with apprehension. Still, maybe the news would be that bad?
"How's Reese?" Humphrey asked, afraid of what the answer might be.
"There wasn't much I could do, besides make him a little more comfortable. He'll be dead within the hour, Humphrey," Eve said, her tone melancholy. "If you have anything to say to him, now would be the time."
Humphrey felt his stomach churn as he walked toward the den. Reese was his friend, yes, but he'd had to literally swallow his bile when examining his wounds. The sight of blood, at least that of another wolf, made him very squeamish. But, still, Reese was his friend, and he'd be damned if he allowed him to die alone. So, swallowing his bile (again), he entered the den, his nose twitching as the smell of drying blood. He saw Reese there, lying prone against the wall of the den, the ground around him an ugly mixture of orange and red. He smiled reassuringly when Reese glanced at him, but inside, Humphrey felt a mixture of sorrow and regret. He felt sorrow for his friends eminent, inevitable death, and he felt regret that he hadn't handled the situation differently, that his inability to defuse the situation before it got out of hand , had been what killed his friend. Reese's shallow breathing snapped Humphrey back out of his thoughts. Shaking away his negative thoughts, he sat down beside Reese.
"Hey, man, how 'ya doin'?" Humphrey said, desperately trying to keep his tone jovial, not only for Reese's sake, but his own. He wanted to deny that this was happening, to will it into sheer fiction. Reese saw through his masquerade, however.
"Please, don't mince words with me, Humphrey. I know I'm gonna die." Reese said softly. Humphrey gave him a long look, trying to decide as to whether or not let the sham fall to the wayside. He, as most in his situation would, chose to deny.
"You're real nutty, you know that? You're gonna be just fi-" Humphrey began, but a weak and weary Reese cut him off.
"Don't waste my time, Humphrey. I need you to listen to me." he said. Humphrey, his wishful illusion now shattered once and for all, nodded solemnly.
"Everything I've done, especially these stunts with Candu, has been because I love this pack, and everything it stands for. The Merging* made me terrified that, because of the mixing of customs and traditions, and the sudden equality of Alphas and Omegas, this pack would become something utterly different than what it had always been, utterly different from the pack that I know and love. You must understand, everything I've done, has been not to destroy the pack, but to preserve it." Reese said, laying back to catch his breath. Humphrey took note of the moss and damp clay that Eve had used to try and stem the blood. It hadn't worked to well, but it had kept Reese alive long past his expectency. Frightening though she was, Eve was very effective at what she knew.
" I understand, Reese, I understand completely. But you have to understand, I just want to keep the peace." Humphrey said, keeping his voice calm. This wasn't what he had expected. Not at all.
"Thank you, Humphrey. Candu's wrong about you. Now, there's something I need you to do." Reese said, his voice becoming a tad bit weaker, his breathing coming a little weaker.
" Anything, old friend. You name it." Humphrey said, wanting his friend to die happy.
" Keep the pack together. Don't let them fall apart. They need a leader, Humphrey. You need to be that leader." Reese said, his face taking a sleepy, weak look. Humphrey pursed his lips.
"I'll do it. I won't let you down, Reese. I won't." Humphrey said. The other wolf smiled, and leaned back against the cool rock wall.
"I know you won't, Humphrey. You'll be the next Winston." Reese said. Then, with a soft sigh, he closed his eyes for the last time. Humphrey looked on for a while, without words to describe his feelings. Soon though, he walked away, his heart heavier than before.
On his way to the Howling Stone, Humphrey contemplated his late friend. Reese had been fairly older than him, by about a year. The older wolf had taken quite a shine to Humphrey, had laughed at his jokes, and on occasion, would even engage in some of the fun the young Omega had often tried to instigate. He had also been one of the most eager to pick a fight with the Eastern Wolves. However, in the recent months, since Humphrey had become one of the joint-leaders of the Valley Pack, Reese had become fairly antagonistic towards him. Now, with his dying exposition in mind, his actions suddenly made sense.
When Humphrey had finally arrived at the Howling Stone, he sat there for a moment, contemplating on whether or not he should call Garth, or if his purposes would be better served by having Garth come to him of his own violition. Deciding on the former, he let out a howl that reverberated throughout most of the valley, and waited. Soon, Humphrey began to wonder if he hadn't been heard, as there was no responding call, and went to howl again, only to hear Garth's howl from across the river that ran through the valley. Humphrey raced down the rock face, skidding to a stop a few feet in front of the river.
Humphrey sat waiting until he saw the fading sunlight reflecting off of Garth's emerald eyes. He smiled and waved a paw, trying to open the discussion on a pleasant note. It certainly wouldn't end on such a note. He noted that Garth didn't return the smile.
"I was wondering when you'd show, Humphrey. I was starting to think that I'd have to looking for you,' Garth said, his tone nonchalant.
"I take it you got word of what happened, then?" Humphrey said, keeping his tone pleasant. Rule one of diplomacy: stay amiable at all times.
"You're damn right I have. But my question is this: what in the world were you thinking when you decided to go siccing your alphas on them?" Garth ranted, all semblance of calm gone. Humphrey's ears went back. He had anticipated that they would twist the truth, make themselves look like the victims, which wasn't entirely false, but that was just absurd.
"What? Garth, I get it, you aren't the sharpest stone on the mountain, but even you have to realize how ridiculous that sounds. If I had 'sicced', as you so eloquently put it, my alphas on that group, they would be rotting on the ground right now, and you know it!" Humphrey protested. It sounded arrogant, yes, but it was the truth. The west trumped the east in combat ability, though the east had the advantage of sheer numbers.
"Oh, really? Then perhaps you'd like to explain why I've got a dead alpha, and a handful of injured betas?" Garth said sardonically. Humphrey snarled in response. He hated it when Garth tried to make himself look superior to everything in the valley, and Garth knew it.
"You're little 'victims' decided to goad several members of my pack into a fight over a trivial missunderstanding, and both sides walked away with their losses. I've got twice the number of injured, and a dead alpha as well, Garth. We need every wolf we have, especially when we're hunting for you, as well as ourselves." Humphrey said, snapping his teeth.
"Only because your cronies stole our kill! And you think we don't? Prey's virtually nonexistant in the east. With the sudden amount of pups, we can only send two long distance hunting groups out, with enough wolves to protect the den. And each group can only bring down one caribou and bring it back. Maybe the rare elk. All together, that's barely enough to feed a pack of 35 wolves, plus pups." Garth said indignantly. Humphrey resisted the urge to sigh.
"And we've been splitting our catches 50-50 with you, Garth. It's starting to take it's toll on us, too." Humphrey said. It was true, as well. With half of their kills going towards the east, the west was going more and more often without food. Much too often for most of the wolves' taste. Garth sighed, quickly growing tired of the argument.
"Look, Humphrey, I like you. I do. You're my brother-in-law. But that doesn't mean the rest of the East does. Let's face it: It all comes down to food, and the pack member's will do whatever it takes to survive. If we don't come up with some sort of a solution, they'll go renegade. They'll stop listening to you and me, and go attack what they percieve to be a threat to their survival. Namely, each other. This kind of thing, it can't happen again, or even I won't be able to keep them on their leash." Garth said. Humphrey sighed.
"You're right. I'll keep an eye on the troublemaker that started this, ok? I'll keep my side in line, if you can try and do the same with yours. That's all that can really be done, for now." Humphrey said, trying to reach a peaceful resolution. Garth smiled and nodded. Humphrey returned the gesture, showing his own good will.
Humphrey sat there for a while, after Garth had left, thinking. The number of failed hunts had become considerably greater in the last couple of months, and strangely, the number of caribou had dropped. Not by any great amount, but the change in the size of the herd had changed noticeably. Humphrey decided he'd have to post scouts to watch the herds, see if anyone was stealing from their herds. He wondered for a minute, if it hadn't been the eastern wolves, and were now just using the lack of food ploy to get more to eat. Humphrey quickly jossed the idea. He'd seen the eastern wolves. They were most certainly not over fed.
Humphrey sighed, turning back towards the western den. Time to go whine to Kate about his day. Who said it was fun to be the leader?
End author's note: Who here knows what's happening to the caribou? who's guessed it by now? If you figured it out, shut up. Don't ruin it for everyone esle. Ok, so food is a bit of a problem for the Valley pack. Guess their original idea wasn't very well thought out. Or maybe I just suck at coming up with ideas for conflict. And for the record, the events Adam mentioned? The recon, battle practice, and the like? That's been going on for nine months. Yes, they were scouting out the south during the movie. so yes, they've been busy, and as Adam is roughly the age of Humphrey and Kate, he grew up with that. Word of God, man.