Embittered and Alone

He crashed through the brush for hours that night. He was lost in every sense of the word, and he knew not where to turn. It was a night he would never forget, but never remember the same way twice. Sometimes he remembered it the way where he ran into the old wolf first; sometimes he could distinctly recall hearing the aged wolf call for him from a great distance away- as if the windy spirit of the wild itself carried his voice across the lands. Either way, it all ended up the same- he found the old one, Nava, somehow. Nava wanted to speak, but he wouldn't listen- he couldn't listen. He was burning with emotion and his ears were closed to the words that fell from the elder's lips. The first thing he did was distance himself as far away from the elder as possible. Besides being much too feeble to go chasing after him in his old age, Nava knew he'd be back- it was all part of the grand design.

Niju still carried himself proudly as he stepped into the brief gap between the immortal pines. These trees had survived an uncharted number of winters, when all turned to the most unbearable state of tail freezing cold. Even his paw-pads would being to crack a bit after a long walk on frozen stone, though he would never admit they were bleeding to anyone in the pack but himself. But Nava always seemed to know when Niju's pads were worn down by the sacrifices he made for the clan, and told him to rest, which Niju never really did of course. …Nava. The very thought of the elder almost made him physically sick. He let out an angry huff of air and finally let his senses guide him to the confrontation. His large nose on his blunt and chiseled profile proved helpful in locating any animal.

Nothing could escape him- not for long anyways. Not even Nava could have escaped him-if it hadn't been for Miss "wolf" princess herself. Not stopping at making a fool out of him, she'd left with his pack into oblivion what couldn't have been more than 5 hours ago. Niju couldn't recall himself ever feeling more embitterment or hate for one creature in all his life, and that was saying a lot, especially for him. If he ever saw that mutt in his lands again…oh there would be a price nastier than the bite marks he'd left on her nape. No, no,if he ever saw her again, oh, he'd be sure to finish the job. But he stopped his thoughts there. He knew it'd be counterproductive to dwell on her any longer.

He retraced the path he had ripped through the pines during his initial flight in order to locate Nava once more. He didn't know why he was crawling back to Nava, but the male was like a magnet. Nava was a made leader whose "children" all cherished him and were the guiding strength in what made him great, a trait that Niju himself was quite secretively envious of.

Niju and Nava

Later that Night

He found Nava in a cave, staring at some very ordinary looking rocks. Saying nothing and making little noise other than the soft "tck, tck, tcks" of his clawed paws against the stone of the cave floor, Niju seated himself upon his well-muscled haunches.

Nava could still make him feel like a disobedient pup as Nava began to say "Wolves should answer each other's calls."

Niju felt color flush up into his cheeks and his neck ruffle out past it's already near-mane like state. He growled out a "You are not in charge of me, I didn't come here to be your subordinate, I don't take orders from weaklings. I only came here because it's warmer and you happen to have enough sense left to find shelter." Niju gave the elder a nasty smirk and flagged his tail towards the sky, the ultimate defiance gesture. It may have been overkill, but Niju was angry and with his stature- he looked much more threatening than he normally did.

To Niju's surprise, though- the elder wasn't shaken in the least and still did not turn his head to look at him. Nava merely replied with a "Good, because brother's do not order each other." Niju opened his mouth to object to being anything remotely like Nava's brother or friend when a sudden light illuminated the cave.

He now saw what the elder had been doing all the while Nava had been sitting there- he had been organizing the rocks so that with just enough direct light from the moon, the dully colored crystals would come to life- each reflecting off one another. The clouds that would bring snow seemed to pile up in the sky but there was a break in them that allowed light to flood through, as Niju observed in the small nook between the ceiling rocks of the cave. Niju stared in wonder, and was amazed against his own will as stalagmites and stalactites became aglow in the luminous atmosphere around him. The light from the moon's faint glow only shone on a portion of the cave's rocks, the others had to have been carefully positioned by someone who had great experience and wisdom at this practice in order to have the rocks feed off of the light from other rocks around them, until the whole room glittered and danced in the light.

After an eternity of silence Nava finally turned to face Niju. He knew that look of surprise on Niju's face- even when Niju tried to hide his astonishment. "I have whispered words to these rocks and finally they have given me an answer. They say a new light is coming and that we must wait for it." Niju rolled his eyes and cursed himself for returning here, had he kept running, he could have been back at his territory in the old lands by daybreak. He gritted his teeth.

"Well then…a new light…How very helpful, old man." He pulled his massive jaw back into a scowl, he didn't normally do sarcasm, but when the situation called for it- even the bluntest of beings will resort to it at sometime or another."Now,then- tell me, did they say anything about when it was coming or what it would mean?"

Niju's scowl deepened as Nava sighed with his eyes closed, his aged profile shook slightly. "I do not know anything more." Niju let a obnoxious laugh spill.

"Ha- that's exactly what I thought. Just another magic-trick to get me to aid you- an aging fool!" with than Niju sauntered as fluidly as his robust body would allow him towards a slight ledge inside the cave.

"You would be warmer if you retired by my side, brother." Nava retorted as he saw Niju stride away arrogantly. "I thought any mother would teach her pups how to keep warm together." Nava didn't smile at his own sassiness; he merely looked wiser than ever at that point.

Niju's eyes grew wide as he recalled all that his mother taught him-granted it wasn't much. No, all she had really ever taught him was how to stay out of his father's way, and how to almost disappear. He had come to Nava and his clan as a headstrong, but much quieter yearling. Niju came to welcome and love the change that these lands had provided him when he needed it most, though, Nava knew nothing of Niju's old clan, but he did know that is wasn't normal for a yearling to leave his clan to find a new one while so young. While staring wide eyed at the ground- Niju knocked a stone out of place with one massive forepaw and the cave went black. Dead.

It was Nava who broke the seething silence. He noted that his words had a very powerful effect on his younger counterpart, just not the one he had intended. Nava couldn't quite tell what his words had meant to Niju, but now that the cave had succumb to the night, Nava took the time to explain to Niju what life meant for them now. " I do not know why the stones spoke to me in such a hushed tone, as if they were hesitant to let their spirits free to converse with me. Perhaps even they are uncertain of the future for us. This I know, these rocks represent a clan, and each depends on the other for its strength and survival. If one stone falls out of place, they are all thrown into darkness. One stone remains the balance of our survival. We must help each other if we are to survive and find new light."

All while Nava spoke, Niju was stretching out his massive form on the cave's cool, smooth floor. "Heh, nonsense. I know you need me, but what could I ever need from the likes of you?" He narrowed his eyes in the dark they had just adjusted to.

Nava knew he had a point, Niju was young and strong enough to easily best three wolves twice his size. Niju was also the biggest in the old clan, excluding Nuk, but in terms of muscle mass, Nuk paled in comparison. Niju undoubtedly had an alphas build to him. "You may be strong and you may be young. But you have yet to become wise." Nava chose his next words carefully. "I can aid you in becoming a wise spirit whom other spirits will trust. Unless of course you want to be truly alone, and not even the spirits will speak to you."

Niju grumbled and carefully mulled over the words Nava had spoken. The only thing that he feared more than the uncertain was facing the uncertain alone. Now without the caribou, Niju was uncertain of his fate in these lands. He had been so foolish to run back to his old lands with no clan, he saw that now. Without the clan, and without the caribou, he would still face an uncertain fate. Alone.

Or maybe not. The brute turned to Nava, maybe he could find some "use" for the elder after all. He had been a leader for an untold number of years, how had he done it? Niju envied the way Nava seemed to travel on the wind, perhaps that would come to him while in Nava's company. Niju remembered the stories Nava had told of the lands before the caribou established a herd nearby, he wondered how Nava had survived on such a seemingly meager food supply.

"No, I do not wish to be alone in this fate." He finally resolved verbally. Although he still could not bring himself to accept Nava's offer directly.

Nava smiled to himself in the darkness, he admired Niju's independence and vigor- even if it did make him rather bullheaded. "Come brother, and we shall lie together." Nava offered generously again.

Niju scowled and turned away from Nava with his head again, feeling his cheeks burn up with the same anger that he, notably, hadn't felt in a while. An icy breeze blew into the cave- carrying the hint of large globular flakes that the sky scattered relentlessly now. Snow. Niju tightly balled himself into a furry looking black and blue-tinted-silver ball, but he still felt the breeze penetrate his stubborn fur. It took all that he had to keep him from snuggling up with Nava, he didn't know why, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. He could not bring himself to warm himself and another when they needed it most, was it that he was not ready? Why he not bring himself to change, when he needed to, in order to survive?

Niju sighed, and his breath rose in familiar clouds before him. Nava, who was much more feeble than he, may very well freeze to death, but Niju just wouldn't bring himself to help the elder. He couldn't.

"Goodnight then, Niju. In the dawn's light- we shall hunt." Nava murmured to Niju's prone for from his spot on the stone floor. Niju couldn't help but wonder what in hell there would be to hunt, now that the caribou had run across the ice, along with his pack being led by that godforsaken mutt female. Here he went again he thought. As he drifted into sleep, his mental image was burning with her face at the center of it. He literally had dreams of her. Dreams of fire.