Part 7: The Journey to the Den
Roady struggles to keep up with Angelina, who is moving quickly through the damp forest. Mist rises through the trees, causing beams of light to shine through the trees, from the sun which is rising over the lake. The ground damp, slightly muddy and cold on Roadys feet, as he trots along, trying to keep himself upright. His head still pounding and his co-ordination off slightly, making him feel dizzy.
The damp forest smells sweet and earthy. The dew, dripping from the orange and yellow leaves, erasing any animals scents from the night before, and clearing the palate for a new day full of scents and smells to trail their way through the forest.
Roady hears a familiar sound. Something he hasn't heard in about a week. A faint hum. As Angelina crosses a narrow clearing, Roady stops, looking up. A power line runs between the trees, from pole to pole. The slight hum, familiar to his ears, was comforting. His den was not far from a power line in the plains, and ever since he was a pup, he had grown used to this sound signaling that he was near his den. Angelina stops and looks at Roady, wondering what he is looking at. Roady looks down at Angelina, feeling that he is being watched. “Sorry, I was just... never mind.”
“Come on!” Angelina says, as she turns and begins to walk northward again.
Crossing under the power line, Roady feels the slight radiant heat from the line. Shivering he speeds up, catching up to Angelina. Unable to sense exactly where he is, he thinks he is deep within the Scajaquada's territory by now. The lake, to the South East, is long behind them, as they work their way up the mountain to the North. Trying to stay alert, but being distracted by new sights and smells, Roady becomes nervous.
“How much further?” Roady asks,
“It isn't far,” Angelina replies, herself looking around, and wary of the situation.
Angelina begins to slow, as she crests a rocky ridge. The trees are smaller up here. The ground, often very rocky, is cold to the touch. The higher elevations often getting snow this early in the year, but luckily it hasn't snowed yet. Cresting the ridge, Angelina looks down the other side. Roady, still a few paces behind her, freezes in his tracks as he hears a faint wolf 'yip' from the other side of the ridge.
“Who is it?”
“It is Chitsa, Enola, and another one.”
“Sooleawa?” Roady asks just before cresting the ridge,
“Nope, looks like... maybe Nayati.” Angelina says, straining her eyes as she tries to focus on the wolves in the distance.
The wolves also see Angelina and Roady, and begin to head towards the pair.
Angelina looks back at Roady, and nods her head forward. “Well, there ya go.”
“You're not staying?”
“I'll stay up here, no need for me to get in the way.” Angelina says, “You should be fine.”
“I don't like the keyword 'should', but alright.” As Roady hesitantly moves down the ridge towards the three wolves.
The ridge is rocky, and runs perpendicular to the mountain it rises up along. To Roady's left, he sees the lake, forests and valley he has become familiar with. To Roady's right, the mountain rises as rock, in a mostly treeless setting. Roady is exposed, but looking around, he sees no other wolves nearby.
Stopping at the bottom of the ridge, as Chitsa, Enola and Nayati approach him, he lowers his head and bows slightly. A sign of respect.
Nayati approaches Roady, sniffing his scent politely. Nayati circles Roady, as Roady watches him. “So you are Roady.”
“Yes” Roady nods, “I am Roady. And you are?”
“I am Nayati, and this is Chitsa, our Alpha female, and Enola our Beta female.”
“What brings you to our Den?” Chitsa asks abruptly, Enola standing beside her, and slightly behind her.
“I just wanted to introduce myself on friendly terms.” Roady replies,
Nayati circles back and sits beside Chitsa, as Chitsa moves towards Roady, sniffing him herself. Enola staying where she was. “It is a welcome change to see another wolf for once.” Chitsa says, “But, sadly, not all of our pack will share that opinion.”
Roady politely sniffs at Chitsa as a traditional greeting as she circles him. “I have gotten that impression already,” Roady says,
“I can see that,” Chitsa says, noticing the swollen bump on his head. “You seem to be a healthy young wolf however.”
“I'd like to think so.”
“Are you staying, or moving through?” Chitsa asks,
“I would like to stay in the valley, but I know your pack may not like that idea.”
Considering her response carefully, Chitsa replies “I have been told that you have found a den site south of our territory?”
“Yes,” Roady answers, “at least a place I enjoy, which is comforting to me.”
“And what if we told you that it isn't safe?” Chitsa asks,
“I would take my chances,” Roady replies, “I was kind of...” Roady fumbles for the right word “...distracted last night when I was attacked. So I wasn't really able to defend myself.”
Chitsa nods, “Ah yes, I heard about your distraction.”
Lowering his head a little more, Roady sighs slightly, “I think both of us kind of needed a friend last night.”
Chitsa nods again, “Sooleawa is caught in between our packs drama right now.”
“No one is really sure where my sister stands,” Says Nayati “but she is often off on her own.”
Chitsa looks at Nayati, and then steps closer to Roady. “Stay alert my friend,” She whispers in his ear, “half of our pack is on the hunt for you.”
Roady looks at Chitsa, as she looks at him, “I know,” he replies, “I wonder if there is anything I can do? It seems that there is a bit of a coo going on.”
Chitsa sits beside Roady, as the other two wolves approach, Enola sniffing Roady's scent as she draws near. “I could not ask you to get involved in our drama, but it seems you already are.” Chitsa says softly. “If you can bring Sooleawa back into the fold, we just may have a chance.”
Angelina starts down the ridge towards them, curious at what is going on, and no longer feeling that she is in danger.
Roady blushes a little, “Why me?”
Nayati speaks up, “Sooleawa liked Nodin, but when Nodin teamed up with Taima she quickly lost interest. Nodin still has a thing for her, but she won't go near him anymore.”
“She also feels somewhat ashamed of having been interested in him, after seeing how he turned out.” Enola says, “I think she thinks that she is the reason the pack is tearing apart.”
“But she isn't.” Chitsa quickly interjects, looking at Enola, then back towards Roady. “We heard she did take some interest in you however.”
Nodding slightly, Roady sees where they are coming from. “I could try.”
Angelina prowls up to the group and circles slowly, sitting down nearby. “Hello all,” She nods at the wolves, as they nod back at her. “So did I hear correctly that Roady will be trying to get together with Sooleawa?”
Roady blushes heavily, as Kayati and Enola giggle, and Chitsa smiles, “It may help the pack,” Chitsa says.
“And Taima and Nodin?” Angelina asks.
“We didn't say it was going to be trouble free.” Kayati says, “Sure, we will have to deal with them soon enough, but with Roady and Sooleawa on our side, we may be able to push back Taima's dominance and put him back in his place.”
“Where is your Alpha anyhow?” Roady asks,
“Kachinahey is off meditating. He usually does in the morning.” Chitsa replies,
“Can I meet him?” Roady asks,
“He should be down this ridge, by the creek.” Chitsa says, “I'll take you.” She nods at the other wolves and Angelina, who stays with Enola and Kayati. She leads Roady down the mountain, glancing back to ensure he is following her.