That’s the link. If you’re too lazy to click it, here’s the chapter. xD
Lyra paced in her tiny enclosure. It felt very much like a cage, and her water bowl, which was refilled exactly once daily, was dry as a bone. She was fed even less often—once every two weeks, if she was lucky.
She was sick of living like this. Her owners would sometimes invite friends over, and all they did was stare at her in awe. Awe, she thought bitterly. More like pity. They’d throw a dog treat over the fence on occasion. Sometimes she’d eat it. Sometimes she wouldn’t.
Of course, she hadn’t always lived like this. Once upon a time, Lyra had run free with her pack—what a wonderful feeling it was, to have the wind ruffling her light gray-white fur! There was nothing she missed more than her family.
The newest thing that had been added to her prison cell was a dog house designed for large canines. A thought crossed through her mind all of a sudden—it was right next to the chain link fence. Why hadn’t Lyra thought of this before? She laughed a little. Her first laugh in the four moons she had been trapped here.
She took a moment to judge her jump, and then leaped on top of the dog house. Lyra looked behind her—no humans to stop her. And in the front—rolling, grassy Spring hills with three shimmering lakes in front of strong, solid, towering mountains in the far distance. She cleared the top of the fence and headed toward freedom.
A large, muscular gray and brown wolf snarled in frustration. He was sitting outside the den. Gosla, the Alpha Female, lay inside, nursing her one small pup.
And that was the problem—one pup. “Kail!” He called his beta—second in command—over.
Kail immediately submitted by laying his ears back and tucking his tail between his hind legs. He looked up at his Alpha expectantly. “Yes, Spen?”
“One pup will never be enough to feed our pack. In two years time, we might be dead or scattered from starvation.”
Kail nodded. “What might we do?”
“We are the Trii Pack,” declared Spen. “And we cannot let this pack go to waste. Kail, I want you to take Strik and Dija. Go to the den site of the Torr’Xen Pack and wait until night falls and their howls have died down. Take one or two of the strongest pups, and bring them back here.”
Kail gasped. “You want us to raid one of the strongest of the Packs?”
“It is a risk we must take,” Spen said gravely. “Go now.”
Lyra had started to wonder if escaping at this time was such a good idea, but most of her logic had evaporated in the noon sun by now. If she had been thirsty before, her tongue was sand now.
The lakes were still quite far away. But she had to keep going. It was not an option to stop. She would reach a lake and drink to her heart’s desire, and then she would be fine.
She never reached the lake. Just a few long minutes before she would’ve reached the Great Lake of Pume, her legs gave out under her, and darkness swam in her eyes after she collapsed.
Xina lay in the cool dirt of the den. Her four healthy, beautiful pups slept peacefully by her side. She smiled. Their eyes will open soon, she thought happily.
She got up as quietly as an owl and crawled out of the den, which was dug in between the roots of a twisted fir tree. She was greeted by her mate, the alpha male, Xaru.
“How are you feeling?” he asked gently.
“I’m fine,” Xina replied and nuzzled him. “I’m just going out for a walk, okay? I’ll be back when the stars are out.”
Xaru’s hackles rose. “Are you sure you should be out there alone? Do you want anyone to guard you?”
“I’ll be fine,” Xina said soothingly and smoothed down Xaru’s fur with her tongue. “After all, I am a Torr’Xen wolf!” She knew that the whole pack was protective of their Alpha Female at this time of the year, when she was lethargic from taking care of the pups and not getting exercise. “You can go and look for me if I’m not back by then. It’ll do me good to do some walking.”
Xaru cracked a little smile. “Alright, Xena. But promise me you’ll be careful.”
“I promise,” Xina said and headed off. I think I’ll go to the Lakes, she thought.
The air was cool and there was a slight evening breeze as she headed down the mountain slope. There was a smell of new birth and a fresh season of vegetation. The smells she loved most about springtime.
The trees thinned and she left them behind her. The lakes looked as if they had been set aflame by the setting sun. She paused to breathe in the light smell of water as the breeze blew it off the surface of Lake Pume. Lake Pume was the closest lake to the Torr’Xen territory. Farther off, to the west, was Lake Urse, and to the east was Lake Lupe—Lake Lupe was sacred to the Packs. Its water was said to bring a wolf into the spirit world, and it was also where the Cave of Lupe was located. That was where the Alphas of each of the four packs (Kriik, Borrus, Trii, and Torr’Xen) met in times of dire need.
Something caught Xina’s eyes. A light object lying a little past the lake. With a jolt, she realized it was a wolf!
She hurried over to the unconscious creature. Looked about two years old. The sun was setting. Soon her pups would need feeding and her pack would start worrying.
She nudged the poor wolf with her snout. Her eyelids fluttered open.
“Hello,” Xina said and gently pulled the stranger to her feet. She guided this confused newcomer to the edge of the water.
Lyra, with her mind still wrapped in cobwebs, needed no logic. It was purely instinct which drove her to lap furiously at the water. Slowly, as she drank, her mind returned to full consciousness.
Suddenly she realized another wolf was with her and she whipped around, her fur rising. “Who are you?” she demanded.
“I am Xina, the alpha female of the Torr’Xen Pack. I saw you lying near Lake Pume, and it looked like you could use some help.”
Near? Thought Lyra. It had felt like that lake was miles away.
“Do you have a pack?” asked Xina. She might’ve acted aggressive, but she wasn’t in her own territory and this wolf seemed so tired and dehydrated.
Lyra could feel the sadness drag her ears down. “No,” she replied. “Humans…took me away.” This wolf looked sorrowful, and Lyra was grateful that for once, it wasn’t pity. Just sorrow.
“Would you like to come with me, then?” asked the large wolf. “I could maybe use another wolf to look after my pups.”
Lyra thought this over. The wolf was an alpha female. Lyra was alone and without a pack—how could she turn down such an offer?”
“Okay,” Lyra said.
“No time to waste,” the large wolf said. “I’m Xina.”
Xina looked to the sky. It was a darkening shade of blue, and a star shyly showed itself. Xaru would soon begin to fret… “Come on, then,” she barked, and set off, Lyra hurrying after her.