-Fade to Black [prologue-ch.8 have been posted]

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-Fade to Black [prologue-ch.8 have been posted]

Post  -DarkMyst on Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:16 pm

Well, I was originally posting this in the User Writings forum, but as WQ is currently shut down, I'll post it all here since I have chapters 1-12 written and chapters 11 and 12 were only posted two days ago, so...uhh.

Most of you who will already be reading have already read all of this, I'll do my best to get all the chapters up right away (which could take some time) and may result in my double-posting if the thingy tells me that my post is too long. :]

Without further ado...here it is!


---

Fade to Black

---

∞Prologue∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
It was difficult to keep my gaze fixed on Rose Thorn when it wanted to keep wandering around to all the other wolves that stood around me, all of us transfixed by what Rose Thorn had to say, now that she had so urgently called us out here into the cold tundra.

Yes, every single one of us, from Leon to Scout to Bella to Hinun to Jury, my own younger half-brother. Not one of us was distracted. Well, except myself.

“What is it you have brought us out here for, Rose Thorn?” I asked gruffly, shifting with impatience. “It’s cold out, and my fur isn’t as thick as it used to be.” And you’re not even supposed to be here.

Rose Thorn had been infected with the mysterious disease that had driven so many wolves to madness – including my father. Scout had been forced to make her leave for the sake of the pack. But now, for whatever urgent reason she had, she had returned to speak with us.

“Oh, come on, Fade,” Leon said in a his usual, playful but sarcastic tone, “You’re not even that old – you’re only like, four summers old.”

I growled at my brother rather an irritated manner, Yes, I thought, But you’re the one who’s settled down with a mate and pups and everything, whereas I am still alone. I ended the thought with an annoyed edge to it, of course, Leon had always gotten all the girls, but must he have the one I had fallen in love with?

I was happy for my brother, and I was happy for Scout, because, as annoying as Leon was, he was a good, strong wolf, but needless to say…I was also sad. Leon always managed to capture all of the she-wolves. He was just that sort of wolf – but must he have taken the one I had fallen in love with? I had been in love before, yes, but I had loved them, and lost them. First Rasha. Then Smokey.

“Yes, Rose Thorn,” Scout said, apparently ignoring Leon’s jab at me, “Tell us why you have called us out here so late at night.”

Bella, Scout’s aunt, looked very impatient. “Just tell us already so we can get over with it. I don’t see why it couldn’t wait!”

Hinun, Bella’s mate, nudged the white she-wolf gently. “Easy, Bella.” He was always the peace-maker. “No need to get yourself all riled up.”
Bella sighed at him, but nudged him back.

Somehow the silent movement she made deepened my loneliness even more. I ignored it. Ignoring my emotions was something I was used to doing.

Rose Thorn, looking uncomfortable, shifted on her creamy white paws. Jury, her son, shifted as well, and finally said to his mother in a wary tone, “Tell us whatever it is you must say, Mother, we cannot wait all night.”

Rose Thorn took a deep breath and said slowly, “I have another son.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Jury∞
Shock poured through me like icy cold water. “W-what?” I stammered. “I have a brother?”

Another one?

Rose Thorn nodded to me, “Yes,” she whispered. “I didn’t want to leave him, but I had to, if I didn’t, we all would have been dog meat for betraying them.”

Betraying them? How?

“So you just left him there to die?” Fade demanded, looking outraged.

“Fade.” Scout said the word calmly, as though it were only a word, and not his name.

Leon shifted, looking slightly uncomfortable. “Relax, Fade,” he said carefully, “I’m sure that Rose Thorn had her reasons.”

“I-I would have stayed,” Rose Thorn said, stammering a little bit, “B-but I had to get you and Frost out, Jury. I just had to.”

“It’s alright, Mother,” I said finally. “It’s not like you left him to a bunch of demon wolves.”

“Easy for you to say,” Fade muttered darkly.

I glared at my older half-brother. “Look,” I said hotly, “She had her reasons, okay? There’s no need for you to get all angry about it! And what do you mean by that? Are you calling my mother a coward?”

I stared Fade in the eyes for a moment, but found I had to look away from his dark, blazing amber gaze. I had never really gotten along with my older brother, after all, he had gotten my younger brother killed – or rather, Frost had decided to be brave and stupid and try to defend one who was much older and much more experience than himself. Fade had done nothing to stop him from doing it. As a result, Frost was now dead.

Fade glared at me, his gaze fierce. “I did not,” he said in a low tone, “Specifically call your mother a coward, but, it is not what I would have done.”

“So you would have just turned back and let Frost and I die – had it been your choice?” My voice rose. “Her choice was better – at least two of us survived!”

“And look where it got Frost,” snarled Fade, laying his ears back against his pitch dark neck. “He sure didn’t live that long – and all because he was raised up on foolish stories about heroes, and he didn’t realized that that’s all they were – stories!”

“Those stories were what we used to amuse ourselves!” I snapped, “Frost was only trying to save you!”

“I didn’t need saving!” Fade growled.

“Uh, Fade…” Leon put the words mildly, “Twilight had his jaws at your throat.”

Fade whipped around and glared at his brother. “I didn’t ask for your opinion, Leon.” He said his brother name bitterly, almost as though it caused some sort of emotional pain for him.

“My point,” I said icily, “Is that Frost died trying to save you, and you didn’t stop him!”

Fade looked back at me. His eyes were sad, and he said nothing.

Anger rose up inside of me. “This is all your fault, Fade!” I shouted. “Everything’s your fault! Smokey’s dead, and so is Frost!”

I turned around and raced away, leaving all of the wolves behind me.

As I left, I heard Bella said quietly, “At least Fade got rid of Twilight – that is a good thing, right?”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞


∞Fade∞
Scout looked at me, her stormy gray gaze disapproving. “Go find him, Fade,” she said in a low voice. “Go apologize.”

“For what?” I asked bitterly, “For getting his brother killed? Don’t you think I already blame myself enough for what happened to Frost?”

By now, Bella and Hinun had gone to burrow in the snow and sleep, on assurance that the rest of us would find Jury. Rose Thorn was already gone, looking for her son, and now it was just Leon, Scout, and I, speaking in low voices.

Leon looked at me. For once there was compassion in his gold eyes. “Fade,” he said softly, “Everyone knows it wasn’t your fault Frost died.”

“Everyone but Jury,” I growled, taking a swipe at the crisp snow with my paw. My blunt claws broke through the crust on top of the snow and left deep gauges in the cold white tundra.

I paused to look up at them, and when neither of them spoke, I finally asid, “I’ll go find him.”

I turned and padded off into the snowy landscape, in searcg of my younger half-brother.

---

“Leave me alone!” Jury snarled, backing away from me, “Get away! It’s your fault Frost is dead! Your fault – no one else’s!” There was anguish behind his amber eyes. “It’s all your fault!” He cried, and then turned to run.

“Jury, wait!” I cried, leaping forwards, and following the younger wolf.

I ran after him for a long tim, and soon Rose Thorn joined up with me. “I saw you from a distance, and I knew it was you. There’s no one here with a pelt quite like yours, Fade.”

“Except for Armida,” I corrected her almost automatically.

“No, I mean It, Fade – why are we having this conversation? We should be looking for Jury.” She paused, and then started to run again. “Jury!” She called anxiously, “Jury come back!”

I stopped dead as I saw Jury stop fleeing us and stare back at us. There was a dark lump on the ground near him, it looked like a rock but… but I could smell the blood. It was a seal kill. And the only predators I knew of that ate seals were polar bears. And no doubt, the polar bear was nearby –

I saw a gray-white flash streaking towards Jury. I saw the black nose and the red mouth. “JURY!” I howled, “JURY RUN!”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
Gone…

“Gone,” I whispered under my breath as I fled from the smoke that thickened the air around the trees, staining the air black like ink spilled into air. “Gone, Tamina, gone…forever.”

Gone.

As I stopped to look behind me, I saw the the flames engulfing what was left of the forest, engulfing the little family I had left, engulfing the last remains of where my mother…my father…my sister…

Gone. Forever. You’ve lost them, Tamina, lost them forever.

My mother’s last words…


“What in the name of the Elements do you think you were doing, Tamina? You got your brother killed, you got your only family left killed!”

“At least I tried to save him!” I screamed, then run away, not realizing that would be the last time I’d see my mother…



Gone. Gone. Gone.

Lost. Like I was now. Alone. Lost. Alone…alone…alone…

I'm alone.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Howl∞
Some wolves have got it so lucky, I thought angrily, storming of into the forest. Some wolves don’t have to deal with half-dead, sick-in-the-mind wolves who were their so-called “family.” Those wolves don’t realize just how lucky they are! At least their father wasn’t driven to madness, and then finally died, leaving his only son unprotected and undefended against the world!

I ended the thoughts and stared out from the side of the mountain and out into the distance, over the valley. Far in the distance I could see smoke clouding the air. A fire had broken out. Not surprising, even though spring was coming and winter was almost over, fire could still burn.

So much had happened. First the black wolf had come to kill Storm, then we relocated, led by a wolf called Twilight, and then Twilight’s former mate comes with her big pack and forced out of our territory we rightfully won. And now I was stuck in this element’s forsaken forest, and Dust, lucky Dust, was older than I was and got to disperse earlier than I. Whereas I was still stuck here. Alone. With no friends.

A sudden idea came to my mind.

What if I leave early? What if I run away?
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Jury∞
My head snapped around to stare at Fade as he shouted, “JURY – JURY RUN!”

I glanced back in front of me and saw the polar bear rearing up on its hind legs like a huge, massive white ghost from my past. For a second I thought of my brother, Frost, and then I was slammed back in reality as the polar bear hooked its claws around my stomach and hurled me through the air. Blood spurted from the wound in my stomach and as I landed I felt it curl around my spine and bounce back again.

I shrieked in pain, and the snow turned red with my blood.

Pain. Like fire. It hurt. It was agony.

I closed my eyes and floated away.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞



∞Tamina∞
Alone. I’ve never really thought about the word. I’ve never been alone. I’ve always had my family. But this is me now, this is my life, this is all I’ve known outside of my family, and now that they’re gone, I realize that I hadn’t been able to say goodbye… or thanks, for everything they’d done.

Justice…my perfect, charming brother. My perfect, perfect brother, sweet, kind, gently and happy. Agen, caring, funny…Kari…my mother…Jack…dead…Adrian…dead…

They were gone. I was alone. Alone.

The word was all-too familiar now. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with this loneliness, it never goes away, it’s always with me, every hour of the day, every minute of the night.

I’m alone.

Maybe I always will be – but I don’t want to think about that. It hurts too much. I don’t want to think about the possibility that I might actually be alone for all eternity. I would rather be dead than be alone. I would have no one to love. And no one to love me. I’m only a year and a half, by the Elements!


But that never stopped the Elements from taking my family from me, but then again, I’m sure many wolves have suffered the same fate.

…I don’t want to be alone. I’ve always imagined that I would have the perfect life. A loving mate, wonderful pups, a kind, caring pack…It had always been my standard to raised my life to the very best it could possibly be.

But what am I going to do now that I’m alone?


Alone…and lost.

Lost.

Alone.


The words kept repeating in my head. Over and over again. Lost. Alone. Lost. Alone. Alone and lost. Lost and alone. You are alone. And lost. You are lost. And alone. You will be alone for all eternity.

Both started out as such unfamiliar words, but quickly, they become like friends, beckoning to take me to the darkness beyond…

Alone…lost…

I can’t even tell the difference anymore. Everything is just a voice now. Everything is just another blink, another breath, another sight that might once have taken my breath away…but no more…Dream or reality, it doesn’t matter. Light or dark. Seeing or believing…hope or despair… It’s all the same…to me…

I wanted to close my eyes. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to sink into blissful peace, just for a few hours…

Fading…away…Faded…Gone…Ghost…Alone…so alone…Lost…Lost and alone…so alone…How can I cope? The darkness is calling me now. I just want to sleep…leave me alone…Haunted. So haunted. Haunted by my past. Haunted. Alone. Gone. Lost. Alone.

Alone in my silent exile.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞



---

-Part I: Crossroads

---

∞Chapter I∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
Time. Never knew the worth in it. Now that everything is gone, it seems to pass all the faster. Minutes blend into hours, seconds seem to melt into eternity, and before you know it, night has come, and you no longer know which way is up and which way is down.

Time is such a strange thing. It never stops, never pauses when it sees there is something blocking it’s path. It never shies away because they look a little different. Time has no fear, it does now cower in the shadow of a bear, and or quake when it feels the earth shaking beneath its feet. Time has become motionless. I am no longer aware of its passing. Time has been at a standstill since Hail died, since the day that badger den he’s been exploring caved in on him, suffocating him and filling his lungs with dirt and choking him to death. Time has been motionless since I saw Jack lying on the bottom of the river, the current dragging at his fur. It has been motionless since my brother Justice pulled me out of the river, breaking through the ice to save me, while Adrian had been off somewhere, probably gallivanting off to see some she-wolf like he always was.

Time stands still for me.

Pain. The emotion. The physical feeling. It is something I am familiar with, but now it seems like a friend more than something to be resisted. It’s a deep pit to jump into instead of a mountain to climb. It sucks me deeper with every step I take, it takes hold of my breath and steals it away so I choke on the nonexistent air as it sticks in my throat. The pain, inner and outer, brings me deeper below the water until I can remember almost drowning the day I’d tried to save Jack – and failed.

I remember the words that Hail used to sing absent-mindedly, the words that had rung throughout my head as I floated in the ice cold water, blissfully unaware of the fact I had been drowning.

Let me out of this dream.

And that’s what I’m whispering under my breath now. This all seems like a dream to me, I can’t really identify forwards from backwards, and I can’t tell which way was up and which way was down. It’s all just a dream. All the pain and bitter anger and desperation will go away someday. Because on that someday I’m going to wake up.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
To fade away into blackness, to be able to disappear into the night…It is one of the strongest powers of the wolf. Well, it’s not a power, but an ability. We are the ultimate hunters. The only animal strong enough to stand up to us are the elk and bears. Elk only when we wolves are alone, and bears…we hardly ever meet up with them. Though, my younger half-brother, Jury, did.

You’re probably wondering what happened to him, so, I guess I’ll just tell you. I mean, it doesn’t matter about the rest of my intake on the world. You’re probably already familiar with it anyways.


-Seven days before.
“JURY – NO!” Rose Thorn’s shriek cut across the frigid northern air as her son was tossed limply away from the bear and it’s kill like a helpless piece of meat. Dead. And powerless.

There was no voice to answer her.

The left paw of the white bear was stained red at the base of its black claws, which were dripping with blood, like black water dripping from a rock on a starless night. The blood fell from its claws, slipping into the snow and staining it red. Normally in large amounts like this, blood looked more black, but against the pure white snow…it was a bloody crimson, darker than the setting sun itself, but lighter than any maroon.

The white bear turned to look at Rose Thorn and I, and then looked back at Jury. It started to pad towards Jury, its large shoulder muscles rippling beneath its thick white coat.

I can’t let him die. I already got his brother killed; I can’t let him die too.

Jury’s brother, Frost, died thinking he could save me from Twilight, who was incidentally Scout’s former, but insane, psychopathic mate. Before Leon anyways. Frost butted into the Agni Kai, or single combat, that I had challenged him to in order to prevent a larger fight from breaking out. Frost had been small, only still a pup and had latched himself onto Twilight’s lef or something – I didn’t see it, I was too busy trying to prevent my throat from being ripped out – and distracted Twilight just long enough so that I could kill Twilight. But before I killed Twilight, he killed frost.

Jury still blames me for that. I can’t blame him for thinking that. Some part of me still wonders if maybe it was the tales of Zanuh and the alien wolf that Leon and Shun (Scout twisted the story so that the two heroes names were her friends) that made him think he could save me.

I snapped myself back into the present, and lunged forwards. I snarled, a deep, rumbling sound ripped out of my mouth and I leapt, knowing full well that I was totally visible against the white landscape, and there was no way the white bear wouldn’t see me before I reached it.

The white bear turned and in mid-air realized just what peril I had put myself in. There was a fierce glint behind its dark brown eyes, and it opened its jaws to display an array of jagged white teeth.

I cursed in my mind as I realized I might just get killed trying to save Jury.

I had long enough to realize this while I flew through the air, before the bear’s huge white paw collided with my shoulder and ripped it’s claws along my shoulder and leg, tossing me away from it like a tiny piece of its kill.

Blood dripped from the shallow wounds, which were thankfully now that serious. I looked the white bear in the eyes, and then snarled, lashing my tail ferociously as the deep sound rumbled in my chest.

I leapt forwards again, but my front right leg, the injured one, collapse beneath me as I landed, and I came tumbling to the icy white ground at the white bears paws.

Rose Thorn looked back at me as the white bear was always lowering its jaws to my head, ready to crush my skull, and then a shriek rose out of the night, “NO!”

The white bear hesitated just for a second, and then Rose Thorn came barrelling towards the huge white figure, and latched herself onto its back, shrieking screams of outrage, even as she closed her jaws on it over and over again.

The white bear roared; a deafening sound, and then reared up onto its hind legs and twisted, trying to reach the creamy-white she-wolf with its powerful maw.

I twisted, then jumped to my paws, growling and spitting, and then came towards the white bear, ready to fight, but Rose Thorn screamed at me, “No, Fade, RUN! Get Jury out of here!”

Something inside of me twisted. But I recognized that this was her choice, and that I couldn’t anything about it if she chose to die, but then again, I couldn’t just leave her…

“GO!” Rose Thorn shrieked as the white bear finally shook her off, “RUN! Tell Jury I love him, and Fade I’ve always car– ”

I never heard what she said, because the white bear turned around, still snarling, and then rammed its paw down onto her back.

There was a sickening crunch and a scream that died in both my throat and Rose Thorn’s. When I came to Jury’s side, he was awake, but just barely. I realized that the white bear hadn’t gored his belly, thank the Elements, but his side, and he might actually survive.

“W-where’s Rose Thorn?” Jury’s voice was very faint, but at least he was speaking. At least he was alive.

I was silent for a moment, and behind me, the white bear was starting to feed on its new kill, and Jury looked past me at the rear end of the white bear as it lowered its head started to feed. Horror shadowed his eyes, and then blazed through them completely. I had never seen such a strong emotion in his eye. I wondered if he would ever recover from seeing his mother get killed.

“Death is a part of life,” I told him gruffly as I grabbed his scruff and dragged him to his paws. “Get used to it.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Howl∞
Yes, I guess you could say death has always been a part of my life. Between all the fights that were always breaking out at the old territory, because that crazy leader of ours, Twilight, got himself killed, and Dust ran away only a year and a half later, and I was left alone.

Well, I had my father, really. Razor. He was our last protection, and he died only days before Dust left. I still had to wait half a year, but without Razor… I was all alone, left with no protection. It was for my own safety that I was running away.

Have you every known safety and happiness? Have you every known what it was like to have a best friend you could count on?

I have, but the difference is that he dumped me so he could get out of this thrice-accursed place. Not that I could blame him, but it still hurt, and to be left in a place like this, where disease has infiltrated your pack and driven most of them mad… That’s why I’m running away. It’s only a couple months early. I’ll be able to survive. All I have to do is find a mate or some friends so I don’t have to be alone for so much longer.

Now that Twilight is dead, our new leader, some chump called Bitter Puddles – what a stupid name – has been trying to figure out how he can expand his territory. He claims that because we are such a large pack we need a larger territory, more than normal packs do.

“Puddles,” as I like to call him, is wrong. We don’t need more territory. We already have too much. Yes, there’s a lot of us, but we’re so sick we can’t cover all the terrain.

So, I’m running away. Yes, it might sound wonderful and exciting. But it’s not. Were you in my position, you would understand exactly what I mean.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
The river was smooth at the top, like a thin pane of blue-gray glass in the moonlight. Silver-white light cascaded from the moon like a transparent, soundless waterfall. It shone on the surface on the water; smooth. Calm. Serene.

The river curved around a bend, and disappeared out of sight, the side of the cliff I was standing on about forty wolf-lengths above the river blocked my view. But from the sounds of the water downriver, I could tell that the slow-moving water sped up and perhaps came to some rapids a while down.

It was not exactly comforting to know that if I couldn’t get across the river, I would be swept into the rapids downriver and probably crushed against the large black rocks that obviously jutted out of the water. The undertow would obviously drag me under and I’d choke on water until I drowned. And if that didn’t happen then some old rival of mine would wander along and push me under the water, watching me thrash beneath their paws until I finally went still and drowned.

Paranoia. Sorry. When you’ve been on your own for quite some time, you start to get paranoid. I’ve come to the conclusion that the world officially hates everything about me; from my deep sunset gold eyes, my deep, chocolate coloured fur, and the cinnamon-gold coloured highlights that dappled it. The world just hates me. That’s all. Nothing more to it than that.

I know. I’m so dramatic. My mother, Kari, always told me that.

Ouch. Painful memories.

Whatever.

For a long time I stared at the river, trying not to think about all the worst-case scenarios that I could run into – that I had run into at one point in time.

Finally, I sighed and made my way down the steep cliff and towards the rocky edge of the river. Just a river. I couldn’t hurt me.
I stared at my reflection for a long time, studying the narrow slope of my muzzle, the way my deep gold eyes glinted in the moonlight. I studied the odd, fierce beauty that my face held. At least, I supposed I could be pretty. It depended on the wolf who’s eyes beheld my face. Nobody would ever love me again. Not like Hail did.

The water was moving so slowly. Surely it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to keep moving on alone… water’s not that threatening, it doesn’t deliberately drown wolves in it’s cold, furious wrath.

I snickered softly.
That’s what they all say.

Finally, I tentatively dipped my paw in.

The cool water surrounded my paw and I flinched at first, then started to realize that the gentle tug of the water against my thick fur was somewhat comforting.

The moon was still shiningg. It made some part of me want to leap for joy because there was still light, even in the dark of the night.

Very, very, slowly, I started to wade into the water, and then cery carefully, I let my paws lose grip on the ground and then started to swim.

Terror surged through my veins as I drifted downriver just the slightest bit.

A thousand memories flashed through my mind as I swam, my paws thrashing beneath me as I struggled to stay calm.


The ice wall won’t break. I need to have air. I need it so badly…Air…if only I could breath. If only I could taste the cool, crisp sweetness of the winter one more time!

Jack! No! It can’t be him. It can’t be. But no-wolf else is in the river…so…it means…he’s dead…NO! Jack! No! Please…no…

Air. I need air. I need it so badly. Must. Breathe.
Must…breathe…air…oxygen…air…drowning…slowly…

Hail.
Hail.
Hail.
Hail. Hail. Hail. Hail, Hail, Hail, Hail, Hail Hail Hail Hail Hail HailHailHailHail…Hail…Air…Hail…Breathe…
Let me out!
Let me out…
Let me out of this dream…

I am going to die.



I snarled under my breath as I brought myself back to the present. I had to do this. If I didn’t I would be swept downriver and into the rapids, and I would never surface again if I was caught there by the terrifying power of the water.

Time passed. With an agnonizing slowness, I reached the other side. I remember gasping for air and sighing in relief as my paws grazed the rocky bottom. Then, swiftly, I waded out of the water so I could continue my journey into the unknown.

I was already moving before I had time to reflect deeply on everything that had just flashed through my mind.
I hated reflecting on my past, despite the fact it happened often. It was just a waste of time, no matter how slow, or quickly, it passed.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞


---


∞Chapter II∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
I padded through the barren landscape. Months had passed since my crossing of the river. Months had passed since I’d returned to the dead, barren landscape to try and find the remains of what had once been my home.

Now I was leaving this forest once again. It was dull. Dead. Barren.

Spring was ending and summer was coming, but all that remained in this forest was black, charred skeletons that rose up into the sky, not nearly as tall as they had been before, but still remaining in this bleak, dying landscape. The trees had burnt into stark, black figures. The plants had burnt into ashy remains. Animals had burnt and died. My family had burnt and been destroyed. My heart burnt with my family. It tore itself apart as I had fled.

I should have gone back to try and save them.

I was a coward. No. I am a coward. The fact that I ran away from the fire months before doesn’t change that fact.

You could have saved your family, coward! The black, skeletal trees seemed to taunt me from their bland, colourless, place rising up into the sky to watch me even in death. Why didn’t you come back for them – didn’t you care?

I kept going forwards; ignoring the soundless, imaginary taunts from the trees that juted out of the ground like black, distorted figures.

After a long time, it started to rain.

Typical, I thought angrily. Just typical. It rains now but it didn’t on the night of the fire, now – did it?

I growled under my breath.

As I looked up ahead of me, I saw a huge, huge tree.

It took was charred, but not nearly as much as the others. Due to the damage by the flames, most of it had been nearly hollowed out. How that had happened, I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that what was left of the tree was half of the outer edge of the bark, almost like it had been hollowed out by some unknown force, and not burnt out.

Thunder crashed in the sky overhead. Lightning ripped through the clouds like a glowing blade of light.

I ignored it.

Rain started to shoot down like falling bullets, tearing through my fur and splatting painfully against my skin with their icy coldness.

I flinched each time a rain drop hit me, which pretty much left me flinching every half a second as multiple rain drops spattered me.

I stood there, flinching, and wincing, and grimacing, and flinching, and grimacing, and wincing, over, and over, and over, and over again.

“What on earth are you doing?” A deep voice floated out of the hollow tree in a demand to be answered.

“What?” I asked, whirling around.

Then he came, all blackness and shadow among the utter deadness of this bleak scenery.

His gray eyes flashed dangerously among his dark face. His face was, handsome, I suppose. I didn’t really think of any-wolf as attractive unless it was Hail – and he was dead. He had long, lean legs and strong shoulders, lean and probably well-muscled beneath his thick black coat. His pelt, well, I already described that. He was all blackness and shadow, darkness against light. Some part of me scrutinized him and realized that he wasn’t just an ordinary wolf. Some part of me recognized him for something different. An exile? An outcast? Had he perhaps been framed for something he hadn’t done?

I noticed several silvers of blue in his eyes, an unusual colour to tint a wolf’s eyes. His eyes seemed to brim with dark flame, like some great injustice had been done to him. The tiny slivers seemed to shimmer with his angry flame and he opened his red mouth to repeat what he had just said.

“What were you just doing?”

I stared at him. I had not faced a wolf in months. And frankly, I was still stunned by his eyes. I had never seen eyes like his.

Despite the fact I just said I didn’t find any he-wolf other than Hail attractive, I had to admit that this wolf – whoever he was – had amazing eyes. They seemed to pull me into their blue-gray flame and for a moment I would have given anything for those eyes to scorch my pelt and fry me into a million little pieces.

Dark eyes brimming with flame, this wolf had rejected everything other than himself in order to bring out one, singular justice.

The words leapt into my head as this wolf reminded me of the words she’d used to describe the hero in one of the stories she’d told me as a pup.

I stared as I realized just how well that sentence seemed to fit this wolf.

“I – I, uh, I was –”

“Whatever,” the wolf growled. “Do you know any black wolves around here?”

“Besides you?” I asked, trying to make a joke.

The joke didn’t work.

His eyes flashed dangerously, “Don’t mock me,” he growled.

“W-who are you?” I asked, now confused.

He turned and padded back to the tree he’d been laying down in. “Guy. My name is Guy.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞

White meets black, light meets dark, life meets death…It’s all been the same to me.

Some wolves believe in the concept of good and evil. I don’t. To me, there is no such thing as good or bad, light or dark, or right and wrong. We all have darkness inside of us, we all have light. What really matters is the path we choose to follow. I’ve met wolves who have taken paths that lead towards dark shadows. Shadows that will ultimately lead them to be horrible, cruel wolves. I almost took one of those paths once.


-18 moons before.
Rasha was dead. That’s all I can say. Horror and grief still weighed down on my shoulders. I wasn’t sure I would ever look at anything and see the beauty in it anymore. Rain, once beautiful and painted silver when Rasha was with me, was a dull gray that wet my fur and made it heavier. The clouds, once so pretty in the way the moonlight shone through them were just hulking gray figures that blocked out the sun’s yellow light.

As far as I was concerned, there was no sun anymore. That big ball of burning light hadn’t shown itself in weeks. It hadn’t fared reveal itself from behind the shield of dark, stormy clouds in the sky.

I was walking, and walking for a long time, when I saw a familiar but horrifying form far in the distance. White against the shadows of the forest.

Storm. My father. A sick, diseased, cruel, insane, power-hungry wolf.

“Fade,” he said, when I had come closer. “I never thought I’d see you again.”

I kept my distance, knowing full well that not only had the sickness driven him to madness, but that madness had driven him to kill many other wolves. He was a perfect example of a wolf who had either suffered a lot in life and never healed, or a wolf who had decided to take a path that would ultimately lead him to ruin.

“I had hoped I would never see you again, Father,” I said in a wary tone, still keeping my distance.

Storm’s mouth twisted into a grim smile. “I thought families were supposed to love each other, and to stick together. Whatever happened to nobody gets left behind?”

“You obviously didn’t teach that part of being a family to me,” I said in a sharp tone. “Because you never acted like I was anything to you – or Leon for that matter. You never cared. If you had, you wouldn’t have let mother die.”

Storm narrowed his eyes and drew his lips back in a silent snarl. “That was so that you and Leon would love – obviously you don’t care what sort of sacrifices I made for you, Fade, you never have!”

“Sacrifices?” My voice rose into a shout, and then lowered into a snarl. “What sacrifices? If I recall correctly, then it was always Leon and I who made the sacrifices! Wolves are always supposed to be joyous in their pup-hood, but what did you give Leon? What did you give me?” I paused and then bared my teeth at him. “You let us grow up while we were hungry and weak. Our family was bitter, greedy, insane, and diseased. It was no wonder I ran away – it was no wonder Leon left early too! You—never—cared.”

Contempt flashed in his cruel yellow eyes. “Fade,” he said softly, for a moment, something like compassion made his voice slick. “Come home. We’ll work things out, like a family. I know we can.” But there was a threat behind his voice too, and I knew if I went with him, I would follow the same path he had taken. A path that had led to insanity, cruelty, murder, and ultimately, death.

But some part of me wanted to go, too. Some part of me wanted to love my father, but the other shied away.

“No.” My voice was cold. “I don’t take the easy way out. The dark road has always been the easier one, hasn’t it? Darkness and cruelty have always been more powerful, because more wolves go that way, because it’s the easiest way to go, and many, many wolves have taken that path, because they were too cowardly to face themselves.” I paused, and suddenly wondered where my wisdom had sprung from. “I’m not going to take that path, Storm. I’m not going to let myself become like you.”

If I go with him, then I will end up being a cruel, cold murderer. And no matter how tempting it is to take the easy road, I will not. I will never let my life sink as low as his has. I broke off the thought, and then added to myself, I am not so weak that I will take the dark road.

I turned and started to walk away. “Goodbye, Storm. I truly hope I never see you again.”

Behind me, I heard my father’s voice say, “There was a time I truly loved you, Fade. There was a time when I would proudly have called you my son.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
“Outside the rain’s fallin’ down, there’s not a drop that hits me…Scream at the sky but no sound, is leavin’ my lips…”

My voice trailed off as I sat out there in the rain, not caring whether Guy heard me or not. It’s not like he would care if I sang now and then. It’s not like he actually knew me. It’s not like he could judge me. He didn’t know what I had suffered.

Let me out of this dream.

Those blasted words. The ones that always stuck in my head. Curse them. Those thrice-accursed words never left me. Ever.

Let me out.

Hail. The memory of the wolf I loved – love – was still fresh in my memory. I can still remember the pure white of his coat, and the kind brownness of his eyes. He reminded me of my brother, Adrian, in some ways, before Adrian became obsessed with females and such. I couldn’t stand the sight of my brother after he’d become like that. I don’t think anyone could – except for Silver. But I got the feeling that she only ever mated with him for the power that came with it. Maybe I was wrong though. You never know.

“Let me out of this dream.” I said the words out loud now, not caring who heard.

“What on earth is wrong with you?” Guy’s voice cut through the air like a bear’s teeth through flesh. “Why do you keep singing like that?”

“None of your business,” I snarled. “You don’t need to know.”

Guy huffed. “Don’t act like you’re the only one who’s got a hidden past, one you don’t like to speak of. Because you’re not.”

I whipped around to face his dark face, hidden amongst the blackness of the tree’s shadows. “Is your brother dead?” I snarled, “Is the one you love dead? Did you get your brother killed by failing to save him? NO! Now stay away from me!”

A voice cut through the air. “What on earth are you guys doing?”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞



---




∞Chapter III∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
“She’s dead.” I looked down at the she-wolf lying on the ground, motionless. Unless I was starting to go blind, she wasn’t breathing either.

I stared down at her, entranced by her eerie stillness. She looked to be tall and slender, had she been standing up. Her pelt was a rusty-brown colour that darkened into black in some places while lightening into russet-brown at others. Her eyes…well, they were closed. Closed and probably wouldn’t ever open again.

Jury didn’t respond to me.

“Come on,” I said finally. “There’s nothing we can do for her. Let’s just keep going.”

Jury nodded once, but didn’t speak.

I sighed. How long is he going to keep this silence up?


“Come on, Fade!” said Rasha, dark gray pelt visible against the moonlight. “Let’s go hunting! Come on!”
I looked over to my mate, Rasha. By the elements, I loved her so dearly. She was so happy and bright, despite her dark pelt, and she was always finding ways to make me smile. “Alright,” I said, padding after her. “Let’s go.”

“Fade…” pain flashed in her golden eyes. “Fade –”

She was bleeding. She’d given birth to the pups and now she wouldn’t stop bleeding. How can I help? How am I supposed to save her?

“Rasha –” I started, “Rasha, please, what’s happening?”

“Some wolves die in birthing their pups, Fade,” she whispered, “I think I’m going to be one of them.”

“No!” I snarled, “I won’t let you! Rasha, you can’t die, not after everything we’ve been through together –”

“Fade, I…I love you.”

She was gone.



My eyes flew open and in a single moment I was on my paws, head snapping around to make sure there was no danger nearby.

Nothing. The night was so silent.

At least, till a voice cut through the air, a voice that wasn’t mine.

“What’s wrong?” Asked the voice.

I looked over to where the voice had come from, and saw a rusty-brown she wolf standing among the shadows, orange-brown eyes glinting.

“Who are you?” I demanded, then I realized who she was.

The next thing that found its way out of my mouth was the most stupid thing I could have possibly said. “You’re not dead!”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
I whipped around, Guy copied my movement.

A small, solitary female stood, narrow shoulders, long, spindly legs, overlarge, floppy ears, making her head seem a bit…lopsided. A short, scruffy pelt, made up of a light tan colour, speckled and dotted with white around her muzzle and paws. A dark streak made its way down her back, a surprising darker shade of brown that stood out against her pale tan fur. Her eyes were caught between puppy blue and the classic adult gold, making her eyes seem almost greenish-bluish-gold. Not that that made any sense, even to me. Let’s just put it this way: her eyes were hard to describe.

“Why are you guys fighting?” she asked, “Why would you guys fight over such silly things about whatever happened in the past? It looked like you were ready to tear each other’s throats out!”

Guy stood stiffly a wolf-length or so away from me. “That’s because we were ready to rip each other to shreds.”

I looked away from him, “I was being much more rational than you were, Mr. By-the-elements-I’m-so-sad-I-don’t-even-know-what-to-do-with-myself.”

The small she-wolf giggled.

Guy looked scandalized. “At least I wasn’t singing a stupid song about life being a dream!” he spat.

I laughed. It was a harsh sound that split the air like a shriek. It didn’t sound like me at all. “Obviously you weren’t even listening! You were too entranced by my beautiful voice that you couldn’t even hear what I was singing about!”

“You two are unbelievable, you know,” the she-wolf said, still giggling. “But you’re funny to watch. I think I’ll stay just to listen to you argue some more!”

Guy focused his attention on the smaller wolf. “No,” he said, “I don’t think you will. Because this argument is about to end.”

“Actually,” I said, “It’s not. Because I think maybe she should stay – ha! Now you have to argue back!”

Guy whirled around to snarl at me, “She can stay with you, that’s just fine with me! But I’m not spending another moment in your presence!”

He turned and stalked off, his dominating aura soon leaving the air oddly empty.

The small she-wolf, well, she wasn’t much more than a pup, looked a bit guilty. “I think I scared your boyfriend off.”

I stared. “W-what?” I asked, startled. “N-no! It’s not like that! I’ve only known him for a couple hours! We’re not –”

“Okaaay,” she said sceptically, “If you say so…” there was a pause, and then she added, “But I think he likes you. A lot. Even if you do make him mad.”

I brushed it off, even though those sudden words had startled me. “I doubt it,” I said.

There was a pause. “What’s your name?” I asked finally.

She smiled, it was a happy, radiant smile. “I’m Ana, and I think I’ve finally found a new friend.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
The she-wolf was laughing. But it wasn’t a normal laugh, it was more of a harsh sound, but at the same time it was distinctly bemused. It sounded like she wasn’t used to laughing. Maybe she doesn’t laugh that often?

Okaay…then.

“Y-you thought I was dead!” She looked at me, and laughed some more. “I wasn’t dead! I was just taking a nap!”

In the middle of nowhere? Right out in the open?

I stared. “But you weren’t breathing!”

She rolled her eyes, “Of course I was! You can’t live without air, O Smart One.”

I narrowed my amber eyes at her. “Fine. You were breathing. Okay. Continue on breathing. That’s fine with me.”

I whipped around and stalked back to where I’d been laying down.

“Wait,” she said, “Aren’t you going to tell me your name?”

“No,” I answered, “Because it’s not likely that we’ll ever see each other again.”

“Okay…” she said, “That’s fine. I’m Khalik.”

“Goodbye, Khalik.”

I didn’t bother telling her that I actually thought that “Khalik” was a pretty name. It was a stupid notion. One that I would be better to ignore.

She turned, and then walked away, tail low, shoulders slumped.

“I’m Fade,” I whispered.

She looked back. “Goodbye, Fade.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞


---


∞Chapter IV∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
“Come on, Jury,” I said, shoving my younger half-brother forwards. “We have to keep moving.”

Jury didn’t reply.

Have you just completely stopped speaking? I wondered, Have you just decided to be silent for the rest of your life?

Orange-brown eyes danced across my mind, I pushed the eyes away. Khalik’s eyes. Does it matter that her eyes won’t leave your foolish head? I wondered, Does is matter that you met a wolf last night? No! It doesn’t!

I kept walking, with Jury beside me. We avoided each other’s gaze. We stopped glancing towards each other. After a long time, I finally spoke. “Jury,” I said, “You can’t just stay in silence for the rest of your life.”

“Yes I can,” he retorted.

I looked at him, “Well you’re not.”

Jury stopped walking. “It’s just a lot to take in. I mean, I remember the story about Xanuh the ‘alien-wolf’ Scout told us and how Leon and Shun defeated him. Frost and I used to argue about who was better – Leon or Shun.”

He paused, and when I didn’t comment, he continued. “I think it was that story that put it into Frost’s head that he could be a hero. That he could save you. But it was just a story. Frost never knew that. He was so…foolish.”

I looked down at Jury, guilt riding my face. “It was always that story. I wasn’t there when she told it, but, knowing Scout, she did a good job.”

Scout. The name brought pain to my heart. I ignored it.

“She did,” Jury said bitterly. “She made it sound so real. Every pup in that pack was leaping with excitement.”

There was a pause. “And then Leon told a story about a wolf who was raised by wolves who had gone insane from a disease. He told a story about how the wolf was brave, but battle-hardened and grim. He said the wolf had a mate, and that she died, and he never forgave himself for not saving her. He was never the same.” Jury swallowed. “He said the wolf’s name was Fade.”

My shoulders slumped. “I guess he got the story right.”

Jury looked at me. “Fade, when we met up with you and your big gang of the remaining wolves from your father’s pack, the ones who hadn’t been driven to insanity, you and Leon had a fight. Y-you said something about Scout, and how Leon had taken the wolf you loved –” Jury’s voice cracked and he stopped abruptly. “Was all that you said true?”

I looked away, then decided to tell the truth instead of pushing the emotion away, like I had been for so many seasons now. “Yes,” I said softly, “It was true.”

It was true and I never let it out. I should have, though. I should have told her.

Jury looked at me mournfully. “I never knew that you were so…distraught.”

I laughed bitterly. “Distraught is a good word for it, but torn apart would be a better way to put it.”

Jury sighed. “It’s not your fault that Frost died. And it’s not your fault that my mother died. They made their choices. You made yours. If Frost had distracted Twilight, I think you might be dead.”

“Oh no,” I said sarcastically, “I would have survived getting my throat ripped out by that insane, out-of-his-mind wolf that called Scout his mate.”

Jury smiled, just a little bit. “I think you and I might get along after all.”

I sighed. “I certainly hope so.”
A vaguely familiar scent crossed my path and I stopped in my tracks. It couldn’t be. No. It wasn’t – at least, I thought it wasn’t.

At least, I thought it wasn’t, until I saw the black she-wolf leap out of the bushes. “HA! I have found you and now you are mine to take prisoner!”

Jury and I gaped. “Armida?”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
“Come on, Ana,” I said, “Let’s go find Guy.”

“I thought you said you’d only known him for a couple hours, why do you need to go find him? And why is his name Guy? Or is that just you calling him a ‘guy’?”

“His name is Guy,” I replied to the little wolf who never seemed to stop asking questions. “Yeah, weird name, but I’m not going to bug him more than I already have.”

Ana shrugged her narrow shoulders. “Okaay then…”

“Let’s go,” I said.

And so Ana and I set off to find Guy.

---

“Guy,” I called, “Guy!”

“What do you want?” The harsh reply came from the bushes. “Leave me alone!”

“Look,” I said, “I’m sorry. That’s all I wanted to say.”

“Well unfortunately for you, I am not sorry.” He said from the bushes.

I rolled my eyes, “Come on out where I can see you.”

And your amazing eyes.

I coughed awkwardly, almost as though I thought that both Ana and Guy would be able to hear that thought if I didn’t cover it up.

Dark eyes brimming with flame…

I wanted to see those gray eyes, and the faint hue of blue in them. Like storm-clouds, more gray than anything else, but almost blue as well…

You’re being stupid, I told myself, Think of Hail – what would he think of all this nonsense?

“No.”

Ana broke in with her chirpy voice. “Come on, she just wants to know that she’s not talking to a bush!”

“Well, logically,” said a new, smooth, arrogant voice, “She is.”

Ana and I whipped around to see a tall, lanky he-wolf with pale gold fur like sunshine, and amber eyes with flecks of emerald and jade green in them. Thick gold fur deepened into a colour like the sunset around his shoulders, and lightened into silvery sunshine around his belly and legs.

“Who are you?” I demanded.

A moment later, Guy emerged from the bushes and came to stand beside me. “What do you want?” he growled.

The he-wolf laughed. “What makes you think that you’re so high and mighty? What in the name of the elements, makes you think that you could possibly defeat me?”

I narrowed my eyes. He’s arrogant, this one, I thought, Arrogant and over-confident.

Guy bared his teeth in a snarl, “What makes you think that you could take three wolves on at once and still win?”

He laughed. “Only two wolves. The little female can’t be more than a year old. She doesn’t know how to fight at all.”

“Well I do,” I snapped, “And so does he, so I think that it’s fairly accurate to say that we’d win.”

“You want to give it a go?” asked the golden wolf, tossing his head arrogantly.

“Yes,” snarled Guy. “I do. It’s only a shame that you’re not black, if you were, I might actually think that you’d be the wolf I’m looking for.”

He chuckled. “Everybody’s looking for me. They just seem to naturally gravitate towards my natural radiance.”

Ana was giggling like crazy now. “Natural radiance,” she muttered and laughed some more.

I rolled my eyes, Guy tensed, and then he sprang forwards like a cat, and the wolf dodged. Guy landed, and then whirled on him, only to have the wolf sigh and shake his head.

“You’re a waste of my time,” he said, “You’re darkness is nothing compared to my goldenness. You’d have to be much stronger, and much darker to be able to compare to me.”

He turned, and sauntered away, leaving us three standing there, dumbfounded by his arrogance.

“Wait,” I said, “Who are you?”

He looked back, “I am the higher purpose in life that every-wolf seeks to serve. My name is Howl.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
Armida nodded, “Yep. It’s me, come back to haunt you from your darkest days.”

Jury looked surprised, and pleased. “It’s so good to see you!”

I nodded, “Yes,” I said, “It is nice to see you again, but really, why are you here?”

“I got bored,” she said. “Scout has had her pups, three of them, two males and a female. The female looks like she’s going to be white, one male looks like he’s going to be black like you, and the other male looks sort of like Hinun.” She paused, “They’ve decided to call the female Zelda, the black male is Baron, after Scout’s father, and the golden one, well, he’s going to be Niall.”

I smiled even as pain stabbed at my heart. “That’s good to hear,” I said, “How is everyone?”

“Good,” Armida said, “Leon is as smart-mouthy as usual, Scout’s happy, Bella’s still grouchy but that’s probably because she’s due with pups too, Hinun’s always telling people to quiet down, Lyall is mostly remaining quiet, Melody is busy helping Scout with the pups and Red Sunset is hanging with Leon a lot.” She took a deep breath, “I think that’s all.”

“Bella is due with pups?” I asked curiously, “Usually isn’t there only one mated pair?”

“Yes,” Armida replied, “Scout and Leon decided she deserved them.” Her smile became bright. “Look at you two! You’re uncles now!”

Jury looked dumbfounded at the idea. “Once we find my brother we’ll have to head back to see them.”

I nodded, “Yes, we will.”

“What are the pups like?” Jury asked, “Like, as in personality?”

“Zelda is a like a cross between Scout and myself,” Armida said, “Baron is much like Fade, and Niall is like Leon and Hinun combined, which I think is a strange match-up, but, it happened anyways.”

I sighed, Pups.

Jury looked pleased, “I can’t wait to meet them!”

Armida smiled. “So, like I was saying, I got bored, so I decided to come find you two to see if I can get another couple adventures squashed into my life.”

I nodded, “That’s understandable.”

“How is everyone coping with Rose Thorn’s death?” Jury asked softly.

“They’re devastated, but they’re slowing starting to get used to her absence.”

I sighed. “Can we keep going?”

Armida nodded, “Yes, we can. Let’s go. We’ve got an adventure to live!”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞


---


Okay, I'm going to stop the post here, mostly because it's already a very long post, but also because I have to leave soon. xD
For the people who have already ready all this, sorry. xP But I didn't want to just post the last like, two chapters, so I'm working my way up to them.


Last edited by -DarkMyst on Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:32 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: -Fade to Black [prologue-ch.8 have been posted]

Post  -Ratchet on Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:02 pm

Yes!! 8D You posted it! <333 I can't wait for Chapter 14....(;
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Ch. 5--Ch.8

Post  -DarkMyst on Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:28 pm

Well, I've got some time so I'll post some more. =D Unfortunately not much, only chapter 5-8, but that's mostly because I'm working on the new chapter: chapter 13. =D

--


∞Chapter V∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
“Well,” I remarked, “What a snob he is.”

Guy nodded, but Ana was still giggling, “I rather thought that he was funny,” she said, smiling brilliantly.

I sighed. Guy sighed. We all sighed.

“Let’s go,” I said, “I’m hungry, and I’m sure Guy is too, we’re going to need to find some food soon.”

Guy looked at me oddly, “Who says I’m going to go with you?”

“Well, you’re either going to come willingly or I’m going to drag you by your scruff because I’m not just going to leave you to mope in your tree for the rest of your life.” I looked at him, meeting his gray gaze, those infuriating little slivers of blue making me look at him longer than I should.

Guy sighed again, “Fine,” he said irritably, “I’ll come – on one condition.”

“Oooooooh,” Ana said, faking a spooky tone, “So scary…”

I rolled my eyes, Guy shot Ana a glare.

“No more bossing me around, okay?” he looked me in the eyes. Some unsaid threat shadowed his face, and made me want to cower for a moment.

I sighed dramatically. “Alright. No more bossing The Big Guy around.”

Guy looked at me, scandalized. “Are you making fun of my name?”

Ana looked at Guy, then at me. “I think she was,” she put in unhelpfully.

“Me?” I asked, mocking innocence, “No! Never!”

Ana started laughing hysterically, earning a menacing stare from Guy, which eventually made her fall into silence.

“Let’s go,” Guy said, and stomped off to the bush.

“Um, Guy,” I said mildly, “Not all of us love to go and hang out in bushes like you do. Maybe we could stick to flat ground instead of jagged thorn bushes?”

A furious snarl erupted from the bushes and Guy came out, black and angry, gray-blue eyes brimming with flame, tail lashing, right up to me he swaggered, and then growled out one flat word. “Fine.”

Ana looked a little intimidated. I couldn’t blame her. Even I was a little mystified by his abnormally short fuse.

“Uh, let’s go find some food, guys,” I said. “Before Big Guy here decides to blow up on us.”

Not a smart move.

Guy glowered at me, “Don’t push your luck too far, Tamina.”

“You can only push your luck if you have luck to push,” I replied.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
Armida, Jury and I continued on.

“Why are we going this way?” Jury asked, “Do you know where those wolves are?”

“I have an idea,” I replied, “We’ve got to cross a great big plain to reach the dark mountains. The diseased wolves had an old territory there. I think they might’ve gone back there.”

“You know the way?” Asked Armida.

“I was raised there,” I answered flatly.

“Oh.”

I sighed. “Come on, let’s just keep going. We need to cover a lot of land in a short amount of time.”

Jury looked at the sky, which was already darkening with indigo-gray storm clouds. “You’re right,” he said, “We’d best be moving on.”

---

Before long, rain had started to fall, and we were still nowhere near the plains. Just great, I thought, We’re going to lose more time than we’re making up.

After a long time, the rain felt like it had turned into ice shards, shooting down from the sky to try and spear every creature in existence.

When I looked up, just to make sure that the rain had suddenly turned into the ice it felt like, I saw lightning dancing among the deep indigo-black clouds, lighting it up and then darkening it again as thunder split the air with its deep, menacing shriek.

Jury winced as the thunder echoed among the sky, “Let’s hope the rain lightens up soon,” he said.

Armida nodded, and said grumpily, “I hate the rain.”

I nodded with her, agreeing.

Suddenly a voice cut through the momentary silence, “What’s wrong with the rain? What did it ever do to you?”

I looked over, and there was Khalik, standing in the rain, all rust and gold at the same time, orange-brown eyes glinting as her eyes slid over me.

“Well,” I put in, “My brother, John, drowned in a river.”

“Oh,” she said. “Alright then.”

“Who are you?” Asked Jury warily.

“Yeah,” added Armida, fearless as always. “What do you want?” She paused and looked at Khalik suspiciously, “Are you here to infiltrate us and then poison our minds with lies?”

Khalik looked confused for a moment, then she snapped out, “No, I was here to help you but since you decided to be so rude, I don’t think I will.”

She whirled around and started to stalk away.

“Wait,” I said suddenly, “Come back, Armida’s always like that – forgive her. She was just a little suspicious.”

Khalik turned. “Alright,” she said, “I’ll help you. Where are you headed?”

“We’re headed to the Dark Mountains,” I replied.

She gaped, “Are you mad?”

“What?” Jury asked, “I was raised there.”

“So was I,” I added, Not that it was a very good place to grow up.

“Didn’t you hear?” She asked, “There are wolves there that are diseased or something. They’re old leader – I heard his name was Storm – was killed by a black wolf, and then they got a new one called Twilight or something, was killed by another black wolf, and now there’s a wolf called Bitter Puddles who’s leading them.”

The memory of killing Storm, my own father, and then Twilight flashed across my mind, and I involuntarily winced.

Bitter Puddles. The name struck a faint chord in my memory. I remembered that name from somewhere. Where, I wasn’t sure.

“Bitter Puddles?” Jury looked horrified.

“What?” Armida demanded, “Who’s Bitter Puddles? And by the elements, who named him? Because it sounded like his mother drank out of a puddle that was poisoned or something and then decided to name her pup after it!”

“Bitter Puddles,” Jury murmured, “He was the son of Brisk Feathers, the leader of the Black Singers pack – my pack.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞



---





∞Chapter VI∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Guy∞
What was I supposed to think of her? She was…complicated. And not just on one level, on multiple levels, of that I was sure. She was most definitely a wolf whose complicated personality might just match the complications of my own past and mind.

To some wolves, Tamina may appear beautiful. Sure, she was something to look at; with that chocolate coloured fur with the cinnamon-gold highlights dappling her pelt like autumn sunlight. Her deep, sunset yellow eyes were intriguing with their sense of fierce dominance, sarcasm, and the confusing flashes of emotion that her face seemed to lack.

She was nothing compared to Naomi. Naomi, a name so common, so simple, nothing like the name Tamina. The ao of her name echoed in my mind, the soft mi spattering my thoughts like raindrops.

Naomi. So utterly golden, bright, happy, bubbly. She had been the one wolf to make me laugh. She made me smile when I was sad, she made me laugh when I was mad. Her kind brown eyes, not unlike the deeper shades of mahogany in Tamina’s pelt.

Tamina. Such a different name. Ta. Like the spit I spat at Phoenix as she’d forced me to watch Naomi die. Mi. Like ‘me.’ Kind of like how she seemed to have a bit of an ego. Not that I was any better. Na. Like the note Naomi used to sing. Na, na, na, na, na…

Tamina.

I still didn’t know what to think of her. How was I supposed to really feel about her? Half the time she was patronizing me, the other half we were arguing, and assuming there was a third half, she seemed to be pitying me.

She was infuriating.

And she made eye-contact with me too often. I didn’t even know why she did that. It’s not like my eyes were purple or something. If they were purple I would have bothered to look at them in a puddle more often.

Naomi had always said I had beautiful eyes. But that was Naomi. She saw the beauty in everything—even when it wasn’t there.

To me, my eyes were like storms. Which pretty much fit my personality. Moody. Stormy. Unpredictable. I was dangerous. An ice wall just waiting to shatter and stab and destroy whatever poor, unfortunate wolf was standing beneath.

Tamina. I could probably spit out a word for each sound in her name.

Tempered. Arrogant. Moody. Ignorant. Notorious. Alluring.

Tactful. Abrasive. Majestic. Inspirational. Naïve. Adorable.

Tolerant. Amazing. Mysterious. Immature. Naughty. Aspiring.

Tacky. Accident-prone. Magnetic. Irrational. Noticeable. Absorbed.

So far the first list seemed to be the most accurate.

It was going to take time and patience to try and figure her out. One thing was for sure—she was going to get on my nerves while I chased this quest of mine…this quest to learn more about her, where she came from, and who she really is.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
Oh no, don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here, completely ignoring you while I try to figure you out at the same time.

My thought was one of bitter distaste. I walked beside Guy, with Ana between us, her tail swishing brightly. For once, she was silent. The absence of sound was an emptiness I enjoyed. I was fairly sure that Guy would agree with me.

I was trying not to look at him—trying, and failing.

Guy was…complicated. Of that I was sure. The question was, how long would it take me to figure out why he was so snappish and moody, and why he refused to tell me anything about where he’d come from, who he’d known, and why he was like this now. Not that I was telling him anything either.

His eyes. Those stupid eyes were so distracting. Most wolves had brown eyes, or amber eyes, or hazel eyes, but no—he had to have the fascinating ones with those infuriating little slivers of blue among the stormy gray. Like shards of ice in the sky. What an odd thing to compare some-wolf’s eyes to, I thought.

It didn’t help that his icy eyes stood out against his dark pelt. That only drew my eyes to his even more.

Worst of all—I was sure he was noticing my obvious fascination with his eyes. I could never stop looking at them. It was starting to get annoying. Very annoying.

Why is he so…mood-swingy?

It was a question I was tempted to ask out loud, and I almost did a couple times, but I managed to shut my yap every time I caught myself about to speak.

What had happened to make Guy like this? I wanted to know. I was naturally curious—or nosy, as my mother had always said. I preferred to call it curious. It made me sound more innocent.

I wanted to ask him. I wanted to ask him so badly. If I could just get him alone…then maybe I would be able to get my questions out—it was just a matter of whether he answered them or not. And if he answered them, would his words be truthful?

This was a question I could not answer—it was one that only Guy was capable of revealing.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞


--


∞Chapter VII∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
“What do you mean your pack?” I asked. “Your birth pack?”

Jury nodded, “Yes. My birth pack. Bitter Puddles…” Jury paused, “Hey, Fade, you killed Twilight. I saw you!”

Khalik turned to me, “Is this true?” She asked, “You killed Twilight?”

I nodded. “He threatened my pack. I wasn’t about to let my brother or his mate fight him, so I challenged him myself to spare us lives, and I killed him.”

“And what about Storm?” Jury asked, “Wasn’t he your father?”

Now Khalik just looked shocked.

Would you just shut up, Jury? I wanted to snarl.

I sighed and nodded. “Yes. Storm was my father. I killed him too.”

“Y-you –” I cut her off before she could finish.

“Yes,” I said, “Tyrant, murderer, I know, believe me, I’m used to getting it.” Mostly from myself, I added mentally. Not that I’d ever tell Khalik that.

“No, actually, “Khalik said, frowning. I was going to say hero.”

Armida looked confused. “Umm, how does killing his own father make him a hero?” She asked unhelpfully, ruining my one moment of shock, surprise, and pride.

“Storm was the tyrant. Twilight was just plain messed up. Both of them were diseased. And Fade…he killed them both. He’s a hero.”

Hero. The word echoed in my mind and for a moment I felt a burst of pride. At least to one wolf in the world, my dark deeds seemed heroic. How very charming.

“How do you know his name?” Armida demanded. “Spy! I knew it! I knew it! You’ve been tracking us!”

I groaned. Major slip-up on Khalik’s part. How were we going to explain that we’d already met?

“You said his name earlier.” Khalik was quick to defend herself. And although her defence was a lie—and a brave one at that—I could tell that Armida didn’t quite believe her.

Armida narrowed her eyes, “Did I say your name while I was talking, Fade?” She asked me.

“Yes,” I lied. “I believe you did.”

I glanced at Khalik. Don’t slip up again, I mentally warned her.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
Guy’s iceberg eyes fell on me as we walked, they were foggy and unfocused, like he wasn’t really there. I was willing to bet that he wasn’t really thinking about the present—instead, he was dwelling in the past. Much like I often did.

“Hey, so where do you think we’re going?” Asked Ana—motor-mouthy as usual.

I glanced at Guy, and then back at Ana. “I’m not sure,” I said. “We’re just…travelling.”

“Okay,” Ana said, undeterred by the lack of information. “Let’s just keep walking in some random direction and hope we end up in the right place!”

“Well,” I said, “That’s the plan.”

Ana sighed. “Being an adult seems to be very overrated.”

Guy spoke, his voice cold like his ice shard eyes. “That’s because it is.”

--

Ana was asleep, her flanks rising and falling slowly, her breath barely stirring the air. Guy sat at the other side of the small clearing we’d found, facing a tree. I was sitting at the side opposite of his.

I carefully took a step forwards. “Guy,” I said tentatively. “I can’t help but notice that you seem a little…off…today.”

Guy whirled around, eyes blazing like icy fire. “What makes you think that?” he demanded, looking both scandalized and furious at the same time.

I immediately went on the defensive, and wanted to snap back at him, but I took a deep breath, counted to ten, and then spoke calmly. “I was just wondering if there was anything I could do to help.”

Guy looked at me. Just looked at me. For a moment, there was some sort of a strange emotion in his eyes, definitely not anything akin to affection, but something like…awe. As if I could awe him. He looked like he was looking at me for the first time. I stared back at him, then coughed awkwardly and looked away.

“It’s nothing,” Guy said, his voice sounding oddly defeated. “I’m just in one of those mood-swings again.”

“Well,” I said, and coughed again. “Uh, if there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”

I laid down on the ground and closed my eyes. A voice—Guy’s voice—stirred my sub-consciousness as I started to drift away.

“Tamina—thank you.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Guy∞
Well what was I supposed to think of her now?

Alright, well, I admit. Maybe she did have at least an ounce of kindness in her, an ounce of compassion, an ounce of something beyond obnoxious sarcasm. Not that I was much better.

Tamina, Tamina, I thought, shaking my head. How complicated can you get?

As she walked away, I watched her, wondering why she had bothered to ask about my “off-ness.”

It’s not as if I was anymore “off” than normal…was I?

I didn’t know. I could no longer rate my dark emotions on a scale of 1 to 10. It seemed that they had already risen above 10. By now, my confusion was somewhere around 120, and my usual bitter anger…well. Let’s just say it was off the charts.

---

The next morning Tamina woke Ana and I up early—before the sun had even risen.

“What is going on?” I demanded.

“Nothing,” she replied curtly. “I just want to get moving. Quickly.”

I looked around cautiously, then I looked warily over to the chocolate-cinnamon coloured she wolf. “Is there a particular reason?” I asked.

“No,” she said. She was lying. I knew it. I could tell.

I shrugged, “Alright then…let’s just go.”

“Why won’t you tell him where we’re going?” Ana piped up unhelpfully, “Don’t you trust him?”

Tamina threw her a glare. I glared at Tamina.

“I mean, it’s not like he hasn’t already guessed that we’re going to the Dark Mountains, right?”

If looks could kill, Ana would have been dead in two seconds flat.

“Oops,” Ana muttered.

Tamina looked over to me. “Alright, we’re going to the Dark Mountains—happy now?”

No, I thought, glowering at her. I’m not.
Then, a voice cut through the air, hostile, and suspicious. “Who are you—and why are you going to the Dark Mountains?”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞


---


∞Chapter VIII∞
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Fade∞
The black wolf was the first to react. He whipped around, and met my eyes, and for a moment I was caught off guard by the startling hostility in them. For a moment, I thought he had blue eyes, then I realized they were a frigid, ice gray with slivers of iceberg-blue in them. Unusual. His eyes seemed to drown me in his anger, so cold and clear, I could almost feel his inner torment.

In that half second we stared at each other before the other two reacted, I felt a some sort of a connection. I understood his inside pain. I knew what he was obviously going through—even if the others didn’t.

Only a moment later the two other wolves whirled around, the younger tan coloured one looking surprised, the older, brown one with cinnamon highlights looking suspicious.

“Who are you?” demanded the brown female, sunset gold eyes flashing.

“I could ask you the same thing,” I replied coldly.

“What she really means is whether you want to eat her or not,” the young tan fey put in. “But we would like to know who you are,” she added.

The black male remained silent. His iceberg eyes met my own fiery ones suspiciously. Whatever was going through his mind, I was sure it wasn’t good.

I glanced at Armida, then Khalik. Khalik gave me a tiny nod, so I decided to go ahead and tell them our names.

“This is Armida, this is Jury, and that’s Khalik.” I said the words flippantly, trying to make it sound as though I was either just plain careless, or that I wasn’t worried about them at all—even though I was.

Yes, there were more of us, but only one more, and the black male looked like he could easily take down Jury. Armida and Khalik might be able to take the brown female, and if I distracted the black male then Jury could take on the little tan fey.

“And you?” Asked the black wolf suspiciously, speaking for the first time. “What’s your name?”

“Why don’t you tell me yours, and maybe I’ll tell you mine,” I replied coolly.

The brown female’s muzzle twitched into a grim smile. “I’m Tamina,” she said, “This is Ana”—she flicked her tail at the younger she wolf—“and that’s Guy.”

Guy. So that was his name.

“Now tell us who you are,” Guy said, hostility still creating a sharp edge to his voice.

“Fade,” I said, replying with the same tense edge in my own growl. “That’s my name.”

Something flashed in Guy’s eyes. Recognition. As if he had heard of me before.

I laughed inside of my own, deep dark mind. As if he’d heard of me. How many wolves have ever heard of you? None!

The recognition in his cold eyes tugged at my memory though. It seemed I should remember this wolf for some reason.

I frowned just the tiniest bit, trying not to let it show. I’ll have to try and remember later.

“Why are you going to the Dark Mountains?” I asked in a careful voice. Don’t want to get them on the defensive, I reminded myself.

Tamina looked suspicious. “We’re going to find my brother. I have intelligence that he went there to investigate something.”

“Would it have anything to do with diseased wolves?” Jury inquired.

Tamina narrowed her eyes at Jury. “And you’re wondering why?” She asked in a snappish tone.

Jury shrugged. “No reason, just curious.”

“What was his name?” Asked Armida, frowning, brows drawn over eyes, as though she was trying to figure something out. “I…I think I might have met him a while back.”

“Justice.”

“That’s it!” Armida said excitedly. “Justice! He was investigating all sorts of weird things, and diseases and so on, and then he left for…for…I don’t know.” She was frowning by the end of her sentence.

Tamina now looked excited. “Was he well when you last saw him?”

Armida shrugged. “It was a while back, like, a summer and a half ago, but yeah, he was doing fine.”

Tamina smiled. “Good to know.”
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Tamina∞
It was good to know Justice was doing well—at least, he was a summer and a half ago. Still, at least somebody had seen him.

The younger wolf, the one probably about my age, looked over at Armida. “I didn’t know you’d been to the Dark Mountains before.”

Armida shrugged. “Everybody’s gonna go there someday, most just out of curiosity.”

“Hey,” Ana said, “Why don’t we all travel together? Yeah, we’ll have to hunt more often, but safety in numbers, right?”

Jury nodded, as did Armida. The rusty brown female called Khalik remained silent, as she had for a while now. Fade threw a glance in Guy’s direction, and Guy met Fade’s fierce amber gaze with his own icy one.

I shrugged. “I don’t see any problem with it.”

Fade sighed. “Neither do I. Have any of you three been to the Dark Mountains before?”

I shook my head, Ana did, but Guy remained silent.

Fade’s gaze flicked over to Guy and settled on the other male’s face. The two stared at each other for a long, awkward moment, and finally Guy, smaller only in bulk, answered. “Yes.”

Something flickered in Fade’s amber eyes. I couldn’t tell what it was; I almost wanted to ask him what was going through his head. “Good,” he said, “At least not all of us will get lost.”

“I won’t get lost!” protested Armida.

“I never said you would,” the large black wolf replied coolly, looking back at Armida, who was much smaller than he, but equally fierce in her own way.

“I wouldn’t get lost either!” Protested Ana.

Jury smiled at Ana gently. “I’m sure you wouldn’t,” he said.

I looked around. Some part of me seemed to recognize that I could get used to these wolves.

Some part of me was saying that these wolves could soon become my new family.
∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞

∞Guy∞
Who was this black wolf who called himself Fade? Why was he familiar with the Dark Mountains? Could he be the one I was looking for? The black wolf who had…who had destroyed every possible means of happiness for me? Fade didn’t seem exactly friendly, but he didn’t seem like a bad guy.

I sighed, and mentally smacked myself in the face. You over think things, I thought. You need to stop, relax, and simply go to sleep.

I closed my eyes without glancing around to see if anyone else was asleep yet.

---

“Pup-killer, murderer,” they spat at me, “You killed them, you killed Phoenix’s pups, you killed the dominant’s offspring.”

“I didn’t do it!” I cried, “I didn’t even go near them – why are you accusing me?”

Confusion swept through me, What have I done to make them think that I killed the pups?

Naomi, the wolf I loved, she was my age, but now she looked at me with horror and mistrust,

“How could you?” she mouthed to me, “Why would you?”

“I didn’t!” I mouthed back to her, “I swear!”

Phoenix came striding towards us, rage in her eyes, the reddish-gold fur on her shoulders was bristling, her amber eyes glinted fiercely, “Give me one reason why I should kill you now,” she snarled.

“I didn’t do it!” I said, “Please, you have to believe me! I didn’t –”

“Then why was there a tuft of black fur in the den? You know very well that you are the only black wolf here! And why is there blood on your paws?”

“There isn’t!” I insisted, but when I looked down to my paws, they were covered in blood. But it wasn’t wolf blood, it was rabbit blood, I had just come back from hunting.

“Yes there is.” Phoenix’s smile was cruel, “Now, why shouldn’t we kill you now?”

“Because he didn’t do it!” Now it was Naomi who spoke up, “I trust him, I love him, he didn’t do it? Why would Guy have any reason to kill them? What sort of personal gain would he get from it?”

Phoenix snarled at Naomi, her red-gold fur bristling angrily, “Naomi,” she spat, “How dare you betray me, after I took care of you after your parents died, after I made sure you were fed and –”

“Leave her alone!” I snarled, “Fine, sure, I killed the pups, alright? I was jealous, I was foolish, go ahead and kill me! Why should I care? My life is empty already, my life is a living death – why would you hesitate?”


I just let them falsely accuse me, I’m dead for sure now. I lied. I’m going to die now.

Phoenix narrowed her amber eyes at me, “Guy,” she said, “You will not pay for what you have done, I’ll let you go, alright? But there’s only one thing, Guy,” she added after a moment. “I’m not going to let my pup’s death go un-revenged. Somebody must pay for their deaths. If you leave, Naomi will die. If you stay, Naomi is free to go.”

I choked on the own spit in my mouth, “You’re mad, you have some sort of disease! You can’t do this – it’s not fair!”


I didn’t do it – why must you kill her?

The wolves, my pack, my family all stared at me, waiting for Phoenix to speak.

“Was it fair that you killed my pups, Guy?” She asked coldly, “What is your decision?”

“M-may I speak to Naomi for a moment?” I asked finally, “Alone?”

Phoenix narrowed her eyes, “Fine,” she snapped finally, “Everyone, come with me. Naomi, stay here. Don’t murder my niece, Guy, or so help me I will kill you.”

Once they were gone, I looked at Naomi, “What am I going to do?” I hissed, “I didn’t kill the pups, I told them that, sure, but that was to make them leave you alone!”
Naomi looked at me, “Guy, I believe you, I will always believe you.”

“What can I do?” I asked her anxiously, “I can’t just let you die, but then again I can’t just let them kill me either.”

“I say you leave and try to make a life somewhere,” she said softly, “It doesn’t matter, Phoenix won’t kill me, I’m her niece, she won’t kill family.”

I took a deep breath, and opened my mouth to say “no” but Naomi cut me off.

“Guy, please, my life is worthless if you’re not here, I would rather die than my parted from you.”

I sucked in a deep breath, “What if we ran away?” I just barely breathed, “They’re not watching us, we could run right now, and we’d be too far away by the time that they figured out we were gone.”

Naomi looked excited at the idea, “Yes, Guy, oh yes! You’re so smart, why didn’t I think of that?”

I smiled at her, “Let’s go.”

We turned, and we ran.


∞∞∞\//\∞∞∞


Anyways, I hope to have more of the older chapters up soon!


-DarkMyst

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