A family of four. A family of four mouths, four tails, eight ears, and sixteen feet. Or, what it used to be.
This year, Winter and his malicious nobility murdered Autumn and her dances, drowning her in his surfs. He threw everything out of balance in Pack Massif, as if he was discarding wolves off a cliff like rocks.
I am Albert, the first born of my family and the first wolf fated to die in the pack.
My parents are Anna and Michael, and I have a sister named Alix.
Anna and Michael are two saintly wolves who had taken care of Alix and me. My mother, Anna, was beautiful. It was no doubt that her genes were passed down to Alix. My father, Michael, was such a courageous wolf, I couldn’t count the quantity of his dedications to Massif.
Father was quite peculiar, I must say. Unlike most, he is unable to feel most physical feelings a normal being would have. He could still walk and all, though. I’m assuming that this fault is genetic, for Alix had inherited this quirk.
Alix was and will remain to be very pretty. I don’t think she realizes, but with Mother and Father’s obtrusively different pelts, they formed a beautiful combination. A gray female wolf with darker grey specks along her spine. I find it funny how she lack awareness for her appearance, but I shall not question her choices. She was extremely bubbly and extroverted, but that will soon to change.
Me? I am a pathetic black wolf who had been diagnosed with a sickness so ill that I am not allowed to leave the summer camp. I grow even more pathetic every time I glance at Alix’s joyful and oblivious expression.
I watched as Alix hurled herself into the summer camp, yelping and expressing great happiness and excitement. Her unique teal eyes were glistening up until she noticed the unsettled faces of the wolves around her.
“W-what’s wrong?” She asked, her tail swung to a halt.
Father came up to her from the herbalist den where my body lies still and reluctantly looked into her eyes. “I’m sorry, Alix-”
Before he finished speaking, Alix pushed him and charged towards the den with my body that is stinking up the herbs.
I drift alongside her, unable to speak.
“Albert!” Alix yowls, barging into the den uninvited. “Albert! Where-”
Almost stepping upon my body which was covered in lavenders, Alix shrieked. No words, thus metaphorically dead. Anna was curled beside my body, crying and whimpering in lament.
“I’m sorry.” Another wolf approached, her pelt rusty brown. “Albert’s breathing was sporadic, and we tried our best.”
Alix dipped her head to the rusted wolf, Orchid, before looking away from my body and her. “I-I see.”
Anna’s whimpering continued, paining my nonexistent heart. From the left side, I could hear almost inaudible sniffling.
I mouthed, my paw passing through her body. I’m sorry.
My beautiful sister turned around, just dodging Orchid, and left the herbalist den.
I turned around and witnessed Mother crying, sniffling while her body shook.
“Ma’am, your temperature is very low. Please stay warm,” Orchid fully entered the den and curled around Mother. “We will give him blessings before he is rebirthed.”
Mother reluctantly left the cold body and was brought deeper into the den to stay warm. Two other wolves came in and dragged my body out.
Following the wolves assigned to bury, I caught my sister shaking her head and grooming her face before entering the main den. Breaking off from the two wolves, I stood next to her instead.
I’m really pathetic. Couldn’t I just wait another day or two before dying? Winter and his rulings are absolutely ruthless.
Days after the funeral, the pack was ready to migrate to the winter camp. My mother was getting sicker and sicker by the day, quavering no matter what mental instability she had. Father was busy, unable to come by much. Even I didn’t see him as much as any of the girls of the family.
Alix, however, changed. I can’t tell if she is grieving or not. Her indifferent expression took over her, and she no longer wanted to leave for patrols.
“I don’t want to,” she would snarl, her fangs bearing, “I can hear you well. It is the touch that I lost, not my common sense.”
I believe that it is my fault, yet her ambiguous words confuses me. I do not want to see her like this anymore. It’s as if she changed character, a completely different wolf.
“Alix, we will be heading out,” a brawny white canine trudged over, prodding the brooding chicken.
She snarled aggressively and opened her eyes. Immediately, her expression changed from aggression to submission. “R-reshie, I’m sorry for that behavior. I swear to Spring that I shall not do that again.”
The alpha nodded, “For your own sake, don’t be so formal. However, please mind your behavior.”
Alix seemed irritated and sighed while stumbling onto her four paws. “Yes, Reshie.”
I looked at the two conversing wolves, observing their body language as well.
“We will be heading out in a while. Please take care of your mother, for she is quite frail,” Reshie sighed, concern flashing through. “To be frank, I don’t know if she would make it through this migration.”
Alix’s ears perked, narrowing her eyes. “I’ll be mindful. I’ll be off now, see you later,” she spoke before dashing towards the herbalist den.
I watched Reshie as he left, and a smile crept upon my face. At least she has a close friend looking after her. I followed Alix, and stopped by the doorway. This must be a quirk of being a dead spirit, but this was not at all pleasing.
My mother’s soul was beginning to itch out of her mortal body.
“Mother!” I hear my sister’s cry, “Dad please help!”
I can’t do anything except to spectate. My heart burns.
“Dad dad please do something! Orchid!” Alix continued to shriek.
Mother was scrambling on a sheet of thin ice while trying to pass the fallen tree. Her quivering body was sprawled flat, unable to move without cracking more ice.
Alix looked around before taking a deep breath. She crawled upon the ice and snatched Mother’s scruff.
A streak of lightning embedded in ice formed.
I could see Mother’s soul almost out of her body, only trapped by the tail. This is then, I realized that Mother will not be able to live another hour.
Alix and Mother were submerged in freezing ice. Mother’s body limp from the sudden drop of temperature while Alix slowly floundered her way back to shore.
A black blur passed through me as a wolf plunged in the water, helping Axis bring her mother back up shore. With Axis shivering, she quickly moved over to her mother and curled her body around hers, attempting to warm Mother before anything else.
The third wolf, Althea, was crowded by others, her expression of fury. “Alix! I understand your concern, but your option of saving a wolf is pathetic! I assume you know the faults of your body. Think twice, you immature pup!”
“Mother?” Alix spoke, ignoring Althea’s lecture.
Anna did not move.
Alix turned over and moved her ear to her jaws, listening. Her facial expression was one of lament. Immediately, Alix began wheezing and crying, her body unable to feel the growing hypothermia of her own body.
I looked at her spirit, smiling but sniffling at the same time.
I’ll see you later Albert, at rebirth.
With that, my mother left, drifting higher to reach the deities of the seasons.
“Alix, you will get hypothermia if you don’t take care of yourself!” Reshie rushed over, snarling. Michael and Orchid sprinted as well, curling around Alix to repel hypothermia.
“My mother is dead. Winter, isn’t my brother enough? Why my mother? Why hypothermia? Why make her suffer?” Alix whimpered, curling into the two warm bodies despite not being able to feel.
Albert, Albert. Yes, why did I have to die? Die with this timing? In the span of less than a half moon cycle from Anna’s death? Winter, such an abominable and despicable deity.
I looked turned around, witnessing Althea spit of irritation and Reshie’s painful gaze. Althea was still shivering.
“I’ll continue to trek, sir,” Althea spoke, barely audible to my own ears. She turned around and herded the other wolves to head towards the winter camp.
Reshie, on the other paw, stood there with pain crossing his face. Yet, he did nothing. The white wolf waited and waited until Alix’s temperature returned and Mother’s body was buried.
The rest of the migration seemed never ending. The small group of four wolves trudged through the snow in silence, moving in a much slower pace than they originally started. Alix was dragging her feet along the snow despite the physical support of her friends and father.
Upon reaching the camp, hordes of wolves surrounded Reshie while the herbalist and what was left of the small family trudged into the winter herbalist den.
“Sweetie, if you need anything, I’ll be here,” Michael spoke, his own paws trembling. The two wolves sat down, with Alix still as mad as ever.
I entered the den and sat next to Alix. Alix looked frail, despite her brawny frame from training. Her eyes were no longer glimmering even the smallest shard of glee. It was just deathly dull.
“I see,” was what came out of her mouth, as if not believing his words. “I see,” she faintly repeated.
Orchid sighed and looked down at Father, “Michael, do you feel well enough to tidy up the camp?”
He altered his focus and smiled, “Of course.”
It was conspicuous that he was pained. His fake smile was forced, for his quavering voice justifies my observation. Father picked himself up.
“I’ll see my favorite kiddo later,” he smiled once more.
“Yeah,” Alix replied.
With that, Father left the den.
While Orchid began sorting through the herbs that her apprentice, Lion, laid down for her, I stayed with my sister.
I lied over and over. I’m here for you. I’m here for you. There is no need for sorrow. I’m always here for you.
Yet I will never be there for her anymore.
Winter turned cold in the next few months, but it had no effect on Alix. My sister had to leave the herbalist den to make way for the physically ill patients despite being ill herself. Reshie increased his drop-by’s, visiting her at least once a day despite his busy schedule. Father, on the other hand, barely came by.
“Hey,” the white wolf popped his head into the den, causing Alix to stir. “It’s bright and sunny today. Want to come out?”
She looked up at him and stood up.
Reshie smiled and backed into the clearing, giving Alix space to wiggle out. He waited until she stretched in the afternoon gaze.
“This weather is quite peculiar,” Alix looked up to the sky, unable to find a cloud in sight.
Reshie nodded, “It’s as if Winter wanted to relieve us from his surfs.” He began trotting towards the entrance, followed by Alix.
“More like a preparation for another wave,” She looked away and sped up her walking. “I’ll make myself useful and go catch prey for the pack.”
He trotted next to her, surprised, “Oh? Why?”
“Eating without work is a sin,” Alix turned back and sped up to a sprint.
I drifted next to them, watching as they raced across. It was great to see Alix improving, but she still has a long way to go.
Alix’s line of sight changed drastically. She suddenly dashed to her right alternating from pouncing and sprinting. The gray wolf took a gargantuan leap and sent snow flying around her while a small squeal sounded from between her paws. Quickly snapping the writhing prey from her paws, Alix relaxed.
Reshie ran over and took less than a heartbeat to realize. “That was a smooth catch,” he spoke as his line of sight drifted to the Snowshoe hare.
“Tha-thanks,” Alix panted, exhausted. “Laying down all day proved to have a substantial result.”
“Quite obvious,” Reshie snickered. “Too bad that you are even more slower than me now.”
Alix retorted with a snort.
I couldn’t help but feel relieved. Her friendship seemed to help her improve quickly and efficiently, especially with Reshie.
“You are such a great friend,” she laughed, before picking up the white hare in her jaws. “And ith’s nat flatthery.”
Reshie chuckled before they started to walk back, or that is what I wished.
“Sir, sir!” a wolf barged through the light atmosphere. “Sir-” she looked at Alix and his face turned pale. “I’ll speak to you in private. Alix, please wait here.”
Alix nodded and sat down, guarding her catch while the two higher-ranked wolves talked out of Alix’s earshot.
My paws carried me to eavesdrop.
“Sir, Michael is poisoned and we realized it far too late.” The wolf spoke rapidly, his face as pale as ever. “He is being treated by my mentor, but she says that it may be slim.”
Immediately, Orchid charged through, startling everyone. She saw Alix sitting there, oblivious on what was happening.
Orchid walked over to Reshie gloomily and full of fright. Her body quavering, she took a deep breath before speaking.
“Reshie, Winter took him away.”