Eclipse dragged her hind leg along, as she pushed herself through the snow, leaving a trail of scarlet blood behind her. Exhausted, she collapsed on top of the soft powdery snow and gazed up at the dark gray sky to watch the snowflakes fall in big clumps and land delicately on her unkempt fur. As she stood up, pain over took, and she winced, as she tried to use her hind leg, then pushed the pain away and dragged on knowing that sooner or later something would track her down. Eclipse pressed on, hoping she would soon reach the end of the field and find some place to escape the rising storm.
As she picked her way down a hill leading to the forest, Eclipse’s leg buckled underneath her, and she tumbled down and bumped against the trunk of a small pine tree. While Eclipse laid underneath the safety of the pine boughs, she looked around. The pine bows would block most of her from the snow and mask her scent. Eclipse sighed with relief, and she laid her fluffy tail over her muzzle, as she slowly drifted off to sleep.
Pine, a large male wolf, trotted along the crest of a small hill on the edge of a field, a rabbit dangling from his jaws. The snow had stopped earlier that evening, and the pack needed this food quickly. As he traveled along the trail, Pine felt something under his paws. As he drew his paw up, he caught the smell of fresh blood. He glanced down and saw a trail of blood and paw prints about his size that led down the hill. Perhaps one of his pack mates caught some difficult prey earlier and needed to rest, he thought. He picked his way carefully down the hill towards a small pine tree. As he approached, he saw a dark mess of fur half buried in the snow..
“Hello?” He said cautiously as he laid the rabbit down beside him. The mess of fur shifted around and a head slowly rose and looked over to face him. She let out a sigh. Finally, she stopped glaring at him and rolled over. Her golden eyes were blazing with determination and hostility. The fire in her eyes kept Pine in his place, but even through her gaze it was easy to tell that she hadn’t taken any food from his territory. In fact it looked like she hadn’t eaten in days. Her shoulders were jetting out of her back, and he could almost see every rib through her ruffled pelt. She seemed to be just fur and bones, and if the wind blew hard enough, she would be swept off her paws.
“What do you want?” she breathed.
Although she was acting like she was stronger than she was, Pine could tell by the way she dipped her head and swept her tail anxiously over the snow, that she was frightened. He explained to her that she was trespassing on his pack’s territory, and he thought she had killed something on their land. As he finished speaking, she glanced down at her hind leg as she replied,“I did not hunt on your territory...but the blood was from me.”
He looked at her leg. It was matted with blood, and he could just barely see a deep cut through the ruffled fur. When he was about to ask how it had happened, she spoke again as though he could understand his thoughts,“I don’t want to talk about.” He was about to ask more, but he thought better of it.
“Would you like to come back to where my pack is staying. There’s a wolf there that could help take care of your wound,” Pine asked, half hoping she would come. He needed to bring her to the alphas and let them decide what to do with her. They could decide to help her, or they could harm her, and for some reason he didn’t want that to happen.
After a long silence, she gazed up at him and nodded her approval. She stumbled to her paws, swaying side to side, and as she started to limp past him, he slid over to her side while picking up his prey. As he rushed to her side, she flinched, and after a moment’s hesitation she leaned against him. As they went over the crest of the hill, Pine let out a small breath of relief through the soft rabbit fur. At least this was the worst of the journey back, but then he tensed and stepped in front of her. Eclipse stopped abruptly to keep from knocking into him.
“Hey what was-” Then she stopped as Pine pressed his ears against his head. He nudged her into a large bush and pushed snow over her trail of blood. Then he crawled under the bush with her. She looked around and sniffed the air, but the scent from the bush was blocking all other scents. Then two male wolves came out of some dead bushes that surrounded the small clearing. One was a light grey wolf, and the other was a small reddish wolf with golden eyes. They sniffed the air and murmured to each other walking around the clearing. After they walked past the bush Eclipse turned her head to face Pine, “Who were they?”
“That’s Storm and Hawk. They’re apart of my pack, but they wouldn’t like seeing you here. They don’t take kindly to wolves from other packs and are rather aggressive.”
After checking to make sure the wolves had left, the two slipped out of the bush and into the clearing. As they made their way along the trail, hunger clawed at Eclipse’s stomach and she gave out a loud growl. Pine glanced at her with sympathy. Eclipse wished that she could stop looking at the rabbit in Pine’s jaws, but she couldn’t help it. It had been so long since her last meal. Besides why would he give it to her, they barely even knew each other.
As Pine listened to Eclipse’s stomach growl, he couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. He saw Eclipse look longingly at the rabbit and forced himself to look away. The pack needed to be fed first, he argued with himself. He stopped and gave out a long sigh, he didn’t know her, but he didn’t want to see anyone suffer. He stopped and dropped the rabbit at her paws. Eclipse gave him a confused look, as he nudged the rabbit closer to her paws.
Then she nudged it so it was in between them and said,“We should share.” Pine was a little shocked at what she said, in his pack the only wolves that shared food were friends. Maybe she thought of him as a friend. He hesitated, and then sat down in front of the rabbit and began to dig in with Eclipse. Finally, Pine licked his lips and led the way towards the dens.
When they got to the entrance of what looked like an old fox den on the side of a large hill, two wolves were guarding the entrance. Pine gave them a quick nod, and then squeezed into the den. Eclipse hesitated, but went through. Behind her she could hear some murmurs of suspicion although she couldn’t make out what they were saying. The tunnel finally came out into a large underground opening with a small hole in the roof and a stream of water running lazily through the middle. Along the sides of the opening were tunnels like the one she had been through. Eclipse guessed that they were the dens of the other wolves. Surprisingly it was quite warm and her back leg started to unstiffen. There was one opening that was bigger than the rest and out of it came a large dark gray male with amber eyes that glowed with pride. Alongside him was a more gentle looking female whose fur was the color of fresh snow and eyes the color of an evening sky. These must be the alphas Eclipse realized as she stumbled over the stream and stood anxiously next to Pine.
“Spruce, this is …. Wait I don’t even know your name,” Pine said motioning her to step forward and added.
“Eclipse.” she said quietly.
“I found her under a pine tree on the edge of the field near the mountains.”
The large wolf nodded slowly, “I want you and Eclipse to go hunting while we decide what to do with her.” He paused then added,“Maybe she can stay if she proves that she’s a good hunter.”
“But first let’s get that wound cleaned up,” It was female wolf with a dappled pelt and cunning green eyes who had spoken.
“Eclipse, this is Maple, she’s our healing wolf and will take care of your leg,” Spruce sighed. Then he turned to Pine,“and when you go hunting try not to eat the prey,” before Pine could say anything Spruce dismissed the two wolves with a flick of his ear. Eclipse felt Pine’s fur grow hot with embarrassment. She touched her nose to his ear, and Maple motioned them to what seemed to be her den.
Inside Maple motioned Eclipse to sit down on a pile of feathers and dry leaves. The small wolf examined her leg, then looked up at her with mischief and curiosity in her eyes,“I see you've been doing some mountain climbing. Might have been smarter to stay a little farther from the ice.”
Then Maple got to work on her wound. Eclipse didn’t pay much attention. She just looked around the large den, the stream from outside ran through here on the side and there were plenty of herbs neatly organized in small holes in the wall. Finally Maple stood up,“There you’re all finished, now let’s just make sure you can move.” Her leg was plastered with herbs, but as she staggered to her paws she found that she could easily walk around the den.“Good, now you should be all set to go on that hunt, I think I’ll go with you to make sure you don’t overwork your leg.” Maple said with satisfaction in her voice.
The group traveled along through the territory leaping over boulders and walking on top of the icy snow. “I hope you can join the pack, you would be a pretty valuable member.” Pine said
“You think so?” Eclipse wondered.
“I’m not sure, we don’t need another pup to go off wandering in the mountains.” Maple teased.
“I will have you know that…” Eclipse stopped as she felt the ground tremble beneath her. Then she saw enormous antlers rush out of the shadows “Run!”
Eclipse leaped to the side of the trail on top of a bolder. As the moose ran past them a group of wolves followed it and Pine rushed after the moose. Eclipse bounded unsteadily alongside him, slowly gaining on the other group, despite her bad leg. Maybe if I could try and get the moose, with Pine’s help of course, I would be accepted into the pack and Pine would be forgiven for the rabbit. Suddenly Eclipse found herself between the moose and one of the larger wolves who she soon realized was Spruce. Maybe he was here to help, but as they ran after the moose she noticed that he was trying to push her closer to the moose. She caught a glimpse of Pine trying to get the leader away, but it was too late, she slipped on the ice and collapsed under the hooves of the moose.
Eclipse could barely hear the pounding of the hooves and the howling in the distance, but the noise that she could hear the loudest was Pine calling out her name. She could barely see him gazing into her eyes, but she could tell that he was worried and sad. Her eyes began to close, and she felt the life drain from her as she looked back on the few memories she had with him. Wanting to change the sadness, she gathered all of her strength and flicked his tail with hers.