(Note: This is when it starts getting good, so please feel free to মতামত your thoughts below. I would প্রণয় to hear what আপনি think.)
Chapter 5: Stampede of Fate
Spring came and with it, another season of desperate hunting for the Eastern Pack, which had always been lacking in caribou. The দিন began like any other. The sun was rising from its place beneath the horizon, bringing light and warmth into the dens of the Eastern Pack.
Tony and Clara were preparing to head out with around twenty other alphas for one of their annual hunting trips, but first they had to bring Garth to the গর্ত of Scott and Carly, two family বন্ধু that resided within the pack. They would be looking after him until the alphas returned, as they had been doing since Garth was born. It wasn’t too far of a walk and after they ব্যক্ত their usual goodbyes, Tony and Clara headed off.
The hunts got longer and longer each বছর as the caribou population continued to decrease and they began receding farther away from the pack, who now had to venture out greater and greater distances to find them.
Tony, Clara, and the rest of the alphas journeyed through the woods, soon entering the rest of the Eastern Region and leaving the territory behind them. Luckily, there was a strong wind that carried the caribou’s scent to the hungry wolves. They tracked the caribou’s scent through many miles of woods, fields, and even a couple of lakes. They had caught what they could to eat along the way, but with such a large hunting group, squirrels did very little to satisfy their hunger. Days turned into weeks and soon the scent began to fade.
One day, there was a large storm raging and the hunting group was soon caught in the torrential downpour. The rain was pouring out of the sky harder than it had all মাস and the wind was violently whipping it into their faces. They seemed to be near the center of the storm, as the thunder was loud and the lightning আরো frequent than they would’ve liked, sometimes striking so close that they could see it through the trees.
They began to seek shelter, but there was absolutely nowhere large enough অথবা sheltered enough to provide a good place for the entire group to wait out the storm. Eventually, they reached their breaking point and বিভক্ত করা up in খুঁজুন of shelter, but that was the last thing they should’ve done.
They বিভক্ত করা up into groups of two and searched the forest for any caves, abandoned dens, অথবা anything they could use to shelter from the storm. One group was searching to no avail, as were all of them, when a bolt of lightning struck a nearby tree, blasting off a branch and setting it on আগুন in the process. The flaming branch fell on one of the wolves, lighting his পশম on fire. He ran around yelping in pain and fear. He could feel the flame spreading, singeing his flesh.
Luckily, there was a small pool of collected rainwater close দ্বারা and he rushed over and collapsed into the water, rolling around in it, soaking his entire body even more, and eventually, the flame went out. But not without giving the নেকড়ে significant second-degree burns along his back and side. His partner called out into the forest for help and luckily, there was another group nearby and they rushed to see what was wrong. When they arrived, they were met with a grisly sight.
The burnt নেকড়ে had a large patch of পশম that had been burned away down the length of his body. What remained was charred flesh that was as black as charcoal and was also covered with crimson blood. The three other নেকড়ে helped him through the forest to try and find Tony and Clara. But instead, they happened upon a cliff face with a large overhanging stone that could’ve easily sheltered the hunting group from the storm. Two of the নেকড়ে rushed off to find Tony and Clara while the other stayed behind with the burnt wolf. Around a half ঘন্টা later, the two নেকড়ে returned with the rest of the hunting group and they were finally able to rest for the night.
It was a warm দিন the পরবর্তি morning and the constant rain they had been getting had finally subsided. The sun came out and began its work drying everything out. Tony and Clara walked out from under the large stone they had sheltered under and took a moment to warm themselves in the heat of the sun.
After waking the rest of the group, they noticed a familiar smell in the air. Caribou. The scent was fresh. They were close by. The নেকড়ে rushed off in the direction of the scent, letting their powerful noses lead the way. They left a couple of নেকড়ে to stay with their injured friend while the rest left to hopefully finish their long hunting trip. The scent led them through a small grove of trees and out into a large open field.
The sun beat down on them with a most welcome heat. The caribou’s scent was so strong now, they could practically see it. They were just around a quarter of a mile down the field. They quickly but quietly began to head toward the herd of caribou, but when they were about halfway there, they suddenly stopped. The ground began to quake and rumble beneath their feet. They all knew what was coming.
“Stampede!” Tony shouted as the caribou rounded the corner and the নেকড়ে turned and rushed back toward the safety of the woods.
The নেকড়ে were fast, but the stampede was faster and soon it began to overtake them. They had almost made it to the woods when suddenly, Clara tripped on a rock and fell. Tony rushed back for his wife while the rest of the নেকড়ে safely made it to the edge of the forest.
Tony quickly helped Clara up and they began to run again, but the stampede was now right on their heels. They started to become surrounded দ্বারা the caribou. Out of desperation, Tony and Clara decided to try and break through the stampede to get to the woods.
Tony started to break off first, followed closely দ্বারা Clara, but not close enough as the caribou were able to slip between the two, separating them, and knocking Tony to the ground around the outer edges of the stampede. Several নেকড়ে leaped out from their hiding spot and helped Tony to safety where he anxiously waited for the stampede to pass by, all the while knowing that Clara was still in there somewhere.
Finally, the stampede passed, and Tony and the other নেকড়ে rushed out of the woods looking for Clara and calling her name. The rumbling of the caribou’s hooves grew fainter and fainter as they got farther and farther away. Tony continued to call for Clara. No answer. The field was a dusty mess of dirt and sediment that hung thickly in the air. The field grew silent and with the silence, the dust cleared and when it did, they found Clara.
She was lying motionless about two অথবা three yards from where they were standing. Tony rushed over and soon noticed the blood on her পশম and on the ground. Her beautiful, velvety পশম was now a bloody mess. Her body was battered, beaten, and bruised from the harsh kicks from the caribou’s hooves. She had received several hard blows to her face as well as a few broken ribs, a cracked pelvis, a dislocated hip, internal bleeding, and multiple ruptured organs.
Tony leaned down and touched his snout to her cheek. It was already stone cold. Tony didn’t even need to take another look. He didn’t want to. He knew full well she was dead. He was devastated and gave out a terrible, bloodcurdling cry that could be heard দ্বারা the few নেকড়ে that stayed behind under the sheltering rock that had no idea of what had just transpired.
Tony sat there পরবর্তি to his wife’s limp body. He felt lost. He felt he didn’t know how to go on without her. She was his everything, aside from Garth. One thing he didn’t know that would’ve made him feel a little better was that she died instantly and didn’t suffer much. Tony didn’t want to go and tell Garth what had happened, but he knew he had to. He knew that Garth loved his mother very much, and now Tony had to go প্রথমপাতা and tell him that she was gone. And that was going to utterly shatter Garth’s little heart. The stampede of fate had changed everything. The Eastern Pack would never be the same following Clara's death.