Chapter 8: Tony's Return
As the morning sun rose, Garth watched as another দিন began. Another দিন that his parents were gone on their hunting trip. It had been over a মাস now and he wasn’t sure how much longer it would be before they returned.
The দিন passed in the same way it had been passing for the past month. Garth would usually wake up early and sit at the entrance of the den, waiting for his parents to return. He would wait for around half an ঘন্টা অথবা আরো and would then eat breakfast with Scott and Carly, who continued his alpha training in Tony and Clara’s absence.
The সাম্প্রতিক torrential downpours, however, kept them all inside for the greater portion of the month. Fires had sprung up in the woods surrounding the territory due to the constant lightning strikes that had been hitting the pack.
The rain eventually stopped and then it was back to the same old routine. As the weeks continued to come and go, there was no sign of the hunting party. Garth began to think that his parents might never be coming back. They’d been gone too long, so something must’ve gone terribly wrong.
One morning, Garth woke up like usual. Except this time, when he sat and waited at the den’s entrance like he had been doing for a মাস and a half, he saw two figures appear in the distance, marking Tony’s return. They were moving very slowly, and one appeared to be limping a bit while the other helped him along. When the two got close enough, Garth stopped them as they passed দ্বারা the den.
The two stopped and looked at him. Garth looked at the নেকড়ে who had been limping. His back and sides were singed black like charcoal, beyond any form of recognition; his fur, burned away and his flesh half-melted. Garth shifted his gaze away from the wolf’s grisly appearance and began looking around for any sign of the rest of the party.
“Where’s everyone else?” he asked.
“They’re right behind us,” the other নেকড়ে said.
The two were about to leave and take the injured নেকড়ে back to his গর্ত when he stopped the নেকড়ে helping him.
“Wait,” he said.
He turned and looked at Garth.
“Um…Garth,” he said, solemnly. “There’s, uh.” He stopped and sighed. “There’s something I have to tell you. It’s about your parents.”
The নেকড়ে paused as Garth looked at him.
“Your, uh. Your mother, she, um,” the নেকড়ে tried to say.
He wanted to tell Garth about Clara. He knew he had to. He deserved to know. But every time he looked at Garth, he saw an innocent pup whose হৃদয় ached for his mother. Everyone in the pack knew how strong their bond was. But Garth just didn’t deserve to know, he had the right to know. But just as he was about to tell Garth the terrible truth about his mother, Tony and the rest of the hunting party arrived.
“Tommy,” Tony said. “You should be in your den, resting. আপনি need to let those burns heal, that’s why I sent আপনি and Jason ahead.”
“Right, sir,” Tommy said. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Tony replied. “Just rest.” He then turned to Jason. “Make sure he gets to his den.”
Jason nodded and then he and Tommy began slowly walking toward Tommy’s গর্ত again. Garth ran to his father.
“Dad!” he exclaimed. “You’re finally back, I was waiting forever. Did আপনি find any caribou?”
“No, we didn’t,” Tony said.
Garth looked around again, a distraught look forming on his face. Tony sighed deeply and sat down, just as Scott and Carly came to the entrance of the den.
“Tony, you’re back!” Scott said, happily, but his joy quickly faded when he saw that Tony wasn’t smiling with the rest of them. Instead, he had a look of despair on his face.
“Where’s Clara?” Scott asked.
“Yeah, Dad,” Garth said. “Where is Mom? Is she okay?”
Tony didn’t say anything. He just looked up at Scott and Carly as a tear rolled down his cheek. They got the message immediately and Carly gasped as Scott just stood there, speechless, too shocked to say anything. Garth looked up at them, and then back to Tony, without the faintest idea as to what was going on.
“Dad?” he asked, his voice beginning to quiver. “What’s wrong? You’re scaring me. Where’s Mom?”
Tony looked back at his son.
“Garth,” he said, his voice starting to shake as well. “Mom isn’t coming back.”
Garth’s face changed completely, from one of worried confusion to devastated sadness. But he still didn’t understand.
“Wait,” he said, a little confused.
Tony struggled to tell him the truth, knowing how much Clara meant to Garth. But he needed to know what “never coming back” really meant.
“She’s dead, Garth.”
“What?” Garth said. “Mom’s…dead?”
Tony slowly nodded as another tear rolled out of his eye.
“No,” Garth said, quietly. “No.”
“I’m so sorry I had to tell you,” Tony ব্যক্ত as Garth started to cry.
“No!” he shouted as he ran off.
“Garth-“ Scott said, but Tony stopped him.
“Let him go. He needs time to deal with this,” he said. “We all do.”
Garth ran through the forest, tears running down his face when he suddenly ran into Lydia.
“Garth,” she said, stopping him. “What’s wrong?”
Garth collapsed into a heap on the ground and Lydia laid down পরবর্তি to him. Garth ব্যক্ত nothing for a few moments, instead, just crying as Lydia tried to comfort him.
“Garth,” she ব্যক্ত again. “What’s wrong?”
Garth started to calm down, just enough to talk.
“What do আপনি mean “gone”?” Lydia asked. “Did she get lost?”
“NO!” Garth shouted in a short outburst of frustration and anger. “She’s gone.”
Lydia finally understood and her eyes widened in a moment of shock before she rested her head over Garth’s as he cried into her shoulder.
The পরবর্তি few years would be hard for Garth. Clara’s death changed him. And it changed Tony, too. He descended into a state of depression and refused any help অথবা moral support from his friends, especially Winston and Eve. He eventually even closed the Eastern Pack off from the Western Pack, essentially forbidding নেকড়ে from his side to leave into the west and not allowing নেকড়ে from the west into the east. There were only two instances where the two sides would ever speak to অথবা see each other. The first was if a very important and urgent matter needed to be discussed. In that case, the two sides would meet at the river that divided the territories. The only other time the Western Pack and the Eastern Pack ever met was during the annual Moonlight Howl.
Garth soon got over his mother’s death, but he never forgot her. Over many years, he developed a slight ego and became a strong, charming, charismatic adult wolf. And then everything changed one fateful night during the Moonlight Howl.