A/N: Dedicated to Warrior Wolf. She inspired me to write this. And well, it is kind of based on her.
The sun rose in the vibrant sky and the trees stood tall. They waved their dewed leaves, as if stretching after a long night. It was a chilly morning, with wind blowing around. But the wolf liked it just like that. When the morning was cold and quiet. Almost lonely. Just like her.
She loped along the fallen branches and dead leaves, her fur ruffling in the wind. She moved on with a sense of urgency. She almost wanted to turn back and head to the safe haven of her den, but she didn’t. She looked back longingly and then turned away and ran furiously. She kept running. The owls looked down and wondered why their fellow nocturnal animal was awake in the day. They hooted to each other wonderingly and settled down, knowing that if they tried to get an answer, they’d either die without a proper funeral, which would be unimaginably horrendous or be mutilated in some way. This wolf was an angry one and when it hunted, the forest looked in awe. But right now, the lonely wolf had a purpose, and it wasn’t hunting.
She ran towards the middle of the forest, keeping her nose low to sniff the ground. She suddenly stopped in the glade, and changed her direction. She could smell. She dared not hope yet she did. Her heart leapt as the smell became stronger. She turned in circles, she ran forward, she ran back and then forward again. But, she kept running. Even the wind stopped to look in awe. The sun rose higher to watch her run. The animals peeped out of their holes as the wolf rushed by them. She came to a stop by the lake. The lake she visited every night. When she sat there, looking intently at the water, even a mouse could climb and play in her fur but she wouldn’t budge. Not when she was by the lake.
She looked around her mournfully, sniffing all around the lake. She sat and raised her head and she howled. It was a haunting call. The animals skittered as they heard her bay at the moon.
She sat there, gazing in the water and dipped her head inside. She went inside the cold water and shook herself. She drowned herself inside it and then came out. Not today, she thought for the hundredth time. It had become a constant companion to her. ‘Not today’. She thought it every day, every second. Turning away, the lonely wolf ran back to her den. Not today.
The Queen was restless.She paced the forest ground, the leaves crunching beneath her padded claws. She sniffed the ground and then looked up. Her dark eyes lifted up to the skies as if she was searching for an answer within the white clouds. But they seemed not to hear her plea and moved on to hide the bright sun. The Queen bounded deep into the forest, as if searching for answers.
Her clan looked at each other worriedly and then loped off after her. The wolves had watched her pace restlessly all their lives. Yet, when they asked why, she would look so tearful that they’d want to reverse back time and tell the past-them to not ask. The elder ones knew, but no amount of pestering could make them tell the Queen’s reason for mourning.
They were a loyal clan and on some mornings, they would come to sit beside their Queen and howl their agonies in the air. The younger ones never understood her sad eyes, while the elders were troubled by her painful nights. She would wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in cold sweat. Carefully stepping through the sleeping pack, she would go outside the den to bay at the moon.
Today, she looked hopeful. She looked happier than she had in many-a-years. And she ran today, her clan in tow. She would stop once in a while, sniffing the ground or to pick an occasional leaf. She ran today with a purpose, not with the dreary duty she carried above her. She ran around in circles, she ran forward and back and again. But it was not because she wanted to get rid of the thoughts, as she often did. It was to chase those thoughts and catch them to bring them to reality.
The animals poked their hidden heads from under the leaves wonderingly. This was the second wolf they had seen today. Maybe they had a night party. It was better not to be too curious, thus they went along their ways, occasionally stopping to gaze at the pack wonderingly. The ‘warrior wolves’ pack debated within themselves whether to stop the Queen from, what seemed to them, madness. They finally ventured forward only to be received with a snarl. They promptly backed away, glancing fearfully at each other. But the Queen, she knew nothing of this. She was focused on the familiar smell. The one she knew from when she was but a little pup. She stopped at the lake, and sniffed around it. She looked down mournfully at her reflection, telling herself she had failed again. So much for hoping, so much for being so close. Frustrated with herself, she dived into the cool lake and furiously swam in it. Knowing nothing good would come out of drowning her sadness in the lake, she climbed out, shaking herself vigorously. The clan headed back to the den for a long day’s sleep.
That night, the lonely wolf did not feel like hunting, perhaps, she thought, she would go to the lake. Yes, she would, she decided. She padded in the dark, ducking the reaching vines and branches. She peered from the bushes at the lake. It looked beautiful tonight. Calm and serene. The lonely wolf bounded from the bushes to sit beside the lake, staring at the moon’s reflection. Thoughts ran through her mind. And memories. Memories of childish laughter and a wolfish cackle. Of painful howls and parting cries. And she remembered the day. That day.
Their mother sat outside the den, guarding her young cubs. Especially from The Wolf. He was a menace to her clan. He wanted to disrupt peace, he wanted to be King. Not while she lived, the mother thought decisively, she would fight until death, but she would never yield to that tyrant. Her trusted minister came out from the den, pleading with her to go to sleep. The minister would guard, he promised. And the mother trusted. The wolf sat dutifully outside. And The Wolf cackled. It was his time. He leaped from the bushes, taking the minister in one slash. The dutiful wolf lay bleeding, injured severely. He scratched and bit, but The Wolf was prepared. He prowled inside, noticing the mother sleeping with her two cubs. A pity, he thought and picked one of the twin cubs by her haunches and leapt away. His job here was done, for now. He would return someday soon. The hidden lake would do, he decided. And he hid the little cub in the bushes near the lake. It mewed mournfully but The Wolf looked down happily and stuffed her mouth with leaves. The magic leaves. She was snoring soon after, cuddled up in the bushes. And the mother roared angrily. She was never the same again. And that never, might she add, was a rather short time. She hunted The Wolf down, mad with fury. He died, yes, but her injuries were fatal. She was buried under the peepal tree soon after by a mournful daughter. Her sister and mother had left her, to rule the pack. Alone.
Alone, the Queen thought bitterly, all alone. She was in a pensive mood, she wanted to go to the lake. Absorb its serenity and sit beside it. So, she sneaked away when the pack went hunting. They wouldn’t need her, she knew. They loved to hunt. A familiar smell overpowered the air as she advanced towards the lake. But she dared not hope. Not tonight, not when she seemed so close. The Queen peered from the bushes and watched as the lonely wolf gazed down at the clear water. In her joy, she leapt.
She stared at the lucid water, dipping down her head to rest it between her paws, when she was suddenly tackled by a large wolf. She desperately fought back, tearing with her claws, when she realised. The wolf wasn’t fighting back. She looked at her clearly. She landed on her paws to inspect the other wolf. She smelled familiar. The other wolf was crying with joy, a haunting laugh. A wolf-ish howl. She had found her. “Sister.”