Leader of the Pack
The shifting wind brought the scent of hot blood, awakening the pack's
hunger. Yellow eyes fastened upon the gaunt form of their leader. None
would move without his signal.
Long, the old one stood, reading the air. Blood had been spilt aplenty:
the thick black ichor of orcs, and the sweeter tasting blood of those
who carried the long metal teeth. There would be enough for all to feed
Mixed with the enticing aroma of blood was the acrid odor of burning
bone. Some of the Long Teeth yet lived. Nose curled to show his
distaste of the fumes, the old one surveyed the pack. Winter thin,
their loyalty depended upon his ability to keep them fed.
His jaws closed, and he leaped away with the pack at his heels. As
smoke, they drifted amongst the boulders of the gorge. The Long Teeth
were fearsome enemies and must be approached with care, no matter the
Crouched amidst the stumps of mutilated trees, the pack watched as
crows and other scavenging birds perched upon the bodies of the dead
and feasted upon the choicest morsels. The banquet spread before them
would provide enough to satisfy the hunger of hundreds; so for once,
the feathered ones were not begrudged their small portions.
With such abundance, the old one could afford to be magnanimous.
Signaling to the pack, he indicated they were to proceed to the feast
before him. One by one, each made homage to the leader, then slipped
out of the shadows to gorge.
Eyes ever upon those of the Long Teeth who moved heavily across the
field gathering the bodies of their kind, the old one felt the ache of
his ancient wounds. Between his folk and the Long Teeth, there could be
no peace, though the orcs were now enemy to them both.
Many winters ago, so the cubs were told under the light of the full
moon, orcs and Wild Wargs had fought side by side against the Long
Teeth. But the orcs, always wanting to rule the will of others, had
tried to command the loyalty of the pack and taken many of their folk
captive to become slaves of their Goblin King: slaves that were bred in
strange ways and had no power to think for themselves.
Sniffing at the carcass of one of these slaves, the old one stifled the
urge to howl his sorrow at what had been done to his people. Reduced by
their enemies to scattered groups that fed more often on carrion than
on proper meat, his people were a pale shadow of what they had once
Nonetheless, slowly their numbers were growing. Cubs would fill many
dens this spring. Cubs the pack would protect with tooth and claw from
both the Long Teeth and the orcs. They would be mighty once again.
But that time had not yet come to pass, and caution was still necessary.
With a sharp yip, he gave the signal for the pack to reform. Silently,
they passed through desolation wrought by the axes of the orcs and into
the shadows of the forest. His jaws opened in a wide grin as he noted
the scattered remains of orcs and their weapons. These strange new
trees had no more love for the orcs than his people or the Long Teeth.