Author(s): Tygerwolfe & Viki Martin (not a ff.net username, just his real name.)
Author’s Notes: This entire story was written in an RP on the Neopets RP board, online. I’ve cleaned it up a bit and reworded some. The black Dire belongs to me, and Fox Fire belongs to Viki. The story was just too good for me to allow it to vanish into nothing, so this was created. Read and review if you would, and thank you so much. Also, I know there are a lot of people who would’ve liked to see the Dire Wolves portrayed a little less… dog-like in Ice Age, so I give you this. Enjoy.
Moving through the icy terrain, a pure black Dire wolf stalks alone. He’s lost his pack to a group of Neanderthals, who killed the adults and stole the pups to be used as hunting dogs.
In the distance, he can see a group of mammoths, and he intends to give them a wide berth.
Closer, there’s a herd of Megaloceros, the giant deer. A fawn would quench his hunger… But only if he’s willing to brave the forest of ten foot antlers to get to one…
A female white and silver Dire slunk slowly through the brush, not too far away. She too was away from her pack, but not for quite so dramatic a reason as the male. She’d left her pack of her own accord, but would most likely be back in the future. For a young female, such excursions weren’t unheard of, and sometimes, they would bring new blood into the pack, as the female would return with a new, unrelated male.
The black Dire froze suddenly, his sensitive nose catching the scent of another wolf. His tail swished once and his yellow eyes narrowed. A female, from the scent.
Well, either he was in her territory, or this patch of land was unclaimed. If that was so, there was no way he was going to let any other wolf take it first.
First wolf to make a kill would most likely be the one to stay, so he continued heading for the Megaloceros, keeping his body low to the ground, and being sure to stay downwind from the other wolf.
The female slowly meandered along the land, taking in the herd of Megaloceros to her left. She took note of their location in case she got hungry later, though even she knew that she wouldn’t really have a chance of bringing down one on her own.
The black dire continued stalking slowly, while also keeping a bit of attention on the other wolf.
Unfortunately, that bit of attention would’ve better have been used to keep watch for where the leader of the Megaloceros herd was, as the large buck had caught wind of him.
The black Dire leaped to the side just in time to avoid the two sharp hooves that crashed down near where his head had been a second earlier. The buck deer bellowed and reared again, trying to slice the unfortunate wolf open with well aimed hits by his hooves… But the Dire was already running.
The deer chased him far enough to be sure that the wolf was no longer a threat to his herd, then snorted and turned, trotting back and tossing his antlers. Just another day in the life of a herd buck.
The female’s head snapped up, as she suddenly saw movement near the herd. She saw the buck chasing what looked to be a male Dire. She waited until he’d stopped running, then slowly approached him, her head down in a quasi-submissive pose.
The black Dire skidded to a stop a good distance away from the herd, panting, and flopped to the ground. There went any chance of eating today… The herd would be on edge now, milling around and keeping their fawns near the center of the herd. Without a pack, he couldn’t hope to bring down an adult deer. One more day with an empty belly.
Suddenly, his ears flicked up and he raised his head, still panting, then his ears flipped back as the female approached. She didn’t look like she wanted a fight, but he would be ready for anything. A ridge of fur raised down his back, but he gave a soft whuffed greeting, hoping to forestall any hostilities.
The female whuffed back, and whined softly, wagging her tail a tiny bit. The male looked agitated… and she couldn’t blame him. She would’ve been agitated as well, had it been her at the mercy of the Megaloceros’ hooves.
The black Dire looked up at her. She wasn’t being threatening. Her ears weren’t back, and the fur down her back was laying flat. Her tail was even wagging a bit. He took that as a good sign.
Being mostly recovered from his little run in with the Megaloceros, he pushed himself up and shook off the snow that had gathered on his coat, then approached the female. He sniffed at her curiously, and touched his snout to hers.
Meanwhile, not too far away…
A shiver, but Fox Fire pushed on.. No chance he would die out here, he would find the others.. Though they had left him for dead, banishing him from the group for rebelling. Though, they had been starving, killing the wolf was far more important, the meat would have helped them survive through the harsh blowing wind season.
Yes the wolf was a sacred creature, though he was feasting off their dead… Fox Fire had chased him off hundreds of times… Always warning, ‘let my mother and baby sister rest in peace oh sacred one.’ Though hunger had gotten the best of him, and he had chased down brother wolf. Bringing back the body to the others.. Some had wanted to eat… though they all had refused.
Atl atl clenched tightly in his hand, he watched the Dire Wolves, kin to the same sacred arctic wolf he had killed so many moons ago. If he had not been nearly emaciated, and practically blue from the cold he would have laughed… Clearly hunger was with all this season. He only had one dart left… and he would save it if the wolf decided to catch scent of him. For now he lay, shivering behind a small drift of snow, and a rock. There was enough grass here to start a small fire. Though, he had been following this heard for days now, hoping a small deer would wander away from the others so he could eat.
Back in the grasses…
The black Dire watched the female stalk away some time later, his tail swishing absently in the breeze as the wind changed direction. She’d been an interesting distraction, but he had no concerns about starting a family right now. If she had pups later on, they wouldn’t be recognized as his. He hoped her pack wouldn’t reject her because of his scent, but he had no control over that now. And if there’s one thing a predator knows, it’s not to bother with things out of his control. He drew in a deep breath, and prepared to hunt some more miniscule prey.
His nose poked into the tiny holes that the little gopher creatures left as they created their tunnels. They weren’t easy to get to, and took a lot of energy to dig out. Not to mention that they were little more than a mouthful each, and that mostly bones. But they would fill his empty belly, at least for one night.
As he set about digging into the fourth burrow, after the fourth furball that was destined to become part of his dinner, when the wind changed direction again… and carried the scent of a human to his waiting snout.
The Dire froze. He was downwind from the human, and probably out of sight. His lip curled back and his ears laid down, the ridge of fur raising down his back, and his tail swishing slowly. He dropped the dead furball he had just caught, then slowly crept forward, his belly to the ground.
If this was one of the humans responsible for his pack’s murder and pup’s kidnapping, he would kill it.
But he wasn’t expecting what he saw when he rounded the rock.
The human was emaciated. Starving. And he didn’t recognize it’s scent, so it wasn’t one of the pack responsible for the atrocity that had been committed against him and his.
It looked like it was dying.
The black Dire knew what it was like to be at death’s doorstep, and how painful an empty belly was night after night. He turned and went back to the burrows, picking up the dead furball and carrying it back to the rock. However, this time, when he rounded the rock, he came face to face with the human… So to speak. And he froze.
The human’s head lolled backwards, blackness..warmth..oh it was inviting. This same thing had happened when brother wolf had died in his arms, the warm blood congealing and freezing almost instantly. Though Fox Fire had had a dream, and in the dream Wolf had told him to stay alive by eating his flesh. To find the others, and to tell them of a break in the wall of ice. Wolf had shown him a warm land, filled with animals who were not afraid of man. In fact in the dream he had walked right up to a herd of wild horses, and they had shown no fear.
He had managed to crawl back home..wounds in all, broken atl atl left behind. Though the very next day the others had cast him out, packed up continued to the next camp. They had not believed his vision. A meal was made from Wolf, and he had wrapped the hide about his waist. For almost a hands worth of days he had stayed alive on Wolf’s flesh, each day thanking him.
Now he had no food, and had chewed idly on a bit of tanned leather from his clothing, staving off the ache..
His eyes snapped open, and he scrambled to sit upright. Starting, his hand snatching for his atl atl, fingers numbed. Dire Wolf stood directly before him. Fox Fire could feel the warm breath from the creature, smell the blood. Though he smiled, a frigid smile. It would be fitting, he could not show his people the way, and Big Brother to Wolf would have a meal of him.
Hand went to the pelt about his waist, stroking the coarse silver fur. “Brother wolf..” His voice was barely a whisper, as he let that same hand raise slowly..Offering some sort of truce between the two. Perhaps he was delirious? The grin still tugged at his features. “Please forgive me… it was only to help my family.”
The black Dire’s ears twitched in response to the human’s words. Of course, he couldn’t understand them, but the quiet, slow movements were the right action. They showed the wolf that this creature was no more a threat than he had thought it was originally.
He shifted his jaws, lowered his head… and lay the body of the furball directly between him and the human. Raising his head and regarding the human through deep, gold eyes, he simply stood there, awaiting it’s reaction to the proffered meat.
He swallowed, tongue darting out to wet parched lips, slowly lowering his weapon. “Is this an acceptance of my apology, Brother?” He asked softly, leaning forward to take the offering.
“I have nothing to offer you in return..” It had always been customary to offer a portion of a meal to the wolves.. His people, the Silver Wolf clan, revered the creature… This was to be the second time Wolf had saved his life.
Same slow movements, although a bit shaky, he sat back.. “Perhaps…when I finish, I could attempt to earn us a meal?” Though he was unsure if he could fell one of the massive creatures alone.. Hunting was always done in groups of six men or more. He had great aim, though in his state, could he really hope to kill anything? Let alone, would Dire Wolf allow him to leave?
Without cooking the small creature, he pierced the flesh with his dagger. The stone tool cutting the skin away easily. The warm blood coated his fingers, and he licked it off, relishing the bitter taste that accompanied that of the small rodent.
“Thank you again, Brother,” He whispered to the canine, cutting off a small piece of meat, and eating slowly, as one must when feeding an empty stomach… So as not to get sick.
The black Dire simply moved a few paces away and sat down, his ears up and head tilted, watching the human carefully. If it made any move to use it’s weapons against him, he would attack, or run. However, if it continued to prove harmless, he might follow it.
Before the attack on his pack by the Neanderthals, which, to the wolf, only smelled slightly different from this human, it had been customary for the wolves to wait near human encampments. Humans could not digest bones, and therefore, a lot of the meat on the larger bones of Megaloceros or Mammoth was often discarded with the bones. The wolves had learned to steal this source of food, whenever it was available. And, as such, when the Neanderthals had moved into their territory, they hadn’t known any better than to approach them as well.
But this wasn’t a Neanderthal, and something told the black Dire that it wasn’t a threat, either. So he continued to watch the human eat, his ears twitching any time the other creature addressed him.
Fox Fire shifted, replacing the dagger within his small pouch as he finished the rodent. Even breaking the tiny bones and sucking out the splintery marrow within them, though there wasn’t much. His stomach made noises of protest, after being empty so long, he could imagine the confusion.
Though he felt warm inside. Surprised that the wolf had stayed for so long. Perhaps the creature had been in the company of humans? It was not uncommon for them to stay near, especially when it was time to hunt.
In fact, they had often worn skins to feign being wolves when hunting. Mammoths were confused by this, and would run. Whereas if their people approached the massive creatures, they would have attacked.
Cleaning the rest of the blood from his fingers, he warily took up his atl atl. With glace towards Dire Wolf, he turned. His eyes taking in the herd. They had moved a short distance to the south, and a few had remained behind. If he were to hurry, he might have a chance to fell one of the beasts.
The black Dire cocked his head to the side, and rose to his feet as the human did. His head turned slowly, following the gaze of his companion, and he made a quiet ‘wuff’ noise, almost asking a question. Then he trotted off in the direction of the stragglers, dropping into a crouch and slinking toward them. Then he stopped, and looked back, as if to check and see where the human was.
He’d seen human weapons work before. And he knew that this human could complete the kill, if it could only get close enough. So he had decided to help. As he’d noted earlier, without a pack, he had no hope of bringing down a Megaloceros. But with the human… the chance was greater. Much greater. All he had to do was get one deer within striking distance for the human.
And he only hoped that the human would catch on to what he intended, as he turned back and started slowly circling the lone doe that had wandered farthest from the herd. All he had to do was get behind her, and cause her to break toward the human. Hopefully, his new companion could handle the rest.
Fox Fire gave a grin. Without words, Dire Wolf had gone on ahead to stalk the unwitting doe. If he could get the creature to run in his direction, Fox Fire would have an easy kill. Weapon ready, he ducked behind the drift once more. Listening for the approach of splayed hooves. If he gauged it correctly, as she made her way towards him, and if he remained unseen until the last second, the fright would cause her to freeze. It had happened many times, in hunts with his human brethren, and he knew the right moment to take aim and cast his spear.
If he hesitated at all, however, she would dart off in a zigzag pattern, and would be lost to them. This was their only chance.. A bit nervously, he swallowed, then stiffened. He could do this thing. And repay Brother Wolf, along with his larger cousin.
The black Dire crouched low, then suddenly sprang from the brush. An experienced hunter, he knew to snap at the doe’s heels, close enough that the deer would feel the breeze from his fangs and panic. And it worked perfectly.
Taking off at a full gallop, with the black Dire in hot pursuit, the doe was running straight toward the human’s hiding place. When she began to veer off to one side, the black Dire was there, snarling and snapping, forcing her back to her previous course.
The rest of the herd was bellowing now, and the males shaking their antlers, but not a one made a move to chase after the wolf and their fleeing comrade… For that was one way herds and packs differed. If the roles had been reversed, and it was the wolf chased by the deer, the wolf’s pack would risk their lives to save the member in danger. While the deer simply would watch their fellow run to her death.
Fox Fire could hear the doe approaching, the worried call she let out in fear. Timing by each breath, he readied himself. On his feet in an instant, he lurched forward. Running was a bit difficult in his state, though he pushed on, halting almost fifty hands distance from the deer. She stopped in her tracks, snow spraying out as her legs locked and she went rigid. Now was his chance, arm arching back, he let fly..With only one spear, he would have to hit her directly.
The dart arced through the air, and he lost sight of it in the bright rays from the sun, squinting. Then, with a cry, the female deer lunged forwards, then fell to her knees, legs bending beneath her massive weight. Breathing became labored, foggy mist melting the snow before her nose. Crimson blood stained the white snow. He had hit her directly in the neck, and her breathing would stop any instant now.
Inching forward, he could see the frothy pink blood bubbling up out of her mouth and nostrils. “Thank you sister deer,” he whispered. He stood before her, watching the fear in her eyes fade slowly, as she realized the end was nigh.. The black Dire walked up and looked her straight in the eye for one moment, then lowered his snout and almost reverently touched it to that of the dying deer, almost giving permission. Then, with a loud sigh, her body collapsed all together.
Fox Fire’s eyes snapped to Dire Wolf, and he grinned again. They had done it. The weakness he had been fighting came over him and he staggered forward, falling to his knees before the deer, a heave.
“Without you I would be lost,” he whispered, his voice coming out between ragged breaths, another thanks to his companion, and to the deer that had given her life for them to eat.
The black Dire made a sound that could almost be described as worried, and he came closer to the human than he’d ever been before. They’d worked together, and they’d brought the deer down. This human wasn’t a threat… he behaved more like one of the Dire’s own lost pack members, than the monsters that had killed them.
Slowly, tentatively, the Dire moved to sit near his new friend… and licked his cheek lightly. It was a gesture of celebration, and of friendship. And, somehow, as they sat near their kill, the wolf knew that his days of loneliness were finally over.
He’d found his pack again.