Of course, the rest of Baruther’s pack helped with the findings. Wasn’t it scraggly red little Baruther himself all that time ago, bringing up the fossils and the other proof from the Great Red Den?
Turim stopped for a drink, but she feared to really go near the creek into her neighbor’s territory…
The back of her scaled neck tensed at all she had to figure now, just for a sip of water, but then the memory of Baruther returned and she spread open her jowls and laughed at the memory. Her misty breath froze in the air and little dots of ice glittered then fell. Veins of silver glittered as she shook her head and the sun caught this and that patch of freezing dirt in her dancing shadow.
Baruther, from a family of thinkers… and the Great Red Pack at that, the poor thing. But, fire-minded Wyldehounds were prone to be. They got the most restless while underground. Disrupted their own hibernation most often with foolish schemes and pranks, she heard.
Turim carefully stretched one leg across a decent rivulet of ice flow she found, coming off the creek, waited, then pierced her muzzle in to take a fast, deep drink before she made the water completely freeze again.
And she’d laughed and howled out loud for Baruther at the Stone Temple later that day? She got on his nerves so good after the deer story and the other dogs were just walking away. They fought so well in the gravel path front of everyone… she thought the theory so outrageous, and Baruther was hopping up on hindlegs he was so mad, defending his father… Their alphas practically pushed them together and made them court after witnessing all that wild, clever play.
Blame your alphas for a lot of things they make you do in puppyhood, but a Wyldehound is never mad when great mates get chosen. So, she and Baruther ran nights together after that, fell for one another, took their rites, their dear alphas smiling long jowls and watching well as if they had always known… then helped their grown pups set up their first sweet little territory… for them to one day raise their own puppies.
A beautiful red day moth fluttered past and Turim wanted to chase it. That excited her out of the doldrums that propelled Wyldehounds to eventually ask and then answer, and then build temples to learning and stories and all that over centuries… Turim played and snapped at the floating thing, and it flittered away in a puff of spreading red dust. Sharp slashes against the gold sky air that shimmered down as if the air were bleeding.
But where in under-the-earth was her handsome, silly-thinking, scarlet Baruther now?
At last, Turim chanced it. She crossed the creek proper and swifted down into blackflower bushes on the other side. Down the bank. The pungent mark of their neighbors, more blue icies like herself (well, they were more teal), but definitely not kin—not the way they carried on making their noises, filching Turim’s buried suppers when it suited, then marking their territory all sloppy… But Turim had sensed a while back that they weren’t on this side of Creek’s Head and that she needed to risk it. Turim kept her tail and her ears low. She crawled along on her bellow, limbs folded as low as she could get until she finished going the long way and came out into the edge of their clearing. That large field of scarlet grasses, weeds, flowers, that kind of stuff that Baruther loved to study and munch… sometimes chase black rabbits in there. She woofed, soft, once, for him. Don’t worry, he would hear it. He always did keep one hear turned for her. And Baruther wouldn’t dare come all the way out here to steal from the neighbors and not know that she would be worried.
Though, maybe she didn’t blame their neighbors… being mean to newly-rited Wyldehounds on purpose when young couples were known for taking more land eventually, once the pups came… if they would ever come… perhaps that was her nightmare, of being the ugly pink alien who was so pathetic, she couldn’t even mate… and then the sad old white…ugh, that cat toy…
But then, the old worried stitch at the scruff of Turim’s blue neck tensed sharp. The tiny scales rose and the air just above them clicked and sparked with the small storm she always carried with her—cold rising above her body, chilling the air, pulling the heat down, creating a pressure that was palpable when faced with an enemy. And, now, the chatting birds got quiet.
The Teal pack was all there, laying some paces off, out in the sun. Turim hadn’t smelled them at home because they were blackened, bony corpses. And there were more animals beyond that, as if they had been running too. All laying down, paws and tails tucked in, as if they had been sleeping. At first, she assumed they had been sleeping… but for the rotted blackness…
Turim panicked, saw blue, that ink washing in again. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t breathe. She saw pink claws, seizing the liquid blue, so many hides. Turning and tossing, unable to sleep…
“No, I am not Karen!” Turin snarled, and showed all her teeth. “Why was I the one to wake up? Oh, where is my master, my sweet—Baruther?”
Turim’s own snarling voice filled her spade ears and broke apart across the rose, velveting plain.
Part Two: When Blue Envelops
1, Crushing Velvet :: 2, Cold Cobalt :: 3, The Sapphire Hound :: 4, The Teal Pack :: 5, Lone Wolf :: 6, The High Howler :: 7, The Other Planet, Earth :: 8, This is a Dog’s World