A disgruntled moan sounded through the air as Enzo trudged through the thick forest, the recent rains had caused a muddy buildup on the forest floor, which Enzo was now travelling through- the mud was so deep in some parts he had to actually wade through it. ‘Just a little bit further, and you’ll be there’. He thought, pushing himself onward. He had a plan in mind. Just beyond these woods was a large plain, where a small band of male wolves often chose to reside. Enzo knew this because he had been watching them for weeks now.
Among that group was a wolf who Enzo needed dead. A wolf who’d taken something from him. He had saved a young female from this horrid rogue, she had been pregnant and afraid, abused and nearly dead. He took her to safety, he fixed her. He did not love her, and he never touched her in that way, but he did want to see her living happy again. Her former mate didn’t take kindly to this, and ended up killing her and the pups she was carrying. This had only happened a few weeks prior to now. But Enzo had been filled with rage over it ever since, and had vowed to kill him and his ratty little band of droogs.
He paused at the edge of the forest, hearing something behind him. A rustle of leaves, where there shouldn’t have been one. Had they known he was coming? He carefully turned his head, eyes searching over his shoulder. No one. Until he spotted them. Not his target, no, it was Keeva. Again. She had been hanging around him for a while now, learning from him, annoying him. He had to admit he did enjoy teaching her though, and admittedly getting her to run errands for him if he needed. Now, however, was not the best time for her to suddenly show up.
”Keeva, what are you doing here?” He asked through gritted teeth.
A thick layer of mud coated Keeva's legs as she moved through the forest. Normally, she wouldn't have bothered with such a messy route, but she had caught a familiar scent. The scent of someone she had met not too long ago...
Her sister Savoy had left her to join pack-life, and Keeva couldn't really understand why. What was the appeal of staying in one place when you could travel all over? She loved feeling so free and was ready to forget all about her sister. Let her be happy with her pack. She scoffed at the thought. Luckily, it wasn't long after that when she met Enzo. She wasn't usually interested in interacting with others, but the older wolf had been different. He was like everything she wanted to be, and much to her excitement he had been willing to teach her a few things. Although she would never admit it, another reason she enjoyed his company was that she was feeling a bit lonely. The juvenile female had never been truly out on her own before, and although it was exhilarating, there were times when everything slowed down around her and she remembered how alone she really was. This would happen most often at night, as she lay looking up at the stars and wondering about her family. Sometimes she even wondered about the loner Samwell, whom she had taught what little she had known about surviving on your own.
As Keeva trudged through the mud, Enzo's scent grew more fresh. Her ears cupped forward as she decided that maybe she could sneak up on him! She smiled and attempted to move as quietly as possible, remembering some of the things he had taught her. He was in sight now and just as she was nearing him, the rustle of leaves beneath her paws gave her away. The male looked over his shoulder at her and Keeva shot a glare down at the leaves. Oh well. She should have known she could never sneak up on him! She smiled and raced forward to stand before Enzo. No one could be sure whether it was that she didn't mind or didn't notice the tone with which he spoke to her or the way he watched her with annoyance.
”I followed you here.” That much was obvious, but she couldn't exactly admit that the reason she was there was because she enjoyed his presence. Her head tilted to the side slightly as she met his gaze. ”Are you going somewhere?” He seemed to be moving with a purpose, or that's what she assumed at least. Walking through the mud had been fun and all for her, but she couldn't imagine that was why he walked through it.
She had followed him here? He had to somewhat give her props for the fact that he hadn’t picked up on her being behind him the whole time, however far she was. He could usually tell when he was being followed, but this time was apparently different. She had been taking in what he’d been teaching her, which made him kind of proud. Though that was an emotion he didn’t hand down lightly, so he wouldn’t tell her this, not yet anyways. He was hard on her, yes, but she seemed to be able to handle that form of tough love, so as long as she was strong enough to see the deeper meaning in his-sometimes- abuse, he would be happy enough to keep giving her life lessons.
At her next question, he violently yet quietly shushed her, brows furrowed. He leant in close, so their noses were almost touching.
”You have to be quiet. Here,” He said, moving in so his large body was parallel to hers, he motioned as best he could to the group of males just beyond the edge of the forest. They were lazing around, not paying attention, just how Enzo wanted them. ”See those wolves there? Yeah I’m going to kill them.” His tone was blunt as he moved back to the position he’d been in before Keeva had shown up.
Thinking about it, he didn’t know whether now was a good time, since he had company. If he ambushed them, and they came into the forest for a getaway, there was a chance Keeva could have been caught in the crossfire, and he honestly didn’t want that. Though he’d never admit it, his days would have been much less interesting without Keeva around. Sighing, he cussed under his breath and turned back toward the way he’d come.
”But not today. Come on, let’s go to the river.” He said, deciding to get there on a more clean route. Though being dirty didn’t bother him, he didn’t find walking through that swamp necessarily fun. He motioned for Keeva to follow, before trotting on, not really bothering to check whether the band of brothers behind him had heard his presence.
Keeva blinked as Enzo shushed her and was leaning in close to her face. Her ears flicked back and her brows rose. Why did she have to be quiet? She cocked her head to the side as he moved to stand parallel with her, eyes watching him curiously. What was going on? He motioned to the little band of wolves down in the clearing. She hadn't even noticed! She nodded when he asked if she saw them, watching as they lounged about obliviously down below. ”Yeah I'm going to kill them.” Her gaze shot back to him, ears perking forward once more. Kill them? She seemed surprised, but still curious, as her mouth hung open slightly. She wanted to ask him why, but he appeared to be deliberating something in his mind. And, he had told her to keep quiet. She waited patiently to see what he would say next.
When he said it wouldn't happen today, and was suggesting they go to the river instead, she bounded after him to catch up. ”Why are you-” She realized her loud tone and corrected herself, lowering her voice. She had a million questions buzzing through her head. ”Why are you going to kill them?” She glanced behind them, wondering what the wolves had done to deserve such a fate because she didn't pin Enzo as some sort of senseless and reckless murderer. They must've done something bad. She wondered why not today, but assumed it was because she was there. If only she had shown up just a little bit later, maybe she could have even helped out!
She remembered their new destination. The river was far from as interesting as what he had just shared with her. ”And what's there to do at the river?” She looked back up at him, muddy legs moving quickly to keep up.
’Why are you going to kill them?’
Enzo looked at her with eyes that- in a second- had appeared duller than usual. He looked away again, focusing as he clambered up rocks and over fallen logs, ducking under low branches and weaving through pine trunks. His mind wandered the the she-wolf he’d rescued, and how she had impacted his life enough to leave him feeling one of the emotions he barely ever felt- sorrow. He was good at hiding it, just as he was good at hiding any and every emotion that braced his insides. With a sigh, he fixed his composure, all the while keeping a steady pace.
”Because,” he began, his voice projecting confidently enough as to seem as though he wasn’t speaking out of guilt or remorse, ”they did something terrible, and they need to pay. In this world Keeva, when you let someone’s actions go without consequences, they begin to feel as though the own it, they begin to feel invincible… and that’s an awfully dangerous feeling to have.” He leapt from the higher ground they’d gradually found themselves on, back into the mud- though it was much shallower, and not as insufferable, so Enzo didn’t mind.
Once they’d reached the river, Enzo made his way down the soft, green embankment. WIthout hesitation he leapt in, large waves of water resonating off his body. He dunked his head under and shook it, before returning to the surface. With every paddle of his paw, immense amounts of dirt fell gracefully and began dancing in the water.
”This is what there is to do at the river.” He said, chuckling. He drug himself from the water, thick coat heavy and dripping a pool underneath him. With a grunt he began shaking off, water droplets flying positively everywhere.
Keeva tried to watch Enzo, eyes burning with curiosity as she awaited his explanation, but had to keep looking forward at their path ahead so she didn't trip and fall as they moved over the rough terrain.
'They did something terrible, and they need to pay.' Keeva's head tilted to the side slightly in confusion, but she listened as he continued. She was quiet a moment as she thought over what he had said. It made sense. When you do something terrible, you can't just get away with it! ”But, what did they do?” She wondered aloud, shooting him a questioning glance as she leapt down to join him in the mud. Her mind raced through all the most terrible things she could think of.
They soon reached the river and Keeva watched with a raised brow and an amused smile as the large wolf sprang into the water, paddling around to get himself clean. ”We came to clean up.” She said as more of a statement than a question, squinting and leaning away from him as he exited the water and shook off – sending water droplets flying at her. A glance down at her legs caked with mud told her she could use a little cleanup too. She laughed before springing into the water herself. The cold water rushed around her, startling her, but her body soon adjusted as she paddled about, and she was leaving a trail of muddy water in her wake.
Once she was sufficiently cleaned, she waded to the water’s edge, shaking off just as she'd seen Enzo do, her fur jutting out in every direction as she looked to him with a pleased smile.
He shot her a sharp glance at her question, not willing to answer. He would have, but it would have simply caused him to get undoubtedly worked up and angered, and he didn’t want to be like that around Keeva, despite that being his natural state 99% of the time. Instead, he fell to the ground and began rolling, itching his back and the other spots on his body that grew irritated after they had gotten wet. He sat up, watching Keeva as she emerged from the river, doing just as he had done. He found it amusing how much of his shadow she was. And usually it would annoy him- with anyone else it did- but with Keeva he didn’t seem to mind.
He was trying as hard as he could to forget the group of males he’d just spared momentarily. What if they had planned on going out and killing another innocent female they’d impregnated? What if, at the exact moment Enzo had decided against getting his revenge, they’d decided on creating more chaos? Enzo was all about chaos, he had been the proud creator of much of it, but this was a vendetta he sought, and so he didn’t want them to be the creators of any form of destruction, for that was something they loved. As the seconds past, his mind grew more restless and angered, until his muscles began to clench and his claws dug fiercely into the dirt.
One, two, three. He counted in his head.
He only grew more restless.
Until finally, he jumped up as quick as he possibly could, letting out a half frustrated, half regretful snarl before taking off back through the forest. This time he did not bother with stealth, the mud did not cling to him like it did before. He ran as fast as he could, belly nearly touching the ground with each stride. It took him half the time to reach his targets now, and once he did, he burst into the clearing. He did not bother to check where each wolf was, he merely had at them as fast as he could. Going for his rivals henchmen first, he grabbed one by the scruff of the neck and tossed him to the ground. With a forceful few tugs, he broke the wolf’s neck before turning and bracing himself to deal with the rest.
Keeva was still beaming proudly up at Enzo when she noticed he seemed to grow distant. Her smile slowly faded in confusion, and she tilted her head to the side as she watched him. ”So, what next?” She questioned, hoping to break him of his train of thought. It didn't seemed to. He seemed to be lost in them, maybe debating something. She couldn't tell and her ears fell back. She leaned her head towards him, cautiously, as she noticed his claws dig into the earth and his posture grow tense. ”Enzo?”
At that moment, he sprang up with a snarl, sending Keeva whirling back in surprise. With wide eyes, she watched for a moment as he took off, before gathering herself and racing after him. What was he doing? Where was he going?
She sprinted through the woods, but with the terrain and her shorter legs, she was unable to keep up with him. This would normally have frustrated her, as she didn't like not being able to do everything others could, but with Enzo it had never bothered her. Of course he was better and stronger than her at everything. The complete rush of adrenaline she was feeling in this moment also helped keep her frustration at bay. As she surged forward, she completely disregarded any tree limb or rock she stumbled over in the mud, effectively covering herself in mud all over again. All she cared about was catching up to Enzo and finding out what was wrong and right now he was a blurred speck in the distance.
When she reached the clearing she had followed him to earlier, she came upon a bloody and violent scene. Enzo was tearing into the brutes, shredding through them one by one. Her hackles bristled as she watched, ears cupped forward and mouth hanging agape. Should she go in and help him? She didn't want to get in Enzo's way, but she hated to just sit and watch. She wanted to help him! If they had him this angered, they had to be really bad wolves, right? They had to have done something very bad. Something so bad he couldn't even share it with her! It was at that moment it was decided. Without any regard to her own safety, which she never thought about much anyway at her age, she sprinted forward into the clearing, right towards the middle of the fight.
Death was an ever familiar presence in Enzo’s life, he had grown up around it. Mysterious disappearances and even more mysterious tales behind them. It would be no different for these wolves, they will have been living one day- gone the next. No one would know how it was done, or where they’d ended up, only that they had left the earth with merely a screech of pain left behind. No one would miss this gang of misfits, they were horrid wolves, they didn’t deserve the right to live. That’s the single most prominent thought racing through Enzo’s mind now anyhow.
He was locked in a rather even fight with another of the wolves, when a small figure darted through the scene before becoming one with it. Enzo’s eyes widened as his orbs darted from wolf to wolf trying to lock onto whom he knew to be Keeva. God damn, kid! He thought with head bashing frustration. Speaking of, in order to quickly off this wolf- considering now he was in a flurry and felt the need to carry this fight away from Keeva, Enzo catapulted his head into his opponents. A loud crunch sounded through the air, and the other wolf dropped to the ground. Enzo backed away, shaking his head as it pounded profusely. He opened his eyes, and the world was doubled. Dizzy, he attempted as best he could to pinpoint Keeva, but everyone to him was now a giant blur.
With no time to react, the leader of the gang- Enzo’s main target- had rammed his shoulder into Enzo’s guts, sending him to the dirt. Enzo grunted as the other male pinned him down and began striking at his throat and chest. Enzo squirmed, kicking and scratching the others’ underbelly, hoping to break the soft skin and push him off. With head still feeling split and broken, he pushed with all the strength he had, finally managing to break the balance of the other. He clambered to his paws, wobbly steps taken to try and retain his own balance.
He was not going to win. Not like this. Not alone. With weary eyes, he looked to Keeva,
”Keeva… Distr-distract him.” He muttered, though he wasn’t sure if it was loud enough for her to even hear, he didn’t want his opponent hearing first and foremost. This plan could either end well, or disastrous, and if it was the last option, Enzo would never forgive himself.
Keeva realized as soon as she entered the fight that she really didn’t have a clue what she was doing. She had never attacked another wolf before and was relying solely on instincts and what life-skills Enzo and her parents had taught her. With fur standing on end and teeth bared, a low growl rumbled in her throat. Her senses were completely overstimulated as her eyes darted from wolf to wolf, snapping and jumping away from any who got too close to her. She was filled with awe as she watched Enzo take out one of the wolves with a head-butt, but another was quickly on him and had him pinned to the ground. She began racing towards them, but Enzo was able to kick the brute off-balance enough to scramble out from under him.
Keeva stopped short beside Enzo, ears falling back and watching him with worried eyes. He seemed weary and broken as his eyes met hers. Perhaps the blow to the head with the other wolf was just too much? She found herself filled with concern for him, but caught herself as Enzo instructed her. Right! Now is not the time for that! She could worry about any injuries he sustained later. If she didn’t keep her head in the fight they both would die, because she certainly couldn’t take on a full grown wolf on her own. Distract him. His faint words echoed in her mind and she was glad to have caught them. She turned her attention to the wolf who had just had Enzo pinned, who was advancing their way. She sprang towards him with a vicious little snarl, although the male didn’t seem to take her that seriously. She knew she could not defeat him with strength, so she decided to use her agility to her advantage. She would leap forward and nip at his sides or his hocks and when he would turn to her in annoyance to retaliate she would leap back and move to his other side. For now this seemed to be working and occasionally Keeva would glance to Enzo to see what it was he had planned for his end.
Despite the pounding in his head, when his queue came- when Keeva had sprung into action, dodging and darting around their opponent as a distraction- Enzo pulled himself together and leapt toward the alpha of the gang, teeth bared and last surge of energy pushing him. There was a small window of time where the male had his back turned to Enzo, trying to snap at the pesky lass at his heels. In that moment, Enzo wrapped his jaws around one of his back legs and yanked, hard. He pulled back and continued to pull back until the other male was being dragged on his stomach, front legs scrambling to cling to something- anything.
Enzo wouldn’t allow such salvation, however, so instead he moved from one end of the male to the other, grabbing onto the scruff of his neck. Enzo pulled up, lifting the male’s head off the ground, before brutally slamming it into the earth beneath them. He did this numerous times, over and over until the wolf stirred no more. Shallow breaths rose in his ribs, but Enzo knew he would not make it out alive, and so he left him.
He turned to Keeva, exhaustion pooling in his eyes, splattered all over his face, just like the blood had. His head jerked in the direction that one of the ‘henchmen’ had ran, and escaped. ‘He won’t get far on his own.’ He thought. After all, he had gotten the one he wanted, that was all that mattered.
“Are you ok?” He said, heavy breaths vibrating in his chest.
If it weren’t for their potential impending death, Keeva might have found this task to be fun! She was good at distracting the male, hopping and spinning from side to side and snapping at his sides to get his attention. It worked, as he would occasionally veer off of his target of Enzo to her and try to snap back at her. Enzo took one of those opportunities to spring into action.
Dragging the brute down, he began slamming his head into the ground. Keeva stopped her distraction tactics and froze in place, one paw raised slightly off the ground. Her ears twisted back and her brows furrowed uncertainly as she watched, her hackles still bristled. She wasn’t sure what to think. Enzo had told her these males had done something terrible, something to deserve death, and of course she believed him, but seeing the murders take place was a type of brutality she had not witnessed before in her short life. She felt both amazed and a little ill, to be honest, as she stood surrounded by the remains of a fallen gang and its leader.
Keeva followed Enzo’s gaze to the male getting away, but he didn’t seem concerned so she decided she shouldn’t be either. Enzo’s labored breathing and question snapped her attention back to him and she gave him a slow nod as she gathered herself. ”Yes…” Her lost expression quickly turned to one of concern and worry. Of course she was fine! She hadn’t had to fight anyone, it had all been him and he was looking haggard from it. ”Are you?” That was the important question here. Her eyes widened for a moment as she awaited his response. Where would they go from here? What if he needed healing? What would they do then? A slew of questions churned in her mind.
He saw her expression, holding herself strong, but with a hint of distress behind her young eyes. He realised he shouldn’t have done such things in front of her, but that was one thing she should have known about him by now- he didn’t have much control over his blood lust- especially if it was deserved. Now he knew that the female he’d tried to rescue those months ago was in a better place, avenged and able to move on. And he was too. He felt at peace for now, knowing that these wolves laying around his feet could do no more harm to anyone else.
At Keeva’s question, he nodded, coughing slightly before spitting blood to the ground. He sighed, taking a moment to just… calm down. His adrenaline was no use to him now, and so he spent the next few minutes trying to counter it and push it down.
Once he opened his eyes again, they were much calmer and focused than they had been before. His expression loosened, and he overall transformed into his regular self. A small, pleased smile curled his lip, and he nodded to Keeva again, more assured this time.
”I am better than okay. What needed to be done has been done, now we can focus on other things,” He said, pushing forward, toward the river, ”Now we can go to the river to clean up.” He added, motioning for her to follow. While walking, he gave her a slight nudge,
”You did good, kid.”