The Wolf's Ascension
Short flash fiction from Alex Ducharme.
An old dire wolf alpha, fur black as coal with grey in his undercoat and a xiphos slung across his weary back, begins his climb up an all-to-familiar mountain to rid it of the evils upon its peak… the evils that had beaten the old warrior’s innocence from him once before. As he half-marches, half-limps up the mountain from his earlier injuries gained from an earlier encounter with an agent of this evil he seeks, he sees a familiar place… a pride of mountain lions… old allies of his, sheltered from the evils upon the mountain range’s summit.
The wolf enters, and the alpha lion emerges, greeting the old wolf. “Alachi, so good to see you,” the lion says, "But you’re hurt. Badly, too."
The wolf, Alachi, nods and replies, “Likewise, Zachariah, and don’t worry. It’s nothing.”
“Nonsense, an old friend of yours would be happy to help your recover and aid you on your journey.” Zachariah shook his mane and gestured to a nursing lioness. “Larissa! Alachi needs your help.”
Larissa jumps down and greets the old wolf with a nuzzling motion on him before seeing his wounds. “Oh, dear… I’ll see what I can do.”
For the next few days, Larissa nursed him from her teat, kissed his wounds, and comforted him during his sleep along her side as Alachi told her and Zachariah about the journey. When Alachi was healed, he and Larissa departed for the desert valley on the other side of the mountain across from the arid desert valley, where the evil lie in wait for the ashen wolf.
Larissa and Alachi spent the last day in a full run across the valley, the sun beating down on them, the motivation of ridding the evil that plagued both of the friends in different ways. As the hot desert sun set, giving way to the bitter cold of the night, they reach the mountain and Alachi turns to Larissa. “I’m sorry Alachi, but I cannot go further… the way is dangerous and we’d both certainly die,” Larissa said with despair.
“I know… but it’s what I must do. You’ve done a lot for me and for that, you have my gratitude,” Alachi said, voice unbroken by his own sadness. He kissed Larissa sloppily, but with heartfelt love for his friend. “I guess this is where we part ways… friend." He turned to leave before catching her voice.
“Wait! Alachi,” Larissa said, voice broken by her tears. She takes off the necklace of hers, a phoenix talon bearing a fire opal… a symbol of love, hope and light in time of darkness along with inner strength and renewal, and uses her paw to put it on the wolf with a reciprocating kiss of her own. “Take this… it will serve you well in your journey… know that I am with you in spirit." She turned away from him and sobbed. “Goodbye friend."
“Fare thee well and take care of Zachariah while I’m gone.” With that, he turned and went up the mountain, the full moon above him now.
* * *
As he progressed further up the mountain, the cold stinging his bloodshot eyes, he pressed on with a march, gallant, vengeful, and unyielding… like a revenant.
Memories started to weigh him down more than the increasingly driving snow. Alachi remembered he time before the darkness… before Nyxus. When he had love, virility, and a purpose outside of revenge… dreams of his own.
As the darkness grew, he drew his xiphos, whose sun-enchanted blade glowed brightly, acting as his torch in the snowy darkness. He remembered the she-wolves he was betrothed to… one by one, snuffed out by Nyxus, leading him to the lion’s pride, who gave him strength, purpose and a new start to escape to before his love tore him apart, leaving him physically wounded as well.
The snow was coming down harder and Alachi’s limbs started to falter from the bitter cold freezing his muscles as he moved forward, up the mountain, the frozen skeletons of dead travelers before him, man, angel, and beast alike, by his sides as he trudged forth, reminding him more of his new-found purpose… revenge.
He fought the mighty dragoness and champion of dark heavens once before, after claiming a lover’s vessel, but Nyxus snuffed his lover out and left him wounded from the fight, blackening his dark grey fur. He remembered how she left him for dead and he survived.
He remembered the sword, forged by a god in the blood of a martyr, a phoenix and a dragon… how every bit of the wolf’s hatred was forged into the blade. Yet most of all, he remembered how she took his dreams, and smashed them to pieces. She took his life… and now he’s taking hers.
Just as he was almost ready to succumb to the cold, unforgiving climes, Alachi noticed the blizzard subsiding into a lighter snow, then stop altogether as he entered a cave… a tunnel to the summit. It was here he lay for the remainder of the night, getting what broken sleep he could before moving on.
Alachi awoke atop the summit of the mountain... the eye of the storm. There was a black dragon, whose scales glistened like the stars and whose silver eyes glew like moons, by her side his friend and former mate, Anna, a copper and white furred wolf he had thought to be dead, lying ill and possessed.
At this point the gems on the sword and necklace glowed like the Sun from newly felt hope, pressing him to get up and fight. Just as Alachi drew his blade with his gnarled maw, his fur turned gold and he flew at the dragoness, Nyxus, in a rage and the fight ensued.
Solar steel against Ebon scales... Lunar flame against Golden fur, the fray continued for what felt like eternity but eventually he prevailed by cleaving the draconic head from Nyxus in a slashing lunge, and the xiphos turned once more to pierce her heart as she vanished back into the wintery night.
Alachi turned to his friend and realized most quickly that she died in the conflict. He went to the peak and with bloodstained tears let out a howl so bloodthirsty, aggrieved and psychotic that no being on this Earth could let out, ending in a jackal's chuckle.