Chapter Two

The sun was high in the sky, and the four Pups were wide awake, playing in the clearing. This was normal, and happened on a day-to-day basis. And right on time, the Midday Patrols walked valiantly into the clearing. The Territory Patrol reported that there were no disturbances, and the Hunting Patrol had their jaws filled with dead prey. The Pups' eyes widened, and with drool dripping out of the sides of their mouths, they bounded over to welcome the Hunting Patrol. They ignored the Territory Patrol.

After stealing a dead rabbit from the Hunters, Cloud walked up to Hail stiff-legged with her fur bristling slightly. She did not blink as she looked at Hail; likewise, Hail didn't, either. The staring showdown continued for a bit longer before Hail grunted at Cloud and walked away. Cloud's ears perked up, ignoring the fact that Hail didn't want to play. She came from behind, pawing at her sister's neck. Hail puffed up and growled. This was not a playful growl, either. Hail did not feel like being messed with.

During this whole exchange, Thunder sat patiently, watching and waiting. She was predicting that out of the blue that Hail would show her fangs and bite into Cloud's leg. It was increasingly obvious, and Thunder's body quivered with excitement.

Then it happened, and after a flash of teeth, Cloud was whimpering ten feet away from her auburn sister. Cloud's ears were back and she soon lifted her lips and let out a snarl.

"What was that for?" she growled, eyes narrowed. Hail just stuck up her tail, waving it in the air cockily. "I just wanted to play!"

Thunder now raced across the clearing, charging at Hail. She was sneaking up from behind so that only Cloud could see what she was about to do. Cloud's ears perked up and she gawked at Thunder, who was preparing to leap onto Hail's back. Cloud whined in anticipation, slowly crawling towards the inevitable fight.

Then Thunder landed! Hail jumped up, alarmed, and rolled onto her back. When she saw Thunder, her eyes narrowed, and she let out the fiercest growl so far. She kicked with her back legs, throwing Thunder off her. She then stood up, and with great anger, proceeded to chase her black sister around the clearing. Thunder raced up the High Ledge, trying to lose Hail. But Hail was quick, too, and she quickly started to catch up to Thunder. Thunder then leapt into the air, her paws trying to find a hold on the top of the ledge. But Hail nipped her leg and Thunder fell right to the dirt ground, about five feet down.

Five feet may not seem high, but to a Pup Thunder's size, it was far. And Thunder lay on the ground, a still lump, barely breathing. Hail's eyes widened in alarm and she charged down the rock, rushing to Thunder's side. She covered her face in quick, worried licks. Cloud and Song quickly ran over to their fallen sister, too.

Thunder suddenly sprang up, tackling Hail. She had been faking, waiting for her worried sister to let down her guard. Hail retaliated when she got over her surprise, and they engaged in battle. Thunder bit randomly, lunging for the throat and legs often. Hail would stumble back, trying to avoid these blows, but failing. Soon, she was curled up on the ground, wailing for the torture to stop. All of the sisters knew that it was pointless to attack Thunder unless you had the element of surprise.

"I. Win." She broadcasted, trotting around like she owned the world. Hail gave out a small growl, but didn't attack. She'd her lesson…for today, at least.

"Thunder!" A sharp voice called. Thunder's head flew to the High Ledge, where Alpha Rain stood proudly, looking down at the Pup. "Come here."

Hail burst out laughing. Her tail thumped against the ground. "You're in trouuuuuuuuuuuble!" she cackled. Thunder sent her a death glare, and stalked towards the High Ledge, nervously climbing it. When she came face to face with Rain, he spoke softly.

"I would like to see you in my den at Sundown," he said, before turning tail and leaving Thunder confused at the top of the ledge. She looked down wearily at her sisters, who sat patiently, waiting. Thunder sniffed unhappily before bounding down the ledge, tackling Song who yelped in disgust. She showed her fangs, but didn't growl, and trotted off to the Nursery, where she would inevitably complain to their mother.

Thunder sighed and walked away from her other sisters, curling up into a ball at the base of a mighty pine tree. She felt safe in the lowered prickly branches that acted like a cave. She smiled and closed her eyes, sniffing the sweet air. A rustling sound caused Thunder's ears to perk up, and Thunder felt another warm body lay next to her. It was Cloud, and with the other warm body comforting hers, she drifted off to sleep.

A sharp nudge brought Thunder out of her dreaming, and she blinked blearily. The moon was high in the sky, casting a silver glow on the camp. There were no sounds except for the gentle breeze winding its way through the trees. Thunder stood up and stretched, looking at Cloud who was sleeping. Thunder mumbled to herself.

"Silly Cloud. Always kicking me when she sleeps…."

Thunder crawled out from under the pine branches and walked around the clearing. She stretched out her legs and sniffed random bushes. As she trotted around, looking at the moon, she suddenly realized something. She had forgotten to go and see Rain! Alarmed, Thunder sprinted towards the Alpha's den, but then paused. Wouldn't he be sleeping? Thunder mentally scolded herself. How could forget to talk to the Alpha? That was incredibly stupid!

Nervously, she sniffed the entrance to the den. She could hear Rain moving about, and decided to call out softly. "Rain?" She asked. The scuffling stopped. Rain poked his head out and smiled.

"I had a feeling that you fell asleep," he chuckled. "Come on in."

The Alpha den was equally as cozy as the Nursery. It was a rock cave built in the towering cliffs surrounding the camp. The ceiling was about a foot and a half above Rain's head, and the size of it overall could fit about three wolves comfortably. There was soft moss covering the cold floor, and a pile of moss and pine needles lay in the back corner. There was an imprint in the shape of a wolf on that pile.

Rain waited patiently while Thunder looked around. He gave a few quick licks to his shoulder before looking back at the black wolf. Thunder eventually looked at the leader and sat down. She gave a quick thought of trying to stare him down, but quickly got rid of that idea. It would be very dumb to try and challenge your Alpha! She quickly looked down at her paws at that.

"Let's see…" He murmured. "Ah yes. Now I remember what I wanted to talk to you about. Training." Thunder's ears perked up. "Yes. Now you wish that you had come earlier, don't you?" He teased lightly. Thunder's ears flicked back in annoyance. "But anyway…I have been thinking of a mentor for you. He's agreed, too, after a lot of convincing. You know Stone, yes?" Thunder nodded. "I've been observing you, and I think you could be a brilliant fighter, extraordinary, if you had the right mentor. I believe he is the best for you. Is that okay with you?" Thunder's tail wagged as she nodded. "Excellent! I will tell the pack tomorrow, so the ceremony can be done as soon as possible."

Thunder stood up grinned. "Thank you, sir!" She said, before edging towards the entrance.

"Thunder, please tell your sisters that I'll be watching. I'm just trying to figure out the right mentors for their skills."

Thunder nodded and dashed out of the den, about to squeal with excitement until she realized that the rest of the camp was sleeping. Thunder glared at the moon. "I want to tell everyone!" she said, still glaring at the moon. "Why must you be up?"

If anyone had overheard her, she could have been in serious trouble. Yelling at the Moon, queen of the wolves? That was treachery of the worst kind! Cursing at anything of nature was pretty much a horrible crime. The Moon and the Cloud rulers were the most powerful beings known to wolf folklore. They were sacred figures of the wolves. In fact, it was said that the wolves themselves came from the Moon Queen and Cloud Lord. Cursing at them was punishable by banishment or death.

Thunder sighed and walked to the Nursery. She wouldn't wake Cloud up; Cloud couldn't sleep easily. Slipping easily inside, she saw her mother and sisters curled up, and she quickly joined them, breathing in time with her kin, letting the milky smells soothe her until she could no longer keep her eyes open.