Chapter 1 Runaway

He awoke to the sunshine streaming into his room. Tomorrow he would be going into heat, and would have to take someone as mate. He had seen his mother and father speaking with the Alpha throughout the week. All members of the pack had to get permission from the Alpha when they wanted to take a mate, even if it was the parents arranging it for the child.

His heart was pounding and he broke out into a cold sweat as he walked down the stairs to the kitchen to get breakfast. His mother was already in there, along with his father, who was sitting at the table eating a plate of pancakes. He went to the counter where there was a plate of pancakes beside his mother and grabbed a plate. As he was reaching for the pancakes she hissed at him quietly so Father couldn't hear, "Don't take too many, you don't want to get fat." He took just one.

"Not hungry today?" His father asked. He shook his head 'no'. He chuckled, "Nervous for tomorrow? Well even if you're nervous you need to eat to keep your strength up. We don't want you to faint tomorrow."

"Leave the boy alone, Eric. You know how stressful the first heat is. He'll eat more at lunchtime," she drawled. His father turned back to eating. His mother smirked at him over his father's shoulder. They finished eating then his father went with the other males, while she and him stayed at home.

"Camlo, dear, could you go to the forest and get some brown mushrooms and some herbs? The ones with the scalloped leaves? I'm sure you can do something as simple as that, right?" she said sweetly.

"Yes ma'am," he said. He got dressed and got a basket to hold the mushrooms and herbs in. As he was walking out the door his mother called out to him. "Oh, and I need enough of the herb to fill this jam jar to the top when dried. And don't come back until you've finished."

"Yes ma'am," he said and took the jar. He put it into the basket and continued walking out the door.

He walked to the forest and started looking around. He found the brown mushrooms easy enough as they were common and fast growing. The herb was not rare, however it grew only in a certain part of the forest and it was extremely hard to find. It grew on the side of the mountain that touched the edge of the forest. It grew in between the rocks, and he had to be extremely careful not to cause the rock to loosen and take him with it.

By the time it was done it was fairly dark out. He hurried home, hoping he was in time to have dinner. He got to his front door and rushed inside, but quickly stilled. His mother would scold him if she saw him running in the house. He looked down at his feet. There were muddy. He quickly took off his boot and went outside to wipe off the mud. He left them by the door and quietly went to the kitchen where he could hear sounds.

"Mother, I have brought the mushrooms and herb," he said to her. He placed the basket with the items in it on the counter. She slapped him. "Don't put that filthy thing on the counter. Put it outside in the shed until I can do something with it."

He did as asked and went back to the kitchen.

"Where is Father?"

"He is with the other hunters. They are hunting for the celebration tomorrow," she replied without looking up from what she was doing.

"What is there to celebrate?" he asked. This time she turned around and sneered at him.
"The Alpha has decided to take a mate," she said, staring at him. When he said nothing and only looked confused she continued, "You." His eyes widened.

"N-no! I-I can't be his mate!" he cried out.

"Oh, but you are. You saw your father and me talking to him earlier this week, right? We were talking about you. And now you will be his mate. And if you don't put out, he will just take it. You'll be raped for the rest of your days and pop out cubs for him," she cackled with glee.

He couldn't believe this was happening. He couldn't be the Alpha's mate. The leader of their pack was vicious and cold and terrified Camlo. This wasn't going to happen. He was going to run away, heat or not, and never come back. He didn't want to be the Alpha's mate.

"Quit your simpering and be a man about it. Though that's difficult for you, I'm sure," she sighed a long-suffering sigh, "Why couldn't we have had a normal male or female cub? Instead we have this little whore in a male's body." She stared off into the air for a couple of seconds before she snapped her head towards where he was standing wide-eyed, as if just remembering he was there.

"Hurry up and eat your god damn dinner. But don't eat too much; you'll get even fatter than you are right now."

After dinner he was sent to bed, to 'rest up to be ready tomorrow'. He stared at the ceiling. He was still in his day clothes. His mind was turning. He couldn't go through with tomorrow. He had to get away. He began to come up with a plan. He knew his mother drank whenever his father wasn't home, and that she always fell asleep early whenever that happened. He got up and crept to his door. He opened it a crack and stuck his ear out.
It was quiet. Then he heard the clinking of glasses. She was getting into the alcohol. After about a half hour of waiting he could hear her walking up the stairs. He snapped his head back inside and waiting for her to go to her bedroom. Her stomps sounded down the hall and seemed to swerve in her drunkenness. Finally she closed the door. He could hear her flop down on her bed and promptly fall asleep.

He softly closed the door and tip-toed down the hall to the stairs. He was almost there when a floorboard creaked. He froze, eyes locked onto the door at the end of the hall. There was a sound of someone turning in their sleep, and then loud snoring. He sighed in relief and made his way down the stairs, crouching and scooting down each one. He moved to the kitchen and to the small hallway with the back door at the end. He peeled off his clothes, folded them neatly, and put them on the ground in front of the door. He took a deep breath and opened the door.

He had never disobeyed anyone in his entire life. And now he was disobeying not only his parents, but the Alpha of his pack as well. This could get the whole pack after him. But he had to do it. Even if he didn't mate with the Alpha he would have to take another male mate, and they would do the same things the Alpha would. So he had to leave. He took another deep breath, shut the door gently, and crouched down. He willed his wolf side to come. He could feel his spine and tailbone lengthening. His face shot outwards and formed into a more pointed shape, as did his ears, and he fell forward on his hands. His knees bent backwards and his limbs extended. Light reddish-brown sprouted all over his body, with white tips on his muzzle, ears, paws, and tail, finishing his transformation. Now stood what appeared to be some kind of fox, except it was much bigger than one.

He sniffed the air once and shot off under the cover of darkness away from the village. He ran north through the large forest. He had only ever been on the edge in the south part of the forest and on part of the mountain in the west part. He didn't know where he was going at all. He couldn't hunt. He didn't know how to use his sense of smell. He didn't know how to live off the forest. He just wanted to get as much space between him and the village, and the Alpha, as he could.

He was one of the fastest runners in the village, so he knew he could make good time. He knew how to pace himself. He ran through the night with barely any breaks taken in between. Come morning he was starting to feel fatigue coming up on him, what with him having hardly eaten anything the day before and having not slept for almost a full day. But he didn't pause; he focused beyond the pain in his burning lungs, and the ache deep in his limbs, and concentrated on getting distance between him and the village.

It was almost night again when he stopped, exhausted. He sniffed around for something edible to eat. His nose led him to a berry bush. He shifted back to his human form and starting stuffing as many as he could into his mouth, dark red juices running down his chin. He was so hungry. He knew he needed meat, but he didn't know how to catch anything, and he wouldn't be able to kill anything in order to eat it. The few times his father had taken him hunting with him, he couldn't do anything. He had actually thrown up when he watched his father gut the animal with his fangs. So he settled for the unsatisfying berries.

After he was finished he searched around in his human form for a tree he would be able to climb up; he wanted to sleep up high where predatory animals wouldn't be able to get him and he didn't want to sleep on the ground. He passed a large broadleaf with several lower-hanging branches. The leafy roof of the tree seemed like a good cover to hide in, lest someone from the village should come by. Although they would probably be in their wolf forms and be able to sniff him out, he didn't want to take chances.

He decided this tree would do and stretched to reach a lower branch. He hauled himself up so his top half was on the branch then swung his legs up. He shivered as a cold wind blew across his naked skin making him shiver and wrap his arms around his torso. He shook his body to warm up a bit, steeling himself for the rest of the climb. He reached and swung up on the next branch and continued until he felt he was a safe enough distance from the ground.

He was on a fairly wide limb that he could somewhat curl up on. Although there were many leaves to shelter him from the wind there was still the dropping temperature that could not be shielded against. He changed to his wolf form and curled up nest to the main trunk of the tree, tail swishing over his nose. It helped keep the cold out a little, but not enough that he didn't occasionally shiver. His wolf's coat wasn't very thick and he didn't have enough fat on him to keep warm. He tried to focus on sleep. His thoughts turned to back home and what was undoubtedly happening now that they had figured out he left. For a moment he shivered in dread, thinking about what his mother would do if she was the one that caught him, if she was hunting for him at all. He knew she didn't like him, and she made no pretense when they were alone to let him think for a second that he was wanted by her. He remembered what Mother used to tell him throughout his childhood leading up to him becoming of mating age.

"Being a Submissive you are less than a female," Mother had said while kneading dough. He had been helping her prepare food in the morning, as he always did. He was eleven summers old at the time.

He passed some more flour to Mother. He was almost used to her saying such things by now. Almost, but not quite. He still felt the sting of her words.
"The reason you are less is because no male would love you. You are only good for breeding purposes," she said, "Pass me the water." He went to get the water on his other side, but when he grabbed the container it sloshed a little. His mother snatched the container from his hands and slapped him across the face.
"Can't you do anything right?"

She'd been saying these kinds of things all through his life, and now the time had come that he was of mating age, and he was to be mated to the Alpha. The Alpha scared him, both in appearance and what he thought he was going to do to him as his mate. The Alpha was young for that of his position, but he was a strong leader, not only in strength but in cunning as well. He had actually come from a foreign pack and challenged the old Alpha for his position. He had won the fight and claimed Camlo's pack by the Right of the Moon, which was used when the position of Alpha was in question. He had left the old Alpha dead, not that anybody had liked him much. From what his father said he had been corrupt and was taking bribes from other packs to let them hunt on the pack's land. There had been many other shady things that that Alpha had done. He only knew what his father had told him as he wasn't alive when these things happened. Their new Alpha was much better and more ethical than the last, but Camlo didn't see that. All he saw was an emotionless, more-wolf-than-man leader that now wanted him as mate. He shuddered in thought at what would have happened if he'd stayed, and shuddered again when he thought of what would happen if they caught him.

He curled in more on himself and felt his eyelids drooping. The two days of being awake finally caught up with him and he fell into a deep sleep.