Sage, leading her sisters forward caught sight of the wolves' trail first. There was a worn track winding among the tangle of roots carpeting the forest floor. She pointed it out and they followed it until they reached a clearing at the foot of the red mountain. The trail tapered off and led up the mountain, but they needn't go any farther. A great curtain of vines and moss hung from the cliff top above, around which the path curved, and veiled two caverns. Sage knew that this mountain was riddled with a vast network of caves, but this was most certainly the red den. She turned to her sisters, "This is a sacred place. Let us show Stoneclaw the utmost respect. Wait in the tree line until she invites us in."
So they did, and so sage called out, "Oh great alpha of the Red Clan, I call upon you. I am sage, daughter of Ivy and descended from Flora. I ask humbly that you give us audience." Sage dropped to one knee just as a huge muzzle protruded to sweep back the curtain of vines. Lady Stoneclaw was as majestic as she was massive. One of her canine teeth was the length of sage's arm, shoulder to fingertip. When she spoke, she did so with her mind as the wolven language was only understood by Rivany's fauna.
"Salutations, Sage, daughter of Ivy. I welcome thee to my den. Please, may your kith and kin join us inside."
Sage beckoned and her sisters followed the great wolf into her den. The cave was cool and damp, and poorly lit by only a glowing orb near the ceiling. Near the back, a corridor was illuminated by the same kind of light. The rest of the pack was lined diligently along the walls like statues. Sage thought there were perhaps a dozen in all. There were a few pups wrestling that stopped immediately as Stoneclaw entered. Every wolf was sitting on its haunches, backs straight and eyes fixed on their leader. Stoneclaw took her place atop a pile of furs, and lay on her belly with her front paws outward.
"I sense we haven't time for pleasantries. Speak, daughter of flora."
"Your majesty-" Sage began, but Stoneclaw cut across her.
"You are a member of my pack, and therefore you may call me Mother."
"Great Mother Stoneclaw, my own mother has gazed into her crystal glass given to her by the lord of Elves, and she has seen the black clan preparing for war. They gather magic and march towards our lands. Their numbers are greater than ours, but their magic is primitive at best."
Several growls rumbled low in the cave when the black clan was mentioned. One of these came from Stoneclaw, and for a moment she did not look the fierce warrior of which great tales of battle were told. She simply looked exhausted, sorrowful, and ancient. Then, her eyes flashed and she spoke, "Sweet daughters of Flora, I thank you for delivering this news post-haste. We shall prepare and we shall defend our mountain with our lives," Then, a sigh as she projected her thoughts to both her pack and the witches. "'Tis true, your old mother has seen many a war. I have fought and won more than my share of battles. I feel I will soon have to recede into the caverns of our mothers and fathers. Then, my own daughter shall have to take my place. Let this be my last war, and let it be the makings of legend."