Silver Seren/Derek's Past - Part 3
Derek's Past - Part III by ~silver-seren
Derek's Past - Part 3 Victory or Death By Silver Seren
Grass crunched beneath heavy paws. Bushes rustled and parted as the two wolves walked through them. The sounds of birds chirping and other happy, cheerful sounds of the forest seemed at odds with the expressions the wolves held. One was anxious, nervousness making him antsy, and the other was utterly terrified. I don’t want this...Not like this.
Derek was quaking as he followed behind Zack, his heart pounding furiously. Time was flowing in such a rapid fashion that it was impossible for him to keep up. Having the knowledge that he would be fighting tooth and claw in a battle for a position any second now, fear started to constrict his insides. Kright’s angry explanation came back to him and he pondered the meaning of “Elite Guard”. Personal protectors of Logan? Did he even need any protection? Either way, that meant that this Rolan was especially dangerous.
He didn’t feel any better because of that. This wasn’t the type of battle in which he could just surrender. That was obvious. Judging from everyone’s actions, there were only two choices. And that raised another dilemma. Could he kill another person? Even as wolves, he knew that they were real people and even empathized with them more in this form. The conclusion that his frantic five seconds of thought brought him was that...no, he couldn’t. There was no way he would be able to. What that meant for the future he didn’t know, but, for the moment, his sole focus had to be on surviving. That and that alone.
The trees began thinning and it took a few seconds before Derek noticed the clearing up ahead, but the dread quickly followed. The choices laid out in front of him were neither good ones. Death or, in a single act, become a murderer and truly join this pack of killers. He wasn’t entirely sure which option was more tolerable to him. Derek didn’t want to die, but he also didn’t want to take the life of another.
His thoughts were interrupted as the tree line abruptly ended and he was out in the open. The clearing had the feel of evil within it, a chill that went right to the bone. The presence next to him receded and he looked back to find Zack still on the edge of the trees. His lips mouthed silently, forming the words, “Good luck,” before stepping back and vanishing into the shadows, leaving Derek completely, absolutely alone.
Shivering at the emptiness around him, he shakily took a step towards the center of the clearing, his head swiftly turning from side to side. It seemed...empty. After Zack had left, he could neither see, smell, nor hear anyone else nearby. The grassy glade truly seemed deserted. Then why did he still feel like danger was surrounding him, ready to pounce and tear him to shreds?
A rustle of grass caught his attention and Derek peered intently into the gloom beneath the trees. All that could be made out was a vague outline, but that was enough. There was only one other black wolf in the pack, the wolf that he was the miniature of. “Lord Logan,” Derek whispered, bowing his head, the words echoing in the confines of the enclosed space.
A nod of a shadowed head came in response and a voice that spoke back, “It seems you have learned some semblance of manners. I approve of that. Do you know why you are here?” Shaking at being the recipient of that question, Derek nodded, “I do, sir.” There was no hiding the trembling fear. Anyone would feel fear, unless they were insane.
A flash of white canines came from Logan as he backed away and vanished, “Then we shall begin.” Noises came from every direction and Derek could envision a multitude of eyes upon him. The rest of the Pack was silently watching...perhaps waiting for his death. But he paid them no heed; he had bigger considerations to deal with.
Boring at the shadows, he picked out a figure approaching, one that was far easier to define. This was clearly because of the wolf’s light cream-colored fur with perfectly white paws. Surprisingly, or at least to Derek’s mind, there was no aura of malice around this person like there was always surrounding Logan. Though he could say that he was prejudiced, considering that Kright was normal, as far as he saw.
“Rolan,” Derek stated, lowering his muzzle in salute, though not quite so far as he had for Logan. Rolan chuckled, swinging his head left to right, “You don’t need to be doing that for me. Not when we are about to fight. We are all equals when met on the battlefield.” The words came out somber and he seemed downhearted at the prospect of death. It was the look of a person that had been required to fulfill this duty many times before. This, or course, meant that there had be deaths beneath those claws and fangs.
Derek could easily envision what these weapons would be like smothered in blood. But it was an image he dearly did not wish to bring into reality. The chance of that wish being averted, and the vision being kept secret, seemed minimal. And then there was also the reality he refused to acknowledge. But he had no choice in the matter.
“Rolan,” Derek began, his voice barely carrying, even the few feet between them, “If i’m somehow able to win...I won’t be able to finish it. I can’t...I could never...” It was impossible to finish. A sad smile replied, “Unfortunately, I don’t hold the same handicap. You’re young, so you don’t understand the rules, so you’d probably get off on the punishment. But i’d still be killed in that case, just not by your hand. Try your best to keep your focus and don’t falter. It’s your only chance.” Rolan fell silent and looked away, agony etched in his eyes.
This was the horrific deed for Derek to overcome, but death was an easy motivator. Derek decided to take the initiative, knowing nothing else to do, “I think it would be better to begin. Waiting will only make things worse.” Surprised that his fearful opponent was making this suggestion, Rolan bobbed his head once as he took a step back, glancing at the woods around them, “Then I wish you luck. We wait for the howl.”
His eyes dimmed, glazing over, but his sense of readiness and concrete danger filled the air continuously. Derek kept both eyes locked on Rolan, his body shivering. There was no possible way to banish the fear, the only hope he had was that it would give him speed from its adrenaline pumping. Brief, tension-filled seconds passed, Derek’s quavering becoming steadily worse.
Then, a howl ripped through the forest, Logan no doubt, and was picked up by the rest of the Pack to a high-pitched soprano. For a single, minute second, Derek’s eyes traveled away from Rolan to a nearby tree, where he could detect a familiar voice in that howling. By the time he had glanced back, only a low-lying cloud of dust marked Rolan’s previous position, a place he was no longer in. Derek didn’t pause to think or wonder, he threw himself to the side instantly, utilizing his buried instinct.
Claws whistled through the air, rending into the ground. Dirt splattered everywhere, throwing up a dull haze of particles that only showed a smoky vision of Rolan. “Fast,” his opponent complimented, before leaping to the attack once again, causing Derek to frantically dodge the serrated tips.
There was a difference plain to see between this and the foolish training he had undergone with Zack. First of all, the claws were getting far closer than he was comfortable with, not even necessary to emphasize the seriousness of what trouble he was in. The second point was simple. Rolan was much, much faster.
A yelp escaped Derek as a line of blood bubbled from his shoulder. Springing back, his front legs trembled as he steadied himself. The cut was minor, but it stung like crazy. Derek tried to remove his mind from the pain and focus on Rolan’s life-taking claws. Up to this point, he had been so focused on avoiding harm that he had launched no attacks himself. Actually, he had not even been thinking about fighting back at all, but he realized that he had no choice. His stamina wasn’t limitless and Rolan was obviously used to long battles.
He jumped left to avoid another slice, his breath beginning to turn heavy. Gasping, his fur tingled as he waited breathlessly. A low growl, not more claws, answered his rigidness and he was forced to look up, knowing weakness was reflected on his face. “What’s wrong with you?” Rolan accused, making Derek flinch at the tone, “You will die! Start attacking!”
Resolutely, Derek shook his head in a negative, an angry snarl from Rolan making him nearly grovel. “Why not?” The sudden whisper was unnerving, but Derek stared at the ground, his reply lower than a whisper, “Because I can’t. I don’t want to hurt you. Even if you are said to be my enemy in this, I would like to think of you more as a friend than anything else. And I could never hurt a friend.” There was nothing said back.
It was a mistake to take his eyes off of his opponent, something he should have realized after the first time, and the results were dire. He was too slow to react to the glimpse of motion as a heavy weight plowed into his side, lifting him into the air, and ramming him into the trunk of a nearby tree. Slamming back down to earth, a wracking cough left him at the pressure in his side. Trying to clear his aching lungs as the dirt ground into him, blood dotted in patches in front of his muzzle.
Unable to think or even try to move, he lay dazed as a shadow blocked out the sun. Derek turned bleary eyes upward. Clenched teeth snapped loudly and blazing orbs stabbed through his mind as Rolan stood over him. “Then you shall die!” Snapping his jaws mere inches from Derek’s fur, he paused and didn’t go any farther. Confusion lit onto Derek’s face, only lasting for a moment.
A scream of agony came from him as Rolan casually slid two claws underneath Derek’s skin. The touch could have been called gentle if the sharp points hadn’t been creating waves of unendurable pain. Shuddering, his breathing staggered, Derek struggled to escape, to escape from Rolan, to escape from his claws, to escape from what was threatening to send him into darkness, but his legs didn’t even twitch. Cold, barren eyes bored down upon him, hot breath wafting over him.
Rolan bent down, hooked a tooth into the side of Derek’s mouth, and pulled. There was a ripping noise, followed immediately by a high-pitched cry. The howl choked off as Rolan placed a paw against the resonating throat, “Yes, hate me. Hate me for the pain. Hate me for doing this to you. Feel the hate build and build.” A line of fire ran through Derek’s body at the emotionless, unflected words. There was a small part of his mind that realized that Rolan was baiting him, trying to make him angry enough to kill. But this was drowned out in the snarling entirety.
Trailing his other paw down Derek’s back, Rolan released his throat. Inserting his claws, three bloody, ragged lines appeared. There was a growl at the feeling, but Derek was focused more on anger than anything else. An incredible power was filling up every corner of him, so much so that he could barely control it. With a roar of sound, Derek shot his muzzle forward, clamping around the nearest paw.
There was a small perforating thud as each tooth slid in, sending a wave of blood out. The salty, coppery liquid stained his tongue as he swallowed enthusiastically. The taste was the same as it had always been when you accidentally cut your cheek or otherwise found blood in your mouth, but now it was somehow...better. Claws buffeted against the side of his head, widening the cheek gash, blood streaming to pool on the ground. Both Derek’s and Rolan’s.
The force of the blows ripped Derek’s teeth away, tearing off a good portion of Rolan’s fur and skin in the process. Anger and a craving were pulsing through him now that he had lost that magnificent taste. His tongue licked off any leftover drops that had chanced to fall near his lips and around them. Rolan leaped away, limping from his crushed forepaw, though the bone still seemed to be intact.
Surprise was swelling in his eyes, but also a vindictive, and perplexing, pleasure at these turn of events. He had accomplished his goal of angering Derek, but the reason...the result would be his own death. Struggling to his feet, blood streaming from his multiple wounds, Derek was consumed with the need to cause further pain and taste more. He stalked forward, teeth bared, a low growl echoing form his chest.
The visage he held was horrific enough for even Rolan to step back. All of his thoughts, his personality and his mentality, had been shoved to the side in the name of death. For all the pain that had been caused to him, now and before. For all of the emotional struggle, for all of the things he had been forced to see. It was for all of this that he would kill the wolf in front of him.
He was lost.
The grim smile Rolan held transformed into anticipation and his paws were light on the ground, shifting back and forth. He waited for what he was sure would come. The abrupt attack didn’t faze him and it was sidestepped without even looking. Raising a snarl at the lack of warm flesh beneath his paws, just normal, ordinary, incredibly annoying dirt, Derek flew into a whirlwind of vicious assaults. But even these were avoided by Rolan’s rapid movements, his wound not seeming to slow him at all.
That was until his leg gave out in an unexpected instant of weakness, creating an opening that wouldn’t be missed. Claws raked across Rolan’s shoulder blade, cutting deeply. Blood splattered everywhere as Rolan collapsed, the blood loss sapping his strength. Derek leisurely licked off the liquid that bathed his claws, malice glittering in his eyes. Once this deed was accomplished, heavenly so, he smiled in a grotesque gape, the cheek wound making the grin lopsided and menacing. This was meant and he snapped his teeth a single time in accordance.
The taste of Rolan’s blood was glorious and he knew the meat would be tremendously superior. Prolonging the agony, though, made it all more fun. The defiance in Rolan’s eyes angered him, they were all wrong, and he sought to change their look. The pain they showed he enjoyed, but there was also a sort of smugness, which was aggravating and had no reason on being on the loser’s face. Derek would remedy that.
Moving slowly to increase the tension, he bent towards the inflicted paw, his eyes never leaving Rolan’s. Apprehension now glistened and poured off of Rolan, his body quivering. With a snap of Derek’s jaws, a strip of flesh was torn away from the stricken wolf, causing a fresh torrent of gore. There came a choked-off gasp, the only sound Rolan could make as his throat constricted from the pain.
Snickering, Derek lapped at the flow of nectar, the taste glorious every second. There was a stirring from Rolan, who was still incapable of doing anything. Derek continued to lap broadly at the wound, refusing to let anything get past him and dry up. Thus, he was surprised to find that the delectable flow halted, even as the ragged opening gleamed in the shallow sunlight. The confusion raised from this effect lasted only for a heartbeat before it was pushed aside, a happy conclusion reached. Licking could prolong the fun. Rolan could be kept alive by inches and would be for every bit of Derek’s pleasure.
The blood ran down his muzzle and across his throat, leaving streaks of dripping red, small pieces of clotted and congealed meat stuck to his teeth. Content with himself, he began to circle with light steps, determining his next delight to experience. He finally decided to re-create his own injuries, but in a more brutal fashion. There was a smirk as he ran his paw along Rolan’s side, his claws only tickling the fur. The skin rippled as Rolan shivered, betraying his fear.
The smirk widened and Derek leaned close to an exposed ear, “This will be very painful.” He was rewarded with a renewal of shaking. Perfect. Stretching each claw one by one, he placed them against the furry side, feeling the muscles stir, and pressed down. Each slipped easily beneath the skin, causing the red liquid to well up and run down in slick lines. The feeling was akin to sticking one’s fingers into a glass of warm water, but so much better.
A groan of barely-suppressed pain alerted Derek to his success and he casually pulled back. His claws had the perfect coating of the mouthwatering flavor and he greedily sucked it off. From a quick glance, he decided the wounds were bleeding too much for his liking, threatening to turn into something fatal and that would ruin everything. So he ran his tongue along the openings and, almost immediately, the blood stopped flowing, even faster than the time before.
Satisfied, Derek ran a claw whimsically around the coated and mucky fur, barely touching at all. This teasing was a stall as he thought of his next move, his next round of torture to inflict.
But he faltered and paused when Rolan met his eyes, his own echoing pain and suffering, begging for it all to end. Deliberating, Derek decided to acquiesce and he withdrew his paw. He knew that he had more than compensated for the pain he had received and that it was high time to finish this.
Circling back to Rolan’s front, Derek stared and tilted his muzzle to the side, considering exactly how to do the deed. It took Rolan a second to assess why Derek had stopped and then closed his eyes in resignation. Derek finally chose the quickest and simplest method, the least painful of his options. Drawing closer, light shone off his teeth as he opened his jaws, aiming for the vital jugular artery. He would crush it, not open it, and interrupt the flow of blood in Rolan’s body, killing him nearly painlessly. Just a little hardness of breath and a slight pain as his heart tried to continue pumping, before it would stop entirely forever. There was no need to be cruel, not at this point.
His teeth dragged against fur and the muscles in his jaw twitched as they prepared to clamp down. To take Rolan’s life. No! The cry blazed through Derek’s mind, fires that wakened him from the monster he had become. His head snapped back just in time to make his jaws clamp shut on air. Shuddering, his gaze ran over the length of Rolan’s body, his horror becoming more and more pronounced whenever he alighted upon another wound he had caused.
“No...no,” Derek whimpered, clearly in some sort of shock. Rolan’s eyelids fluttered in agitation as he opened his eyes to see why he was still alive. Studying the expression Derek held, comprehension washed over him. A faintly audible sigh could be heard, “I tried, but I guess it wasn’t enough.” The words jolted Derek into awareness, but the dread only deepened.
“Y-You,” Derek stammered, “You wanted me to kill you?!” Weariness on Rolan’s muzzle melted into the strongest sympathy possible, “It was the only way. I had decided before this battle even started that I would no longer take life. Seeing you determined me towards my own end, but as it was...” A wracking cough interrupted his explanation, “But perhaps its better this way. I shall still die, but knowing that I caused you no lasting harm. Trouble yourself not with my fate, others shall see to its end swiftly enough.” None of this was making any sense to Derek and he was struggling to understand the archaic construct of that last sentence.
“What do-“ He was cut off harshly by an ear-splitting howl, one that was not picked up by the rest this time, and could be distinctly recognized as Logan. There was only a second for him to look up and search before something heavy plowed into Derek’s shoulders. Knocked to the ground, a crushing weight on his chest, he was only barely aware that words were being thrown at him. “You did it! You won! I knew you could do it!” Zack kept yelling boisterously in Derek’s ear, making his head spin.
The groans of pain he was making finally reached Zack, who jumped up, “Oh, sorry. You’re hurt, aren’t you?” Wincing as he nodded, Derek staggered to his paws, his back in flames. Zack approached and scanned the wounds, flinching when he looked closer at the cheek gash. The slashes on his back were embedded with dirt and were a jagged red in color. The pain, while stinging terribly, was not as aggravating as previously.
Taking a deep breath, Derek focused on Zack for the first time and forced a small wolfish smile, “It’s not all that bad.” It wasn’t until that moment that he felt the crunching in his mouth and tasted the acrid (heavenly) taste of blood running across his tongue. Spitting, a glob of bloody flesh splattered to the ground and he could taste more hanging inside his mouth. He held back the urge that would come to nearly everyone at a moment like this and forced himself to swallow, taking a majority of the chunks, and the flavor, away. This was a memory that he would try hard to forget. It would be better to just forget about everything forever, for it would do him no good to keep it.
Distracting his efforts, heavier and more numerous padding footsteps made him aware of his surroundings. The rest of the Pack stood in a line only feet away and Logan, in the front, was approaching Rolan, who looked to have given up. Not even sparing a second to think about his actions, Derek dove into the shrinking space in front of Rolan, his hackles raised, a low snarl ripping from his throat.
The Pack had been shocked into stillness, a taboo obviously broken. But Derek’s sharp gaze never strayed from Logan, not by a single inch. Surprised, a small amount bemused, but largely annoyed, Logan paused and sent a glare in Zack’s direction, the intent clear. “Derek...what are you doing?” Zack asked, terror leaking into his tone, “You have to move.”
Derek shook his head fervently and planted his paws even more firmly. There was no force in the world that would be able to pry him from that spot. That was so, until a paw closed around his back leg, “What do you think you’re doing, pup?” Rolan said in a hollow tone, “Your friend asked you kindly to move. You don’t want them to ask unkindly. So move.” A resolute glint in his eyes showed that Derek had no plans to do any such thing.
Shaking off the paw, he took a step closer to Logan. Looking up into the face that had filled him with such fear, and still had the capacity to do so, Derek found that he wasn’t afraid, but angry. “I don’t know and I don’t care about the way things are. I won’t let you kill him,” Derek stated, his voice somehow managing to be calm and collected. He made it a statement of fact. If they were going to kill Rolan, then they were going to have no choice but to kill him as well. He wasn’t fearful of dying if it was for a reason like this.
Some of the wolves in his peripheral vision shuffled their paws and muttered together. Derek would have liked to believe that they felt some sort of pity for him, but it was more apt that they were envisioning his slaughter from speaking so. That was the plausible scenario. Gritting his teeth, Derek’s eyes were dark as they stared up at Logan.
For his own part, Logan had traversed from merely annoyed to downright outraged. His black eyes were more sinister than anything Derek could attain and they held an unimaginable amount of violence. But this didn’t deter Derek in the slightest, who stubbornly held his ground against the terror. The inky holes of eyes blinked, seeing themselves reflected back to a lesser extent. The tiny, compared to himself, black wolf looked more like him at this moment than at any other time before.
Faltering, Logan studied the wolf of his bloodline, trying to see beneath the just as mysterious dark shade of fur. Rules could always be changed and he knew that, for he was the one that made the rules. They had already been bent as things were, just to create this challenge. If this child would publicly face him, not fearing death, for something, then he had no reason to not acquiesce.
“As you will, child,” the forced words came out and all of the Pack, save for two, stepped back. This had never happened before. There was a harsh intake of breath from behind Derek and a gasp from his right. Neither Derek nor Logan moved, however, still face-to-face, knowing this wasn’t over yet. Derek had loosened from his rigid posture by only a minuscule amount at the news, not satisfied. The small nod he made never removed his eyes from those of the other. Now was the time to start bargaining, for Rolan couldn’t be considered safe yet. Just abstained for the current second, Derek knew that he had to obtain a more lasting agreement. And the Pack would no longer be a safe haven.
“Then you will let him go?” Derek questioned, “He will be free to leave without harm?” That was the necessary question. Logan waited for the required time of consideration before replying, though he had already made up his mind, “Yes, he will not come to harm from any of my own. And, of this moment, he is free from the Pack and its binding laws.” There was a slight grimace at having to say so, which gave Derek the proof he needed to know what was said had been the truth. He knew how far Logan had to lower himself to speak those words, to consent to the whim of a trainee such as him.
“Thank you,” Derek whispered, trying to convey all of his gratitude within those two words. This time it was Logan who nodded, however brusque it was. Finally soothed, Derek tore himself away from his somewhat clearer to understand leader and examined Rolan. The wounds continued to be as diminishing as he had feared and Derek didn’t know how he could get the yellow wolf to leave. He probably couldn’t even walk or stand.
As if able to read his mind, Logan calmly supplied, “We will heal him first, of course.” There was a pause as Derek sent him a searching gaze, looking for any sign of trickery. Logan continued to assuage him, “I will honor my word. I always do. But it would be unwise to let him try to go in this condition, you can see that.” His emphasis on the word “try” crumbled Derek’s opposition and he bobbed his head in a dejected manner.
Turning back to Rolan, he gave a low, questioning whine. One eye opened at the sound and the mutilated wolf managed a smile, “Thanks, kid.” There was worry though in his tone and it wasn’t for himself. Rolan knew pack politics better than most and standing up to Logan didn’t come without a consequence.
The last thing Derek heard was Logan’s quiet murmur, “This time, child. But you should learn not to disobey me.” A crushing pressure and a shattering resounded through Derek’s head, along with the sensation of falling, before he was claimed by blackness.