A snarl rumbled somewhere near Singer’s flank as she led her pack forwards, and she turned to answer it even though she was a mere shadow of herself. Her hips and spine protruded from underneath a dulled coat as she met the eyes of a pack-member – one of the normal members. He glared at her, his golden eyes sparkling in the dim light.“Why do we even follow her? She’d only led us from trouble to starvation! If Blade were here, then he would have had us fight. She’s just a worthless half-breed runt; any of us could kill her in a fight.” His voice was harsh on her ears, made her wrinkle her lips back into a slow snarl that only ended when a winged wolf as white as the snow around them landed in between her and the male.“How dare you talk to my sister like that? She saved your worthless hide and the more precious skins of your pack from being torn apart. Rabid bears aren’t something any wolf can fight. They tear through us like dry leaves – is that what you wanted for those of you who have mates who are pregnant?” Her voice was cold as she spoke, her wings beating the air and forcing him backwards. “I’m not the Beta for nothing. I’m not letting my sister fight you when she’s weak herself from letting you all have what food she can even find.” The other members of the pack looked at each other and muttered. They weren’t going to argue with the enraged she-wolf – especially not with her wings raised back. At one time or another they’d felt the lash of her sharp tongue, but normally she buffeted the one she disliked. They dropped their heads and no longer snarled, leaving Kamduis free to nuzzle at her sister’s bony shoulder with a low whine. She drooped one of those white wings down over her side before taking smaller steps. She was worried about her sister, worried about just how slender she was getting and how little she argued lately.“Sis, you can’t keep doing this to yourself. You’re meant to be an Alpha and yet you let them eat before you while you starve to death trying to rescue them. You’ve got to put yourself in front of them, and eat first. I don’t care if one of the pregnant she-wolves looks as though she’s about to give birth, you can’t give her food over yourself. You are dying and you are the only one I care about here now. All our friends have left here, they left long ago, and that was so you wouldn’t worry about them. They can look after themselves; they expected you to do the same.”Singer frowned, but still didn’t speak. All she had the energy to do was lower her head back down and trudge on through the blizzard which had started disguising the land around them in over three foot of snow just two nights ago. It was mainly then that the pack had started to see the she-wolf they saw as invincible lagging, beginning to struggle against the emaciation which had taken hold of her already slender body. She was slowly dying in front of their eyes, and that was why the pack had taken to challenging her…though they were losing hope as they saw the spark of light slowly die within her eyes with every awakening.Kamduis shook her head with a low whine, her ears flattened back as she sighed. She didn’t know what to do, but as she turned to look at the pack, she frowned. Maybe they needed to be split apart for a time, so the pregnant wolves could have their pups and her sister could have a break from her duties – a break she so sorely needed. She chewed her lip as they walked; shielding her sister from the wind even when it looked like she would be broken in two by a particularly savage blast of wind and rain. Singer didn’t even shiver when the wind hit her, parting her fur and making the melted ice and snow really pummel into her skin.“I’m sorry, sis. But you’ll thank me one day.” The winged she-wolf straightened up and turned from her duty helping her Alpha and sister. Singer hadn’t noticed the words, her mind locked back inside her own personal torment, her own world which had consumed her. She hated failing her pack so much that it damaged something vital inside her – she alone could have not just survived a blizzard…but she could have thrived in it. The only two reasons she hadn’t were the fact that Blade had disappeared again and she had a pack to put before herself on the scale of vital things.She didn’t even notice when Kamduis beat her wings and took off into the air, struggling lightly against the wind which threatened to ground her time and time again. She needed to find somewhere safe for the pack, and somewhere where she could leave her sister to wander to where she was safe. She even had a plan for getting the pack away without her sister knowing, and she knew that she had to ignore the pain that it would cause her sister to be suddenly abandoned.She sighed softly as she beat her wings, praying silently to Luna to help her. It was as if her mother had heard her, despite the fact that she hadn’t spoken the plea – the snow and wind eased and then there was a bolt of sunlight that hit the ground just a few feet in front of her. She continued to beat her wings to get to where the sunlight had hit the ground and gasped in amazement.Her prayers had been answered, but now it was time to fully break her sister’s heart so that the she-wolf could heal. She needed to eat, hunt and be a wolf. She struggled when landing, the wind threatening to blow her away, backwards and tumbling head over tail. She whimpered softly, limping to the wolves at the back and leading them away – but Singer didn’t even notice as her pack were taken away from her, a pair at a time. It saddened Kamduis – her sister would have noticed before if even one of the pack-mates had wandered away.Before long, Singer was left traipsing through the snow alone, the wind barely affecting her forwards momentum – she was so skinny that she cut through the wind like a knife. Her tail curled down from her back, submissive and unbidden, unable to take command in the way that she could where she was so malnourished. She only stopped when her sister landed in front of her, blinking those dull mismatched eyes at the commanding blue ones.A buffet of a wing crashed against her face, making her whimper. It was only shock that dragged that noise, and then the following yelp from her lips. Her ears flattened and she growled – and Kamduis sighed in relief. Maybe she could survive better without the pack…but for now – harsh words were needed for this split to happen and succeed.“You are blind sis. You didn’t even notice that the pack left you because guess what? You. Are. Useless. You can’t rely on a mate to keep you straight – and Blade leaves often. He always has. And now you’ve lost your territory, your pack, your mate AND your sister. I can’t watch you do this to yourself. You go off alone, and if you find him – then you can try to find everyone who once backed you.” Singer hadn’t said one word while Kamduis ranted, merely swaying upon her feet until the winged wolf had finished. Her voice became poisonous – more like her mother’s than the black and white husky-looking wolf would ever see fit to admit.“And you are just a betrayer. The one I knew would betray me. I know that you always wanted to be the Alpha, and I know that you hated being stuck as my Beta because you aren’t dominant enough. Well go, and I hope that when you find my dead body you realise what I left for you. I kept you safer than any other, more than you realised!” She snarled in her sister’s face, the anger burning in her body.They were transformed, hunger making monsters of the pair of them. It took Kamduis’s eyes looking away from her for Singer to fly for her sister – and they were a twisting ball of snapping, snarling wolves. How easy it was for the love between two sisters to sour. Teeth snapped at each other, and blood spilled against the ground as nature watched the small wolf attack the larger, winged wolf. Their ears were flattened against their heads, the blood from multiple small wounds where teeth had slashed and torn, even with their covering of winter-thick fur.Both Singer and Kamduis had patches where blood seeped through within moments – as Singer, being the smaller wolf, clamped her teeth shut upon her sister’s shoulder…Kamduis had snapped shut a tight grip on her scruff and shook her head violently. The skin tore on Singer’s scruff, blood spilling like a necklace over her white neck and down onto her chest. She reacted with a squeal of pain, turning her head and snapping at her sister’s muzzle. These rough, violent bites continued for almost an hour, neither hesitating for familiar ties of love and family. It was hard at times, especially whenever their eyes met, but they both dropped them guiltily. These glances only happened three times in the fight – but each time the fighting grew more and more violent until they had to break apart, before they killed each other.They were both panting, plumes of hot breath rising from where their tongues protruded from their lips, cradled by sharp teeth that were stained pink. Without a further word, Singer limped past her sister, ducking underneath the wing that was outstretched. She’d damaged some of the feathers, and one had caught in the blood-matted fur on the back of her throat.She didn’t say anything, and neither did her winged sister. The pain of her wounds paled in comparison to the betrayal in her heart – broken again, but this time with her sister unable to help salve the wounds, to help remake her heart into a patched, dim echo of what it had been. As Kamduis flapped her wings and gradually gained height – she heard the soft sound of heartbreak in the brief howl of her sister. How she could recover, how either of them would recover was beyond Kamduis’s knowledge at the moment – but as she flew slowly – her blood mixed with the tears spilling down her cheeks and into the snow.*****Singer had grown used to being alone. It was almost nice not to have to worry about anyone else – but still she pined for the company her pack had given her. Her wounds from the fight with her sister had healed, were now scars that she wore with pride. The wolf who had given them to her had been much older, much more experienced and much bigger – and yet she’d survived. She was certainly looking more in command of herself. Her body was no longer bones covered with skin and thick fur – but a skeletal structure which had filled out with muscle and even enough fat to give her still lean, but now toned, frame much needed curves. She straightened up from the woods she had found, and now lived in; uncurling from the den she’d hidden inside during the wind and snowstorms the night before.She knew that she wasn’t alone here – there were bears, lynx and she could have sworn that she’d even caught whiff of a mountain lion. The thought of those other predators made the fur along her spine quiver, rising into place when she heard the rumbling hiss above her head. She bolted from the snow-hole, not even daring to look back until she felt the hot breath on her heels fade away.As she turned her head over her shoulder, she cringed a little – oh yes, that was a mountain lion there. A tawny tail trailed behind the slinking feline frame, but she hadn’t been dumb enough to remain within reach – but the attack forced pangs of loneliness to rumble through her body. She didn’t enjoy being alone as much as she’d hoped she had…especially after the unforgivable fight.She still regretted that. Some of the things her sister had said had hurt her more than she’d let on, even at the time. A sigh rippled her svelte frame before she stretched and twitched her nose…then paused. One slender paw lifted in a parody of a tracking dog. She quivered, her ears perking and her eyes becoming more focused, intent on the prey she could smell ahead. Her ears flattened as she crouched lower, hiding in amidst the dips and rises of the snow. She mostly blended in – where her fur was black, she appeared to be a moving shadow and where it was white – she blended into the snow almost perfectly. She flicked an ear and growled softly, her paws shifting upon the snow as she fixed her eyes upon the small deer in the distance. She was so hungry that her stomach rippled almost visibly – but she ignored it. She ignored everything except that rumble of hunger that had her instincts on a knifepoint edge.She was the perfect winter huntress – taking her time with every step, not forced to watch out for the more impatient pack-mates. She managed to get within twenty metres of the deer before springing for it – the young creature quickly falling to her teeth and spilling its blood upon the snow and melting it. She threw her head back in a joyous celebration for her kill.*****Kamduis flicked an ear, growling as she heard the howling coming from the snowdrifts in the valley below. She’d been trying to rest in between flying sweeps to hunt for her sister. She’d not forgiven herself for the way in which she’d talked to her sister – hell she’d even bitten her, not just the Alpha but the one wolf who gave her a connection with the earth that she’d since lost. For the last month she’d been flying, trying to hunt her sister by scent and instinct – but she only ever gained the barest hint of that familiar scent – guiding her miles and miles up and down the forests, plains and valleys that made up the bordering areas to where the Dark Moon Rising Pack had once made their home.Her stomach gave a growl and her ears flattened slightly as she uttered a soft snarl. She may have been exhausted, but she could chase almost anything from a kill when she was this hungry. She extended her wings and winced, the muscles powering the immense feathered limbs aching and bruised. She shuddered before pushing the pain out of her mind, sighing as she extended those mighty wings further and then waited until she caught a welcome gust of wind beneath them. She swooped, feeling free as the wind almost washed the pain from her muscles – there was something about being in the air, and able to see miles around that made her love the wings which set her apart. She soon had to set herself down though, and the agony that screamed through her joints meant that she landed with an uncharacteristic lack of grace, stumbling when she hit the ground.*****The wolves stared at each other across the carcass, Singer’s maw coated in a layer of blood and gore, Kamduis’s drooling with the scent of the meat that was laid out in front of her…but those ice-blue eyes were fixed onto Singer’s as she uttered the briefest whine and then scrambled towards her sister, her wings folded back against her back, her head lowering and her tail flitting about so fast it was as though she were about to fly.Singer met her sister with a slightly wary nuzzle – that soon faded into an over-excited greeting that needed no words to show just how genuine it was. Both wolves nuzzled and sniffed their way down the other, licking wherever they found a scar from wounds they had inflicted. They soon settled near the deer to groom each other, soft touches of tongue wiping away smudges of dirt, dust and old blood. Once the wolves were clean, they walked to the carcass and bent their heads, side by side as sisters, as Alpha and Beta should be – and feasted, their hips resting against each other.They were together again, but they had yet to find the pack and see how they had weathered their time without either Alpha or Beta to guide them – but that was the story for a different day, a different time when old wounds had been fully talked through and forgiven by each of them.
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