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Future of the Longfangs

Written as a collaborative effort by most of the players of Pack Longfang (Ryan Jopp, Mischelle Maas, Shelly Sonsallas, Cole Potter, Brandon Potter, Jake Nitzel, Kelly Peterson, Paul Peterson)

The Great Hall of Pack Longfang

The night air was cool and filled with the endless noise of the insects and animals of the nearby Dirge Swamp. Small lanterns and torches lit the common area of Onsallas Village and kept the darkness at bay. A few campfires illuminated some makeshift tents and dwellings, recently added to the village by the Clan Stormjarl refugees who had traveled to the edge of the world to scratch out a living. Walking past them and nodding a few greetings, Thrand and Fritha walked towards the massive wooden doors of the Great Hall. Standing ever vigilant in full mail, plated leather, and helms were some of the honor guards of Pack Longfang, hulking warriors who are hand selected from the warriors of the Pack. Pledged with the safety of the Pack’s Daughters and leadership, they took their job very seriously. They sized up both Thrand and Fritha even though they had both been seen a thousand times in the village.

“Greetings, Hakon.” said Fritha as she walked up the steps towards the wooden door. Thrand followed closely behind. Neither of them had any reason to be nervous or tense, but being close to the honor guard sometimes rattled people. They were very intense, had little in the way of humor, and were quick to anger.

“The rest are inside, they just arrived,” said Hakon through large fangs, his deep voice matching his massive physical stature.

The two guards stepped back from the door and remained at their post. Thrand walked past them with a nod and pushed open the massive wooden door.

In the center of the room stood a collection of Pack Longfang members and veterans. During other meetings some guests or friends of the Clan, like Selena Stargazer of Clan Spiritclaw, would have been permitted to join. Rill had insisted that this meeting be composed only of those members of the Pack.

Thrand spoke to the assembled members as he took up a position near a large table in the center of the Hall. Behind the table was the enclosed canopy where the Runeseer used to sit. It stood eerily vacant.

“Sorry we are late, Fritha and I checked on the wounded Stormjarls that traveled to us recently. It seems that they will be all right and are grateful for the aid we gave them. Everyone knows why we are here tonight. Let every member of this Pack’s voice be heard if you wish it to be. Who wants to begin?”

“I’ll start off with this,” Bryech said. “So far without any central leadership we’ve done well as a pack our new recruits are training and are learning what it means to be a Longfang, we’ve all worked together to make sure the village is maintained and our supplies at stable amounts. However that won’t last, we need central leadership.”

He leaned forward in his seat and clasped his hands in front of him.

“The obvious choice would be to name a chieftain as most other packs… then again we aren’t most packs.” Pausing, he looked around at his assembled pack. “The choice is not limited only to a chieftain though, there are many paths we could choose.”

Bryech leaned back in his chair and waited for a response, knowing he restated the obvious, though he didn’t care. He felt that this very delicate matter should be handled with the utmost importance and understanding possible.

Reyna’s face was serious as she listened to Bryech speak. When he was finished she rose to her feet and began. “We may not be most packs, but we are Longfang. Change is one of the businesses we have long dealt with. Already we have few, if any, of our representatives along-side the leaders of any clan. In that withdrawal our former place of honor has been forfeit.” She let the gravity of these words sink in.

“War ravages our land and we remain powerless in every moot, denigrated as a mere pack, and only through the respect earned by individuals is the Longfang voice heard anywhere. I say we cease hesitating and cleave to the heart of the matter: none among the Daughters hear the voices of the runes as Soulveig did. If we walk the path we are on any longer, it will be without the signs to guide us clearly.” She settled herself back into her place, smoothing her skirts as she sat.

Stanrick shifted in his seat. “Yes, these are all things we know, I’m sure by now we have all read the letter or had it read to us. We as Longfangs have choices to make, and till now we have not had to make any like this. Soulveig made choices for us and we did as we were told. Maybe we were spoiled. I will be honest I didn’t know what to do when she gave me a choice, but now we all need to make one. So what are we waiting for? We want to be respected by the Clans? Then we need a chieftain.” With that he began to stuff his pipe and looked around the room to see who would speak next.

Bryech smirked and chuckled.

“You think just having a chieftain earns a pack respect?” Bryech asked and shook his head still chuckling. “We are a pack known for our warriors and for that we are respected and have a great honor, at least most of us do.” Leaning forward and clasping his hands in front of him he continued. “A chieftain is one option yes, but we, like I already said, aren’t most packs, so why should we do as they do?” Bryech looked around the room at all the people he has grown close to and been proud to call his friends. “We all have a very different view of the world, we should utilize this.” Finished with his response Bryech leaned back in his seat.

“No, just having a chieftain does not earn respect, but when an ulven asks ‘Who leads pack Longfang?’ if we say anything other then the name of our chieftain they won’t listen to what we have to say. That is the way packs work. Even the way we were, we had one person in charge. Every pack works this way, even packs that are not just any pack. Or are you suggesting we become like humans and make councils and sit and debate whose turn it is to go use the latrine?” Stanrick smirked. “We have been running this pack by committee since Soulveig passed, and what did that do? We spent almost an hour in debate while Whiteoak attacked a caravan with children. We all are guilty of this, we are very set in our ways, but now this changes. We need a chieftain to take charge, and a priestess to lead us on Gaia’s path. Whiteoak and Grimward know we are weak now. They know we no longer have the Runeseer to guide us. We were not ready for this so we scramble like rabbits running from a fox. Can a pack of wolves last without an alpha? No, they fight among themselves and get overtaken by stronger packs.” He paused and took a deep breath.

“What most do not see is that every Chieftain and Clanleader keeps a group of elders to advise them. We don’t have elders. I myself am now the oldest in this pack and this is my 39th summer. Yes, we do have a different view of the world, we see things other packs and clans do not. We are not bound by what our clan tells us. We see things in a light that others cannot. This comes from whom we were. We got to see how every clan handles politics. How many times has a Clanleader asked their Longfang honor guard for their input? It happens more then one might think. Our best option is to pick a chieftain, then advisers. I propose a warrior, a hunter, a daughter, and someone to advise on the village and outpost. One chieftain and four advisers, this will give whomever we pick better tools to do this task. As for whom? Well we’ve never had a chieftain so it’s not like we have been grooming a replacement. Bryech is a strong warrior, he understands war more so then most his age. He speaks well; I think he would be a good choice for the warrior to advise the chieftain. I myself have been traveling a lot lately, and I find myself speaking on behalf of the Pack. Last fall Soulveig gave me a choice, and I made it.” he stood up and looked Bryech in the eyes.

“I did not go with you and my brothers to Stormjarl, I took a different path you and I both know Gaia weeps at the death of her children by the hands of their brothers. I chose to go with the Truthseeker in hopes that she could find out why Grimward would attack ulven, march to war and kill their own kind while mordok run unchecked. I did not see my Brothers fall. I will live with this till I face the Great Wolf, but I made the choice because I knew that if we are to survive, we need to have allies. Not one of us is ready for change but change does not care if we are ready. Bryech you talked to me after we removed the last of the Whiteoak raiders from our lands. Will you support me as chieftain? Will you help me return your pack, my pack, our pack to a place of honor and respect that the name Longfang demands?”

“The problem with that, Stanrick, is exactly that.” Looking back at Stanrick, Bryech mustered all of his hatred and anger into his eyes and let his rage flow forth. “You ask me to support your claim as chieftain, but you show no attempt or even a willingness to put your duty first!” Bryech could feel his voice rising with anger as his words echoed off the wall of the Great Hall. “You have shamed yourself Stanrick Longfang!” Bryech shouted standing up and extending his right arm in front of himself to point at Stanrick. “You abandoned your duty so you could have your prize! You were not there when honor and duty called! You weren’t there to hold those dying men and women, and hear them utter their last words or the names of mates and pups as they faded to the hunting grounds, or choked on their own blood! We ate iron rations of food, if any at all, and froze nearly to death fulfilling our duty to Clan Stormjarl, while you kept yourself safe and warm with the thighs of your mate far away from battle. You left your brothers and sisters in honor to face the wrath of many and fight against the tyranny of Clan Grimward and their allies!” Bryech was roaring now, but did not let anyone stop him until he was finished. He could feel the fire burn inside of him, which turned him into an inferno, the red-hot glow burned through his eyes and showed his rage and savagery in it’s fullest.

“You claim to understand your actions, but you do not!” Bryech continued. “You ask me to support you as chieftain when you have proven yourself unworthy of the honor of leading this pack!” Bryech yelled, amazed at the fact that he had kept up this long and glad he wasn’t finished. “I told you I supported you, I didn’t mean as a chieftain.” Bryech said looking Stanrick in the eyes. “I support you as my brother in honor so that you can right your wrongs.” Bryech said never breaking eye contact with Stanrick. “This pack needs a leader or at least leaders who know that duty comes first.”

His voice calmed as he looked at his assembled pack mates. “We have a choice to make, we can bend to the will of outsiders and base our actions on gaining their favor or we can do what is best for our pack and let the opinions of other packs be only that, opinions.” Bryech said as he sat down still feeling his rage simmering inside of him.

Stanrick grinned now the truth had come out. “Honor and duty? Tell me Bryech, how does it feel to know you have gone back on your word? You said you would support me as chieftain. Your words, not mine. Yet now you change what you said? So did you lie to me before or are you lying now? I stand by my choice, there is no disrespect in my path whether you agree to it or not.” He got up. Then raised his voice. “But you have gone back on your word! As ulven we have two things we are accountable for, the actions we take and the words we speak. Now you toss your word to the wind? You lie and for what? Were you hoping that if you said you would support me I would do you a favor?” He calmed a bit, then continued.
“It was not just I who heard your words the Great Wolf knows the truth. So lie, but we all know that the Great Wolf does not look on those who lie to their brothers with kindness. My choice was still was an honorable one. My name will be heard. But I will not let a pup lie to my face. I see I was wrong about saying you were ready to lead. Such manipulation is the kind of dishonorable act I expect from a Whiteoak, not a Longfang warrior.”

Bryech jumped to his feet with rage in his eyes. To be called dishonorable by Stanrick after it was Bryech who called out his lacking presence during the combat were dangerous words indeed. Honor duels were started over less; warriors were broken over the violence that could be dealt in defense of one’s honor. The gathered Pack members quickly glanced at each other wondering if someone should try to stop this confrontation or let it unfold. Even Stanrick flinched as he realized how deep his words had probably cut Bryech and he wondered if it was wise to speak them or if he was prepared for the beating that Bryech could potentially give him. The warrior was young but full of energy and was already scarred more so than some of the veteran warriors; enraged like this he would be a very dangerous opponent. There was a brief hesitation by the group and it seemed like an eternity as everyone waited for the tension to boil over as both Byrech and Stanrick glowered at each other with rage in their eyes.

Ranmir leaned forward. “Please! Brothers! Sit down. I know that I have been away for a long time,” he said softly, “I know that many of you do not know me, I do not truly know myself anymore. I know that as such, my voice may not be taken with as much weight as those who have been here for recent events. I know that my area of knowledge, the swamp, and its inhabitants, are not much assistance in this conversation. I also know that some may see Stanrick as having shied from his duty as a warrior, but a warrior’s duty is not always fighting a fight head on. In fact those who lead warriors sometimes must instead try to find a way for the fighting to stop.

There is a saying among the Longfang pack that we all know well, ‘A Longfang who goes grey, is a Longfang who held back.’ I invite you to think on this for a moment.” Ranmir paused to scan the room. “This saying has often been taken to mean that it is a bad thing for a Longfang to go grey, that to die in battle is the greatest honor of all, and one should strive to do this before he or she grows old. For many years, I lived by the letter of this phrase, but I have lived it under a different understanding. The way I see it, the way I believe we all should see it, if we are to continue as a pack,” he paused yet again to look at Bryech, “No, truly as a family, we need to know our own limitations. It does not serve this pack, this family, to die a death that has no true meaning. The pack was honor bound to provide support and warriors, no individuals were specifically called by name, this has been told to me. We must all know our limits and only when absolutely necessary, push ourselves beyond them.

Many warriors went to Stormjarl to defend them, Stanrick went a different route to attempt to find a solution that would have saved more lives, rather than shed more blood, and you fault him for this. I feel this is a strength, not a weakness. There is a reason we have no elders, and I feel it is a poor one.” finished Ranmir.

“Stanrick did find a solution that will save lives.” Reyna leaned forward, her elbows on the table. “We have Vandregon here because of his negotiations. While we scramble to train up more warriors to defend our borders the allies Stanrick found patrol our borders and listen in silence to respect the fallen whose tracks they walk in. Is not the one who thinks to the future the proper choice to lead us forward?”

Azra stood there crossed armed and with a scowl on her face. It had become apparent that she had something she wanted to say after Bryech had said his piece and called Stanrick out. Others had spoken first and she tried to wait patiently, her impatience and scowl growing larger by the moment. Finally, she could wait no longer.

“Why would we vote you for chieftain, Stanrick? What have you actually done for our pack? Nothing! You’ve done nothing except sit and drink while your pack mates were out there fighting for their lives, honoring a debt to Stormjarl. You CHOSE to be Selena’s escort, but it had nothing to do with being honorable and protecting her. As Bryech already said, all it had to do with was that you wanted to lay with her. You accomplished your goal, but what you didn’t accomplish, was any good for the pack. You say you tried to make allies with the other clans at the dinner in the winter, but you obviously didn’t try very hard. Just because someone was busy at the time that you decided it was convenient for you to talk to them does not mean that there was no chance of them becoming our allies if you just tried to work with them more. I heard the stories about you sitting around and telling jokes and drinking with some of the Watchwolves. How is that proof that you were looking out for our Pack? If we need a chieftain, then it needs to be someone who has actually done something for the pack, which you have not. We have always lived under the guidance of a Priestess, a Runeseer, and I see no reason why we need to change now. And I swear to the Great Wolf Stanrick Longfang that if you try to wound my honor with twisted words, I will break your jaw and make you to choke on your own blood.” barked Azra in anger as she stepped in dangerously close and glared at him. Her words cut Stanrick and her demeanor and stance dared him to confront her about it.

After weathering Bryech’s attack on his honor, Stanrick was further angered by Azra’s response. Rage filled his features and he stood up to her and snarled, replying with anger in his voice. Azra refused to back down, snarling back at him and replying in kind. Bryech was also caught up in the tension, and the three warriors started trying to snarl and talk over each other. Mere inches separated Azra and Stanrick and the three warriors degraded into a chaotic mess of harsh words and verbal fighting. Stanrick was taking the brunt of months of repressed anger from the warriors who survived the Battle of Blackwolf Creek and it was a miracle that fists hadn’t been thrown or weapons unsheathed. Some of the other Longfang members tried to chime in and ease the tension and all it did was add to the chaos.

Thrand had listened in and now was trying to calm the warriors down to no avail. He glanced to his side and watched as Fritha sighed and walked forwards. She made no attempt to add to the discussion and instead walked straight towards the three warriors. Somehow she had managed to walk in between Azra and Stanrick, calmly placing herself in between them. In the confusion, the two of them stopped and were gently yet assertively forced backwards when Fritha raised her arms and parted between them. Caught off guard, they stopped their bickering and eased back for a moment. The rest of the room fell silent which gave her a chance to control what was happening.

“That is enough. Peace, brothers and sisters… we are here to discuss the future of our pack, not squabble among ourselves and fight like pups over who is leading a game.” Fritha said in a calm voice as she looked around her but there was an edge of authority that was impossible to ignore. “This is our future, our pack’s future. We need to make plans and build, not argue and get nowhere. After this last battle, look around this room… our numbers are small and without a leader to speak for us, we will surely become smaller. You are all correct in your own way. Bryech, we are known for being warriors and protecting the land; that will not change. Whatever the conversation was between you two, there seems to have been a misunderstanding. Yes, Stanrick chose a different path than his battle brothers and sisters, but he wasn’t the only one who stayed. We all wanted to go into battle and yet some stayed, all for different reasons. We all must bear that burden now, knowing that if we went, maybe we could have made a difference. Ranmir, you said that a warrior’s duty is not always fighting a battle head on. Just like the outpost, we need our warriors and guards; but we also need people who don’t fight so the outpost is taken care of. This is the same for a pack. Reyna you speak true when you say we need a leader. We do. We listened to Soulveig. Now that she is gone, the world could view us as a group of pups without a leader. Even Azra is correct, Stanrick has made choices in his life where the pack was not in the front of his mind.”

Those assembled respected Fritha’s words and the tension eased down. Fritha looked around at the small gathering of her pack. So few, she thought, we have fought so hard. Pride rested in her heart to be able to be among them, to be part of them. Even if it was by being honor bound. But they have been reduced in numbers so greatly. As she continued to look around the room, she was forced to face the fact that no one had her trust to be a leader. Stanrick was the closest, but he has a long way to go. She heard the stories of the dinner where he was sent to talk to allies. He held respect, but did not use it to his fullest. Bryech, so strong, but so full of anger. Thrand, smart as he is, he lacks the confidence. He feels he is not the fighter to represent Pack Longfang. Ranmir, newly brought back to the pack, she knew he was not ready. Orrin, very bright and has already seen so much fighting. He was too young. Azra, very much like Bryech, she is best suited for fighting. Rill, Reyna and Fritha were all willing to step up if the pack needed them, but prefer tending to the spiritual needs of the pack. She sighed, there really was only one choice if they wanted a leader.

“Our numbers are few, and they will stay this way until we get back onto our feet. If we were being honest, I would say that no one is exactly qualified to lead us. But one thing is clear; we do need a leader. Ulven are born with no knowledge, it comes from learning and I have watched Stanrick learn and change from the warrior I met years ago. He is learning.” She looked at Stanrick. “Stanrick Longfang, I will back you. I will back you because I know you do not take this on lightly and will do your best. I will offer my counsel to you at any time. But be warned, I am also here to protect the pack; and I will be keeping an eye on you. You will learn and you will be the leader I expect you to be or you will answer to me. Listen to Gaia and keep her in your heart, always.” She looked around the room, nodding her head to everyone. “Thank you.” She turned and took her seat next to Thrand.

Rill took the opportunity to speak as well, now that the hostility had eased down.

“I have been training beside the Runeseer for many years and I knew her probably better than all of you. Her passing was sudden and her words were cryptic, more so than before. I believe that her intention was to force us to truly think about the future and decide as a Pack how to move on. I have tried but the runes do not speak to me like they did to her. We cannot replace the Runeseer with another, as Azra stated, because there is nobody with that talent… at least not at this time. I agree that we need to choose a leader. We are strong as a Pack when we have a strong leader. I do not agree with Stanrick that the Chieftain should lead alone; we should also name a Priestess. I volunteer for this position as I have the most experience in the day-to-day affairs of the settlement and have worked closest with the Runeseer before her passing. I am also usually the one that handles the rituals and cleansing of whatever random things that the rest of you bring home from the outsiders or the swamp itself.”

Thrand had time to really think things through and analyze his thoughts on the current situation. He felt it was his time to speak.

“As all of you know, Fritha and I joined Pack Longfang by being honor bound from our home of Clan Stormjarl. We have the benefit of knowing how other Packs and Clans work and how they can interact with each other. If our Pack wishes to be viewed with the honor and respect of a full Pack, then we must choose new leaders… both a Chieftain and a Priestess. Most of the Clanleaders are steeped in tradition, and without those honored titles then we may never gain their respect. I have dealt with a number of Clans, groups, and factions… we see a lot of supplies come and go from the outpost. Stanrick has been able to negotiate a number of deals for our Pack, get us allies when we needed them, and acquire supplies or help find a way to transport goods. I feel that my perspective is different than most of yours because of this. I believe that Stanrick does look out for the best interest of the Pack and I support his bid to become our Chieftain,” said Thrand with a calm voice.

Before anyone could add in, Thrand continued.

“Bryech and Azra, I respect the both of you. Not only because you are warriors of this Pack but because you are veterans and know many things that I do not. While I respect both of you, I disagree with you both on your claims that Stanrick was dishonorable. I know that his decision to go with the Truthseeker in her journey was one that broke some sort of warrior code that is silently agreed upon by all the warriors in this Pack. It is understandable that he will have to face this decision in a way that satisfies that code, but I do not think that what it did for the Pack can be overlooked. No, he was not there when the fighting got bad. No, he was not there when his battle brothers sacrificed their lives to save Clan Stormjarl. If Stanrick is to be judged harshly for this… then I am to be judged as well. My duty to this Pack is to train, gather supplies, manage the outpost, and make sure our warriors have what they need. That is the way that I help support this Pack, but in doing so I had to sit idly by and hear reports of how Clan Grimward was ravaging my blood family’s homeland and that the warriors of my new home, my new pack and family, are there defending them. Maybe I could have made a difference or maybe I would have just gotten myself killed. The truth is that I was not there to fight alongside my Pack, the same as Stanrick, and if you wish to swear oaths of vengeance and call upon a duel of honor then you best include me as well.”

Thrand let the statement sink in for a moment; he hoped that changing the focus away from just the warriors would help. Sometimes the other Pack members forget that both Thrand and Fritha come from Clan Stormjarl and have blood ties to their previous families there. This civil war has been hard on both of them, so far removed from Stormjarl territory after having joined Pack Longfang.

“I will support you, Stanrick Longfang, in your journey to become Chieftain of our Pack. I see in you a progressive leader, one who understands the importance of every aspect of our Pack. From your time as a warrior, a hunter, a quartermaster, a representative, a leader, and a father… you have within you what this Pack needs. I understand some of the burden of what you are asking for, it is not a mantle that I wish to wear, but you have my support. I agree with Fritha that nobody is a perfect fit for this position and you have a long way to go but I do believe in you to help us regain our strength as a Pack. You have plans to build our Pack larger, to gain allies like the colonists and other Clans like Axhound and the Watchwolves, and to strike back against Clan Whiteoak and Grimward for their transgressions. I look forward to the day when Pack Longfang and its allies return and free Stormjarl from Grimward. May his ears ring with your name,” ended Thrand as he took a seat beside Fritha.

Bryech still felt his rage flooding over him and made no attempt to hide it in his features; a perpetual snarl had taken over his face. “Calling me out on my youth is one thing, calling me a liar is another.” he said to Stanrick through gritted teeth. “I told you, I would support you if you showed me you were worthy, and like I said you have failed to prove it to me.” Leaning back in his seat again Bryech continued. “I was never looking for a favor from you Stanrick; I was testing you and you have failed that test.”

He looked to Ranmir next and smiled. “Ranmir, you’re right, though our lack of elders is something we may come to regret, I see no reason why it should. As Stanrick himself said, I am young and yet I have an understanding of war most do not, this proves that just because one is older it does not mean they are the most likely to possess the right answer.”

Bryech then looked to Reyna. “Reyna you have, I feel, a bit too much confidence in your cousin. Azra is right we all know that Stanrick is once again going to be a father, and who is the mother but the Truthseeker, Selena. I admit I have never been a man without faults, I am just a man.”

Bryech sighed. “When we choose our leaders we need to make sure they are fit to lead, that’s all I’m saying.” Bryech sat back in his chair and waited for the discussion to continue but by the Great Wolf he was tired of all this talking.

As some began to voice their support, and others dissent, Ranmir decided to speak once again.

“Bryech, my brother stated that you understand war better than most your age. It seems your anger is filling your ears with what you wish to hear. I believe Thrand is right, my brother is likely not ready to take the mantle of leadership alone. However, if you can show me someone who is ready, I will hang my bow on the wall and give myself to the Mordok, but not as Ranmir, as Brûf, for I feel the Great Wolf does not know that name. Rill has volunteered to take the role of Priestess, and while I do not know much in the ways of that, my brother has already said that he would want advisers to assist him. He has many qualities that will help to guide this pack in the right direction, and I believe he can become the leader we need. For this reason among many, I will back Stanrick Longfang as chieftain, if it is what the pack wills.”

Stanrick nodded to his brother, then looked at Bryech but chose not to get drawn into another argument on the issue. He then looked to Rill. “You are right, I never intended to do this without a priestess. You have the most training on the subject, as we are, you are the best for the task.” He looked to Fritha, “I would expect nothing less from you then to keep a eye on me and trust you will give me your insight.”

Bryech looked at all of his assembled pack and felt his anger subside to pride at being a part of this family. A family he felt had faced challenges that none other had faced before. Bryech stood up to speak his final piece.

“It seems my words have made little difference, not surprising.” Bryech smiled and pulled his dagger from its sheathe on his belt. Thrand and Orrin began to quickly rise from their seats fearing Bryech doing something rash but stopped once Bryech raised his left hand and motioned for them to sit. Bryech slammed his dagger into the table the blade sinking into the wood with a resounding crunch.

“Stanrick, know all I have said is nothing but my feelings over your recent actions. I hold no grudge against you any longer, as for my support of your claim, I say here for all to hear and know.” Pausing so that the seriousness of his statement could sink in. “Stanrick Longfang you will receive my support in your pursuit of being the chieftain, know that I don’t do this lightly, and I still think you have much to atone for but then again, so do I. The Great Wolf will judge us both eventually.” Bryech began to walk toward the door but stopped when he reached Stanrick and extended his arm in good faith hoping his friend would make the right choice.

“I am a warrior not a chieftain my mind is that of a protector and fighter, not a politician, just know that if you do anything to endanger this pack you will have to answer to me.” Still waiting for Stanrick to decide how their friendship would continue.

Stanrick sized up Bryech then offered his arm in return. “I was not making up what I said you are a great and honorable warrior. And even though we may not always agree. We are family: you are a Longfang. I know I have much to learn but I think we all do. Let us move forward to make our pack great again.”

Bryech laughed and slapped his friend on the shoulder and then walked out of the Great Hall. “I have to prepare for the coming actions our pack is taking with our Axhound allies so I must excuse myself.” Continuing his way toward the door and not turning around. “I’ll be back for the knife and may His ears ring with all our names!” Bryech said as he opened the door and walked out hoping he had made the right choice.

Azra audibly rolled her eyes from off to the side of the discussion, still fuming in anger but keeping it in check, and apparently a bit disappointed that the discussion didn’t come to blows. She seemed content with leaving the discussion unfinished between her and Stanrick, perhaps to make him always second guess his actions in the future. She made no attempt to speak and give Stanrick her support, making it obvious to everyone that she opposed.

Reyna’s hand had gone to her hilt when Bryech had drawn steel. She was struck hard by how dangerous Bryech had become. He seemed to have lost all but the ability to be on a battlefield and he claimed to know what was best for the pack. Instead of voicing her doubts, however, she released her sword’s hilt. She knew it was already clear where her support lay but tradition required her to voice it in irrefutable terms.

“Stanrick’s claim has my support.” Reyna spoke the words as Bryech made his melodramatic exit.

Orrin had quietly been watching the entire discussion from a seat at the table. Although a skilled warrior, he was not prone to outbursts like Bryech was. He pushed back his chair and stood up “Stanrick I feel the choice you made to accompany Selena was honorable, although I would have better liked seeing you fight alongside Harlok; to see him when he met his end and started his Journey. You had a hard decision to make and I understand that. With that being said I fully support you as Chieftain.” Orrin sat back down and looked around the room.

“Thank you Orrin, your words do me great honor.” replied Stanrick.

Stanrick went to the head of the table and took a moment to look at Soulveig’s empty chair. The plush seating and drapings around her place of honor were vacant and ominous. He then turned to face the rest of the pack; the room felt so empty, only a few warriors still remained. Pups had no voice till they had proven their place, and a number of hunters and daughters had fallen over the winter. He knew that the path Gaia put before them was going to be hard. He stood tall next to the empty chair.

“If this is what the pack wills. I, Stanrick Longfang, son of Dennagrath and Yoreden Longfang, accept the weight and responsibility of the title of chieftain. So that our pack may grow, and we as a people can warden The Great Wolf’s will as we walk down Gaia’s path together.”

He stood waiting for any one else to say their peace and was met with silence.

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