Two months had passed, two months of marching, sleeping in the wild, and fighting since Kragen Bloodmoon had come to Onsallas Outpost and requested that Pack Longfang send aid to fight off a new invader from the sea.
Stanrick was only twenty six but he had killed many Mordok in his life. He had been eager to join this fight and didn’t care who else was going to answer the call.
“And what of the Mordok? What of the swamp? Kragen, do you mean to take every warrior from us to fight some invaders that are your problem?” asked Norgoth.
Norgoth had only seen twenty three summers, and although he was a member of pack Longfang, he was not from the family Longfang.
“Why should we risk our lives for them?” He now directed his words to his pack. One of the young Graytide warriors who was traveling with Kragen stepped forward.
“Can you not see that this threat will not stop with just one pack? Do you really believe that they won’t come north and invade your village? You as a Longfang should understand that this is a threat to all Ulven!” Norgoth was about to give his reply with his mace but Stanrick spoke up first.
“Ekaj Shadowmane is right, if what Kragen Bloodmoon has said about these people from the sea is true then we should help.” Norgoth was alone in his feelings and Dennagrath approached Kragen and clasped his forearm.
“Kragen Bloodmoon, I believe I speak for all Longfang warriors in saying that we will go with you, for we know that a threat to one is a threat to all.”
With that the Longfangs marched to fight, singing the songs of old.
“The sword is sharp, the spear is long,
The arrow swift, the Gate is strong.
The heart is bold, the spirit old;
The Ulven Warriors have returned.
Farewell we call to hearth and hall!
Though wind may blow and rain may fall,
We must away, ere break of day
Far over the wood and mountain tall.
The Great Wolf watches from on high,
Gaia guides us, In the Night.
Our names will ring, and spirits sing!
If our bodies in battle fall!”
But it wasn’t as easy of a task as the Ulven thought this would be, the invaders were nothing like the Mordok. Humans and Syndar, strange looking people, and very well organized. The Humans looked like Ulven without fangs and no change in their eye, and reminded Stanrick of a pup who had changed late. The Syndar were stranger still, their ears made points. And skin of such strange colors! But the oddest part of the invaders was how they fought. The Mordok used hit and run tactics, raiding villages and traders, and the Ulven used hunting parties to raid the loosely organized groups of Mordok. But Humans had heavy armor and worked closely together, the Syndar used magic in battle, even the males. But the Ulven had worked like a wolf pack, picking off any who had been foolish enough to break their lines. Winter was coming and the night air was chilled. And this night was like every night since Kragen convinced Stanrick to leave his daughter and the rest of Onsallas Village behind.
Harlok held up three fingers on his right hand while fluttering up his fingers of his left under them.
“Three more for the pyre?” asked Stanrick.
Harlok nodded as he helped wrap a fallen warrior in linens and place him on the stack of logs. As was tradition, stories of the fallen were told and their spirits sent to the Great Wolf. The pyres burned so bright that the human’s camps saw them from miles away. Stanrick looked around the camp and he saw members of almost every local pack he could think of.
“We have more warriors in this one war party then I have seen in any one place.” He said as he lit his pipe.
“The War Pack was ready in a few weeks, but not all the locals are warriors. They are slow, and don’t know how to fight.” sneered Ekaj, who had been playing with the Syndar ears he had hanging from his neck.
“That is gross.” Said Mena Long fang.
“The Goldmane’s love it.” Ekaj grinned.
Mena had not always been a Longfang but joined after she had chosen Stanrick as a mate. She had been accepted in to the pack as a warrior and proven herself time and again. But now she did her best to hide the fact she missed her daughter.
“I’m going to sleep, you can play with your trophies.” She said and went into her tent.
“What’s her problem?” Ekaj asked Stanrick.
“You’re keeping trophies, some packs tend to be more upset over that then others, should have heard her the night Harlok brought home a Mordok scalp.” replied Stanrick.
Harlok looked up from his mead and grinned.
“You young warriors should get some rest, our scouts report that the Humans will be passing through the clearing in the valley to meet up with a larger group. Kragen wants to hit them while they move.” said Dennagrath.
Stanrick put out the pipe and joined Mena in their tent.
“Am I weak Stanrick?” She asked in a whisper as he lay next to her.
He could tell she was crying.
“Why would you say that?” He asked as he put his arms around his mate.
“I’m afraid I’m supposed to be a Longfang warrior and I froze in battle today, all I could think of was what if we all fall, who would protect Siren and Yawn? If it wasn’t for Vilkas giving his life I would have been on the pyre.”
“Mena, fear not. If we fall, Gaia will give our village the strength to go on and we will be with the Great Wolf.” With that, he kissed her forehead and the two drifted to sleep.
The Ulven had awakened before the sun horse had started his run,and had packed up and moved to the forest edge of the valley. The fog was so thick that you could not see ten feet away but that was not needed, because they could hear the Humans marching.
“Keep moving! And stay in formation!” a voice in the fog yelled.
Stanrick aimed his bow and waited for the signal. Kragen let out a howl and the archers loosed arrows in the direction of the marching humans.
“Shields Up! Box Formation Left Flank!” From what Stanrick knew of humans this meant that they were now facing the woods in a tight formation shields high to protect from arrows. The archers let off two more volleys then pulled out melee weapons to charge the human line.
The war cries of the Ulven started low then rose up like thunder. A flood of steel, leather and fangs came from the tree line to smash upon the rock like human line. The fog began clear out of the valley just enough that Stanrick could see the lines of shield men.
“Protect the women and children! Keep the line!” Yelled a man was sitting on top of a horse. The Ulven had never seen a horse big enough to ride. This beast was large enough to hold a man that must have been over 6 feet tall on foot covered from head to toe in steel.
There must have been at least thirty humans, about half that of the War Pack. Soon he too had smashed upon the wall of steel, hacking, slashing and stabbing at any opening he could find.
“You have fought the Undead and lived! These Ulven do not rise from the grave, let your…AHHH!” The man fell from his horse as Dennagrath pulled him down. His fangs exposed, he let out a victorious howl as he stood over the fallen leader of men. Some had broken off to run but most of the line held.
“Good, I am tired of their stupid ghost stories.” growled Ekaj as he cut down one of the fleeing men. Stanrick focused on the task at hand. His shield was shattered but he pushed on to break the human’s line. He no longer knew how many had fallen to his blade when he heard a scream of rage and his heart sunk. He looked back but all he could see were humans and Syndar. Mena had thrown away her shield and began to hack at the humans in her way, screaming like a banshee of legend. Stanrick fought to get to her, to be by her side but she lost momentum and fell to her knees before a man with a two handed sword. He tried to yell out to her but it was too late, the human took off her head in one fell swoop.
The Human spit at Mena’s body and called her a bitch. Rage filled Stanrick’s blood and he charged the man who was about a foot taller than him. The man turned to face him grinning but not for long, Stanrick had slashed him in the leg and he collapsed to the blood covered grass.
“No, please don’t kill me!” he cried out but his plea fell on deaf ears and Stanrick finished him as quickly as he could. He was so struck with grief he did not see the other Longfangs still fighting the humans that were trying to protect their young. The battlefield was no place for children. Ulven learn to fight at an early age and even killed Mordok as early as four years of age but this was with older pack members, near home against a foolish Mordok that had been scouting too close to a village. To bring the young to a battle like this though made no sense. Harlok had just plunged his spear into a human that was trying to sneak up behind Stanrick.
Harlok showed his fangs in anger; if he still had his tongue, he would have been yelling about how stupid Stanrick was as he pulled him up off his knees. Only then seeing Mena’s lifeless form, he frowned then made a gesture of words going up to the Great Wolf.
Stanrick nodded “Yes, her name will ring.”
The fighting had moved away to the other side of the clearing as the humans and Syndar now tried to make their way to the road to escape to their camps. Stanrick and Harlok ran to meet with the rest but they were few in number. Stanrick looked around for other Ulven warriors. Kragen was finishing off the last of the humans that had been in his way. And Ekaj was cutting off a human’s finger. A few others had been fighting with a few footmen that had stood their ground to protect their comrades. Then he saw his father cut down a heavily armored man. Dennagrath made sure he was dead and made way back to the rest. Then it was as if time had stopped. He looked into his father’s eyes, drake green lupine eyes. He had seen this before in a nightmare. He knew what was happening and could not stop it. From the mist, a Syndar arrow pierced Dennagrath, then another and third. The life drained out of his eyes, and Dennagrath Longfang, warrior of pack Longfang fell to the ground.
Stanrick didn’t remember the end of the battle. Ekaj and a few others from clan Grimward gave chase to the humans and returned with the heads of several humans. The warriors that remained had gathered the dead, Ulven, human and Syndar.
“We burn them all, the invaders in that pile. Put our brothers and sisters on the pyre. Tonight we will tell stories and the names of our fallen will ring in his ears!” shouted Kragen. Harlok mended Stanrick’s wounds, as he smoked his pipe.
“We are the only Longfang to survive the battle?” asked Stanrick
Harlok paused and nodded he held up six fingers.
“We lost six in that battle?”
Harlok nodded again then ripped the bandage with his teeth. They got up and walked to the pyres, Stanrick thinking of stories to tell so the Great Wolf would hear their deeds.