It was still morning when their leader arrived. They all knelt and lowered their gazes in respect as she entered the clearing.
They could all feel her cold eyes upon them as she surveyed the situation, before she walked up to Isi. He gulped nervously – the honour of leading the hunting party had been his, and so now was the shame of failure.
“You are empty-handed.”
“Yes, Freezes-Fire. They got away. We – I – underestimated them.”
He could feel the air around him grow colder.
“Four of you are missing. Malik’s pack?” Freezes-Fire’s voice was calm and composed, but every garou in the clearing could feel the fury emanating from her.
“Dead.” The dew in the grass around Isi began to freeze. “Their car was hit by a grenade…”
Isi was terrified. As he spoke, he realised that everything he said, everything about last night’s events, would only make Freezes-Fire angrier. He swallowed again, ignored the sensation of sweat freezing on his skin, and mustered what courage he could, and finished his report.
“…a grenade they got from one of us. We failed you completely.”
Freezes-Fire took a deep breath.
“Did your pack disobey you? Did the others?”
“No, Freezes-Fire. Their loyalty was absolute.”
“Then the failure is yours alone.”
Isi raised his head and looked into his leader’s eyes. The rage was gone, there was only cold disassociation. He knew what would come next.
“I pay for my dishonour with my life.” he said, exposing his throat.
Freezes-fire raised her hand, the tips of her fingers covered in claws of ice.
“May you serve Great Wendigo in death as you did in life” she replied before bringing her hand down, slicing Isi’s throat open.
He collapsed onto the frosty ground, bleeding out in a matter of seconds.
Freezes-fire walked away from the dead body of Isi, and up to his pack’s scout.
“Starless-sky.” she addressed him.
Starless-sky looked up at her.
“You are now the alpha of your pack, until such a time that you fall in battle or you lose the title to someone worthier.”
“Tell me, how would you proceed from here?”
“One good thing came from tonight, Freezes-Fire. I got their scents – there is nowhere in this world they can hide from me. But…”
He trailed off, perhaps suspecting that she wouldn’t like what he was going to say next.
“Continue.” she urged.
“But we should not underestimate them like Isi did. They were able to escape three packs, and there’s only two left now.”
“I agree. When you next track them down, do not move in, but await my arrival.”
“Yes, Freezes-Fire.” Starless-sky bowed, then rose to his feet and turned to the other kneeling garou in the clearing. “Vanguard, on me!” he called out, before shifting to Lupus and taking off into the woods. The others followed suit.
Freezes-Fire watched them go. She had regained control of her temper, and the frost was quickly melting away under the summer sun.
Every breath the Stormbringers take is an insult to Wendigo. They must not escape again.
After a moment she too shifted into Lupus, and let out a loud howl. Seconds later, dozens of howls called back.
Freezes-fire moved out, and her army followed.