Sept 28, 2012 13:43:27 GMT -5
Post by Ϻinέrvă on Sept 28, 2012 13:43:27 GMT -5
It was terrifying. It was anguish and pain. It was the beginning of four new lives.
Calliope's labor pains started in the early morning, startling her awake. She registered what was happening with a strange disconnect. Over the weeks of her pregnancy, she had become detached from the tiny creatures stirring inside her. They were not her pups, they were the pups. They were alien to her, as if she were simply babysitting them while their real mother was out hunting. Of course, come the birth, Calliope would be all too aware of the truth. Her instincts prodded her to leave and find a safe, secluded space.
In the end, that may have saved her life.
The quiet walk out of camp gave her plenty of time to think. The pack was prospering. Kasimira's offspring were maturing quickly and would soon have to set out on their own. The Alpha seemed very attached to her pups, but some took after their mother a little too much. Not everyone could be Alpha.
The other slaves had been kind to Calliope, bringing prey to her when she became too heavy to get it herself. In fact, she had eaten better these past few weeks than she had since becoming a slave. Even so, the pups seemed to take most of it, as her stomach grew bigger and the rest of her remained the same. The sight of her bulging midsection atop her spindly legs was probably very comical, but most wolves knew better than to goad a pregnant female. Her moods had been much worse than the last time, swinging from depressed to angry with few forays into happy. The cause of this problem, Calliope was sure, was the absent father of the pups. She alternately pined for and cursed Phrino. She often engaged in a fantasy where she found him in his pack and forced him to take his children. It was a dream that made her hate herself, but she couldn't keep it out of her mind.
Calliope had no idea how far she had walked when she finally found a sheltered spot, but her paws were sore and her body begging for a rest. A small offshoot of the river that bordered Irrsin pooled in a shallow depression. The area was slightly hilly, and Calliope spotted a small den dug into the side of one hill. It contained the faint scent of rabbit and was much too small to hold her. Slowly, stopping at irregular intervals to suffer through contractions, Calliope widen the den until it became a hole big enough to lie down in. It had little protection compared to real den, but she was guarded on three sides.
From then on time was divided into in-pain and not-in-pain as her contractions came on steadier and more quickly. Dusk was staining the land gray when Calliope heard the strange snapping and roaring, a sound not unlike an angry bear. Her brain went into panic mode. Her desire was to fight to protect her pups, but in this state every wound would be a wound to them as well. She pulled herself into an upright position, fearing what she would find outside her little shelter.
The smell hit her like a wall. An acrid taste filled her mouth and her nose burned. Her chest shook as she coughed violently, trying to fill her lungs with clean air. The land before her was veiled in a thin haze and smoke. Off in the distance, but getting closer every moment, was the twisting band of fire responsible. Fire! An enemy that could not be fought or driven off, cornered or conquered. It didn't care whether you were hunter or prey; it devoured all the same.
Calliope eyes found the pool of water below her. What if it was too shallow to save her? What if the pups were impatient? What if the smoke killed her before the heat? Even as these doubts flooded her mind, Calliope knew the water was her only chance. Stumbling down the hill, she half-walked, half-fell into the water. She splashed noisily for a moment, but then the only sound was the fire's roar.
Eperna, save me.----------
After the fire, Irrsin was unnaturally quiet. Except for the whimpers of a wolf and the cries of new life. Still coughing up black mucus, Calliope brought pups into the world, working methodically. Push, clean it, make sure it breathes, guide it to milk, push the next one, repeat. When all four were happily sucking away, Calliope fell into exhausted sleep. She would worry about Irrsin, the pack, and her future later. For now, as the sky was lightening, she slept without dreams, feeling only an impression of love from some unseen being.