Pride’s Choice

Pride stared at the cold; limp body of his once powerful father sprawled in the dark sand. The sun was setting, sending bursts of pink and red into the horizon. Pride thought that the beauty of the sky only mocked the tragic events that had taken place that day. He could not believe that his father was gone. Just that morning his father was full of life, arguing with Pride’s older brother Noble, begging him to stay with the family. “If you leave, you can never come back.” His mother had told Noble. Pride’s father had only nodded in agreement, though Pride noticed the sadness in his eyes. Pride bowed his head as the desert wind blew dust through his fur. Was it just that morning that Noble had asked Pride to leave with him?

“You owe it to her, Pride.” His brother had rumbled. “You cannot leave Queen to fend for herself when she is heavy with your pups.”

Yet, that is exactly what Pride had done by allowing Noble to leave without him. By choosing the family he felt duty-bound to instead of Queen, who would bare his kin, his blood in just a few short turns of the moon. He would never forget the shame that surged inside him as Noble glanced at him for the last time before bounding away. Now, his older brother would keep Pride’s mate warm tonight while Pride grieved for their father, who was slain in combat with a troop of foxes, then lay down to sleep with the meer he grew up with, and in a burrow that no longer felt like home.

His head snapped up at the realization. That was it! Ever since he met Queen, he had denied his growing feelings for her, but now he knew. His burrow didn’t feel like home to him anymore because it wasn’t. The Scavengers were his family no longer. His loving father was gone, and his mother had forbidden Noble to return. Queen was his family. Queen was his love. She was going to have his pups. Pride’s home was wherever Queen and Noble were. They were his family now. He must go to them.

He gazed at his father’s corpse one last time and determination hardened his jade eyes. “Thank you.” He whispered; his words being carried by the wind. “Thank you for taking care of me all of these seasons, Father. I’m sorry I have to go, but now it is time for me to care for my own family.” Then, with his eyes shining in the fading light, he padded in the opposite direction of the group that he grew up in. He was heading off to meet his family and his fate. After Pride made his choice, he and Queen founded the Alphas, which would grow to become one of the most influential meer families in the desert.

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