Bull stood in the center of the group, all eyes on him as he scanned the crowd. His breaths were heavy, as if he had just finished a fight, and his broad shoulders squared. His face bore several small scars from a life of scraping. He had fought for every scrap of power he held. He had won Cloud as his mate and become dominant male of the Deltas. He had given this family everything he had, and now Cloud was gone.
He was left to rule the family with his daughter Swift, who turned out to be a huge disappointment. Swift didn’t understand that to have power you had to continually prove that you deserved it. And none of his grown offspring were worthy of the power he could grant them. None of them earned his protection, none of them deserved his love. He only cared for one meer and she was taken from him. Stolen by those fools that the meer worship as The Before Us. Bull’s dark eyes searched, there was one who deserved his ire above all others.
His son was crouching towards the back, beside his littersister Swift. They were whispering to each other. Bull narrowed his eyes. Were they complaining about him? As if it wasn’t enough that Swift refused to enforce the laws among the family, now she was partaking in her brother’s mischief. But Bull couldn’t blame Swift fully. He knew she was impressionable. Her trouble was that she cared too much. It was her litterbrother, Sun, who was the problem. A problem that Bull had to be rid of.
Bull strode through the milling meer, who quickly shrank away from him clearing a path straight to Sun. Sun’s pale gold eyes widened as he met his father’s dark gaze. Bull felt a growl rising in the back of his throat. Sun flattened his stomach to the sand, making himself appear small and submissive. Swift took an apprehensive step in front of her brother. “Father…” She murmured with one paw raised to show her unease. Bull easily brushed her aside with his bulk and approached his son.
Sun cast his eyes downward as Bull towered over him. He watched as Sun quivered and the rank scent of fear filled the air. Bull wrinkled his snout at the odor. A hot bolt of anger struck Bull and he opened his mouth, his jaws dripping with slaver. “I should have named you Worthless.” Bull snarled and he saw Sun fight not to cringe. Then he lunged.
He went for Sun’s throat. At the last moment Sun managed to roll to the side and Bull’s jaws snapped closed on empty air. Even the wind held its breath as the meer waited for Bull’s reaction. Sun was standing a few paces away, his scared gaze locked on his father. Bull took one step towards him, then halted.
“Go.” He growled; his eyes glowed with menace in the light of the dying sun. “Go and never return.” Sun hesitated, as if he might try reasoning with his father. But staring into those eyes alight with madness, he must have known that logic would be fruitless. Sun turned tail and ran.
Bull waited only a heartbeat before turning his gaze to a group of male Deltas behind him. They flinched as he stared at them. “After him.” Bull barked and the males jumped to obey, eager to avoid Sun’s fate. “If you catch him, kill him.” The males kicked up plumes of sand as they sprinted after Sun.
Bull heard a soft whimper. His gaze traveled to Swift, who was sitting on her haunches with her forepaws tucked close to her chest. Her face was twisted with grief and agony as she watched her litterbrother’s figure recede. It was as if she was being ripped in two. Bull felt a rush of satisfaction. Now, finally his daughter understood what it felt like to lose someone.
Except when Bull lost Cloud he hadn’t simply been torn apart, half of him had died with her. He carried that carcass over his shoulders wherever he went, burdened by its cruel weight. If their ancestors, The Before Us, really cared about any of them then they wouldn’t have called Cloud. They wouldn’t have let her die. So, that was just it. The Before us didn’t care. The living meer were on their own. He was on his own.
He strode over to Swift and stood glowering at her. His broad form cut an imposing shape in the coming dusk. He lowered his muzzle to her ear.
“Next time,” He rumbled, “don’t be so permissive.” Then, he went to lay with his belly in the cool sand as if nothing had come to pass. That night was the turning point for the Deltas family. Bull didn’t just lose his temper but his mind.