The old wolf limped on at the head of the pack. Their line stretched far through the snowy mountains and he set the pace for the rest to follow. The march was long and cruel, and neither the old wolf or the others could rest until they found safety in the familiar mountains.
This year had been particularly cruel—with three older wolves dying from sickness and one pup having gotten snatched up by a bear. But no matter the struggle, no matter the loss, the pack kept moving forward with the wise elder leading them.
Of course, the old wolf wasn’t the actual leader. That duty was left to the alpha who stayed far behind the line to control the direction of the pack and face any threats that might come from the rear. The old wolf marched at the front of the line because if he followed from behind, the pace would be too much for him and he wouldn’t be able to keep up. And even though the wolf was old, the pack finds its strength in numbers. They couldn’t risk losing anymore members.
There’s one more reason for the old wolf to lead from the front, though. A reason based on instinct: if danger were to arise from the front, the old and sick were to take the brunt of the threat. Another cruel reality of life in the wild. But the wolf had lived long and hard, and dying for the safety of the pack was the way of life. It was a sacrifice they’d all make if they lived long enough.
The mountain wind was cold as ice, but the pack would not slow down. The old wolf had made this march many times, and as long as he kept trudging forward, the others would follow. This was the way it had always been. This is the way it will always be.
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