The Legendary Chronicles
Book V: The Wilding of Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin did not need a pregnancy test or any other piece of cheap human technology to confirm what she knew; she was with child again. She murmured wordlessly with pleasure and lovingly stroked the contours of her slightly-rounded belly. It had been less than a week since she had copulated with her mate, but already she was keenly aware of the precious new life growing within her....
....as for her mate, a series of sounds downstairs indicated that Todd had returned from the frozen plains where he had been hunting for several days with the other males. He entered their chamber and removed his heavy outer skins which were still coated with frost, and stomped triumphantly while snorting and snuffling, indicating a successful hunt. There would be much fresh caribou for them to feast upon once the sun rose. She smiled as he approached and nuzzled up to her naked breasts, making hopeful mewling noises. Playfully but forcefully she snarled and swatted him upon his muzzle, dashing his amorous hopes, and he quickly lowered his head in deference and nestled against her flanks to share warmth. The pair had engaged in a heated squabble before he had embarked on the hunt, and although his gift of new meat had more than earned her forgiveness, she chose to remain aloof a bit longer purely to reinforce her dominance. Todd began to snore softly at her side and Sarah stroked his matted fur tenderly. Rest, my chosen, she whispered. There is much work ahead of us, she knew, as her mind drifted back to the long journey which had brought them to this place....
For thousands of years, the wild Alaskan race -- or the Yuugdar, as they were called by the indigenous Inuit tribes -- had lived apart from their human cousins, fighting for the snowy northern lands that both claimed as home. Eons ago the humans had driven the Yuugdar into the mountains, and any contact between human and Yuugdar was strictly forbidden; any human children that showed even a trace of Yuugdar blood were typically killed as soon as they were discovered. Although the Yuugdar were physically superior and faster to breed, the humans were far better organized and had created weapons that the Yuugdar knew not of; the spear, the bow, and most importantly, fire. The Yuugdar's fear of the burning light kept them far removed from human villages except for the occasional bloody raid that kept alive the enmity between the races.
For nearly all of the ages of the Earth it had been so. With the dawning of our enlightened age, many assumed that the Yuugdar would dwindle and die out as so many other splinter races had before them. But then in the tumultuous years of the late 18th century the winds of fate had shifted, bringing to the Yuugdar a reprieve from extinction. Neither they nor the native humans could have forseen the sudden claiming of their lands by the faraway Russian Empire nor the rapid transference of ownership to the upstart nation America. Such distant matters were of little concern to denizens of the frozen tundra. But then the white Americans came in droves, their colonies and settlements springing forth from the earth like fireweed blooming along the frost heaves. They were most interested in the lands held by the indigenous humans and they shunned the wild places where the Yuugdar thrived. Greedy for oil and timber, they spent the next two centuries claiming all that they could take within their hands, but even so, the rapacious white men had still only devoured a tiny fraction of the boundless wilderness of Alaska. Those few natives who remained often tried to warn the white men of the continued existence of the Yuugdar, but their pleas and warnings fell on deaf ears and were dismissed as trickery. Thus the Yuugdar were spared and all the human elders who knew of their fierce ways steadily vanished from the Earth, and their wisdom was lost.
In their dark caves that were concealed in the forbidding mountains, the Yuugdar tribes began a slow but steady renewal. No longer were they hunted and no longer were their pups killed by the humans. Many disparate tribes banded together under the new leadership of a gathering of elders. Disputes between individual Yuugdar were now settled by these elders, so that families no longer killed one another over heated blood feuds that lasted for generations. For the first time ever the Yuugdar's remarkable propensity to breed was no longer hindered by their natural predators and they flourished. Their numbers grew and grew with each moon, until their subterranean lairs grew crowded, and they were forced to go farther and farther afield to find prey.
At last they gathered all in the great Mother Cave and held counsels. It was agreed that the Yuugdar were now strong, surely stronger than the humans who had not been glimpsed in many moons. They decided to leave their mountain home and move to new lands for the first time in a hundred years, and overrun any human settlements they chanced upon...
...scouting parties were sent out, but they returned in less than a moon, frantic and afraid. The white men, they said, had created a new world where the old one had been. They spoke in trembling voices of the gigantic houses that reached to the sky, of wagons that raced across the land without the aid of beast, of great iron birds that flew through the clouds, and of fearsome weapons that could kill at hundreds of paces. One of the Yuugdar scouts brought back with him one of these "guns," and they marveled at it, eventually learning how to make it spit death. Then they fought over it, and in the end, the mightiest of the elders seized the gun and used the fear of it to hold sway over the others. His name was Durgaartha Pah-Lin and from that day forward he was the unquestioned chieftan of all the Yuugdar.
Durgaartha was a fearsome creature and none more than he had desired to conquer the humans. But he was also cunning, and the news of the humans' mighty reign filled him with new and strange ideas. He declared before all that the Yuugdar would indeed take that which the humans had, but they would do so by means of stealth and cleverness rather than by brute force. Durgaartha sent raiding parties to the remotest edges of the human towns to find those lone families who dwelt in cabins and lodges. They killed the men and children, but brought the human females back to the mountains, where they were held in the Mother Cave and violently impregnated by the strongest males. Within only a few years the Yuugdar had an entire generation of half-breed children, who closely resembled humans, especially once their tails and distinctive facial tufts were cropped. The naalagh they were called, the new young. Durgaartha himself bore a daughter with one of the captive females, and she was an especially robust and comely child who was adored by all. He held the sleek pup aloft before the tribe, pledging that his precious daughter would grow to bring untold glory to the Yuugdar; and he named her Saa'ra, which meant "she with the secret fire in her belly" in their tongue.
Saa'ra Pah-Lin grew tall and strong over the following years. With her blazing spirit and great strength and speed she ruled her peers in their athletic games. She was the revered Chieftan's Daughter and the princess of the naalagh. The males of the tribe jousted and battled for her attention, and she eventually chose Toddah, the strong son of another elder, as her mate. They were joined before the tribe when they reached maturity and a great feast was held in their honor.
As the feasting subsided that night, Durgaartha called his beloved daughter and her mate before the celebrating tribes. He spoke of how great joy and great sorrow must often walk together, and that Saa'ra and the other naalagh were now ready to go into the world to begin their life's quest. They would travel over the far plains to the nearest human settlement and begin their secret quest for domination. Then the Yuugdar wailed and wept and the pups who loved Saa'ra touched her with upturned paws, seeking even a strand of her fur as a remembrance. Saa'ra spoke for all the naalagh as they promised to fulfill their mission, and that they would not return to the Yuugdar lands until the humans bowed before them.
It was a cold and dangerous journey for the naalagh as they traversed the frozen tundra. Seal and bear and wolf they battled, and they slew them and ate their meat, and took their skins to wear. They soon reached a crossroads that led to many towns; the naalagh then parted ways, and Saa'ra and Toddah came at last alone to the small town of Wasilla. What became of the others they never learned, for they vanished from all knowledge and never returned to the Yuugdar lands. Even now they are mourned.
For years, the two brave young naalagh dwelt with the humans of Wasilla and learned their strange ways. They learned to use human money and wear human clothes, and learned to steer their beastless wagons. They acquired a great many of the human guns, which they coveted, and their hunting prowess became legendary among the Wasillans. Sarah and Todd Palin they called themselves, names more familiar to the humans. They built a great house, and as the moons passed they had many pups, who delighted them with their hardiness and intelligence. Although they were saddened that their pups were forced to come of age amongst the dreadful humans, they taught them the ways of the Yuugdar in secret, so that they would know their heritage when the time of their victory came. Years passed, and the Palin family became well-known and even loved by the simple and distrustful humans. After the brutal winter of 1996 in which many perished in the deep winter cold, the humans of Wasilla called out for a new strong leader and Sarah was surprised when the humans desperately turned to her to lead their tribe. She accepted, disdainful of their ignorance, for she knew that this was the beginning of the path that would lead to their downfall.
Indeed, even those close to the naalagh princess were astounded at her meteoric rise over the next few years, but Sarah was not. She had learned that despite their clever ways and magical machines the humans had grown soft and weak in their easy lives. Even though she was a poor speaker (Todd and even the pups had shown greater mastery of the human language), she still came to wield great influence among them. Sarah learned that she had only to stride confidently among them and declare with strength in her voice what must be done, and they followed. The old males, in particular, were helpless before her. As soon as they smelled her powerful musk and saw the determined glint in her eyes they fell before her like leaves before a storm. It was in this way that she bested two of the weak males in a contest of wills, and was declared, unbelievably, the ruler of all Alaska.
Word was sent to the Yuugdar and they were astonished that their young princess had achieved her quest in so short a time. The tribes celebrated, and many migrated to Wasilla to join their champion and learn the human ways. Sarah and Todd taught them what they knew, and soon Wasilla was overrun with Yuugdar, unbeknownst to the witless humans.
Sarah Palin had ruled Alaska for fewer than twenty-four moons when her rule was suddenly shaken. She had ordered the building of a bridge that would reach the heavens, which many of the humans decried as folly. But she battled back, and her tenacity and stubborness became well known and her name traveled far and wide, even to regions far outside of the borders of Alaska. It was then during the autumn of her forty-fourth year of life that word came to her that the Maccain of Washington desired an audience with her...
...Sarah Palin was afraid for perhaps the first time in her young life. Had she acted too rashly and moved too quickly? She knew of the great human capitol of Washington only in whispers and murmurs; her human subjects who sought oil and timber would often mutter the name in dark tones, saying often that "you can't fight Washington" and "Washington is going to ruin us all." The name became something awful in her mind, and never did she imagine that this faraway monstrosity would take note of her beloved Alaska. But her servants warned her; a powerful ruler called the Maccain was going to arrive in one of their great iron birds in mere days' time, and he had demanded to speak to her and her alone. She trembled and hid in a corner, clawing at any who approached. Sarah was certain that she had done something wrong in her haste and that her foolishness was going to bring disaster upon her family, the Yuugdar, and all of her father's great dreams.
Finally she grew brave again, and her servants gently coaxed her to the room where the Maccain awaited her. Sarah held her chin high and refused to blink in the presence of the powerful man from Washington. When she came before him she saw that her fears were for naught. The Maccain was old and doddering, a small and shriveled man who nodded and gulped and shook like a half-wit. But her servants assured her that he had won fame as a warrior in his younger days and was still revered highly for his bravery and honor. She listened to his strange talk, and was greatly confused when the withered old man asked her to "run with him" as his "mate." He did not look capable of much running at all, but she was certain at least that he wanted to mate with her, and pass along his seed. Had all his children perished in some great war?
Sarah gnashed her teeth and knew not what to do. She could neither betray Todd and her clan, nor could she refuse the whims of the Maccain lest he bring the full wrath of Washington upon her lands. She fled the room, shrieking, and wandered alone the snowy hills of Juneau in confusion. However, one of her servants who loved her sought her out, and explained to her what the Maccain had meant. He was far past breeding age and desired only to have her help in a great contest, a battle to be fought that winter, a human contest in which the victors would rule all of Washington itself. Once she understood, the fire again burned in Sarah's eyes. She knew that this was her chance to bring glory to the Yuugdar beyond her father's wildest dreams. She returned to Maccain and pledged her life to him, demanding to know who it was they must defeat. He blinked and quivered, and said only "the Kenyan."
When she first saw him she called him the Dark Oak Man to herself, as his skin was the exact brown color of a tree, something her eyes had never seen. It was said that he came from a dry and dangerous land far beyond the sea, outside the bounds of America itself. Sarah was again astonished for until that day she had believed that America was the entire world. Alas, no, there were more lands still, called Europe, and Asia, and Africa, and Australia; her servants plied her with teachings and begged that she attend, saying that this knowledge was necessary in the contest to come. Sarah waved them away, confident that her indomitable spirit alone would prove sufficient. She left Alaska and began the long road that would lead her to Washington and to ultimate victory...
...and it was on that long journey that she finally encountered the Kenyan himself, at one of the great human gatherings where thousands milled and huddled together. She saw him at first from a distance and was unimpressed for he was slender and tidy, not the warrior she expected. But as he drew closer she noted his confident stride, and she became aware that he was wiry and well-muscled beneath his clothes. And then she heard his strong, deep, almost musical voice, which held great power over the other humans. His words were clever and wise and much of what he spoke was unknown to her. She felt her hackles rise with jealousy, for it was still her lack of language that was her greatest weakness, and she knew that he would prove to be a mighty foe indeed.
She approached the Dark Oak Man and they exchanged friendly and meaningless words, and as he drew close she made the slightest of lunges, so imperceptible that no one else would see; he did see and did not flinch. Their eyes met and his stare matched hers in intensity. He flashed her a contemptuous smile and she was overwhelmed by the casual power and arrogance that he exuded with that simple gesture; never before had she felt so challenged by a male, not even among the Yuugdar. Her musk gland swelled and pulsed, and she wanted nothing more at that moment than to fling herself upon him, tear his clothing to shreds, mate forcibly with him, and then rip his body to bloody chunks with her claws and fangs. It took every drop of her determination not to do so. Her servants hustled her back to her room, which she tore apart in a frenzy, reducing all within to scraps and splinters. Bleeding from wounds from her own claws, she tasted her blood and swore, upon her honor and the honor of all the Yuugdar that she would crush the Kenyan utterly, that his last act would be to bow and cringe before her, to depart to the heavens in shame, destroyed by her and her alone.
And yet she had failed.
Sarah Palin had failed.
Never in her life had she been more certain, never had her desire burned hotter within her breast. And yet, because of fate, because of some trick of the gods, because of some unknown mightiness of the Kenyan, she had failed.
She blamed the Maccain. The ancient fool had dragged her down, his weakness making her strength seem less. This could only be so, since after being defeated by the Kenyan, the Maccain had slouched away in defeat, and his name was cursed, and those who once revered him now spoke of him with venom, for with his defeat, the Kenyan and his tribe now ruled all of Washington.
Sarah Palin returned to Alaska as her mighty heart broke within her. Never again could she be sure of her quest. How could she return to her father and the Yuugdar, having let their prophesied victory slip from her hands? She gathered her trusted human servants about her, and barely able to form words from her sorrow, she renounced her claim on the throne and left the rule of Alaska to others.
She ran naked in the wilderness, howling at the midwinter moon, and she became lost. Collapsing on the snowy ground, she gazed up and saw Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun, his crown resplendent in ice-fogged frigid beauty. She heard the gentle rumbling of the cheechakos and the piercing bellow of the lonely bull moose, she heard the merciless rivers that rushed and carved and reminded her that there, Mother Nature wins. She lay her head on the frozen earth, and after shedding rivers of tears, she fell into darkness and knew no more.
Sarah remembered not the weeks following that terrible night. She came aware much later, and realized that she was somewhere warm and cradled by loving arms. Todd had found her, and brought her back to their lair and nursed her back to health. She cursed her weakness, for almost severing the eternal bond between them. And then she felt the movement of her pups and they swarmed about her. She reached out and felt their smooth heads, saying their names in turn. Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig... Trill, Lark, Streambank, Antler, and Fern... Trunk, Pine, Flint, and little Acorn last of all. How beautiful they all were, and how lovely was the big wild good life they shared.... and her dreams of conquest suddenly seemed small and meaningless.
Sarah was contented in the following weeks and began to enjoy again the splendors of Alaska, which she had forgotten during her time as a ruler. With her family she fished and swam in the bubbling brooks, and she hunted beasts with newfound fervor. In her spare time she had one of her servants teach her the art of writing, and she began to learn the strange human letters as she was determined to tell her story to all, so that others could learn from her struggle. Bristol, one of her eldest pups, had become a mother herself, and the coming of her own little pup brought more plain and simple joy to their family than she had thought possible.
....as the days of bitter winter slowly turned to a frosty spring, her remaining servants brought her unexpected news. Despite their humiliating loss to the Kenyan and despite the rancor and hatred that had been heaped upon the Maccain, the humans of the land still loved her. They sent tribute, more tribute than she had ever imagined. Humans from the farthest reaches of America made the long pilgrimage to Alaska in droves, to hear her voice, to learn her wisdom, and to make pictures of her face. Her most loyal servant taught her of the magical human light-box, which would carry her words to the eyes of those thousands of miles away, and Sarah used the magic box to speak to them, and they listened, and they sent back more words to her than she could read in a lifetime.
Sarah, the fierce warrior, was humbled and amazed at their love and loyalty. Her great heart swelled, and she began to glimpse an entirely new destiny beyond the designs of her father; perhaps the gods did not want her to conquer the humans and to bring their lands to ruin, to take what they had for the Yuugdar. No, the humans needed her, and they needed the spirit of the Yuugdar to show them the way and lead them all to glory. Was it possible? Could human and Yuugdar truly live together withour war unending?
This was Sarah's new dream, and the fire in her belly blazed with excitement. She learned that in fewer than four years the humans' contest would be held again, and the Kenyan would be forced to defend his throne. Among his enemies, which were many, none appeared worthy to stand against him.... only her. That was the plea that came to Sarah from her many followers; there were none other who could stand against the terrible Kenyan... only her.
Sarah awoke in the morning, Todd still snoring at her side. Her belly rumbled with hunger and her mouth watered at the thought of the caribou feast that awaited the family. She rose from their pelts and flexed her claws, eager to begin the skinning. She loped downstairs, and thought of what would come next. Her servants were already preparing great plans for the coming battle with the Kenyan, and she was confident that none could stand in her way.
But there was one.
Sarah sniffed the wind, and sensed a presence she had not felt in some time. Her fur stood on end, and she silently dashed to the door of the house and peered through the window -- and she saw him approach.
During her years as ruler, she had received warnings from this man. He was the last descendant of the ancient Inuit tribes whom had driven the Yuugdar to the mountains, and he claimed to be the grandson of Burning Tree, the chieftan who battled her father on the slopes of Denali long ago and gave him lasting scars. For years he spread poison words about Sarah and her clan, for he alone remembered the war between the races and the endless hurts they had suffered. Few heeded him, for he was a drunkard who did little work, and he lived in a small hut on a remote promontory... but now, he was here, and three others followed in his wake. Sarah eyed the men, sizing them up. Only one other was Inuit and the other two were white. They carried axes, and machetes, and Snow Eagle himself carried a magnificent spear. He was barechested, and runes of war were scored upon his chest.
Sarah Palin thew open the door and strode to meet them, and at the same time she keened a cry to her family that only those of Yuugdar blood could hear, warning them of the danger. Todd and the pups were instantly roused and gathered at the windows to see their beloved mother cross the grass to stand against the intruders.
"Snow Eagle! Why have you come? And you three, why do you follow Snow Eagle? What lies has he filled your ears with?"
Snow Eagle grimaced and swung his spear about in a mesmerizing display, and Sarah studied the weight and the flexibility of the shaft, learning with a glance what paths it could take.
"We know what you truly are and what you mean to do. We shall destroy you in the name of all humans who would be your victims, if you were allowed to live!"
"Foolish Snow Eagle," she countered, "you are mistaken. I seek glory for human and Yuugdar both. Both! The gods made us both, and together we shall reign. This, i swear."
"Silence, foul creature!" Snow Eagle cried, "we do not come to waste words with you, filth lower than even the serpent; we come only for vengeance, to slake the earth with the blood of you and all your hideous kind. For too long you have evaded my challenges, no more!"
Sarah noted the faces of the other men. In spite of Snow Eagle's daring words they looked less sure of their cause. They had probably been bribed into action, and might flee before death. But Snow Eagle himself gave off no scent of fear or weakness, only the reek of firewater, and Sarah knew that either she or him would fall that day.
"You men," Sarah shouted, "Snow Eagle must now die, but you need not share his fate. Leave now and you will be spared!"
Snow Eagle barked an order and the three men sprang into movement, running in a wide circle around them, making for the rear of the house, while Snow Eagle advanced slowly with the tip of his weapon trained on her, lest she attempt to pursue. Sarah snarled at his clever tactic -- with her mate and pups in danger, she would be less able to focus on Snow Eagle himself. She must trust in the gods and trust in Todd to defend their brood. She heard the crack of his hunting rifle and the head of one of the men exploded in a rain of blood and bone, and the force sent his body tumbling over itself down the hill.
One down. But the other two reached the back door before he could fire again.
With a cry, Snow Eagle rushed forward to engage her, and she lowered into a crouching stance and met him. Wary of the great spear, she intended to catch him by surprise and evade his first strike, and rend him asunder at close range. But she miscalculated; as she lunged, Snow Eagle quickly reversed and danced backwards with remarkable agility, jabbing and striking at her. Despite his bluster he was in total control. A quick strike scratched Sarah's calf and she flipped backwards desperately to avoid it; she stumbled, fell, and slithered away, as Snow Eagle laughed and flung himself forward. His blows were more powerful now, but still lightning fast. She rolled this way and that, barely avoiding being skewered. She attempted more lunges but he rapidly sidestepped, delivering glancing blows with the shaft of his weapon. She was becoming frustrated and knew that he was trying to goad her into making a fatal mistake.
She feinted, and pretended to stumble again; he brought the spear down with full force. As he did, Sarah spun around and kicked his feet from under him. He crashed to the ground and she sprang, but the spear raced up to meet her, and she turned aside at the last moment. Both fighters rolled away and recovered, and leapt to their feet. Sarah was pleased to see that he showed a slight limp. Now was the time.
"You bring good fight, Snow Eagle," she taunted, "your grandfather would be proud. I have missed the Old Ways, now that i battle far greater men than you..."
"Ah, but surely you know. I fly on iron bird, to Washington, to face the likes of the Kenyan and his tribe; what are you to them? What do they know of Snow Eagle and his smallness? They cry my name and i cry theirs -- but never yours, for you are as a flea to us!"
With a strangled cry, he flung the spear at her, and she was amazed at its swiftness. She twisted her body and let it pass as she rushed forward to end the battle. But once again she had underestimated him, and as she reached him he drew a hidden knife and slashed at her. She brought her hands up and caught his arm, and they grappled. She brought up her hind leg and caught him in the stomach, flipped him over, and she let the motion carry her along and she landed on top of him as her talons sought his throat.
A sudden whining cry ripped through the morning air, and Sarah halted. It was one of her pups, but which one? The tinest hesitation was all that Snow Eagle needed and his knife flashed and found her shoulder; she screamed in agony and rolled away, trying to staunch the flow of her lifeblood.
Snow Eagle was on his feet again, laughing. He spun around and aimed a vicious kick at her muzzle. It connected with brutal force and her head swam. She slumped to the ground, dazed. He closed in for the final blow, but then they heard a rushing about them. Her pups were streaming through the front door, yelping in terror. Both Sarah and Snow Eagle turned to see Todd and the last of the henchmen exit the house, grappling and throwing one another about. Todd was in a frenzied state and his fangs tore out the man's throat, and he sank to the ground. But with his last breath, he swung his axe blindly and caught Todd in his flank. The wound was not deadly, but it slowed him to a crawl. His eyes met Sarah's, and he roared with fury...
Snow Eagle returned his attention to Sarah, and was taken aback at the calm in her eyes. What did she know? Where did the terror in her face go? The pups were circling them all now, scampering and flitting through the trees, chittering excitedly, their fear giving way to blood lust. The Yuugdar instincts in them had been awakened and the sight of their parents doing battle caused sensations that they had never known to course through their veins. They hissed at Snow Eagle, and flung balls of their feces at him, and steadily the furry maelstrom closed in, drawing ever tighter. Willow raced by and clawed at his belly, and Snow Eagle grabbed her by the hair and flung her from him with a pained bellow. She landed on the hard ground with a screech and lay still...
...and that was the action that sealed his doom, for there is no animal on the earth more fearsome than a Yuugdar matron whose pups are threatened. With unbelievable speed, Sarah lunged one last time; Snow Eagle aimed his blade at her heart, but to no avail. She caught his hands and with a strength unheard of she turned the knife back on him. The point entered his left eye socket and he staggered backwards as she drove the blade towards his brain. But still he did not fall. Grinning, her jaws found his groin, and with a ravenous bite she tore through his pants and mauled his genitals. She flung him from side to side, until she tore the tender organs from his body with a sickening, ripping sound. Sarah chewed on the severed testicle inside her maw and swallowed it with delight.
The pups were upon him now -- nipping, biting, and tearing at his flesh. He screamed a scream of infinite pain as their sharp teeth plunged into him again and again. They gnawed his tendons, and nibbled his muscles, and picked every scrap of soft and vulnerable flesh from his bones. His screams abated but still they feasted. Within the hour, there was nothing left of Snow Eagle but a red puddle that stained the frosty earth.
Sarah and Todd licked their wounds, and the pups gathered around them, and they limped back to their bed of pelts. They learned later that Trunk and little Acorn had been killed by the men, and they howled together in lamentation as they buried the poor pups. The entire clan remained by the graves all that night, weeping and hugging one another as the moon climbed into the night sky. As they wept, Sarah told Todd of the new life growing within her, and he smiled through the tears. This, she knew, was the ultimate strength of the Yuugdar. She knew that they could sustain any wound, suffer and blow, and still go on. There was no shame to fall, as long as one could rise again. Winter would fall and spring would follow, and they would face both with heads unbowed.
Already she was already thinking of the Kenyan and the great struggle ahead of her in the following year. No matter what the gods decided, she would bear it. For her pups... for the lost naalagh... for her father... for all the many beautiful creatures of the earth, she would fight ever onwards.