You’ve woken the pack.
Even the lightest step is too heavy in this hollow.
Even the shallow breath of one afraid echoes loudly about the trees.
We stir, these Dogs.
Our noses twitch, our tails thump on the dirt.
We know your name before we see your face.
I hope your knives are sharp, your legs sturdy, your hand quick.
I hope your necks are protected.
I hope your reinforcements are close by.
I do not want an easy fight.
Dozens of eyes peer from the darkness, studying your steps.
You see our eyes glowing among the trees, but it is easier to pretend you don’t.
You’ve come this far, prepared so long to enter this savage arena; fear and retreat are unthinkable.
I do not want you to think of fear, retreat.
If you think of fear, you may shut your eyes, lower your head. What then of a protected neck, a quick hand?
If you think of retreat, you may indulge your comrades in the pleasure of leaving this hard place.
But did you not hear me?
I don’t want an easy fight.
Raise your sharp knives.
The fur along my spine stands tall.
I do not contemplate death.
Are you thinking of it now?
Have it's cold hands seized your judgement?
When you die—you uninitiated, you who have never heard our Ethos—your body rots and your voice vanishes. When one of this Pack dies, his or her blood drains into this ground upon which we sleep.
We are many, we are one.
Death is inevitable, but The Hunger Lives On.
Every Dog who is sworn to this Pack, this Ethos, will stand tall in front of his fallen hounds—dead, wounded, sick—to face any threat. Your knives must be unbreakable, your legs unshakeable, your hand like lightning, to think that lone Dog will back down.
To back down, to retreat from your war party, betrays our infamous Ethos.
In my death, The Hunger Lives On.
My death grips every Dog—their teeth gnash, their howls cast fear like a curse across the hills and into the cities.
You are not prepared for these teeth.
Your wicked friends and arrogant families, your well-trained soldiers, cower when one of this Pack dies. The howls are ghastly. The howls never cease.
And so bring me this hard fight.
My death is unlikely, and it is never in vain.
My brothers and sisters, these eyes glowing at you from this hollow, are aware and alive.
Have my warnings not been clear?
You cannot sneak into our midst and cut our throats like sleeping, lazy house cats.
You cannot count our number; count the pine needles—soon to be soaked with blood—lying in this place, instead.
I trust you are well-trained, well-equipped. Perhaps you know my name, my habits. But you have not heard my Ethos, my immortal creed.
You know nothing.
I smell your sweat. Plant your feet. I will strike first.
Your body will rot and your voice will vanish.
But The Hunger Lives On.