It was early in the morning, the light from the rising sun was just appearing. Mercer, the Spanish Wolf, was frozen in his stance, staring sternly into the distance. He was unflinchingly focused. Showing no emotion, he deeply scanned his entire horizon. Mercer had heard a twig snap behind him. After not seeing a hint of anything he ducked under a bush and carefully stalked his own tracks.
In Spain, the wolves are not as you would picture them. Mercer is a brown wolf, with all different shades of light and dark waving and fading through his coat of fur. His eyes are small but fierce. His face is wide and impressionable. His snout is rather short. His ears are rigid and keen. Mercer's glare is impenetrable. And most importantly, Mercer's stance, like every other Spanish Wolf, is full of pride.
Mercer was certain something was following him. His heart was pounding. This was not like the battle he had partaken in a couple of weeks ago, he was alone. After the battle, Mercer was assigned to Pamplona on scouting duty. This meant he had to perform long rounds throughout the city's outer limits, all on his own.
Pamplona was a very crucial city to the war. It was one of the cities closest to the Northern border. Mercer's path was getting dangerously close to the neutral zone. And he was fully aware of that fact. His mission was to cover the grid in between Pamplona and the neutral zone. Mercer was already a week into his assignment, and so far he had experienced not a single interaction with anything besides jack rabbits and lost sheep. But to him...they were merely just lunch and dinner.
The terrain was mostly dry. Some clusters of trees and bushes, mixed with winding dirt trails, were the only other areas in which Mercer walked through besides the thick forest. Right now, he was hiding within a short spurt of dry jungle, in the fear that he was not alone. Turned around, both cautiously and silently, Mercer watched, in a prone position, for the catalyst of the twig-snapping to reveal itself. He was truly conflicted, not knowing whether he wanted a confrontation or not.
Mercer caught the sight of a young fox, no older than himself, sniffing his trail, and slowly walking past Mercer hiding in the bush. Mercer's fangs began to drool again. His excitement erupting within him, and raging throughout his body. He could feel his quick pulse pounding all over his skin. His paws were shaking. His eyes...blurring and refocusing at the thought of the upcoming fight. Mercer locks his legs and pulls his body back. He slingshots himself out of the bush and knocks the fox over to its side. The fox quickly turns over and ensnares Mercer. They tussle and wrestle on the ground, back and forth, when Mercer finds himself submitting to the fox's strength. The fox is holding Mercer down with the collective weight of his body, concentrated on Mercer's back. The fox lifts his head preparing to bite down on the back of Mercer's neck; a death stroke. Mercer gathers his strength and pushes up with his legs. The fox moves his weight, at the sudden lift and unbalance, to Mercer's lower back. The pressure from the shift puts an unbearable amount of strain on Mercer's hind-legs.
His ankle buckles from all the stress coursing through his leg. The young wolf falls back to the floor and passes out from the excruciating pain.
When Mercer came to, he was more surprised than anything; surprised that he was not dead. And after his disbelief faded, the pain from his leg surged back throughout his body. He tried to stand, but collapsed before he could even position his legs underneath him. Mercer could not walk, his leg was broken. He looked down and saw dirty blood-stained bandages wrapping his leg, from his knee to his ankle. He must have been found and saved by his kin, Mercer thought. But his thoughts betrayed him, the fox that he tried to kill, had spared his life and nursed his wound back to help. But Mercer would never know of the Fox's mercy. And although merciful, the fox had not done a very good job dressing his wound. The broken bone in Mercer's leg was improperly set. When he removed the bandages, he saw a small splintered bone from his ankle protruding out of his fur. The off-white ivory piece was both painful to feel and look at. Who knows how much time had gone by. Who knows where Mercer was. Who knows if he could get back home. And worst of all, his leg was so bad, Mercer could barely stand, let alone walk. His future was bleak. He was overwhelmed by all the thoughts and anxieties running through his head. 'How will I eat? How can I defend himself? How will I find my way?'
"Find the strength to stand in your suffering, and you shall find your way."
"Whose there!?" yelled out Mercer, now very startled and confused. The voice felt very welcoming and warmed his heart, but what could it be? And how did it know what he was thinking? Mercer was getting tired of all of these unanswered questions. So he tried to follow the directions of the only question that was answered. He mustered the courage to endure the fiery pain coursing through his body, spawning from his ankle, and pushed up on his other three legs. He kept his broken leg lifted up off the ground. And slowly rose to his feet. He did it! He was standing. He had pulled through the pain, and found his inner strength. All thanks to those kind helpful words. He turned around to meet this stranger with such inspiring advice. When he set his eyes upon the stranger it was nothing Mercer had ever seen before. An animal somewhat like him, four-legged, but much bigger. His face was round and so was his ears. His shoulders were wide and heavy-set. He had no tail, and big thick claws. But most notable of all his characteristics was his bright white fur, so splendidly clean that it looked as if every follicle of hair was capturing and reciprocating the radiance of the sun."What...are...you?" staggered Mercer.
"I am Urnasus, the Great White Bear."
"How did you find me?"
"Correction, but I do believe that you found me."
"I don't understand..."
"Come now, It is time to get you home."
Mercer could not think of anything else to say. The prospect of going home was far too good to pass up. And he was done with questions. This was a chapter of his life that he might never be able to explain, but for right now...he was okay with that. Urnasus knelt down and rubbed his paw on Mercer's ankle. With one gentle wipe of his white furry mitt, the protruding bone had vanished and reset, and the pain was no more. Together, the two new friends walked into the setting sun, and for Mercer, some odd feeling was born in his heart that would change his life forever.