The wolves' eyes shone like torches in the darkness. Their snarls and snapping jaws were harmless to me as their claws raked the bark on the trees.
Most of the pack were consumed by their rage, endlessly attempting to leap into the air and drag me down from the trees. Only the alpha possessed some wisdom.
Helplessness swam beneath the fury in his eyes.
Relying on projectiles I had wounded several of his pack. Their glimmering eyes were like beacons in the darkness, calling out to the sharp stones I had hidden in the trees.
With my immense strength, the ordinary rocks became like missiles in my hands.
Under the commands of the alpha the pack stuck tightly together, not allowing me to pick off any lone members. Even so the losses I had caused would have crippled a smaller pack.
The alpha was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he chose to withdraw with his pack their losses would be for nothing. On the other hand if he chose to stay the situation would only worsen.
Even against the mighty king of the forest I doubted the alpha had felt so powerless.
During the course of the entanglement I had realised several flaws in my strategy. The most glaring mistake was my decision to take on the whole pack; had I instead attacked a lone wolf on patrol I would have already earned my first kill. Without the support of the pack, even the superior alpha would be placed in a desperate situation.
In the darkness I picked out a new target. It was a large wolf, only inferior to the alpha. Unfortunately this time it's large size only made it a bigger target.
Countless squirrels had met their demise at my hands and become kindling to the red flame. In the past few days I had faintly sensed the red flame's hunger for higher quality prey.
Inexplicably I knew that the soul of a wolf would bring about a change in the red flame. Squirrels and small birds had sacrificed themselves to the flame, strengthening it's light, but now something more was needed.
Frustration built up within me. The stones I had hidden in the trees were almost gone. My muscles ached from the intensity of combat and my patience were stretched thin.
The style of battle I had chosen completely favoured the wolf pack. They were helpless to drag me from the trees but at the same time I was unable to deal a fatal blow from such distance.
The limping wolves, several still bleeding from empty eye sockets, were unable to satisfy my anger.
Hurtling through the air the stone span with strangely hypnotic motions. Time seemed to slow as I watched it travel it's course. Emboldened and reckless with rage I had put all of my remaining strength into the throw.
The air was split apart by the stone's speed, producing a sharp whistling noise that the alpha immediately picked up.
Raising his head to the skies the alpha released an urgent howl, calling for the pack to withdraw.
His warning came too late.
In an entrancing display of violence the stone perfectly sunk into the eye of the large wolf. Then, as if it's strings had been cut by a cruel puppeteer, it collapsed silently to the frozen earth.
The alpha cried out sorrowfully once more but the pack did not attempt to retrieve the body of the fallen wolf.
At last fatigue arrived and washed away the last of my bloodlust. Regardless it could not suppresses my whooping cries of victory that shook the treetops.
Looking across the whole forest from the crown of an old oak I beat my chest and watched the wolves flee back to their dens.
Some time later my excitement finally faded and I wanted nothing more than to sleep until the soreness left my muscles.
The journey back to my den was long and exhausting. Chimpanzees, although wielding tremendous strength, didn't share the exceptional stamina of their human cousins.
Long ago humans had relied upon their unyielding endurance and fast running speed to hunt prey many miles from their homes. The other branches of primate all evolved to instead rely upon the natural wealth of their surroundings. Fauna and plant life were abundant in the jungle and chimps had no problem filling their bellies.
'So why am I stuck in the freezing cold!' I cursed in my head.
An hour after the battle had finished I finally arrived at my home. Pushing the icy vines aside I sealed the entrance with several large rocks and collapsed against the walls of the cave.
In several places my fur was torn or stained with blood. Due to my inexperience I had received several swipes from sharp claws before learning my lesson.
The most prominent wound was a long claw mark on my chest, given to me by the alpha.
Underestimating a wolf's cunning I had been caught by surprise when he suddenly leapt almost twice as high as he has previously demonstrated.
The warm blood that seeped from my chest was the price for my foolishness.
'You'd better have something good for me!' I thought through gritted teeth.
Focusing my attention on the flame within my subconscious I explored the changes that had taken place.
Immediately I noticed that the red flame had almost doubled in size. It also gave off a subtle feeling of being about to burst. Evidently the wolf's soul had satisfied it's hunger.
Suddenly the flame soared higher and it's light became almost blinding. At the same time several pieces of information were transmitted to me.
[ Fusion with a new race may now commence. ]
[ Races available: wolf, sparrow, raven, squirrel, spider... ]
Amidst my shock the flame transmitted some new information.
[ Comparability with dissimilar species may lead to inherent flaws. The most compatible species are: wolf and squirrel. ]
The terror of the wolves' claws was still fresh in my mind from the violent battle. Between a skilled hunter and a nut-gathering rodent the choice was simple.
'I chose wolf.'
[ The race of wolf has been chosen. Due to the influence of a unique energy some unknown mutations may occur. ]
Sleepiness flooded forth like a wave. In the brief moments of my resistance I wondered upon the puzzle piece that had just been revealed to me. Despite the ordinary forest I inhabited I had always felt in the back of my mind that something more lay out there.
'Once I wake, I will journey beyond this place. From the traces I have found, humans certainly exist in this world too. I wonder what they will think of a creature like me.'
Then my consciousness was overcome by darkness and I drifted off to sleep.