Timber Pack Chronicles

©2011 robcub32@yahoo.com


All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 2


Colton sat in the back seat of the school bus staring a hole into the back of Parker's messy blond head. He wondered what it would be like to run his fingers through it, to grip it in his fists while he held him firmly and kissed him, hard and deep.

They had just won another away game, and everyone was pumped and the bus was rowdy, but it was just a buzz in Colton's consciousness. His attentions were elsewhere.

The sexy little mascot had his dick hard as a rock. The way his body moved in that wolf costume... He was clearly athletic and could dance, and there was a hint of sensuality in those movements at the same time.

Fuck, he wanted some of that!

He unconsciously licked his lips as he thought of walking up the aisle, pushing Parker onto the floor and fucking the ever-loving shit out of him. The thought made his cock jerk in his shorts.

Aware of a flash of movement, Colton refocused his eyes. Trey's hand waved in front of his face again.

Trey turned his head towards Parker, then back to Colton. "Why don't you just go get him?" he asked quietly.

Colton sighed and relaxed back in the seat. "You know why."

"Since when do you care about rules?"

"I wanna do this right. We have to both be over eighteen. I'm not gonna do anything that will fuck this up."

Colton looked back at Parker, who seemed to be playing a game on his phone.

"That old law was to keep old pervs from stealing teenage girls, claiming that they were mates. This isn't the same thing. Dude, you wait too long... You saw the way that guy from South was eyeing him up."

Colton nodded, his eyes still watching Parker. The corner of Colton's lip turned up and he growled low. Some fucking bench-warmer from the school they just massacred tried to talk to Parker in the parking lot before he got on the bus. Colton was on his way to rip the guy's limbs off when Trey called for Parker. The asshole wisely backed off and Parker obediently got on the bus.

"Besides," Trey added. "You can claim him as yours without fucking him."

Colton wanted to kick himself. He was so caught up in his out-of-control hormone surges and nightly fantasies that the thought never occurred to him that he could just date Parker.

"Thanks, man," Colton said.

"That's what I'm here for. To tell you when you're thinking with the wrong head."

Trey snickered and Colton couldn't help but laugh.

"Look at this," Jed interrupted. He held up his phone, showing a picture of someone's backside. The dude was wearing a black jockstrap and nothing else. "This boy insists he's straight, but he's sending me a picture of his ass in a jock."

Trey laughed. "That's an invitation right there."

"I know right," Jed snickered. He pulled the waistband of his shorts out and put his phone inside.

"What the hell are you doing?" Colton asked Jed.

"Trying to take a picture of my cock."

Trey looked at Jed and blinked before turning back to Colton. "There's something seriously wrong with him."

Colton and Trey laughed at their pack-mate.

Colton looked between his two friends. He had felt a strong bond between the two men as soon as he had arrived at the school.

He initially resented having to pack up and move across the country, leaving the home he grew up in. After being ousted from the Santa Fe Pack, his father had petitioned with the Alpha of the Forest View Pack, one of the largest and strongest packs in the northern US. He got a job with the sheriff's office and within days, they had left the only home Colton knew. Of course, Colton was very familiar with the reasons they had to leave, but that didn't make it any easier to swallow.

But that first day at Forest View High School changed everything. He met Trey and Jed. The pair of best friends immediately opened their circle for Colton, and the three became inseparable.

Colton was a natural leader and the other two recognized his `alphaness' as well. He quickly became the trio's ringleader.

And then he found Parker...

It was like Destiny was smiling down on Colton, offering him a life he never imagined possible. And he was going to make the most of it.

* * *

Just a couple of months into the school year and Parker was tired. Cheer practice was exhausting. He felt stupid being the only guy there and he knew that some people made fun of him behind his back. He tried not to let it bother him since most of the cheerleaders seemed to like him. He was even friendly with a few of the football jocks, though he wouldn't say that any of them were his friends. While he wouldn't call himself popular, these days he felt that he was liked by more people than just Shell.

Then there was Colton Butler.

Parker didn't know what to do about him, or what to think. He hadn't made any further moves on Parker, but the big jock was always watching. Parker would feel the hair on the back of his neck start to prickle and nearly every time he searched with his eyes, he found Colton staring at him. There was an intensity in his gaze that was a little frightening, but also exhilarating.

At first Parker loved the attention, but after two months of nothing going nowhere, it just got to be so damned frustrating. The couple of times Parker tried to approach Colton, the other man just turned and walked away before he could even get close. But still, Parker's crush-turned-infatuation never faltered.

At least that asshole Seth Forrest was laying off him. For two months, the bully and his lackeys had steered clear of him.

And now, after a four-hour bus ride, Parker was like the walking dead. Even though they had just won another away game -- their record was undefeated so far -- the adrenaline high was wearing off. Everyone else was so rowdy and keyed up, there wasn't any way he could sleep on the bus.

Like always, he ended up sitting alone and ignored by the jocks. Not that they were mean, they were just indifferent. To pass the time, he played games or listened to music on his phone.

He could hear Colton and his buddies in the very back of the bus talking and laughing loudly with the guys around them. He turned around in his seat and looked back. Colton instantly looked at him as if he knew that Parker was going to be looking. The tip of Colton's tongue swiped over his bottom lip. Parker gave him a quick, shy smile, then turned back around.

He closed his eyes and took a calming breath. Parker's dick stiffened in his pants, just like it always did when he thought of Colton. Unfortunately, he couldn't whip it out and take care of it like he would have if he was in his own bedroom. He'd take matters in hand so to speak as soon as he got home.

With a sigh, he put his headphones on and tried to get into his music.

The bus finally pulled into the school parking lot. None of the jocks let Parker out and he waited patiently while they marched through the aisle to get off the bus. Trey finally paused and let him into the aisle. Parker shot the dark man a grateful smile and hurried off the bus.

Parker stood by the curb and realized that the second bus with the girls hadn't arrived yet. He was stuck waiting for Shell to give him a ride home.

He walked over to Shell's car and dropped his bag on the ground and sat down on the pavement. He leaned back against the car and looked up at the sky and covered his mouth as he yawned. The street lamp in this section was burned out, but the sky was perfectly clear, not a cloud in sight. The crescent moon was high and bright, bathing the earth in a soft light. As everyone cleared out of the parking lot, it got quiet.

Parker's eyes started to droop shut.

"Well, what do we have here?"

Parker's eyes snapped open. He drew in a breath and jumped to his feet. Seth and TJ came around the front of the car and trapped him.

Something told him that this wasn't going to end well. He recognized that look in Seth's eyes. He was no match for one muscled meat-head, let alone two. Parker tried to make a run for it, but Seth grabbed him. He wrapped his arms around Parker's chest, pinning the smaller boy's arms against his sides.

"Let me go!" Parker shouted as he struggled uselessly against Seth's grip. The boy was impossibly strong.

"Shut the fuck up, cocksucker," Seth hissed. He looked towards TJ. "Shut him up."

"I got something right here that'll shut him up," said TJ with a smirk.

"Yeah. A hole is a hole," Seth laughed.

If he was gonna go down, Parker was at least going to go with a fight. Parker hawked and spat, hitting TJ square in the face with a wad of snot, then kneed him in the nuts as hard as he could.

TJ grabbed his balls and roared. His face turned red with rage. "You're gonna regret that," he said as he wiped his face with his hand. The huge jock hauled his fist back and Parker braced himself for the impact.

As TJ swung, Colton appeared out of nowhere. He grabbed TJ's fist midair and twisted. A snap had TJ howling in pain. He fell to the ground screaming, clutching his arm. A jagged bone stuck out of his bloody forearm.

Parker was horrified. He felt sick to his stomach from the sight and smell of TJ's blood. The bile rose in his throat and he nearly lost his dinner. He was barely aware of Colton pulling him away from Seth. Trey punched Seth with a right hook, knocking the bully hard to the ground.

"Get the fuck out of here," Trey growled, giving Seth a kick in the ass.

Seth pulled a whimpering TJ up from the ground and helped him to his feet. He glared at Colton and spat a wad of blood on the ground in front of him before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "This isn't over, Butler."

Colton was completely unaffected by Seth's words. "Are you challenging me?" he asked with a sigh that indicated he was bored with Seth.

Seth's face went red with rage. He grabbed TJ by the good arm and dragged the whimpering teen away. "You're fucking useless," Seth mumbled to the injured boy as he dragged him towards an obnoxiously large yellow Hummer SUV.

"Are you okay, Parker?"

Parker turned back to Colton. Colton had his hands on Parker's shoulders and was staring at him with an intensity that took Parker's breath.

"Are you okay?" Colton repeated, squeezing the shoulders in his meaty hands.

Parker snapped out of his shocked daze. The intensity of the situation hit him and he started to tremble. "I-I'm okay."

As Colton put his arm around his shoulders to comfort him, Parker's face became warm and his pants started to become tight. Colton's hands were hot. Parker could feel the heat through his shirt.

Colton's voice softened. "What are you doing out here by yourself?"

"I'm waiting for Shell."

"The second bus is delayed. They had a flat tire. C'mon, I'll give you a ride home."

Parker was stunned into a daze as the bigger boy walked him across the parking lot to his car. Parker had to be dreaming. There was no way in the world that Colton Butler not only had his hands on him, but he was holding him.

"Wait," Parker said as Colton opened the passenger door of his car for him.

Trey tossed Parker's stuff into the back seat and shut the door. "See ya tomorrow at the meeting, man." He cut his eyes towards Parker, then looked back at Colton and nodded.

"Thanks," Colton said. He tipped his chin up to Trey as a goodbye before Trey ran across the lot and got into his own car.

"Wait." Parker turned back to Colton, putting his hand on the jock's forearm. Something like a static shock had Parker jerking his hand away from the warm skin covered in soft hairs. "I need to tell Shell."

"Send her a text and I'll put a note on her car just in case."

Colton gently pushed Parker inside the classic midnight blue Lincoln and shut the door. The car was practically a land yacht, an older model, but obviously well cared for. It was nice and roomy with a big back seat. Parker pulled his cell phone from his pocket and tapped out a quick note to Shell.

"How's this?" Colton asked.

Parker looked up at Colton. He had scrawled on a piece of notebook paper: "Took Parker home. Colton". It was short and to the point, though the handwriting was barely legible. Colton had the penmanship of a first grader.

Parker held in a chuckle. "That's fine. Between that and the text, she should be okay."

Colton ran across the lot to put the paper on Shell's window. Parker just stared at him, still unsure if this was a dream. His phone vibrated and he looked down at the screen. `OMFG!! CALL ME ASAP!!!!!' Parker hit `close' and ignored the text.

After Colton put the note on Shell's car, he ran back towards the school. Parker watched with confusion as Colton stood against the wall outside the gym's side door. His hands were in front of him and his feet were shoulder width apart. Surely he wasn't taking a leak against the school wall...

Parker's phone vibrated again. `HELLO?! HOOKER, CALL ME!'

Ugh. Parker tapped the `close' button again to clear the message.

After taking what seemed to Parker to be the longest piss in history, Colton jogged back to the car. Parker was drawn to the bulge in the crotch of his loose shorts that flopped back and forth between his thighs.

As Colton slid into the driver's seat, Parker shut his phone off and shoved it into his pocket. He was pretty sure he was blushing after checking out Colton's package. The smell of Colton's body odor intensified in the small space. Parker was having trouble breathing. He drew in a deep breath and shuddered.

"Are you cold?" Colton asked.

"No, I'm okay."

Colton turned in his seat and reached into the back. He unzipped his gym bag and pulled out a flannel shirt. "Put this on," he said as he handed the shirt to Parker.

Parker wondered if it was clean since it came out of Colton's gym bag. He gave the shirt a quick sniff. After inhaling the exhilarating smell, he decided he didn't give a shit if it was clean or not. He slid it on over each of his arms. He was swimming in the shirt, but it was warm and it smelled like Colton. He rolled up the sleeves and buttoned it up. He turned and gave Colton a smile.

Colton stared intently at Parker and wet his lips. The look in Colton's eyes was so intense it made Parker drop his gaze and look away. He was aware of Colton staring a few moments longer before finally turning to start his car.

* * *

Parker's nerves were so bad on the drive to his house, he thought he might actually throw up. His palms were sweating and his mouth was bone dry. He rubbed his hands on his shorts and concentrated on breathing normally.

When the car stopped, Parker looked out the window and saw that Colton had pulled the car into Parker's driveway. How the heck did they get here? Parker didn't even remember giving Colton directions.

Colton put the car into park and turned off the headlights.

Parker blinked and turned to Colton. "How'd you know where I lived?" he asked.

Colton just smiled.

Parker unbuckled his seat belt. "Thanks for the ride home. And for, you know, what you did back there. I really appreciate it. So... um... I guess I will see you later. At school, I mean."

Colton just stared at Parker, who found that he couldn't look away. Colton's hand grabbed the back of Parker's neck. He pulled Parker forward as he slammed his mouth against the smaller man's.

Parker moaned and returned Colton's kiss. He put his hands on Colton's chest. The rock-hard muscles were warm to the touch, even through Colton's t-shirt. Colton's other arm moved around Parker, pulling him close in an iron grip.

Colton's tongue pushed between Parker's lips, demanding entrance into Parker's mouth. Parker had no choice but to open for him, allowing Colton to explore and taste him as he desired. Parker had never been kissed like this before. Colton took without asking and Parker realized that he liked it. No, he loved it.

Colton broke the kiss and moved his lips below Parker's ear. Parker let his head fall back and roll to the side, exposing his neck to Colton.

Colton made a noise that sounded like a growl. The deep vibrations sent a shudder throughout Parker's body. His dick ached so bad. He was perilously close to shooting in his pants.

Colton kissed Parker's exposed neck, chewing and sucking at the soft skin at the base of his neck, where it met his collarbone. Colton's goatee and mustache were rubbing against his skin, sending prickles of pleasure down Parker's spine, straight to his dick.

"Colton." Parker moaned wantonly, trying to pull the big jock closer. He knew that he would have a mark where Colton was working him, but he didn't want him to stop. If Colton kept it up, he would make Parker come.

Parker's hand drifted down Colton's chest. Jesus, his muscles were hard as granite. His abs were like a washboard. His fingers trailed down Colton's front until they rubbed against the elastic waistband of Colton's shorts.

Colton groaned, and again it sounded like a deep rumble in his chest. His eyes glowed amber for a split second, obviously reflected from the light from the car's radio and dashboard.

He suddenly pulled away, leaving Parker confused and wanting.

Colton sat back in his seat with his eyes closed. His breathing was hard and ragged. When he finally opened his eyes and looked towards him, Parker drew in a sharp breath. No one had ever looked at him like that before. Those dark eyes looked at him like he was prey, ready to be devoured.

"You need to go," Colton said quietly, his voice a deep rumble.

Parker nodded, suddenly feeling very insecure. He reached for the door handle, but turned back. He had to take a chance. It might be the only one he got. "Um.... Shell is having a party for me next Saturday. For my eighteenth birthday. Um... If you want to come..."

"She already invited me and I already accepted. I'll definitely be there, pup." He reached up and rubbed a finger along Parker's jaw. "I'll see you Monday morning."

"Okay." Parker was stunned as he opened the door. "Wait. What's Monday morning?"

"I'm gonna pick you up for school."

"You are?"

"Yup. You're my responsibility. Mine to take care of. Make no mistake, Parker. You are mine."

Parker's head began to swim. No way all that just happened. Colton leaned forward and kissed Parker again, hard and passionately.

When Colton pulled back, he rubbed his thumb along Parker's bottom lip and Parker closed his eyes. "Your lips are swollen." The thumb slid across Parker's chin. "Your chin is red. Did my whiskers burn you too bad?"

"No," Parker said. "I liked it."

Colton smirked. "I'll see you on Monday."

After Colton pulled away, Parker slowly opened his eyes. "Okay," he said with a breathless sigh. "Oh, let me give you your shirt back," he said as he started unbuttoning the soft flannel.

Colton grabbed his hand. "No. It's chilly. Keep it."

"Okay. I'll give it back next time I see you."

"No rush."

Parker reached in the back seat and grabbed his bag. Before he shut the door, he looked back at Colton. "Goodnight, Colton."

"`Night, Parker."


He shut the door and waved at Colton. Colton waited in the driveway until Parker unlocked the door and went inside his house.

Parker watched through the window as Colton pulled out of the driveway. He stayed there until the taillights of Colton's Lincoln could no longer be seen.

* * *

After pulling into the garage, Colton walked straight through the house and out into the back yard. He was too keyed up to go to bed.

It wouldn't be long now. Just another week and then Parker would truly be his.

He nearly lost control twice tonight. Once when Seth had the gall to attack his boy. Good thing Trey was there to step in or he might have shifted and ripped the asshole's throat out.

He almost lost control again when he was kissing Parker. Fuck, that mouth of his was so damned good. His lips were so soft. And the way he submitted to him, letting him play bite him and mark his neck.... Parker had no idea what that did to him.

And Parker wore his shirt, unknowingly bathing himself in the wolf's scent. He would have to make sure Parker had more of his clothes. He should have done it sooner. The smell would keep the others away from what was his.

Parker was his. His to protect, his to provide for, his to fuck, his to love.

Colton shook his head, trying to clear the lusty thoughts.

A run would help him clear his mind.

He stripped off his clothes and tossed them onto the picnic table. He ignored the hard length dripping between his legs, aching for release. He would save that for his mate.

Colton closed his eyes and dropped to all fours. He felt the tell-tale tingling across his skin and then that brief burst of delicious pain as his bones and muscles snapped and reconfigured.

The big black wolf opened his eyes and tore off into the woods.

* * *

"O.M.G! Tell me what happened!" Shell exclaimed as she flopped down onto Parker's bed. She rolled onto her stomach and propped her chin on her hands.

Parker put in the mix CD that Shell brought over and then sat down on his bed, crossing his legs, Indian style. "Nothing, really."


Parker couldn't help but blush a little bit. "Okay... Seth and TJ started messing with me. I mean, they were going to kick my ass or worse. Next thing I knew, Trey and Colton appeared out of nowhere. Colton twisted TJ's arm and snapped it. I mean, he literally snapped it. Broken bones sticking out, blood and everything. So gross. Trey punched Seth and gave him a fat lip. I've never been so scared in my life."

"Holy shit!"

"I know right! I swear my life flashed before my eyes."

Shell rolled her eyes. "Girl, you are so damn dramatic."

"Don't call me `girl'."

"So get to the good part already. Girl."

"That was the good part."

"Boy, I'm gonna slap the shit out of you. What happened after Colton drove you home?"

Parker's eyes flicked to the bedpost of his headboard where Colton's blue flannel shirt hung. He had slept with it under his pillow last night, holding it so that he could smell it. God, he was pathetic. He turned his eyes back to Shell and tried to shrug and be casual. "He took me home. We sat in the car for a little bit. He said he'd see me Monday to pick me up for school and that he was coming to my birthday party."

"Oh my god."

"I know." Parker let out a little giggle. He clapped a hand over his mouth, embarrassed at having made the girly sound.

"Parker's got a boyfriend," Shell said in a sing-songy voice. "Parker's got a--" She suddenly sat up on her knees, face completely serious. She pointed her index finger at Parker. "Okay, hold up. You said you guys sat in the car for a little bit." One eyebrow went up and she twirled her index finger at Parker.

Parker rolled his eyes. "You don't miss a thing, do you?"

"Hell, no! I want details, boy. So, is he a good kisser? Is he packing or what?" she asked. She held her index fingers together and then slowly spread them apart a few inches. "Here?" When Parker didn't say anything, her eyebrows shot up and she moved her fingers wider apart. "Here?"

"Oh my god!" Parker exclaimed, slapping at her hands. "Stop being so nasty. We just kissed is all," Parker muttered, his face going completely red. He subconsciously rubbed the base of his neck, where Colton had marked him.

Shell gasped and jerked at Parker's shirt collar, exposing the huge hickey there. "You are a first class hussy!"

Parker deadpanned, "Not yet, but I'm gonna be very soon."

They both started to laugh uncontrollably and flopped down onto the bed in a fit of giggles.

Once they stopped laughing, Shell lowered her voice to a whisper. "So, you have protection right?"

Parker furrowed his brows. "He's just picking me up for school. I don't think we'll be needing that."

She didn't look convinced. "Mm-hmm."

"Okay, well give me one just in case," he said, holding out his hand.

Shell slapped Parker's hand away. "Boy, you think I'm some kind of ho who carries condoms around in her pocket?"

"Ow. You're the one who brought it up. Whatever. Anyway, I don't think I'm really into, you know, the butt sex."

Shell reached out and clasped Parker's hand, her voice dead serious. "Please, I beg you to never say `butt sex' ever again. Especially to Colton. You must promise me this."

Parker yanked his hand away. "Remind me again why I like you?"

Shell grinned. "You know you love me, boo. Now, more importantly: what are you going to wear on Monday?"

* * *

Colton arrived with his father to the Alpha's home.

People were mingling around the back yard. The smell of the meat on the barbecue grills permeated the air.

Colton normally would be fixing a plate and mingling. But today his mind was elsewhere: on his boy. He wondered what Parker was doing. If he didn't have the weekly pack meeting, he would have called Parker and found a way to spend the day with him. Sure, he had an image to maintain as an aloof alpha dog -- pun intended -- but the fact was that he was tired of waiting. He didn't have time for these bullshit games the other high school kids liked to play.

The Alpha's mini-mansion was set on a multi-acre plot of land at the edge of the forest just outside the city. The back yard was plenty big enough for the pack gatherings, and with the forest right there, running and hunting was always allowed and encouraged after the meeting.

There were nearly a hundred wolves in the Forest View Pack and most of them had already arrived.

"Deputy Butler," one of the women greeted Colton's father with a smile. "It's nice to see you again."

"Now, didn't I tell you to call me Carlton?" he replied with a charming smile.

Colton didn't have the stomach to watch his dad try to flirt. He scanned the crowd until he found Jed. His friend was with his parents, his sister and his hundred brothers. Okay, so there were only four other brothers, but damn, six kids was way too many.

Jed's dad stood out in the crowd, standing a head taller than the people around him. He was one of the pack enforcers. He kept the other wolves in line, plus acted as a bodyguard; he was fiercely loyal and always had the Alpha's back.

Jed inherited the same mentality as his dad. In a way, Colton was the alpha of their small group and Jed naturally fell in line as his enforcer.

In the same manner, Trey was like his beta. He was his most trusted advisor. He never failed to back Colton up, but he also gave Colton advice when he thought it was needed.

They were like a mini pack inside the big pack. The only thing missing was Colton's mate. But Colton had let his intentions be known. Parker belonged to him and now his pup knew it. And soon everyone else would know it.

Jed nodded at Colton and Colton made his way over, joined by Trey.

Trey and Colton tapped fists, then did the same with Jed.

Colton spotted Seth talking with a couple of his goons. Seth looked back and engaged in a staring contest. Colton sneered. He didn't even care that the Alpha was starting the meeting. He kept his eyes on Seth, not blinking even once. After a few long, intense moments, Seth finally backed down and looked away.

Like always.


With a satisfied grin on his face, Colton turned his attentions to the Alpha while he gave his weekly update. He even managed to keep his mind on what the leader was saying instead of Parker.

Once Alpha finished, Jed and Trey followed Colton to grab a plateful of food. After they had their fill, Colton decided he needed to relax and, other than getting laid, there was one foolproof way of doing that.

"C'mon. Let's run."

The trio walked over to the treeline and stripped off their clothes.

Colton watched the big brown wolf and the massive auburn-brown wolf playfully nip at each other, then wrestle around on the ground.

He let out a low growl and nodded his head. The other two quickly snapped to attention, their eyes on the black wolf, ears twitching, waiting for instruction.

Colton turned and took off into the woods. The other two took chase, flanking him as usual, as they ran at top speed. The razor sharp claws on his huge paws dug into the earth, propelling him deeper into the woods.

Colton breathed in the forest air, crisp and fresh. The distant scent of prey wafted across his snout and he turned direction. Jed and Trey turned with him, perfectly in tune with their leader.

Jed and Trey boxed in the small buck and Colton made the kill. He snapped the deer's neck with his jaws, making the kill quick and painless for the animal.

The trio of wolves gnawed on the deer until they were stuffed.

Colton closed his eyes and breathed in deep. He felt free, at one with nature. He felt powerful.

He looked at his pack-mates, his brothers, and felt a sense of belonging he never felt with his old pack. Yes, this was exactly where he belonged. And once he had Parker by his side, he would only grow stronger and more powerful.

Life was good.

Colton tilted back his head and let out a howl. His brothers joined in and the sounds of their celebration of life echoed through the forest.