The Hunter

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Chapter 40 ~ This Is War

...Ulric’s P.O.V...

Dalilah.

It wasn’t Ryder, my beautiful, sweet, delectable, amazing mate Ryder - it was Dalilah and boy did Gage looked pissed, but who the fuck cared about him? Not me.

Dalilah drops to the floor in tears, she had betrayed her mates, she had gone behind their backs out of ownership and jealousy, she had signed the contract and Ryder had convinced her that was the better outcome and I - I was ECSTATIC.

There stood my masterful ingenious Ryder with a blade pressed firmly against the Kings throat, a single droplet of blood made its way down his neck. She had shot the Queen directly in the temple and the look on his face was murderous. Our woman had not betrayed us, my heart was elated, every broken and shattered piece magically fixed itself and every doubt flew straight out of my mind.

My father and his allies surrounded the mass of hyped up Hunters, every escape route was blocked by shifted wolves and supernatural creatures, all except the Vampires.

...I’M SORRY I LIED TO YOU SON. RYDER HAS BEEN WITH US FOR THE LAST FORTY-FIVE MINUTES…

...WHAT?... I was beyond surprised.

...WE HAD TO KEEP UP THE RUSE, TO GET HER AS CLOSE TO THE KING AND QUEEN AS POSSIBLE. HE WAS SO FOCUSED ON YOU, HE DIDN’T SEE HER COMING…

...I DON’T CARE, SHE DIDN’T SIGN, SHE’S STILL MINE…

...SHE WILL BE AN INCREDIBLE LUNA, NOW LET’S GET THESE ASSHOLE’S…

Snarls, gnashing canines and angry growls broke the stagnant and shocked air as all Hunter eyes were locked on Ryder. I made my way slowly towards my Rocky, ready to fight, Jason and Roland at my flank.

“This is how this is going to work...” her voice rang out, strong and fearless with a hint of danger in her tone. “You will surrender or you will die, just like this pig!”

“You are a fool Vega, whether or not I die, the plans still go ahead. Gage is King now and it is his duty to proceed if I fall and your mongrel bodyguard, he will still perish.” King Elderon spat back with ferocity.

“You are mistaken King Pindick, he is my Alpha mate and I will not stop him from shredding you to pieces,” she pressed the knife closer into his neck.

“Now!” The King yells but without hesitation, Ryder runs her blade across his neck, slicing his throat and causing us, Avron and his pack members to shift. Gage leapt into action, drawing his weapons as Avron jumped in front of Dalilah out of instinct. Despite her deceitful behaviour, his primal instinct was to protect his mate. Avron’s pure grey wolf stood as tall as mine and was just as swift and agile.

Ryder plunged her hand in the king’s open gash, ripping his throat out completely. She knew that not even the bloodline Vamp blood, coursing through his system, could grow that back.

By now the throne room had erupted into pure chaos, the Hunters had hurled themselves into confrontation, negotiations had failed and these Hunters were on the edge with their ingestions. The wolves knew that shredding a human would be different than vanquishing a Vampire, there would be actual blood and that blood would cause a type of frenzy in our primitive animals, what waivered on the line was more important than risking a primeval beast bloodlust.

Everyone was in full battle mode, whimpering, and howling would echo through all the wolves’ sensitive ears when they were struck, causing our temper’s to raise higher - they were hurting our kin.

The Hunters were stronger than we anticipated, with the Vamp blood raging through their bodies, we were struggling to hold them off. I turned to Avron’s wolf, he tilted his large head to the sky and bellowed a low guttural vibration, almost like he was calling forth the dead but it was not the dead that flooded the throne room - no - it was a wave of homicidal barbaric wolves. This must be his kingdom allies. With them came more supernatural beings, warlocks, faeries, elves, druids, three Centaurs - I had never seen a centaur before and they were magnificent, witches and Gelflings. They all leapt into the centre, holding absolutely nothing back.

Arrow and Ryder were back to back battling two Hunters each, the sheer fluidity of their movements was breathtaking as they fought in sync, going toe to toe, blade to blade with extra powerful fighters. In all my distraction, I never saw the sneaky bastard creeping up behind me until he had lodged his sword directly into my hind leg.

I bawled in pain, then growled menacingly as my jaws reached around and latched onto his arm, ripping it right out of its socket. The horrified and maltreated look upon his face spread unconventional pleasure, twisting its way through my system like euphoric lust. I wanted to hurt him, see all his kind suffer and I did. I killed him without a second thought.

The wolves were thirsty, the drive for retribution was apocalyptic and just like ecstasy, the yearn was addicting. We were, after all, animals thriving off primal instinct, allowing our true selves to take over in the need to protect what belonged to us.

The Hunters weren’t holding back, the training they had undergone and the blood that travelled through them allowed them to mimic the bloodline Vampire, strong and skilled. I looked around, close to a thousand wolves had fallen so far, may be matched with the Hunters - we needed the next wave.

We needed the Vampires.

Just as I thought it, Dimitri came out of nowhere and slammed his fist down into the face of a Hunter, mere inches from me, the blades fell from the Hunters hands - he, Dimitri, my mortal enemy, had saved my life.

“Focus...” he growled, “she needs you.”

I nodded in thanks and he sprinted off. The next wave had arrived, near on three hundred Vampires flooded the throne room with fangs bared and ready to maim.

These Hunters were the very people responsible for so many innocent deaths of our kind, they decimated supernatural beings for sport, for amusement, to rape, to skin, to bleed, to enslave and to sell. These are the deplorable souls that deserved to be removed for the earth - these ‘humans’.

I didn’t know much about the other realms as we mostly stuck to our own kind but as we fought alongside each other, we fought for the same reason.

I chomped down ferociously on body part after putrid body part, adrenalin running rife, pumping my heart, filling my lungs. I shifted mid-leap, thrusting my clawed hand straight through a Hunter’s chest and ripping out his heart before shifting back and carrying on to the next victim.

My wolf was in a type of deranged hysteria, the red liquid that dripped from my canines and splashed the floor called to the most fundamental parts of my primitive wolf, the pure beast that always lurked below the skin, the monster that belonged in the wild forest, he was prowling, ready to pounce.

I watched as a bastard fired off, round after round, heading straight for my mate but before I could react, Dalilah grasps Ryder by the wrist and spins her around, releasing three almost inconspicuous blades directly at the gunman, two landing in each eye the third in his jugular, dropping him immediately. They both worked in unison as if they were one, hurtling bullet after bullet, the majority of the fired galvanised steel embedding directly into the Hunters skulls.

I made my way to her side just as Avron bounded his way towards Dalilah, she gripped his fur and swung her legs over his back, it was only now I noticed she wore nothing but lingerie with blades strapped to her body.

“Thank you, my friend,” Ryder panted, despite the chaos still exploding around us.

“Anytime,” Dalilah replied.

“I’m sorry for getting you in trouble with Gage,” Dalilah laughed at her.

“You let me worry about that mate of mine, he shouldn’t have done what he did.” Ryder smiled and nodded, Avron let out a curt bark and took off.

I pushed my large head into Ryder’s hand just as a spear flew into her exposed arm, she screamed in pain, reefing it from her flesh and snapping it over her knee. I snarled, pushing through my hind legs, baring my canines, I opened wide, chomping down on his face, ripping it clean away from the skull. It was violent and sadistic and well deserved, that wanker had attempted to take the life of my Rocky.

The Vampires were experiencing the same primal bloodlust as us wolves, some had even taken too draining the Hunters of every last red drop. The way they moved, feasting on flesh, massacring Hunter after Hunter - I had seen it before but nothing like this. Their denial of life force - human blood - had lured them into a predatorial need for destruction. So much for ‘they only drink from animals’, this was their true nature.

Ryder screamed from beside me and I snapped in the direction she was looking, I watched on in shock as Arrow’s entire form slumped, a woman retracted her fangs from his neck.

In the midst of the battle, Arrow had been claimed by this mystery Vampiress and she sported the widest grin as he fell to mush at her feet. Ryder charged forward gearing for murder, I shifted throwing my arms around her to hold her back.

“Arrow’s been claimed, if you kill her, you kill him,” I rushed out.

“No!” She screamed in horror, “no!”

Her cries of pain and turmoil tore my soul, she was hurting and there was nothing I could do. The mystery woman collected Arrow from the ground and whispered out towards us. “He is my beloved, I will take care of him.” It was a promise sent on the open air, heading for our ears only.

“You,” she cursed the woman, “I will spend my life hunting you.” Ryder’s words dripped with venom, her vow to seek vengeance for the lost brother written upon her heart.

A large horde of unknown Vampires flooded in, surrounding the battle zone with blazing eyes of fury. One hideous master Vamp stood atop a pile of dead bodies. His chest bare, his physique perfection - he adorned super tight, tanned leather pants accentuating his long flowy black hair and bright red demonic eyes, his unusual penetrative aura demanded attention.

“STOP!” His deep, otherworldly order boomed out like a sonic wave, yielding all the Hunters immobile and they fell to their knees. “You are all now under my control, you stole my life essence for your own personal pleasure, you now belong to me - as my slaves.” The gleam in his eye dared any of us to question him, but we didn’t, we could barely move out of pure traumatisation.

“I never knew you could do that?” Gage stepped forward, covered in the vile blood of his slain race, this was the first time I had noticed him at all.

“Are you the descendant of the thief?” His voice boomed again, even I shuddered, he pulsated with untold power, an original - the first in his bloodline and one hell of a scary motherfucker.

“Unfortunately, don’t mistake his arrogance for mine.” Gage spat through gritted teeth.

“You did not ingest my blood?” The Vamp asked curiously.

“That is not the future I wish to endure, my Vampiric allies would not work with me had I been a traitor.”

“You seem smarter than your heritage... which is why I will allow you to live.”

“Who are you and how did my parents get your blood?” Gage pushed.

“To answer the latter of your questions, I was betrayed by a coven member and as I slept, my life force was extracted then sold to the highest bidder - that particular member died a gruesome death.”

“And as for who you are?”

“In the hope of a more peaceful world, my name is Cornelius Ephraim Willoughby…”

“Raim,” Gage whistles as he pushes air through his teeth.

“Yes, Raim, I am the Original. After centuries of watching all creatures, I have become accustomed to only stepping in when necessary but imagine my joy at finding out there is an entire clan of Hunters under my control due to their addiction to blood consumption. Only originals have the ability to control who ingested, happiness for me, now my coven will enjoy Hunter blood at their leisurely pleasure,” he sneered with glee, which sent chills down my spine. Something told me this was not the last time we would cross paths with this dangerous Vampire.

“What do you require of us? I assume that our lives come at a price,” Gage snapped back.

“You assume correctly,” he clapped menacingly. “Payment is not required at this time but, I will be calling on you in the future. You may continue this ruse of a false kingdom - it seems to instil false certainty within the human race - but we will speak again… Gage Mikahil Landerson.” He whistled, his coven rounded up the zombified Hunters and lead them through the main doors, out into the darkness of the night.

Just as quickly as he came, he was gone and we all stood there gobsmacked by today’s insane events. Yesterday we were all together, we were strong, we had our plan - today - today we sat scattered and shambled.

“Arrow...” Rocky ran into my arms with tears in her eyes.

“He’s gone Ryder, Vampire claiming’s are a lot more territorial than werewolf ones,” Gage remarked.

“He can’t be gone, he’s my brother and what about his unit?” She whipped her head around in my arms and glowered in Gage’s direction as if it were all his fault she had lost her brother.

“Don’t give me that look, how could I have foreseen this outcome?” He warned. “Let’s talk about how you betrayed me? You and Dalilah,” he threw his blades onto the floor as Avron released a low warning snarl. “Not now my love,” he waved his hand dismissively, to which Avron responded by grabbing Dalilah and walking her out of the room. “Shit,” Gage cursed and stormed off in the other direction.

“I need stats, Clay?” Without hesitation, Claire stepped forward and began.

“All accounted for, however, we lost a few wolves.”

“Mi Amore?” Dimitri’s voice rang out, pulling everyone from their thoughts. “We could go looking forrr him? If you wanted?” He stood tall and strong with his coven at his back.

“You will always have a home with us Dimitri,” Alpha Leon stated.

“Thank you, Alpha, Luna - but it’s time to let go and move on,” Dim’s eyes fell to the floor.

“Turns out Dimitri needed to take his position back, I wasn’t very good,” Valentino interjected sheepishly as crimson flushed her cheeks.

“Dim?” Ryder exhaled sharply, “I will miss you.”

“I will miss you, Mi Amore, but I have to make up forrr my mistakes, what I did was wrrrong, I’m going to go afterrr your brrrother and then maybe, in some way, it can squarrre up my debt to you.”

“You owe me nothing Dim, I’m not the innocent party in all of this,” she slumped to the floor and pulled her knees to her chest.

“Let me do this forrr you, all the Hunters have been capturrred, we can move frrreely now.” He knelt down beside her and held her hands in his, “we need to find a life outside of just surviving.”

“I did love you, in my own way, just not how you wanted,” she stared deeply into his eyes.

“I know.” He chastely kissed her cheek before he and his entire coven left.

“Well, time to go home then, I think.” Mum clasped her hands together and began to organise the pack.

“Let us rest first and head home together… tomorrow,” I offered.

“You’re right son,” Dad gripped my shoulder, “we all need clothes anyway, can’t go round giving everyone shocks with our nakedness,” he laughed.

It was now that we all looked around at each other and laughed, Harcheros came running up behind us.

“Not that I’m complaining, you she-wolves look sexy as hell, but Gage has organised rooms and clothing for you all in the south wing. Ryder, your presence is requested in the west suites - alone.” He made sure to state the ‘alone’ part clearly. This Vampire may have fought on our side but to me, he was far from trustworthy.

Ryder raised her hand to my chest as I crouched around her, “I will be with you soon,” she smiled sweetly, standing to her feet and wiping the wetness from her eyes.

Vinnik and a few others came to usher our pack to their rooms while the Royal attendee’s got to work on clearing the bodies. I watched them with curious interest, how could they act as if this were a normal sight? Not one single one of them flinched, it was somewhat unnerving.

I took one last glance at Ryder’s back as she exited to the left, she turned slightly and sent me a wink before disappearing completely.

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