My heart pounded against my chest hard enough I could hear the beat in my ears. Any other time, I would have believed it was just a rabbit or another animal; however, Alicia instantly became defensive. Her golden-brown eyes clouded over and turned red, and her fangs revealed themselves.
“Get behind me and stay still.” Alicia hissed in a whisper, “And you need to calm your heartbeat.”
I took a breath and tried to do as she requested, “What is it?”
My eyes went wide at what she said, “But, we’re nowhere near their land!”
“I know, stay close to me. They’re two miles northwest at a decent guess. If we remain still and quiet, they shouldn’t pick up our scent. Guess the alpha is hungry, and they have to look a little further out.”
“Wait, I can-”
“No, Hallie,” Alicia interrupted, “don’t use any of your powers; it will attract them. Their senses are on the same level as ours, if not a little stronger, especially for the magic.”
I nodded as I tried to will my heartbeat to slow. I knew Alicia and I would be safe; she was a Vampire, and I was a Witch we could take on a few Wolves.
Wolves rarely ran in numbers larger than six. Usually, for hunts, there were four, leaving two behind to protect the den. Even if it was all six, although it may be a struggle, we could get out without too much of a battle.
Seconds passed, slowly and quickly, all at the same time as neither of us dared to move. I didn’t know how long we’d have to stay like this, but I knew Alicia was concentrating on listening.
Alicia tucked her hair behind her ears, eyes fixed on a spot in front, while her breath held. I’d learned that’s how she was when she was trying hard to listen to something going on at a distance.
“Okay, I think they’re heading in the opposite direction.” Alicia sighed in relief, “We’ll give it another minute and start moving gradually. Watch your step, and once we get closer to the border, hop on my back. We’ll run full speed to get the heck out of here. Got it?”
“Yeah.” I breathed, trying to will myself to stay levelheaded. Although I knew we’d probably be okay, it didn’t mean I wasn’t anxious. I didn’t want a fight with the Wolves, and I didn’t want to use my powers.
We weren’t too far from the border, roughly one and a half miles away. Once we got a mile away, Alicia could run it with me on her back and get us out of the forest within seconds.
Alicia flicked her head to signal us to move, and we took a few steps with our eyes cast the floor to make sure we didn’t step on anything that would make a noise.
It felt like it took forever to reach the one-mile mark with the slow pace, which Alicia and Emmett had marked on a tree for their nighttime wanders.
“Okay, I think we’re good.” Alicia turned to me; her golden-brown eyes and fangless teeth returned, looking human once more. “I will run as fast as I can with you on my back. Hold your breath for a few seconds and let it out slowly as I run. The force of the wind against us will be harsh, so keep a tight grip on me.”
I nodded as Alicia lowered herself down, making it easier for me to hop on her back.
I tightened my grip on the berries bag I held and placed my hands on her shoulders, bracing myself to jump on.
However, before I could mount Alicia’s back securely, a blur of black sped into my vision out of nowhere, quicker than the speed of light, and knocked into us, sending us both flying.
My back hit a nearby tree with a mighty thud that caused me to scream out. The pain burned and radiated along my entire spine; then, more pain came to my chest as I landed on the ground with a thud.
“Hallie!” Alicia shouted, “they’ve surrounded us! They trapped us!”
I pulled myself up, spitting out the mouthful of dirt I’d taken as I fell to the ground, and my eyes found Alicia.
They had Alicia pinned under the same black coat who’d caught us off guard while a brown and white-coated wolf stood near. I watched as Alicia wrestled, desperately trying to prevent their teeth from piercing her skin.
I took a deep breath and pushed my hands out in front of me as a wave of almost invisible energy tore through the air, forcing the Wolf off Alicia.
Alicia had taken a knock too, but she quickly recovered, which allowed her to get away from the Wolf before he could recoup.
“Hallie, come here.”
I ran over to Alicia, closing the small gap between us as we stood back to back. I pushed out another force of energy, encasing us in a protective dome, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it for long.
I lowered my voice to a whisper, “what are we going to do?”
“One mile, I would guess they won’t risk getting seen by humans. You know they’re unlike the Wolves humans are familiar with.”
She was right. Our Wolves were much more significant; their coats were thicker and shined more, their eyes also had a bright glow. Even their cubs stood three times larger than an adolescent wolf. They were faster and more durable too, so they never risked getting found, mostly as they’ve been hunted a fair few times in history.
Alicia continued, “We’re going to have to fight our way through them. Both packs are here, so there are twelve, including the two alphas! We got this, and we can do this. You ready, Hallie?”
“Well, we got no choice; I can’t hold up the wall any longer.”
I felt myself weakening and struggling to hold on to the surrounding dome. I knew from Zachariah’s training, the protective wall or dome was one of the most formidable spells to maintain. It required an immense amount of energy, and it drained you rapidly.
I missed my brother and my family every day, but I missed them more than usual. If they were here, we’d already somewhere safe, Zachariah and my father were remarkably strong, and my mother was wise. If they had been here with us, Alicia and I wouldn’t have found ourselves in this position.
I also began regretting the fact I’d been unable to summon my weapon the way my father and grandfather had, and Zachariah would have been able to, given a chance.
Six Wolves was one thing for us to handle, but twelve would be impossible. I knew Wolves were just as strong as Vampires, especially as we were on a day where the moon was full; it was when they were at their strongest. They were quick and unforgiving, like rabid animals who only had one goal; attack and kill.
“Soon as it’s down, they’ll come for us.” Alicia braced herself, readying herself for the attack, “Be smart and try to stay close. On three. One. Two. Three...now.”
I let down the wall, and suddenly multiple shades of black, gray, white, and brown fur coats came barreling towards us like high-speed bullets.
“Take my hand,” I called as I held my hand out to Alicia’s, and she took it without question.
I let out a surge of energy and spun Alicia, allowing her to kick a Wolf with enough force to knock him and one other against a tree.
We fought them off the best we could, but there were too many. I’d never used this much magic since I developed my powers, let alone in a few minutes. I was wearing thin, and my energy bursts weren’t as powerful, making it harder to knock them back for us to progress forward.
A Wolf pounced on my back from behind, knocking me to the floor as it held me to the ground. A cry of anguish ripped through my throat as his teeth sank into my shoulder.
I located Alicia, trapped under two others nearby as their friends stood ready to jump in.
I let the static flow through me, causing the Wolf to let out a loud whimper as it released its fanged teeth from my shoulder and collapsed beside me.
I tried to pull myself up, but before I could even take a breath, another two replaced their fallen comrade. They were smart, skilled, and coordinated; I felt as if they planned it.
We only had to make it another kilometer, and we’d be safe, but they knew our plan. Six of them stood in the exit’s way, blocking us, while the other six attacked.
The physical pain I felt from the teeth and claws was indefinable. It almost felt as if my body had been engulfed by merciless flames and burned. The blood pouring from the wounds felt both ice cold and boiling as tears formed and began flowing freely from my eyes.
My head felt light and dizzy as my vision lost focus. I was running on empty, and yet, more Wolves came, not allowing me to catch even the smallest gasp of oxygen.
I lost hope as I could see Alicia in a state no better than me; both of us were too beaten, worn, and overwhelmed. The Wolves were far too strong for the two of us.
I cursed myself for not training more than I had, for not honing my powers fully, for not being as strong as Zachariah or my father were. If I’d practiced more, or if I could have been just half the Warlock they were, we’d have escaped long before now.
My mind flashed back to the day of the attack, the day I watched my family struggle to fight the enemies, killing our people, our family, and once again, I felt worthless and weak.
I was tethering on the verge of giving up, accepting that there was no way I could save us, when a beastly roar stripped through the air.
Howls and whimpers of pain came from several wolves, as the two surrounding me abruptly ceased attacking me to turn their attention elsewhere.
“Emmett,” I whispered in relief, and I felt a burst of energy at the welcomed sound of his voice. The explosion of power was strong enough to knock the two Wolves off of my back.
Emmett grabbed me quickly, putting me on my feet before running towards Alicia, knocking the wolves off her.
“Run, now, I’ll take Hallie,” Emmett called, “Go, Alicia, I got her.”
Alicia looked over to me before she became nothing but a blur as she ran as Emmett instructed.
Emmett was in front of me in a flash, scooping me up in his arms, and he ran. However, before I could thank him, everything went black.