Primal (A Dark Witch Series #1)

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Chapter 35

The large black wolf smelled the night air again. She had been here, her scent was a little different than usual, but that might be because it was mixed with fear. She had passed through the entrance of the cave but it had been long ago. The moon shone above, nearly at its peak. Tomorrow it will be full. It was better that they had come tonight, it would be too loud tomorrow, too distracting, driving many of the wolves into a mindless state where instructions could easily be forgotten.

Looking behind him, the silhouettes of nearly seventy wolves were visible, all crouched in waiting behind the large boulder near the entrance of the tribal caves. His human had been furious beyond reckoning when scouts reported the caves, once used by their forefathers but now long in disuse, had been housing their enemies in secret. How the Hunters had known about the caves was still a mystery, but it now didn’t matter. The wolf’s human had called on his pack and formed a plan of offense, the Hunters were now prey and they would be bottled inside like rats in a cage.

Muted noises of a tussle came from the entrance, and the two Betas, still large and strong, were dragging the bodies of the cave’s guards back to where the pack was positioned, their grey muzzles coated in blood. Pawing the ground, the other wolves grew anxious with the sight, the air was stained in blood and it drove their instincts into a rare blood frenzy. Stealth was still essential until they were inside and the black wolf in the lead gave a sharp low yelp to signal such.

The others quieted immediately. They knew what to do, his human had told them before they had all changed. Kill everyone, except females. Females were to be left alive. No wolf ate until all the men were dead.

The pack was excited, breathing heavy against the dirt underneath their bellies. It had been a long time, outside of current memory, since the Blue Moon pack had a manhunt. Since they were allowed to chase men down, rip them with their teeth, encouraged to do it until life was spent. They were eager to let their ancestral urges run wild while avenging the wolves from the night of lightning-on-the-hill.

The black Alpha decided it was now or never and led them into the dark entrance of his ancestors. Creeping on their paws, the tunnel was quiet, the sound of clinking could be faintly heard coming from up ahead. The tunnel had been renovated, the walls now made smooth and easily passable for men. Smells of burning meat and other human foods wafted up past them, making its way up to the surface. The Hunters were eating, hopefully unarmed. After a few minutes of trotting, the light up ahead became brighter and the Alpha moved aside to let his two Betas lead others in the charge. Since there was no room to circle as a hunting party would, the element of surprise was all they had and they would stampede into the cavern for it.

The two grey wolves ran ahead and the pace of all quickened until it was a race, labored, but excited panting now echoing off the tight walls. To herald their arrival and call the pack into its blood fever, the black Alpha howled as they ran. It was a howl full of vengeance and horror, aimed to scare the prey. It was too late for all present in the cavern, they had arrived.

As water breaks from a dam, the flood of wolves burst out from the tunnel into the wide space. The black wolf stood to the side, observing, while wave after wave of wolves ran onto the scene and into chaos. The men they expected to find were all there, the large cavern holding several tables together filled with food, too many men for him to count surrounding it in chairs. They had indeed been eating, and were separated from their silver knives.

He watched as his pack began to rip into its quarry, more than several of the men reacted quickly and fought back with skill in their bare hands. Wolves jumped onto the tables to lessen the distance and have a height advantage. A few men sitting had mind to jump up and dash off into a tunnel at the back that led off from the main cavern. In the back of his mind, his human screamed at him to find their mate before there was too much blood in the air and her sweet smell was drowned out.

Ignoring the fighting that was now taking place, with his nose to the ground, the black wolf smelled two trails. One faint and led to the immediate right, the second, stronger, not an hour old led through the chaos of the main cavern to a tunnel in the back.

Wolves and men were everywhere, tussling on the ground, jumping through the air, snarling at one another. The sounds of men dying and wolves yipping in the milieu of violence was deafening to any kind of ears. Walking through the anarchy, the Alpha stood at the height of most men’s waist, and he carefully avoided interrupting any pack members’ fight. There were plenty of men for all wolves to have something to bite, even if it looked like they outnumbered them comfortably. But he had his own mission and wound through the cavern to avoid being brought into any of the fighting.

A tunnel at the back of the cave was well lit and there were the sounds of men’s voices and wolves’ snarls echoing down it, it seemed to run down for a few hundred feet before turning to the right. His human was impressed and infuriated, these Hunters had drastically changed the layout of a sacred site, and all without their knowledge. They had made it a maze, with doors carved out of the interior walls. Smells of antiseptic, blood, and new dirt filled the wolf's nose and the delicate scent of his mate seemed to be entwined between them all.

Trotting down the hall, the cacophony of fighting in the main cavern began to lessen and the wolf focused on the hallway, turning to the first door that his mate’s scent had turned into, he raised to his forepaws and brought it down on the latch, the door swinging open. Bright lights hit blue cloth on a high table, the smell of cleaning fluid mixed with old blood made the wolf’s nose hurt. But there was no one here. A few doors down the hallway, his mate’s scent had gone into another side room, this one was slightly open and sounds coming from within.

Pushing it open with his snout, he snuck in low. An older female in the corner of the room was hastily packing things into a large duffel bag that was laid on a thick leather couch. He studied her, unnoticed. She looked familiar to the human in the back of his brain, but not known. To his own senses, she smelled like his mate, but different. He looked around the room again, she wasn’t here, but maybe she had been, maybe their scents had been muddled in the same place and time.

The older female suddenly noticed him, a little shocked but not scared, and immediately he felt the air pressure around her become denser, thicker, sharper. He took a step closer, but found he couldn’t move any closer to her than a few paces away and the wolf snarled at the unexpected resistance.

Without acknowledging his presence again, the female draped the duffel bag over her head onto her shoulders and leaned down to the couch again, this time, picking up a bundle that she cradled in her joined arms. It was silent, but the wolf could smell a new human, the distinct smell of birthing blood lingering. The older woman ignored his presence completely and started to move towards the door. He found he had to back away to it as well, being buffered by the thick air surrounding her, forcing him away. Once both were outside, she continued to forget his presence and confidently began to walk at a fast pace down the corridor, farther away from the main cavern and the fighting.

He began to follow, when another scent trail led into a room on his right and shuffling sounds came from behind the door. The Alpha wolf was confused, how could her scent be everywhere? Slighting leaping up to catch the latch and pushing forward, this room was full of human equipment, with bright lights and beeping sounds. Back in the room, a tall man with light color hair and glasses was moving in between the machines, frantically pushing things. He even picked up a steel rod from the corner and hit one of the flashing lights with it.

The sudden violence churned the air in the room, his mate’s smell slightly emitting from him. Baring his teeth in a growl, the wolf walked further into the room, this human had his hands on her, touching her. Hearing the wolf’s growl, the man turned his head towards the door, and from the back of his mind, the wolf’s human recognized him, giving clear instructions.

Kill.

He spoke low and calm, but the anger was there. Stalking towards the man, he had raised his tool of violence, as if he was going to try and strike the black wolf. But his eyes gave him away, he was scared, and they both knew it. Hearing feet run down the hallway, the fair haired man looked up and taking the advantage, the wolf jumped onto him, paws aimed at his shoulder, his jaws for the neck.

They both fell to the hard packed dirt behind, the wolves fangs already in the man’s throat before they hit. Survival instincts kicked in and the man started to flail, trying uselessly to push the wolf off. He wasn’t well trained, if at all, and would die for it. The wolf tightened his jaws around the man’s trachea, feeling his breath beneath his fangs, suffocating him would be quickest. He kept the choke hold clamped tight to his throat, hearing running in the hallway behind them of both men and wolves.

Eventually, the man’s legs stopped twitching and the muscles in his face went slack as he died. Satisfied, the black wolf released his jaws and stretched them out. Sniffing up and down the body, the hands of the man were the most potent of his mate’s scent. Smelling her in such a telling place drove both man and wolf wild with anger and if the wolf could kill him twice he would have.

Leaving the dead man in the room, he continued to run down the hallway, becoming anxious. He still examined each of the rooms that had the smallest trace of her scent. The hallway curved around to the right and he followed. Nothing. He was running out of rooms, and it seemed that the end of the hallway led back into the cavern, where the sound of wolves mauling men had lessened but still not died.

Trotting cautiously towards the end, there was a dead man in the middle of the hallway, face down and blood pooling underneath his body. His throat had been cut. Sniffing him briefly, he was not long dead, but infuriatingly, this corpse also had Kelly’s scent all over him.

The wolf shook his head in confusion, he was getting nowhere, her smell was everywhere. Why would they allow her to roam around? Continuing on, a room on his right with the door open had her scent, this one more familiar to him. Pushing it open, he could also smell char and blood. There were two cots on either side of the room, with string lights on the wall to his left. There was no one here, although Kelly had been, and recently. He turned to leave when a noise from one of the cots grabbed pulled his attention back into the room. Nothing was there. A small, human-like groan was made once more and he trotted inside the room, this time crouching to look under the cots. Nothing could have made that noise.

The large wolf went to smell the blood coming from one of the cots, when his snout bumped into something invisible, firm, but also soft. Immediately, a woman’s body appeared right in front of him. Jumping back from the shock, the black wolf crouched down for a moment. When he realized the woman wasn’t conscious he moved to her face.

Diana,

his human recalled. She smelled like she had been recently wounded, but treated and fine now. Moving down to the smell of the wound, the two consciousness started to work, processing what they had seen. The human realized the woman was no longer pregnant, that they had taken her baby out. Together, they realized what was happening. The new baby cradled, the woman in the black dress, Kelly gone.

The woman. RUN!

The black wolf ran back out of the room and into the corridor, turning left to come back into the main cavern. The sound of fighting had now died considerably, the stench of blood and death surpassing any other useful scent. He couldn’t smell anything but the corpses of men. Looking over the large cavern, all he could see were wolves with their dead men, and a few men still fighting for their survival. No Kelly.

Howling into the air to get the attention of the others, all wolves and fighting stopped, even the surviving men paused their weapons raised in the air. His brother, a similarly sized black wolf, trotted forward and nodded towards the entrance they had just erupted through not twenty minutes ago. She had left?

Running to the entrance, he could hear footsteps running down the far end of the tunnel. Two sets.

About thirty feet from the mouth of the cavern though, the black wolf was halted. The tunnel was now blocked. Gigantic tree roots were now sprawled across the entire width, from the top to the bottom. Like mother nature had taken fifty years of growth at once. Poking his head through a small gap, the wolf struggled and strained to squeeze through, but to no avail. After a few more attempts in other gaps, he howled angrily.

His mate was gone.

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