I’d been sneaking about for a while now. How come no one’s spotted me?
‘You know, we can just go back. Clarice can just give us the details. She was his mate and from how she was with us, she probably wasn’t docile all the time. She might have the knowledge you’re looking for.’
‘That might be true Lea, but to be honest, if I can kill him here, without anyone getting hurt, then I’ll call that a win-win. Heck, if I could just injure him severely, that would be enough with all of the savage packs to the west and north of him. Not to mention the feral rogues.’
Lea was silent for the next few hours.
Shifting into human form, I walked through the town that was roughly in the center of their territory. I had passed quite a few human towns and cities in the past six hours but this one didn’t have a single human scent.
My head on a swivel, I spotted about twenty or so wolves. Most of them looked like they were terribly sick. Where had all of those wolves come from? Those who weren’t sickly seemed to be very proud of the fight against my pack, sporting leather chest plates that had my pack’s signal with a red mark through it. Clever.
“Excuse me, I heard there was a rogue attack?” I asked a younger wolf who was peeking around the edge of a building. They’d be less likely to run to their alpha.
“You musta heard wrong, ma’am. Alpha Mason attacked the rogue pack.” She said with a cough. She didn’t speak above a whisper.
“Why are you sick? Why is everyone sick?”
“Dunno Ma’am. It’s been like this for a while.” She started walking further behind the building. She motioned for me to be quite as a couple of healthier wolves stalked past where we were standing a few moments before. Was she scared of them?
“Where’d Alpha Mason get the might to attack the rogue pack?”
“From the alliances! Where else could he get them? Whenever he tries to take over a pack he never leaves many of the good healthy wolves alive. All the warriors die in trying to protect their packs.”
“Do you know who he’s aligned with?” It was a chance but kids overhear a lot.
“Golden Paw, Blood Hound, Shadow Pack. All of them are really against Rogue Pack. I dunno why. They seem pretty cool. Do you like the rogue pack?”
“Yeah. I have a few... friends there.”
“You think they’d take me and my brother?” The girl got all excited. She still didn’t speak above a whisper though.
“Oh, I know they would! Do you want to come with me? I’m headed back soon. We can get your sister and go.”
She nodded excitedly and led me through a series of back alleys, dodging festering pits of garbage and foul-smelling puddles. She led me to a series of boxes, padded with dirty blankets.
“He’s in here!"
"Where are you're parents?" It's very, very strange for pups to be left on their own.
"They died. It's just me and my little brother. I like to pretend to be Momma. I take care of Jesse. And Jesse plays with me." She grabbed her baby brother. He couldn't have been more than ten months old. She wasn't any older than eight or nine.
"What's your name?"
"Annabella. I'm gonna teach Jesse to call me Bella. You can call me Bella too!" She paused for a moment. "Do you think the alpha is gonna like us?"
"I know she will."
She smiled. "You wanna carry him? He's getting big so it's hard for me to carry him. We gotta run fast or Alpha Mason's guards are gonna get mad. Pups aren't supposed to be outside the training area."
"He wants us to be big and strong so we can fight for him. I don't wanna fight. I wanna draw and sing! So I took Jesse and we've been living here. I can't wait to have a real house! Do you think the alpha of Rogue pack will let us stay in a house?"
"Most definitely." It physically hurt to listen to her. What kind of monster had Mason become to force kids to grow up in a war camp? Forcing young kids to live in this kind of place?
"Well Bella, let's get going." She nodded. I started walking back the way we'd come.
Bella must have turned around to get something because a few moments after I started walking, I heard a growl and a scream.
Whirling around, I saw an adult wolf attacking Bella.
"Stupid pups. We offer to take care of 'em after their parents die and this is how they repay us? By stealing our stuff?" He kicked Bella after he stooped down to pick up a single blanket from the pile Bella had made up as a bed for her brother.
"H-help me..." Bella cried.
My eyes went wide, Lea took over, and the next thing I know, the wolf was a bloody heap on the ground.
'We need to get her back to the pack lands. We need to hurry before the screams and the smell of blood attracts others.'
Scooping up Bella in one arm and holding Jesse in the other, I ran.
'Zander! Start running towards Mason's pack lands as fast as you can. I'll meet you somewhere in the middle. Bring Lynn. Run fast. Goddess above run fast!' I practically screamed through the mind-link.
I ran as fast as I could. Pushing myself harder and harder. Bella was badly wounded. Over a blanket. A blanket. I don't know what Lea did to that wold but Goddess above I hope it wasn't quick. The wind stung my eyes, roots and fallen branches threatened to trip me, but I couldn't let her die.
The minutes trickled by. I ran and ran. Minutes turned to hours and I kept running. Jesse in one arm, Bella in the other. I could feel her blood on my clothes, seeping through and I ran faster. I saw Zander's wolf. Beside him was Lynn's wolf. Thank the goddess.
"Take them. Help Bella and Jesse."
It was all I could say before I passed out.