I can still hear them. The high-pitched wounded screams flowing from the bloodied lips of my people. My family.
“You’re sure about this?” Naya asks, my wolf’s nagging voice buried deep in my mind, barely loud enough to be heard over the hard thumping of my paws as they dig deeper into the cold earth with every bounding step.
“Yes. He is our last hope. You heard dad.”
“This is a huge risk. We don’t even know if he’s real. Nobody has ever seen him.”
I leap over another broken tree branch and push myself to run faster. We have to be close.
The rancid, metallic smell dissipates into the air around me the further we get, finally allowing me to breathe once again.
“I can feel them.”
“Me too.” I haven’t stopped feeling them for hours.
The deaths of my pack members, ripping through me as each and every one of them falls, our links shattering like frail glass. Within the second I’m collapsing down on the lush field beneath me, my head falling back as an agonizing howl rips through my throat, tearing at the crisp night air.
Pain, unlike any that I’ve ever felt in my past twenty-years, comes plowing through my small body, pulling the air clean from my already aching lungs. This pain is unbearable compared to what I’ve felt since they first attacked. It pulses through my body, thumping in every vein, and clawing at my tense muscles without an ounce of mercy.
Dad, it has to be. When Naya’s heart-wrenching whimper bounces around in my skull, I know that I’m right. No. Goddess no. He can’t leave us. He can’t leave me. I’m not ready.
“Get up! We have to keep moving. They’ll be coming for you now; you reek of authority. It won’t take long for them to catch your scent.”
My claws rip at my aching chest, tearing the skin as a warm liquid starts leaking from the deep slashes, matting my dark fur.
I try calling out for my mother, but I’m too far away. They can’t hear me. I can’t do it. A pained cry falls from my mouth as I fall forward, letting my crimson coloured paws slide along the wet earth, digging into the soft dirt. I won’t make it in time. It’s too late. The agony selfishly finding shelter in my chest is overbearing as it weighs me down, stomping down on any hope that I had just minutes ago as my vision starts to blur.
My ears perk immediately when a familiar howl races through the trees surrounding me, ripping my wounds even wider. My mom. She’s there alone. I have to do this now or she’ll be next.
With what little strength I have left, I push myself to stand up and slowly lift my head, my mom’s broken howl echoing deep in my mind. My silver eyes quickly accommodate to the darkness before a twig snaps a few yards away. My lips lift before a deep, menacing growl slips from between them, warning the unwanted visitor to leave while they still can.
My paws dig deeper into the soil as my muscles tighten. Moving my gaze towards a small gap in the tree line, my chest thumps steadily against my ribcage. The deep wounds covering my chest are already closing, leaving nothing but a subtle sting and thin pink lines in their place.
The second subtle, almost impossible to hear tree branch cracks under the obvious weight of my visitor as I take a careful step towards the clearing, feeling myself stumble a second after. My head starts to swim as my legs give out, sending me falling towards the grass once again.
“It’s him, he’s here. The power is overwhelming.”
Naya’s eager voice is swallowed by the forceful beating in my skull before black spots start to blur my vision. My head feels like it’s close to exploding when the presence of another wolf scratches at the walls of my mind, knocking down my defense’s way too easily. Every single one of my thoughts and memories are exposed to them as they angrily force their way inside before blocking me out.
The ground crunches around me, the terrifying noise sounding from every direction as I try and catch sight of the enemy. I fail when I feel my side fall against a protruding tree root, the pain radiating through my entire body.
I can’t fight the sudden exhaustion as my eyes begin to softly close.
“Don’t worry, Makkena. They’ll be okay now. I promise.”
The only thought I have before I slip into unconsciousness is that that hauntingly deep voice does not belong to Naya.
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