XI. WOLVES AND TRAININGS
The moon shone brightly above us making the whole pathway glow in an ethereal light. The cold wind gushed past me, as a shiver erupted in my body. My hand was still securely covered by Carter’s, as the sounds of the howl were the only ones filling the silent void of the night, accompanied by our ragged breathing.
“What’s happening?” I hissed at Carter, my nails digging into his palm.
“I don’t know. But my guess would be wolves,” he took a sharp intake. Whether it was from pain or fear, I didn’t know.
“So what do we do? We can’t stand here the whole night,” I sneered.
“I’m thinking. That idea doesn’t sound appealing to me either,” he scowled as his grip on my waist tightened.
“Well, it doesn’t seem like it. Come on, you’re the big bad vampire. Do your thing!” I exclaimed.
My eyes widened when I realized that the creatures were moving towards us.
However, Carter seemed oblivious to it as he asked, “What thing?”
And just as he said that all the yellow-eyed beasts surrounding us came into view. Their enormously large bodies covered with white, while some brown, fur glistened in the bright moonlight.
My breath hitched, and a small gasp escaped my dry lips.
I felt Carter pushing me behind him as his large frame concealed the sight in front of me, his cold hands trembling slightly.
“Are you scared?” I asked taken aback by his unusual behavior.
“Well not exactly,” he chuckled but failed to mean it.
Seeing me bewildered, he sighed.
“Fine, yes. Turns out vampires and wolves are not the best of friends exactly. One bite and I’m dead. And they don’t know you. So they can kill you too,” he muttered and I felt the frustration growing within me.
“Oh great. You brought me here to train me in self-defense and instead we’re becoming dinner. What an irony,” I gritted.
He gave me an annoyed glance and focused on the wolves surrounding us. They were growling at us, revealing the huge pair of fangs. Their yellow eyes filled with, what I assumed to be, pure hunger. They took slow and deliberate strides towards us, circling us completely as if feeding on the thrill of our fears.
“Gonna have dinner without me huh?” a rich velvety voice floated from right behind us.
I turned around to find an exceedingly tall woman with coffee-colored skin smirking at us. Her ruby tinted hair, which is a stark contrast to her dark figure, flowed at her sides till they reached her waist; looking like the fiery pits of hell. Her voluptuous figure shone in the moonlight making her look like a demigoddess and her forest green eyes held a glimmer of mischief.
However, the glimmer soon disappeared when her gaze settled on us. Her eyes widened for a fraction of a second, but a smirk soon lifted the corner of her lips, which were painted the same shade as her hair. The playful glint returned to her eyes, as she approached us.
“Well well well. Remembering your ex for, let’s see,” she feigned a thoughtful expression as she pretended to count her fingers.
“Oops. My finger limit extended,” she looked up with playfulness highlighting her features.
“So it’s been a hundred some years. Now what do I owe the special sighting for?” her voice dripped with sarcasm.
Carter had surprisingly relaxed beside me as his grip on my waist loosened, however not enough to waver from the position.
“Let’s get to the business,” he replied while she quirked an eyebrow at him.
“I need you to train her,” he indicated with his forefinger directed towards me.
At this, her cold and calculating gaze swept over me as if she was trying to solve a puzzle. I didn’t exactly feel vulnerable, but I wasn’t comfortable either under the rigid intensity of her scrutiny.
She looked back at Carter and laughed at him.
“I thought you brought me a peace offering.”
My fists clenched and my blood boiled as white-hot rage filled my vision.
Carter sensing the change of my mood, immediately interrupted before things got out of hand.
“Look, Les. This is important. She’s the descendant of the nine sisters,” he declared, his eyes fixed on the red-haired girl.
His words left a tensile silence between us as her green eyes once more widened and her perfectly glossed lips parted slightly allowing the fangs to be seen, the glint of fresh blood still shining on them.
“Is this a joke? Are you in love with her?” she asked scornfully.
“No,” Carter’s reply was immediate as he cast a disgusted look, “she has the blotches.”
Another beat of silence passed between us, accompanied by a loud howl from one of the wolves.
“Prove it,” she demanded.
It took me a full moment to process what she meant.
“No way, I’m getting half-naked in the middle of the field surrounded by a vampire, a bitch, and some wolves,” I exclaimed as I finally freed myself from Carter’s grasp.
The girl took a threatening step forward as she spoke in a warning tone, “For being a human, you sure have the audacity.”
“Be in my place and you would have it too,” I retorted.
Judging by Carter’s tense stance and worried eye movements, I realized that being stubborn here would only be a foolish move. Foolish enough to get me and potentially everyone killed.
“Fine,” I scowled, as I turned around and discreetly pulled my top upwards, shivering when the gush of wind scraped me.
I heard a sharp intake of breath. Then complete silence. I slowly pulled down my top when a chuckle reverberated in the silence of the night.
I turned around to find the red-haired girl completely normal, as every trace of anger and coldness vanished from her forest-green eyes.
She smiled at me, the corners of her eyes crinkling.
“Looks like we have had a bit of a rough introduction. I’m Leslie Adams,” she held out her hand for me to shake. However, seeing my look of absolute disgust, she slowly retracted it and shrugged her shoulders.
“I guess I can’t blame you. I mean I did think of you as my dinner,” she grinned as if it was quite hilarious.
Then glancing lazily at Carter, she spoke up, “Well then. Follow me.”
She walked between us and approached one of the wolves. After murmuring something in its ear, the wolf gave one final howl as it dispersed into the shadows with the others following closely behind.
“They listen to you?” Carter asked as he marched up and stood beside me.
“They’re sired to me, darling,” Leslie smirked as she started walking away, her red hair dancing wildly behind her.
“What’s a sire?” I asked Carter as we followed her silently through the moonlit path.
“It’s a bond,” he trailed off as if searching for relevant words.
“It’s a bond created when someone turns somebody into a vampire,” Leslie replied with a sneer on her face as she indicated to her ears.
It’s then when I remembered about the supernatural hearing.
“But weren’t they wolves?” I raise an eyebrow at Carter.
“Hybrid. That is part vampire and part wolf. Leslie’s also that,” he replied lazily and tugged his hands into his pockets.
A cold whisper of wind brushed past us and I shivered, my tank top being an absolute mock in my face for the weather.
“You’re cold,” Carter gave me a quizzical look.
I glared at him.
“Oh what a wonder that my body functions as a normal human,” I exclaimed sarcastically.
I heard a peal of velvety laughter from the front as Carter rolled his eyes.
“If you think I’m gonna give you my jacket, then you’re wrong,” he said casually, shaking his head.
“Eww, as if I’m gonna take it. Do I even want to know the places it has been to?” I scrunched up my nose as filthy images filled my vision.
A muscle ticked in his jaw, but he kept quiet. In fact, we didn’t talk throughout the entire journey to Leslie’s house. The sounds of our footsteps and the distant echoing of crickets being the only noises accompanying us.
Leslie’s house was just like one of those huge lavish mansions that you see in the movies. Residing in a secluded area, she had all the space in the world and she seemed to have used it efficiently. Her white mansion seemed to be emitting an angelic glow due to the halos and the lustrous moonlight. It was surrounded by a large pool, a swing, and a vast stretch of land. The mansion was the only shaft of attraction when seen from the distance.
“Welcome to my heavenly abode,” she spread her hands in a welcoming gesture as we followed her into the house. The interior was just as marvelous as the exterior. The cream-colored walls were covered with an intricate patchwork of gold and the floors with red-colored velvet carpets. The color was so deep that it weirdly reminded me of blood.
My fingers itched to brush the patterns on the wall, but I restrained myself.
Leslie offered us to sit down while barking some orders to her servants about beverages. Carter and I sat in one of her plush white sofas, while she seated herself in the grandiose seat, opposite to us.
“So what do you know about the hunters?” Leslie asked once the servants left the room after serving us the beverages.
She took a sip from her cup and peered at us. When Carter didn’t answer anything, I realized the question was for me.
“That they’re trying to kill me,” I shrugged taking a sip of my coffee.
“And you’re awfully okay with that,” she smirked while I shook my head.
“It’s just me being realistic and helpless.”
She glanced at Carter and her expression morphed into one of disgust as if she smelled something awful.
“Okay then. Follow me both of you,” she stood up and started marching away at a fast pace without waiting for the both of us.
However, we quickly followed her through the ancient corridors, which ultimately lead to an underground dungeon. The dungeon was dimly illuminated by the fire from the fire holders and had a musty smell surrounding it. I scrunched up my nose while letting my gaze wander around the space. It had three chambers, one which seemed to be the main one consisting of various kinds of weapons hung on the wall and a floor mat rolled in the corner. The other two chambers were at its adjacent sides covered with a black curtain.
“Okay. So get changed both of you. Krystal, go to the right and Carter to the left. Pick any one and come here fast,” she demanded.
“Wait, how do you know my name? I didn’t tell you,” I asked recollecting the snippets of the very little conversations we had.
The corner of her lips curved upwards as she spoke, “No you didn’t. But he did,” she indicated to Carter.
I wondered when he did that.
“But why would we change the dress?”
She gave me an incredulous look before continuing, “Well, if you want to get your clothes dirty, then be my guest, darling.”
I rolled my eyes as Carter objected beside me, “Why do I have to change?”
She gave us an exasperated look.
“Cause you would train too.”
“But-” he got cut off when she looked up at him. The usual playfulness was replaced by a cold finality and I realized that Carter wasn’t much fond of her either.
“You don’t know what these hunters are like. I do. I have been centimeters away from death,” a dark look settled over her pointed features as if a horrible memory surfaced in her mind. However, quickly shaking off the darkness, she regained her neutral composure.
“Besides, doesn’t the saying go ‘two better than one’? Both of you have a better chance at fighting them than any of you alone,” she stated in a matter of fact tone.
I shrugged while Carter lazily glanced at me, as we parted ways to our dressing rooms while Leslie walked up to the weapon section of the main chamber.
The dressing room was also illuminated similarly. The only exception was, that instead of being decorated with lethal weapons, the wall was covered with clothes for fighting. There were clothes of various sizes but all in black. I picked up a camisole and shorts as they were the only ones of my size. I was relieved when I smelt a fresh jasmine odor from the cloth, indicating that it was washed and I was not wearing anybody’s just used cloth.
Pulling my hair into a ponytail, I stepped outside only to find Carter and Leslie already present there. Carter was dressed in a black t-shirt that fit his torso perfectly, making his abdominal ridges look more prominent and the short sleeves did nothing to conceal the flexing of his muscles. I averted my gaze from his body and glanced at Leslie to find her in similar attire.
“Okay then. First, I’ll train with Carter, then with you,” she gave me a stern look and all the usual humor from her face was replaced by a strict sense of dedication, leaving no scope for any objection.
She indicated to me to sit down somewhere while she would train with Carter.
Looking around the place, I chose to sit in the corner which was relatively cleaner than the rest of the dungeon. I watched as their bodies became a blur of motion and soon it got hard for me to keep track because I couldn’t see any of them but only hear their grunts.
After an hour or so, they seemed to have stopped as their bodies could be identified individually. None of them broke out a single drop of sweat, however, both of them were breathing heavily.
His eyes roamed around the place until they settled on me.
Heaving an exasperated sigh, he approached me while Leslie called out to me at the same time. Unlike Carter, she didn’t look the least bit tired. Even though her hair and clothes looked a little disheveled from all the fighting, there was not an ounce of tiredness in her face.
Carter slumped down on the floor when I got up and approached Leslie.
“How come he’s so tired and you’re not?” I asked glancing back and forth between them.
“Cause I’m older than him, honey. Older and stronger,” she winked at me as I processed her words, and realized that in the case of vampirism, age works in a way opposite to that of humans.
She gave me a stern look as she readjusted her bun.
“I need you to give it your best. I don’t think I need to tell you why,” her sharp voice was laced with dedication.
Nodding at her, I positioned myself on the mat.
“Okay then. You go offense. I’ll go defense,” she informed me as she also positioned herself opposite to me.
“Show me what you’ve got,” I could see the corners of her lips twitch.
And just as she did that, I advanced to land my blow on her but she skilfully evaded it, making me fall on the floor with a thud. Through my peripheral vision, I saw Carter standing up right away.
Grunting, I stood up, only to see her smirk grow wider. Not paying any heed to the pain that quickly shot up my sides, I attacked her once more; only to be flung across the floor. Again. The pain increased and I realized that I had scraped my left arm.
Getting up, I narrowed my eyes at her, “Nobody has ever defeated me in a fight with that much ease. You’re using your vamp strength. That’s not fair!” I exclaimed, my breaths coming short.
She grinned wickedly at me.
“First of all, nope. I’m not using any vampiric strength. In fact, I’m being as lenient with you as possible. Secondly, the hunters wouldn’t attack you with their human strength just because you’re pretty. And lastly, nothing’s fair in the world, Krystal. So better get used to it,” she drawled out.
I huffed out a blow of hot air as I readied myself in the position when we changed our roles. Now, she was offending while I was defending. But no matter what roles or positions we were in, I would always end up on the floor.
By the time we stopped, I was already panting and my face was all red. I looked like a madwoman because my whole body was clammy with sweat and my ponytail was sticking to the back of my neck creating itchiness. The camisole hugged my body tightly while the shorts have ridden up my thighs.
Leslie on the other hand looked just as unaffected as she was with Carter. She excused herself to freshen up and informed us about the next day we should meet up with her. After showing us the common washroom, she strutted out of the dungeon.
“I’ll go first,” I announced without looking at Carter and made my way to the washroom.
Upon entering it, I saw that it was a small chamber, containing a mirror, a towel, and some medical supplies in the corner. My whole body was throbbing with immense pain, so, I decided to clean the cuts I’ve got. Wetting the towel in the small sink I applied light pressure on the wounds near my collarbone, arms, and waist. After tending to my wounds, I strolled outside just as Carter walked into the washroom.
Neither of us spoke. There had been a thick air of hostility between us since yesterday.
And hence, not wanting to stay there any longer, I sauntered into the dressing room and quickly got changed.
When I entered the main house along with Carter, Leslie was nowhere to be seen. So we decided to leave our message of departure to her lead servant.
It was almost midnight by the time, we reached the car. The cold weather made me crave the warm comfort of Carter’s car as I got inside it. I fished out my phone to find near about fifteen voice messages from Christina. A soft smile made its way onto my lips at her gesture. She knew, I wasn’t comfortable in this journey with Carter and she was checking up on me.
Too bad I didn’t have the phone with me.
Texting her about my whereabouts, I cast a final glance at Carter before letting my eyes drift shut and slowly slip into a serene slumber.