In the Shadows of Dryden

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CHAPTER 5 - Between fangs and claws

Claire POV

I stood and started to run but an enormous snow-white wolf jumped on top of me, pinning me to the ground. The creature growled at my face, showing his long sharp fangs tome.

“NOOOOOO! GET OFF OF ME!”

I screamed but I knew I was way too far from civilization for anybody to possibly hear me and come to help.

His pale blue eyes were staring angrily at me, his saliva drizzling down on my cheeks. I kept trying to push him away or at least keep his jaws from biting me but he was too powerful, too massive.

“GET OFF OF ME, YOU OVERSIZED WOLF!!” I screamed as loud and hard as I could.

“LET GO, FANG!”

A commanding masculine voice came from behind the wolf and he immediately jumped off of me. I sat up immediately, rubbing my right shoulder. My jacket had been ripped when the wolf attacked me, but at least I managed to get away uninjured.

I lifted my head to see the owner of the voice I had just heard and met a pair of narrowed emerald green eyes. My mind went straight back to the gorgeous looking black-haired man bathing in the lake and my jaw dropped. I was sure of it! That same man was standing right in front of me now! His chest was bare, showing his well-defined muscles. He was really tall and was wearing black jeans ripped on the knees, boots, and a long black leather coat going almost all the way down to the ground. Dangling from his neck, was an ankh pendant on a golden chain necklace.

The wolf went to stand beside him as the man stared expressionless at me. Despite the enormous beast nearby, I felt my blood pressure increase, my face flush, and my heart trying to escape my ribcage. I forced myself to react, swallowing hard before speaking.

“Who ARE you… and him?” I pointed to the wolf.

His eyes were cold, serious… mysterious.

“Name’s Caio and this is my companion, Fang.” He answered plainly, watching me.

“Well, do tell him not to jump on people like that. It’s… terrifying.” I said nervously.

“Don’t walk alone in the forest, at night when he’s hunting and he won’t jump on you like that.” I could hear a hint of sarcasm in his reply. My eyes opened wide for a few seconds before I narrowed them again. Yes, I felt the sarcasm alright and I definitely wanted to reply to it accordingly but I was left lost for words instead.

The God-like man approached me, staring at my clothes. Out of the blue, he plainly opened the right side of my jacket like it was the most normal thing to do with someone you don’t even know. I slapped his hand and pulled my jacket close again as I glared at him.

“Where the hell do you come from to do such a thing?!” I was asking him but my silly mind decided to answer my own question with ‘from the lake, silly girl’. My cheeks turned red and I so wanted to slap myself at that very moment. “Don’t go touching people like that. We’ve just met and I’m a girl!” It was like those cartoons where the character has the image of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Even though I was growling at his nonchalant action, the devil part of me was begging him to continue. His only reaction was to lift an eyebrow mockingly at me.

“Fine! Not my problem if you transform into a werewolf.” He shrugged, walking away with the huge wolf behind him.

“Wha, wha, whaaaaaat????” I gagged in panic, running my hands all over, checking if I was really uninjured. “WAIT! Please, what do you mean? Can his saliva transform me?” I ran toward him but stopped as soon as the wolf turned to face me, sitting down in between us and looking blankly into my eyes.

“Uhmm... keep your beast away, please.”

“His name is Fang.” He retorted without stopping.

“Whatever! Keep him away!” Still, he kept on walking away. “Hey, wait!” I unintentionally stepped forward as my gaze met the wolf and I stopped in my tracks.

Fang came closer, stopping right in front of my face. My body was frozen as my eyes went back and forth between Caio and Fang pleading for help.

“Guess you can tell him yourself.” He said half looking back at us.

*Ugh!* I looked into Fang’s eyes and he…. licked me right in the middle of my face before walking away, going back to stand beside his master.

“You’re lucky. He likes you.”

“He… he likes me???” It seemed safe enough to move again, so I walked toward them. “What about the werewolf part? Am I really gonna turn into one?” I just couldn’t help feeling worried. I didn’t want to turn into a furry person with pointy ears and a long tail. At the same time I asked it, Fang whimpered, lifting a paw over his eyes. Why did that feel like the big wolf was laughing at me? Caio had taken a peek at his companion but was now looking at me.

“He’s a winter wolf. Don’t worry! You won’t turn into anything that you are not already.” He said looking around into the forest.

“A winter wolf? What’s a…”

*Shhhhh!* He raised his index finger in front of me. “Fang…” The huge wolf turned and sprinted away, disappearing into the forest without needing to hear anything else.

That’s when I realized that the forest was quiet. To quiet! I looked around but all I could see was darkness. ‘My phone!’, I thought, turning its lantern on.

Caio immediately looked at me, squinting his eyes in reaction to the bright phone light.

“Turn it off! Unless you want to become food.” He was so serious that my impression was that he could see or hear something around us. That made me wonder just how he could see anything in this darkness.

*Sigh* I turned my phone lantern off.

“... but, I can’t see anything.” I told him in a whisper.

“You don’t need to. You can’t defend yourself anyways.”

I stared at his shining emerald eyes. “What the hell??”

His eyes squinted for a quick second, focusing on something.

“Can you see anything other than darkness everywhere?

“Yes!” He picked me up like a weightless potato bag and ran extremely fast. Faster than I’ve ever seen a human do.

“What do you think you’re doing? Put me down right now!” I ordered while trying to kick and punch him to free myself.

“Keep on it and I just might let you turn into dinner.”

As soon as he finished the sentence, I saw three huge bears behind us. They were bigger, more muscular, and way faster than any normal bears. The one closest to us was black with big red eyes and… he had a tooth necklace around his neck?

‘A bear using jewelry? That’s so odd! I must be dreaming!’ The other two were brown and grey consecutively. Thankfully, for my own sanity, they weren’t wearing anything, just like “normal” bears. The grey bear turned, disappearing into the dark as if he had given up, just to attack us seconds later, from the right side. Caio jumped up high to a nearby pine tree, just in time to avoid his attack as the brown bear descended upon us on the tree. He then somersaulted over the brown bear to land behind the three attackers without dropping me.

My heart was racing and I found myself desperately clinging to him instead of trying to get free. The acrobatics he did save us but the bears were agile enough to quickly flank us. We were trapped!

“YOU’RE NOT WELCOME HERE!” A booming voice resonated from the black bear.

“I… I’m sorry, I just got lost and…” I tried to explain but Caio cut me.

“He meant me, not you. Isn’t that right, Thorus?” He gave a slight grin toward the huge black bear.

“YOU WILL PAY FOR COMING INTO OUR TERRITORY!” Thorus replied, circling us with the other two bears.

Without taking his eyes from the bears, Caio lowered me down to the ground.

“Try to stay near me.” He ordered.

With three gigantic talking bears trying to eat us for dinner, staying near him was all I planned on doing. I moved behind him, trying my best not to get in his way but still close enough to be under his protection.

Thorus growled, carving deep clawing marks on the ground before furiously charging at us. The other two followed right behind. I gasped, already imagining our impending doom between their fangs and claws. A moment later, I found myself flying, just to fall on the ground meters behind us. My body was aching... no, it was HURTING like crazy! I heard the growls, the claws ripping and tearing. It sounded like a warzone and the worst part was that I couldn’t see what was happening. That thought alone made me push myself into a sitting position. When I managed to look up, the grey bear had been thrown hard into a tree and was lying dazed under it. Caio was holding Thorus’s massive paws up on a deadlock, while he tried to avoid getting bitten. The brown bear was in a fierce fight with Fang, who had intercepted it a second before it could bite Caio’s left arm.

“Oh my God! What have I gotten myself into? Who is that lake guy exactly?”, I thought out loud without realizing it.

In an attempt from Thorus to get the upper hand, he bit down on Caio’s right arm, freeing his paw to claw down hard on his opponent’s chest. My mysterious defender didn’t waste a second after getting bit, instead, he counterattacked with a hard knee kick directly in the bear’s belly, causing the creature to completely let go of him. Caio continued his momentum by kicking the black bear’s head, who staggered backward, falling heavily to the ground. Caio glanced down at the blood dripping from the deep claw marks and swiftly took off his long leather coat, throwing it on the ground. That’s when I saw some kind of tattoo or marking covering his entire back. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was but somehow, it added to his charm.

The brown bear came in hard on Fang, swiping his paw on the wolf’s face but Fang was too fast with a preemptive attack, biting down on the brown bear’s paw, incapacitating it. Immediately, the bear backed away, whimpering as it licked his paw but maintaining a low growl towards the huge wolf.

After composing himself, the grey bear quickly regained his senses and charged at Caio with renewed fervor. Caio stepped back, dodging the attack at the same time as he caught the grey bear in a choke-hold.

Thorus’ eyes widened as he let out a loud growl.

“LET HER GO, VAMPIRE!” The massive black bear was fuming with anger. His red eyes conveyed all his hate, his strong jaws showing his deadly teeth, ready to dig into his enemy.

Ruby red slits began to appear in Caio’s emerald eyes until they had completely turned ruby-colored as he slowly opened his mouth with a malicious grin, showing his protruded fangs off to Thorus right before biting down on his opponent.

His adversary whimpered in pain with a heartbreaking yelp.

“NOOOOOOOOOOO! I WILL KILL YOU FOR THAT!!!” Thorus’ booming voice echoed loudly. He went into berserk mode, immediately descending upon Caio with everything he had. Caio kept biting his prey without losing sight of Thorus enraged charge.

Meanwhile, Fang had flanked the injured brown bear, which was still trying to stand. Fang struck again. This time, biting his opponent on the neck and using his speed and strength to catapult his enemy at Thorus. At the same time that his master pushed his prisoner hard toward Thorus.

“NOW, FANG!” Ordered Caio at the same time as he jumped off the away.

Fang dug his paws down in the ground, the fur along his spine bristled up. As he opened his mouth, a light blue colored cone erupted from it, seemingly freezing the three bears on the spot.

Caio checked the bears from a distance and then came to me, picking his long leather coat on his way. I watched him getting close to me with an open mouth. His fangs were no longer visible and slits of emerald green quickly filled his irises back to normal. He extended a hand to me, offering to help me to stand.

“Are you alright?” He seemed to be studying my reaction.

My eyes stared at his chest, where the claw mark should have been but all that was left was some smeared blood. My vision moved up to look into his green irises. He looked so serious but apart from that, he didn’t show any emotions.

“You’re… you’re a…”

He kept watching me with a stoic face. Fang calmly walked up to me, smelling and looking for any injuries over me. He then licked my cheek when he seemed satisfied enough. I was still in shock, staring at my protector with both fear and relief. My hands moved instinctively over Fang’s thick white mane, patting him gently.

There was a moment of silence in which all we heard was the wind on the trees and the low moaning of the bears encaged inside the ice.

“You’re a vampire!” I finally blurted out, still patting the wolf.

“Yeah… Would you mind if we get out of here before those bears manage to free themselves? I don’t feel like fighting them again today, even if I like the exercise.” He put the coat back on and began to move away.

Fang gave me a quick lick on my hand before following after him. The thought of being alone, at night in the forest, didn’t feel like a good plan to me, so I hurried up along.

“You need to get back into town, right?”

“Yeah… n-no!” I stammered, making Caio glance my way.

“Look, if you don’t want my company, you just have to say it. I have no interest in making you my prey.” He kept on walking but somehow, it sounded like he was annoyed.

“NO, please! Please, don’t leave me alone here.” I hurried to catch up, tugging lightly on his coat to make him slow down. When he stopped to look at me, I couldn’t help but avert my eyes, fiddling with my hands while trying to figure out what to say. He waited patiently for me to decide. When I finally met his gaze, I realized that there was pain behind those green orbs staring back at me. ‘What a mysterious vampire I got to meet!?’ He placed his hands inside his pockets and leaned on the tree behind him.

“It’s just… I just met you and… I found out you’re a vampire. There are giant bears and wolves that breathe ice!” I glanced at Fang as he tilted his head to the side. “It’s a lot to process!”

He reacted by closing his eyes and placing a hand over the back of his neck. I watched his thinking expression but ended up finding my gaze going down to his well-defined abdomen until I saw him move and looked up to his face again. His eyelids were now opened and he was staring up at the stars.

“Yes, I’m a vampire. I’m cursed to forever drink blood in order to survive. It wasn’t my choice but that’s what I am.” His emerald orbs shone as he looked back at me. “I understand that you’re afraid or unsure if you should trust me. You’re probably both!”

“Yes… I mean.” I paused, trying my best to put my thoughts in order and figure out what to say. “I won’t lie to you. I’m scared, yes! … even if you just fought three bears to protect me, you’re still a vampire.” I said nervously, trying to avoid his eyes.

“If I wanted you dead, you wouldn’t be standing here now.” His reply came in a calm voice as he came to stand right in front of me. Both of his hands tucked back in his pockets. ‘Could he feel how scared I was and was trying to minimize my nervousness?’

“I don’t feel pleasure in drinking blood nor killing for it.”

I nodded but my thoughts went back to the bears.

“Haven’t you just killed one of the bears? That female grey?”

“Not really, no. I just drank enough to heal my wounds faster. The fact that she passed out was just a plus. Now, where do you live?”

“By Tazia’s lake. My family and I just moved in with my grandmother.”

Caio’s eyes flashed wide in surprise.

“You’re living in the old lake house?” He pointed somewhere in the distance.

“Yeah?” I shrugged. Unsure of what else to say.

He glanced over at Fang, regaining his stoic expression as the wolf came to lay down beside me.

“Mount up on Fang, he will carry you.”

My eyes went from Fang to him a few times.

“I don’t think so! He’s a wolf, not a horse!” I replied exasperated.

“I can carry you just like before if you prefer.”

‘Oh, that annoying smirk.’

“Eh…” I turned over toward Fang and mounted him just like a horse. Images of me holding tightly on his perfect muscles as I piggyback ride, played on my mind. “He’s quite comfortable after all.” I averted my face, blushing with the indecent thoughts.

Caio gave me a momentary nod and took off running in another direction. Fang followed him close, making me quickly hug his neck to stop from falling. They both ran at inhuman speed. I was surprised by how nice and easy it was to ride this huge wolf, once you got the hang of it. We got to my house in about five minutes but they abruptly stopped when we got to the edge of the forest and the house.

“Sorry, but this is where we part ways.”

I got off Fang’s back, trying to adjust my messy clothes.

“Thank you for… well, everything.” I patted Fang’s head, smiling at him. “Thank you for the ride, big boy!” Fang reacted with a big lick over my face.

I turned towards Caio but he was no longer there. Confused, I turned to the wolf but he had also disappeared. I looked around, searching for the two.

The cold night wind had picked up and because I had no night vision like those two seemed to have, I decided in walking home.

“See you around, little fury!”


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