Beloved Runt: Part I

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11- Dalton West

I wasn’t thrilled to have the great lord joining us on the hunt, but we needed the help. He was already annoying me with the side comments he was projecting. What was more frustrating is that I couldn’t yell at him back. Even if I could, I don’t know what I would say. How do you explain to someone that we didn’t need to blindly look around? We knew exactly where we needed to go.

I decided to check in with Russell just to make sure.

Any change? It took a moment before he could respond.

No change. She says they are walking along near the river. No doubt when you find them, they will try to use it to mask their scent. Not if I had anything to say about it.

I didn’t know how Artemis was able to sense and locate the rogues when they are near, but I wasn’t going to question it too much. To the pack, it was just another thing we could never repay her back for. Her intuition saved us from an attack countless times. These rogues were relentless. Every few months they would come back and we would have to run them off again. They were quick too. Even with Artemis giving us an advantage they were always able to slip away from us. We could never figure out what they wanted.

Once we got near the identified location, I called everyone to crouch down and crawl as we reached the top of the ridge. I didn’t want the rogues to be alerted before Teddy’s group was in place. Slowly we peered over the edge. Down at the bottom were three rogues sniffing along the ground. One looked up keeping watch and I could see his red glowing eyes. I hated those eyes.

Ralacks?!? Lord Edmon sounded shocked when he saw the rogues. I tilted me head towards him. What did he call them?

You don’t seem surprised by them, He continued. I silently shook my head. Which means you’ve seen them before. He said it as more of a statement rather than a question. He seemed to be familiar with whoever they are. When we returned maybe he can fill in some of the blanks we had.

We needed to take care of them first. If left unattended they would move closer to the pack house and threaten the packs safety. Before Artemis was able to sense them, we had been attacked by the group several times. We were able to fight them off, but every attack took its toll on us. It was much easier to hunt them down and chase them off before they were given the opportunity to do any damage.

We’re in position. Teddy called through the link.

On my cue I responded.

Taking one big breath I brace myself for the fight I was about to face. I bend my legs ready to spring and gave a long howl signally to Teddy’s group to start. The rogues perked up at the noise but before they could respond we had already leaped halfway down the ridge. We were practically on top on them before they began to run. Immediately they were headed towards the river. Cowards. This is why we split into two groups.

Teddy! They are headed for the river. Cut them off. I led my group after them full speed ahead. We were sure to catch them this time

After a few hundred yards I grew worried. Teddy’s group hadn’t show up. Where were they?

Teddy! Where the hell are you?!? I grew worried when Teddy didn’t respond. I slowed to a stop letting the three rogues in front of us run off. As much as I wanted to chase after them, I needed to locate my own first. Following my lead, the rest of the group stopped as well.

What’s going on?!? Chris called to me through the link. Everyone was confused.

Teddy should have met with up by now and he isn’t responding.

Maybe he got went to the wrong place? Doubtful but not entirely impossible. We could either go after the rogues or find Teddy. Since we already let the rogues gain ground on us, I decided to just find the other group.

We’re going to find Teddy and the others first. Then we can re-group and find the rogues. Spread out and pick up their scent.

Everyone did as they were told. Noses were turned to the ground and I could hear everyone huff as they moved through the brush looking for any sign of the others. It only took a few minutes before I heard a bark indicating someone had picked them up. The rest of us immediately went into formation after them to follow the trail.

The scent led us back to the ravine but this time when we arrived there was a battle in progress. Teddy and his team were battling another group of rogues far more than we had seen before. They were outnumbered and although they were holding their own to defend themselves, they were quickly tiring. Luckily, we made it in time.

I jumped onto the nearest brown rogue slashing my claws across his back. Before he could buck me off, I latched onto his neck with my jaws and whipped my head back and forth finishing him. I got up from the body looking for the next rogue. Everyone was locked in battle. There were more rogues than pack members, but we were better trained. Still if we had continued to remain separated, they could have over-powered us.

Looking around I spotted a larger gray wolf who was on top of Teddy. He was larger than the other rogues, so he probably was the leader. Teddy was injured and barely holding on. Before the leader could finish him, I ran and grabbed the rogue by his hind leg and pulled causing the wolf to trip and fall. That gave me the opportunity to get in between the rogue and Teddy.

The rogue recovered quickly an evil glint in his red eyes. I lunged toward him, but he was able to dodge. He retaliated with a lunge on his own which caused me to jump back. Every move I made he was able to counter, and I was quickly being pushed back as I avoided his attacks. I didn’t want to be cornered so one of the times he attacked me, instead of dodging I tried to jump over him to clawsat his back. Somehow, he anticipated my move and grabbed my front leg mid-air and threw me into a nearby tree. I felt as several of my ribs cracked under the impact.

As I tried to move and recover, the rogue began to stalk toward me wanted to finish what he had started. I tried to get up but the injury to my leg and the broken ribs were slowing me down. I wasn’t going down. I was going to take the bastard out even if I went out with him. My wolf snarled at the rogue letting him know just that. I saw the rogue’s mouth curl at one side. He was confident I held no threat.

Before he could attack a light gray wolf jumped on the rogue and started tearing into it with its teeth and claws. It took me a moment before I recognized the other wolf as Lord Edmon. He like the rogue was ruthless in his attack moving quickly to tear into it. The rogue realizing he was overpowered, scrambled to get away but Lord Edmon continued to pull him back so he could slash into him more.

Eventually the rogue’s efforts became successful as he was able to pull away and run off into the trees. Once their leader had left the other wolves scrambled after him. You could practically see their tails tucked in between their legs as they ran. Lord Edmon chased the stragglers to the ravine’s tree line snapping his jaws at them. Looking around it seemed he was the only one not injured. Most warriors had scrapes and cuts along their pelts. Some were worse off but all would recover thank to our increased healing speed.

Lord Edmon walked over and stopped in front of me looking at my injuries.

Are you all right? He asked. I struggled to get up thanks to the pain in my ribs. I was able to stand but I would be limping back to the packhouse. With my head down I nodded my head acknowledging him.

I am going to go track them, Lord Edmon said. I won’t be able to take them all on my own, but I can at least try and see where they are coming from.

He began to walk towards the tree line while I walked towards our group when I was bombarded with Russel’s thoughts.

Dalton! His voice was panicked as it rang in my head. By the wincing I saw on some of the others’ faces he was projecting to everyone.

Slow down Russell. What’s wrong? Is the pack alright?

It’s Artemis she just collapsed. Dalton she won’t wake up!

I looked desperately at Lord Edmon as the panic set into me. He looked back confused as he had no idea what was being said trough the pack link.

Is everything alright? He called out. I could only answer him with a frantic shake of my head before I ran off in the direction of the pack house not caring if he noticed.

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