My eyes widened and I hunched forward, using my legs to support myself against the wooden pillar. I was trying my best to get a handle on my new situation.
“Are you kidding me? Japan?! Why would I want to come here? My home was in Elysium... And I still have unfinished business.” I held my hand on my chest as my breathing became more rampant.
“The entire city is looking for you. Your image is all over the city. This was the only safe place I could bring you to.” Hiro pulled out his phone from his pocket and handed me it to me.
Plastered on the screen was looped footage of me, tearing Aphrodite’s heart out, then lunging towards James. It was being replayed, over and over again with a ridiculous amount of money owing for the reward on my capture.
“Really? A million dollars for my capture?! But I didn’t kill James!”
“You killed Aphrodite.”
“She killed me first!”
“She was a werewolf. Part of the Omega pack, which is James pack. And you, Hunter, were registered as a rogue, so technically, not part of the parley.”
“I was set up then...So tell me, who set this bounty? The police?”
“All the Alphas.”
“Doesn’t that make you, my accomplice?”
Hiro smiled for a brief moment, then his face dropped, “My day is coming. I’m old, and the cancer in me is spreading. I don’t have much time, so a thing like this doesn’t make a difference. Soon enough, my son will be Alpha, and I will be long gone.”
“I’m grateful for your help Alpha, I really am…” I looked down to my hands and squeezed my fingers closed as they began to tremble.
“Most think your dead from the blast and the massive amounts of bullets you sustained, but there are others who think other wise.”
“James,” I let out a deep growl.
“He is putting the money out for the reward.”
“Bull shit.” I slammed my hand hard in the pillar. As I pulled away, I realized I cracked the wood in half. The old me would have cowered in pain from the impact, but now I felt nothing. There was no pain, there was only anger.
“Your strong Hunter, you just need to learn how to weld your power.”
“I just wanted him dead, it was the only thing I wanted...”
“What if I can show you how to control your beast? Maybe even better then your father ever was able to control his.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore. None of this does. I failed Troy, I failed myself, I failed everything... What sort of chance do I stand if the entire city is looking at me? I’m a lone wolf, or Lycan… Or whatever you call me now. I can’t beat an army.” I started to walk towards the sliding door, “I’m sorry Alpha, no disrespect…I just need time to process this.”
Hiro didn’t reply, he just kept looking at me contently, like he was expecting this sort of reaction. He was a patient man, but I wasn’t sure how I could remain calm like him, knowing that I failed everyone in my life.
As I stepped outside the hut, I was met with a cool breeze. I don’t remember anytime in my life where I was near a forest, let alone, set foot in one.
It was early evening by the looks the dimmed sky. There were ancient looking trees all around me. Some large, some small, each with unique characteristics, whether it was disfigured branches, or ones that fell to the ground like a waterfall.
This place reminded me of an enchanted forest.
It felt like everything around me had eyes, watching me closely, analyzing each step I took, like ripples on the water, channeling energy to the surrounding landscapes, warning creatures beyond of my presence.
The trees, the rocks, and the birds that swiftly stood on tree branches, all looked down to me like I was an alien.
Or was it because I was a monster?
I wish Troy could see this now, it was a place I never thought could exist in our dark world.
It was beautiful.
I continued walking towards a few moss-covered rocks by a large tree that stood out from all the others. The rocks around it were placed there like seating around a dinner table. The tree itself was the largest that I came across. It was old looking, and tons of moss surrounded the base of the trunk. Its branches hung close to the floor like spider webs, and it was blanketed in wide green leaves.
I took a seat on one of the rocks next to the base of the tree and put my face between my legs. Then I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing.
In… And out.
In… And out.
In… And out.
I tried my best to think of anything other then what happened, but it was a battle that I was losing with my mind, and the only thing that kept flooding through my head was James. His face when he saw me was priceless, but it wasn’t enough, I wanted his blood, and I wanted his black heart in my hand until it stopped beating.
I kept replaying what happened, over and over again, wondering how I wasn’t able to finish him off.
My breathing became rapid the more that I focused on my past. I thought about Marcus and Xanos’s betrayal, how I failed Derek, wondering if he even made it out alive.
How could I plan my escape without telling him? Was the beast inside me as selfish as all the other Alphas in the world?
“He’s right you know. You should control yourself.” The voice echoed in my mind once again. The voice was clearer this time. It sounded like a woman, but it wasn’t any woman that I have ever met.
I lifted my head up and looked around to ensure there wasn’t someone speaking to me.
“What are you? Where have you been, and why in the hell has it taken you this long to come out? Why did you take me here?”
There was no response. Only the sound of tree branches moving in the wind.
“WHAT ARE YOU!?” My hands began to tremble, and my breathing became more rampant in frustration. I was so confused, and now I was talking to myself like an insane lunatic.
What was I supposed to do now, live the rest of my life here in Japan and hide? Should I even consider going back? I failed and now I was left with more questions then answers.
I felt another surge of anger pulse through me. My jaw clenched tightly, and I let out a loud roar. I clenched my hand into a fist and turned to the tree behind me. The tree itself was pretty, but it was the closest object I could find to numb the fire within me.
I lunged my fist towards the tree with as much power that I could muster, when suddenly, a small Japanese woman walked in front of me, causing me to stop dead in my tracks.
My eyes widened as I analyzed the woman who casually stood in front of my fist. “Are you crazy?! I could have hurt you!”
I realized this was the same woman who was tending to me back in the hut.
She was completely un-phased by my rage. Her face was content, just as Hiro’s. She had a small tout nose, accompanied by dark orbs, but what was most noticeable, was that she reminded me of Kendra. The way she stood up, her petite frame, and her plump lips.
“This tree is older than our pack,” her voice was soft as she spoke, just like Kendra’s.
I sighed heavily as I looked up at the ancient tree. “Look,” I scratched the back of my head, “I’m just having a hard time. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to disrespect your home.”
“I’m Yuri,” she gave a small bow.
I bowed back, “I’m Hunter.”
“I heard lots about you. My father has taken interest in your situation.”
I crossed my arms and looked to her intently, “and what situation is that?”
“I’m actually not quite sure.”
“Then why does your brother hate me so much?”
“Kai is a little complicated. Hard feelings towards strangers of other packs.”
“I was never part of any pack. I didn’t realize I was anything until a couple days ago to tell you the truth.”
“Well, you are Lycan, and he is probably nervous to have you around here considering he is next in line to be Alpha.”
“Is he threatened by me?”
“Kai is never scared, I’ve never seen him back away from anything, but now, I’m thinking he does have fear. Fear of what you are, or maybe it is the fear that you will lose control again.”
“Maybe I should just leave, I’m not out to get anyone. I’m just living day by day.” I turned away, maybe staying here is a bad idea. I can’t have Kai looking at me like his enemy. What if Hiro dies one day and leaves me to deal with Kai?
Yuri grabbed my shoulder, “Wait...” I turned my head, and her eyebrows were raised with concern, “don’t go, I’m not afraid of you.”
“Oh yea?” I let out a small smile. I couldn’t help myself, she reminded me so much of Kendra, like she was her doppelganger. Her touch was warming, and the way she spoke made my heart flutter. She was a kind person, and I could tell she genuinely wanted to help me.
“I'll leave you alone if you hit me,” she took a step back and put her arms in the air in the teasingly manner.
I looked side to side to see if anyone was watching us, “are you joking right now?”
“Come on, you say you’re a fighter, hit me.” Her smile grew more as she egged me on.
“I’m not fighting anyone.” I turned back around, then was met with a hard push and slap on the back of my head.
I immediately whipped myself around, “LOOK YURI.”
But as I turned around, she had completely vanished.
“Yuri?” I looked around the tree to see if she was hiding, but she was no where in sight. I could smell her nearby, but that was about it.
That’s when I felt another hard slap on the back of my head again, but this time, I was expecting it, call it an internal instinct.
I whipped my hand behind my head and caught her hand mid strike, catching her completely off guard. I smiled as I took a moment to watch her surprised face over my shoulder, then I gripped onto her hand tightly and pulled her body over mine, slamming her to the ground. I had her arms pinned to the ground with my legs.
We both were breathing heavily, and I was expecting her to get angry, but it was quite the opposite.
“You’re quite the fighter,” she smiled.
“How did you did you disappear like that?”
“Would you like me to teach you?”
“What is it? Magic?”
“GET THE FUCK OFF MY SISTER.” Suddenly, a large growl came from the tree line. It was Kai, and he was accompanied by an entourage of men.
He was looking more pissed off then before, but I kept silent and carefully released Yuri and got to my feet. She followed suit and stood beside me.
Much to my relief, Hiro was standing next to Kai.
“Training is at 5am,” Hiro glanced down to his watch, “Better get some rest Hunter. That hut is yours to live in until you prove yourself.”
“Training? What do you mean prove myself?” I looked over to Yuri who was still watching me closely.
“If you are going to live here, you must learn our way.”