Cherished Lady: Part 2

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5- Edmon Huntington

I marched out of the council room frustrated. That meeting was a disaster. That idiot Ingrival and his lackeys were determined to see Ingrival's daughter set as queen. My time to prepare Artemis before she would need to be revealed was just shortened significantly.

I knew Artemis the wolf was ready. Her wolf was strong and decisive, but ruthless when needed. All good things you need in a ruler but Artemis the girl? She was too sweet, too caring. Those court vultures would rip her apart.

I needed to step up her training. I'll admit it, I was too gentle with her but I now needed to push her harder. Goddess help me for it.

I decided there was not time other than the present to start.

Get to the training grounds now!

I waited a good twenty minutes before she showed up. It was obvious by her expression she was confused as to why Dalton wasn't here but I knew if he joined he wouldn't let me push her the way I needed to.

After barking out the first formation we began our work. The first try she only made it to step three before making a mistake.

"Your leg should be back." I tapped the training rod I held on her leg to emphasize the correction. She scowled at me, rubbing her leg but said nothing. She is tougher than I thought.

The second time she made it to step five. "Dominant hand forward next time," I called snapping her wrist. We repeated this process over and over as I continued to correct each mistake with the training rod. Slowly, she was able to improve. By the end of the hour she was able to complete the formation correctly. Once she had realized this she lit up and smiled. My wolf hummed proudly. I on the other hand, showed no emotion. We had made progress, but there was so much more work to do. "Good...again"

After completing the formation a few more times I decided she was ready for the next step. This time when we had completed the first few steps, I deviated from the sequence moving in the opposite direction that she would anticipate. Just like I thought she would, she wasn't able to correct to the new move and stumbled. As a consequence I grabbed and pulled her forward causing her to fall to the ground.

"You pulled me down," she spat at me.

"You made a mistake," I replied simply.

"I didn't make a mistake you didn't follow the sequence."

"When you fight against a real enemy they will not follow a preset sequence. You will need to learn how to adapt as you fight." She needed to learn this lesson and quickly. Formations are a tool, but they can only do so much. They could not be relied on in actual combat.

Artemis' eyes glowed lavender at my comment. Her wolf was not pleased. After a moment her eyes changed back to green. I wonder if she even noticed the change.

Before she recovered too much, I commanded her to try again. At first her moves were sloppy and obvious. She moved for any opportunity she saw and did not discriminate between a good opening and a bad one. Each attempt led to her either on her knees or on her back. After an hour she had reached her limit.

"Why am I even doing this?" She yelled at me in anger. "Why am I learning fighting stances and formation drills. Shouldn't I be focusing on developing my abilities or something?" I grew annoyed at her question. Who but me knew better about the life of an ancient? She would be targeted immediately upon her discovery.

"How do you know what enemies you'll face? You need to be prepared for anything. We only have a limited time before you'll need to be presented to the court and you need to be prepared for all scenarios." I needed her to understand this, that not seeing the danger doesn't make it any less real.

"Why do I even need to be presented to the court? Isn't the whole point of this just to learn to control my abilities and then go back?" And there lay the problem. Artemis still hadn't realized there was no going back. She still planned to return to the backwoods pack she grew up in. She was going to break when she realized she could never go back and I would be the one she blames, rightfully so of course.

There was no answer I could give that would satisfy her. So instead I simply avoided the question by saying "again."

Her eye glowed lavender again. Her wolf was pushing itself forward. It caused a slight change in her demeanor. Not giving her a chance, I swung the training rod at her. Artemis was able to block it with her forearm before kicking at my feet. Damn, she was fast all of a sudden. I was only barely able to step back to avoid her before she gave a series of well aimed jabs at my face. My eyes could barely track her hands to avoid them. I tried to counter with a kick of my own but she easily spun away before kicking me back. I did not have enough time to dodge it and so was forced to block it with my leg. I internally winced at the impact. Frustrated I moved to hit her again with the rod to which she snatched it out of my hand only to break it across her knee.

I only caught a glimpse of her before she moved. Her eyes were determined and dominant energy flowed off of her. In a flash she began throwing jabs and kicks at me. Her movement continued to quicken, changing direction until I wasn't able to follow them any longer. After blocking the first few hits, she started to make contact. All over I was being hit with well placed kicks and hits until my body finally gave up. With one final sweep of her leg I fell backwards on to my back. I let out a groan at the impact. It had been years since another person could match me in hand to hand. Many soldiers tried, she was the first.

Artemis' lavender eyes looked down at me in mirth. Her power continued to push me into the ground where my wolf dared not to rise from. When she spoke her tone was low but strong.

"I don't know what you are going through or what stress you are under, but take it out on me again and you will regret it." Truth. Artemis then walked out of the courtyard without looking back.

My wolf forced me to stay on the ground until he was sure Artemis had left. He was ashamed at what we had done and although I did not like it, there was one beneficial consequence that arose from it. Artemis was starting to rely on her wolf more and based on today's results I knew her wolf would be able to protect her.

Late that evening in my chambers I sat with book after book of birth records. Artemis being an ancient must of been born from a noble family and I was looking for any similarities that we could connect her too. I was hoping by locating her family name I could figure out why she was abandoned so long ago. This was no easy task. Records were kept meticulously on every birth and marriage, but even with a limited population the lineage of ancients was messy at best and often hard to follow. I was able to fill in many gaps but some were still a mystery.

I was deep in thought looking through the records when suddenly I was toppled over with my desk and the books on the the ground. I flipped onto my back only to be pinned down by two white paws. Looking up I saw the face of a white wolf snarling at me, the drool from her teeth dripping on to my face. Artemis' wolf must have decided to pay me a visit.

Immediately realizing who my visitor was, my wolf moved to show it's submission forcing me to look away and bare my neck to her. Artemis' wolf upon seeing this, lowered her jaws and engulfed my neck with her teeth. My wolf whimpered when I felt her jaws tighten pinching my jugular. She was giving me a message, reminding me who was in charge.

After a moment my neck was released and the wolf stepped off from me. I quickly scrambled backwards to sit in front of her but still refusing to make eye contact. Her wolf critiqued me silently before speaking to me through the link.

You disappoint me Beta. Her voice rumbled with anger ringing through my thoughts. I knew why she was angry. My training methods earlier, although they produced results, were on the verge of barbaric and in her eyes disrespectful.

"Forgive me my Luna," I whispered back. I continued to look at the ground showing my contrition. Artemis' wolf stared menacingly for a moment before she began to slink away towards the window. I was worried she would be seen walking through palace grounds but if she was silent enough to sneak up on me, I had no doubt she would be able to slip past some common night guards.

As she hopped up onto the window ledge she turned her head back to me one last time.

Serve me better Beta, she grumbled, or I will find someone who will. With that she hopped out the window to return to her quarters. Once she was out of sight I let out sigh my body finally relaxing. I would not disappoint her again.
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