Running was something Hunter loved doing, always no matter where he was, speed and the feeling of all his muscles working together to propel him forward at amazing speeds. Hunter couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t like to run and leave everything behind. To feel the rush of wind, faster and faster almost as if he could escape it all and disappear into the distance.
Hunter now sat at the boarder separating the forest and Haven’s family’s back yard, feeling completely at ease just sitting there, still, listening, watchful. Not running or pacing just sitting there completely still. The faint rush of water of the close streams running circuits through the forest, the muffled sound of the TV and running washer from inside the house and the calm breathing of Haven who was sitting on the porch doing his homework. Hunter watched taking catalogue of each rustle of leaves and the buck passing by with his doe and fawn.
The days have been quiet, Hunter was sure the hunters would have attacked by now. He’s been on edge for months since that bitch showed up, her scent covered the forest she’s been staking out since the incident with the arrow through the kitchen window that had been replaced a few days ago. Karen still set him on edge whenever she’d look at him with that thoughtful calculating look of hers.
The back door opened and Hunter turned to the sound. Haven’s friend Eli stepped out and smiled a greeting. It was the first time ever meeting the kid whose been to skittish to meet Hunter. He’s wanted to meet Eli, Haven mentions him a lot. Hunter waited for the formalities between Eli and Haven to finish and for Eli to sit down before he even moved; which was a simple ear twitch.
Eli eyed Hunter who stared right back; it was a pity Hunter was down wind. However he was supposed to be just a dog so he got up and wondered over to the two boys and sniffed Eli suspiciously, citrus and blossoms mixed in with fear and anxiety.
“He’s not going to bite is he?” Eli asked nervously to which Haven chuckled.
“Don’t move, he can smell fear,” Haven said in a teasing manner. Damn right he can smell fear it was so potent and sour smelling. He was sure he could smell fear from a mile away, give or take a few yards. Eli froze after Haven spoke staring at Hunter who again just stared back. Haven watched the two of them. He then decided to lean in close to his friend and whispered.
“Looking him in the eye is a challenge for dominates.” Eli shoved Haven away finally catching onto Haven’s teasing. Hunter watched the two quietly for a moment before getting bored. He huffed out a bark and was surprised by how high Eli jumped at the sound. Hunter was going to bark again when he heard a sound and spun around catching sight of fur that defiantly wasn’t deer. Hunter bolted after it ignoring Haven’s shouts for him.
The forest was familiar to an extent. He’d never really been in these woods before but he’d roamed them, looking for stray hunters to attack, drag off and leave somewhere to die. Unfortunately it was dark during those times and he was running around mostly by scent during those times. However following the scent of another wolf was child’s play, it wasn’t until he caught wind of more than five that Hunter slowed as he realized he’d come across a pack’s den.
Hunter moved to turn back when three wolves descended on him, all clearly trained in battle as they circled him. Hunter froze watching their movements closely hoping none would lunge. One was a dark brown the second was pitch black much like Hunter however he was larger and the third was clearly an Omega with his white pelt though he looked tough as he held himself much like the other two.
“Well, what do we have here boys?” The black pelt mused as he bore his teeth. The Omega remained quiet as his superiors spoke.
“A stray, maybe?” The brown one offered and took a quick sniff of Hunter who growled in response.
“No, he doesn’t smell like pack, at least not a wolf one. And there’s no silver so he’s not Rouge.” Hunter’s ears flipped back having no idea what Rouge was. It didn’t sound like anything he wanted to be if there was silver involved.
“He couldn’t possibly be a Lone Wolf they announce their presence to Alphas.” The Omega said, neither dominates scolded him for speaking. Hunter remembers some of pack life and an omega speaking freely was strictly forbidden. There was a crack and rustling the three wolves turned to look as a red pelted wolf decorated with a jeweled woven collar and a cloak that dragged on the ground, a healer.
“Boys,” The woman said to the three though her eyes remained on Hunter who stared right back.
“Defiant as always young one,” If wolves could smile Hunter was pretty sure the expression on the healers face would be it. The wind picked up rustling the leaves as Hunter said nothing in response, “And silent as ever, aren’t you Derek?” Hunter’s ears flipped back. The three wolves stood down realizing the healer knew Hunter though Hunter didn’t think he knew the healer.
“Don’t you remember me child?” She asked stepping up to him, “And if you shrug your shoulders at me one more time I’ll smack you on the nose with my claws.”
“I don’t know you.” Hunter replied simply as the healer circled Hunter taking in his appearance
“I’m not surprised; you were more interested in that child I was watching while your wounds healed. You said nothing to me or my son, only to that boy. What was his name?” She paused as she came full circle and met Hunter’s eye again.
“You’ve grown.” She said straying off topic. “Quite a bit actually, I never expected you to live for very long after you ran away in the middle of the night.” The memories came flooding back. Bad memories, he didn’t want to remember, the blood and pain, screaming and the crack of fire. Hunter shook his head and looked away from the Healer who he now remembers as Charity the healer of the North Winds pack.
“Enough chatting, let’s talk business. What are you doing here? I don’t think Alpha Blaine will take you in again little mystery pup.” Hunter looked at her.
“I’m not looking for charity.” Charity laughed at that, or more like barked in her wolf form. She looked to the three wolves.
“Go back to the village I’m finished with you lot.” The three bowed and scurried off. Hunter realizing they must have been in punishment together or something.
“How old are you now child, twenty?” Hunter remained silent. “No answer can only mean you don’t know.” Charity looked haunted for a moment. “Did you leave because you went to go look for the boy?” She asked shaking off the bad thoughts. Hunter scoffed.
“I was feeling better and as I said I don’t need anyone’s handouts.” He said starkly.
“Of course not, black pelts are looked up to as leaders, strong and independent. But you child are no regular midnight pelt.” Hunter looked at her then and narrowed his eyes.
“Why do you say that?” Charity lifted up her head and looked away from Hunter.
“No reason.” She stood up and moved to leave. Hunter stepped on her cloak.
“Tell me.” He growled. Charity looked back to him.
“You’re in my pack’s territory threaten me and you won’t live to see another sun rise.” Hunter stared at her for a moment before stepping back.
“Sorry, old habit.”
“A pup on the run from everyone and everything; just a wondering soul looking for a place to call home,” Hunter sighed and rolled his eyes. Healers were always so damn philosophical.
“Look at me child.” Hunter looked up and was met with a new sight. The healer was gone replaced by a lovely woman wearing a long flowing dress that was shining in the light. The forest was gone replaced with the night sky in all directions including up and down.
“At the wolf’s bellowing howl look for the moon and sun linked together. Only then will you find what you seek child.” Hunter backed up half expecting to start falling.
“Wha-what?” Was all Hunter could manage and the woman smirked at that.
“You will find many obstacles in your way lost pup. But you are equipped with my children’s gifts. Strength, Defense and Stealth you will prevail I put my faith in you.”
“Who are you?” Hunter demanded growling threateningly.
“You know who I am child, or have you forgotten your goddess?” She asked a note of melancholy plucked at her voice. Hunter jolted awake barking and growling a thump to the right brought him back to himself. He looked over to the porch only to embarrass himself in front of Haven and his friends Eli whom were sitting on the porch as in his dream. Hunter was lying in the shed where Haven had made him a dog house.
Haven was laughing hard while Eli dusted himself off; he’d fallen off the porch during Hunter’s outburst. Hunter watched them quietly before laying his head on his paws and huffed, his blood still pumping through his ears loudly. He thought back on that weird dream and suddenly remembered something he’d overheard Charity talking about during his stay at her house.
“The cycle needs to be started again if we are to survive.” Charity told River, Hunter was lying in bed and had been listening to Jace’s breathing when he overheard their conversation.
“If he is the Sacrifice where is his Protector?” River questioned.
“Perhaps we’ve been blessed and the Protector has been reincarnated far away.” Hunter frowned and sat up carefully.
“I doubt we’d be so lucky mother. The Protector is close and he’ll be after the boy soon.” River said and after a long pause he added, “Though we might be mistaken, isn’t the Sacrifice always a girl?” River mused.
“That is what legend tells, yes.” Charity agreed.
“Maybe we’re wrong about this?” River offered, “We can’t just kill him because he has a birth mark that resembles and moon and sun.”
“But can we afford to spare the child’s life?” Charity questioned, “Would the fairies really mistake Jace as the Sacrifice and carry away the wrong child?” She argued sternly.
“Mother no, I can’t let you harm him.” Hunter had gotten up then and was sneaking up stairs. He made it to Jace’s room and slipped inside. Jace was up and was standing over by the window looking up to the crescent moon silently.
“Jace?” Hunter called out quietly. Jace said nothing though he looked over.
“They’re talking about me.” He said simply “What am I?” He asked as if Hunter could answer that. “They’re calling me a sacrifice, what is that?” Hunter stepped gingerly over to him.
“I don’t know.” He said truthfully.
“Are they going to kill me?” Jace asked seriously and completely without fear, like he was okay with the idea of his death. Hunter just stared at him in response. “I hear whispers sometimes, I think its people around me but sometimes I hear it when I’m alone. Do you hear whispers?” Jace asked. Hunter said nothing and made no movement to answer. Jace looked away from Hunter looking back out the window.
“Sometimes they sing, like songs my mom sings to me before bed.” Jace told Hunter who still remained silent, he didn’t want to see Jace dead but the kid looked like he’d already accepted it as if he was almost happy about it.
“Late at night,
Under… the cover of the moon,
A black wolf sings a song of might.” Jace sang quietly.
Hunter watched him; he wasn’t really singing more like reciting a poem. Hunter looked out the window as well. “There isn’t a black wolf singing Jace.” Hunter said. Jace looked at him and nodded.
“I know that’s what I hear them say though, can’t you hear them too?” Jace asked hopefully.
“Yes, I do.” Hunter lied; he didn’t want Jace to feel like a freak. Jace smiled and looked over to the vent as River and Charity started talking again.
“The fairies wanted to keep him in their world and stop the cycle right?” River questioned.
“Yes.” Charity answered.
“Why do they care?” River asked.
“Because they want to control the wolves, by keeping the life of the Sacrifice in their grimy hands,” They said nothing else after that.
“I’m scared.” Jace said and looked over to Hunter who said quickly without missing a beat and even started talking before Jace had finished talking.
“I’ll protect you Jace I’ll stay here and we can sleep together.” Jace smiled lightly and nodded shyly.“Sure.”