I could smell something warm... and it isn’t me mixing up my senses… I knew from the smell – something that was attracting my attention like a magnet. I sniffed the air looking for it, the smell of pine around me faded away – nothing else mattered. I could smell it – it was far away but I could sense just how far it was. I opened my eyes and found that the sun had just barely risen. The smell was there though and I couldn’t find myself thinking of anything else.
I stood up and walked to the windows and pressed my hand against the cool glass. I traced my fingers across it… I dragged my fingers across the trail – locating the scent against the landscape of Umbra territory. I licked my lips as I located it drawing circles on the single spot against the window… I tapped on it lightly. Right… there…
“Auden?” I jumped awake, my eyes immediately looking to the source of the voice, only to find Lucien propped on his elbow beside me.
“What?” I asked and Lucien shook his head.
“You were mumbling in your sleep,” he said and before I could react, he caressed my cheek. “You feeling okay?” I paused for a moment.
“…Oh,” I murmured before placing a hand on his neck and pulling him down to me for a kiss. He growled against my kiss and I gently nibbled on his lower lip before tugging it lightly and releasing it.
“We better go before I lock us both in here,” Lucien said in a low voice.
“Mmhmm… Doesn’t sound like such a bad idea to me…” I trailed off and Lucien chuckled, kissing my neck lightly and peppering kisses across my collarbone before lifting himself off me. He touched my hands that were still on his neck, he sucked on my palm and kissed it, tracing his teeth across it before placing it down and walking away to the bathroom.
I grinned as I got up, suddenly realizing how sore I was.
“Oh I am not okay,” I muttered earning a loud laugh from Lucien in the bathroom.
I got up and quickly tugged on Lucien’s shirt before stretching my arms out. I walked over to the windows and smiled as I took in the view. I caught sight of a few running werewolves out on the territory and I followed their path. It was only then that I realized that there was a stream of fingerprints on the window that remained from the fogged up glass.
“Are you gonna shower or what?” Lucien asked from behind me as he kissed my neck and I jumped before I melted at his touch.
“Definitely shower. Wouldn’t wanna have Lana ask about why I smell so much like her brother, now would we?” Lucien laughed before I skipped over to the bathroom.
I folded my arms as we gathered inside Lucien’s office. Katherine, Desmond, Xander, Lana, Lucien, and I all stood around a large table that was set up. On it was a map that was laid down by Xander – it was of the entirety of Umbra territory. Usually I’d expect these maps to be dated – but the map looked like it was professionally graphed and marked.
“The attack happened around here,” Xander said as he took a marker and encircled an area about a kilometer away from the pack house.
“We’ve had pack members circle this area,” Desmond said, guiding his fingers along the outer edges of the map. “Came up with not a single trace-“
“Had the other pack members find as much as they could about bloodhounds – I’d say we’ve got nothing but rumors unless we count meeting Ignus himself,” Katherine explained.
“So, nothing useful…” Lucien trailed off and I watched as Lana gripped Xander’s hand.
“How’s the wound?” I asked and Xander shrugged.
“Healing, though much slower than usual-“
“Side-effect of a bloodhound?” Desmond asked.
Definitely. Ignus said and I sighed.
“Yes,” I confirmed and all eyes fell on me.
“I met with Ignus yesterday, Lucien saw me – and no, I did not have permission to do so – but I had no other choice,” I explained with a sigh. “I’ll tell you as much as I can.” I looked to Lucien who nodded in response.
“According to Ignus, most bloodhounds are under one major ‘pack’ if you will,” I explained. “Ignus said he only recently got away from that pack – but the truth to that statement is up to you all to discern.”
“Well… we can always take caution,” Katherine said with a shrug. I smiled briefly at her, earning a wink before I continued.
“Bloodhounds are harder to track – no matter what werewolf you use. If they leave a trail for werewolves, most of them do it on purpose,” I said and I saw Desmond grimace. Katherine immediately put her hand on his and squeezed it.
“So how exactly do we prepare for them then?” Lucien asked.
“You use one of them,” I said with a sigh. “Of course since we don’t exactly know what the goal of both Ignus and the other ‘enemy’ is, we-“
“We blindly have to trust one to get possible false information about the other,” Desmond said with an exasperated sigh. I took a breath and paused for a few moments.
“Not exactly.” Desmond raised an eyebrow.
“From what Ignus has told me… it seems that I’m not exactly a werewolf-“
“We’ve already discussed this, you’re human, no problem-“ Katherine began but I shook my head.
“According to Ignus, I’m a bloodhound. And the only thing I can find that confirms this suspicion is my dad’s actions towards Zaina and my situation – although he warned me about Ignus – he can’t currently speak to me.”
“But I can get that to happen,” Lucien said, nodding his head.
“…Hold on, you can’t possibly be a bloodhound,” Katherine began.
“Yeah,” Lana agreed and I smiled in response.
“When I was younger, the only member of my pack that I could link with was my dad. According to Ignus, bloodhounds don’t breed werewolves – if I’m one of them I can help track… thing is, Ignus would have to teach me how to better do that,” I explained.
“But you haven’t shown any signs of… well, bloodlust,” Desmond said.
“Apparently it doesn’t happen to most… but the first taste of it can have its… negative side effects,” I said with a sigh. “But I don’t need to intake blood to get the most out of my abilities.”
“And what abilities would that be?”
“I can track them – if you let Ignus teach me,” I said, looking to Lucien for his approval before gauging everyone else’s reactions.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Desmond said.
“He could be using you,” Katherine added and I shook my head.
“Not if you guys watch over them – we can train close to territory – not necessarily here,” I said, trying my best to persuade them. “Ignus has two kids with him – they’re vulnerable.”
“Kids?” Katherine asked.
“Bloodhounds like them- us,” I said, quickly correcting myself. “Listen, I don’t know for certain if what Ignus says is true – but I can say that I’ve been shown enough to believe him.”
“What the hell did he show you?” Desmond asked.
“He spoke to me,” I said with a shrug. “He linked me.”
“How long has he been doing that?” Lucien asked.
“For a while now… the link goes a bit further… We can- we can almost sense each other’s surroundings-“
You know they’re gonna kill me if I get near them- right? Ignus said and I mentally groaned. Lucien stared at me before looking at everyone else in the room and sighing.
“Does Ignus know where this is?” Lucien asked.
“The pack house?” I asked.
Not that I do, but I can sniff you and your little bloodhound scent- but that’s only because I know you. Ignus said, irritating me.
“Is he talking to you right now?” Lana asked, curiously. Aware that everyone was already watching me, I nodded my head.
“He says he can sniff me out – but that’s because he knows I’m one of them,” I said and Lucien folded his arms over his chest.
“Does he know who’s hunting you?” He asked.
Yes and no. I know who gave the order. Ignus replied.
“He knows who gave the order – but not necessarily who it was that attacked.” Lucien looked around the room.
“Where is he right now?” He asked and I waited for Ignus’ reply.
Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Ignus replied and I rolled my eyes.
He’s asking where you are.
Oh. Well, I’m sure you can find that out.
We’re roadside – we’ve been scouting the area outside your territory. Hera replied and I sighed.
“What?” Katherine asked, concerned.
“They’re close by, they said they were scouting the area, probably to find out who got on in it in the first place,” I replied.
“Tell them we’re coming to bring them in,” Lucien said. Katherine and Desmond’s concerns showed on their faces but Xander and Lana seemed to stand by his decision. I nodded my head.
Lucien says he wants to bring you guys into the pack house.
Um… can we do it later? A little busy here. Ignus said and I raised an eyebrow.
Look for yourself.
A quick flash of images filled my head. They were out on the highway close to territory – a trail of warm blood was dashed on the road. I saw Dalton and Hera kneeling down and covering it in snow.
What was that?
Your little attacker probably tried to get someone else – do me a favor and ask your Alpha if anyone else was injured or missing. We’ll be there after we find out a bit more. Ignus said in a more serious tone.
“They found something they’re investigating. Ignus is asking if you know of anyone that’s injured or missing – aside from Xander,” I informed and Lucien looked around the room. I knew that he was already sending a message to the pack members and I waited to see what Ignus would say next.
“We got nothing so far,” Desmond responded, folding his arms over his chest. Katherine, on the other hand, pulled out her phone.
“…Alright, found something – there’s a missing person reported just a few days ago,” she said, showing her screen to everyone.
Got that? I asked Ignus.
Yeah, male or female?
Male. Jogger. I said as I read off of Katherine’s screen. Late fifties.
It was then that I could smell it – rotting flesh – as if it was right in front of me.
What the hell is that? I asked.
See for yourself.
I closed my eyes and the image flashed around me. Hera was crouched down examining a mangled body lying in a pool of blood. Chunks of flesh lay scattered around, the body itself had been hidden on a caved in area on the side of a hill – they weren’t far off from Umbra territory – but they weren’t on it for sure.
“What’s he saying?” Katherine asked.
“I think we just found the missing person.”
Lucien rubbed his forehead.
“We’ll meet Ignus there,” he said before turning to me and nodding his head, “Lead the way, Auden.”
I swallowed a lump in my throat.