In The Shadows

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Ten

Blood was pouring from several open wounds on my body as I struggled to stand. Coda was on me at an instant, pushing me to the ground where he sat on top of me, the silver dagger raise by his shoulder. "Dead." He spat at me.

I groaned and wiped away the blood that was trickling into my eyes from the cut on my brow. My werewolf attributes were slowly taking form, unfortunately my fast healing wasn't so fast yet. We had been at this for days. I hadn't gotten more than six hours of sleep in the last four days combined. We would do this for hours, where he would land a killing blow time and time again. We fought in the freezing cold water where my muscles would lock up and I would go numb in seconds, having to tread water and fight at the same time. Coda taught me how to use anything and everything as a weapon.

My father would watch me train and other members of the pack alway found a reason to walk by the training grounds to catch a glance at the supposed female hunter that Coda tried to isolate. I was quickly becoming a wonder around the pack, a female hunter, the daughter of the alpha who was also the longest lasting apprentice Coda had ever taken. It was almost like I was a new person, that the Cleo they had mocked and scorned for years simply never existed and that I remembered nothing of the way they treated me. But I hadn't forgotten while they might have. I didn't speak to them, didn't befriend them. I would protect them, lay down my lives for them if the time ever came, but that was only for my obligation to the pack. I wasn't doing it for them.

Seasons came and went, and new members came and old members left our pack. Perhaps I would have tried to befriend the newly mated females of our pack, but I didn't have the time. Coda would take me away from the pack for weeks where we would train and hunt. My werewolf assets were finally in full force by the second winter in which the lycans had come. I had been able to take down a fully grown grizzly, chase a dear for two straight hours before it finally wore out, sit outside in a blizzard while having to pinpoint Coda's exact location through the white haze. I had fought blindfolded, I had killed countless rogues I had learned to quickly shift to and from my wolf while fighting and learned how to use the extended senses I had been given. To any other I might have been considered a warrior, a predator that could take down anything thrown at me, but it wasn't good enough. I had yet to best Coda and I knew I didn't stand a chance against a lycan if I couldn't take him down.

Fighting wasn't the only thing I trained for. Coda was relentless with teaching me about my wild, the wolf within me. He taught me how to bond with her, to use parts of her without letting her take over. I learned how to use her sight, her smell and hearing. I learned how to extend and contract my teeth and claws with a thought. I meditated for hours to center myself with her, separating us and joining us. I was forced to control my strong emotions in infuriating ways. Coda would poke me, provoke me say hateful things and I was to do nothing about it. It was hard because I had a short temper as it was, but adding my wolf to it, I was ready to pounce if someone so much as blinked wrong at me.

We were returning from a rogue hunt, tracking down a party of eight that had killed countless members of a northern pack. They had asked for our help in exchange of five daggers made of the purest silver. Needless to say I added one to my growing collection. Coda and I split off from the other hunters, who were to head out back to our pack in the morning. It was a three day journey back and the melting snow from winter would make the rivers dangerous with heavy water flow. The pack we were in had already lost two members to the raging waters that came from the snow capped mountains.

Coda and I were allowed to stay in their territory for three days yet and we made the most of our time. Currently Coda and I were walking through the woods, higher up in the mountains where the rushing water could be heard not too far away.

"All right pup," I rolled my eyes at the name. I was eighteen, hardly a pup anymore. Coda grinned showing off his teeth, "You'll always be a pup to me. And don't roll your eyes at me, it's disrespectful." I rolled my eyes. "I'll make you pay for it later." Coda reminded me happily and then continued on with his assignment. "Today, pup," he added just to annoy me, "you get to hunt a rabbit."

I smirked, there wasn't anything hard about that. I'd done so multiple times twice with my eyes closed.

"You'll be in human form of course," Coda added, bursting my bubble. "And you will only be using you hands to catch it. So be on your way. Bring me back a rabbit before lunch." then he strolled off back the way we had come, whistling to himself.

I groaned and plopped down on the ground. I picked up a stick and started making designs on the ground. "Dumb teacher." I muttered, stabbing the ground with my stick. My human form was hard to hunt in, I didn't blend in and getting close to a rabbit would be damn near impossible. I sighed and reached for strong scenting ability, using it to try and track down a rabbit. I followed my nose to a small den, located up on a steep slope of the mountain. I planted my butt on the ground and knew I had a lot of waiting to do. Left alone with my thoughts while waiting for the rabbit to make an appearance from its hole my thoughts drifted to the lycan that occupied my thoughts whenever I had a moment to spare.

Two years had already gone by, and if Hakota lived by his word he would come for me before winter set in. I would need to beat Coda if I had a prayer in taking down the lycan. I was disappointed I hadn't been able to do so yet. I had wounded Coda good a few times, especially with the help of my venom but it wasn't good enough. That Coda was able to fight while infused with my poison and still win over me, I had a lot of training to do yet. I had been cut with Coda's venom many times, and not only did it paralyze you for a moment before making your flesh feel like it was melting off your bones, but it blinded you, clouding your vision and sense of smell for minutes, when all it took was seconds to deliver a killing blow. Coda had cut me before even starting our training to teach me to use my other senses while in agonizing pain.

A little nose peaked its way out from under the cluster of leaves, and soon a brown rabbit emerged. I halted my breathing and focused on the little rodent. It's long ears and legs told me it wasn't a rabbit but a hare. I cursed under my breath, the hares were faster and more alert than the rabbits tended to be. The little brown creature slowly hopped its way from the safety of its den and sniffed at the ground before raising its head as a squirrel running up a tree caught its attention. It caught sight of me and bounded back towards its den, I pounced, grabbing for it but it slipped through my fingers and disappeared back in its den. I was still laying on my belly, sprawled out in the position I had tried to catch the little creature, my hands outstretched in lose balls. I let my head thunk to the ground and screamed in frustration. This was a waste of my time.

And so it happened, three more times. The rabbit finally came out, twice from the other exit of its home only to slip through my fingers and scurrying back into its hole. This time I was sitting above the hole, ready to snatch the little rodent when it poked its head through. I waited and waited, it was well past noon now. "I guess you'll be getting it for dinner instead." I mumbled to myself. From behind me there was a snap and I turned to see the hare had left from its other hole. A low growl rumbled in my throat, slowly standing up I got my body ready to spring and launched myself at the rabbit. It was a mad chase through the forest. It was able to wiggle and squeeze its way through undergrowth much easier than I could. My foot caught on a root and I was sent flying through the air, landing on top of the hare almost crushing it. The furry little creature struggled to get out from under me. I snatched it up and stood, holding the wriggling thing in my hands.

"Ah ha!" I exclaimed. "I finally caught you! You didn't think I could catch you did you?" I asked it smugly. Its little nose twitched rapidly in answer. I frowned at it. "Hey! I might have caught you by accident but I still caught you!" Its wide eyes looked at me. I sighed. "Oh don't give me that look. I know we had fun today, but I have to kill you and give you to Coda so he can eat you. It's for a good cause." Its little nose continued with its rapid pace. "Oh fine, I'll let you go. But you better not let anyone else catch you!" I said as I put him on the ground. I released my hands and it bounded off into the forest.

Shifting into my wolf I quickly found another poor unsuspecting rabbit which I quickly clamped in my jaws and brought back to

Coda. As I dropped it at his feet he picked up the carcass and inspected it. He looked at me with a raised brow. "These strangely look a lot like teeth marks."

"They are." I replied, taking off my coat.

"Why? Didn't I tell you to do it in your human form?" He put the dead rabbit on the table that was in the one room cabin we were staying in. He then took a seat on the bed because I had stolen his chair by the fireplace.

"I did. I let the little bugger go, he was too cute. But you said you wanted to eat rabbit and since I'm such a thoughtful and caring person I hunted for you, because you're too old and crippled to do it yourself. So here you are." I removed my muddy and wet shirt and pants and put them on the back of the chair to dry, snatching the shirt Coda had taken off and was offering me.

"Oh little brat, I knew there was a reason I kept you." Coda mocked me and threw a pebble at my head. I caught it without even turning my head and flicked it back at him. He caught it and smirked dropping it to the ground. "If I'm so old and crippled why can't you ever best me in a fight, hmm?"

"I can't have you feeling bad about yourself now can I?" I joked as I buttoned up the shirt. "You seem like the type to commit suicide because your pride was so wounded from being beaten by a little girl."

"Oh what would I ever do without you?" He asked dryly. "You are so near and dear to my heart I can't imagine a life without you."

I walked over to him and kissed his cheek before shoving him off the bed and climbed under to covers. "Go cook your rabbit and let me rest. I haven't slept in ages."

"Then sun just went down, pup you've got hours before bed."

I rolled over in the bed, turning my back to him and grunted but didn't move to get up. Coda chuckled softly before exiting the cabin with his dinner in tow.

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