In The Shadows

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Fourteen

When night fell so did the temperature. It was a cloudy night, the moon hidden behind the clouds only to peak through every now and then when the clouds passed. My wolf pelt kept me warm but the cold still bit at my nose and eyes. I was probably the warmest of the wolves, traveling in the center of the pack. It wasn't by my choice, Hakota probably wanted them stationed around me to block me from any attempt at escape. I didn't know why he thought I would run. If I didn't want to come, I would have had my father fight him.

We traveled further north, the snow becoming deeper as we went. Now the snow went half way up my legs, making it an effort to continue to plow through without stopping. I was lucky Hakota was in front of me, his big form carved out a path for my smaller wolf to walk through. Snow was falling silently around us, landing on my fur before melting. It had been fine at first but now I was wet, the cold seeping into my bones. I continued onward, knowing that moving was the best way to keep warm at this point and I wouldn't be seen as weak by these lycans.

Through the night we walked, not stopping once as the sun rose above the horizon and daylight pierced through the dark veil of night. New unfamiliar smells surrounded me, the borders of my pack far behind me. I wondered if anyone would miss me. I was planning on returning of course, but I didn't know how long that would be. It could be weeks, months or years before I returned.

By high noon Hakota finally called for a halt. He sent three of the lycans off hunting, sending two others for water. I stayed in my wolf form while the others shifted, clothes appearing on their bodies when they did so. I was envious of their ability but refused to shift. My fur was much warmer than my human skin. This way I wouldn't converse with anyone either.

The wolf called Roshan watched me. He sat opposite of me, his arms crossed as he examined me. I turned my head away from him, feigning indifference and looked at my surroundings when really his gaze was bothering me. It was like he was trying to see through me. I wondered what he was thinking of me. Probably that I was too weak to be the mate of his alpha. I wasn't even able to shift into clothes. I laid down eventually, annoyed that Roshan was still watching me and set my head on my paws and curled my tail into myself. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, knowing after we ate we would continue to travel for hours.

"You're wolf is small. Smaller than a usual hunter's." He said eventually. My eyes cracked open and I looked at him lazily. "You're closer in size to a fox."

My eyes shot open and I growled, but didn't remove my head from my paws. I wasn't nearly that small! Just because the lycans were abnormally large didn't mean that I was as small as a fox! And he looked like more of a fox than I with his reddish colored coat and black tipped ears.

"I was not intending to offend you." Roshan told me. "It was merely an observation. Being small isn't a sign of weakness necessarily. You're harder to catch and even harder to keep. You slipped out of Hakota's grasp like an eel."

I glared, well, as much as a wolf could. That was definitely an insult. An eel? He was comparing me to those overgrown worms?

"You are quick to anger." Roshan immediately noticed. "Your wolf drives you to aggression quite easily. You can restrain yourself though, that is good." He stood and walked over to me, crouching down and reaching above my head. A low rumble from my throat escaped in a warning. Roshan just looked me straight in the eyes and placed his hand on my head. "Calm the waters of your raging sea and dim the fires of anger." He said softly. "We will not hurt you, bhanrigh." My anger ebbed, fading into calm. I kept my gaze trained on Roshan's green eyes as he stroked my head. "You have so much anger within you." He whispered to me. "Your temper will clash with Hakota's and make for many miserable arguments." My eyes closed and I just enjoyed the sensation of being pet softly. "Learning to pick your battles and to push back your rage with be most-"

"Roshan!" A stern female voice called.

His hand left my head and I saddened at the lack of touch. I opened my eyes to see a woman with platinum blond hair, braided across the crown of her head and then tied back with the rest of her loose hair, striding towards us. She grabbed his arm and pulled him up and away from me. "You know what Hakota ordered." She whispered to him, trying to keep me from hearing. "We are to stay away from her until she concedes."

Roshan cast me a look over his shoulder, an apologetic look in his eyes. I knew that he wouldn't be talking to me again so I turned my head away from him, ignoring him as I sulked. Fine, I didn't need any friends. Especially in a lycan pack. They were untrustworthy anyway. Besides I'd survived my whole life without friends and I had been perfectly happy.

"Innoko, Roshan." A third voice called. I didn't bother to turn my head and see what was happening but the smell of fresh deer blood caught my nose and I guessed that the hunters hand returned.

I stayed where I was, keeping to myself a far distance from the rest of the group and stared off into the woods. I ignored the call for food and tried to suppress my growing hunger. I could hunt for myself. I wouldn't leech off the resources of a pack that didn't belong to me. I would not be seen as weak.

"Cleo, we are waiting for you." His voice was terse, annoyed. I didn't even deign to look at him. Just continued to pretend that he didn't exist, that none of them did.

"We won't stop for food again until late tomorrow. You need to eat." The words were stiff, like he was trying to control his irritation, but I could sense it.

Flicking my ears I closed my eyes to show him I had no intention of eating.

"Stubborn female." He muttered. I heard his footsteps come closer. A shadow fell across me and I knew he was now crouched down right before me. "You can pout later. Eat so we can leave." Again I pretended as if he was non existent. There was a sharp pinch to my ear and my eyes shot open as I yelped and snapped my teeth at his retreating hand. I snarled at his smirking face and then tucked my head back down, swishing my tail over my face. I was ready to attack despite what it seemed, I was ready to bite his fingers off if he tried it again.

As I suspected, he did. Faster than lightning I clamped my teeth onto his wrist and tried to chomp down to break his wrist but he tore his arm from my cage of teeth. The smell of his blood filled the air and the snow beneath us turned scarlet from the drops of blood that were escaping from the bite marks I had left.

"I offer you food and you bite me?" He asked, his voice low and void.

A low rumble sounded in the back of my throat.

He stood, towering above my small form. "Fine. We'll do this your way."

He scooped me up like one would a puppy and carried me further away from the group of lycans looking onward with curiosity and worry. I thrashed in his arms but it did me no good. His hand was firmly clamped around my muzzle, keeping my mouth firmly shut. I kicked at him with my paws but he only held me tighter. I tried to duck out of his hold around my mouth, and finally just shifted.

The wind nipped at my bare skin and a shiver racked my body. While the element of surprise was still on my side I brought my knee up and slammed it into his jaw. His head snapped to the side from the force of my blow. I scrambled from his hold and fell to the ground, landing on all fours. I stayed on my hands and knees, my hair hanging limply in my face, the snow up to my elbows.

Hakota's eyes flashed black, a sign of his growing anger. "You little beast." He rotated his jaw to feel for any injury and then looked down at my quivering body. "Why must you fight me?" He asked taking a step forward.

I growled at him when he ventured another step. "I will always fight you."

"Then I must show you that you can't win. You'll stop fighting after then." He lunged for me and grabbed for me. I shed my human skin, my wolf pelt bursting forth. With my claws and teeth extended I met him head on. His huge form crushed me down. I lashed out at him with my claws, catching his neck and pectoral.

There was no burning of his flesh, no green liquid, rimming his scratches. Confused, I lunged at him again, clamping down on his shoulder with my teeth. Hakota's arms easily encircled my small form and he squeezed the barrel of my chest and pulled me away, slamming me to the ground on my back. I wriggled and tried to free myself, but he held me down in the snow. I gnashed my teeth, chomping at nothing but air.

"Ah ah ah, little monster," He said when I tried to propel myself off my back and bite into his neck. "Your venom doesn't affect me. Your bite merely stings a little." He grunted as my back foot hit into his stomach but his grip didn't loosen. I continued to thrash, kicking, clawing and biting at anything I could. Hakota kept me down, refusing to let me go. "For Lune's sake, Cleo! Enough!" He shouted when my claws clipped his jaw. He released me with one hand, closing it around my neck and then his other, reaching for both my flailing front paws, grabbing them in one hand and placing his knee on my chest to further pin me down. His blue eyes were stormy with his anger. "Stop fighting." He commanded me, squeezing my neck. I only fought harder in response. "Goddamnit!" He cursed at me. "Enough already! Shift!" There was pure command in his last words, he was trying to enforce his alpha on my wolf so that I would be unable to disobey. But I wasn't a part of his pack, he wasn't my alpha. "Shift!" He bellowed, making my wolf cower into a corner of my mind, trying to push me to take over. When I continued to fight, against both Hakota and my wolf, Hakota snapped his teeth in a show of dominance. "You will shift!"

A whimper left my throat as my bones felt as though they were slowly being splintered. There was a surge of power overwhelming me, forcing my wolf back and my human to come forward. Once my transformation was complete I stayed pinned to the ground, the snow pricking every square inch of my body. I panted, my energy depleting. "You made a mistake, bringing me with you." I told him, my chest rising in falling as I breathed heavily.

He cocked his head, "Mistake?" He chuckled darkly. "On the contrary," he said, pressing me further into the snow, "I gained a major asset by taking you."

"We'll see if you still think that a few days from now." I retorted giving him a wicked smile of my own. "I'll fight you every minute of every day. I will be more trouble than I'm worth."

Hakota released my hands and used his finger to trail a line from the hollow of my throat down between my breasts to my belly. "I don't think so, little monster. You see, you are the key to the return of the lycan rule. You will be worth all of the trouble you throw my way. Besides," he said lowering his face to mine, our noses brushing. "You will stop wanting to fight me before long."

"I wouldn't be too sure about that." I hissed. "When you least expect it, I will strike."

Hakota's eyes glinted in amusement. "I guess time will only tell which of us is right and which of us is wrong." He stood smirking down at me. "And as the saying goes, the older the wiser, and I, little Cleo, am much older than you. I know how to get what I want." His blue eyes twinkled mischievously. "And as much as I enjoy seeing you in such a state, I suggest you shift into your fur. I wouldn't want you to catch a cold."

My lycan mate turned on his heel and waltzed away leaving me in the snow, wishing looks could kill.

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