His Hybrid Queen

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Chapter 9

Relief washed over me when I found Nana busy in her kitchen. I forgot for a moment that she was a healer and a midwife. She could take care of anything as long as it didn't require surgery. Not that werewolves get sick that often, thanks to our super immunity and healing abilities. Which made me think that there must be someone with a serious injury if so many worried people were gathered outside.

"Nana, what's going on?" I asked, but she didn't answer me. She kept her eyes on the herbs she was grinding in the mortar. I knew she wasn’t ignoring me. Most probably, it was hard for her to answer the question. She loved every member of the tribe like her own children. She delivered them to this world and watched them grow up. So it will be hard for her to see one of them in pain.
“Who got hurt?” I urged, resting my hand on her shoulder.
My grandmother stilled her movements and looked up at me with glassy eyes.
“Its Billy.” She replied with a strangled voice.

I moved to the guest room where she usually received patients. I walked with heavy steps, unprepared for what I might find. Somewhere in my mind, I pictured him smiling and healthy. The moment I opened the door, that image shattered, and I faced the cruel reality. My childhood friend was resting on the bed with his eyes closed. He had the sheet up to his waist, revealing his torso where he had a bandage tinted with red around his chest.

I sat on the side of the bed as I wrung a rag to replace the one on his forehead. The poisoning had caused him a fever and his breath was coming out short and ragged.
“What happened to you Billy?” I asked without expecting an answer. He was, after all, unconscious.
“I’m so sorry.” When I heard the voice behind me, only then I realized the presence of another man in the room. He stood up, leaning on a crutch to avoid pressure on his injured leg. I recognized him as Billy’s partner.
“I got caught in a trap and I couldn’t get free. I howled to let Billy know of my location, but he wasn’t the only one who heard my call. A hunter snuck upon us and pointed his rifle at Billy. It all happened so fast. The hunter was about to shoot again, but when he noticed others had come to the rescue, he ran away. The trap I got caught on was made of iron, but the bullet was made of silver and coated in wolf’s bane. That's why he isn't healing. If only I was more careful or more quiet, he would have been fine.”
The young man blurted out the events while the tears streamed down his face. Not only did he have to watch his friend get shot, but he was beating himself up for the whole situation.

“Don’t blame yourself. You didn't place that trap, and you didn't fire that bullet.” I told him and turned back to my friend.
“Hang in there, buddy. I know you’re stronger than this, Billy.” I wasn’t sure he could hear, but I hoped he would.
“Its Calian!"
A sad smile tugged on my lips. I was reassured that he still had his spirits and hadn't given up yet. But, I couldn't sit back and watch my friend fight for his life.

“Is there something I can do to help?” I asked Nana after she applied the green paste she just made, and changed Billy’s bandages. I couldn’t help but feel guilt for not been there with my friend. The incident happened last night when I was on the opposite side of the reservation chasing a horse.
“Actually, there is.” Her face lit up with hope for the first time that day.

The following dawn, I lined up with the other warriors and anyone who thought they could take on the next challenge. Luckily, the full moon will happen tonight which gives us a chance at getting the Moon Blossom flower. It was a rare plant and a natural antidote to silver poisoning. Whereas wolf bane was lethal only in large doses, the smallest amount of silver in an open wound would be a death sentence.

However, it was easier said than done. To be able to derive the healing potion, the flower had to be harvested when it’s in blossom, which only happen during a full moon. And even if one picks the right timing, they have to conquer a precipitous mountain. It wasn’t for the lack of trying, but the last time someone managed this feat, it was the late chief more than fifty years ago.

The inclination was almost at a perpendicular angle with no visible holds or anchor. Since the other side had been blown off by a comet thousands of years ago, the wall facing us was the only possible route. The climb could be difficult even for an experienced climber with gear, but the mountain had a magnetic field that repelled any metal.

I looked up at the looming peak, shrouded in clouds. It looked like an impossible mission, but I won’t give up without trying. I observed the others for a few minutes hoping I could use one of their techniques instead of wasting my energy in useless trial and error. Some were teaming up, others were going solo, but none looked close to get a hold.

At twelve feet high, there was a tiny crack, wide enough to put a finger. I had to find a way to reach it. Then out of the blue, an idea popped up in my head like a lightning bulb. It is the first time I try something like this, and I’ve only seen it in a parkour video. I saw free runners jump between buildings and climb smooth walls as fast and easily as if it was stairs.

I jogged in my place to warm myself up. I relaxed my muscles and took deep breaths before making my first attempt. I spread some chalk on my hands to use as a marking. I wasn’t expecting to make it on the first try, but I got excited to reach my goal on the third time. I tightened my grip and pulled myself up before I nudged my big toe inside the narrow opening. I was barely holding my weight up, but I risked a last look down at the cheering crowd before I resumed my way up.

I was progressing slowly, analyzing every move before making it. I haven't realized how long I was climbing until the sun started setting and cast its orange glow. I felt like the summit was still miles away, and I wouldn't be able to make it in time. I definitely had times when I feared that I might plummet to my death. There were scary moments where I lost my foothold, or when I had to swing.

Just when I was about to lose hope, I noticed a rope dangling above me. It was left by the last person who made this far. I didn't have to pull on it to know that it won’t support my weight. I willed myself to continue the way up until I reached an opening in the rock. It was a small cave where I could relax my aching muscles for a few minutes.

The sweet trickling sound of water caught my ears. I crawled on all four and lapped at the clear liquid seeping from the rock. After I calmed my parching throat, I collapsed on my back. This was the most difficult thing I had ever done. As exhaustion took over me, I closed my eyes to rest for a while.
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