Forgotten Wolf

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18 Try Not To Die

The week passes in a bit of a blur as Jude tries to prepare me for challenge. Sara has flat out refused to train me or include me in strategies; apparently I’m just fodder. Even though it could probably be considered aiding the enemy, he refuses to let me go into it completely unprepared.

I’m on my ass on the ground for the umpteenth time today. Jude, on the other hand, is every bit the composed competent warrior. He stands there, sun glistening off his chiseled chest, barely a sheen of sweat on him, wearing nothing but sweatpants and completely barefoot. His blue eyes are shining with excitement; I can’t say I share his sentiment.

We’ve been working daily on dodges and blocks. Shockingly, I’m not tall enough, strong enough or fast enough for any attacks. So the game plan is to run, hide, and dodge when someone catches up.

I’m so screwed.

He teaches me how wolves patrol, hunting techniques, attack strategies, anything to try and help me not be the first one taken down. By Friday I’ve managed to flip a couple of his attacks to my advantage, but we both know the deck is stacked against me.

“You’ll be fine, you’re stronger than you know,” he reassures me.

“Oh I’m gonna get my ass kicked, but at least I won’t spend all day running in the woods,” I laugh. “What about you? You ready? I swear you look like you’re bulking up in front of my eyes.”

I pat his massive bicep to prove my point. It’s true, in the last two months he’s bulked up considerably. He went from a lean muscular build a little smaller than Jace to bulkier than him now, just a bit smaller than Chris.

“I’m actually super stoked,” he admits with a lopsided grin. “I’m kind of glad I don’t have to help Sara but I’d prefer us to be on the same team.”

“Don’t worry about me, you heard her. I’m just fodder. Maybe this can help you get in, just show them what you’ve got. You already seem to get along well there,” I say nudging him with my shoulder.

“Chris hasn’t changed his stance,” he says sadly. “It was the best move, humble Sara by making her responsible for you, but he didn’t want me on the same team as you. That’s the only reason I’m on his team, not because he wanted me.”

“Prove him wrong! Show him you’re worth a spot in their pack. Jace thinks highly of you, look for a chance to work with him, make them see,” I say, eyes locked on his.

“I will if you do,” he says, raising a brow. “Show her she’s underestimated you. One of the ways to win is to outlast. You don’t even have to take anyone out, you just need to avoid them,” he laughs. All I can do is nod.

It would be nice to make it to the end, but even to not be the first person out would be a win for me.


Saturday morning puts us at the pack house for an early breakfast as the ground rules are laid out. The game starts at nine am and ends at five pm if not sooner. If any challenger team members are left standing by five then they win. If it rains then the game will pause with whoever is still in play. Shortly after breakfast, the teams break into last minute strategic meetings before heading to the forest edge. Already the clearing starts to fill with spectators.

“They have size, we have numbers, we will use that to our advantage,” Sara coaches. She proceeds to pair the women up, herself and Claire as her second will be the hammer. Natalie and Alexi, Alisa and Lynn, while Chloe, Sydney and Cara will round out the groups. As fodder I’m not worthy of a partner.

It’s for Jude.

I keep repeating as she continues to ignore me. The meeting breaks up and everyone heads to the starting point. I catch Sara before she leaves. “I know you’re not happy to have me but is there anything I should do?”

“Stay out of the way, stay in play to buy us time if you can, and try not to die,” she says frowning. “I don’t know why Chris even agreed to this, you don’t stand a chance. It’s not really fair to me or you.” Frustration and pity swirl in her eyes as her frown deepens.

I can’t help but roll my eyes at her, but there’s no way to change her mind once it’s made up. We meet up with everyone at the start where she joins Claire, leaving me alone.

“This may be the first time that the thought of you running sounds like fun,” Chris says quietly. A shiver runs down my spine as my heart starts to race, his hazel eyes are dancing with excitement. “Get all your bets placed?”

“B-bets?” I stutter as my body seems to have forgotten how to function in his presence. “I didn’t think to make any, but Sara and Claire made a few.” I barely have any idea how this game works let alone try and win bets on it.

“How about some action?” My mouth drops at his suggestive tone earning a laugh. “If we win-” I cut him off with a wave of my hand, knowing there are already a bunch of those types of bets made.

“They’ve already got win or loose covered, let’s pick a pony,” I counter, to which he raises a brow. “I’m picking Jude to make it to the final four on your team.”

Clearly based on his surprised expression this is not the direction he wants this to take but he recovers quickly. “And if he doesn’t? What do I win?” He’s already counting Jude out, which irritates me to no end.

“What do I get when he does?” I counter.

Amusement dances in his hazel eyes as he takes in my challenge. A smirk slowly tugs at his lips as the wheels turn.

“Whatever you want, in reason of course.” He smiles and holds out a hand, “Do we have a deal?” I shake and nod.

Please Jude, don’t let me down!

A mischievous grin spreads across his face as he pulls me close, “Run little one, let the chase begin,” he whispers, his husky voice causes a tightening in the pit of my stomach.

Challengers hit the forest first and have a twenty minute grace period before the defenders come. I have been left on my own with no direction so after jogging for ten minutes I take a pause.

I’m no athlete, I’m certainly not out running anyone.

I spot a couple good pines on the edge of a small clearing, wonder how well they climb?

I start up the first and get half way up before I realize there’s a gap I can’t get past. A buzz on the smart watch tells me the defenders have entered the forest. I quickly switch trees getting out of sight just before I hear someone approach.

“Come on out,” I hear Xavier call. I hold my breath as he slowly comes towards me sniffing the air. “I know you’re here Jess.” He walks around the area trying to pinpoint my location.

He doesn’t know where I am just that I’m around! ‘Maybe you have a chance after all!’

He slowly comes to a stop at the base of the two trees.

‘Or not!’

“Come down, I know you’re up there,” he calls.

Clearly annoyed by my silence he starts climbing. My heart jumps for joy when I realize it’s the wrong one!

“Really Jess? You’re going to make me drag you out of a tree,” he complains as he reaches the spot I couldn’t get past. He scans around confused, dark eyes darting from branch to branch. My watch buzzes alerting that Roger is the first victim taken out by Alisa and Lynn, letting him know exactly where I am.

“Gotcha” he grins in triumph.

“Technically it’s ‘I see you,’ you haven’t got me yet, you picked the wrong tree,” I tease. Xavier scrunches his face in frustration and I can’t help but giggle at his reaction.

“Really,” he grumbles. “Can’t you just face me on the ground? No? Fine, I’ll come drag you out.” As he hits the ground his attention is solely focused on where I am in the tree, he doesn’t see the attack coming that lands him face down on the ground. Within a minute Sara and Claire have him pinned and he submits.

“Sorry my love,” Claire apologizes, kissing him tenderly.

“We’ll see who gets pinned tonight,” he growls suggestively, patting her butt as he takes off back to the starting point.

“Not bad, this could work”, Sara trails off lost in thought. “Bait, keep doing what you’re doing, it may buy us some time yet.”

‘What no insult?’ ‘Well being called bait isn’t exactly a complement.’

I simply nod as I head deeper into the forest. My best bet is to keep moving and to look for a new place to hide. My heart skips a beat as the next alert goes off.

Bzzz - Xavier eliminated by Sara and Claire.

Two down, six to go! I wasn’t the first to go, yay me!

Bzzz - Chloe eliminated by Jace.

Shit. Nine to six, still good.

I find a rocky outcropping at the base of a cliff with boulders ranging in size from knee high to cars. I can hide in some of these crevices that the guys’ broad shoulders won’t fit.

Bzzz- Sydney and Cara eliminated by Jace and Jude

Hot damn he’s on the board!

A giant grin takes over my face. I shouldn’t be happy about losing two more teammates, but Jude scored and is working with Jace.

Shit that brings us seven to six, those are not great odds.

I barely hear the crunch of gravel as a man rushes me. I have just enough time to duck under the boulder and shimmy towards the other side, before I’m abruptly dragged back by a hand on my ankle.


I kicked out with the other foot landing a couple of hits before I’m released. I crawl the last couple feet as a calloused hand reaches in towards me.

Crap there’s got to be two; there’s no way he got around that fast.

“Give it up girl,” the ankle grabber calls.

“No, I think I quite like it here,” I call, looking for a new exit.

“Seriously?” The other calls, I think his name is Liam. “You’re going to make me go in and get you?” I hear the ankle grabber digging and shifting rocks on his end. “Here that? Nate’s got your way out blocked there’s nowhere to go.”

“Umph,” Nate groans as he’s hit with a sneak attack.

“It’s pretty nice in here, why don’t you join me?” I call out to Liam, hoping to keep him distracted. I catch a glimpse of red hair as Natalie is thrown. “Come on, where’s your sense of adventure?”

“Fuck,” Nate shouts followed by the announcement.

Bzzz- Nathan eliminated by Natalie and Alexi.

I climb back out the way I came in to see a slightly banged up Natalie and Alexi grinning like mad women. “This could work, you know? There are still seven of us and only five of them.” I smile and nod, with a flash of my own grin we break off and head in the opposite directions.

This area looks familiar.

Before long, I find myself looking down at the falls Jace had brought me to. The hair stands up on the back of my neck in warning as I look around for the threat.

“Well, well, well. I knew you’d come here, my little elf,” Jace teases.


I look over the edge; it’s a pretty good drop, but I know from swimming there are no rocks.

“If you wanted to go swimming again all you had to do was ask,” Jace teases.

I inch closer to the edge as my heart races.

It’s not that far, I can make the jump and try to swim away. Chances are that Jace will just jump in after me and catch me anyways.

“Are we doing this the easy or hard way?” he asks, raising a brow. The mischievous glint in his eye says the hard way. He lunges at me and excitement explodes in me. Jude has trained me for just such an attack! I drop my shoulder rolling onto my back and use his momentum to flip him off the edge. I rush to the edge, panicking that I just killed my friend.

“Oh it’s on now little elf!” he yells when he breaks the water’s surface. “Better start running now, your ass is mine!” he booms.

Fuck now what?!

The rocks are my best bet, he can’t fit in there, so I back track to the outcropping I left Liam at.

Bzzz- Alexi eliminated by Liam.

Shit where’s Natalie!? Did they stay there or did he chase after them? I don’t know where to go.

Bzzz- Natalie eliminated by Chris.


My heart skipped a beat.

Fuck now what? I can’t risk the rock pile and the falls have a very pissed off wet Jace.

I veer down a path to the left away from both, but I have no idea where it goes.

Four hours of running and hiding have started to take a toll. My legs and lungs are burning and my whole body is starting to ache.

Bzzz- Ethan eliminated by Alisa and Lynn.

Aww, he did so well.

In all honesty I expected me and Ethan to be the first two out of the game.

Middle of the pack is something to be proud of.

“Umph,” the air is knocked out of me as Liam tackles me hard. I didn’t see him coming. The hit crumples me as we tumble across the forest floor. I scrambled to my feet, trying to catch my breath and increase the space between us. Alexi apparently went down swinging based on his shiner.

He lunges at me as I side step behind a tree. I try to pull myself up it, but he catches my ankle, freaking again! We struggle for a minute before he manages to drag me out of the tree. We both fall hard to the ground. I use our falling momentum to drive my elbow into his ribs as I land on top and roll off. He growls and makes his way back onto his feet, lunging at me again only to be tackled by Sara and Claire.

They fight like a well oiled machine, synchronized moves for maximum effect with minimal energy wasted. Sara focuses her more powerful blows high while Claire goes low working on cutting the man down to size. He doesn’t go easy on them landing strikes on both women, but they are able to twist and deflect most.

Before long, the women have him on his knees and Sara latches on with an iron grip choke hold. He struggles against Claire and manages to get back to his feet, backing into a tree, trying to smash Sara off. It’s already too late, the hold has done its work and he falls to his knees before baring his neck in submission.

“You guys are incredible,” I practically gush as everyone separates. With a quick check and a nod Sara sends Liam on his way.

“Two and a half hours to go, only three of them and five of us,” Sara’s eyes twinkle. “We’ve actually got a chance here ladies. We lost Chris over there,” she points behind her. I nod thanks and we go to split up once again.

“Jace nearly caught me by the falls,” I say, so that leaves Jude.

Bzzz- Lynn eliminated by Jude.

“He does not disappoint,” Sara calls over her shoulder as they take off in the opposite direction.

The skies are getting darker as we approach the final two hours. The air is thick and starting to smell like rain.

Bzzz- Alisa and Claire eliminated by Jace and Jude.

Shit! That leaves me and Sara. I can’t hold up her flank, now what?

Bzzz- Jude eliminated by Sara.

I didn’t even have time to reflect on Jude’s elimination as a low growl cuts through the air. I can’t see him but the excitement I feel at that sound tells me exactly who it is. My heart races as I scan the dark woods looking for him.

Chris slowly emerges, hazel eyes locked on mine.

I’m out of moves. I can’t out run him if I try and he can over power me easily.

That doesn’t stop me from slowly backing up as he stalks towards me like a hungry predator. Suddenly, my back’s against a tree and he’s inches away, eyes locked as the skies open up.

Realizing the rain has robbed him of his victory I can’t help the smirk on my face. “There’s always tomorrow,” I tease.

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