Chapter 7 - On The Road
I flicked the heart off my flail and whistled for Sudryl, “why does that happen every time I touch you?” Amped up on adrenalin, I shouted at Hunter.
“You ripped her heart out?” Hunter was too lost in the events of what just happened to properly respond.
“I had too, she was letting them into the protection grid, what did you want me to do - hold up a welcome sign?”
“But... just... straight out of her chest?”
“Hunter focus, please… these are not ordinary wolves, look - they haven’t phased back.” He moves his head around and slowly examined the wolves, still in their form.
“Why have they not phased back?” Finally, his shock evident.
“I have a theory, hold this one’s throat open?” He moves behind the dead wolf, raising its head up high, at its jaw, as I extracted the pouch of powdered moonstone from my chest, where I kept it.
I sprinkled the powder down the wolf’s throat and within seconds, he transforms back into human form.
“Moonstone?” Hunter raises a brow.
“Yes, Alpha with a frightening reputation.” I looked back at the body, “It’s what I thought. I can’t wait until the morning, I have to leave now.”
“What? Hey… what did you…”
“Look at the body. This man’s been tortured beyond any human sanity, his wolf is all he could live as, essentially making him a killing machine. You said a pack was after you, but you didn’t know why? I think, they are after our Siren, my theory is - The shadow, that lurks out there, has an entire pack of tortured wolves with no humanity left. This was a test. If he can find a witch strong enough and the whole pack plus the vampires and the shadow get in - we are all dead.”
I took off and jumped on Sudryl, heading straight for the Alpha’s pack house to collect my things. In retrospect, I should have stayed and listened to his side of things but all I could think about was how much time had already been wasted? I was sent here for a purpose and I intend to see it through.
Walking out with my cloak on and my weapons hidden, I’m greeted with four fully packed and bulky Were’s and one mean looking Alpha.
“Ready?” He enquires.
“You don’t listen do you?”
“Apparently, neither do you.” I find myself smiling at his comeback.
I had no idea what it was about Hunter but I enjoyed his company. He was brave and funny but could be strong and serious, he pulled my attention like no one ever had before and it threw me a little. His persona was shocking, dangerous and evil, yet, in truth, he was gentle and kind, protective of not just his pack but also of me - even though, he had no idea who I was before two days ago.
“C’mon, let’s try and cover as much ground as we can before we are too tired.” All six of us forged south, towards the dense thick forest and in search of the cabin. Max and Ryka were already whinging and Hunter was losing patience with them.
“Would you two, just shut up?”
“But we are hungry Alpha,” Max complains.
“And tired,” Ryka chimes in.
“You guys do realise I could strip you of your sound, right?” I intervened.
“What, so we couldn’t talk?” I nodded.
“Like ever?” Max questions.
“I’d give it back… eventually,” I smirked as Hunter stifled his chuckle.
“Nope, we need our voices,” Ryka panics.
“Yeah, to howl out to our mates.”
“You don’t have mates,” Jeremy croaks.
“We will… we will have the sexiest mates in the whole pack.”
“Yeah, what Max said,” Ryka fist bumps Max in agreement.
“Please, everyone here knows you’ll end up their bitch,” Hunter retorts.
“Aaallllpphhhaaa?” The boys whine together.
Oscar spins on his heels and grimaces at the boys in warning before stating, “we are on the brink of war, if you two idiots don’t shut the fuck up, I will open the grid and hand you both over.”
Max and Ryka give each other a serious look before cracking up laughing as Oscar’s vain looks close to exploding on the side of his head.
We had been walking for a few hours, the crescent moon was high in the sky and we happen to come across a clearing, next to the lake, just at the beginning of our ascent.
“Let’s set up camp here,” Hunter orders.
“I’ll set up the fire,” I offered.
“It’s okay princess, we can do it.” Jeremy’s chivalrous behaviour infuriated me, despite his good intentions.
“Thank you, Jeremy, but if you call me princess one more time, I will remove your heart too, now move, I can make a fire,” my snip was a little harsher than normal.
“I didn’t… I didn’t…” Hunter walks over and clasps Jeremy’s shoulder.
“Go set up your swag,” he looks up at me with raised brows, “you okay?”
“Sorry. I will apologise to him after I create our fire.” I bent over to pick up stones and placed them in a circle, Hunter stops me and holds my hands in his, the euphoric feeling of warmth and familiarity spread across our connected palms.
“We will find her, okay, and no one thinks that you are any less capable because you are royalty - you have proven that more than once since you’ve been here.” How did he know what I was thinking?
I smiled politely and extracted my hands, rather difficultly, and head back to the fire pit. After piling up some dry leaves and twigs in the middle, I leaned forward as my eyes change to purple and expand brightly, I whispered, “Fea-naro.” (Spirit of fire)
The flames ignited and I retracted back toward my rucksack, resting against the tree, to unroll my woven hanger, which I tie from one branch to another before settling down in front of the fire again.
“Your eyes turn purple when you use magic?” Hunter acknowledges.
“They do. They change colour depending on my feelings or situation.”
“So, what does pink mean?”
“I’m not sure, with you is the first time they have glowed pink,” I answered truthfully, sucking in a huge breath. “Jeremy, I would like to apologise for my rather inappropriate tone, I was out of line when you offered help.”
“Thank you, pri… Drea,” he tipped his head in thanks.
“So since we are being open Drea, I need to ask a serious question?” Ryka cautiously throws out but looks at Max as if he’s being urged on.
“Proceed,” I raised my brow and narrow my eyes.
“Do you have… ya know… what would… make up… ya know?” He waved his hands about in front of him.
“I can assure you, I have no idea what you are mumbling about?”
“Ya know… a… down there,” he urges, pointing to his lower half.
My face scrunched in mystification. “Down there?” I questioned, then clicked, surely he’s not asking what I think he is? “What are you asking?” I replied with a horrified look.
“A vagina, do you have a vagina?” My face froze in shock, my mouth fell open.
“You’re a fucken idiot.” Hunter scolds and throws the twig he was playing with at him.
“It’s a perfectly valid question,” Max interjects, “we’ve never come across an elven… anything before.”
All of a sudden, I can’t hold it in any more… I giggle, softly at first with my bottom lip shaking as it grows and grows until I’m rolling around on the floor in absolute hysterics, tears streaming from my eyes.
All decorum gave way to my frivolous behaviour as I gasped hard, attempting to regain composure. That was not at all, a question I thought I’d ever be asked and the way he did it too? Was absolutely comical. He had no idea, how such a question - in my land - would have been deemed so inappropriate and offensive he would have been punished.
“Why on earth would you ask me that?” I finally managed with a grin as wide as the moon.
“A guy we know said…” Ryka started.
“That elves, aren’t the same as us,” Max finished.
I swear, I could feel the blush reddening my face but from the look of all the men’s faces, I guessed they were all curious. Wow, did no one read of other realms?
“Oh man, wolves,” I rolled my eyes. “You can inform your ‘friend’ that elven folk, most definitely, attain the correct anatomy to reproduce offspring.” I cleared my throat as my eyes flit from Max and Ryka to Hunter and back again. “What exactly did you think I had down there? A leprechaun?” Jeremy punches Max in the arm.
“You owe me twenty dollars, you idiot.”
“Not entirely true, you said she didn’t have a gnome down there.” Hunter gets up and smacks all three of them across the back of their heads.
“Get to sleep, now, we have a long trek ahead of us.” He orders as the four boys depart muttering to each other with some light shoves and ankle taps.
“I’m sorry.” He pushes out looking at the fire, “they really aren’t that bad, just foolish.”
“It’s fine, wolves a certainly a jovial bunch, I-I actually really like it… um… elves are stiff and boring at times. We train and train, practice and protect but, that doesn’t leave much time for happiness, well at least not in my life.”
“You should laugh more,” he compliments, “your laugh is beautiful.”
His comment had my heart doing summersaults. This was not the time and as much as I was drawn to his eyes, I had to look away.
“What is that feeling when we touch?”
“The mate bond.” He flippantly answers, then snaps his head at me with terror on his face.
“Care to elaborate?” My interest just exceeded past mere curiosity.
“Not really, you should get some rest, good night.” I watched him in bewilderment as he retired.
I woke up just before the sun and wandered to the stream to wash. Cupping the water in both hands, I splashed my face, rubbed my neck and arms, basking in the cool of the water, just as I feel someone’s eyes on me.
I whirled around quickly, scanning the darkness, my ears strained but nothing - no sound, no movement. You would think, surrounded by forest, you would hear something? But no, nothing. I moved swiftly, climbing into Hunter’s tent.
“Hunter, Hunter?” I shook him.
His back bulged like a muscled mountaintop, sculptured and taut with softly dipped ridges and caverns but as he rolled over, my jaw almost fell open. His chest and abs were ripped, carved from marble, each individual muscle proudly pronounced and on display. I wanted to touch, to run my fingertips across his ripped body.
“What’s wrong?” Hunter woke me from my lust fuelled haze.
“Something’s watching us,” I finally manage, pulling my head into focus.
“Is it a deer?” He rubs the palm of his hands into his eyes while sitting up, his deliciously chiselled form causing my core the clench in need.
“Positive,” I pant heavily before realising my actions as his honey amber eyes narrowed in on my response, Clearing my throat, “It’s not a deer, wake up the wolves, we need to move now,” I flushed at my perturbed behaviour.
He exited his tent shaking his dishevelled blonde hair as I packed my sack. The other four joined us and within minutes we were off again. Climbing with renewed strength and determination.
With, of course, the exception of Ryka and Max, who whined and whined the entire time as the sun rose higher and higher.
“We should break here and eat,” Hunter ordered.
“About time, I’m going to die if I don’t eat,” Max complained.
“Here dude.” Ryka threw Max a beef sandwich.
“You, are my one true love man,” Max devoured the sandwich.
“You two are idiots,” Oscar growled while Jeremy laughed.
“They may be idiots Oscar but unfortunately they are good fighters.” Jeremy’s hand clasped Oscar’s shoulder, “at least wait until after the wars over before you decapitate them.”
“Hhheeyy?” They both protested in sync at Jeremy’s jest, with their mouth’s full.
I sat there in silence with my back now to the men, scanning the forest we had just climbed, listening to them but my eyes trained on the scenery.
“Fruit loaf?” Hunter offered sitting down next to me.
“Thank you,” I graciously took it.
“What is it?”
“I don’t know… it’s not the feeling I got from the shadow outside your boundary but it’s enough to make my skin crawl. We are being watched.” He examined me as my emerald coloured eyes focused in on the trees with pinpoint precision.
“Green eyes?” He comments.
“Yes… focused, I can see further, concentrate and pick up the slightest movement.”
“Nothing,” I shake my head as my eyes swirl back to blue. I looked over at him, “I know something is there Hunter, I swear.”
“I believe you,” his hand reaches up and he gently places it on my shoulder blade causing an involuntary moan to escape my lips, what was that? I had no time to question because his eyes captured mine. His look was intense, hungry, filled with need and want, electrically charged, sending shivers up my spine.
“Alpha? Tell these two to shut it.” Oscar growls breaking our concentration, his lips pursed together and his jaw tightens whilst removing his hand.
“Unless you two want to end up cleaning Sudryl’s shit every day, I suggest you both stop clowning around.”
“I’m good,” Ryka throws back.
“My mouth is shut,” Max throws up his hands in defeat.
Hunter and I stifle our giggles, after a quick respite, we headed up the cliff face once again. The mountain crawl was gruelling and there were no guarantees that she would be there at the end of it but, I had to trust in the Moon Goddess and in her visions she had given me.