#21.8 Day 24 of 365 Day Challenge!

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Hallo, Audience!

Welcome back to my 365/365 Challenge!!!

Happy 24th!

No, nothing special happens today, but you should still be happy! Amazing things are happening everyday! Like today: I bring to you another wonderful installment in my challenge! If you haven’t taken part in this wondrous journey but would like to, please head on over to the 365/365 Directory Page found found –here– so that you can catch up!

***DISCLAIMER***
Prepare to have the urge to rip your eyes our, fellow OCD readers, for the amount of typos you will encounter in this passage is going to BLOW YOUR MIND! At some point here soon, I may decide to go in and edit it properly, but for now I’m just going to let it ride =3

Enjoy, Audience! I now present to you Page 24 of my 365 page book.

——

Ryker couldn’t help but think that if Leighton’s Ryodan didn’t get to him first, he was going to die of a heart attack.

Little did he know, Leighton was thinking almost the same thing.

“Who’s there?” Leighton asked, voice stronger than she felt.

The ghastly chuckle floated to them on the wind again. “Well aren’t you just a tough little kirik? Well, tough enough to murder a human and think you’d get away with it.” A man in torn jeans and a white tank top stepped silently from the darkness of the trees in front of Leighton.

She inhaled the summer air. “Werewolf.”

The man turned turned up a half-tilt grin. “You don’t say?”

Ryker looked from the man to Leighton. “Werewolf? But I thought you said your Hunt wasn’t near.”

Leighton shook her head, not daring enough to take her eyes off of the wolf in front of her. “He’s not one of my Hunt.”

Ryker allowed himself a moment of panic before he replied, “Yeah, okay, but even so, can’t you scent when a werewolf is nearby?”

The man turned to Ryker, an amused smile on his face. “Of course she can, susi, but it does little to help her situation if I am standing downwind.”

Ryker wrinkled his nose. “Soosee?”

“It’s a derogatory name,” Leighton answered, glaring daggers at the man, “It means ‘useless wolf’.”

Ryker thought about that. “Derogatory? Like calling Hermione a mudblood in Harry Potter?”

The man let out a bark of laughter. “Oh, he is hilarious. Now I see why you Turned him.”

“Yes, just like that,” Leighton replied, ignoring the other werewolf.

The man sighed another amused chuckle. “Well, as much fun as this has been, I’m afraid we’ve got to get this show on the road!”

Leighton narrowed her eyes, taking an involuntary step in front of Ryker. “What do you mean?”

The man gave Leighton pouty eyes. “Oh come now, don’t be like that. I thought we were all starting to become good friends! Maybe I just wanted to take a leisurely walk with a few werewolves.”

“Try again,” Ryker retorted, voice dry with sarcasm.

“Ooh, even the susi has a little sizzle to him. I like,” the man teased.

“Stop calling him that,” Leighton growled. She was so close to Ryker that he could feel her body rumble against his chest.

The man glared back, all traces of amusement gone from his face. “Or what? Are you going to heartlessly attack me, too?”

Power washed over Leighton, stealing the breath from her lungs. She gasped, doubling over in shock.

“Leighton!” Ryker shouted, holding her steady when he though she would fall over.

“I’d hold out my hand to shake in greeting, but to be honest, I don’t want to touch either of you.” The man waved away his insult. “Anyway, hello. Elias Blake, Raja of the Jersey Polaris Hunt at your service. Warwick, Raja of the Neo Atlantic Hunt has offered a most wondrous reward for the return of his naughty little kirik and her newly Turned charge. I, being the opportunistic wolf that I am, would never pass up such an amazing opportunity.” He took a step forward, a conniving glint filling his eye. “So, without further adieu, I do believe we have a little trip to make.”

 

Typed in: Write or Die!

#21.7 Day 23 of 365 Day Challenge!

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Why hello there, Audience!

Welcome back to my 365/365 Challenge!!!

Day/Page 23!

Woot! Another day has come, and another page follows! I really want to take this time to thank all of you guys who’ve stuck around to read Ryker and Leighton’s journey with me! If you haven’t, but would like to do so, please head on over to the 365/365 Directory Page found –here– so that you can catch up!

***DISCLAIMER***
Prepare to have the urge to rip your eyes our, fellow OCD readers, for the amount of typos you will encounter in this passage is going to BLOW YOUR MIND! At some point here soon, I may decide to go in and edit it properly, but for now I’m just going to let it ride =3

Amazing things are to come! I now present to you Page 23 of my 365 page book.

——

When Leighton was sure that they’d departed, she allowed herself to sink wearily to her knees.

Ryker soon followed her descent to the ground. “What just happened?” he whispered.

Leighton had no clue. “I…I don’t know. Pack wolves don’t act like that.”

“Well tell that to them!” Ryker retorted, motioning in the direction that the wolf took off in.

Leighton shook her head. “This doesn’t make any sense. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say…” She couldn’t bring herself to finish the statement, as if saying it allowed would make it true. I’d say they were acting like Hunt wolves. She shook her head again. Pack Wolves and Hunt wolves didn’t mix. “Let’s get going.” Ryker nodded silently and they both stood.

As they continued southward, Leighton wracked her brain for any instance where Pack wolves interacted with Hunt wolves. She knew of none. Could the local werewolves have taken the feral wolves in? That wasn’t possible. Pack wolves hated the Hunts. They never allowed us near them, Leighton argued silently to herself. Why would it be any different here in New Jersey?

“What are you over there thinking so hard about?” Ryker asked, breaking Leighton’s train of thought.

She looked up at him with mild annoyance. “Wolves.”

Ryker smiled, amused. “Well, isn’t that a shocker?”

Leighton frowned back. “This isn’t the time for jokes, Ryker.”

His smile wilted. “Sorry. Just trying to lighten the mood.” After a few beats of awkward silence, he continued. “Well, uh, maybe you can say your thoughts aloud. I’m more knowledgeable than you think.”

Leighton shook her head. “You’re very smart, Ryker. I know that. But I don’t know if you’ll be able to help me here.”

Ryker looked taken aback. “About werewolves? Oh come on, Lei, don’t sell me short. I know loads about werewolves, even if most of it came from fiction novels and internet lore.”

Despite her foul mood, Leighton stifled a laugh. “Well, that just makes me feel so much better.”

Ryker gave a half smile. “There’s the sarcasm I know and love.” His heart skipped a beat at the mention of loving anything about Leighton, but he ignored it in light of recent events. “So, uh, how ’bout it? I mean, it couldn’t hurt, you know.”

Leighton nodded. “Okay.”

She voiced her unease about how odd the wolves acted towards them, that they were never that forward with werewolves, and that they reminded her eerily of Hunt wolves. “The way they stared us down, and especially that fake out at the end… That’s not normal Pack wolf behavior, as least, not from what I was told of them.”

Ryker nodded. “So you think that these wolves were being…controlled by your Hunt?”

“No, not my Hunt. If they were being influenced by any Hunt at all, that would be extremely odd.”

The nighttime wind shifted, carrying a soft chuckle. “Yes, extremely odd indeed. But not impossible.”

 

Typed in:  Write or Die!

#21.6 Day 22 of 365 Day Challenge!

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Howdy, Audience!

Welcome back to my 365/365 Challenge!!!

Day 22! Awesome!

Time sure flies! We’re already 22 days into 2013! Almost a full month! Hmm, I wonder where this story will be once we hit February? Only one way to find out! If you haven’t joined in on Ryker and Leighton’s journey with us thus far, but would like to, please head on over to the 365/365 Directory Page found –here– so that you can catch up!

***DISCLAIMER***
Prepare to have the urge to rip your eyes our, fellow OCD readers, for the amount of typos you will encounter in this passage is going to BLOW YOUR MIND! At some point here soon, I may decide to go in and edit it properly, but for now I’m just going to let it ride =3

Let’s find out where they’re headed today! I now present to you Page 22 of my 365 page book.

——

Ryker froze. “What’s going on?” he whispered.

Leighton shook her head to silence him. She didn’t want him to startle the beast that was crouched in the shadows behind him. Make that beasts. Several pairs of eyes glinted in the moonlight, betraying the places where they hid.

Wolves.

Not werewolves, much to Leighton’s misplaced relief, but it still begged the question of why they were here. Wolves and werewolves didn’t mingle. Wolves were confused by a werewolf’s scent, not sure if they were human or wolf. Leighton never understood wolves. She shared half of their traits, a rendition of their scent, but there was a wall that she could never climb in order for her to finally understand the feral wolf. Her Raja once mused that despite the werewolf’s ability to morph seamlessly from human to wolf, the Pack wolf has always seemed so much more magical than the Hunt.

Pack wolves usually stayed away from Hunt wolves, so the fact that Leighton and Ryker were surrounded by them baffled her. Though she was pretty sure that she could take a few Pack wolves, Ryker was still pretty much human until his first Change. He might not get back up if the wolves attacked.

Ryker strained his ears, trying desperately to hear any form of movement behind him. If it wasn’t her Hunt, what could it be? Whatever it was, it scared Leighton, and that was enough to put him on edge. “Lei,” he breathed.

She shot him a look that silenced him once more. She had to do something fast. Something to make her look like a threat to the wolves, or they might mistake the two of them for prey and decide to pounce. She stared passed Ryker, into the eyes of the wolf that lay crouched behind him. She stared deeply into his eyes and willed her own to Change.

She knew she’d succeeded when twin pricks of pain sprang to her eyes, followed by a sharper focus of the world around her. She heard Ryker gasp in shock, but ignored him. She finally had the wolf’s attention. She felt a growl bubble up her throat before she could control it, and it trickled passed her lips in a menacing rumble.

The wolf rose, snarling at Leighton. She felt the other wolves follow, and had the sickening thought that she might be unable to save both Ryker and herself if the wolves were to all attack at once.

Taking a few slow steps towards Ryker, Leighton bared her terribly unimpressive human teeth at the wolf and let out her most fearsome reciprocating snarl.

Ryker stared at Leighton. She looked odd, a lot like how he’d seen her when he’d awakened as a werewolf. Her eyes were that bright color again, and there was something less human about her, more beautiful. He knew that he should be afraid–of her or the thing growling behind him, he didn’t know, but it didn’t matter. He could only think of how much more this look suited Leighton than the facade of indifferent prettiness that she showed at school. Right now, she was in her element, and Ryker had never found her more beautiful than he did now.

Leighton noticed that the wolf was going to pounce before it dipped into the tell-tale crouch. “Ryker! Down!” she shouted, but he seemed to preoccupied to oblige. The wolf was airborne before she could bark another order, and she knew that she’d be unable to get to Ryker before the wolf did.

Ryker tensed at the open fear in Leighton’s eyes and knew he’d be unable to dodge whatever was attacking. He felt the presence of the beast behind him, the heat of it’s breath on his back, the rumble of it’s growl on his spine, the displacement of the air around him as it descended upon him.

Leighton’s breath escaped in a ragged sigh as the wolf sailed over Ryker. It landed gracefully in front of him and dashed into the darkness. The other wolves slipped silently into the night, following their leader.

 

Typed in:  Write or Die!

#21.5 Day 21 of 365 Day Challenge!

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Bore da, Audience! (My Welsh is pretty bad ^^;)

Welcome back to my 365/365 Challenge!!!

Day 21! Three weeks in! We’re so close to a month, I can smell it! (or that might just be the bad meatloaf I haven’t cleared out of the fridge…)

There are days where I like to be a writer, then there are days like today where I LOVE being one! Okay, so maybe I LOVE being a writer all of the time, but that’s beside the point! I hope you all of to read/write too! But I digress from the point of this post (lol). If you haven’t followed along, but would like to, please head on over to the 365/365 Directory Page found –here– so that you can catch up!

***DISCLAIMER***
Prepare to have the urge to rip your eyes our, fellow OCD readers, for the amount of typos you will encounter in this passage is going to BLOW YOUR MIND! At some point here soon, I may decide to go in and edit it properly, but for now I’m just going to let it ride =3

Write on, Audience, write on! I now present to you Page 21 of my 365 page book.

——

“So, uh, where exactly are we?” Ryker asked. He and Leighton kept to the darkest parts of the small forest, heading in the direction opposite of the lake they’d crossed.

Leighton sampled the air for the eight time since he Change back to human. Still no sign of the Ryodan, even though she could feel them hunting for her. “I’m pretty sure that we crossed into New Jersey at some point. At the lake, maybe.”

Ryker nodded. “Any idea where to do next?”

Leighton shrugged. “I have no clue which direction to go. The Ryodan could be anywhere. I’d say let’s just keep heading south; see where it takes us.”

After a bout of silent walking, the forest gave way to another quiet suburban neighborhood. Leighton and Ryker passed through it with little incident, only a niggling sensation in the back of Leighton’s mind betraying the presence of her Hunt tracking her.

Ryker stretched as they made their way into another copse of trees. “Is it safe to go back to New York?”

Leighton shook her head. “My Hunt will have already put out word to our escape. Aside from them, there are two other Hunts that claim territory across New York State. We won;t be safe no matter where we go there.”

“But we’re safe here?” Ryker asked. “In New Jersey?” he wrinkled his nose, as if he could smell the garbage heaps and smog clouds that New Jersey was known for.

The wind picked up in a short gust, bringing a scent that was both taboo and majestic in it’s own right. It was right and wrong for the area, and to still be here even though she and Ryker were present… She decided to ignore it. “We should be. Hunts usually only interact with other Hunts in they inhabit the same state. We don’t want other hunts thinking that they can saunter into our territory whenever they want to, so we normally leave Hunts in other states alone. They don’t mess with us, we don’t mess with them.”

Ryker didn’t want to pry, but he had nothing better to talk about. “You told me once that you moved before high school.”

Leighton looked behind her into the darkness. “Yes.”

Ryker took her answer as an invitation to continue. “So, does that mean that Hunts can move?”

“Yeah,” Leighton replied, “but I don’t think they do normally. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of another Hunt moving like mine did.”

“Why’d they move? Do you know?” Ryker looked over to Leighton when she remained silent, but she wasn’t beside him like he’d thought she was.

He looked behind him to see her standing frozen in the shadows. His heart began to race. “Lei, is it them?”

Leighton shook her head slowly. “No, it’s not, Ryker, but please listen to me. Do. Not. Move.”

 

Typed in:  Write or Die!

#21.4 Day 20 of 365 Day Challenge! (YAY!)

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Hi, Audience! Welcome back to my 365/365 Challenge!!!

Happy Milestone! Day 20!! Do you guys count 20 as a milestone? I sure do! Wow! Twenty whole days into Ryker and Leighton’s journey! It’s amazing how much has happened! If you haven’t read the awesome 19 days that preceded this, you can do so by heading over to the 365/365 Directory Page found –here– so that you can catch up!

***DISCLAIMER***
Prepare to have the urge to rip your eyes our, fellow OCD readers, for the amount of typos you will encounter in this passage is going to BLOW YOUR MIND! At some point here soon, I may decide to go in and edit it properly, but for now I’m just going to let it ride =3

To twenty more pages! *raises glass* I now present to you Page 20 of my 365 page book.

——

Leighton’s biggest dread was coming to pass: impending fatigue.

She felt it in her bunched leg muscles every time her claws dug into the moist earth, and in her lungs whenever she had to suck in air. Her breath escaped her nostrils in weary grunts with each step she took, and she could clearly sense the difference in her running speed.

She wouldn’t last much longer.

Ryker patted her fur. “Lei, you have to slow down.”

She grunted her rejection. They didn’t have time to waste, if she didn’t keep moving…

“Lei, seriously. If you wear yourself out now, we’ll have no way to escape. Slow down for a second.”

Leighton begrudgingly obeyed, slowing to a slow trot.

Ryker hopped off of her back. “Go Change back. We made it through the water, so we should be able slow down for at least a little while.” Ryker dug into his bag and pulled out the shirt that Leighton was wearing earlier. It was soaking wet from the swim, but it would have to do. He held it out to Leighton and she took it in her jaws, bounding for cover afterwards.

Ryker stared out at the darkness, listening for anything or anyone that might be coming for them. He knew it was all for naught, having heard how silently Leighton had moved in the shadows. He just wanted to feel useful.

Leighton emerged from the brush tying the shirt sleeves around her waist. The shirt was soaked and gave her chills where it laid against her warm skin, but she ignored it. “All right. So, now what?” she asked. She had no idea what Ryker was thinking, but the exertion singing through her muscles made her want to believe in Ryker’s cause.

Ryker shrugged. “Now we just take it slow.”

The beginnings of anger warmed Leighton’s cheeks. “Do you think this is a game, Ryker? We cannot just take it slow! If they catch up to us, we’re dead!”

Ryker nodded. “I know,” he replied, keeping his voice calm. “But you were wearing yourself down. They would have no problem catching up to us if you wiped out somewhere nearby. We need to pace ourselves.”

Leighton fought passed the initial urge to scream. However much she wanted to keep moving, Ryker was right. She inhaled, and much to her relief, she no longer found the Ryodan’s scent tainting the air. She nodded. “Okay. We take it slow.”

Ryker smiled wearily. “Great.”

 

Typed in: Write or Die!

#21.3 Day 19 of 365 Day Challenge!

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Greetings, Audience!

Welcome back to my 365/365 Challenge!!!

So close to another milestone, Page 19!

I’ll keep it short here because I’d hate to cut into you guys’ reading time (haha). If you’d like to follow along on my journey, but have yet to begin, you can do so by heading over to the 365/365 Directory Page found –here– so that you can catch up!

***DISCLAIMER***
Prepare to have the urge to rip your eyes our, fellow OCD readers, for the amount of typos you will encounter in this passage is going to BLOW YOUR MIND! At some point here soon, I may decide to go in and edit it properly, but for now I’m just going to let it ride =3

Without further adieu, I now present to you Page 19 of my 365 page book.

——

The piercing howl shivered down Ryker’s spine, and an instinct he didn’t know he had told him that the Ryodan were drawing very near.

“Lei,” he rasped, voice hoarse with fear.

Leighton snapped out of her petrified state, turning to Ryker with urgency in her eyes and a short whine falling from her lips. Ryker didn’t need to understand werewolf to know what she’d said. Run.

Ryker shook his head firmly. “If you stay,” he hissed urgently, “I stay.”

Leighton gave another, more imploring whine. Was he stupid? He’d get killed!

Ryker stayed his ground. “I’m not leaving until you do, Lei.”

With a snuff of her snout, Leighton bound forward and scooped Ryker onto her back. She set off through the trees before Ryker had fully latched on, and he scrambled to stay mounted as she zigged and zagged through the forest.

Panic began to set in Leighton’s mind, and she tripped and stumbled as if the very branches of the forest were urging her to return to her Hunt. Certain death waited for her if she obliged–for her and Ryker both.

Ryker didn’t bother squinting his eyes, and they watered and blurred as he searched the surrounding area for any signs of movement. I had an urge to scent the air, anything that could help. He figured that he had nothing to lose, so he mimicked Leighton’s earlier action, lifting his nose to the wind and inhaling deeply. The aroma of wet earth and dead greenery greeted him, nothing betraying his new-found otherworldy gifts. He hunkered down against Leighton’s fur, distressed that there was no way he could help.

Leighton searched for water; a river, a mud pit, anything she could use to cover their scent. If she kept on like this, it would be like leaving a train of breadcrumbs behind as she fled. There was no place she could hide, and running wasn’t going to be useful for much longer. There were many Ryodan in the Hunt that ran faster than she could.

Relief came with a small neighborhood that ringed a moderate sized lake. Leighton did bother to keep her stealth. She dashed quickly under streetlights and through yards, kicking up gardens and knocking over outside play toys. She dashed down a resident’s backyard boating dock, stopping short of the edge. The moon reflected brightly on the water’s surface and lit the area well, much to Leighton’s relief. She;d see anyone coming in the Ryodan were close.

She huffed at Ryker, indicating that she was going to jump in. He leaped off of her back, his cleat spikes hitting the warped wood with a loud clack. “It’ll be easier in we swim separately.”

Leighton nodded and lunged into the water without looking back. She made sure to keep her head beneath the water, in case her splash alerted the residing families in their homes. She couldn’t imagine how they’d react to seeing a giant wolf swimming in their lake.

Ryker thought of stashing the clothes in a nearby bush to keep them dry, but canned the idea soon after. If he left the bag here, there was little chance that they’d be back to pick it up again. Plus, the clothes had Leighton’s scent on them. He recalled Leighton’s telling him about covering their scents. If he left the clothes here dry, and they came to pick them up again, he’d be leaving a fresh trail for the Ryodan to follow. He dove into the lake, bag hooked onto his shoulders. He’d dry them off once they got to safety.

Leighton had no idea where she was swimming to. All that mattered was that she ended on the opposite side of the long lake. she lifted her snout slightly above the surface of the water, both to take in breath and scent the air for the Ryodan. A familiar scent greeted her, but only faintly so. The Ryodan were near, but they weren’t exactly at the neighborhood yet. She moved her powerful paws in the water, shoving more than swimming to the edge of the lake.

The lake was cold to Ryker, and coupled with being fully clothed, it made it hard for him to swim viably. Several times he found himself feebly writhing in the water, not making any lead way towards the other side of the lake. A panicky thought in the back of his mind worried that Leighton would leave him behind to her Hunt if he couldn’t make it out of the water before they showed up, but he waved it away. Leighton was willing to sacrifice herself to save him earlier, she wouldn’t leave him to die now. With renewed confidence, Ryker pushed forward to the end of the lake.

When Ryker upended into the dingy sand at the lake’s shore, Leighton was already there. She sat hunkered in a patch of yard bushes, hidden from the view of the water. She lifted her nose and sniffed. The scent of her Hunt was close. Panic sang in her veins as she watched Ryker, soaked and sputtering on his knees. They didn’t have time for him to have another hypothermia lapse, and if that came to be, they would surely be caught.

She breathed a sigh of relief as Ryker stumbled to his feet, hiking the backpack onto one shoulder. He wiped his soppy arm across his eyes, doing little to dry them. “Okay, let’s get going. Quick,” he panted.

He scrambled back onto Leighton, and she dashed into the darkness, but not before looking backward over her shoulder and seeing the unmistakable outlines of human and wolf breaking through the line of houses at the docks where she and Ryker had stood not too long ago.

 

Typed in:  Write or Die!

#21.2 Day 18 of 365 Day Challenge!

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Salutations, Audience!

Welcome back to my 365/365 Challenge!!!

Another day, another page! Today: Page 18!

I’m chugging along in this blog dump, as promised. Not that it’s any challenge! I absolutely love the world I’m creating, and I hope you all do too! If you haven’t started yet, but would like to, please head on over to the 365/365 Directory Page found –here– so that you can catch up!

***DISCLAIMER***
Prepare to have the urge to rip your eyes our, fellow OCD readers, for the amount of typos you will encounter in this passage is going to BLOW YOUR MIND! At some point here soon, I may decide to go in and edit it properly, but for now I’m just going to let it ride =3

Please enjoy this passage! I now present to you Page 18 of my 365 page book.

——

Leighton cut soundlessly though the forestry without incident, checking periodically for the scent of her Hunt. When nothing but the usual aromas of the wilderness greeted her nose, she took the following steps a little more confidently.

She could see the ending of that section of reserve, the flickering of passing lights indicating the cars that drove by. She paused briefly at the edge of the trees and another vehicle passed, and immediately bounded across the road. they cut through a small patch of trees into a neighborhood that neither of them noticed, and Leighton recoiled abruptly.

The stench of her Hunt was everywhere.

She scrambled back towards the road, only to dip back into the brush as another car zoomed by. Her skittering jostled Ryker unceremoniously, and he nearly fell of her back.

“Lei!” he hissed, “What’s wrong?”

There was no way that she could convey what was happening. She felt trapped and terrified. If they found her like this…

“Lei, are they here?” Ryker asked, as if he could smell her terror. Given his dormant werewolf power, he probably could.

She nodded once, turning back toward the small suburban area. She tilted her nose skyward again, but the scent was unmistakable. The Ryodan had been here recently, and might still be patrolling as she stool like a scared pup with her tail tucked.

“Lei,” Ryker said calmly, like he was subduing a wild animal, “Lei, if they’re here, we have to leave. Right now. You know that, right?”

Lei huffed in response. Ryker was right, if she wasn’t going to move, she’d might as well go seek them out and suffer her fate.

But it wasn’t just her fate, not anymore. She’d pulled Ryker into this against his will, and if she chose to gave up, she’d be pulling him down with her. She didn’t have the right to make that decision for him. If he chose to continue to fight, she would as well.

She coiled her powerful hind legs and tore off through the darkness of the neighborhood streets.

Every corner she turned, Leighton could smell the scent of a Ryodan member. They’d obviously searched the area thoroughly, and every pound of her paw pads against cracked concrete was heavy with anxiety. Was she running toward them? Did they already know she was here? Where they using the feared Diamond formation that was spoken about only in taut whispers throughout the Hunt? She ran faster.

She tore here way through the small town with little of the grace she’d displayed in Ryker’s neighborhood. she narrowly missed patches of light, her paws occasionally upset a fallen branch or patch of gravel, and once she stumbled none to gently on a crushed tin can, sending up a clatter like gunfire.

Ryker could hear her terrified pants coming in in small puffs as she cut through the sleeping neighborhood, and whispered small encouraging things in her ear to let her know that she wasn’t alone. “It’s alright, Lei. I’m here. It’ll be okay. Just one paw in front of another. We’ll be fine.”

When they broke through the next patch of forest, Leighton could have wept with relief. The scent of the Ryodan was still heavy on the air, but she could move faster now, her paws more accustomed to the damp terrain of the forest floor rather than the hard asphalt of the city roads. She sped to wind-whistling velocity, and Ryker could barely make out the tree trunks whizzing by them with his squinted eyes as the moonlight shone into the copse.

The Ryodan’s presence lessened the further into the woods that Leighton went, and she took a brief moment to huff a sigh a relief that she wasn’t in fact running right into the search party.

She made it to a stream deep into the the copse where the Ryodan’s scents was almost nonexistent, and chose to stop for a small drink.

Ryker hopped off Leighton’s back–not bothering to wait until she crouched for him–and landed softly on the damp ground. It was dark this far into the forest, the canopy of trees letting in only the faintest light of the moon, which was high in the sky.

Leighton assessed Ryker in the dim light as he leaned to scoop the stream water into his hands. He looked okay for the most part, no cuts or bruises that his werewolf healing didn’t take care of right away. However, he did look a little frayed around the edges, not exactly his best. His golden hair was pasted to his forehead with sweat, the shirt she’d gotten for him only a short while ago was torn, probably from a stray branch snagging in during the run, and he looked pale, not colored with the usual sun-kissed tan she’d associated with him in the warmer months of the year. It was pretty late, and Leighton didn’t know how much more Ryker could take before he was worn out completely.

Ryker stood from his drink with a soft grimace. “You know, after hearing about drinking stream water in so many books and movies, you’d think it’d taste better.” He stuck out his tongue as if that would rid him of the taste. “It’s very gritty.”

Leighton breathed a weary chuckle and dipped her snout to the cool stream water. It was, indeed, more gritty than she expected, but in time, if they got out of this alive, Ryker would get to know cleaner waters and and more voluminous forests than the state park they are creeping through tonight.

Leighton was getting the last of her fill of water, when a baying howl pierced through the night, making her gag on her drink. It was powerful and guttural, not the haunting melodic song of the actual wolf, not the high falsetto of the coyote. And it was much, much closer than Leighton had expected.

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