A werewolf is hunted by those who killed his pack, but the hunters soon become the hunted…
When the sun set over the water, Oaken knew it was time to go. They’d be out there already, looking for him. How many, he didn’t know, but he knew there’d be enough. Probably too many for him to handle on his own. Maybe if the rest of the pack were here to help him.
But they weren’t, were they? They were all still lying dead in the forest, their bodies rotting, nothing but worm food now. His family. All he’d ever known. The only people he loved. The only people he knew at all. They were his world, his everything.
And now they were all gone, taken from him by the monsters on the outside. The monsters with their strange talk and deadly weapons. Weapons that swiftly put an end to his family, and almost put an end to him. If it wasn’t for his father pushing him out of the way when the deadly bullet was zooming toward him, Oaken would be dead right now as well, rotting alongside the rest of his pack. But the bullet had missed and Oaken had run deeper into the forest where the monsters from the outside would have trouble finding him.
Now he sat on the hilltop overlooking the great lake, watching the sun go down and the moon appear big and bright in the sky.
A full moon.
A Wolf Moon.
Unlucky for the hunters.
Oaken didn’t care if he died tonight, as long as he took as many of them with him as possible. He didn’t want to live alone anyway. He couldn’t. A wolf is nothing without his pack after all. As much as he loved the forest encased within the great mountains, there was no way he could exist in it alone.
Even if he killed all the hunters tonight, he was still going to die. He had already decided to climb to the top of Winnobi Peak and then throw himself off the top. It would be the quickest, easiest way to go. Then he could be with his pack again in the Eternal Forest.
But first he had hunting of his own to do.
When the moon was shining bright, Oaken transformed himself into the wolf. It happened quickly. His body had transformed thousands of times by now, so the transition was smooth and nowhere near as painful as it was when he was younger. Now it just felt like he was becoming his real self.
His predatory self.
* * *
It was Kreol who brought the hunters. Kreol wasn’t right in the head. The whole pack knew it. He was just a pup, a good few years younger than Oaken is now, but he was massive and scarily strong. Most of the pack were afraid of Kreol, with his long ginger mane and wild blue eyes. Oaken was friends with Kreol, however, or as friendly as it was possible to be with someone who was clearly mixed up in the head.
Kreol’s violent outbursts were always a problem, even when he was very young. He had attacked his mother and father numerous times, as well as other members of the pack, usually over small insignificant things. One time he attacked Oaken because he thought Oaken had stolen his necklace made of teeth, which he collected from his frequent solo hunts. A fight ensued over it, and Oaken had barely beaten him. Both of them were sore for days afterward, but Kreol seemed to respect Oaken after that and they became friends, often hunting together in the great forest.
The outside world wasn’t something that was talked about much in the pack. As pups, Oaken and the rest were just told not to stray too far off the mountain they lived on. The outsiders had huge settlements at the bottom of the mountain apparently, where they lived in great numbers. Oaken was taught that the outsiders were dangerous, so he never went near the surrounding towns. The one time he did spot one of the outsiders, he hid from view in the forest as the strange man walked around holding what Oaken later learned was a gun. Guns could kill a person—even a wolf— stone dead in seconds without getting too near. This is what made the outsiders so dangerous.
But Kreol, one day he decided to venture down the mountain to the outsider’s land. He went down there in his wolf form, which to an outsider would’ve been huge. Over twice the size of an ordinary wolf, though maybe not twice as smart in Kreol’s case.
He apparently made a huge commotion down there, killing a few of the outsiders. That’s what brought the hunters up onto the mountain. They were searching for Kreol, or rather his wolf form. The monster, as they saw him.
Kreol didn’t bother mentioning what he had done, not until the hunters stumbled onto their land and it was too late to get away from them.
That’s when the slaughtering happened. Oaken’s pack managed to get a few of the hunters, but there were too many of them and their guns were too powerful.
The mountain is now stained with the blood of both sides.
Soon, it will be stained with more.
* * *
Oaken had never felt such a heavy sense of loss, not even when his younger brother and a few others died some years ago of a mysterious disease that would’ve wiped out the whole pack if Dackos, the pack leader, hadn’t have found a cure for it. Oaken had managed his grief back then because he had the rest of the pack to help him through it.
Now he had no one, and his grief was inconsolable, like a hard lump of lead buried deep in his gut. Even when he became the wolf, he still felt the pain within him. If anything he felt it to greater degree, but in his wolf form, at least he was able to channel it into aggression, which he fully intended to direct at the hunters. They were over at the other side of the lake. Soon they would cross the land bridge with their dogs and their guns, in search of Oaken. They saw him escape at the tail end of the massacre, after the last of his pack had been killed. He still didn’t know how he had managed to get away, given the number of guns that was turned on him as he fled. The Great Wolf God must’ve been looking out for him, because not a single bullet hit him.
He felt guilty, of course, for running when his whole pack lay dead in the woods. But what was he do? Even as he witnessed the slaughter, even before he knew he could escape, he knew someone would have to avenge the deaths of his loved ones. Such a great wrong against nature, against the Great Wolf God, could not go unpunished. As far as he was concerned, this is why the Great Wolf God had enabled him to escape. He was the one that was to make the hunters pay for what they had done. If they had just killed Kreol and left it at that, no one would’ve blamed them. Kreol killed their own after all. But they didn’t leave it at that, did they? They didn’t just kill Kreol, they killed everyone.
And for that they were all going to die.
* * *
Oaken sat patiently on the slope of the mountain as he awaited the hunters to cross the land bridge. When they did, he counted ten of them, all men with massive guns. There was also dogs who ran ahead as they picked up Oaken’s scent.
Which is what he wanted. He would have to get rid of the dogs first, then he could start picking off the hunters. The woods he was in were deep and thick with undergrowth. The hunters would struggle to get through it, especially in the dark. Oaken, however, was intimately familiar with the woods. He knew every square inch of the place like the back of his paw.
The hunters didn’t stand a chance, even with their guns. They may have taken the pack by surprise when they first arrived, but they wouldn’t be taking Oaken by surprise.
They would be the ones surprised when he sank his teeth into their throats.
* * *
Oaken perked his ears up as he heard two of the large dogs approach. They were at the bottom of the slight slope he was on top of. He lay crouched until the first of the dogs broke from the undergrowth and stood staring up, barking because it knew Oaken was there.
Before any of the hunters could catch up, Oaken launched himself off the rocky slope at the dog below, landing right on top of it, easily twice the dog’s size. The dog yelped in surprise, but before it could do anything, Oaken had his huge jaws around the dog’s neck. One quick jerk and the dog’s neck broke.
The second dog attacked just as Oaken dropped the first. This dog was smaller, but still fierce, not intimated at all by Oaken’s huge size as it bit into his hind leg, causing him to growl in anger as he spun around and snatched the smaller dog in his jaws, biting down and crushing its head instantly. He didn’t like killing the dogs, but it had to be done.
The hunters were shouting now, the other two dogs barking furiously as they sensed something was up. Before the hunters appeared, Oaken bolted into the undergrowth and made his way up the mountainside a ways, before crouching down inside a small cave entrance.
“The bastard killed my dogs!” one of the hunters shouted.
“You’re dead you fucking freak of nature!” another yelled. “You here me? You can run, but you can’t hide. We’ll get you! Your fucking pelt will be in front of my fireplace soon, and your head on my wall!”
Oaken was hardly listening to them. Despite their arrogance, he could still smell their fear, and he fed of off it.
From the cave entrance, Oaken could see the other two dogs making their way up the slope, their masters seeming to have no qualms about sending the dogs up in the first place, despite Oaken killing the other two. Oaken growled slightly to himself at this. These outsiders, he thought, will do anything to get what they want, even if it means sending their own loyal dogs to their deaths.
“Go get him boys!” one of the hunters shouted, excitement in his voice as he sent the dogs after Oaken. The men were flushed with the thrill of the hunt. They thought because they had guns then they would be okay.
But they were wrong. Oaken would soon show them that.
Both dogs made it up the slope together. They then sniffed their way to the cave entrance, beginning to bark because they knew Oaken was inside.
Soon, the hunters were gathered around the cave entrance as well. “We have him trapped now!”
That’s what they thought anyway.
They sent the two dogs into the cave after Oaken. A moment later there was two high-pitched yelps from within the cave as Oaken easily killed the two dogs.
“The son of a bitch killed the dogs!”
What did they think was going to happen? Two small dogs against a huge wolf? The dogs had no chance, and these damn outsiders were idiots.
As he went to move further into the cave, heading toward a hidden exit not far away, Oaken heard one of the hunters shout from outside. “You think you can hide from us in there? Try this on for size, motherfucker!”
Oaken turned around just as something landed on the cave floor several feet away from him. In the darkness, his yellow eyes could make out the shape of something lying there, an unfamiliar shape about the size of a large pine cone. He stared for a second, his instincts suddenly flaring up as he realized whatever it was the hunters had thrown inside the cave, it couldn’t have been good. Whatever it was, it was designed to harm him, to kill him.
Oaken turned and ran just as there was a huge bang, and a blast shot through the cave that propelled him forward, taking him off his feet. He felt fire singing his pelt, and hot lumps of stone penetrate his body. All he could do was lay there as a great ringing sounded in his ears. What had they done to him? Had they killed him with one of their weapons?
No, he wasn’t dead yet, despite all the cheering he could still hear coming from outside. He could still move, he found, and despite the dust in the cave, he could also still see, just about. When he turned around, he saw the rock had caved in behind him. No matter, he could still get out the other way, but he had to hurry before the hunters realized there was another entrance a few hundreds yards up the mountain.
Limping slightly from the blast of the weapon, Oaken made his way as fast as he could through the rest of the cave until he finally came to the exit, which was shrouded in undergrowth. He poked his head out slightly to make sure there were no hunters standing around, and then he bolted out of the hole and veered to the right as he started running up the mountain, suppressing a yelp as a sharp pain went though his hind leg. They had injured him, but they hadn’t stopped him.
The hunters thought different, though. They were down there cheering because they thought he was dead. How long would it take them to realize that he had escaped? If they realized at all? The hunters may have been arrogant, but they wouldn’t leave the woods until they had claimed his body. They would search and then they would find the other exit. Then the hunt would begin again.
* * *
Oaken lay on top of a large rock about half a mile up the mountain from the hunters. His back leg was bleeding and it felt like there were stones embedded in the rear of his body. His injuries caused him pain, but nowhere near enough to stop him doing what he had to do. Only death would stop him, and he didn’t plan on dying, at least not until all the hunters had died first.
As he lay watching and waiting, Oaken suddenly picked up a scent from nearby. The faintest of scents, but a scent nonetheless.
The scent of another wolf.
That can’t be, he thought. Everyone else is dead.
He sniffed again, but found he had lost the scent. Was it even there to begin with, or was he just missing his pack so much that his imagination was making him believe he wasn’t the only one left?
Normally, he would howl in such a situation, in anticipation of a response from the other wolf, but he couldn’t do that, not now. If he howled, he would give away his position to the hunters, and he wanted to pick a few of them off first before they realized he was still alive.
Forgetting about the scent he thought he just sniffed, Oaken centered his attention on a group of three hunters standing a dozen yards away from the others, each of them passing around some sort of smoking herb that Oaken could smell from his position. It smelled very like the herb plant that some of the pack members used to smoke, and which made them lazy and giggly quite often.
It also dulled the senses.
Oaken smiled inwardly as he licked his lips with his long tongue. The hunters didn’t even have their guns on them. The weapons were resting against a thick pine tree.
Easy pickings, he thought.
He could kill them all in seconds before the others even knew what was happening.
Carefully, Oaken got down off the rock and dropped into a low crouch as he started to make his way down the slope toward the three hunters. Occasionally he would lift his head slightly to see what the other seven were up to, but they were just as distracted as they removed rubble from the entrance of the cave. A few were even drinking from bottles. Oaken wondered if they were slurping the same stuff that old Amos used to brew for the pack, the stuff that made everybody happy and oblivious. He hoped so. If their senses were dulled by the drink, they’d be slow to react.
Satisfied the others were off guard, Oaken shifted his focus to the group of three hunters not twenty yards away from him now. They seemed relaxed, confident that they would bag their target if they hadn’t already done so. They laughed about the story they would tell everyone when they got back to their town. They’d be hailed as heroes, monster hunters.
Oaken tuned most of it out. The only thing he was focused on as he closed them where their heartbeats and their positions. He crept as close as he could to them, but there was still a five yard gap between him and them. He would have to make his move from here. By the time they saw him, it would be too late anyway.
“Where’d these damn wolf people come from anyways?” one of the hunters was asking.
“They always been here,” another answered. “They ain’t never killed anyone before, though, not like that big fucker did last week.”
“Well,” said the other with a smile as he smoked his herb. “They ain’t gonna kill anybody no more, are they?”
They all began to laugh, further stoking Oaken’s rage. He bolted from the undergrowth at terrific speed and jumped at the nearest hunter, sinking his huge canines into the man’s throat and ripping it out in a spray of blood that showered the man next to him. Before the second man could fathom what was happening, Oaken swung one of his massive paws at the side of the man’s head, partially decapitating him. When he landed, he turned his attention immediately to the remaining hunter, who was just staring at Oaken in complete shock. Savoring the man’s utter fear for a second, Oaken then sprang forward and knocked him to the ground with his front paws, before biting down on the screaming man’s face, crushing the fragile bones in an instant.
Before he had even loosened his jaws from the man’s face, Oaken heard something zing past his ear, and he knew it was a bullet. The other hunters had seen him now, and they were starting to fire on him. He could sense their panic and surprise, which would explain why all of their bullets missed him as he bolted back into the undergrowth and sprinted up the mountainside, his heart pounding with exhilaration, and with the thought that he had successfully taken three of the hunters out, scaring the complete crap out of the rest of them.
He knew the hunters had special guns that could see in the dark, and for a long way, so he moved quite a bit further up this mountainside this time, before stopping and turning around, crouching down so he could listen. In the distance, he could hear the panicked voices of the other hunters as they argued amongst each other. A few sounded frightened and sickened by the gory state of their dead companions. They were talking about heading back down the mountain, but the hunters who weren’t frightened raised their voices and insisted that no one was going anywhere. They were going to get that fucking beast no matter what, and no one was going home until they did.
As Oaken listened, no one argued back with the hunter doing the talking, who also happened to be the biggest out all of them. Oaken caught no fear scent at all of off this man, as if he was used to dangerous hunts like this one. But Oaken didn’t care how experienced a hunter the man was. He would go down with all the rest. This was Oaken’s territory, his spiritual home. There was no way he would allow a bunch of outsiders to take it from him, even if they all but had already. Oaken wasn’t stupid. He knew that even if managed to kill all of the hunters, more would soon come as they came looking for their friends. Soon enough, the mountain would be over-run with outsiders.
But Oaken didn’t care about that either. He wouldn’t be around to witness it anyway. He’d be gone to meet the Great Wolf God, and to live in the Eternal Forest where no outsiders existed.
Until then, he still had seven more to kill.
* * *
As Oaken sat behind a large tree looking down the mountain at the hunters with their bright lights shining by them, he looked up at the mysterious, low-hanging moon and gave thanks to the Great Wolf God for keeping him alive so far, and for allowing him to avenge his pack. Soon, he thought. Soon I will be with you all again…
A noise behind him made him turn around and growl slightly, putting him immediately on his guard. He knew it couldn’t be a hunter, as there was no way any of them could’ve gotten past him without him seeing.
So what made the noise? Probably one of the smaller forest animals, he thought. But still, he couldn’t shake the sense that there was another one of his kind out there somewhere, a thought which made him whimper slightly, a response that seemed to solicit another noise several yards away as if something had shifted their weight.
Oaken went to move forward to investigate, raising his snout as he did so, hoping to catch a scent. But as he did, whatever was out there suddenly bolted in the opposite direction. Oaken stood for a moment, ready to run after whatever animal was out there.
Not just an animal.
He was sure of it. He had caught a slight scent now, and it was one he recognized, though he immediately became convinced that he was wrong about it, because he was certain none of his pack survived the massacre. Surely he would know by now if anyone did survive? And wouldn’t they just make contact with him? Why would they hide from him, especially when they could see what he was up against? It didn’t make sense, and he was left feeling confused and more alone than ever.
But he didn’t have much time to dwell, for the hunters had begun to move up the mountain, all in a line with about six strides between them. It wouldn’t be long before they came upon his position, shining their bright lights on him, making him easier to shoot.
He wasn’t about to let that happen, though, and neither was the Great Wolf God apparently, for He had sent down a thick mist that descended quicker than any Oaken had ever seen. It hung thickest just over the undergrowth, which was perfect for him, for it meant he could move unseen beneath it.
Let’s see how much good their bright lights do them now, he thought as he began to move toward his prey.
* * *
If he was hunting just one animal, Oaken normally preferred to stalk them silently and pounce just at the right moment. That way, the animal wouldn’t even know what hit it. If he applied the same tactic to the hunters, he would be able to hit one or maybe two of them before he was eventually caught out. The best way to hit them was all at once. He could do that by coming at them from all directions, getting them all riled up and confused so they didn’t know where he would come from next. Using the mist to his advantage, he should be able to take them all down one by one in the confusion.
So when the hunters were about a hundred strides away, Oaken began to move stealthily down the mountainside toward them, every one of his senses as keen as they had ever been. It didn’t matter that the mist obscured his vision, he could still smell all of their strange scents, and could hear their every footstep, along with every breath they took in the silence of the forest. When he was close enough, he could also hear their rapidly beating hearts, and their churning guts being stoked by fear.
A fear that he intended to stoke further.
He targeted the hunter on the far right first, creeping through the undergrowth before diving on the man from behind, his great weight pinning the hunter to the forest floor, his massive jaws crushing the back of his skull before the man could even scream.
“What was that?” the nearest hunter said. “Joe? Joe where are—”
That’s as far as he got before Oaken charged the man, knocking his legs right out from under him, the man’s gun going off as he went flying into the air. Oaken spun around just as the hunter landed, and swiped his paw at the man’s face, shredding every bit of flesh on the right side. The hunter’s screams sounded loudly in Oaken’s ears as he sprinted off through the undergrowth again, weaving his way through the trees as he began to flank the other five hunters, who were all in a panic now as they realized two of their own were down. Soon, they began to fire their guns at everything around them. Oaken felt bullets whizz past him as he took cover behind a tree. The firing stopped when the lead hunter shouted for it to stop.
A silence soon ensued that lasted for a few breaths, and then one of the hunters said, “Oh Jesus Christ, it killed Joe…”
“Fuck this!” another hunter said. “I’m not hanging around here any longer just to get torn apart by that fucking…thing out there…”
“Get back here, Bronson!” the lead hunter shouted. “Or I swear I’ll shoot you my fucking self!”
Oaken growled slightly in satisfaction to himself as he listened. His plan was working. The hunters were starting to go crazy from fear. Most of them anyway.
Time to hit them again, while they were arguing amongst each other.
Oaken flanked to the left this time, staying low, enveloped by the mist as he moved silently through it. Soon, he caught the scent of a hunter close by. He held the scent in his nostrils as it got stronger, and then he was upon the man it belonged to, who was younger than the rest, and scared out of his mind.
The man suddenly turned around, and Oaken froze. The hunter was looking right at him, all the color slowly draining from his face, his eyes big and wide and full of fear as he took in Oaken’s huge size. Oaken almost felt sorry for the guy, but there was no way he was going to let him live, even if the guy did seem to regret everything he had done. It was written all over his pale face.
Oaken dived at him just as the hunter let out a loud scream. The others reacted more quickly this time. As Oaken sunk his teeth into the young guy’s throat, he felt a sharp stabbing pain as a bullet entered his side, going straight through and out the other side. He couldn’t help but yelp in pain. As more bullets came zinging at him, he made a dash for a large clump of bushes and disappeared into them, bursting out a moment later so he could run further up the mountain.
The hunters kept shooting as he ran, but pretty soon he was too far away and too concealed to be hit by any bullets. One was enough anyway. It hurt like hell, and also slowed him down. Not only that, he was aware that he was leaving a blood trail. With their bright lights, the hunters would soon pick up on it, and there would be nowhere for him to hide.
As he lay low behind a clump of bushes, he turned his head to inspect his wound. There was a large exit hole on his side, and his dark fur was matted with a lot of blood. He could already feel himself getting weaker, and he realized that if he wanted to finish the hunters of, he would have to act now, before he became too weak to do it.
Growling slightly to himself as he got up, he walked to the nearest tree and peeked around it to see if he could see the remaining four hunters. They were closing in on his position fast, probably knowing they had wounded him. As far as they were concerned, they were closing in for the kill.
But so was he as he started to move down the mountain toward them, once again flanking to the right side to pick off the man on the end.
“I can hear him moving out there!” the hunter on the end said.
“Stay on your guard,” the lead hunter said. “He’s wounded and he’ll—”
Oaken struck before the hunter could finish, taking out the man on the end by swiping his paw across the man’s stomach, his razor sharp claws opening the man’s belly so that his intestines spilled out in a steaming pile onto the forest floor. Oaken heard the man’s screams as he bolted through the trees, sprinting around to the hunter on the far left who was standing aiming his gun all around him, as if he was expecting Oaken to come from any direction.
“Goddamn it!” the lead hunter shouted, the first signs of panic in his voice now. He had lost four men in a short space of time, after all. He must surely be wondering if any of them were going to survive.
Not if I can help it, Oaken thought.
Despite the spreading pain in his side, he kept up his pace and headed right for the hunter on the end, crashing through a bush and then leaping out of it, his jaws wide open as he directed them toward the man’s head. As his jaws clamped on and his weight came down, the man’s head came off in Oaken’s mouth, which he all but spat out.
“Motherfucker!” the lead hunter screamed once he realized another of his men was down. There was just him and one other left, and they both started to fire wildly at where they thought Oaken was.
But Oaken wasn’t where they thought he was. He was already moving around to the other side, maneuvering behind the other hunter, who he then hit from behind before the man could even turn around. He hit him so hard that the man’s head cracked open on a large boulder as he fell. Oaken knew the hunter was as good as dead, so he carried on running, putting distance between himself and the last remaining hunter.
Once he was far enough away, Oaken rested behind a tree as he realized his vision was beginning to blur due to the blood loss. All he wanted to do now was lie down and die, so his spirt could join his pack in the Eternal Forest.
But he couldn’t allow himself to die. Not yet.
Not until he had killed the last of the hunters who had massacred his family.
“You fucking son of a bitch!” the hunter was shouting. “You think you can take down me? I’ll fucking kill you before you do. Come and get me, you big bastard! Come on!”
Oaken peered around the tree to see the man standing twenty yards away with nothing but a large hunting knife in his hand.
This is it, Oaken thought as he came around the tree to stand and stare at the hunter. If he wants a finish to this, then I’ll finish it.
There were very few trees between them, and the hunter spotted Oaken straight away.
“There you are,” he said, suddenly smiling now as he held the knife up for Oaken to see. “I’m going to gut you, you fucking mutt.”
Oaken growled at the hunter as he allowed his rage to overtake him, nulling the pain in the his side. As he focused his eyes on the hunter, he could see traces of fear in the man’s face, but also the belief that he could kill Oaken, which flustered Oaken slightly, but not enough to put him off doing what he had to do.
With a final loud growl, Oaken started sprinting toward the hunter, who held his ground the whole time as Oaken closed the distance between them in mere seconds. When he was about five feet away, Oaken leaped forward into the air, intending to knock the man down and tear out his throat.
But despite his resolve, the blood loss had weakened him, and his leap fell short by a foot or so. The hunter was then able to take a step back and bring his knife down on Oaken’s back, penetrating him near his left shoulder.
Oaken howled with pain as he slammed down onto the forest floor, his legs having gone from under him. He tried to get up, but whatever damage the knife had done was preventing him from doing so.
He was done for, and at the hunter’s mercy now.
When the knife was suddenly ripped out of his back, Oaken howled again, the pain in his body like none he’d ever felt before.
The hunter had taken a step back as if he expected Oaken to get up and attack again, but he soon laughed when he realized Oaken wasn’t going anywhere. “I told you, you mangy mutt,” he said. “I told you I’d fucking kill you, didn’t I?”
The man’s words stung at Oaken, and in a way, were more painful than his physical wounds. He had failed to avenge the murder of his family. How would be able to face them in the Eternal Forest now?
The hunter had crouched down next to Oaken’s head now, and the knife was at his throat. “I’m going to enjoy looking at your head on my wall,” he said. “And you know what else? After I’m done with you, I’m coming back here and I’m going to poison this whole forest so that none of your kind can ever live here again. How do you like that, mutt, eh?”
Oaken tried to muster enough anger to get him moving again, but he couldn’t. His body was done for, and there was nothing he could do.
The hunter had won.
Oaken closed his eyes as he prepared for the blade to be drawn across his throat, finally putting him out of his misery.
But the final death cut didn’t come, because something suddenly came out of nowhere and jumped at the hunter, knocking him over onto the ground, causing him to cry out in surprise. Oaken opened his eyes as much as he could to see something with light fur mauling the hunter, teeth and claws shredding his flesh to bits until he stopped moving altogether.
Oaken wanted to keep his eyes open so he could see what had attacked the hunter, but he simply wasn’t able to.
The Eternal Forest was calling him, and he would go with a smile on his face, knowing all of the hunters were now dead.
* * *
When he next opened his eyes it was to blinding sunlight, and the realization that he was back in his human form. He groaned as he put his hand over his eyes, keeping it there until his vision adjusted to the brightness. Gradually, he was able to establish that he was in a forest, and at first he thought it had to be the Eternal Forest. But if that was the case, why wasn’t he in his wolf form?
He soon realized why when he sat up and looked around, immediately recognizing his surroundings. He was still on the mountain, he realized in shock and confusion. This was confirmed when he looked down at his naked body and saw the leaf dressings on the wounds on his side, and felt the pain in the top of his back. Then he suddenly remembered the hunters, and the one who had almost killed him.
But who or what had saved him?
“You’re finally awake.”
He recognized the voice coming from behind him. Recognized it immediately. As he spun around to see, he cried out at the pain in his back, but he didn’t care about it. He had to see if it was her.
And it was.
Lucina smiled as she sat looking at him, the sun making her hair look even more golden than usual, her blue eyes clearer. She still wore the same dress he had last seen her in, the one she made herself, and which he always loved her in because of the way it fitted her plump, gorgeous figure. Before the massacre, Oaken and Lucina had just begun to become mates, with Oaken loving everything about her.
“It’s me,” she said smiling with tears in her eyes. “I didn’t think you would make it. Your injuries…” She trailed off as if the thought of him dying was too much for her.
Oaken shook his head, still in shock that she was even here. “I knew someone else was out there. How did you survive? I thought everyone was dead.”
“Everyone is dead.” She smiled plaintively. “Except you.”
“And you,” he said smiling, still stunned she was alive and here in front of him. “How did you escape?”
She shook her head as if she hardly knew herself. “I just ran. I didn’t know what else to do.”
“I know,” he said. “There was nothing you could’ve done. There was nothing I could have done. Why didn’t you meet me before now? I don’t understand why you kept your distance.”
“Because,” she said, her hands going to her belly. “I couldn’t risk the future of our pack.”
Oaken’s eyes widened. “You’re…”
She smiled. “Yes, Oaken. It’s ours.”
Oaken burst out crying then, a torrent of grief, loss and happiness flooding out of him all at once. Lucina came to him immediately and put her arms around him, hugging him tight as she cried herself. “It’s just us now,” she said in a whisper. “We’re all that’s left now.”
Oaken pulled back and put a hand gently on her face, hardly able to believe he was going to take his own life only a short time ago. “The Great Wolf God has brought us together again for a reason. To start our own pack.”
Lucina smiled. “Yes, and we will, but where?”
“Far away,” Oaken said, suddenly knowing everything was going to be all right. “Somewhere no one will ever find us again.”