Short Story Contest Entry by Jessi L. Roberts
“Elves Don’t Carry Guns”
by Jessi L. Roberts
Fern peered over the wall that surrounded the town of Refuge. A rider and packhorse trotted down the road while a huge dog ran beside them. It had to be Robiel. Only he had a diredog and the horses were both duns. Good thing they’d made it before night. Then again, Robiel didn’t fear the night, or the vamps that came with it.
“Get off the wall, elf,” Nelgen, one of the guards snapped.
Fern glared. “I’m only half elf, stupid.”
Nelgen lifted his hand.
“Just try it,” Fern snapped. “Robiel will feed you to the werewolf.”
Nelgen’s hand dropped.
Below them, the gates swung open. Robiel rode through, the dog at his side and the packhorse trailing behind.
Fern ran down the stairs and to Robiel. He dismounted and swept her into his arms. “You’ve grown.” He released her from his embrace. “Now, where’s that twin of yours?”
Fern rolled her eyes. “Probably mooning over some girl.”
Robiel smiled. “I was the same way at his age.”
The people of Refuge were now surrounding them, waiting to see what news Robiel had brought back.
“Uncle!” Ash ran through the crowd. As usual, the humans parted. His silver hair, which he kept short, tended to remind the humans of werewolves, especially after the incident two days ago. “We have a werewolf in jail. The mayor thought a scout would know what to do about it. The guards captured him in the fields. He’s huge.”
“Slow down,” Robiel said. “What’s this about??”
“A couple days ago, the guards caught a werewolf poking around when we were weeding.” Fern clarified. “They thought he might be a threat so they locked him in the jail.”
Robiel’s copper eyes widened. “Did he bite anyone?”
“Nope.” Ash ran a hand through his hair, making it stand up in spikes, like werewolf fur.
“Good.” Robiel led his horse toward the stables. “I’ll check it out after I get the horses unsaddled.” His dog trotted toward the stables. The crowd gave the huge beast a wide berth. Fern couldn’t blame them. If it had been much bigger, a small person could have ridden it.
“Is there any news?” A man in the crowd shouted.
“I heard an airplane last month.” Robiel walked into the stables and closed the doors.
“We should tell Barry that Robiel’s coming to look at the wolf,” Ash said.
“Do you think werewolf bites would turn us?” Fern asked.
Ash shrugged. “No idea. The way I see it, we have to avoid werewolves and werecats since there’s no telling which one would turn us into something.” Ash began jogging. “Keep up.”
Fern and Ash ran to the jail and stepped through the doorway.
Barry sat with his feet on his desk and an old hat pulled over his eyes, the lamp by his desk dark.
Fern held her finger to her lips. She crept to Barry’s side and took a deep breath then threw back her head and howled, loudly as she could.
Barry’s hands flailed and his chair tipped.
Ash grabbed Barry’s arm, saving him from a nasty fall.
Barry climbed to his feet and grabbed his hat. He jammed it over his balding head and brushed himself off. “What are you two kids doing here? The other kids hassling you again?”
“Nope.” Ash glanced toward a door in the back of the room that led to the cells. “Robiel’s going to check out the werewolf.”
“So Robiel’s back. That’s good.” Barry rubbed his wrinkled face. “Only advantage of having that monster around is that no one wants to get tossed in a cell next to it.
At that moment, Robiel stepped through the door, his thick build blocking most of the light. “Where’s this wolf?”
Of course, Robiel had to guess where the werewolf was, but he had the sense to let Barry lead him to the cells.
Barry grabbed the keys and paused. “Eva might not want her kids back there.”
“My sister can’t shelter them forever. They’ll have to leave Refuge eventually.”
“I’d rather deal with a few bullies than vamps,” Barry snapped. “The wild’s no place for kids.”
Robiel shoved past Barry and into the cell. “You’ve never been out there.”
Fern and Ash followed.
Two cells stood against the walls, leaving a narrow hallway between them. In back right cell, a prisoner sat on a bench. The darkness of the prison almost hid him from view.
The prisoner stood and stretched. He walked to the bars, his moccasins silent on the hard floor. The light shining through a barred window hit the man’s face, exposing golden eyes. Two deep scars, one on the bridge of his nose and another to the left of his left eye, ran down his face. Judging by the lack of wrinkles, he couldn’t have been any older than thirty, though the gray fur, which grew where human hair normally grew, made him appear older. With only a leather vest and pants, his muscular physique stood out.
Robiel strode to stand a foot from the prisoner, his own copper eyes betraying no fear. “I know those are the scars of an outcast.”
Fern stood closely behind Robiel. If this was an outcast, he could be even more dangerous than first assumed.
The werewolf met Robiel’s gaze. “Last full moon, an airplane crashed. When I pulled the human out, my teeth broke his skin. He turned. It saved his life. The alpha exiled me for biting because he considered me a threat.” The werewolf ran his hand over his face. “I couldn’t handle being on my own so I came here.”
“I know some other packs,” Robiel said. “I’ll talk to the mayor and see if I can get you released into my custody.” Robiel scratched his beard. “What’s your name?”
“Thorne of the valley pack.”
“There are other packs that might take you. I’ll see what I can do.” Robiel left Thorne and strode out of the cells prison and through the office.
“What are you going to do about that thing?” Barry demanded.
“He got exiled for accidentally biting a human.”
“You know he’s probably lying about his exile,” Barry said.
Robiel stroked his beard. “I don’t think so. He mentioned a plane wreck. A lot of people heard or saw that plane but the sitings stopped near the full moon. His story matches up.”
Ash cut off a grape shoot. “So, you think being a scout like Robiel would be a good idea? He tossed the shoot away and cut another one.
Fern did the same to another vine. “We’re halfbreeds. We’ll never fit in.” She glanced at Nelgen, who stood on a mound of dirt at the edge of the field. He cradled a rifle and scanned the forest surrounding Refuge. Though the forest was technically part of Refuge’s territory, no civilians ever went farther than the edge. Vamps hunted in the dark places.
Fern clipped off a few more tendrils. “Let’s hurry. Robiel’s probably discussing trader stuff and I want to hear it.”
“Why?” Ash asked. “Scouts only do trading stuff, and they’re always getting ambushed by vamps or bandits. Not much of a life.”
Fern glanced at Nelgen. Instead of watching the trees, he watched them. “We’re barely welcome here.” Why couldn’t Nelgen have guarded the people planting potatoes in the other field? Had he just wanted to annoy Fern?
“Some people like us.” Ash shrugged.
Nelgen stepped off the mound of dirt and walked to the nearest trees.
Fern looked away. The last thing she wanted to see was a guard relieving himself.
Hoofbeats thundered toward Fern and Ash. A trio of horses charged past the edge of the fields and between the rows of grapes.
Fern and Ash ran. A rider on a brown horse cut them off. “Help!” Fern shouted.
Ash charged the rider.
A huge tawny feline burst from the trees, leaped over a grape arbor, and pounced on Fern.
Fern punched the cat in the nose.
Fern punched it again. Her fist slammed into the cat’s teeth.
A gunshot rent the air. The huge werecat stumbled, then ran. Another bullet slammed into the cat. It fell in a heap.
One of the riders swung off his horse and returned fire. The other two bolted. One of them had Ash slung over the saddle.
Fern leaped to her feet as the last rider, the one who had shot at the wall, swung back onto his horse and raced after the other two.
Fern ran after the riders, but they made it to the forest and out of sight.
Guards raced through Refuge’s gates and into the open fields. More guards and gardeners ran from one of the other fields.
Fern searched for the telltale blonde hair her mother sported, the hair Fern had inherited. Finally, she spotted her mother stumbling through the field. One of the girls, probably Ash’s girlfriend, held her arm.
She raced to her mom. “They took Ash.”
“Are you okay?” Mom’s cloudy eyes gazed past Fern, unable to see her.
“Everyone get inside!” A guard shouted. “Now!”
Fern grabbed her mother’s arm. “This way.”
The guards herded them through the gates and into Refuge.
Two guards dragged Robiel through the gates ahead of Fern.
Once they were through the gates, Fern shepherded her mother to Robiel. The guards had eased him to the ground. Blood stained one shirt sleeve and his ankle twisted at an odd angle.
“What happened?” Fern asked the nearest guard.
Robiel propped himself up on his good elbow. “Got shot in the arm and fell off the wall.”
“He was trying to get a good shot on that cat,” a guard said.
“Are you okay? Did it bite you?”
Blood dripped from Fern’s hand. She stared at it. She’d been bitten.
Around her, the guards backed away. Two or three pointed their rifles at her. A buzz ran through the crowd of gardeners around her.
“She’s going to turn.”
“Throw her out.”
Fern clutched her bleeding hand and rocked. It couldn’t happen, not to her. She wasn’t some rabid animal.
Robiel gasped in pain and crawled to her. “Fern, I’ve got an idea. It’s a long shot, but it might work.”
“You can save her?” Eva asked. She wrapped her arms around Fern.
Robiel glanced farther into the town, toward the jail. “If the werewolf bites her, it might counteract the werecat’s saliva.”
The mayor strode through the crowd. “What’s going on here?”
“They kidnapped the halfbreed boy. The girl got bit by a werecat,” a guard said.
“Get her to the jail, now.” The mayor waved his arms.
“You heard him,” a young guard said. He pointed his rifle at Fern. It shook in his hands.
They’re terrified. Fern stood. Eva clung to her. “Take care of your bother,” Fern whispered. She pried her mother’s hands from her shirt.
A half-dozen of the guards circled around her, too afraid to come close. They’d always been wary, but now, they were afraid.
“Get the wolf to bite you,” Robiel shouted.
Fern strode to the jail.
When Fern opened the door, Barry scrambled to his feet and tried to look like he hadn’t been asleep again.
One of the old guards followed Fern through the doorway. The others hung back, afraid to be in a confined space with Fern.
“She’s been bitten. You need to get her locked up,” the old guard said.
“Bitten by what? That monster of Robiel’s?”
Barry’s eyes shot wide. “Okay. I’ll get her a cell.” He led them to the back of the jail and opened the cell next to Thorne’s.
Fern stumbled to the hard board that made the bed. She sat on it.
Barry closed the door. “Sorry about this. I’ll get a blanket for you.” He left Fern alone in the shadowy cell.
Tears blurred her vision. She tried wiping them away but more took their place. Ash was gone, and she’d be turning into a monster with the next new moon.
“You got bitten?” Thorne demanded.
Fern looked up. Thorne peered through the bars of his cell, his eyes narrowed.
Fern nodded. “A werecat.” Robiel’s idea came back to her. “Robiel said maybe a werewolf bite could counteract it.”
Thorn lifted a hand and scratched his ear. “It works on vamp bites, though they turn into a werewolf. A werewolf bite certainly wouldn’t make things worse, but we need to do it soon.” He knelt by the bars. “Stick your hand through. I’ll be gentle as I can.” A shudder tore through Thorn. Fur flowed from his tail and grew over his leather vest. Soon, a gray wolf the size of Robiel’s dog stood in front of her.
Fern backed away from the bars.
“It’s okay.” Even though he’d shifted forms, Thorn’s words came out clearly. “Hold out your hand.”
Fern put her injured hand through the bars and closed her eyes.
Thorn’s teeth sank into her arm.
Fern cried out and pulled away. Four holes from his canine teeth had punctured her arm. Blood dripped from the holes and mingled with the drying blood on her hand.
Thorne shifted back to human form just as Barry burst through the door. “Is he hurting you?”
Fern shook her head and clutched her bleeding arm to her chest. “I’m okay.”
“You don’t look okay.” Barry glared at Thorne.
“I’m fine.” Fern prayed Barry would leave. After watching her for almost a minute, he did.
“How did this happen?” Thorne asked.
Fern told Thorne the whole story.
“I’ve heard rumors,” Thorne said. “Werewolves going missing. Some think humans are experimenting, testing to see if they can harness our powers.”
“Why did you get captured?” Fern asked. “You knew humans hate you”
“We werewolves can’t last long on our own.” Thorne told her his story, how he’d been exiled, driven away from his mate and pups, and how his loneliness had forced him to seek human companionship, even though he knew going near humans could get him shot.
The door to the office swung opened. Robiel limped in on crutches. Eva stood next to him, one of her hands on his shoulder. She held a set of keys in her free hand.
Fern stood. “What’s going on?”
“Be quiet,” Robiel whispered. “We’re breaking you out.”
“There’s nowhere to hide,” Fern whispered.
“There is if you leave Refuge.” Robiel limped toward her cell.
A chill shot through Fern. After what happened in the fields, she knew she couldn’t survive in the forest.
Mom unlocked the door to her cell and opened it.
Fern stepped out of the cell. Robiel grabbed her injured arm and peered at it. “He bit you?”
“Do you trust him?”
Fern glanced at Thorne. “He’s okay.”
“You know how to shoot, correct?”
“Of course.” What was Robiel planning?
“No one in town is willing to mount a search party to reduce Ash. I can’t travel so it’s up to you.” Robiel tensed. “I want you to take my horse and Thorne. My guns are still tied to the saddle. We’ll help you two get out of Refuge. If you’d rather hide or stay here, I won’t look down on you. It’s your choice.”
Fern glanced at Thorne. If she did this, she’d need to take him. Could she trust him? Part of her wanted to go back in the cell and stay there, but Ash needed help. “I’ll do it.”
Mom unlatched Thorne’s cell door. Thorne stepped out and rolled his shoulders. “Thanks.”
Robiel dropped a crutch and grabbed Thorne by the throat. “I’m letting you loose because we need you to find the boy. If anything happens to Fern, I will hunt you down and rip out your throat. That is a promise.” Robiel released Thorne.
Thorne lowered himself halfway to the floor. “You have my word I will not harm her.”
“Shift into wolf form and curl your tail over your back. They’ll think you’re my dog.”
Robiel and Thorne crept through the office. Fern and Eva waited a bit longer before sneaking past Barry, who slept in his chair.
“I’m surprised he didn’t wake up,” Fern whispered once they were out of the jail.
“I drugged his coffee,” Eva whispered.
They crept down the path toward the gate. Ahead of them, Robiel hobbled along with Thorne at his side. In the darkness, Thorne almost looked like Robiel’s diredog.
At the stables, Fern saddled Robiel’s horse. He gave her a quick rundown of what supplies and weapons she had, including a sword, pistol, rifle, extra ammunition, a water purifier, and enough dried meat to last her two weeks.
Robiel peered out of the stables. “The guards are awake, but they’re all looking out.”
The foursome crept to the gates. Eva lifted the beam keeping the gate closed.
“Mount up,” Robiel whispered. “When the gate opens, run for the trees.”
Fern climbed onto Robiel’s horse. “Are you two going to get in trouble?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Eva whispered. “Be careful. I love you.” She reached up to Fern and hugged her.
Robiel swung the gate open.
“Goodbye!” Fern dug her heels into Robiel’s horse. The mare shot forward.
Shouting erupted on the wall.
“Don’t shoot,” Eva yelled. “It’s Fern.”
The horse ran faster, trampling potatoes and crashing through corn. Thorne kept pace beside her, his tail now low and all pretenses of being a dog gone.
Once they made it to the trees, Fern pulled the horse up and looked back. Refuge stood barely visible in the light of the half-moon.
Ahead of them, the forest thickened, the perfect place for vamps.
Thorne sniffed the ground. “I need to pick up the scent.”
Fern rode after Thorne as he loped along, his nose low to the ground. He made it to the area Fern thought the riders had vanished. He stopped and sniffed deeply, then turned into the forest. “This way. They didn’t take the road.” He paused. “There are four riders and a pureblood werewolf. It’s a male.”
“I only saw three riders,” Fern said. “And a werecat.”
“I think one of the humans is from Refuge.”
“Nelgen,” Fern spat. “He snuck into the trees right before we were attacked.”
Thorne raced into the forest. Fern stared at the dark shadows that stretched ahead. “What about vamps?” she asked.
Thorne sniffed the air. “If we stick together, the small clans will probably leave us alone. They don’t like tangling with werewolves, even if we don’t have the full moon to back us up.”
Fern kept the mare right behind Thorne as they traveled and the rifle close.
The night wore on with no sign of vamps.
At dawn, Thorne stopped near a stream.
Fern yawned. “Why are we stopping?”
“Get the horse a drink and rest. You’re tired.”
“I can keep going.” Fern rubbed her eyes.
“I’m resting.” Thorne walked to the stream and took a drink.
Fern sighed. She couldn’t find Ash without Thorne. She slid off the horse. Her muscles protested to the movement.
Thorn lay down. “We can move on in a couple hours.”
Fern hobbled the mare and sat under one of the numerous trees. “Should one of us keep watch?”
“Vamps only come out at night and we’re off the human paths,” Thorne said. “I’ll keep my nose open. You get some sleep.”
Fern closed her eyes. Thorne had a point. They needed to be fresh when they caught up to the enemy.
Thorne sniffed the leaves on the forest floor. They’d been churned up by horses. “If we press on, we should catch up tonight.” With the moon only a couple days from being full, his size had increased until he was at least the size of a large black bear.
A strange hot feeling, like her blood had been warmed, shot through Fern. She leaned against the horse and rubbed the wound on her arm. The tooth marks had been healing well, but the heat and tingling skin told her something was amiss. The sensation had been going on all day. It had gotten worse when the moon rose.
“Is something wrong?” Thorne asked.
“How do I know if I’m going to turn?” Fern’s words came out as a sob.
Thorne hurried to her side. “What do you feel?”
“It’s like something hot is just under my skin and wants out.” Fern wrapped her arms around herself. Was it her imagination or were her arms hairier than usual?
“Maybe we should wait for the rescue until after the full moon.” Thorne glanced north, the direction they’d been going. “If your adrenalin kicks in, it won’t be good. You’ll shift.”
“Then we need to get them tonight, before I shift. I’m not letting that werewolf bite Ash.” Even if she couldn’t save herself, perhaps she could save her brother.
Thorne’s ears drooped. “No. He’s a werecat, Fern.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Fern snarled. How could he keep it a secret from her?
“It wouldn’t have done you any good to know,” Thorn said.
“He’s my brother!” Her hair bristled. Fern froze. The tingling sensation had turned into a burning. She fell to her knees. “Thorne, I’m turning, help!”
“Look at me, Fern,” Thorne snapped.
Fern looked at Thorne.
“Now, concentrate on your human form. Think about breathing, not anger or excitement. Do it.”
Fern concentrated on herself. The burning eased. Finally, it went back to the tingling she’d felt before. She gazed at the moon. If the wolf fought this hard to get out, she wouldn’t stand a chance on the full moon. “I’m turning into a monster,” she sobbed.
Thorne growled. “You are not a monster. Neither is your brother.”
“I’m going to be one, when the full moon comes, just like him.”
Thorne growled. “Do you think I am a monster?”
“You were born that way. It’s different.”
Thorn stepped closer, until his face hung inches from her own. “You’re only a monster if you let your instincts control you. When you turn, you have to control them.”
Fern hugged herself.
“Do you want to go after your brother or wait until after you’ve shifted?” Thorne asked.
Fern took a few deep breaths. “We can go now.” She climbed onto the mare. “They might be hurting him.”
The moon hung high above them when Thorne stopped, his hackles on end. “Tie the horse here. From now on, we go on foot.”
Fern took some extra ammunition for the rifle and tied the mare to a tree. Hopefully, if things went bad and they didn’t make it back, the mare would rip loose and head back to Refuge.
Fern followed Thorne through trampled leaves. Her hair stood on end.
Wood smoke hung in the air. Soon, Fern spotted firelight.
Fern and Thorne moved into thicker brush and crept closer to the camp. Four horses were picketed on the far side of the camp while five shadows slumbered around the fire. One was a short distance from the others, farther from the fire. A man leaned against a tree, his head bowed. For a guard, he wasn’t doing a very good job.
Thorne sniffed the air. “I scent one pureblood werewolf, three halfbloods, a man, and Ash. Those riders have been bitten. Whatever they’re up to, they’ve turned themselves into halfblooded wolves. Lucky for us, there’s only one pureblood. I can deal with halfbloods. They’re weak.” Thorne sniffed the air again. He let out a low growl. “Thought so. They’ve got Ash drugged up on wolfsbain.”
Fern’s stomach turned to ice. “What’s it do to him?”
“It makes shape shifters able to go into animal form with ease, but we have more trouble controlling our instinct or shifting out of animal form. They probably figured it was easier to confine him if he was trapped in one form.”
A growl rumbled in Fern’s chest. “What do you want to do?” They couldn’t leave Ash, not like this.
“He’s got to be chained. See if you can get him loose. He might panic if he sees me.”
“Okay.” Fern crawled forward, every muscle tense. Something wild welled up in her, telling her how to creep quietly.
“Fern, be careful,” Thorn whispered. “He might be violent.”
The pair stalked forward. They circled the edge of the camp, where the undergrowth hid them from the guard.
Moonlight shown off the silver-furred feline in front of Fern. She belly crawled next to him.
His eyes opened. He sprang to his feet and hissed at her. A chain around his neck rattled.
“Ash, it’s me, Fern.” She crawled closer and reached for the chain.
“What’s going on over there?” The guard shouted. Nelgen.
Part of Fern wanted to leap at him, to sink her teeth into his throat. That would teach him for messing with her brother. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Her skin burned.
Ash turned toward Nelgen and roared.
Taking advantage of the distraction, Fern unclipped the chain around his neck.
He turned on her. His huge silver paw slammed into her side, bowling her over.
“We’re under attack!” Nelgen shouted.
At Nelgen’s words, Ash charged. Nelgen lifted his rifle. Ash bowled him over.
The camp sprang into action. The werewolves charged Fern.
Fern unslung her rifle and stood.
Thorne leaped into the fight. He grabbed the nearest werewolf, a small one, and shook it.
The pureblood werewolf grabbed Ash by the scruff and threw him off Nelgen.
Ash lowered himself to the ground, submissive. Nelgen’s blood covered his face and paws.
The rifle trembled in Fern’s hands. He’s a monster.
“Kill the elf,” the werewolf ordered. “She doesn’t care about you. She knows you’re an animal now.”
Ash stalked toward Fern.
“Make him stop or I’ll shoot!” Fern yelled at the wolf. Behind her, Thorne fought the trio of smaller werewolves.
The werewolf’s ears pricked. “Elves don’t carry guns.”
“This one does.” Fern’s words came out as a snarl. The wolf within clawed at her, trying to rip free of its prison.
The huge werewolf turned to Ash. “Attack her.”
Fern aimed the rifle at Ash. “Ash, it’s me. Don’t listen to him. Please.”
Ash growled and stalked toward her. What had they done to him?
Fern backed away. “Ash. Please stop.” Tears came to her eyes.
Fern fell under his weight. The rifle fell from her hands.
Ash stared down at her, his blue eyes narrow.
The wolf inside Fern pushed harder, telling her she had to fight, not lay like a victim. “Ash, don’t do this. I’m your family. I love you. You’re not a monster.”
Ash glanced at the werewolf.
“Kill her.” He stepped closer and licked his lips.
Ash glared at the wolf. “No.” He took a few steps toward the much larger wolf. His ears were flat against his head.
Fern crawled toward the rifle. She had to keep focus or she’d shift.
A black halfblood pounced on her. Its teeth sank into Fern’s leg.
The wolf within her exploded in a roar of rage. Fern turned on the halfblood as her jaws shifted into the jaws of a wolf. She grabbed the werewolf by the neck and shook.
The rest of her body followed her head. Blonde fur flowed over her body. Her bones bent and stretched.
She released the halfblood and stood, her lips drawn back. The halfblood backed away, blood dripping from his neck.
Ash yowled in pain. The big werewolf had him by the scruff.
Fern sprang on the wolf. Her teeth sank into his shoulder. Blood spurted into her mouth. She pulled at the wolf.
He turned on her, his jaws snapping.
Fern sprang away.
Ash leaped to his feet and tore into the wolf. His jaws sank closed on the huge werewolf’s spine.
The wolf spun, his jaw snapping at Ash.
Fern attacked. Her teeth sank into his throat and held him, stopping him from reaching Ash.
The werewolf fell to the ground. Fern kept her hold on his throat. He thrashed, but his struggles weakened. Finally, he lay still.
Fern released the wolf and licked her lips. Satisfaction shot through her. She’d won.
Ash still held the wolf’s back, his jaws clenched. He growled at Fern. She backed away from the kill.
Thorne limped to them. “Get hold of yourselves, both of you.” He stepped toward Ash, his tail uplifted. “That is not your kill. Stop acting like an animal.”
Ash released the dead werewolf and backed away, his body lowered in submission.
The horses tugged at their halters.
Ash stalked toward them. Fern’s mouth watered. She could already imagine her teeth sinking into their tender flesh.
Thorne leaped between the horses, Ash and Fern. “Control yourselves,” he growled. “Follow me, now. We’re going hunting. You two need to burn some of that bloodlust in a constructive way.”
Five days later, after the full moon had come and gone, Thorne led the group back toward Refuge.
“They’re not going to take us back,” Ash said. He rode one of the horses they’d taken from the kidnappers.
Fern sighed, her mind flashing back to the bloodlust she’d felt, first taking down the huge werewolf, and then hunting and eating a deer. I didn’t even feel guilty about killing him. If she turned around humans, could she control the bloodlust, stop herself from killing innocent people?
Thorne stopped, his tail upraised.
A man on horseback trotted toward them, a huge dog at his side.
“Robiel!” Fern urged the mare to a faster speed.
The horses met. Robiel examined Fern. “You shift?”
“Both of us,” Fern said. “Wasn’t your leg was broken?”
Robiel smiled. “Werewolves heal fast.”
“You’re a werewolf?” Ash stared.
“It’s a long story.” Robiel turned his horse toward Refuge. “I know a pack that will take you in. We’ll pick up Eva and go there. I can teach you to control your instincts.”
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