Chapter 6

When I was into my deep thought, I heard Elliott shout.

“Oh, look!” He almost jumped excitedly. He looked over my shoulder and then walked past me. “It’s a spring!”

I caught up with his steps. From the distance, I could see a small waterfall above a pool of spring, glistening under the moonlight. The sound of the water was serene and soothing. The stones were reflecting the luminescence of the moon. It reminded me of this one spring in the middle of the woods in Grassmere, but this spring was wider and deeper. The waterfall just made it more exquisite.

I had gone around these woods before, but I never realized that there was a beautiful spring here.

“Do you remember when we were kids, there was this tale about Moon Goddess descended to the Earth on the night of the brightest Full Moon?” Elliott asked, almost with a whisper because he didn’t want to ruin the nature’s sound.

Mom used to read it to me as a bedtime story. It was said that Moon Goddess would appear at a spring. Those who were lucky enough to witness it would be given a vision about their destined partner of life. The tale was popular around kids and teenagers that they would bring anything to any spring they could find for a chance to know their mates.

“Sure, I do,” I replied. “Why? I thought you didn’t believe it.”

“Yeah, but I think it’s just nice to know who we will end up with in the future, right?” He chuckled. “But, I never really care about that. If I ever meet her, I would just ask for a wish.”

“She’s a Goddess, not a genie,” I sneered.

Not hearing anything I said, he continued, “Do you think this could be a perfect place for the gathering?”

My eyes inspected the area. There was enough space for a whole tribe here. They could sit around the spring and the clearing was vast enough to make a circle. “I don’t know. It’s big enough and you can see the moon clearly, which is perfect, but it’s kind of far from everywhere.”

“Isn’t that the point? Seclusion?”

“Yeah, but… after the incident six years ago, I’m not sure my dad would agree,” I sighed.

“Still with the hunters story?” Elliott smirked.

I clung both my eyebrows together. “What do you mean ‘still’? It was a hunter who hurt me! Who would’ve brought a silver arrow in the middle of the woods at night?”

“No, I mean… Maybe there was only one hunter, or maybe a few more—but we still win in numbers,” he said.

I actually couldn’t believe this was coming out of Elliott Calloway’s mouth, the well-behaved kid who did everything he was told to that our kindergarten teacher always gave him stars. I was about to respond harshly, but I remembered that this Elliott changed a lot from then-Elliott.

“Did Nathan tell you that?” I folded both of my arms on my chest. “That there were no hunters, that I got hurt by my own clumsiness?”

“Hey, I didn’t say that!” He objected.

“Nathan must’ve said something to you and the others when we were moving, right? I know he would say anything to downplay that incident because he just had to be the one in control!”

Elliott held my arms firmly, not allowing me to move an inch, and then stared deeply into my eyes. “Yes. Nathan said something about his sister being overreacting, but I swear, it sounded ridiculous to my ten years old ears.”

I clenched my jaw. If I got too emotional, I might have to tear up. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t go back to my ‘Little Thea’ era again, no matter how much I despised Nathan and his pack. I had to prove to them that I could be strong despite being a late bloomer.

“Still, you’re underestimating the hunters,” I said, releasing myself from his grip and sat on one of the stones. “We might never see them, but they exist, Elliott.”

“I know, but the pact that the supernaturals made hundred years ago reduced the hunters’ chance to find us,” he informed. “If we learn to stay in our business, I believe humans will do the same.”

I nodded, agreeing, even though I knew there were one or two rebelling werewolves around the world who couldn’t stay still if they didn’t attack humans. That was why we had tribes, to supervise and give advice to new werewolves so that they wouldn’t let their wolf counterpart completely take over their consciousness.

The cold breeze blew over us, sending chills all over my body. Unlike Grassmere, Ashborne had a pretty cold September already. Entering October, trees would usually start turning into red and brown leaves. It was my favorite time of the year, which coincided with the anniversary of my first transformation.

Leaves then rustled, despite not having many winds around. We realized that it came from one direction, where we also saw a beam of light shining through the woods, followed by the sound of crushed dry leaves.

I got onto my feet. Someone was coming.

Instinctively, Elliott and I dashed and hid behind the trees to see who was approaching the spring. Their talking voices were louder with each steps, and finally, they walked out of the dark woods.

There were two men—one holding a rifle with a flashlight attached on the body, and the other had it strapped on his back. Elliott and I were glancing at each other and having the same thought: are they hunters?

“Who in the right mind would go hunting at night, Rick?” asked the man who didn’t hold any rifle.

“It’s the time when they least expect us,” the other man, aiming his rifle away from the waterfall, whispered. His exposed arm showed a tattoo of a raven spreading its wings. “Didn’t you learn something in the last 30 years?”

“Well, the problem is this is not a hunting ground.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised.”

Just as the rifle man said that, something deep in the woods moved. He quickly aimed the long barrel at the direction and pulled the trigger. Elliott and I gasped. He just opened a fire to the empty woods, not even knowing what he aimed at.

A painful shriek was heard moments later. According to my wolf sense, it was an animal. Elliott seemed to feel the same. The hunter hit it precisely even though it was very dark.

“Check that out, Sam,” Rick said, putting the safety pin back on his rifle, “I just got you a deer.”

“Damn. That was good, I admit it. You shouldn’t have wasted any of those bullets, though,” Sam chuckled.

The two men then strolled back into the woods, going after the deer they just knocked down. After they disappeared from our sight, I glanced at Elliott.

“You still want to have the gathering here?” I asked.

Elliott shook his head stiffly. “But, they’re not werewolf hunters like you’ve been worrying about.”

“Were you sleeping just now?” I widened my eyes in disbelief. “They shot into darkness, Elliott! They had a rifle, shot at anything that moved!”

“Alright,” he sighed. “Safety first, I guess.”

I really hated the way we ended our search that night. I was convinced that Nathan brainwashed his pack to be immune to fear, to come at anything that threatened their lives before it came to them. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if silvers or Wolfsbane wouldn’t hurt them.


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