The Hunter Within

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Land of Dragons


Dyanne grew up in a city she didn't belong. Without her father, she only knew Langer City and the mountains that surrounded it. One day, just as the full moon disappeared from sight, something
happened that caused her to think more than ever, who her father was. After so long, it was time for her to get answers, but it led her down a path she didn't expect.



A/N: Entry for Reaper's 'Bring the Action' contest. Sorry, it's not all that actiony and first person isn't my strong suit.

Submitted: December 02, 2017

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Submitted: December 02, 2017

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The Hunter Within

Dashing between the peaks of the mountains, my eyes remained focused on the silver orb overhead. The air was still, no wind, not even a sound from the pads of my paws hitting the rocky slope. I had little control over my body, yet I willed myself to come here like I do every other time. Overlooking Langer City below, it got smaller as I climbed higher. It was nothing more than a ghost town under the light of the full moon. The dim sky lightened with each passing moment, and at the top of the Alpha Mountains, I finally got to see it. The brilliant orange hue overtook the navy sky as the sun began to reveal itself. The moon went into hiding upon its arrival, chased away by the great ball of energy. While I enjoyed the scene before me, I dreaded what came next. Howling up at the sky as the moon finally disappeared from sight, I felt it, my bones shifting, contorting. I envied those few who were able to shift at will because going through that torture every full moon killed me inside. I hung my head as my ginger and white coat retracted into my body and my paws changed to hands. On the ground, I waited to gain control once more.

As the wolf, I knew what I had done, but had no ability to prevent it. That was our fate; that was what the curse had brought about. It targeted not just us, but our victims too. At least, that’s what they told me as a child, but let’s be honest here, there does not seem to be any evidence or logic to support such a claim. Why would they curse all of us just because of one’s mistake? It would be unfair, although, in growing up, I had learned that nothing in this world is fair. Life would beat us down, time and time again. Some even struggle to get back up.

With a sigh, I looked over the cliffs I stood upon. Langer city was getting back to usual as the citizens returned home from wherever they wandered. For them, it was back to their homes to rest all day. Tomorrow, they would get back into their routines as if it never happened until next full moon where time repeated. That was the life they grew accustomed to. As for me, I lived among them, yet remained out of their lives. The Kaynika Ocean reflected the alluring sunrise and the scene surrounding it. Within the great body of water, you could see the city, the mountains, and even me hanging over, dangerously close to the edge. I was more focused on my hair, however, for it was absolutely horrendous. The strands of ginger draped over my face like I had gone through the dryer. It was frizzy and untidy. No amount of patting could tame it. It would be a good idea to get home before somebody humiliated me further, I decided. Finally pulling myself up from the ground, I began to make my way around the rocks and steep slopes on shaky legs.

Lifting a quivering hand to my cheek, I touched my damp face. The salty water was another thing I couldn’t control. The moon's power still surged through my veins. It scared me, how it made me feel. The emotions swirled within, rising to the surface in order to consume me. The anger and sadness, it was hard to contain, yet I swallowed hard and tried to do so anyway for fear of what I might do.

I froze in my tracks as a sound broke the silence. An object of some sort, a rock possibly? It tumbled down the slopes, bouncing off each curb it hit, echoing all around. I listened as it stopped, coming to rest somewhere. Looking around, I couldn’t see it. It was not very big, but my ears magnified such a simple noise. What had caused it though, an animal? Movement from above and behind alerted me to a threat. I heard him jump down, his heavy boots connecting with the ground. His rough hands took me around the arms. I was not going to allow him to do anything and struggled against him with all I had. I needed an advantage and turning to face the ledge he jumped down from, I had an idea. Lifting my feet off the ground, I used both, his own weight and the rocky surface before me, in order to flip over his head and land behind him. He faced me and I grimaced at who it was. He merely smiled at me with that irritating smirk I had grown accustomed to. Despite his black hair as messy as my own, he still thought he was hot stuff. Just the sight of him got on my nerves.

Without so much as a thought, I threw a punch directed at his face, but he caught my fist. “Why are you here?” I growled out. “You’ve decided name calling just isn’t good enough for you?” I asked. “Man, this is low, even for a lowlife like you.” My words seemed to get him angry and he pushed me away. Losing my footing, I stumbled on the rocks and landed on my back. My gaze shot up at him. He was coming for me. All I could do was ready myself for him. Just as he was upon me, I reached up and grabbed his shirt. Lifting my legs, I hauled him over my head. All I heard was his screams as I lay still, and then came the sickening crack of him hitting the rocks below. It echoed in my ears, filling me with dread. Turning over, I peer down at him as he lay motionless, a thick red liquid pooling around him. What had I done?

That was my first, my first kill. I couldn’t get over it. I was later home due to me taking hours to compose myself, but once I did, I headed back down the mountains and into Langer City. I didn’t plan to tell anyone, not even my own mother. They wouldn’t understand. All they would know was it was my fault and I should never have lived among them. As it was, they thought I was a danger to them, to their children, but I’m not so different. We were naturally reckless, doing stupid things, making mistakes. It’s just I who actually killed one of our own. Finally passing the borders to the city, I made my way home, where I live with my mother. Stepping through the front door to our cosy little house, I found my mother lazing on the couch. After the full moon, that was how we spent our day. It affected us all as a community. We sat around, ate lots, and slept through the day like we were dreadfully ill, the difference was, we were just sad and in pain. The ache in my joints still remained and the strained expression on my mother’s face told the story much the same. She held a book in her hands; yet, they quivered so much I’m sure she struggled to read a word of it.

I picked up my own book from where I left it on the table before the moon came. Taking a pen in my other hand, I took a seat on the couch also. I didn’t read like she did. Instead, I took to writing in my journal. It contained all my darkest secrets and that time, I had a new entry that fitted the description perfectly. My writing was messy, my grammar terrible, and I couldn’t even spell disaster correct. No matter how I wrote it though, it never looked right. Letting out a groan, I scribbled out the word and closed the book. I’m not much of a writer anyway. If I could, I’d be out there playing sports, problem is, I’m left with barely enough energy to even stand. Looking down, I noticed a photo sticking out of my journal, so I pulled it out. It was an old picture of me and my parents. I was so small in my father’s arms. We shared the same sapphire eyes, but I can safely blame my mother for my crazy ginger hair. It always stood out for miles. I remembered her giving this to me awhile back, but I didn’t remember it happening. Back then, we looked happy. Him leaving broke us apart, I knew it in my heart, even if I couldn’t recall us ever being a family.

I was only a few months old in that picture. I often thought about what could have been, how nice everything would be. “What happened to him?” I asked.

Her answer never changed no matter how many times I questioned her. She always seemed to hate talking about it and grew nervous upon my query. She looked up from her book at last and sighed. After a moments silence, came her predictable reply. “Do we have to talk about this now, Dyanne?”

I grunted. Usually here was where I dropped the subject and pardoned her for how she brushed away the topic. I didn’t intend on doing that, though, not that time. The morning I just had left me with more answers, and I was going to get them. Turning to face her directly, my gaze locked onto her hazel eyes. “There is never a good time,” I told her. “So if I don’t find out now, I never will.” She remained quiet, her eyes cast to the ground. “You’re always telling me how he was such a wonderful person,” I pushed further, “and I’m left without a clue as to where he is or what happened to him.” Glancing down at the picture in my hands, I sighed. “Is he even alive?”

“It’s complicated,” she responded.

My eyes were trained on the wall in front of me. “Everything is,” I said, getting up from the couch. I didn’t give her a chance to say anything back and went straight to the door. “I’m heading out; I’ll be back before dusk.” I exited the building and journeyed through the streets of my home. The roads were empty after the full moon, with everyone residing in their houses. I would too if I didn’t have so much on my mind. Slowing my pace, I glanced through the window of one of the closest buildings. A couple sat, their young children playing at their feet. At their age, they didn’t have to go through the pain of change. When I was a kid, I never considered how much agony the wolf inside brought. It always rose to the surface as soon as we hit teen years, but before then, we naturally were short tempered. I was the worst of them all and I thought that was why they seemed so distant. Growing older, I knew it was something bigger than the tantrums I threw because I grew out of those. I’m different, that much was true. The people always backed away as I passed. They stopped playing their games and strange looks were thrown my way. It was time for me to find out why, to leave that place and discover what lied outside of Langer city.

Glancing back at the homes of many, I made a note to myself not to be gone for too long. It was my mother who set me back. There was no way I could just leave her. She would be heartbroken after how we left things and lonely without anyone else around. Turning back to the mountains, they seem different during that time of day. Marching forward, I mentally prepared myself for a journey no one in my city had ever experienced.

Right after the full moon, it seemed harder to reach the top. The power that previously flowed through my veins was completely gone, leaving me with nothing but my share will. I was determined to tackle the mountains and venture beyond, into the unknown. Past the Alpha mountains were merely the first step and I had no clue where it would take me. I came across a problem as I wandered through Haydn Desert. Going on foot was going to take me ages despite how fast I could run. I wouldn’t even make it through the sandy biome, let alone get back home before dusk. I needed a dragon, for this search of mine was about to lead me further than the large islands that surrounded me. It was likely I wouldn’t find my answers here or anywhere close by. I needed to go to the main Island, but first, a ride. Clovis Town was nearby, so surely they would lend me a hand, or rather, a beast with wings.

The journey there was a long and painful one, only sped up slightly by my quick movement. Eventually, it came into view. The small buildings huddled together weren’t far off in the distance and people wandered the streets as they went about their daily life. It was buzzing with activity, unlike my home. It looked rather exciting from where I stood, but before reaching it, something caused me to stop. It was a subtle noise, like shuffling in the sand. Spinning around with my arm raised, I prepared myself for contact, but whoever it was dodged before I could hit them. I jumped back, kicking up desert sand by the movement. A warning growl escaped me, hopefully sending the message I wasn’t in the mood. After blinking a few times as the dust settled, I then looked up and into the blue eyes of a man much bigger than I. His black hair was greying and his arms were raised slightly. The posture he held was oddly gentle, familiar in a way. “Whoa now, it’s alright,” he spoke in an attempt to calm me. “I’m not here to hurt you.”

“Yeah right,” I retorted, “wouldn’t be the first to attack me today.”

“Yes, I know about the guy on the mountains,” he said, lowering his arms and taking a step towards me.

So, what? Had he been following me? Stalking me? Studying my every move? What would he hope to gain? Baring my canines at him, I took a step backwards, my shoulders pulled back in an aggressive posture. Usually, such behaviour would intimidate strangers, but he didn’t seem concerned. “Watch what you say next,” I warned.

“Relax,” he told me. “I have no intention of harming my Niece.”

With wide eyes, I struggled to comprehend his words. Remaining silent, I chose to listen to what he had to say. Maybe this was just what I was looking for, my first lead to where my father was.

“This world you live in is complicated,” he began. “Conflict is all around us. Werewolves and vampires are sworn enemies, dragons and humans were too for a time. Then there are the hunters, who stand above the food chain. Their sole purpose is to hunt down those who pose a threat. These people have the unnatural ability to match the skills of any creature they chase and are never allowed to have romantic interests of any kind. That was the law of the hunters,” He glanced away with a sigh, his eyes on the mountains. “Your father went against that law and fell in love with a wolf. Years later, you were born as the first and only child of a hunter and a wolf.” He looked back at me. “It was fine for a time, but your father feared for you and your mother’s safety. The hunters he worked with began to get suspicious, so he chose to leave in order to protect you. It is here where I come in. He wanted me to watch over for you in his steed.”

I stared at him for a moment. “Uh, okay,” I replied at last. “Well, you don’t do a very good job.” I crossed my arms. “Apart from your ability to watch without me knowing, you did no real protecting,” I growled out. “All those times you could have…” I quickly turned away from him and sighed. “What was the point of anything?” I spun around, making eye contact with him again. “Well, are you prepared to actually help me this time?” I asked. “Will you help me find him?” All I could hope was that this trip of mine wasn’t a waste of time. The uncertainty had me on edge.

His eyes drifted to the ground as he contemplated what I said. “Yes,” he responded, “Since it’s either this or you walking the whole way to Cendia by yourself.”

I smiled at that. “Well, now I know he’s living in the capital, so all I would have to do is find a map and then I’d be on my way.”

He shook his head at my reply, but then turned around. Lifting a hand to his mouth, he let out a whistle that pierced my sensitive hearing. That wasn’t all. After a moment, I could hear something else, the beating of wings and a roar that shook the ground we stood upon. Lifting my gaze, there it was. The beast soared through the sky gracefully, his tail behind him covered in spikes. It wasn’t long before he landed before us, his huge round eyes, blue like sapphires, focused on his master as he waited for a command. Approaching the giant beast, he reached out a hand, rubbing his fingers along his shimmering scales. “We’re just going for a ride,” he said to the dragon before facing me once more. “Come on,” he said. He led me to the side and helped me climb aboard.

Spreading out his wings, the dragon prepared to take off. With a mighty leap, we lifted into the air where the ground fell away below us. With my gaze below, I watched as everything began to shrink with time. Flying above the buildings of the town, I couldn’t help but enjoy the sight as small people walked between the tiny constructions. It reminded me of dollhouses like I could just hold them in my hands if they weren’t out of my reach. On dragon had to be the best way to travel, with the wind through my hair and the oddly comforting sound of the beast's wings as he flapped them. It’s the movement I didn’t enjoy so much, it was like a boat and they always made me sick. Breathing out a sigh, my eyes remained on the ground. Haydn Desert and Lykos Island came to an end. The Kaynika Ocean split up this piece of land from the next. It wasn’t long before dirt and the faded grass came into view. We never get enough water in Elinsire, but trading with the other kingdoms help keep us on our feet at least.

Lifting my gaze to the distance, I could see it. It had to be the capital with the large buildings and huge population. Of course, the castle gave it away too. It stood out from afar, with its tall structure, towers and stunning design. The ruby that crowned the top of the entrance shone brilliantly in the light. I wished to go there, but I knew my attention lied elsewhere. Maybe another time…

Landing just outside of Cendia’s walls, we dismounted the dragon. He flew off into the sky as we began forward, through the borders of the most populated city on the planet. I merely followed behind as my uncle led me through the busy streets. I stayed close, afraid to get separated and afraid of what I’ll find later on. He stopped before one of the houses, moving aside and out of sight. Gesturing to the door, his eyes were on me, “here we are,” he said.

As if I didn’t already know. Taking a step onto the porch, I lifted a hand and knocked on the door. A couple seconds went by. Maybe he’s not home. Maybe that’d be a good thing, but the answers I’d never get. His face I’d only ever see in photos. No, the time had come at last. I had to see this through. Footsteps from the other side had me freezing in place. Was it too late to run? The handle turned and I inched away. I believe it was. The door opened a moment later, leaving me standing there under his questioning gaze. His eyes were a stunning blue like mine. They looked at me as if I was a stranger, something I was used to, even in my own home. “Uh, he-hello,” I said with a shaky voice. I had changed a lot since an infant apart from my eyes, so it’s obvious he doesn’t recognize me. He couldn’t. I swallowed, doubt consuming me. My hair fell over my eyes as he stared at me. It scared me, the uncertainty. If only I could hide.

He came out from within the comfort of his home, into the heat where he’s lived for so long. The light was in his eyes, making him squint at me. “Dyanne?” he asked in uncertainty.

My gaze met his and I could see the recognition on his face, making me smile slightly. “Father?” I replied.

He held out his arms and I approached him, wrapping my arms around him in an awkward, unsure hug. “You look just like your mother,” he whispered, holding me close.

That was the moment everything changed. It was all I expected and more. He welcomed me inside, along with my uncle who he seemed not too happy with for helping me put myself in danger. Of course, he was troubled by my presence at first, but as we began to talk, he relaxed slightly. This was the start of a real father-daughter relationship, something I never thought I’d experience. The plan was to travel between here and Langer City. My uncle would help me of course and all three of us would enjoy time as a family. I originally thought the trouble would be keeping my mother from finding out for she always liked to know where I was. That wasn’t the real issue though as I was soon to discover.

It was merely my third trip slipping away from my home, making my way to Clovis and flying with my uncle to Cendia. Everything was normal from what I could tell, but this was the first day my uncle chose to go home and come back when the time came for me to head home. That was fine with me though. Those two were close and always saw each other anyway. This was a day for just me and my father. Within his house, we sat around the table, talked, and played board games. Time went by so quickly and when I looked at the window, I noticed the sky was already darkening. “A good indication,” I sighed to myself. “Guess I better go.” Getting up from the chair, I said my goodbyes and then left. My eyes roamed the streets in search of my uncle. The dragon would have given his location easy, but since I couldn’t see him, I began to pace my way down the sidewalk. Simple lights lit my way, although my heightened sight put it to shame. “Where is he?” I asked aloud. “He’s laaaaatteee.” Stopping at an intersection, a sudden paranoia came over me. I hadn’t been attacked for days, yet now, I felt eyes on me. Someone was watching me. My eyes picked up no movement, my ears heard nothing out of place, only the many people who still walked the streets.

Maybe it was nothing, but I knew not to ignore such feelings. I expected something to jump out at me. Despite how ready I told myself, how prepared I was for some attack, the pain I felt sent a shock to my system. I met the floor with one thought in my mind, an attack from behind? I mean, really? How low could one get? The world went black and I didn’t even get to rip one's arm off.

***

The crowd went wild. I could hear them from here. Behind these huge gates, lied only death. They dragged in the poor soul afterwards, in two pieces. The hunters brought me here in hopes to destroy me, yet I chose to fight unlike some. Taking a deep breath, I took a step forward as the entrance opened gradually. This was just another battle. Some time had passed since I was brought here, but I had adjusted. Out in the open, I unsheathed my long, thin blade. Getting into position, I readied myself, widening my stance. My eyes remained on the opposing side. He came out moments later, swinging his double-sided axe like nothing more than a toy. His size compared to mine was undeniable. He could squash me if I wasn’t careful.

A smile spread across my face. As part werewolf and part hunter, this was what I was born to do. This was going to be as easy as the last five I took down, for size was in my favour. "You're going down," I taunted before raising my blade and making a dash for him, the hunter within, taking over.

Word count: 4,237


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