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The thick air was getting caught in the tightness of my parched throat. My breathing was coming in gasps, as I franticly weaved through the dark trees, whose faces seemed to loom above me with mocking expressions. I trailed him, my desperation intensifying with each step. The woods looked dangerously hungry as it began to swallow us whole, but together we sprinted on. For, we were closely pursued.
He looked back at me. Near panic flickered only for an instant on his handsome face, before he smiled softly at me in reassurance. A horrific snarl rumbled behind me, sending my every nerve twisting. His smile faded. He grasped my hand, firmly, yet caringly and pulled me along side him.
I could hear our hunters’ thundering pursuit a few strikes behind us, as their lethal, heavy paws pounded against the hard earth. Fear swelled inside me, making my vision blurred as I fought uncontrollable tears. I heard their ravished gulps for air just behind us; they gained. One of the beasts howled just to my left, causing terror to jolt my frame, Was that a hunting cry? Or…a call for attack? I heard the scraping of claws on rock as one launch itself off a bolder. He jerked my body forward by my hand, in time for me to hear the hard thud of the animal landing just a few short feet behind me. Panic made my head spin; my brain became incapable of forming a single thought. My feet began to stumble under me. Though, he desperately tried to steady me, I slipped through his grasp and fell with a painful thump. A yelp slipped through my lips when my chest slammed into the forest floor, causing my breath to be hurled from my lungs. When I opened my eyes after the impact, I found him frozen in terror for me, a few yards ahead.
The sickening rhythm of their hunting paws pounding the ground went abruptly silent, Wouldn’t they have attacked the moment I had hit the ground? Fright pressed up against my ribcage and throat, threatening to force my body to heave. I turned cautiously onto my back, supporting myself on my elbows, to face my pursuer. The beady, black eyes of a brawny wolf glared at me.
Recognition hit me; I knew this creature. No, long ago, I had known the animal not as the monster which had been before me, but as a friend, a dear friend. I allowed the excruciating pain due to the dagger of betrayal sinking into my back make my stomach lurch for a moment.
The beast invitingly let a low, petrifying growl slid through its clenched teeth. It was crouched in front of me, poised for their ambush while offering me a nearly grinning expression.
I heard the shuffle of feet behind me before I felt his gentle hand on my shoulder. He slowly pulled me to my feet, never allowing his eyes to leave our hunters, who oddly didn’t attack. He pressed me against his side, his arms wrapped protectively around my waist. He and I faced them together, bracing ourselves for battle and utterly prepared to stand firm.





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