Cor aut Mors

(Heart or Death?)

6


"Come on. Up now, sweetheart." The man chuckled as he stared down the girl. The moan of response wasn't much to go on but it was better than no response at all. It was good to know she was coming back but a bad thing as well. It meant he'd have to deal with her mood on the current situation. Not that there was much of a situation. He was quick to learn however, that she could make a situation out of nothing. He was certain that her recklessness was bound to get her killed one day. Not that he was one to talk.

The moment Ryker had heard her taking off he watched her go in amusement. She was right when she had said she wouldn't be able to move much with a wound that deep but it seemed the girl still had some fight left in her. The chase was probably one of the most thrilling things as a wolf. He was certain any hunter would think so. Aside from the death and feeling that power in your hands, Ryker had always found the chase interesting. He enjoyed watching his prey attempt to break free and watch as everything came crashing down around them.

That fear and energy that came out as they ran was what he hungered for. She had lots of it. He knew that from the moment he laid eyes upon her. They always were livelier when being put to the stake. It was her calmness that had him then he was in for a treat. To keep composure through it all but he had managed to get a taste of her spitfire. Her emotions were what he took note of the most. She may be good at hiding them but it was a frail mask. Easy to crack with just the right words.

"You may want to rethink your type in men." He continued as she pulled herself up into a sitting position. Only this time he didn't take his eyes off the little vixen. He knew better. Though she had been easy to track, had it not been for the Vampire he knew he would've lost sight of her after the river. He would have figure out in which direction she went afterwards only by then it may have been too late. The water had managed to destroy the last of her bloody scent along with her natural scent. It was these parts of the woods that had helped mask her scent. The forest reeked of leeches and so had it not been for the voices he may not have stumbled upon the two.

The man was a fool. He saw that right off the bat seeing as he hadn't even noticed he was being watched from the trees. And by a 'mutt' no less. For a moment Ryker had believed that the man had seen him but when his eyes simply passed over him he let the corners of his mouth twitch upwards in a smile of triumph. But then again, perhaps this man knew the girl better than he did as he never took his gaze off her for more than a few seconds.

He watched the encounter take place, instantly realizing the girl's feeble attempts of escape and wondering just why she was struggling with her own kind. However, it soon dawned on him that with a charming personality like hers she most likely made more enemies than friends. He found that he could hear the conversation taking place with ease, with only the sounds of the forest to occasionally distract him.

It had both shocked and appalled Ryker the second he understood just what the man had in mind. The mere thought of feeding was something that disgusted him to no ends and so when it was on their own as well, he was simply glad his forefathers had been in the right mind to head into the woods. He supposed he had a soft part for damsels in distress. Though this girl was far from being a damsel he could no longer watch the scene and decided to intervene.

"Men?" She muttered as she rested her head back against the tree. Her voice was quite hoarse and if anything her response satisfied him. It meant that she was weak enough to manipulate. "No…Not my type…." She finally replied as she looked over to the body. His eyes joined as well.

It hadn't taken much to knock out the leech. He was certain there was no state more vulnerable than when a Vampire was feeding. Even sleep didn't compare. It was true that during the day many of them were weak but he had faced old enough Vampires during the day and barely got by without having his limbs severed. The fact that he survived them all simply showed who the greater species was.

"And what is your type?" Ryker asked with a slightly bitter laugh. He didn't believe their species to even have 'types' seeing as their goal was too overpopulated. He knew enough about Vampire politics and their mating process was just one of the many ways they were different from each other. Where a Vampire's aim was to simply have the lands over running with their so-called superior race, a wolf's was entirely different. Their soul mates became their other half. They cared for each other, protected each other and in extreme cases would without a doubt, sacrifice themselves for the other.

A concept Ryker still had trouble wrapping his head around.

How you were able to bond with someone and simply give your entire self... well, it was safe to say he didn't exactly believe in having another 'half'. He simply didn't have the patience for a shadow and it was almost as though this girl was a test. So far she had managed to tested his temper and patience but not to the point of wanting to kill her. As much as he wanted to rid the world of yet another leech it'd have to wait.

"I don't have a type." She snarled her irritated clear as day, causing Ryker to smirk. What took it a step further was when she tried to sit up and found herself bound. "What the hell?" She hissed and almost immediately began struggling against the restraints. It was interesting how despite the fact the chains were digging into her skin and now drawing blood, she continued to lash out against them. It was entertaining to watch and Ryker was certain he could do such a thing all day but truth be told, he didn't have the time for it. As much as he wished his life could be relaxed as a king's and sentence his subjects to do his work, this wasn't the case. He had more important things to do then chase after Vampiresses which made him wonder, why was he?

He could put someone else up to this task but that was another thing he had trouble with. Trust. How exactly could he trust that someone would bring her back? If he didn't do it himself then there was still a chance that she could escape from him and he wasn't about to risk that. Besides, after all the trouble she had cost him, it was time to have her pay up. "I'd stop struggling if I were you," He explained as he walked over to her and picked up one of the chains. "Know what this is?" He asked, holding it under her nose and watching as she instantly threw her head back, trying to get as far away as possible. Being chained up however, she didn't get far. "That's right. Silver. Had a few friends of mine bring it over. See what a great deal of effort we put into capturing you?" He chuckled as he let the chain slip from his grasp.

"Oh yes. I'm touched."

He grinned slightly to her sarcasm before shrugging. "You really do have no one to blame but yourself. Taking off like that, twice now I should mention, and with a wound like that. No wonder you passed out for so long…" He trailed off when he realized he was slowly losing her attention.

"How…How long has he been out?" She asked and nodded towards the unconscious figure next to her.

"Does it matter?" He asked somewhat curiously. If he didn't see or hear it himself he wouldn't have believed it but now he wasn't too sure. Now, he just thought he heard a hint of worry and perhaps fear. Something that made little sense to him. Fear of your own race wasn't as common in the Pack. You held a sort of respect for each other that could be also considered as fear but there was no such thing as pure fear. He thought he saw it in her eyes for a second but when she met his gaze once more, whatever it was that he saw, was gone. She shrugged off the comment and he decided to not poke any further. The matter didn't concern him. But she did. There was something she wasn't telling him and he was going to find out what it was, even if that meant sitting here all say with her all day. He just hoped she'd cave before then. "Are you ready to talk now, Princess?" He asked with a faint growl of annoyance.

"I thought we were already talking." She retorted but seemed to be fighting consciousness but Ryker wasn't about to wait another hour for his answers. She could rest later, for the rest of her after life in fact as he no longer had use of her once he got what he needed. He never thought of himself to be a heartless being but letting her go was not an option. Her life was only prolonged due to the information her mind held and even that he didn't know if it was worth anything. But the more she changed the matter, the more curious he was and the more he believed her mind to be guarding secrets. "I don't have time for this…" He muttered as turned and headed off a bit into the forest.

He didn't want to have to play dirty but it seemed he was going to have to. Although he was walking away from the girl, he continued to glance behind his shoulder every now and again. It was much like last time, but this time she was stuck and had an unconscious buddy watching her. He shook his head at the sight, seeing her head droop and guessing she wasn't far from passing out now. Crouching down behind a fallen tree, he steadied his breath and closed his eyes. He could hear the breathing of the leeches but their scent it what he found easier to grasp onto.

But it wasn't them that need to watch. The soft heartbeat of another had his eyes lifted up before him. He could see quite the distance and although he was still in human form, it was good enough. He saw the tail, the body and watched as the creature froze. It was as though the wolf in him decided to take over. He too stilled all movement and didn't dare to breathe. This had to be perfect…

Hunting in wolf form was definitely easier but he had run out of clothes. After attacking the girl's lover, he was able to take both the jacket and pants despite the smell. But shifting again and tearing apart these clothes as well wasn't a good idea. He'd have to wear these garments till he got back to camp.

He waited till its head tilted down to feed before springing to his feet and taking off. Wide eyes lifted up to search for the sound and for a moment are just frozen in place. Confusion strikes it as to why a human would be running at such a fast pace but it should know better. There are no humans around here anymore… It takes off but its speed is nothing compare to the predator.

He lunged at it, taking it down by digging his fingers into its coat, hard enough to draw blood and grunts soft when the doe struggles to get back to its feet. It doesn't take long for him to put the thing out of its misery and for a moment he stared down upon it. The lifeless thing in a pool of blood and it may have been strange to see him feel pity towards the creature, yet he could slaughter a Vampire without blinking an eye. But the creature was innocent, caught up in the mess only because it was caught in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The leeches on the other hand were guilty of many things. Breathing for example…

Tossing the carcass over his shoulder, he hauled it back with a minimum ease and dropped it before the Vampiress. She woke with a start, and for a moment look confused on her whereabouts. But upon noticing him a glare replaced her perplexed expression. Her eyes however, only remained on him for less than a second as her object of desire became the bloody doe. "What are you doing?" She licked her lips and Ryker watched with a smile as her irises swirled, changing into that unearthly shade of red. The bloodlust, something he could always rely on to loosen those dammed tongues of theirs.

"We both know the critical state you're in. No point in denying it." Ryker stated as he wiped the blood off his black jeans and hooked his thumbs in his pockets. He suddenly stopped where he was, not wanting to get in between a Vampire and its meal for he knew things could get messy. "And well, you need the blood." He gestured before smiling faintly as he watched her emotions fly across her face. She was biting her lip so hard that he was surprised she didn't break skin and as he heard the rattles of chains, he knew her hunger had won. The fact she was chained no longer matter and neither did the fact she was losing more blood. It seemed like a small price to pay for something of more value.

"And what do you want in returned?" She questioned with as much spite as she could but it was pointless now. He could see right her facade. He could see her weakness and that was why she was just like the rest. She was just as filthy as the rest. They'd do anything and everything for that single drop of blood. They killed anything with a heartbeat and thought of nothing more. All that matter to them was their own survival and health. And so, was it a wonder he believed such selfish things should be exterminated? "Just a bit of information. Such as to why you're lurking well out of your district." He countered.

"And if I don't agree?"

Ryker chuckled, knowing it was her last resort. She may not want to tell him anything just yet but she would, soon enough. "If you don't, then I'll leave you chained here to the mercies of your lover." The look on her face was priceless as he could tell she hadn't thought of that. She began cursing at him in some tongue or another but he only caught every other word. The chains were becoming strained but Ryker didn't move to fix them. They'd hold, especially when her health was this low. She didn't have the strength needed to break free of those chains without lose more than it was worth. "If you're done…" He interrupted her as when she began to speak of his body odor. "Your decision?"

She stared at him for what seemed to be the longest time and it was then Ryker believed this would take more effort than he thought. But thankfully, a miracle of some sort happened. It seemed the blows he delivered to the head weren't powerful enough or he had underestimated the leech, for a few feet away, the figure began to stir. "Okay." She nodded quickly. "Okay. We'll do it your way. But first, we need to get the hell out of here. And to do that, you're going to have to release me." He slowly walked towards her, contemplating her so-called offer and came to crouch down before her. For once, she didn't show any signs of disgust by his scent and neither did he. Instead, she seemed to be much more interested in his the secret he held behind his eyes.

"You see, that promise may be reliable if you were anything but what you are." He explained to her as he played with the chains that bound her, teasing her by loosening the hold only to tighten it once more. "I want a different sort of promise. Something a little more…concrete." He continued and realizing he was beginning to lose her, he leaned forward and in a low voice, whispered the words she probably feared but held her freedom.

"I want you to perform a blood oath."