Chapter Fifteen: Moon Dance

Kitee, North Karelia, Finland: Present Day

Aku ran through the forest. Under different circumstances, his mind would have been racing. He still largely unable to fully comprehend how all of this was possible. The rest of the Pack was running in front of him, their ears perked up and their sense of small on high. As Alpha, Aku thought that he should be the one in front, but he wasn't going to question the others now. Annabel was the main focus and fighting would get them nowhere.

Elisa kept looking back at Aku, her eyes filled with concern. Aku wanted to snap at her and tell her that he didn't need someone checking up on him.

The sounds of town were getting louder as they approached the edges of Kitee. Aku paused. How were they going to walk into Kitee in wolf form? Sure, there were wolves in Finland, but they didn't often wonder into highly populated areas.

Aku dug his paws into the ground and used his deepest chest voice. "Pysäyttäkää!"

The entire Pack stopped and looked at him.

"Why are you stopping us?" Eelis asked.

Aku raised his paw and motioned to the Pack. "We can't go out there like this?"

Elisa shrugged. "He has a point."

The rest of the Pack looked at Aku.

"What should we do?" Vuokko asked.

"We could always change back," Aku suggested. He didn't see why it would be that difficult. In the movies, werewolves never had any problems changing back into human form, but judging from the looks that he was getting from the rest of the Pack, he guessed that it would not be that simple.

"And how do you suppose we do that?" Eelis snapped. "You don't know anything."

Aku closed his eyes. He was not going to bow down to them.

"We could try to stick to back streets and hope for the best," Elisa said.

Markus nodded. "And, then, get trapped by Hunters, who will shoot at us from roof tops."
Elisa frowned at Markus. "You have been around Eelis too long. His negative energy is starting to wear off onto you."

Eelis and Markus both gave her looks.

Vuokko smiled. "Do you two have any other ideas?"

Eelis and Markus remained silent.

"Well, then, it's at least worth a try," Vuokko said as she darted out of the woods.

The rest of the Pack looked at each other and followed her. Aku had no idea as to what he had just gotten himself into. They wondered the streets for the next hour, avoiding areas where a lot of people were.

Aku wondered if they were ever going to pick something up. They needed to get to the hospital, but none of them was overly familiar with the backstreets of Kitee. Even though Aku was a native to Kitee, he tended to stick to the main parts of the town and the Pack pretty much avoided the town as a whole.

"Lounas," Eelis said.

Elisa looked up at him. "You have her?"

Eelis nodded. "Come on."
The Pack followed him. Aku frowned as he looked at the buildings. This wasn't right. The hospital was the other direction.

"We're going the wrong way!" Aku exclaimed.

"But this is the way of the smell," Elisa objected. She smiled back at Aku. "Did you really think a hospital was going to hold Annabel in?"

Aku didn't response. He really hated how often these people pointed out what he didn't know. He was new to this and he was trying his best.

"Our goal is to find her before the Hunters," Elisa said.
The rest of the Pack nodded. Aku hoped that they would only be in time.

Annabel felt a strange wave pass over her. It was a feeling that she only got when he was mentioned. Okay, she supposed that it happened when her friends were mentioned too. It made her feeling as if she belonged somewhere. This was something that she had not felt during her younger years. She felt special around them.

She loved the feeling of being special. She enjoyed feeling wanted or even needed. She had never been much of a people person until she found the Pack in Kitee. She had been in other Packs, but none of them had been the same. There people thought she was cool or cute. He took it a step further and called her beautiful.

She rolled over unto her back. She wanted to get out of this world. She wanted to go home. She could feel her world turning, but knew that it wasn't going anywhere. Sometimes she wondered why she kept hoping that she would get out of this world.

Her eyes were being to cramp up. Annabel hoped that this nightmare would soon be over and that she was not lost forever.

She rolled back over. The last few hours, minutes, whatever, had the first time that she was flat out restless. Besides wanting to get back to her world, she had never been out right restless here. Something was changing. She was not sure if it was a good change or not, but at least something was changing.

Annabel rolled over yet again. She could not find peace wherever she turned. This never happened to her in own world. What was up with this? She just wanted to lay still and dream.

She felt something that she had never experienced in this world race across her body. It was a burning sensation and it made her feel unwanted in her own body. It took her a few minutes to realize what this strange feeling was: pain. Aw, pain. They say that pain is sweet to the senses. As it raced across her body, she begged to differ.

Pain was unwelcome in this unfeeling world. It needed to go away. Pain in this world was unnatural and her body could not handle it for much longer.

Her body was making jerky moves without her constant. She fought the urge to scream while fighting her body. She wanted to be in control of herself. No, what was happening to her was unacceptable. It was not okay for this thing to mess with her personal space.

Most importantly, it was making it rather difficult for her to keep her eyes shut. If she opened her eyes, she would be going back on her promise to herself. She was not one to go back on her promises. She would not open her eyes.

It was becoming too much! Why couldn't they just stop?

She was going to have to give in. She opened her mouth and screamed. She screamed the loudest and highest that she could. Her world was spinning faster and faster. The kaleidoscope colours were blending together above her head. She knew there were even if she could not see them.

"STOP IT!" Annabel screamed. She put her hands over her eyes to block out the sound of her own screaming. "STOP IT! PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!"

The world was spinning faster now. She felt as if she was going to be sick.

"Pl-please make it stop," she whimpered.

Annabel opened her eyes. The moon beat down on her. She looked around at the forest, knowing that she had to get out here.

She looked around at the unfamiliar land. It was just trees and hills. She shook her head. What was she supposed to do now? Getting out of here was not going to be as simple as she planned.

Aku followed in line behind the rest of the Pack. He had given up on trying to be a leader for the time being. Annabel was the most important thing right now; he just had to keep telling himself that.

Eelis had his nose to the ground. Every few minutes he would raise his head, nod, and the rest of the wolves would follow him.

Aku wondered how Eelis knew where he was going. Aku still had not noticed any odd smell, but the rest of the Pack didn't seem to be questioning Eelis. Aku wondered if picking up a certain was scent was something that had to be acquired over time.

"It seems to be getting stronger," Elisa said.

Eelis paused and nodded. "But she's moving. I really wish she would stay in one place, it would make this so much easier."

"Pohjoinen," Markus said suddenly.

Eelis nodded. "That's what I mean. She seems to go one way for a few kilometres, and then she turns back and goes in another way."

"Making it even more difficult for us to track her," Vuokko muttered.

Aku sighed. This was getting them nowhere. "Maybe we need to spilt up. We could cover more ground that way."

Elisa nodded. "True, but we are stronger in a Pack. Keep in mind that we don't know where the Hunters are. For all we know, they could be following us right now, waiting for us to divide up."
Aku nodded. "Well, let's go find her."

Eelis lead the group for the next hour. About twenty kilometres from Kitee, the path was more constant. Annabel seemed to be staying near a small brook, but not crossing it. Aku kept his nose to the ground the entire time. He wasn't sure why, but it made him feel useful.

Aku felt the moon beat down on his fur covered back. The moon had never made him feel more alive. He looked up at the fullness. It was magical; he had never viewed as being something so wonderful. It was a symbol of strength, a symbol of a new life.

Ahead, Eelis stopped suddenly. Aku about ran into Elisa. Eelis looked up at the moon. "She should be around here. The smell is a lot stronger."

Vuokko walked up and stood next to Eelis. She raised her nose and took in a deep breath. "With a smell like that she can't be very far away."
Markus and Elisa mocked Vuokko and nodded.

Aku took in a big breath of the crisp night air, but smelled nothing out of the ordinary. He pawed at the ground. Why couldn't he smell Annabel?
Eelis ran forward and the rest of the Pack followed. They had formed a fan around Eelis, each of them running at a steady pace. Aku found himself on the edge of the fan, next to Elisa. He knew that as Alpha, he should be in the centre, but he wasn't about to start a war with Eelis and the rest of the Pack now.

Eelis ran around a tree. "She should be right around here!"
Aku just nodded and acted like he could Annabel.

"ANNABEL!" Eelis yelled in Aku's mind. If Annabel was in range, there was no way she could have missed that. It had almost made Aku's eardrums burst.

Aku listened, but didn't hear anything. Maybe Annabel wasn't where the Pack thought she was. Maybe they were just going in circles.

Eelis ran through a couple of low-lying bushes. Aku and the rest of the Pack were hot on his heels.

Annabel pushed a set of branches to the side and stepped between them. She was cold and wanted to go home. She had to warn the others what was coming. They were her Pack and she couldn't let them die.

A voice filled her head. It was Eelis! They were coming for her.

Annabel ran forward. "I'M COMING!"

She rounded a tree. She could see them running toward her.

"Annabel, don't move," Elisa's soft voice filled Annabel's head.

"I'm not," Annabel whispered.

She watched as they ran closer to her. A pit rose in Annabel's stomach. Something was wrong. She looked up at the moon and frowned.

She watched in horror and amazement as another wall of ravens emerged from the forest and clouded the areas around them. She watched as they flew high into the air and, then, they stopped for several minutes, just floating and not moving. Then, they crashed down to the ground. Annabel winced as she watched at least a hundred ravens die in front of her.

The rest of the Pack skidded to a stop and stared in both horror and wonder.

Translations:

Pysäyttäkää!: Stop. Finnish.

Lounas: Southwest. Finnish.

Pohjoinen: North. Finnish.

Picture credits: "OcreanSet" by SomberNocturna © 2013. Used with permission.

Text credits: "Omega" by AlysonSerenaStone © 2013. Content may not be copied without permission from AlysonSerenaStone.