The werewolves around us were snarling as Alec began to transform. His skin stretched and started to sprout fur. His face became that of a wolf's, his nose extending into a muzzle. His lips curled back, revealing a row of sharp teeth, as he fell onto his hands and knees. They became four strong legs and he roared. I was overcome by his size for a brief moment. He was nearly four feet tall and his fur was sleek and black, just like his eyes.
He began to pace around me and I gripped the Sword tightly again. I was waiting for him to make the first move. My heart hammered as he snarled, saliva dripping down onto the ground. In the blink of an eye, he rushed at me and I dodged clumsily, bumping into the wall of wolves around me. They shoved me forward, jeering, and I tried to regain my footing before Alec tried to attack again.
He roared and ran for me. I raised the sword and he tried to block it with his claws. The Sword slid right through them, though, and he let out a yelp. He slid back, looking at his paw. Three of the claws were gone and his rage seemed to increase. Luckily for me, he seemed to lose his common sense when he was infuriated and it was easy to anticipate his attacks.
I jumped out of the way again but I wasn't fast enough. His claws dug into my other arm and I cried out in pain, warm blood flowing down my other arm. Somewhere near my chest, I felt a searing pain, too. The werewolves jeered again and moved closer so the circle was smaller. Alec licked my blood off his paw and, if he was in his human form, I knew he'd be smirking. I gulped, knowing the time was coming for the killing blow.
The question was who would be delivering it.
Alec's tail flicked and he ran for me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, imagining myself with Angel, teaching her how to shoot an arrow. I let the breath out and opened my eyes, swinging the Sword up through his jaw. His eyes widened as I threw all my weight into it, sliding it down until it stopped in his midsection. His blood drenched me and I gagged.
I jerked it out and stepped back, panting. Quiet fell heavily among us as Alec's body fell to the ground, nearly split in half. Even more blood flowed from his body like a fountain. Slowly, the werewolves moved out of my way. I glared at them all.
"Break the pact and that will be all of you by the time I'm done," I snapped.
I limped away, leaving them all speechless. When I reached where the Black Hand were, I sheathed the Sword and they helped me onto one of their horses. I couldn't speak. The one who I was riding with did his best to stop my bleeding. I held tightly to the Sword until I saw the kingdom coming closer.
I hadn't realized we were riding a whole day. I was exhausted and I knew I had lost a lot of blood. To my horror, Angel was running down the front stairs, screaming my name. I tried to get off the horse myself and fell clumsily to my feet. I felt a shooting pain in my left ankle but I just crumpled to the dirt.
"Don't let the kids see," I gasped and coughed, feeling blood go down my chin.
"It's okay, David," Angel breathed, leaning over me. My vision was going dark. "Don't try to talk. You're safe. The children are all asleep. We'll get you inside and-and clean you up. Just hold on."
"Angel," I coughed but she put her finger on my lips. "I-I love-"
I couldn't finish. Someone else was shouting and the world went black.
"He's lost a lot of blood," I heard someone whisper. "It will take him a while to recover from this."
"You said he killed the alpha and the beta?" another person whispered.
"Yes. We sat the fight with the beta but not the alpha." I recognized the voice of the only Black Hand member that spoke. "The werewolves all dispersed. We have no idea where they have gone."
"Very well," the second person whispered. "Thank you for your services. You will find your payment in the foyer."
I opened my eyes when I heard a door close. I groaned. I had a horrible headache.
"Hey there," Angel whispered.
She was next to me in bed, sitting and holding my hand tightly.
"Told you I'd come back," I rasped and she let out a watery laugh, tears cascading down her cheeks.
"Yeah, yeah you did. You can let this go now, sweetheart," she added and I looked down.
I was still holding onto the Sword as if someone would try and take it from me.
"It saved me," I said, letting it go.
She set it on the end of the bed as I flexed my fingers. They had gone number from holding onto the Sword for so long. I looked at the rest of my body. I was naked except for a sheet covering my midsection. Both arms were gashed from the two attacks. They were wrapped tightly in bandages. My chest had a deep gash that happened to me during the battle with Alec that I vaguely remembered.
My legs weren't scratched but they were bruised heavily like the rest of my body. My left ankle was swollen dangerously. I tried to move it then regretted it immediately.
"It's broken," Angel told me. "They're preparing the splint for it now."
"How long have I been out?" I asked.
"A day," she answered and brushed my bangs off my forehead. "The kids are going insane. Sally's worried you died."
I smiled, my chapped lips breaking and bleeding. I winced and she reached over for a wet rag. She put pressure on my lips and I looked at her. She looked as if she hadn't slept at all since I left. There were dark circles under her eyes and her hair was messy. She didn't seem to mind, though.
"You should sleep," I said when the bleeding stopped.
She shook her head. "I'm not tired."
I rolled my eyes. "Yes you are. Sleep."
"I don't want to leave you," she said, blushing a little.
I looked at the bed. There was plenty of room for the two of us. I gently pulled on her arm until she understood. She put her head on my shoulder, being careful not to agitate the gashes on my left arm. I sighed contentedly as she held my hand again. I could feel the ring I made her still on her finger, making me feel warm.
She fell asleep quickly. The door opened and the king walked in with the same woman who had taken care of Angel's scratches from so long ago. She was holding a stick of wood and more bandages. The king's eyes lingered on his daughter for a moment then seemed to accept that she was there to stay. He knew just as well as I did that she wouldn't leave.
"This will hurt a little," the woman said.
What I thought was one stick was actually two. She placed them on either side of my ankle and, with the help of the king, wrapped it tighter than my other bandages. I gasped in pain as the wood pressed against my ankle. A small whimper left my lips until she was done. She then bowed to the king and left.
"You gave us quite the scare," the king said, sitting in a chair by my bed as Angel began to snore gently.
"What do you mean?"
"You came to the castle bleeding to death," he said. "Angel had been watching from the window and started screaming when she saw you. Thankfully, everyone else was asleep. We got you up here and you wouldn't let go of the sword. You kept muttering in your sleep about your father and someone named Alec. Then, when we tried to undress you and take the Sword, you threatened to kill us all until one of the servants managed to push a sedative down your throat."
"Sorry," I muttered but he shook his head.
"You were delirious from lack of blood," he shrugged. "Tiberius said you wouldn't stop to rest. That wasn't very wise."
"My father was the alpha," I whispered, looking up as my eyes stung with tears.
"David," he breathed.
"I killed him," I said, my voice choking with the tears now sliding down the corners of my eyes.
The king gripped my right hand. "Look at me." I obeyed. "You had to do it. You saved a lot of lives two days ago, including your father's. Being a werewolf like that is no way to live; especially since that man was so cruel to begin with. Who was Alec?"
I told him about the deal I had made with them and about the battle.
"I was sure I'd win, though," I said, looking at the Sword at the foot of the bed. "The Sword.... After Alec almost killed me; it seemed to tell me what to do. It was like a reflex. I didn't question it. There's something special about this Sword. More than what the legends say."
The king looked at it, too. "I believe it has chosen you as its new master," he said finally.
I frowned. "But why?"
He shook his head. "I don't know. But it certainly came in handy, didn't it?"
I laughed a little but winced. "I'm going to try to get more sleep," I mumbled, my eyes starting to close.
"Okay. Sally wants to come see you soon."
"But let's cover me with a shirt, yeah? I don't want her to see my wounds. It will only give her nightmares."
The king nodded. "Sleep well."
My eyes closed all the way, my hand holding Angel's tightening slightly. I heard the king leave and took a deep breath, glad to be home.