To Rise AgainMature

Zade seemed to fall forward, vibrating violently. His head lowered in sorrow at Annabelle’s body, desperate to save her, but not knowing how. There was a loud noise, a howl of anguish, which erupted from Zade’s snout at a colossal decibel.

Lana should’ve expected that he would try to save Annabelle. Somewhere in the dark chasms of her mind, she hoped he would let her there to die. But Zade stared at Annabelle in horror, pacing to and fro. Finally, he came to a conclusion, and he stopped pacing abruptly. Looking down in shame and utter disgust for the choice he had made, he raised his massive paw and let his own teeth sink into it deep enough to draw a stream of blood from the wound. He hobbled over Annabelle’s dying body and lifted his leg, trailing the crimson across her injuries. Zade moved his paw to Annabelle’s lips, parting them gently so the blood could trickle down her throat.

Zade knew what would happen if Annabelle lived with his blood in her body. He knew she would become like him—a werewolf. But he would rather have her as a wolf than not have her at all. That thought was too painful for him to bear. Honestly, Zade didn’t think Annabelle would survive. Her sixth and seventh ribs on the left side of her body were partially exposed, the flesh, sinew—all torn to an extent that seemed beyond human repair. A doctor would do no good. The only choice for Annabelle was death or lycanthropy.

Lana stared in shock. She was paralyzed in that place, half from fear, half from amusement. Revenge had tasted so sweet. She loved standing there, watching calmly as Annabelle bled to death, reveling in the taste of its warm liquid inside her mouth. After a few more agonizingly slow minutes, Annabelle’s head rolled to the side, her eyes fighting to stay open.

The monster within Lana raged victoriously.

Zade’s heart wrenched painfully. His silver fur blew in the brisk breeze, his muzzle wrinkled back over his teeth, his massive body crouched and ready to strike. His amber eyes were filled with anger, focused intently on Lana’s quivering body. In the same moment, Lana was on the defensive, preparing herself for the battle to come. A long tremor shot down Zade’s spine. His tail twitched anxiously as he stared Lana down, never wavering, never faltering as they circled each other like murderous great white sharks.

Lana initiated the fight, charging the crouched silver beast. Zade met her attack, thunderous snarls echoing in the dark. Their jaws snapped wildly against each other, tearing at fur, teeth ripping through sinew. Zade successfully shoved the black wolf further away from Annabelle, the two lycans at each others’ throats in the distance. Their unearthly growls and barks were still incredibly loud. Zade definitely had the upper hand—he was much larger than Lana, and much stronger, even with a limp and a bloody paw. He’d been a werewolf for nearly half his life. Lana had only been a werewolf for a few years. She hadn’t had time to control herself, to tame herself like Zade had. She was young. She was naïve.

Annabelle was just like her. Annabelle would’ve fought for anything she believed in...like Lana. Lana believed that she needed Zade. Her hormones were powerful enough to control everything that she did. Including ripping through Annabelle with shining teeth and a guilt-free conscience. Zade rammed his shoulder against Lana repeatedly, knocking her back each time.

Suddenly, Zade limped back to Annabelle, ending the fight right there, leaving Lana panting and bewildered. He swore he had heard Annabelle speak, he swore he did. When he saw her lying there, helpless and susceptible, he couldn’t help but feel guilty. If he had never known Annabelle, she would never have been exposed to this world full of monsters and inhuman creatures. She would never have been in danger. She wouldn’t have left the village. She would have married the Kiopran boy and had beautiful human babies. Annabelle would’ve had a future.

A future as a human.

Now, her only future was a life full of transformations.

She was still alive, but barely. Zade, determined to keep her conscious, licked her cheeks. He nestled beside her body, to keep her as warm as he could. Insistently, he continued to do anything he could to assure that she would live to see another day, that he would be able to hear her whisper his name one last time, at the very least.

Lana did nothing. She curled up into a ball on the hard, cold ground and let herself sleep, despite her better judgment. She didn’t think Zade would kill her that night. If he wanted to kill her, Lana would have been nothing more than a corpse by now.

Annabelle started to convulse next to Zade. Every part of her jerked in unnatural ways and Zade had to move out of her way as she writhed. Bloodcurdling screams fell from her lips, ragged breaths caught in her throat, chest heaving from the pain. Her arms twisted into odd positions, her hands stretched, fingers elongated, gripping fistfuls of dirt every so often. Annabelle’s wound could still be seen, but it was gradually stitching itself together, only to be torn open again as her ribcage expanded to accommodate for the internal organs that repositioned themselves.

This continued on for the next half hour.

Eventually, Annabelle collapsed into a feeble, trembling heap on the ground, her tail gently hitting the ground before that too stilled.

The End

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