Second Family

Keller's point of view.

I picked my way through the shrubbery carefully and quickly, my feet already knowing their way. But the man, Zenx, could he follow me? Surely not, and I looked behind me. He was almost as silent as I, eyes narrowed in concentration, feet definitely coordinated for this kind of scenery. Impressive, but I couldn't dwell on that now; they had found me, and I how was I to make it back to the mansion? They'd know and come in the day. I frowned, and scolded myself. Then, my slightly pointed ears perked up and I knew Zenx was finding it hard to match my continuous pace. His breathing was ragged, his steps slowing and becoming sluggish. I growled in annoyance.

''Damn him anyway,'' I said under my breath, and halted as he stopped beside me, and doubled over, panting for air. I took hold of his arm and shoved him into some greenery where he'd be sheltered and unable to be seen. Then I was still and silent, an ear cocked slightly. There were about three of them; each small but deadly. They were probably children, but a child or not, they were seeking to destroy me and those who I sought to protect. These ones were faster, but halted in the trees above me, and I saw their red eyes glinting with excitement; the chase. They loved the chase. ''Come on out,'' I snarled at them, mockery in my voice. ''Come and claim your prize.'' 

One actually did launch its small, skilled body at me, and I only had a moment to set my bow with a crystalline-tipped arrow before it was upon me. I strung the bow and the arrow impaled the thing's head, right in the centre above the eyebrows. This one didn't cry out and, as it landed on me, still tried to claw the flesh from my arms. I threw it off of me, enraged, and looked up, growling furiously. I didn't get a chance to say something else because at once, the other two were on the ground around me, watching me hungrily with red eyes. My breath locked in my throat as I looked at each of their faces. Ashen skin, marred with scars and fresh wounds, child-like faces with fangs protruding obscenely from each of their mouths. I was right; they were children, abducted children. 

And then, just as I was about to draw another arrow, a sword flew over my shoulder, slicing the skin there, and it speared one of the abominations through the ribcage. The child's demonic eyes widened, blood spurting from its mouth. It fell to the floor, and the remaining one shrieked and scampered away, running fearfully. As I watched it flee, I breathed raggedly. A hand lay itself on my shoulder, staunching the flow of blood from the small wound.

''Keller,'' said a voice in my ear. ''Keller, are you alright?'' 

I tilted my head to the voice, to its sweet melodic hum and nodded. ''I am now,'' I said, and turned, throwing myself into waiting arms. Hunter's embrace was warm and strong, comforting and his heartbeat was rapid. I put a hand over it as his scent enveloped me; a scent I could never seem to get enough of. I looked up and still reeled at Hunter's looks - soft, straight tousled black hair that fell to his collar bone in shaggy layers, his wide jade green eyes that shone with intensity and persistence. Tough but soft pale skin and his tattoos that covered him. Hunter had been the one to first find me when I left the castle; the first one to attack me. I felt the scars on my neck burn.

''How many were there?'' he asked and let me go. ''Did you kill any?''

''Yes.'' I pointed to the dead, skewered body. ''I killed two, there were four.''

Hunter frowned and retrieved his sword - actually, he had to wrench it viciously from the child's disintegrating body - and slipped it back into his sheathe with a papery whisper. Then, as I heard the faintest rustle of leaves, I remembered the boy. I cleared the bushes out of the way revealing him sitting there, nursing his ankle in a completely awkward way. He looked up as I whistled to Hunter softly, a scowl plastered on his face. ''This is your fault,'' he hissed accusingly, his poetic blue eyes narrowed. Hunter was suddenly at my side, staring at the man, at Zenx. He didn't seem very impressed and tilted his head. Zenx shrunk beneath Hunter's glassy green eyes, his white hair fluttering softly in the breeze. 

''Who are you?'' said my mentor with risen eyebrows. Zenx sighed and looked at me; sadly, I couldn't read his expression - exasperation, maybe? ''Zenx, errand-runner for the king,'' he replied stiffly, hands over his ankle. ''I've come to take Keller home.'' Hunter's hand clasped mine firmly and he gazed at the man with such a fierce intensity, I felt nervous. ''She's not going back there.'' 

Hunter's voice was soft and low and threatening, almost daring Zenx to try it. He whirled me around and I was suddenly in front of him, his hands on my face, holding me there. ''You're not going back there, I won't let them take you,'' he said. I nodded; he'd kill anyone that got in his way in general, and if he was set on protecting something, I could only imagine what he'd be like then. ''Okay,'' I said solemnly. ''I wasn't going to go anyway.'' 

''What am I supposed to do, then?'' snapped Zenx. ''I can't go back empty handed.'' 

''Take one of those,'' Hunter snarled into his face, and took me by the arm, pulling me forward. I shrugged off his arm ferociously, and pointed to Zenx. ''We can't just leave him there to die,'' I said. ''If we do, the King'll send an army and discover the mansion. You'll all be killed,'' I protested, my eyebrows tilted angrily. He frowned, and had an expression I wish I had captured on film. Weighing the options. He finally sighed and hauled an unsuspecting Zenx over his shoulder as though the rather tall and buff man weighed nothing. 

''Alright, then, Kitten,'' he said softly and began walking. He made a small motion for me to follow and I did, trailing like a puppy.

The End

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