The next wave of howlings took place, and Ms. Mulroney was about to give her call when she spotted some movement to her left, a distance of ten to fifteen meters. One of the calls was also quite close; it was Miss Walsh’s cry. Mulroney noticed that Miss Satterfield’s call was missing, and that Walsh’s cry did not come from where she spotted the movement. It was something else, maybe Dreadwolf.
But it wasn’t Dreadwolf.
It was a group that was making its move, very cautiously, trying to avoid getting the wolves’ attention. They were Hunters.
Mulroney got closer to the group, stalking its newfound prey with contained excitement. She didn’t know about the others, but she hadn’t found any Hunters to prey until that moment. She saw that the group consisted of four men – one of them dead, his head crushed – with a young one carrying the corpse while the other two were on full alert, rifles ready. If she got too close, they would be alerted of her presence, but it seemed that their attention was centered elsewhere.
They had heard Miss Walsh, and were intent on keeping a good eye on her while advancing through the forest. Which meant that she could take them by surprise.
The young one was specially scared; he smelled of fear so much he reeked of it, and would be the easiest to attack. If Miss Walsh made a move – and Mulroney had no doubt that she would – she would have her chance…
On the opposite side of the Hunters’ group, Miss Walsh was ready to strike.
The group was now aware of her presence, thanks to her cry, and at first she didn’t know whether to risk it and take at least one of them or back off in search of other Hunters. But then she felt movement behind the group she was stalking, and after a while she saw the silhouette of another wolf, probably Miss Satterfield or Ms. Mulroney. In any case, whoever it was would be of great help, since she hadn’t heard a cry from that direction. The Hunters were unaware of the other wolf, and if she caused a good enough distraction…
Ms. Mulroney saw Miss Walsh make her move, doing as if she was attacking but backing off immediately as one of the Hunters fired. The other Hunter stayed there with his rifle ready, waiting for another strike. They were certainly prepared for a group attack, Mulroney thought.
Hey, Miss, Mulroney heard in her head (werewolves, and werecreatures in general, communicate telepathically, although their range is limited), while I fake an attack, take one of them.
That’ll I do, she answered.
One thing was so sure, no matter how much did Miss Walsh harass them, they kept going. Ms. Mulroney waited for Miss Walsh to distract them enough, and then she attacked.
The boy was almost in a state of shock, with all of Miss Walsh’s acrobatics, and did not even see Mulroney coming. When the other two turned to face this new threat, the boy’s neck was already broken, and Mulroney was quickly dragging him away. But one of the Hunters shot her three times, while the other kept Miss Walsh at bay. After tumbling a few times, Mulroney dropped dead.
When Miss Walsh saw Ms. Mulroney die, she felt her courage slip away, and maintained her distance, without letting them get too far. This went on for a few minutes, until Dreadwolf joined her.
Mulroney’s dead, she heard him say, How unfortunate, don’t you think?
Yes, sire, my lord, she replied, unfortunate, and infuriating. We must make them pay.
Don’t make me laugh, Miss Walsh, he said. You couldn’t care less for her fate. And we were planning on killing them Hunters, in any case.
Yes, my lord.
Listen carefully, Miss Walsh. They don’t know I’m here, distract them while –
Lord, said Miss Walsh, Mulroney and I already tried that. She killed one of them, but died in the process.
I know. But don’t compare my skills with hers.
Miss Walsh began once again her harassment on the remaining two Hunters, who had to leave the bodies of the other two boys. Dreadwolf had his sights set on the one called Esteban, whom he knew was a man of great importance inside the Hunters’ organization. He wasn’t sure which one of the two was Esteban, but he knew that it was one of them, according to the Dark Man. He had already killed three other Hunters, and a forth slipped away when the Dark Man spared his life. None of them seemed to be the one he was looking for, none of them had the impressive marksmanship that the Dark Man talked about. None of them were much of a challenge…
Dreadwolf attacked, not caring which one of the two was his intended target, as he decided to kill them both, one by one. His strike was sudden, lighting-quick, but missed his target by a couple of inches, wounding but not killing him. He almost got shot in the process.
The two men were shouting, one of them cursing at the wolves with every foul word he could think of, and the scent of fear now filled the air. It was marvelous, the scent of fear. The two men knew that they would die, and Dreadwolf was enjoying their suffering to the fullest.
The deal is sealed, Dreadwolf, said the Dark Man, appearing out of nowhere, you and Miss Walsh, head back to the forest. The hunt’s over.
Sire, I must protest! said Dreadwolf, I’m about to make my greatest kill ever –
The man you are chasing is Ignacio’s father, the young man I just made a deal with. Killing him will not do any good to our relations with Ignacio. Now, back off. The hunt’s over.