Madelyn Ch. 01byFaireSansa©
"Come out and show yourself" she said loudly.
She watched the shadows closely, looking at each one as turned around.
"Look, I don't have all day, and I know you're there. I can hear you."
She looked around and listened before she changed her mind about the run and began walking back toward the house.
'She can hear me?' Conner thought. He watched as she stared into the shadows around her then deduced she must be trying to trick him into showing himself, which he wouldn't do.
He watched as she started walking. Her path took her past his current hiding place, but there wasn't any way for him to move, so he crouched down and remained perfectly still.
In the distance, he heard a wolf howl. Carefully, quietly, he lifted his head and sniffed the wind. It was someone from his pack. He hadn't paid very close attention to the voice, so he wasn't sure who exactly it was, but when he heard the howl again, he could tell they were coming closer.
He watched as Madelyn stopped and stiffened when she heard the howl. The second set her walking much faster, then jogging. Conner carefully emerged from his hiding place and trailed her. She was running by now and her fear was growing. He could smell it all over her. He knew if he could smell it, the other wolf could, too. He had to get her to safety then drive the other wolf away from his woman.
Sending up a howl of his own, one of warning, he started out behind Madelyn, staying just out of her sight.
The howls were getting closer. Madelyn's heart beat faster, fear pushing her forward. She wasn't far from the house now, but the sounds behind her told her the wolf wasn't far from her, also. Her legs moved faster and in a moment of curiosity....or perhaps stupidity...she chanced a glance behind her. Seeing nothing behind her, yet still hearing the sound of something chasing her, she turned back forward, but still missed seeing the root.
She hit the ground with a grunt, pain searing through her ankle. The sounds in the underbrush behind her stopped, as well. Turning to look toward the direction from which she'd just ran, she gasped as the wolf she'd seen yesterday stood there. He looked at her a moment before they both heard another howl, this time even closer than before. His head turned toward the direction of the howl and before she knew it, he leaped, turning in midair as he did so, and stood between her and the source of the howl.
Hackles raising, he started growling low a full minute before the second wolf burst from the thick brush.
"Rolf, back off," the first wolf said.
Madelyn blinked in surprise, gasping and scrambled backwards from both of them.
"Fight me for her, Conner, and then you can take her," Rolf told the first wolf. "If I win, though, I claim right to mate with her."
Mate? Did he just say mate? Her pulse quickened and she looked from one wolf to the other. She kept moving backwards as best she could, with her ankle in the condition it was in, but found herself blocked by the trunk of a rather large tree.
Conner looked back toward her. She looked into his eyes. In them, she thought she saw a look of apology, but she couldn't tell because before she knew it, his head turned back and lowered. Growling, he crouched low to the ground, waiting for Rolf to make a move. Madelyn watched as Rolf also crouched, and then the two wolves began circling one another.
She screamed as the two slammed into one another, fangs and claws sinking and tearing into one another, fur flying. Going onto all fours, she crawled further back, away from the fight, though had she understood what was happening, she'd have known neither would harm her.
The two separated and circled one another again. Both had blood soaking their muzzles and Conner had a patch of fur missing on his shoulder, blood dripped from a gash there. Madelyn was amazed as she watched what she thought was the gash suddenly stop bleeding and the flesh begin knitting together again.
"Rolf, she's mine to court...I claimed rights to court her before the Council when she returned. You heard me yourself, and you heard Elder Brian agree and support my claim," Conner spoke to his rival as they circled one another. "You are defying the Elders, and you are defying the Alpha by challenging my right of courtship in this way." Rolf wouldn't hear of this.
"I have every right to challenge you for her, Conner," Rolf growled.
"Aye, Rolf," Conner replied. "But not here, not like this, and you know it." Conner glanced at Madelyn, concerned. "Look at her, Rolf. Madelyn is terrified. Do you think she is in any mood to be courted by either of us now?"
Rolf looked over at her and for a moment Madelyn thought she saw contrition in his eyes. But, that only happened for a moment. In the next moment, he lunged at Conner once more, knocking the wind out of his rival.
"I will have rights of courtship, Conner," Rolf growled. "And you will forfeit your life for trying to keep me from courting her. She will be my mate," he cried, then sank his teeth into Conner's thigh.
The other wolf yelped with pain, but he wasn't finished, not yet. He would defend his right to court Madelyn, and he would protect her from Rolf with his own life. The other wolf was dangerous, and too many females had been damaged by his attempts to get them to mate with him. Madelyn was too special to risk that kind of harm. He could not allow it, and if need be, he would kill Rolf to protect her from it.
It was not to be. Just then a pack of 5 wolves burst from the forest and placed themselves between Connor and Rolf. One of the newcomers approached Madelyn slowly. He was a huge sleek wolf with silver and black fur. As he sniffed her ankle, she heard a low growl coming from his throat. He turned abruptly and went to Connor, fur round his head rising in anger.
"She is injured, Connor," the wolf told him angrily. "You were entrusted with her safety, and she is injured."
"Please, Elder, I was attempting to protect her from Rolf, who has challenged me for the right to mate with her," Connor told the black and silver wolf.
"That is no excuse," the Elder said to Conner. Madelyn couldn't believe she was doing this, but she suddenly moved closer and chimed in.
"Wait," she said, and all eyes turned to her in surprise. "He's telling the truth."
The black and silver wolf looked at Connor again before turning to Madelyn. "What happened, Maddy?" he asked her. She looked at him curiously before relating the story of what had just happened. Each of the 5 that had burst upon the scene growled low when she related that Rolf had challenged, even as Conner stated it was not the right time or place, and had pointed out her terror at the scene that had played out before her.
Madelyn was shaking by the time she came to the end of her tale, both from pain and from fear. Five of the seven wolves present began talking amongst themselves, the huge black and silver turning his head from time to time to glance at Madelyn. The only one of the seven that really noticed her condition was Connor. Slowly, he made his way over to her, trying for an unthreatening countenance. She watched as he winced every time he put even a little weight on the hind leg Rolf had bitten. It wasn't healing like the gash on his shoulder had. When he got to her, he laid next to her, placing his head in her lap, panting heavily. She looked at the group that was talking then back down at Connor.
Still trembling, but not quite shaking like she had been, she reached slowly to rest her hand on his neck. Her hand sank into the thick fur and her fingers began to move gently, feeling the fur. Picking up her hand, she placed it a bit higher on his neck, then slid it down, stroking his fur gently. He sighed softly, enjoying her touch.
"Thank you, Connor," she suddenly said in a soft voice. His head raised and he looked at her.
"For?" he asked.
"For stopping him," she said.
The black and silver, hearing her voice, turned to listen, but she had already gone silent again. He watched as she stroked Connor's fur softly. Turning to the other Elders, he conferred with them before each head raised, ears turned toward nothing Madelyn could see or hear. Connor's head rose and he stared in the same direction as the others. A moment later, a jet black wolf appeared along the path she'd been running.
The appearance of the last wolf wasn't a shock to Madelyn. What shocked her was when four of the five that arrived before he did began changing. When they were finished shifting, a man crouched in the place where a moment ago a wolf stood.
Fear once again rose in her. Sensing it, and seeking to soothe her, Conner started licking her hand reassuringly. He looked up at her, licked her cheek, then said calmly, "Madelyn, there is nothing to fear. These are my people." He nodded to the one on the left, a dark-haired older man with scars on his left shoulder. "That is Elder Raoul."
Elder Raoul nodded to Madelyn with a soft look on his face. The corners of her lips twitched up slightly; she was trying to be polite, but was uncertain in the present circumstances. "Standing beside Elder Raoul is Elder Connall." The man he referred to had red hair and bright green eyes. His smile was friendly and he lowered himself to sit cross-legged on the ground, knitting his fingers together as he laid his hands in his lap. She assumed he was hoping that doing that would help her to find him less intimidating, which she did.
"The next two are Elders Aatu and Aatto," he said, indicating the final two men who were shifting themselves to sit cross-legged like Elder Connall. "They are twin brothers." Both of them had dark hair, black eyes, and were the same height. The only difference between them was that one of them had a terrible scar on his left chest, and the other did not.
"They, and Elder Brian, comprise our Council of Elders, which advises the Alpha," Conner told Madelyn.
"And the Alpha is the black one who just appeared," Madelyn stated, it not really being a question, as she could see it plain as day. She noted Rolf had sunk into the shadow of a nearby tree, but had not left the scene. Little did she know that he knew better than to flee in this situation. He was in serious trouble, however he knew he'd be in worse trouble if he were to flee from the consequences of his actions rather than face them.
"Aye," Conner said. She glanced down at him and smiled faintly. He took that as a good sign. Though she was still very uneasy about the other werewolves in present company, she was relaxing toward him. Perhaps this courtship would go more smoothly than he thought it might? Only time would tell.
Just at that moment, the Pack Leader approached. He did so slowly, and while Connor noted Madelyn looked up when the Alpha started moving toward them, he was pleased when she dropped her gaze, her body language showing her to be respectful of his position. He glanced to the Alpha and his head bowed in respect momentarily.
"I apologize for not standing, Ulric," Conner said to the powerful black wolf standing beside them. "I would if I could, but my leg hasn't yet healed."
"Rest easy, Conner," Ulric said quietly, in a powerful, yet gentle voice. "I have heard what has happened here. You acted honorably, with the well-being of the female you intend to court in mind. I will see to it you and she are returned to her home and are attended to until you both recuperate."
"Thank you, Ulric," Conner said, his head again dipping in respect. "We would appreciate that, very much."
"She is very beautiful, Conner," Ulric said to the injured wolf. "You are lucky to have her. Take very good care of her."
"I will, for certain," Conner replied.