Wolf Lake Ch. 01byGojenngo©
I hope you enjoy this one, comments are always welcome but please remember that the author reserves all rights in this work including the right to copy, reproduce or publish this work in any medium.
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Samantha heaved a sigh of relief as she crested the last mountain ridge. It was all down hill from here, literally. Taking out her bottle of water she tipped her head back and drank greedily, allowing the water to fill her mouth and over flow down her long neck. Despite the noticeable chill in the air she had worked up quite a sweat and the cool water was refreshing.
Looking around she found it hard to believe that the locals refused to come up here. Granted it was a three-day hike in and out but it was well worth it. The scenery was beautiful with Wolf Lake surrounded on all sides by rugged snow capped mountains. The only way in or out was on foot and that was through dense forests using old grown over trails. The lake itself wasn’t huge but it was big enough that one would think before trying to swim across. Here and there along the shore she could see small inlets and beaches. Thinking that one of those might provide a perfect spot to camp, Sam started down the hill.
Working her way down to the lake was nearly as hard as working her way up the mountain. The trail was nearly completely grown over from lack of use. She had to tread carefully making sure to step over exposed roots that sought to tangle and trap her. She’d already fallen once; her right knee was still scraped and swollen and she couldn’t risk a broken bone. She was up here alone and even though she had her cell phone with her it would take three days for someone to respond to her call for help. A person could die during that time.
Sam felt her excitement start to grow the closer she got to the lake. At twenty-five she was preparing to graduate from the state college. Her major had been in literature but with a focus on mythological writings. It was her fascination with mythological creatures that drew her to Wolf Lake. The locals swore that this was the watering hole for a pack of werewolves. There were stories dating back to the mid 1800s of wolf sights followed by the disappearance of men, women, and children. While it was true that wolf sightings in the Pacific Northwest were not all that uncommon the stories in these parts were unique. It was said that the local wolves were unusually large and often seen walking on their hind legs.
Personally, Sam didn’t believe in the existence of such creatures. Her fascination was with how such legends were started. She believed that all myths contained an element of truth to them. For example, the local legends could easily have been started after a large, garden-variety wolf attacked a child. The wolf may have been uncommonly big or had reared up on his hind legs in a show of dominance. All very logical explanations but it was easy to see how as the story was retold it was expounded upon until it reached mythological proportions.
While Sam didn’t believe in these mythological creatures she did like spending her spare time hunting up local legends and exploring the area from which they sprang. Wolf Lake was just the latest in a long series of explorations. She often used her academic breaks to tour the country looking for local legends as well as traveling abroad. Last year she spent a week in a castle in Transylvania supposedly once occupied by a descendent of Count Dracula. For Christmas she had spent her time in a house supposedly haunted by the ghost of a girl killed when her husband found her in bed with her lover. This year she found herself camping out it what was supposed to be werewolf-infested mountains.
An hour later Sam stood with her hands resting on her slender hips staring out over the lake. She had managed to beat the bush back enough to allow her access to a small beach on the western side of the water. From here she would be able to watch the morning sun rise up over the mountains. She had planned to spend a total of seven days at the lake. Her vacation was only fourteen days; it would take her six days to hike in and out plus seven spent at the water. That left one day to relax when she got back before once again diving into her studies.
Pushing all thoughts of her thesis waiting patiently back home aside Sam turned and unloaded her pack. Within forty-five she had her tent set up and a pot of water boiling over a small fire. Not knowing what she would encounter up here she had packed several things of dehydrated food and tonight she would dine on Yankee pot roast and potatoes. Tomorrow she told herself she would take the time to try and fish as well as hunt around for some wild berries. She knew enough about plants that she was reasonably sure she could feed herself without getting sick.
After rinsing her plate at the side of the lake Sam stretched and watched as the last of the sun slipped behind the mountains. She allowed herself a very unladylike yawn and decided to turn in. She had been walking almost nonstop for three days and she was well over due for a rest. Thinking that she wanted to be up early to investigate the area surrounding the lake Sam crawled into her sleeping bag and was fast asleep before the full moon had reached its peak.
Sam woke up shivering but not from the cold. Something had scared her right out of her sleep. Sitting up she strained her ears and listened. Her first thought was that a bear had found her small camp and was scavenging for food. The night had gone unnaturally quiet. Nocturnal animals that usually called to each other were silent and even the wind seemed to have lost its voice. It was unnerving but at the same time she was able to reassure herself that the local Yogi bear hadn’t come looking for a picnic.
Unzipping her sleeping bag she slid her feet into her shoes and grabbed her flashlight. Lifting the flap of her tent it was obvious that she wasn’t going to need it. The full moon was directly over the lake, illuminating it in all its glory. The water was so still that the moon was reflected back towards the sky while the mountains and trees appeared as black silhouettes.
Sam caught her breath at the sight that stood before her. It was by far one of the most beautiful places she had visited. While it was a shame that the locals let their unrealistic fear keep them away perhaps it was for the best. Here, nature would be preserved and protected from the touch of man. She made a mental note to make sure that she left everything exactly the way it had been when she first arrived and prepared to crawl back into her sleeping bag.
Just then a sound came low on a passing breeze, raising the hair on the back of her neck. It was the same sound that had woken her and was easy to place. A howl. Looking around Sam felt her heart drop into her stomach while at the same time picking up it’s pace. High up on the hill, in the same place she had stood this afternoon was a man. Even from here with only the moon for light Sam recognized his height at being well over that of a normal man. He stood looking down at the lake; no, he was looking at her. His arms hung loose at his sides and his legs were braced shoulder width apart.
Closing her eyes, Sam told herself it was just her overactive imagination getting the best of her. Never mind that this had never happened before. She was a smart, intelligent woman and there was no man standing up on the ridge. Taking a deep breath she opened her eyes, relieved to see that the man had disappeared.
Her moment of relief was short lived for standing in his place was an impossibly large wolf. At that moment Sam would have sworn on her life that his stance was an exact imitation of the man’s that had been there just moments before. As she watched the wolf threw his head back and howled, the sound spreading out across the lake and raising the small hairs covering her body.
Sam took an involuntary step back as she heard answering calls coming from the forest surrounding the lake. She couldn’t make out how many there were more than she wanted to deal with.
The wolf up on the hill gave her one last look before starting down the mountain. Only one thought went through her mind, he’s coming for me. Sam turned and ran leaving everything she had back in her camp and took off into the forest. All reason had left her; they were in the forest but she was heading straight for them. It didn’t matter; her only thought was that she couldn’t let him catch her. It was obvious that he was their leader and somewhere in the back of her mind was the illogical thought that if she could just get away from him the rest of them would leave her alone.
Sam ran, her legs pumping hard to carry her as far away from this place as she could get. Fear pushed her further and faster than she had ever gone before. Years of hiking and camping helped her to move through the thick underbrush but still branches reached out to catch her, cutting her face and pulling at her clothes. It felt as if a thousand hands sought to prevent her escape, the forest having turned against her in favor of its own inhabitants.
She darted between trees, over fallen logs and under low hanging branches. The only sound was her heartbeat pounding in her ears. It wasn’t until she felt herself falling that she realized something had hit her from behind.
Roland spotted her as she darted through the trees, her long black hair flying out behind her. She was dressed in dark clothing, blending well with the night but his superior vision made it easy to spot her. Besides, he could have relied on either his sense of hearing or of smell both of which told him exactly where she was.
He was surprised to see that despite her human form she was able to move through the trees, almost instinctively knowing which way lay danger and avoiding it with ease. Darting around an ancient tree Roland was able to come up directly behind her. With a burst of speed and a powerful thrust of his hind legs he set himself sailing through the air.
His front paws caught her between the shoulder blades knocking her off balance. They went down together, a pile of arms, legs, and limbs tangled together. Letting the momentum propel him Roland did a somersault and landed on all fours, his front paws pinning her shoulders to the ground.
Sam held herself perfectly still, her only movement the rise and fall of her chest as her lungs labored after her run. She was flat on her back with a wolf that easily weighed two hundred pounds on her chest. She tried inching backwards only to stop short at the low, threatening growl that vibrated up from his chest. Sam knew a warning when she heard one.
Roland struggled to get himself under control. There was nothing as thrilling as the chase and having caught his prey he wanted nothing more than to sink his teeth into her throat and feel the heat of her blood as it pumped free from her veins. He gloried in the feel of the earth beneath his paws, the crisp mountain air forced in and out of his lungs and the smell of fear from his prey. He was one of the best hunters in his pack. They never went hungry and it was in part because of him that they were one of the strongest packs in the area. It was his superior hunting skills that helped elevate him to second-in-command.
The thoughts of his position within the pack and his duties were enough to bring the last of his desire under control. Stepping back and off her chest Roland slowly rose onto his back legs and up to his full height. “Commme with mmmee.”
Sam sat there and stared at the wolf now standing well over six feet tall. The words uttered with something between a growl and a hiss were definitely human; the unusual pronunciation having to do with the elongated shape of his face.
Roland got tired of waiting. Bending down he wrapped one arm around her waist and used his other hand to grab her wrist and pull her over his shoulder.
Hanging upside down like a sack of potatoes Sam finally found her voice. “Put me down this minute! I don’t care who or what you are you WILL put me down!”
Roland continued walking through the forest. He could hear the other pack members following but all stayed a safe distance from him and his captive. The young woman was still shouting only now she had started pounding her fists against the small of his back. To him it was as if butterflies were landing against his skin but he suspected that she was using all of her strength. “Ifff you keeeep that up you arrrre going to hurttt yourssself.”
Sam was already regretting the decision to start hitting him. Her fists were quickly becoming swore and were sure to be bruised but the fact that he pointed out the truth made her want to keep hitting him. Childish? Yes, but she was scared and that pissed her off and made her want to lash out. After giving him a few more poundings, just for good measure she let her arms drop.
Seeing her hands hanging several inches off the ground she had to reevaluate her earlier estimation regarding his height. He had to stand over seven feet tall to keep from dragging her on the ground. She also realized that he had considerable strength; despite the rugged terrain and her additional weight he hardly seemed winded. Thinking back to the sight of him crouched over her, his canine teeth exposed Sam decided it was best not to antagonize him.
“Where are you taking me?”
“Therrre isss someonnne who wants to meeeet you.”
“Who?” Sam asked but she already knew.
“Nafarius, our leader.” She left him in blessed silence after that. They weren’t far from where the pack made their home but out of habit Roland was taking an indirect route. Should something happen and the woman managed to escape he didn’t want to risk her coming back, only next time with a lynch mob.
Sam had no idea where they were or where they were going. She hadn’t been at the lake long enough to do any exploring and even if she had she doubted she would have been able discern their location in the dark. The moon was still high but with the trees filtering out most of the light it wouldn’t be of any help. She had long since given up fighting and at the moment she wasn’t even thinking about escape. Curious by nature she wanted to get a better look at these creatures and the thought of meeting their leader ignited a kind of excitement she hadn’t felt before. She was still scared shitless but she’d learned long ago to roll with it, otherwise you just get rolled over.
A few minutes later they entered a large, circular clearing. From where she still hung over the wolf’s shoulder Sam could see that, but for them, the clearing was void of people. In the center sat a large throne seemingly carved into the trunk of a tree. The seat was so wide it could easily sit two people and Sam saw that the arms as well as the seat had been worn smooth with years, perhaps centuries of use.
Sam startled as the wolf let out a low growl that ended in three short barks. A minute later a large man walked into the clearing. It wasn’t until he emerged that she noticed that the clearing ended up against the side of the mountain. Realizing that the man was completely in human form Sam stopped thinking about where the entrance led to and turned her attention to him.
“Weee found herrrr by the lake.” Roland bent down and dropped the woman at his leader’s feet.
Sam let out a startled cry that ended in a “humph” as she landed on her ass. That’s going to leave a bruise, she thought and glared up at the inconsiderate ball of fur.
Nafarius watched as the woman glared at his second in command. Roland was by far one of the largest werewolves and there were many among the pack that wouldn’t dare look at him like that. Yet this small slip of a woman looked like she wanted to give Roland a piece of her mind. Apparently she was intelligent as well because she wisely kept her mouth shut and turned her attention to him.
Nafarius wasn’t prepared for the full power of her eyes. They were beyond green; he’d seen emeralds that didn’t have the clarity of color her eyes had. They seemed to burn in the moonlight, their dark color accent by the black of her hair. There was fire and life in this one and that would make his decision just that much harder.
Sam sat and stared. Nafarius, though a few inches shorter than the other werewolf, was tall and broad across the shoulders. His hair was a rich reddish brown and tousled slightly by the wind. She couldn’t tell what color his eyes where but from her position on the ground they appeared black. His lips were full above a well-defined chin and he had cheekbones any woman would kill for. He took a step forward and Sam instantly realized something else. He was an animal.
Nafarius walked across the clearing, his long legs moving with a fluid grace no human possessed. Stopping a few feet away he offered Sam his hand. She stared at it, not sure of what she should do.
“May I help you up?” Nafarius realized that she was scared, skittish and likely to bolt if given the opportunity.
“Thank you.” Sam slipped her hand in his, surprised to find it warm and rough.
“Roland, you may go. Take the others and finish your hunt.”
Sam watched as her captor dropped down on all fours and bounded into the forest. He moved with a speed and grace she could only admire.
“Please, come with me.” Nafarius didn’t wait to see if she would follow. Turning he walked back toward the mountain and disappeared inside.
Sam stood and stared for several minutes before finally giving into the inevitable. Walking across the clearing she shook her head. This has to be a dream, a nightmare and in the morning I’ll wake up safe and sound in my sleeping bag and laugh at myself. Not believing herself she knew that for now there was nothing she could do but follow her host. It was late and dark and she had first hand knowledge that there were things in the forest she’d rather not come face to face with on her own.
Nafarius stood just inside the entrance watching as the young woman made up her mind. He wasn’t about to let her out of his sight, not with well over one hundred hungry werewolves hunting these woods. Her presence here as well as Roland’s orders for the others to stay away should be enough to guarantee her protection. Unfortunately, he had younger members in his pack some of which still lacked control over themselves and their powers. Not to mention the fact that there were several other packs in the area not under his control.
Nafarius held back the leather covering the kept out the cold and motioned for the young woman to enter. Taking her arm he helped guide her down the tunnel and into one of the alcoves that formed naturally in the mountain. They were too small to be called caves but they allowed for privacy.
“My name is Nafarius, I am leader of this pack, I welcome you and offer you my protection during your stay.”
“My name is Samantha, but everyone calls me Sam.” Sam cleared her throat and looked around the small room. There was a fire in the center and she could see several small candles lighting the way further into the mountain. It wasn’t a cave like she first thought but instead a series of rooms or small alcoves with corridors that led from one to another. Despite the dim light she was able to see several mounds of blankets as well as personal affects throughout. It was obvious that the pack made their home here. She felt a sense of home, of peace and contentment and of family. It was warm and while not exactly inviting to a stranger it conjured up images of nights spent together.
“How did you come to be up at the lake?” Nafarius wanted to know if she had come alone, if she was expecting others and who was waiting for her back home.
“I’m a literature major at the university. My area of interest is in mythological creatures. In my free time I like to explore areas known to have supernatural legends such as ghosts, vampires, and…”