Tara was greeted by her pack members. Most of them now would come up and lick her hands or cheek happily; others would get to one knee and nuzzle her legs. This sight no longer inflamed jealously but instead sparked pride. Tara was a wise leader and I was slowly learning. Together we had created a hidden wonder that sooner than later would be brought to the worlds attention.
My vampires where a bit more settle, approaching me rigidly and shaking my hand or bowing slightly with the kind words of Master. Janielle came forward holding hands with Raoul, with a very stern look on her face. She leaned in to kiss me on the cheek and whispered quickly in my ear.
"Christopher has sent word of his whereabouts and of what he has found. We must talk after the festivities."
I nodded and looked up at Raoul who smiled at me faintly but his eyes held the truth of the matter. Something serious was going on and I was hoping I was going the like the news not dread the fact I had let him go off on his expedition. They both backed away together and went to sit at the giant table we had all put together.
The table was the final step to completion and we had all taken its symbolism to heart. Each of us admired it with a growing pride that most of us would not care to admit, but the feeling was there. Every person had taken time to carve his or her name into the rough surface, chipping the bark to make it our own.
Tara and I sat in unison assuming once again the role of our dominance and superior responsibilities. We had both learned to fit into each other better. When we walked or when we addressed the others, it was about showing strength and keeping our assembly as one.
I had decided that I would speak first on the behalf of my coven. Most of us knew the joys of the wolves for they were better able to show their feelings than the rest of us. As I stood all eyes became fixed on me in seconds. I was the center of attention, a leader, their Master, and I was proud as hell to be able to say that.
"Friends, tonight marks the completion of our first journey and placing the first step on the greater path. We all sit here with the same purpose, with the same existence. We were done wrong and pushed to where none should be shoved. I was angry, as I can see plainly in your faces now that anger has left an embedding scar in our lives. But no longer are we going to tolerate being kicked to the ground, no longer do we stand in the shadows and take it, but instead rise together and fight back!"
Everyone shouted and clapped, many of the wolves dipped their heads back in triumphant howls and others yipped and hugged. I turned and smiled at Tara and she smiled in return. I sat down and looked out at the cheering crowd and Tara gracefully stood up. The chatter died like a passing breeze and everyone fell somber again, but the excitement still dancing on their faces.
Tara carefully scanned the others with a quirk of a smile at her lips. But the smiled faded and she looked down at the table in grief.
"We must honor those who lost their lives in that first battle. As we buried our fellow pack members I could not help but feel rage and the sense of revenge. I know most of you felt that way too but as I think about it more; their deaths were something to be proud of, not heated. They laid down their lives so that the rest of us would live and I find no anger in that. Tonight we feast in their honor and in your own accomplishments. I thank you all for your hard work and let us take our bounty with a new hunger."
There was the same outcry but it was less buoyant, but more of a respectable clap and shout. We all knew what the others did for us was beyond what any could ask, and we all were willing to make it up to them in this life.
I squeezed Tara's hand lovingly as she sat back down and she gave me an appreciative smile. We had come a long way and the support from each other was essential for our sanity.
We both looked up as the hunting party approached the other end of the table.
"We have brought the bounty." Robin announced. He was one of the newer up risers as far as training went. He was about 6'2 and weighed about 215lbs and he was blacker than the night sky. His muscles rippled down his arms and thighs but he was one of the kindest people I had ever met. He would go out of his way just to tell me ‘good evening' every night. I think a lot of that had to do with Tara's warning before we even started to work together. She is very persuasive when the need arises.
Many of the hunting members emerged out of the shadows, some holding a struggling deer in their jaws; others where in human form carrying dead rabbits and other small game in their arms.
With a respective bow each of the carcasses were spread gently down the table allowing for each wolf to have an equal share. The others with the live prey stood still with the utmost control as to not snap the struggling creatures' neck. We had done extensive training with these few, it took a lot of self control for a wolf to be able to make the cunning catch and not enforce the killing blow.
Tara and I both watched with heavy pride. We had taken dirt and built an empire with the passion and devotion of an elite force.
One of the members holding a doe captive pranced over in and held the deer still in front of Tara and myself. I reached out and ran my hand over his sleek muzzle. I heard the responding growl and moved my other hand up to cup the side of the deer's head. With a quick movement of my body I threw my weight into the side of his wolf head and knocked the deer loose enough to where Tara as quick as possible jumped in and wrapped her arms around its neck pulling it to us.
The tiny animal was passed to me where I held it to my chest, not smothering it because I wanted the blood fresh and mainly Tara and I had made it a custom to take the kill together.
Like always the painful transformation erupted and Tara snarled and took hold of the member. The fight was brief, as it always had been when live prey was forced to be given up. Tightly I held the doe and fiercely Tara fought off the challenge. She had explained to me many times that sometimes they can't fight their nature and no matter how much training they would undergo they can never get over their wild side. I had noticed when Tara told me this she said it with such tiredness and the loss of hope was always there in her voice. Watching this made me understand her sadness, the battle always fought but never won.
He finally limped away and Tara lay down and changed back. Her beautiful face held her despair but she recovered by giving me a faint smile. I smiled back, for the deer had finally realized she was getting nowhere and waited for her final breath.
Tara took hold of the doe and her eyes grew dark with that hunter's desire she then looked at me and as one we took the kill. The blood seeped through her still warm body and pulsed into my mouth, filling me with recurred energy. I threw my head back and let out a gleeful howl. Tara's lips curled into a blood stained smile and she let out a wail of excitement as well.
Others around us were devouring their kills and yipping with natures delight and the enthusiasm of making the blow just the same as their Masters. Every one of them was taking their own special tribute to the now lifeless supper. Some were praying, while others dug in, tooth and nail. Tara and I ate quietly watching with keen eyes, in order to make sure the actual order was kept.
Tara had taken up this new mission to make her members more human and less animalistic. Being in the woods that night had changed her somehow, with having her pack get picked off one by one. She felt guilt every time she changed and every time she witnessed the change itself. In a sense she seemed to want to forget her wolf side but the wolf was inside her no matter where she went and it scared her to death.
This struggle had put not only an emotional strain on our relationship, but the physical as well. Tara was scared she may lose control and tear open my throat, even with my constant insisting, it didn't matter. She feared her wolf still, and it was because of the recent events in the woods that night.
In the long run we had to finish this war, we had to become stronger and better than we once were, and above all we had to find ourselves.
Everyone soon finished their meals and Tara and I held hands lovingly. We all had fat bellies; well in the vampire case we all had full veins. Tara stretched her arms and I leaned back in my chair but caught Janielle's eyes. She was looking at me with anticipation and I was just as anxious to find out the news about Christopher.
I stood up and looked around at the others. "I have enjoyed the feast and I thank the hunting party for retrieving this grand meal. Dawn will be here in a few hours, I suggest we all get some rest we have a long day a head of us tomorrow."
There was a roll of voices and everyone began to stand and exit to their homes. Tara and I remained behind waiting for the moment to speak with Janielle and Raoul, I had let it known to Tara that there was important matters after the feast so now was the time.
Janielle approached me and we started to walk together towards the trees, Tara and Raoul followed.
"Where are we going?" I asked as we stepped in through the first density of brush.
"She said she would wait here." Janielle said without looking at me.
"Who?" I replied looking back at Tara.
"Me," a calm voice came.
I peered around and tried to find the source of the voice. The trees shifted and shadows fell on a lone silhouette moving gracefully towards us.
She was very slick that was the first thing I noticed about her. Her long legs swayed with her walk and her blonde hair was like its own ocean the way the waves rippled with her movements. Her sky blue eyes pierced my gawking gaze and when she got closer I noticed her skin was sun chapped the way humans who spend hours in the sun, that leathery brown of a milk white starting point.
"And your name is?" I asked my voice barely audible. She was beautiful, there was no denying that. Her eyes fixed on me and she swished towards me and extended her hand. I stuck out mine and she took it, but to my shock she bent her head down and licked up the top of my hand, stopping short of my wrist.
There was a low rumble from behind me, no doubt from Tara. I glanced back at her, my hand still in the grip of the beauty. Her eyes were rapidly changing back and forth and her chest rising with agitation. I slowly pulled my hand out of hers and placed it at my side.
"I'm Ayuba." She purred licking her lips. I back up a bit, moving towards Tara more, reassuring her that I was still her property.
"Willow." I nodded
"Tarashitia," Tara said stiffly.
"Ah, I'm honored that both the coven leader and the pack Drappa has come to greet me." She smiled broadly. "You all must really care for my Pride Master."
"Where is he?" Tara said gruffly.
"He's somewhere hot isn't he?" I said without thinking.
She laughed and her eyes brightened in the moonlight. Nodding she answered. "My Master has traveled far and is now in heart of darkness."
"The Congo," Raoul spoke up.
"Mmhmm," Ayuba drew out. "That's where he found me, and the others."
"There are others now?" I asked a bit excitedly.
"Yes, there were many of us in hiding, but he came to aid us and now he wishes to bring us back here. It was quite difficult to find this place, for he wouldn't give me the exact whereabouts." Her eyes moved from tree to tree and she frowned. "Not any good limbs."
"Excuse me?" Tara asked, "Limbs?"
"For sleeping," she replied airily.
I caught Tara rolling her eyes for empathies. She took a hold of my hand and pulled me to her, giving me a hug.
"So when is he planning to return?" I asked still wrapped in Tara's arms.
"In a week's time, he told me to tell you that his arrival will be quick and without followers. He says he has many things to inform you of, but to postpone your advances until he gets here. He also has something very important for you Willow, but he wouldn't say he said he must tell you in person."
"Very well," Tara sighed pulling me away from my curiosity and started to walk us back towards the village.
"What about Ayuba?" I said stopping and looking at her.
"She said she wanted to sleep in the trees." Tara said casually.
I frowned at her and poked her in the gut, "Don't be such a sour puss. Or, wait a sour wolf, oh I don't know!"
We both laughed and I turned back to the visitor. "We have open cabins if you wish to stay there?"
"No, I will find a homier place, thank you. I will see you tomorrow's eve, pale Willow." Without another word she disappeared into the darkness leaving us to ponder the new news.
"So Chris is coming back." I stated.
"By the sounds this will increase our numbers and have the strength of more wereleopards." Raoul said quietly.
"We will just have to wait and see." Tara responded. We all mumbled our agreement and made it back to the village with a few moments to spare before the scorching dawn.