“Fey. Fey, wake up!”
Fey opened her eyes and looked around. The cave was dark, with only the smallest amount of moonlight trickling in through the mouth. Above her stood Skylar, her taloned foot gently shaking her shoulder.
“What is it?” Fey asked, blinking the sleep from her eyes.
“Glenn wants to talk to you.”
She sat up and stretched the kinks out of her neck. The rest of the pack was asleep, she noted. Clueless was sleeping on the far side of the cave with Derrick, Jake and Nat, and she felt a spike of anger when she saw Norrin and Ember cuddled up together a few feet away. Getting to her hooves, she followed the hawk-walker outside. Glenn was standing at the edge of the nest’s clearing, staring out into the woods.
“What is it?” Fey yawned.
He was quiet for a minute, but then he asked, “Can’t you feel it?”
Fey paused in confusion—but then it hit her. A wave of unease, like her subconscious was warning her that something, somewhere, was wrong.
“They’re here,” she whispered.
Glenn turned to Skylar. “Find them.”
Skylar nodded and took to the sky, circling the nest a couple times before curving out over the woods, where Fey lost sight of her behind the treetops.
“What are we going to do?” she asked.
“I can’t tell you what you’re going to do,” Glenn answered. “I’m not your alpha. But as for me, I’m going to make sure these monsters—whether they’re wendigos or not—never set foot in my territory again.”
“I’ll help,” Fey said without hesitation, “since it’s my fault they’re here in the first place.”
Together they went back into the cave, where Glenn woke the rest of his pack.
“Ember, Norrin,” he said, his voice ringing with the confidence of an alpha, “you two come with me. Derrick, you stay here and protect Jake and Nat.”
“Yes, Father,” Derrick said solemnly.
Glenn knelt down and put his hand on his son’s shoulder. “You’ll be the last line of defense if we fail. Keep them safe.”
Instead of answering, Derrick lunged forward and hugged his father. Glenn returned the hug, holding his precious son tight.
Fey turned to see Clueless standing beside her, tail wagging as if they were just going for a walk, and frowned in thought. The two of them were the only ones who had even seen these monsters. Her claws and teeth, not to mention her endless supply of energy, could be a great help in the upcoming fight. But…
“Clueless, you need to stay here too,” she said. “If any of them get past us, I want you to help Derrick protect Jake and Nat. Okay?”
“Okay!” she agreed, far too happy to have any idea what was going on, and scampered back over to the twins.
Fey and the others followed as Glenn stepped back outside, raising his nose to the wind. Fey gave an experimental sniff as well, but she couldn’t find any trace of the trespassers. The sound of flapping wings filled the air, and Fey looked up to see Skylar descending quickly.
“Two miles southeast of here,” she reported. “Five of them.”
Glenn nodded and, without a word, set off into the woods.
“Shouldn’t we bring, like, some weapons or something?” Fey asked nervously, two steps behind him. “Whatever these things are, they’re weak to fire.”
“We’re skinwalkers,” Glenn said sternly. “The only weapons we need are the ones nature gave us.”
Fey wasn’t convinced, but she kept her mouth shut as the four of them hiked through the dark forest. Skylar circled the group from up above, watching and listening with her keen hawk senses. With every step, the churning sensation in Fey’s stomach seemed to grow stronger. There was no doubt about it, their pursuers had finally caught up with them. She had hoped that taking the bus would throw them off her and Clueless’ trail, but she’d known that was a naive idea from the start. It was only a matter of time before they’d track them down again.
But this time would be the last time. She would make sure of that.
Half an hour later, Glenn held up his hand, and Skylar swooped down to join them.
“They’re just ahead,” she whispered, not that Fey needed to be told that. For the last half mile or so, the smell of death had hung heavy in the air. “They’re asleep right now.”
“Good, we can catch them by surprise,” Glenn said. “Instinct!”
His eyes burst into light, and that light traveled upward to encompass his antlers. The antlers began to morph and twist, some parts glowing thicker while others grew thinner, until he reached up and snapped them clean off his head. A new pair of antlers immediately sprouted to replace them, and in his hands Glenn held a pair of wicked looking dueling knives, crafted entirely from his own bone.
He crouched down, and motioned for the others to follow him. Together they crept through the dense undergrowth without a sound—Fey wasn’t sure how Norrin managed it—and a minute later they saw it: the wendigo’s camp.
The sight nearly made Fey throw up. The “camp” was made up of dozens of corpses, mostly animals but with some humans mixed in. They had all been torn open, their insides strewn about while their blood soaked into the dirt, creating a horrible, disgusting meat carpet for the beasts to lay on.
Just like Skylar had said, there were five of them. They were all asleep, their raspy snores filling the air. Fey reached up and touched one of her horns to reassure herself. She had killed one of those things without fire once before. She could do it again—especially since she had her old pack with her now. These monsters looked intimidating, and were deadly to the unprepared, but they stood no chance against a whole pack of skinwalkers.
Glenn seemed to be thinking the same thing, because he rose to his full height, clutching his antler knives. “Do as much damage as you can before they wake up. And be careful, all of you! I don’t want anyone dying tonight.”
The others nodded their understanding, and Glenn turned to Fey. “I won’t pretend this isn’t your fault, Fey. By coming here, you’ve led these monsters right to my pack—my family.”
“I’m sorry,” Fey whispered, looking away.
“But if you help us eliminate them tonight, then I’ll forgive you.”
Fey looked back up at him, and felt a new fire ignite inside her. She nodded too, and together they all turned to face the intruders. Fey’s heart pounded like a drum, and she could sense the others’ tension as well. This was a matter of life or death. Here, tonight, either the monsters would die, or they would. One way or another, it ended now.
“Go!” Glenn commanded.
With her former packmates at her side, Fey charged into battle.