The Shrewd King/C1 The Park
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The Shrewd King/C1 The Park
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C1 The Park

I sit on a slab of stone on the edge of the raging sea, my eyes trained towards the horizon. The wind howls and tears through the air like a wild beast, while a heavy blanket of clouds blankets us in eternal night. I feel the chill biting at my exposed skin and I can't help but shudder. The monsoon is coming and we are hoping that ‌human hunters might deem today as too inconvenient to go on with hunting us—werewolves who are imprisoned on this island.

I take a deep breath. The atmosphere is oppressive, and truth be told, I want to hide too, but I can’t. Adults like me, especially the strong ones, are morally bound to act as bait for the children. They can’t fight yet, not until their training is completed. They still need a few more years to learn and to watch how we survive in this weekly turmoil.

I look around the area. There are only two of us on the beach, me and my best friend, Nowra. We don’t have any weapon except our innate strength and speed, and the fact that we can transform into wolves. It’s not a huge advantage though. Humans know our weaknesses. And besides, it’s a double-edged sword for most. As time passes, werewolves can no longer control it as efficiently as possible. And that only leaves us with one option, run from human hunters.

We hear the weapons fire–its sound reverberates throughout the island. It only means one thing, no postponement for us.

“Kaiya,” Nowra calls.

“Nowra,” I answer, turning towards her.

Nowra and I stand up. We approach each other and hold each other’s hand with our palms towards each other. Then, we touch our forehead and whisper, “May we survive this tribulation.”

We close our eyes and say our thanks and wishes. And we hope that the moon goddess is still there, listening to her children. It’s been a hundred years since werewolves tried to take over the planet. We lost the war and now, all of us are either slaves, prisoners, or in hiding.

We open our eyes and look into each other’s eyes. It’s our ritual. A way to reassure each other that we will survive this. We prepare ourselves. Even separated, we can watch each other’s back. It’s been a long fifteen years since I arrived here. It’s Nowra who helped me get accustomed to being a slave prisoner in this hunting island park. At werewolves' age, we are still young adults. Five human years is equivalent to one year of aging for werewolves.

Then a silver bullet comes whizzing beside my ear. We both duck and look at the hunters. Nodding at each other, we transform into our wolf form. Like me, Nowra can easily control her werewolf. There is no problem with aggression and the need to kill as well. For us, it is a weapon to escape, to run, to continue hiding in the dark. It’s another story for the other werewolves though.

As we are running the length of the beach, we hear growls of pain and death. I clench my jaws and continue backing away from the humans. As always, they are using hoverboards created by the mages which makes them move faster. They fire another bullet in my direction. I jump to a slab of rock and use it as cover. I felt it cracking behind me, and I hope Nowra is safe as she runs to the other side of the beach.

Before the hunter fires another round, I run towards the next stone, then the next tree, until he flattens the surroundings. I face the human. There is a snicker on his face. He’s enjoying this faux hunting, just like how the island park owner wants it to be. I can’t kill him, because that will just place all the attention on me on the next hunt. All we have to do is to run and wait for darkness to come. Besides, this will only last for three hours.

Since I’ve been living in this island for years already, I know the area. That’s another advantage that I have. It’s the reason why, after fifteen human years, I can survive the weekly hunting. It’s also the reason why the children can still grow into adulthood. They can hide, while we act as bait.

“Are you tired of living now, little werewolf!?!” the human taunts as he stops a few meters away from me.

I scrutinize him. He’s a huge human. Seven feet tall. With muscles bulging from his clothes. This one is used to this–to hunting and killing. No. Not just hunting werewolves. I’m certain the human in front of me is a mercenary.

“This is my first time in this wonderful park! Now, come and let me enjoy this thrill!”

I take a step back. I know it. This man can kill me. My gut instincts scream that same litany over and over. He takes a lasso and whips the sandy beach beside him. I groan. He’s a mage hunter, worse than a simple human hunter. The silver whip he’s holding is something that can inflict pain on a werewolf. One whip is all it will take and it will siphon our strength.

“My little werewolf. Don’t be afraid. You can try to kill me,” he sneers.

I am about to run when the man clicks his tongue. “That’s not a wise move. See, the one you are with? I think she needs your help. You see, my leader has a taste for beautiful werewolves. And he is so much more stronger than I am. My question is, do you think your little friend can handle that?”

I growl. This time, I bare my teeth at him. Nowra knows combat, but I am stronger than her. She’s smart, but my instincts move faster than her.

“I also notice that your friend is beautiful. Does she already have a mate? My leader can smell that too, you know. A werewolf with a mate. Nothing is more satisfying for him.”

I perk my ears. I can’t hear Nowra. That’s weird. We promised not to go so far from each other that we will cease to feel each other’s presence. If she needs help, I can just run in her direction and we will take care of the hunters.

“We’re only here to smoke out all the werewolves on this island. We just need to count you guys, but I think I will enjoy hunting you instead.” He trembles in excitement, “It’s been a while.”

He hits the beach again, and the whips crackle with electricity. I pull back, making sure that the electricity won’t travel toward me. And then there it is—an ear-splitting scream. I stop in my tracks. It’s not from Nowra, but from one of the kids that we are taking care of. It’s Apari!

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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