eighteen

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A/N: on the sixth day of christmas gen10 gave me to me, another chapter of gentle predator..... (let's pretend it rhymes). To get everyone into the holiday spirit, and to count down the last 12 chapters of this book, I thought I'd post a chapter a day until christmas! Merry Christmas you guys!

Another eery breeze swept through the corridor, carrying the repulsive scent of the rogue Alpha. Pierce shuddered as the scent washed over him, his sensitive nose prickling under assualt of the foul stench. Illyria was steeled against it, carefully making her way down the tunnel despite the darkness, Pierce and the rest of her team trailing silently behind her.

Illyria felt the air shift as two pairs of feet began to pound on the ground, heading straight towards them. Pierce shoved Illyria behind him and the team of warriors tensed, preparing for a fight. A wail was released into the static air, causing Illyria to gasp. "Stop," she whispered, placing her hand on Pierce's shoulder to get him to relax. She recognised that voice.

"Pierce, stop," Illyria pleaded, shaking him slightly as the footsteps grew closer. He shrugged her off, still tense, the footsteps still growing closer. Illyria groaned in desperation, trying to make her way infront of Pierce, an effort that was stumped as the Beta wolf blocked her path. The footsteps grew closer still, soft groans being heard along with the pounding of bare feet against the gravel pathaway.

Deep shadows were cast against the walls, proving that the lights further down the tunnel still worked, and as the shadows drew closer Illyria, and the warrior's, eyes adjusted leaving them with the view of two females stumbling in the dark blindly. Illyria tried to push passed Pierce once more but he remained tense. Illyria felt her heart clench, the scent of the two females finally hitting her nose. She was right; it was the Luna's.

Illyria felt a momentary relief before she realised that there was only two of them. But Jess was taken too. A foul feeling settled in her gut. She knew that they wouldn't find Jess in this compound. The rogue Alpha had taken her somewhere else, placing her away from the others incase something like this happened. She was collatoral. Illyria's blood boiled and she began to move mechanically, not caring if her team followed or not.

Searching for the rogue Alpha within the facility was a redundant plan and one which she wouldn't follow. He was outside, somewhere, and whether she had backup or not, Illyria was going to find him.

This time when Illyria's wolf pushed to take take control she didn't resist. She didn't fight it, she let herself take up the small space in the back of her mind, only able to watch as her wolf moved through the tunnels at an incredible speed, rushing through a different route and quickly ending up outside.

Illyria stopped, sniffing the air and catching the trail of the rogue Alpha's scent leading through a break in the trees mixed faintly with Jess's minty fragrance. Her eyes clouded, her wolf seeing red, and she rushed forward, oblivious to Pierce's calls behind her. She had outrun him. She was going this alone.

Her feet pounded across the dirt, branches cracking, leaves crunching as she moved lithely, dodging tree stumps and branches. Dipping underneath spider webs and through bushes, ignoring the small scratches on her arms caused by thorns. She didn't even waste any energy being silent, there was no point; he knew she was coming, and she wanted him to know. Let him be smug, pondering his short-lived victory while she approached rapidly like the vengeful warrior that she was.

As Illyria approached a break in the trees she became aware of running water, a nearby stream, and the rhythmic thumping of paws on the ground. A shifted wolf ran on the same path and was immediately on edge. Was it one of the rogue Alpha's henchmen? A messanger? Poor guy, Illyria thought, aware that if that was what he was, then she most definitely would be 'shooting the messanger.

Nearing the other wolf Illyria recoiled, their dominant male scent overwhelmed her with the urge to submit. A feeling that not even Tristyn, or Alpha Logan could emmit. Hell, even a direct Alpha Command didn't do anything to her. But this stranger's scent, it spelled bad things were she to go against him. Though she was a strong warrior, her wolf would submit before she could even approach the wolf- a thought that had both Illyria and her wolf grimacing.

She slowed, the other wolf now standing by the stream, his beedy eyes trained on her, ready to attack. Illyria felt herself gulp, slowly down and baring her neck to the stranger. He had shifted now and as he stood in his naked glory Illyria felt her eyes drawn to his chest. Yes, she was avoiding eye contact as to not challenge him, but even if that weren't the case, the scars littering the expanse of his well-muscled chest would've caught her eye.

His skin was shocking white, though Illyria couldn't decide if that were from the lack of sunlight, or just an accumilation of scar tissue; raised lines running diagonally, vertically, horizontally, crossing over and varying in lengths and widths. Some looked to be caused by a whip, others claws, others Wolfsbane and silver.

The marks were horrifying, and terrifying, and Illyria felt her chest sieze. Yes this man could kill her with the snap of his fingers, but her heart reached out to him. She didn't even want to imagine the hardship that he had survived.

He growled, low and threatening, though it seemed to Illyria to be more like a warning. She raised her eyes to meet his, still standing in the break in the trees, her head still ducked as though she was trying to make her seem smaller and unthreatening. The man began to speak.

"Who are you?"

"I-" She cleared her throat with a cough, she was a Luna for godsake. "Illyria, Luna of the Lycan and Regina Luna packs,"

"What are you doing out here Illyria, Luna of the Lycan and Regina Luna Packs?"

"I'm tracking my best friend's scent, she was taken and I'm going to get her back." While speaking Illyria straightened up her posture, her voice sounding strong and determined as her eyes flickered to black, her wolf still angry at the kidnapping and probable mistreatment of her pack member and friend.

An unrecognisable emotion crossed over the man's face, but it was gone before Illyria could identify it. "Mint and pine, with a hint of coffee?" The man asked, describing Jess's scent and catching Illyria off guard. She faltered before nodding, but then straightened out, her eyes now trained on the stranger.

"What's it to you?" Though it was disrespectful Illyria hoped he knew she wasn't a threat, hell, even she knew she wasn't a threat. The stranger glared at her as though annoyed. "I will help," he spoke, now moving forward swiftly to where she stood. Illyria gulped and backed into a tree. The man stood taller than even Tristyn, his shoulders broader, and his body much more defined. His eyes were a chocolate brown that could've been warm, but mostly seemed like a shade of onyx.

"W-what?" Illyria stuttered, her hands clutching the bark that grated against her back. "I will help," the stranger spoke again, eyeing her as though daring her to argue. She gulped. "I, uh, I need to regroup with my warriors, will you come with?"

Illyria asked, stepping away from the tree and shaking moss out of her hair. The stranger nodded once more and began to follow her scent trail back to the compound, Illyria watching him go before joining him in their silent trek.

"I am Keon."

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