Born Immortal Chapter 28

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Randy sat on his haunches in the thick undergrowth of the forest at the river's edge staring across the water at the balcony of the large house on the opposite bank. It was his favorite place to be and he often found himself back here with no clear memory of how he had gotten here. He had spent most of the mild winter just running in the woods all along the long river, hunting for small animals whenever he thought of it or scrounging food from any conveniently unsecured garbage can if he was desperately hungry.

He no longer cared what anyone would think of him; the only person whose opinion had mattered to him, he had been forced to betray. Astyr was as lost to him as his own self-respect.

Yet he would find himself back here watching her from afar as she went about her daily activities, safe from discovery as he crouched behind the bushes and saplings that crowded the forest floor; unable to stay away from her.

The first couple of months that he had lived as a wolf since the night of the Homecoming dance had been mind-numbingly wild for him, completely devoid of care or responsibility or thought. He had run as far as he could for as long as he could with no concern for himself or his surroundings, simply following the path of the river as it snaked its way north through the rough landscape. He had come to find himself in a near-death state at the edge of the great boggy swamp that fed the mighty river. His fur was matted, snarled with twigs, and had lost its sheen while his skin hung loosely over the now-prominent bones of his body.

He had barely had the energy to keep himself alive; a normal wolf would have been dead long before, but Randy had laid down in the sun and the small amount of energy he had absorbed from that had helped him survive to find a meal.

What had really kept him going, though, was the discovery of a familiar scent.

Randy had been roaming for so long that he had lost track of how long it had been when he smelled a scent crossing his path that raised his hackles and turned his stomach.

Lucky.

Randy didn't know where he was at the time but he knew that his great-grandfather wouldn't be anywhere nearby unless he was planning to make trouble for someone; and Randy knew all too well who Lucky's target was at the moment.

He put his nose to the ground and after figuring out which direction had the fresher trail, followed it for over two weeks until he found himself at a crumbling old house in the middle of nowhere. There were no lights and the place was clearly uninhabited but Randy sat down and waited patiently to see what was going on.

After an hour or so, Lucky came out of the decrepit structure and moved off into the forest without looking back or checking the area. When Randy was sure that he was gone for good, he crept in to see what had brought the evil old man way out here.

The inside of the house was empty except for a thick smell of decay and mold that clung tightly to the ancient beams like a protective barrier. Randy spent a few minutes in the entryway trying to see what Lucky had been doing when he noticed that the dust on the floor had a clear path trampled through it. It wasn't just one set of footprints, it looked like a couple of different people had walked through here on a regular basis so Randy wasn't too worried about leaving his footprints behind. He followed the path through the house until it ended abruptly against a wall in the deserted kitchen.

Randy could smell that the scent of the people who had walked through the house continued past the flimsy barrier that was covered in peeling, faded paint, but he had no idea how to move the wall without leaving evidence behind. He carefully checked the footprints in the dust but there were none that went off the clearly defined path so he put his nose to the wall and started checking to see where Lucky had put his hands.

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