“Where did Treena go?”
Katrina grimaced, looking back at the tents below, “She left. After you announced your intent on saving Daniel, she just stormed away. I have not seen her since.”
We were standing at the edge of the forest, waiting for the arrival of Demetrius. Katrina had negotiated with the elder and allowed me to bring friends for emotional support. In truth, the werewolves were terrified I’d get killed in the competition. They already assumed I’d lose, they just didn’t want to be responsible for a human’s death. Apparently, a human dying on werewolf territory was bad for PR.
However, they didn’t know what kind of resources I had. If I just took some of the vampire venom at the right times, I could win this.
“Victor!” I called, running up to the vampire as he emerged from the forest, giving him a big hug.
He laughed, a glitter in his eyes. He wore his stage clothing, a conflagration of glitter, black leather, and rippling abs. The scent of roses fluttered in the air around him. Demetrius really had toned his body well. He also smelled of suntan lotion, I suppose that was a given in this environment. Katrina approached the man warily, watching me.
“I got the gist of it over the phone. It looks like you’re in it deep.” Demetrius chuckled, looking me up and down calmly.
I nodded, “I need some of your venom in order to get through this.”
Demetrius sighed, shaking his head slowly, “I think you’re putting a bit too much faith on that venom. We’re up against werewolves here. Even though the werewolf and vampire animosity is deeply exaggerated, they are still dangerous. I know you think you can fix this easily, but I think we’re going to need a bit more help.”
“Help?” I asked curiously.
Demetrius gestured behind himself, and my mouth fell open. Andrew, Rune, Alex, Stephan, Mr. Xavier, Allan, Daltom, and Ryan all emerged from the forest as well.
“You guys all came?”
“Of course, we did,” Stephan spoke up, “We’re your friends!”
“And Daniel’s,” Andrew added.
“I made this an official H club trip. I got us all excused from school. Samantha is not going to be happy I ’forgot’ to notify her of the trip.” Mr. Xavier adjusted his shirt, “You can thank me in private later if you’d like.”
I ignored him, turning to the rest, “You guys! I’m sorry I didn’t tell you where I was going…”
“It’s alright. If you weren’t sneaking off to do something, you wouldn’t be you,” Andrew gave a reassuring smile, “Besides, we made Alex spill the beans. Even if Demetrius hadn’t called us, we might have shown up here eventually.”
I glared at Alex who shrugged, “They tied me up and had their ways with me until I squeal. I had no choice but submit to their every dark desire.”
“Don’t make it sound gross, Alex,” Rune snapped.
“Actually, those lyrics would work for one of my songs.” Demetrius added.
I laughed and gave each of the boys a hug. Shockingly, I kind of missed all of them. Spending some private time with Daniel was kind of nice, but nothing beat having the group altogether. That realization caused a small shock to jump through my body. Up until now, I’ve been resenting and avoiding the boys. When did that change?
“So, these are Daniel’s friends?” Katrina asked cautiously, breaking me from my thoughts.
“He has been taking good care of us,” Andrew bowed to Katrina, “Thank you for allowing us to come here.”
“It is unusual to allow outsiders into our land, but these have been unusual circumstances. Just keep your heads low. I don’t want anyone else to be hurt by this.” Katrina told each of the men.
I broke into the conversation, “I only have a few hours before the first competition. What is the plan?”
Stephan nodded, “Well, I can’t really help too much unless you want me to show you how to lose an arm with some finesse.”
“Um… no, thank you.” I grimaced as Stephan smiled.
“I would like to look into the crime scene. I’ll take Daltom with me; I could use a second pair of eyes. If we can prove Daniel didn’t do it, then you don’t need to compete.” Stephan bid his farewell; Daltom gave a squeak before giving everyone a nod and following after him.
“Would you by chance have any rule books on this competition?” Allan inquired.
“There is a tent just down the hill with the elders. They should be able to provide something,” Katrina nodded.
Allan nodded, “I will take Ryan there. I need to know the rules to see how we can work between them. Ryan will be able to process the new data faster than anyone. Would you mind assisting?”
Ryan shrugged, “I am open to choose what I want to do until my mistress returns. It would not be displeasing to assist Jane.”
Allan nodded, straightening his glasses and moving down the hill. Ryan followed him close behind. I could hear Allan talking to Ryan as they walked.
“I have come up with an idea that may be able to assist Jane, however, I would need a robot’s finesse to accomplish this, would you be willing to-“whatever else Allan was saying was lost as he moved out of hearing range.
“Can you remind me of what the challenges are?” Demetrius spoke up once the pair had left.
“There are three challenges in the Triwerewolf Tournament. The first is a hunt. The second is an obstacle course. The third is a battle royal.” Katrina explained to the remaining boys.
“We’re short on time, just a few hours until the first event. Let’s concentrate on the first challenge. Once we finish that, the break in between will give us time to think about the others.” Demetrius spoke up.
Katrina nodded, “The great hunt is just that. You’re not allowed to attack each other. That doesn’t mean the occasional accident doesn’t happen. It’s very dangerous. All of the werewolves move off into the forest and have an hour to hunt for prey. You capture wild animals. The more animals you capture, the more points you get. Capturing them alive nets more points. The greatest hunter will catch the largest game.”
“What kind of game?” Andrew broke in.
“In these forests? Maybe a deer if you’re lucky, mostly rabbits and squirrels though. We have points for everything from a mountain lion to a zebra, not that we’re likely to find those. First place gets a hundred points, second is ninety, third is eighty, and fourth is seventy, and so on. Werewolves are hunters, so we instinctually kill our prey. Keeping it alive is harder so it nets more points.”
“Well, Jane’s not exactly a hunter. I suppose she wouldn’t have too much trouble not killing something, but is there any other way she can get an advantage?” Rune asked with a sound of worry in his voice.
“I’ve been thinking about that myself,” I spoke up causing everyone to turn to me, “The werewolves, they usually hunt in their werewolf forms, right?”
I let Katrina nod before I continued, “What about birds?”
Katrina shrugged, “Not a lot of points, but they are hard to catch since they fly away all the time.”
“What do you have in mind?” Demetrius asked.
“I’m pretty good with a bow and arrow. When I was in middle school, Samantha dragged me to a few classes because she had a crush on the instructor.”
“How did it go?” Andrew asked.
“She said she got to second base, but he was like eight years older than she was and wouldn’t go all the way with a minor.”
“I meant your archery, can you shoot?” Andrew explained.
I blushed, “Oh, yeah, I think I could hit a bird or two.”
“That’ll help, but she’s still going to be up against some of the greatest hunters alive.” Katrina sighed, “The skills of a wolf are nothing to sniff at.”
“That’s why we brought a special weapon.” Alex snickered, pulling something out from her purse.
“Oh… it’s a… bunny…” I said with mock enthusiasm, not quite sure what to say.
I frowned looking down at her hands. She was holding a small white bunny. I stared blankly at the little creature. It was actually quite adorable. They weren’t actually suggesting that I should shoot the bunny and murder it, are they? I reached out and touched the body, who seemed to accept my hand without being skittish. As my hand lightly petted it’s fur, I confirmed that there was no way I could kill this adorable little bunny.
“Hey, baby, if you’re going to stroke it, start from the bottom.”
I could have sworn the bunny just talked. Furthermore, it suddenly rolled around in Alex’s arms and spread it’s legs, taking on a sudden lewd position. I let out a cry and pulled back my hand as if I had just touched an electric fence.
“Reginal! We talked about this! This is why you got demoted in the army for misconduct!” Rune chided, his face blushing as he gave me an apologetic look.
Katrina’s eyes widened, “My son has certainly acquired some interesting friends. A-a talking bunny, is it?”
“We’re demons!” Reginal shrugged, rolling back over. “What do they expect, for me to not hit on the new recruits?”
“You know what you did to that goat, and Abaddon still hasn’t forgiven you!”
“A-a goat?” I asked, putting on a disgusting look.
“It’s a demon goat!” Reginal defended himself. “And I’m a demon bunny. It was just some playful demon sexual harassment. You’re not being a specist, are you?”
“What, me? I’m not specist!” I tried to defend myself from Reginal’s attack.
“You know, I don’t think putting the name demon in front of sexual harassment makes it less horrible.” Rune shot back.
“I don’t really care about this guy’s backstory. What’s the bunny going to do for her?” Andrew frowned, “Even if she captures him alive, a bunny can’t be a lot of points.”
“Oh, he’s not there for her to capture him,” Rune grinned, “He’s there to get the others chasing after him.”
“What am I doing now?” Reginal glanced back, his eyes open.
“Oh… just going to waggle your tail in front of a half-dozen bloodthirsty werewolves who want to eat you, and then run like hell.” Rune laughed.
Reginal whimpered, “Why you got to play me like that, Rune?”
“Father said until you’ve proven your worth, you’ll be subjected to the grunt work.” Rune sniffed irritably.
“Reginal,” I moved over to him, petting his chin, “Can you please help me? You’re the only one that can do this for me.”
Reginal rubbed against my hand, his whiskers twitching, “What can I say, high school girls are my weakness. What the hell, why not?”
My frozen smiled twitched a few times, but finally I turned away from disturbing bunny towards my group of friends. For the first time since I agreed to this competition, I felt like I might actually be able to do it. I remembered I was still missing one thing though.
“I need a bow and a pack of arrows,” I spoke up.
The boys all looked at each other, but it was Andrew who stepped forward, “I might be able to help you with that. I’ll need some privacy though.”
Rune laughed, “What privacy? You hiding a secret stash?”
Andrew turned to him and spoke frankly, “Yes.”
Rune stopped laughing. Rolling his eyes, he turned away with a shrug.
“Well, let me treat Daniel’s friends. Why don’t you all come down to my tent and I’ll make something for you.” Katrina nodded, gesturing everyone to follow her, while eying the perverted Reginal cautiously, “I suppose rabbits out of the question.”
Reginal squeaked, but the rest of the group laughed, following her down the hill. As they moved away, Andrew remained standing on the hilltop. I didn’t move either, watching him as he turned back to the forest while seemingly lost in his own thoughts. I got caught staring at him. With the sun shining through the clouds, the forest as his backdrop, Andrew surely looked angelic at this moment.
“Jane, you coming?” Rune called up from the group.
“I’ll be right behind you,” I responded, coming out of my reverie.
Andrew looked over at me, “You can stay if you want. I just don’t care for a demon to watch me but I don’t have anything I’d keep from you.”
I nodded and after giving the group a wave I followed after him into the forest. I felt like he was about to do something that I had to be there to witness.