Chapter 12: Shadow or Shade


My senses are numb--- no, more like every fiber of my muscle is screaming pain and I can't process all of it making my senses feel numb. Man, my knees felt like it had been used as a mop.

"Just fucking great."

Is that Tala cursing? Those two words goes perfectly well together but, man, I didn't think I'd be grateful hearing Tala curse. Then does that mean they found me?--- Ack!

My body moved excitedly on impulse knowing that Tala is nearby and it reminded me why I shouldn't move so suddenly. My eyebrows knitted as I tried enduring the pain. I could feel cold sweat forming on my forehead.

"Screaming isn't gonna scare them away, Tala." That's Kai.

"Well, I'm fucking trying, you injured piece of shit!"

I don't feel any energy in me but I tried opening my eyes. It felt like every part of my body except my eyes tried to move. It felt like shit, by the way.

When my eyes finally opened, my vision was hazy but it slowly started getting clearer. The first thing I realized was how close my eyesight was to the ground and all the trees are growing side-ways. The second thing is that, I'm facing the wrong way.

"Don't make it harder for us to save you, Miss." That annoyingly gentle voice! It's from that chestnut lady that I overestimated and underestimated at the same time! "Your relationship is clearly toxic."

"I agree!" Kai choked.

Tala retorted, "you're my boyfriend. You should be taking my side!"

Uhm, what?

I moved my head to look over my other side--- the small movement was uncomfortable and my whole body wished it didn't moved at all--- I saw Kai leaning on a tree, his shoulder bleeding and if I squint I'm pretty sure an arrow is lodged on his back. Tala is supporting him so he could stand.

Three hunters are surrounding them, a fourth and a fifth can be seen lying unconscious not far from them. Oh and chestnut-haired lady is pointing her arrows on Kai.

We need to escape. Kai won't be able to fight effectively when Tala looks like she doesn't know how to.

"Get behind me," Kai said seriously.

Tala looked at him like she can't believe him. "Are you an idiot?" Barf. They look so love-sick.

"You're the idiot," he groaned as he pulled the arrow from his back, his blood dripping from the wound, making Tala gasp. "I'm not going down with something like this."

Kai moved forward, his bleeding finally stopping, while Tala had no choice but to step back and avoid being a distraction.

All the hunters focused all their attention to Kai with the safety of Tala in mind and me, abandoned on the side.

"I guess the herbs can't slow down your faster-than-normal healing capabilities that long." It was the chestnut lady again.

Kai whined, "please refrain from putting vegetables into my body."

I need to move. Don't care if I pull a muscle forcing myself to move, I need to do it. That chestnut lady's weapon is not something Kai should be underestimating. Especially with her poison-laced arrows, it's not that deadly to a monster but it's enough to render my huge wolf form immobilized and drowning in torment.

A hunter lunged at Kai with a dagger in hand. There's a thick smell of herbs coming off from those three. Their weapons must be laced with poison as well.

Kai dodged the attack and grabbed the attackers hand. He let go immediately as an arrow shot at his direction. Another hunter attempted to strike him down with their bow making Kai jump overhead.

At the start of the fight, Kai's agility helped him evade the hunters' attacks but this group of hunters seemed to be so well trained, they analyze and predict. The only one who still kept missing her target was chestnut lady, who I am seriously pissed at for being incompetent in a fight.

"Quit fooling around, Emily!" A hunter told her. He has an authoritative aura---Is he the incompetent trainer of this incompetent hunter?

"He's too fast."

"Then think before you shoot." I vote for him to be the leader. He's sensible.

Another hunter spoke, the one with the dagger, this one is a tall, thin teenager with black hair, "Listen to Nigel, Em." She thrust her dagger once more, Kai diverted the hand away from him. She twisted her dagger's blade, pointing towards Kai, then swung her arm backwards.

Emily shot an arrow but Kai grabbed the body acting all bad-ass and stabbed the tip on the other hunter's arms.

"I apologize," Kai said. The hunter screamed in pain, clutching her arm.

Kai let her go only to be halted the moment that Nigel guy shot an arrow and actually hit Kai on his thigh. Kai suppressed a groan but he went rigid. No one must've noticed that his knees buckled due to him straightening his back but I can hear his teeth grinding, that must've been painful.

"Look for an opening then shoot." Nigel lectured Emily.

Emily fumed, "show off."

"Do I look like a target practice to you?" Kai hissed, he kicked the unnamed lady hunter away while snatching her dagger then pulled out the arrow in his thigh. The blood oozed out. "Please don't annoy me anymore than this. Do you enjoy toying with myths and monsters before you kill them? What a sick sense of entertainment."

Nigel lowered his arrow as he let out a sarcastic laugh, "quit acting like you don't take lives and toy with the family that your victims have left, monster."

"But, I don't," Kai whispered. His confusion grew visible on his face.

"Acting innocently? What? Isn't she enough proof that you toy with humans? Is it fun to play with her mind?"

Kai staggered, "she's not... I didn't."

"Look at this, monster," Nigel pointed out his unconscious companion. "You did this. You deserve to be hunted for the monster that you are."

"A monster like you doesn't deserve to live at all," hurt resonated on Emily's voice.

Kai gritted his teeth, "you keep saying 'monster' word like some kind of derogatory." His eyes turned red as he charges towards Emily.

She grabs an arrow from her quiver to shoot only for Kai to shift into a bat the moment the arrow was shot. He quickly shifts back naked, kicking Emily in the stomach. She steps back with a groan but Kai didn't let her escape. He grabs her collar and threw him towards Nigel who was aiming carefully.

I snorted at the look on that pretty boy's face when he saw her flying towards him like it was some sort of cartoon. Emily groaned, trying to stand back up again, while Nigel gasped for air.

Kai turned towards them with the dagger he took from the other hunter in hand, he aims at Emily which Nigel saw him doing. Instinctively, Nigel reached out to protect Emily who didn't even notice Kai's attack when all of a sudden Kai shifted back into a bat.

His shifting went haywire like the time when we were in the auditorium.

"What are you doing?" Emily asks, leaning her head on the palm of her hand.

"Uhm, getting an arrow from your quiver."

Nigel did as he said then shoots the arrow towards Kai who is shifting from human to bat then to human again.

"Kai!" Tala yelled from the tree she was hiding from. I kinda imagine the doting girlfriend role. Didn't expect it to happen that quickly though. Kai turned towards Tala at the exact moment he shifted back into his human form.

The arrow grazes the back of Kai's neck.

Emily looks over her arrows before looking back at Nigel. "What did you---" she gasped, "that arrow---"

Kai reaches to cover the small cut that the arrow-head made then glared at Tala, "don't distract me."

"Then don't go haywire! Do you know how hard it is to shut up---."

"Focus on us, monster." Emily spoke.

Tala fumes, "don't interrupt me!"

Man, that girl really has a knack for leaving people speechless. She acts like a kid and her temper is like a kid. Either way, Kai took this as an opportunity to attack. Nigel pushed Emily out of the way as a result, he got tackled. Kai pushes Nigel down with a lot of strength, I heard bones cracking on that hunter's shoulders. His screams confirmed it.

"Stay down," Kai whispered.

"Quit flirting with him you idiot!" Tala interrupted. "Oops! Sorry. I'll... I'm gonna hide behind here."

Nigel groaned, still trying to move. Kai frowned. "Struggling is not gonna do your body any good."

He jumps off of him but then collapsed side-ways, "what?"

"Kai," my voice croaked as he fell to the ground.

Tala who heard the noise of someone falling over, looked behind her to see Kai barely moving on the ground. She froze at the sight. That's not the problem though.

Emily just took out a dagger from the hunter lady with a lot of knives on her. She walked over to Kai, limping, with her back against me. Her hand is clutching on her stomach.

Sighing, she shakes her head. "I wish Nigel hadn't missed. If a small wound from that arsenic-based poison was enough to knock you down then what would happen if it did hit the target?"

Kai croaked, his hands tried to move but he failed. He just managed to weakly lift it before giving out.

"Let me end your misery," Emily whispered.

My whole body went numb but for a whole 'nother reason. Panic flared through Kai's eyes, his body involuntarily shaking as he gasped for air.

During their fight, I slowly forced myself to stand but all I could manage was to lift my body on all fours. My limbs goes jelly the more I tried to stand and I had to tense them to stop me from falling flat on the ground.

Damn it! Why can't I move? I screamed in my head. I willed myself to do something but there are invisible shackles tying me down. I still can't feel anything physically and it makes me feel helpless! Rage fueled my movement until I felt a different kind of nothing. The numbness felt surreal but rather than gravity trying to pull me towards it, I feel as light as a feather. My visions went black with Kai, Emily, and Tala fading slowly into the darkness.

The last thing I could remember was Kai coughing up blood then everything faded into black again but I'm not unconscious. In fact, I can feel myself moving. Distorted sounds flooded my ear and faint piercing pains run through my body.


I found myself standing in an empty hallway of the academy. I looked to my right, the sound of people talking made my body instinctively approach it.

"Why am I always blacking out and ending up back inside the academy?"

Through the winding corridors, I find myself taking a path that leads to the Principal's office. Unlike when butthole was hypnotizing me and making me move against my will, this time I'm aware of my own actions.

I can stop whenever I want, I just don't want to. There's someone inside the principal's office that I need to hurry up and see.

"You have been privileged enough to enter this facility," that's the principal's voice. Even outside her office, her voice resonates loud and clear.

If I could remember, she's standing in front of the door, blocking my view from whoever she's talking to.

My hand reached for the knob of her metallic black door. It made a creaking sound as it opened, the principal didn't turn her head towards the noise. She doesn't even realize that someone entered.

I took a step inside and became oddly surprised that I haven't jerked back into reality.

"Leave the child to us." The principal had finality in her voice, she step aside and looked over her shoulder. It was my chance to see who she was talking to but my eyes followed her stare.

Towards her right was Miss Laurel sitting with her most elegant dress worn. Her hair is braided with golden leaves decorating them, her face adorned with golden ornaments as well. They look like freckles dotted across her face.

"We will protect him," Miss Laurel softly spoke. She lowered her gaze making me follow as well.

My breath hitched as I saw who she was referring to. A black wolf cub with a white glove on its right front paw.

A voice then entered my head which is a first.

"Shadow or Shade?" Her voice felt disembodied.

I searched for her inside the room but I can't. What did she mean by---

"Time's up." I don't know why but her tone feels like she was grinning.


A sharp pain pulled me out of my... delusions. I wanted to scream but found myself howling instead as my body stood on it's hind legs.

I landed on all fours with my front right paw giving out making me fall on the ground. My eyes saw Emily gasping for air as she tried to stand, her hand was holding a knife. My gaze trailed down to my injured paw to realize that she stabbed me!

Emily stood unbalanced with her left foot failing to support her. My right front paw is starting to feel numb again making it hard for me to pounce at her.

"Kingina naman!" Tala ran towards Emily, grabbing her arms. "Injured people should not be fighting back!"

Tala dragged Emily, who I think, is five inches taller than her away from me. Emily who was shocked couldn't do anything but get dragged and was force to sit down far away from her weapons.

Tala then ran back towards Kai, lifting his body off the ground fairly easy but stopped after doing so.

She turned towards me, yelling. "Can you walk towards us or should I drag this shit towards you?"

With a painful step, I answered her question.

"Wait, you can't leave with them!" Emily called out.

"Try and stop me then," she whispered. I stopped right beside her and knelt down to make tossing Kai over me easier.

While doing so, I saw Emily limping towards the nearest weapon she could find. A dagger right beside her leader, Nigel.

As soon as she reaches the dagger, Tala had already awkwardly climbed on my back and I bolted right out.

All that my mind could process at the moment was fatigue making me move sloppily. Occasionally, I bumped into trees making me stagger even more. I could hear Tala saying something but my body gave out, making me faint in the middle of nowhere.


"Oh thank goodness," Tala gasped as Kai started to move.

I have no idea how she treated Kai's poisoning but the smell of vomit not far from here tells quite a lot. Plus, the herbs on Kai's neck.

I thought she'd be bringing us to the hospital but looks like she changed her mind.

We're still in the forest but we are so much farther away from the border of the school where we should be. I can't sense the eerie feeling of the void anymore but I might be too numb to even sense correctly.

The hunters are nowhere near us. I can't smell the chestnut lady so I think the three of us are safe for now.

Tala helped Kai up and leaned him against a tree trunk. "Are you healing? Is your body, okay?"

I woke up before him and Tala helped me as well. My energy is still drained though. Something about those herbs from that chestnut lady is making my body feel like trying to heal myself will cause me deep exhaustion.

Normally, a wound like an arrow shot can heal in a matter of minutes but it's been at least an hour now and my body is getting more and more fatigue.

Luckily, thanks to whatever herb Tala used, it's not bleeding anymore. It does stink though. Worst part? I can't complain about it 'cause my jaw got busted running into trees before Tala told me to stop running 'cause we're far enough.

"You're not cursing?" Kai asks.

Man, he must be stupid if that's the first thing his brain thought of.

"You just wait. My need to yell at the both of you is building up." She answered with a dull tone. "Maverick isn't healing. Is that suppose to happen? Isn't he like you? Can't he heal himself?"

I can but right now I can't, is what I wanted to say but at this point, even talking feels like a 5 mile run.

"You're a witch, why don't you try healing him instead of whining?" Kai hissed.

Tala was taken aback. Honestly, I am as well but I've known Kai since my first day in the Academy. He's the type to change his mood so quickly. But then again, he should've been less of a jerk to her about it.

"Not a witch. Not a myth. Not a monster." She stated.

"Oh, great. You're useless."

"Hey, it's not my fault you got injured! I was the one who told you not to fight them off. I was the one who told you just let me be captured---"

I called it! With Tala's temper and Kai's attitude, they'd bicker at some point in the conversation.

"--- they'd try to kill us anyways. Both me and Maverick would've still be injured, nonetheless, if they had you."

"So what? At least, you would've been less distracted if I was with them instead of me getting in the way---"

"If you understood that much then why were you being uncooperative?"

Man, my head is splitting with all this bickering.

Tala said some words in a very thick accent and knowing how she is, it must be a really harsh curse word in her language. "Your plan was failing!"

"You're being hysterical!" For someone who is trying to heal himself, he sure has a lot of energy to argue.

"I was reacting the proper amount of fear for someone in my situation."

Kai ignored her and massaged his temples. "I need this mission to be successful so I can prove to Principal Nioz that I should be the Inferno---"

"You think you're the only one who has something to gain from this?" Tala wasn't yelling. "Gago ka! I almost sacrificed something for the sake of this fucking mission but it's suddenly my fault?!"

"We all make sacrifices---"

"Oh, right. You were betting your competence. What a fucking shame for you to fail."

I couldn't take one more word out of these two. I was going to save my energy so I could heal myself faster but that's not happening. The atmosphere from those two is indescribable.

"Stop it!" I growled. My mouth shifted into a snout for a second before I reverted back into my normal human form. "Damn, my head is splitting into two because you two can't shut it."

Tala scowled but didn't say anything else. Kai scoffed before standing and walking away.

"Where are you going?" I groaned at Kai. He didn't reply and continued walking. "Get back here!"

"Tsk. He's an idiot." Tala grumbled before slumping her back against a tree and sliding down to sit. "You okay?"

"My energy got even more drained with your fighting, if that's what you're asking." I hummed.

We both got silent for a moment. The awkward kind of silent but neither of us seemed to be willing to break it. The wind was a good background noise though.

With the tension dying from those two teenagers, my senses are getting less and less numb from the pain. It's like my healing is starting up again. Man, finally! Being wounded is no fun at all.

"I'm sorry." I jumped a bit because of Tala's sudden remark. It was a whisper with a hint of regret but I heard it pretty clear. "You two almost died and..."

"You worried?" I looked at her, she's sitting beside me, her knees are folded close to her chest. She pulls it closer, hugging her knees, then grumbling something.

"Of course... I was." Tala buried her face on her knees, cursing. "I'm alone in a forest full of dangerous creatures with no experience in fighting, who wouldn't be worried if all her bodyguard dies on the first day of mission, right?"

She cracked a painful smile. I winced at her poor attempt to lift the mood up. Only then did I realize how helpless she must've felt.

That rage that she just poured on Kai, I can feel that rage. The regret of thinking that you could've done something. Argh! I should've realized sooner.

"We ain't dead yet so you can relax." I assured her. Her smile turned genuine this time.

"Isn't your dick feeling a bit cold?" I coughed at Tala's bluntness. By instinct, my hands reached to cover my crotch. "Oh, no. I don't mean to sound like a pervert. I was going to ask if you're feeling cold in general but you don't seem to realize that you're naked."

I replied, heat filling my face. "My body heat is pretty high so I'm not feeling any... cold--- Man, how can you ask me that with a poker face?"

Tala wasn't looking at me at all, she was blushing as well. "I-I don't have a poker face. Anyway, why are you even blushing?"

Man, I'm so embarrassed having this girl see my naked body twice.

"Just 'cause."

She finally stopped blushing but she's still not looking towards my direction. Being naked can make someone uncomfortable. I haven't even cared about being naked since I've been shifting since I was... Huh, since when did I even started shifting?

"So, I've been meaning to ask--- nevermind." Tala stopped herself from continuing her sentence. "You should just save your energy. I'll be hiding by that tree over there."

She pointed towards a random bush, not a tree. Before she could walk over the "tree" I stopped her.

"I don't mind a question."

"You suddenly shifted into a wolf earlier then went nuts," Tala started. "What happened?"

Oh, is that the reason why I was in my wolf form after returning to my consciousness?---Wait, I was moving the whole time?

"What was I doing?" I asked her, intruiged about what was happening to me while I wasn't in my right frame of mind.

"As I said, you went batshit crazy." Tala sat beside me again. "You kept growling at Emily, encircling her and when you got in front us you suddenly attacked. I kept yelling but I guess you can't hear anything with your growls drowning them."

"Man!" I massaged my temple. I've gone done it. Those hunters will surely want revenge. "Oh, well. It's not like we won't be hunted even if I hadn't assaulted that Emily."

Tala laughed at that. "You switched emotions so fast." Not as fast as you and Kai though.

We talked about trivial information about myths and a whole lot more.

Half an hour into our conversation, I realized that my body is fully healed and feels as good as new. Kai hasn't returned yet but knowing him, he might just be blowing off steam somewhere.

Now that I'm good to go, I can focus on the mission at hand.

I got so caught up with that demon baby that I forgot that the mission wasn't about capturing the cause of the problem but rescuing Headmistress Tala. I haven't seen a myth like that before or is it already a monster? Basing from its intent of killing people, it's the type of monster that's filled with darkness.

Butthole's characteristic is conniving and is an outright butthole. Still, what kind of monster is it? What's its name and where does it come from? I've known a wide range of American myths and the monsters that lives within the area of the town but never has any book or human describe a baby that looks like it clawed its way out of hell.

Next chapter