The Hunter's Year Cover Photo

The Hunter’s Year Chapter Three

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The Hunter's Year Chapter Three is the 3rd installation of my story The Hunter's Year.

In the second chapter, Persie is pushed to edge with her peer's belief that she'll be nothing more than a delere for her entire life. Persie knows she has to make a decision. A drastic one that might change the course of her life. See the consequences of her actions below, and her new idea that might bring down everyone around her. 

The Hunter's Year Cover Photo

The Hunter's Year Chapter Three

“Are we going to the courtyard?” I asked Xavier. 

He shook his head, “I took the wards off my room. WiFi can’t pass through them and there’s a new season of Vintage on,” he said. 

“What’s that one about?” I asked. 

“Can we not pretend like you aren’t being the biggest bitch right now?” He said and glared at me. 

I held up my hands and turned down my mouth, “Fine,” I said. 

He bent down and opened the portal with his shoulders looking heavy. His hands swirled the energy in the room around and he pulsed out enough bitters to form a silver orb. It grew larger and larger until it was a giant sparking oval with a black void as its center. 

I turned to him and nodded, “Thanks, Xavier,” I said. “I really mean-”

“Oh, screw you Persi,” He said and rolled his eyes. 

I rocked back and stepped through the portal without another word. 

My body tumbled like I was in a barrel rolling down a hill. Atoms split apart until I was nothing more than invisible dots soaring through an endless tunnel. It was just a few seconds, but I took in everything I could. I wasn’t sure if my eyes even worked at that point because it was the blackest night I’d ever seen. The darkest place full of swelteringly hot patches and freezing temps. Then all at once, little bursts of rainbow light clouded all around me. Half a second later, my body was whipped back together like a rubber band snapping all over. 

It hurt like hell.

My body burned. Tingled. Zanged.  

Then it was over. 

I fell out of the portal and onto the forest floor. My legs turned over my head again, only this time it was with me on my back and my feet over my face. I grunted, mud and leaves caked into my hair while a new twinge in my back appeared. “Good Jesus, Lord Almighty,” I said and unfolded myself. I lay on the ground for a moment and stared up at the stars. “Okay, grace is not my gift,” I said.

“I’ll say,” A voice said behind me. 

I whipped around and my eyes darted in every direction. Where is he, where is he, where is he, I thought to myself. 

The Lycan from the other night came through the trees and my heart stopped. 

What the hell was I doing? How the hell was I getting back? Oh my God, I was as stupid as the rest of them. 

He paused and looked at me, “Don’t you know you’re in Fae territory?” He asked and sat down on a rock. “And Lycan and Vampire territory as well,” he said. He took out a piece of wood and a knife and began whittling it down. “All three of us could take you out, you know?” he said.

I stared at him and swallowed, “I–” I started. No more words left my mouth. It went dry. My mind went blank. Oh my God, I really am going to die. It wasn’t a thought full of fear exactly. More acceptance. More of a My-God-I’m-an-idiot type of emotion.

The Lycan glanced up at me, “You got my brother pretty good the other night,” he said. “He hasn’t stopped talking about it since.”

My heart started beating again. “He’s alive? I didn’t–” I took a step forward. “I didn’t kill him?” 

He looked up and sighed. He took so long to answer that I didn’t know if we were going to. Then he just shook his head and looked back down at his knife, “No,” he said. “You didn’t.” 

I paused and shook my head clear as if I heard him for the first time. “Your brother?” I said. “He was turned into a vampire and you were turned into a Lycan?” 

“Yep,” he said. “Life’s funny like that ain’t it? Bastard gets high off blood, and I almost die every full moon.” 

“Now don’t sound so morose, brother,” A voice said in my ear. 

I spun and raised my empty hand. The vampire gripped it, “We can share the blood,” he said and pulled me in close. 

My face hardened in an instant. “I’m full of Callup,” I said and gave a tight smile. “Drank it just for you and when you even get a sip, you’ll wish you were dead.” 

My mouth almost dropped when the words left my mouth. My voice was strong. My legs were heavy and planted on the ground. I was like a new person all over again. 

I swallowed. Maybe there were 8 personalities crammed into my head after all. I would have wished one of them had sex appeal if there hadn’t been a vampire about to tear my neck open.

The vampire smiled down at me and his eyes roamed my face, “Why are you here, Persi?” he asked. 

My eyes went wide again and tried tearing my arm out of his hand. “How do you know my name?” I said as he held onto me. It had been bothering me for a week. How did the bastard know my damned name?

He smiled and tightened his grip on my arm, “I know lots of things,” he said.

The Lycan stood up and I felt a knife whizz past my head. The vampire caught it between his fingers. He smiled and spun it in his hands a few times. “Now, brother, play nice,” the vampire said. 

The Lycan walked over to us and jerked me back. The vampire let me go and I rocked back a few steps. “Back off, Andrew,” The Lycan said. “You saw what she did last time. She’s not an idiot and If she’s here, that means trouble.” he looked down at me, “So say your peace and get the hell out of our county.” 

I swallowed and raised my chin a little. It was a wonder what being called “not an idiot” could do in the face of two monsters. “I stole your necklace,” I said to the vampire Andrew. “It’s giving me nightmares.” 

Andrew’s face fell and he looked at his brother for a moment. “What do you mean nightmares?” he asked. 

“I mean,” I started and bent towards the ground. I dug around in my pack and took out a wad of socks wrapped with Duck Tape. “This stupid prompter hasn’t let me sleep for a week. It’s calling out to me and I need to know where you got it,” I said. 

The Lycan raised his eyes, “That’s the prompter?” He asked. 

I grew self-conscious a moment and nodded, “The socks were soaked in Rosemary and Alcohol,” I said. “It’s a myth that it stops prompters from reaching their target.” 

Andrew’s face scrunched, “How do you know it’s a myth?” he asked. 

I glared at him, “because the nightmares have only gotten worse since wrapping it, dumb ass,” I said. Andrew broke into a smile and gave a laugh. My eyes narrowed further, “Something funny?” I asked. 

He extended his arms and did a couple childish hops in a circle around me. “I just find it funny that you stole something from me and now you're back complaining that it wasn’t a good steal.” 

I squared my jaw. “Figured you’d be dead by now. Didn’t think you’d need it,” I said. 

The Lycan smiled off to the side while Andrew sobered. 

Andrew touched his chest and glared, “it’ll take more than a little girl to-”

“Standard leech,” I said to cut him off. I raised my eyes. “Everyone who’s not a monster is tiny and pathetic.” I gave a smile, “wait till your master gets ahold of you and we’ll see who’s the little girl here.” 

He rocked back so slow I thought he would lurch for me. 

The Lycan rolled his eyes and shoved back his brother, “Persi, what are you doing here? We’ve got a meeting soon, so speed it up,” he said. 

I almost lost my nerve with the way Andrew was staring at me. It was a mix of things. Blood hunger. Anger. Rage. But for the briefest moment, I thought there might have been a look of lust. 

The sexy kind that I’ve read about in books. The kind that steams up windows, pounds at your heart, and makes you lose your breath. 

That changes the foundation of who you are and who you want to be. 

It was the kind that scared the hell out of me.

I would have thought it was a compulsion he was trying to lure over me. Get me to lower my guard and sway my mind toward him. The good news was that new vampires can’t use compulsion. It takes at least 100 years to learn and this little newbie had a hard enough time keeping his fangs hidden. 

I swallowed and turned away from the vampire's green-colored eyes. “You have one of these too,” I said to the Lycan. “Give it to me.”

He made a face. “What makes you so-”

I didn’t let him finish. I stormed towards him and stuck my hand in his left pocket. His eyes burst out of his skull and his mouth dropped. I pulled out the stone and held it up. “You and your brother have the same snake markings,” I said. “It figures you’d have the same prompter.” 

The Lycan made a face mixed with shock and confusion. 

I stared at them and started unwrapping Andrew’s necklace. Andrew and the Lycan came in close and we huddled in a circle. “What are we looking for?” Andrew asked. 

I took in a breath, my chest tight at us being so close. I couldn’t imagine what the Hunters would think if they saw me there with them. I pushed the thought and tried to strengthen my voice. “You tell me,” I said and turned to the Lycan. “Who are your masters? Why are they working together?” 

The Lycan spoke over his brother. “That’s not a concern of yours,” he said. 

I smiled at him, “what’s your name again?” I asked. 

His brow pinched, “James?“ he said. 

“Great,” I said. and tilted my head “James, shut up.” 

He stared at me and his eyes went wide again.

Andrew looked over, “We have the same master,” he said. My eyes went wider than James’s had. “We were turned and then given over to Rosta Conmar.” 

I hadn’t heard that name before. Dammit, why hadn’t I heard that name?

“But what is Rosta Comar? Is he a Vampire or Lycan?” I asked.

Andrew glanced at James who was fuming. At what, I wasn’t sure, but, given James was a Lycan, it could have been anything. “We don’t know what he is. He’s human as far as we know,” Andrew said. 

I unwrapped the necklace as I thought about this. What they were saying was impossible. The whole situation was against everything I’d been taught in my entire life. It was chopped and messy. Hunters didn’t like messy. They liked straightforward. Kill this Other. Capture that person. Overtake this coven or that Pack. They liked knowing every detail of the mission before jumping in, and here I was knee deep with no clue about anything. It was the first time I saw the point of the delere. 

James watched me close with his posture straight and his eyes looking like they were trying to make sense with me. “You shouldn’t be here,” he said. “You’re going to get yourself hurt.” 

His eyes were green with a circle of gold around the iris. All the Others had the same eyes but his were different. More clear, and less muddied with what I could only figure was evil. Whatever was lacking though, I came to one conclusion that day.

James didn’t want this life. 

It made me sick to think about how he was trapped in this existence forever. How awful it must be to be a monster. To know you’ll never feel like a human again for the rest of your life. That the only way out was death. 

Andrew rubbed at his chest again, “I don’t know brother,” he said with a grin. “I think our friend can take care of herself. She’s proven that at least once,” he said.

That lustful look came back in his eyes and mine darted away from him. 

I held up the stones and compared them, my focus trying to center on the mystery. 

The imprint was a snake wrapped around a sword with a dagger in the middle of its eye. 

I’d looked up the symbol before. It was confusing and, once again, chopped and messy. And I’d need at least a week or more to research to understand it.

I pressed the stone together, my brow pinched and my tongue on the top of my bottom lip. Come on, come on, come on.

Nothing happened. 

The brothers rolled their eyes. “How climactic,” Andrew said. The brothers reached for their stones and touched them at the same time. 

An electric jolt went through our bodies. A heat rolled in our muscles and out of our skin hot enough for a bead of sweat to burst out my forehead. 

Then the map appeared. 

It was warped with age and had three hand-drawn lines and three words. Colie manue Sofra. It was a language I wasn’t familiar with. I’d studied as many as I could but there was an endless amount to the languages creatures had. 

Then the map disappeared and I forgot the words. 

My eyes burst out of my skull, “What did the map say?” I shouted and dropped to my bag. Write it down, write it down, write it down

I just got my pen in hand when James pulled me up. “Make it appear again,” he said. His voice sounded desperate and his hands latched onto mine.

“I don’t know if I can,” I said and tried wrenching my hands away. 

“Persi,” he said and got close. “Please. Please make it appear again.” 

I stared up at him and our eyes met. God, it was more than not wanting to be a Lycan. He was desperate. I wanted to think it was desperation to be good again, but something told me it was more than that. Whoever created the brothers was dangerous. They had some kind of sick plan that the Hunters needed to know about. 

I should have left right then. Took my phone and made a call to Collins before someone killed me for whatever I was on the brink of discovering. Instead, I pulled us in another circle and held up the stones. 

Andrew and James reached for my hands. Their fingers touched the stones and brushed against my skin. This time it was a different heat that went through it. It was like small wave of warm water crashed over our bodies. 

Nothing happened after that. 

Not one thing. 

James whipped back and ran his hands through his hair. He walked in a few circles and shook his head, “shit,” he said. 

Andrew looked at his brother, a soft almost apologetic look on his face. “Is there anything we can do to make it appear again?” he said. “What even was it? Was it a map?”

I looked at James and shook my head, “I have to do more research,” I said. “I’ve never seen anything like that. Prompters aren’t supposed to show things, they’re supposed to guide you with feelings. Kind of like leading you through situations.” I stared at him, “I don’t know what that was.” 

It was true. My field experience was zilch, but even the most experienced Hunters hadn’t seen Pulses like that before. Well, that was my assumption at least. Even more true was no other Hunter had held a conversation with the monsters for that long. Not unless it was an ally to our cause. 

Andrew nodded, “Take this,” he said and gave the necklace back to me. “Find out what’s going on,” he said.

“No,” James said. His chest was heaving, his face was beet red, and his hands were stretched out like claws were threatening to burst out of them. “You stay the hell out of this, you hear me? You leave us alone and you never come back.” 

I took a step back when he charged and Andrew glided in front of me. A single hand was raised. His eyes were light. A soft tone came out. “That’s enough,” he said. “Go cool off.” 

James looked torn for a moment. His breath came in short little bursts after Andrew pushed him back. Tears filled his eyes. He cursed and took off back to the woods. 

I made sure James was gone before I turned to Andrew. 

Andrew looked almost longingly into the trees and shook his head. “It’s like my brother isn’t even here anymore,” he said. “I keep trying to make a connection and it’s just— he’s not James right now. I don’t know if he’ll ever be again.”  

I stared at where his brother had been and remembered how my mother had changed. The bitters had warped her mind, soul, and body. After a year of losing herself in it, I couldn’t recognize her anymore. Then when she took my father down with her, I didn’t want anything to do with her. 

I’d spent years feeling like a failure over it. Feeling like I was the only one that could save my parents and I was just too— too pathetic. Too insecure. Too willing to bend to other people’s wants and needs. 

I would have saved anyone from that feeling of hopelessness. But not an Other. I was ashamed of the thoughts that popped into my mind. How I could manipulate the situation and use it to my benefit. Use it to become the great Persi Colt I’d dreamed of all my life. 

“When someone is changed by Bitters, it takes over their personality,” I said. “It heightens everything good and everything bad. Mostly bad though," I said. 

He looked down, “So what do I do?” He said. “What can I do to get him back?” 

I’d asked that about my parents a thousand times. I didn’t want to tell him the answer was nothing, but the words almost left my mouth. 

I shrugged, “I’ll research that too.” 

Oh, what a good little delere I was making. It made me want to roll my eyes but I kept a straight face. “I’ll come back here and we-”

“No,” Andrew said quick. He reached out a chilly hand and grasped my wrist. He stepped close, stared into my eyes, and gave a dazzling smile. “Let me come to you. Jamie’s right, it’s too dangerous out here.” His smile grew, “Even if you’ve got wicked stake skills.” 

My eyes met his and my body felt lighter and more electric. I beat down the feeling with a mental bat and squared my jaw again. “Fine,” I said. “Can you open a portal?” 

“Can I get your number?” He asked. 

My face opened up. “What?” I asked. 

He pulled his brow together and pursed his lips, “Purely utility of course,” he said. “We need to coordinate where to meet after all.” 

My breath started back up again and I swallowed. “Right,” I said. “Here.” I gave him my number and looked for an opening. I needed more information and exchanging numbers was a good way to do that. Still, I couldn’t fight the guilt and nerves off entirely. 

Oh, crap, I just gave my number to a Vampire.

He stored it in his phone and gave me a more sad smile. “Persi, I’d do anything to help my brother,” he said. “I’m sorry for being an ass earlier, I just— please help him,” he said. “He’s going to lose his mind if he keeps going like this.” 

My mind was pulled in two directions again. I could make the Lycan go mad. Bring out his dark side so his pack would have no choice but to kill him. I could do the same with the vampire and come out of all of this a hero to the Hunters. 

Then, for the first time that day, my morals kicked back in. My heart grew two sizes, and I found myself smiling at this beautiful vampire with snake tattoos covered around the bottom of his mouth and face. He could have killed me in an instant. My guard was lowered and my mind was open. And it struck me that this monster that I’d been sworn to hate and kill was more worried about helping his brother than he was about killing another Hunter. 

Then I thought about Anna’s words. I thought about Tess, and Xavier, and Collins who thought I was pathetic and weak and an unacceptable excuse for a Hunter. 

My morals slammed shut again as I saw his vulnerability as an opening. I was going to take the brothers down. I was going to fight them and destroy whatever plan was brewing in the Underground. I was going to emerge a hero. Fearless. A legend. 

It was just enough confidence for me to give a nod, flash a smile, and say, “Okay. I’ll help any way I can.” 

Note from Author

I love that you guys have been digging this story as much as I have. These are chapters I write and edit in a couple days. I apologize for some of the congruity errors, but I love that this is a story I just get to play with. Check back next week for for a chapter that was entirely DICTATED!

Aight, Stay Saucy. 

XOXO - Kate

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