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  • Writer's pictureAyla Volk

Now available on iBooks and Barnes & Noble

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

The Hunted, a side story from the Warriors of the Eclipse series is now available on iBooks and Barnes & Noble. Take a look into the story of Kaarina and her harrowing tale from the Talvi Kuu pack.

A side story of the Warriors of the Eclipse series, The Hunted shares the story of Kaarina Takala who lives a peaceful, happy life in the Talvi Kuu pack. Her life is suddenly upturned when her once serene community is gripped with fear as pack members begin disappearing. What will become of the Talvi Kuu pack and will Kaarina be able to stay safe?

Chapter 1

“That will be all today class.” I spoke in Finnish, our native tongue, as I released my students for the day. I looked up at the clock as they filed through the door. I needed to set up our lessons for tomorrow before I headed out toward home. I grabbed my notebook and headed down the hall to the copy room. Hopefully this would not take too long.

“Oh, hello, Kaarina.” Rebekka, another teacher said as she came into the room. She had a stack of her own papers piled in her hands.

“Hello, Rebekka. How are you today?”

“I’m good. Ready to go home before the storm hits.”

“Yes, I agree. I heard it will be a bad one.”

Rebekka nodded as I picked my own pile of papers up for the copy machine. “Goodbye.”

“Bye.” She said as I walked out of the room.

Rebekka was a kind enough woman, but she was always in everyone else’s business. Something I avoided at all costs. She could not find out about me or my pack.

See, I am a werewolf, and I belong to the Talvi Kuu pack. We are not like the werewolves in movies that turn into some hideous creature. We are beautiful shifters that transform into wolves. Complete wolves. My wolf is dirty blonde with stunning gold eyes.

It is against our laws for humans to find out about us, so I have to be vigilant at hiding our secret when I work at the local human school. Many of our pups go here too. The pack would like our pups to stay on pack grounds, but we do not have enough people to support the pack and a whole school system ensuring that our pups get the education they need.

Many of us work in town. We travel back and forth each day to our jobs and school. We give a portion of our income that we bring in to our pack. It is a communal mindset as the money goes to supporting the pack as a whole.

Anyone who works on pack grounds such as our warriors who protect us and the cooks who work in the main kitchen at the pack house earn an income, but we are all taken care of. We are all given homes to live in once we find our mates. Before we find them, we either live with our parents, like I do, or we can live in our communal residence buildings. They are small apartment complexes.

Besides our income that we put towards the pack funds, Alpha Jouni and the pack itself have interests in other ventures. These include mineral rights to different properties across Finland as well as some investments in peat. The revenue brought in by these endeavors are the main income of our pack.

When I returned to my classroom, I set the papers down on my desk and began to sort through them. Once I was satisfied that I was fully prepared for tomorrow’s lessons, I grabbed my coat and bag and headed out to my car. A few of the younger pups would catch a ride with myself or other pack members to and from school. It was a forty minute drive. A bit too far for them to walk.

I saw a few pups playing on the school playground as I walked around the building. I hollered out to them if they were wanting a ride. They all jumped down and ran my direction. The pack had purchased several vans for us to commute back and forth. Not many of us owned our own cars as there was no need for them between the vehicles provided by the pack and, of course, our wolves. We did not leave our lands for much besides the few things we needed in town and for work.

After being sure that all of the pups in the back were buckled in, we headed north back to our home. The kids in the back filled my ears of their tales and adventures from their day. I even got to hear the complaints about one of the pup’s teachers. I knew a lot about the other teachers and how they acted in their classrooms thanks to these pups. It helped me decide who to avoid myself.

I pulled into a gravel lot just as we approached our pack village. It is where we kept all of the communal vehicles. Our village was a circular layout, surrounding the pack house. We had a few small shops that provided most of the essentials and a few basic groceries for us to buy. They were mixed in with the variety of small modern houses spaced around.

There were three larger buildings outside of the pack house. The warrior’s barracks were on both the north and south sides of the village. All of the unmated warriors lived there and the buildings had attached training facilities. The residence building was on the east side of the village.

In the center of everything was the pack house. It was a large two story modern building that resembled a mansion. The whole front wall was a seamless window that flooded the spaces inside with natural lighting. The exterior was natural wood planks with a black shingled roof.

The inside maintained the same modern style. The floors were all polished natural wood matching the planked walls that accented the stark white filling the rest of the spaces. The furniture was a simplistic modern style utilizing the same natural wood. It was a great space to hang out in and where you would find most pack members in their free time.

I walked up the road that we had driven in on. It is the only road throughout our whole territory and it leads straight to the pack house. I cut off of the pathway after I passed a few houses. The main color palette of the architecture throughout was white, black and natural wood.

My family’s home used natural wood for the exterior. It had two structures connected with a glass walkway creating a “u” shape. In the center of the u was a stone patio where we had a table and chairs. The main living space including the kitchen, dining, and living room was in the smaller building and the three bedrooms were in the larger one.

“Hello,” I shouted as I walked in the door.

“Hi! I’m in the dining room.” I heard my mom call back.

I walked around the stone wall that separated the entry from the rest of the space to find my mom folding laundry on the dining room table. We would make the occasional meal at home when we wanted to spend some time with just us or if we were too tired to head up to the pack house, but most of the time, the dining room was utilized for other uses.

I sat down next to my mom at the table and grabbed a shirt to help her fold.

“How was your day?” She asked.

“Oh, good. Just another day.” I said with a sigh.

“Perhaps it is time for us to plan a trip to some of the other packs around.” I looked over at her as she continued, “Kaarina you are turning 26 in a few weeks and you still have not found your mate. I think we need to approach this more aggressively.”

“Mom, no. I will not be paraded though the packs looking for a mate. That is only what desperate she-wolves do.”

“I think we are approaching the desperate phase.” I stopped and stared at her angrily.

“I wish that you would respect my decision to wait for the Moon Goddess to bring him to me.” I huffed at her. “If it is too much of a burden for me to be at home anymore, I can move into the residence building.”

“That is not what I am saying, Kaarina. I am your mother and I worry about you.” She reached over and touched the back of my hand.

I stopped folding and looked over at her. She had a sad look in her eyes. I understood what she meant. Most wolves found their mates around 18. I have been waiting for the last eight years for my mate to show himself. I had gone to a few gatherings where other packs would be present in hopes that he would be there, but nothing ever came of it. Eventually, I gave up. Not able to stand the heartache I felt at my missing soulmate.

Chapter 2

That evening, after my dad got home from his shift on patrol, we walked over to the pack house for dinner. Lohikeitto, which was a type of creamy salmon soup and rye bread were on the menu. It was one of my favorites and a welcomed happiness that came after the talk with my mom earlier.

“How was your shift, Eero?” my mom asked my dad.

“Good. Nothing interesting happened. There is a storm blowing in tonight. We expect a heavy snow. May make tomorrow a bit more difficult.”

I looked around the room tuning out their placid conversation. My dad was a pack warrior and was on day patrols. Some nights he had some great stories, but most of the time they would talk about the animals he saw or the weather. My mom was a seamstress who worked from home. She would take in orders for items that pack members needed made.

I saw my best friend Tuuli and her mate Niko making their way over to us. My face lit up as I waved her over to our table. They carried their bowls of soup with them and plopped down in the chairs across from me.

“Hey!” she said enthusiastically.

“Hey! How are you guys doing?”

“We’re good! Niko had a great day out on the bay. Notice the soup,” she laughed. Niko is a fisherman and spent his days out on the bay fishing along with a small group. Our pack had hunters and fisherman to help provide the meat and fish for our meals. Depending on what they brought in determined our menu.

“This is delicious. Great job Niko!” I told him as I brought my spoon up to my mouth. We all laughed as I slurped another spoonful down.

“We are having a get together tomorrow night. Can you come?” Tuuli asked.

“Yeah, I should be able to.”

“Great! If the storm is not too bad, we will have a bonfire so be sure to dress warm”

“Can I bring anything?”

“Oh, yes! Can you make your Salmiakki Cake?”

“Yes, I would be happy to.”

Salmiakki was a type of salted licorice that was a favorite around here. I would need to pick up the ingredients in town tomorrow after work.

We talked for the rest of our meal before my parents and I made our way back home. The air had turned chilly while we were at the pack house. The wind whipped around us before the first snowflakes began trickling down from the sky. I stood out front watching the snow come down while my parents went inside.

I enjoyed having my solitude. It helped me think about my life and how it would be different if my mate was around. I constantly felt like the third wheel. Every one of my friends had found their mates and while they invited me to their gatherings, I would be there by myself, watching each of them hanging off of their other half.

It made me sad sometimes to be around them but I had always told myself that I would not let the lack of my mate hold me back. I took online classes to get an education degree when I was younger to fill my time. That is why I could teach now. It filled my days and made it where I was not constantly surrounded by other wolves, reminding me of what my life was missing.

I walked inside and found that my dad had made a fire. My parents sat silently on the sofa reading their books. I grabbed my own book off of the side table and made my way to my room. It was even hard watching them together sometimes. I hated feeling this way. I want to feel happy for everyone else, but it had just become a constant reminder.

The next day after work, I walked down the main street in town, returning to the school after picking up all the ingredients I needed at the market. I had let the kids know I would be a little longer today and told them I would pick them up from the library in town.

I pulled my coat around me trying to keep the cold breeze off of my body. We naturally ran warmer than humans, but the frigid breeze could still send a chill down your skin. The frosty wind whipped at my face making me squint as I trudged through the snow. I was almost to the car when I heard a pack wide mind link come through.

Another one of the many gifts the moon goddess bestowed upon us was the ability to mind link, or talk telepathically with the members of our pack. It took time to get used to it at first. You had to focus on who you wanted to talk to. You could include as many people as you like, however, it was difficult to broadcast across the whole pack. Only the high ranked wolves, such as our Alpha, Beta and Gamma could do it.

“There will be a mandatory pack meeting tonight at 7:00.”

I wondered what was going on. The mandatory pack meetings happened fairly often, but we usually had a few days heads up when they were going to be. I loaded up in the van and made my way to the library to pick up the pups.

When I arrived home I went to work on making the Salmiakki Cake. I should have had just enough time to put it together before we headed up to dinner. I turned on some music and started mixing the ingredients, dancing around the kitchen singing along when I heard the front door. I could hear my mom put her things away and then walk into the room.

“Hello, Kaarina.”

“Hi mom.”

“That smells good. What are you baking?”

“Tuuli and Niko are having a gathering tonight and I am going to bring some Salmiakki Cake with me.”

“That sounds nice. Will it be after the meeting?”

“I believe so. Do you know what the meeting is about?”

“No, your dad linked me and told me he would not be home before dinner. I am not sure if that has anything to do with it.”

I put on the finishing touches and placed the cake in a travel container. I loaded it up in a bag as my mom and I left for dinner at the pack house.

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