Fears is a historical Shadow Sprawl story that completes the current story arc.
Artwork by Samuel Pray
Sweat trickled down the side of her face but she didn’t move, not wanting to break the moment as Adriana lay curled on her side on the thick moss that carpeted the floor of the glade. His warmth surrounded her, holding her in a safe embrace as she nestled against him, aware of the fact they were both still naked, his cock semi limp and buried within her inner walls.
Fear rippled through her only to die a moment later. There was nothing to fear, not with what they had shared. He hadn’t hurt her. Hadn’t attempted to destroy her. Instead they had shared their bodies and he had claimed her as his.
They’d done it.
They’d broken the customs of their people and bonded, mated, whatever Marcius wanted to call it. They were one, his scent covered hers and her a spot between her neck and her shoulder ached from the bite that marked her as his. Her fingers itched with the need to shift and touch the mark but she didn’t want to disturb him, or break their more intimate contact, yet it would have to happen sooner or later.
“We can’t stay like this.” Marcius whispered against the back of her neck.
“I know,” she snuggled in, wriggling against him.
“Keep that up and I’ll have to take you again, my mate.”
His mate. The words sent a shiver through her body that ended at her core.
“Gods,” he growled and wrapped his arms about her, pulling her in tight against his chest. “You’re tempting me.”
But it was time to leave. Adriana sighed and pulled, slowly, out of his grasp. “We need to leave before they come for you or for me.” Her sisters. They knew she was here and sooner or later Liliana would report back to the rest of their sisters and the hunt, or rescue party, would be ordered to find them.
There it was again, that trickle of fear for what might happen to them.
Marcius tensed for a moment before he edges back, sliding free of her body before he released his grip on her entirely. She missed the warmth, the pressure of his hold but said nothing, not wanting to do something that would cause problems between them. Yes, she wanted his touch, to feel his lips against her skin again but this was neither the time nor the place.
“Time to get dressed… except that I don’t have anything to wear.” She moved to her feet and glanced down at the remains of her clothing. He’d sliced the tunic from her body which left her with nothing except rags.
“Ah, yes…” He shifted his weight, a hint of color touching his cheeks. “Could you do something with the remains?”
Adriana scooped up the pieces and lifted them up. It wasn’t exactly ideal but perhaps there was a way. “You didn’t have to cut this off.” She hefted them and flashed a smile at her mate.
Gods, her mate. She was mated and claimed by a wolf shifter. Not something she’d ever thought would happen but it was done and now they would more on, find a place and then what? Raise children of mixed blood? Children who would never be accepted by either of their bloodlines? Could they even have children?
“It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Marcius shrugged and retied his loin cloth.
A good idea at the time, well didn’t that describe what they’d just done? She shifted her weight and shook out the strips. With her bottom lip caught between her teeth she worked one piece into a loin cloth of sorts and bound it in place. The final piece she bound about her breasts, tying it in place so she wouldn’t bounce free if they had to run. It wasn’t an ideal situation but it would hold.
“We can’t stay here.”
“I know,” she glanced over at him. “The question is, where do we go?”
“I don’t know. I had a plan before I met you, but that was to travel and find my mate.” He turned, slowly, taking in their surroundings. “We’ve lost a good part of the night.”
She didn’t argue. The loss of the time had been for a good cause and she didn’t regret it but now as she looked at the moon through the trees, she knew they were running out of time. “There is a place I know, one my sisters don’t know about, and I think… it might work for us.”
The cave, it wasn’t much, but it would be safe until they made a decision on what to do next.
“Are you sure about this place?” Marcius tugged his tunic down and knelt to fix his sandals. “That your sisters don’t know about it, I mean?”
“Very,” did he doubt her word? She frowned at the thought. Obviously he did because he wouldn’t have asked her otherwise. “I’ve used it before, when I needed to take time where I would not be watched every moment. When you live with family there is seldom time when you can be left alone, as I’m sure you know all too well.”
He grunted his acknowledgment as he moved away across the clearing. “Which way?”
Adriana glanced down, at least her sandals were still in place and the makeshift garb would stand up long enough to get them to her cave. She had a few things stored there that would allow her to change her clothing and then - then what? Where would they go?
They had to leave, move further away from both her family and his, and that meant traveling north, away from the pack, away from her sisters. How long would it take before they would realize that she wasn’t returning home? A day? Two? More? It didn’t matter, by the time they realized that she wasn’t returning, they would have a decent amount of distance between them.
“They might follow us though, my sisters I mean.” Adriana admitted as she walked to the edge of the clearing. “What of your pack?”
“The same.” He shrugged, half turning to look at her. “They will come for me, and for you when they realize we have mated.”
“To tear us apart?” She moved to stand at his side. “Or…”
“No, to separate us, and in your case likely kill you before you can conceive, if such is even possible between us.”
Children. She hadn’t even thought about the possibility of having young, let alone his young. “We’ll discuss it later, when we have time to do so.” She glanced back away from the clearing. “We need to move, before we run out of time.”
“Lead the way.”
She broke into an easy job, looking back over her shoulder only the once to make sure that he was following her before she turned her focus back to the trail. Her sandaled feet made almost no sound as she ran, making her way through the trees, the small trail barely visible unless you knew what to look for.
In silence they ran together, with Adriana taking the lead as they moved beyond the grove, through the trees as they traveled upward, the slope growing steeper as time progressed. The trees thinned out as they made their way through the countryside avoiding the few other signs of life that might have led them to other people. The last thing they needed was to stumble into either members of his pack, or her people.
Marcius moved ahead of her, his larger form blocking the trail, hands spread out to prevent her from moving in front of him. He signaled with his left hand and she paused, inhaling deeply, her skin tingling.
Something or someone was out there. A hint of sweat mixed with…
Shifters, it has to be shifters. Nothing else would make sense. The wolf smell was strong but so was the human scent and there was something else there, something that reminded Adriana of her mate.
His pack, his family, that was the only thing that made sense when it came to the scent.
She didn’t speak, didn’t make a sound. If they hadn’t caught their trail then a sound might give them away. Instead she watched him, her mate, the one who knew these people far more than she would ever be able to claim.
The muscles across his back tightened, his movements slow, deliberate as he shifted his weight, ready to break into a run at a moment’s notice.
Danger. Threat. Hunters.
The ideas rolled through her mind as she listened, searching for some sign that they were in danger. More than the aroma of another shifter.
A soft noise, little more than a shifting of debris, drew her focus and she eased, slowly, around in the direction of the sound. A footstep or a beast? A small rabbit or something else? No, the scent increased, the one it belonged to had moved closer than before and she let her fangs drop down, filling her mouth, her hands curled into a claw light stance, ready to strike, to defend herself if they came under attack.
Marcius raised his left hand, the movement slow and careful before he pointed at the trail and held up two fingers.
Two of them? Had she missed the signs? Or did he know more than she did about the ones tracking them.
Adriana moved, taking only a step before she stopped again, her nostrils flaring as she inhaled deeply. There was something else there.
No, that’s not possible. Not with the shifters here as well. They wouldn’t work with them, not with this pack or any other.
Yet she was doing far more than working with a shifter. She’d laid with him. Spread her legs willingly for him and now they were hunted.
Would this be their life from this point on?
Hunted, tracked and for what? Because they had been born to different races? And if she carried young?
Marcius moved without warning, running to her side before he wrapped one arm around her waist, pulling her along side of him as they ran. She didn’t speak but kept up with him, focusing on keeping on her feet as they…
A heavy body slammed into her back, knocking her to the ground as she cried out, her hands taking the brunt of the fall as she slid along the leaf covered earth, rolling before she came back up to her feet. Wolf. Large, grey touched fur. Teeth exposed in a low, barely audible snarl as it paced toward her, saliva dripping from its jaws.
Not it. He. Male wolf with the scent of the city.
“You betrayed us, sister mine.” Liliana moved from the shadows, another female at her side and a third that moved through the trees. “I had hoped you would contain your lusts and then find a suitable male to sate them with. Instead you gave into baser needs as if you were nothing more than a creature of Caine.”
Anger rippled into life through Adriana’s body as she moved to her feet, her gaze flickering from the wolf to the women and back again. Where was Marcius? Her mate? He wouldn’t leave her like this, wouldn’t abandon her, yet there was no sign of him.
“I have the right to choose a bed mate where I will.”
“Unless your choice endangers us all, sister.” Liliana moved closer, her steps silent, hands half curled into claws. “And his people want him back, but the danger is still there, even if they persuade him to leave you.”
Danger. What danger could there be to her people or his in what they had done? “What are you talking about?”
Liliana arched an eyebrow as the sounds of a scuffle reached Adriana’s ears. “You really don’t know, do you? You can’t scent it.”
No, that’s not possible. They couldn’t know this soon, could they? Yes, there was something different about her body, but she’d put it down to the sex they had shared. Her body couldn’t have… Goddess have mercy. Was she already pregnant?
“The first stirrings of life, my sister. I would have hoped it would be from one of our kind, but no, you lay with the wolf and now his people and your own must take care of this matter.” Liliana took a step toward her, offering her a small bag. “This would end it, or so our lady says. With the child gone we can move forward, and you will be welcomed back into the fold. The child cannot be allowed to breath. It is a danger to all of us.”
Adriana’s hands moved to her lower belly, the flat planes offered no hint of new life and though she wanted to deny the possibility she couldn’t. The words died in the back of her throat and her gaze fixed on the pouch. A child of mixed blood, had that ever happened before?
“You’re wrong.” Adriana took a step back and then a second, putting a little distance between herself and her sister. Beyond her line of sight the sound of the fight continued, growing with each passing moment, yet Adriana didn’t dare to her gaze from Liliana.
“About the herb? I doubt it. I don’t believe our lady would speak falsely about such things.”
She doesn’t understand. No, how could she when she has never been in my sandals? When she has never felt the claiming bite of a wolf shifter?
Why would Liliana or any of her sisters understand what she was facing. A choice between a child of her own, a child of her mate’s and the cold death that she would otherwise send it to, wasn’t acceptable. If there was a child growing within her body, she would fight for it, fight for the child and the life it might have.
“For you and rightly so.” Liliana admitted. “You are carrying a child that is forbidden by our people.”
“No, you’re afraid of what the child might mean. A possible bond between our people and a pack.” Forbidden? The idea was spoken of in whispers but when had there been a ruling that forbade the existence of such a child.
Fear. It was all about the fears that now plagued those who knew of the possibility of a mixed breed child. Yet she couldn’t have been the first one to potentially carry a mixed life within her.
“Step away from my mate.” The snarl of anger broke through their discussion. “Now.”
Liliana and the two other vampire females with her, turned to stare at Marcius. Naked, dripping with blood, he snarled, baring his teeth at the vampires even as they shifted, putting space between them, ready to defend themselves.
“She is our sister and we are here to reclaim her.”
“You came here to harm her and any child she may be carrying,” Marcius took a step toward them. “You brought with you two wolves, two shifters who I once claimed as friends and pack. Filled their head with fear and lies and turned them out to hunt us. To destroy us.”
Liliana curled her top lip in a snarl. “We are different races, our magic is not of a type that is meant to be mixed. You risk her life and your own by…”
“Run my mate, run!” Marcius didn’t let the woman finish. He launched himself at Liliana, ignoring the other two vampire females, shifting in mid air as he went from human to wolf in a heartbeat.
Blood and screams filled the air as Adriana turned, obeying the order her mate had given. Death, the scent of it was heavy but she didn’t turn back, didn’t look at the fight, instead she kept moving, running, her feet barely making a sound. Fear knotted her stomach as she ran and the bite that marked her as a claimed mate throbbed in time to the beat of her heart.
They would never give up. She knew that now. Even if Marcius escaped the fight with her sisters, they would come after them again and again.
Fear would rule their choices and all she would ever be able to do from this point on was run…
In the Shadow Sprawl setting, cross breed children who are a mix of vampire and wolf shifter are not allowed. In the history of this setting from this point on, no such child has lived long enough to see its birth. Though there have been many attempts, the pregnancy self terminates normally by the end of the first trimester - and it's believed this is because of the two sides of the child's bloodline cannot co-exist.