(Disclaimer: No, I don't own the Lorien Legacies series or any of these characters…I wish I did.)
My feet pound against the ground as I dash through the forest, just a blur to everything around me. Branches whip back with exaggerated slowness, birds fly lazily overhead. The forest and earth merges together, streamlining past the edges of my vision. My heart beats rapidly, ready to burst out of my chest, and my breaths come in ragged, heaving gasps. I'm bone tired, but above all, it's exhilarating. I haven't run this fast in ages. I'm having the time of my life.
I'm also about to be torn to shreds.
Out of the corner of my eye I see another blur zipping through the forest, leaving a trail of wrecked trees in its wake. It keeps pace with me, slowly gaining ground. As I weave in and out of the trees it simply bursts through them, shattering the trunks into millions of splinters and dust.
The delayed sound of a wolf's howl reaches my ears and I'm inspired to put on another burst of extra speed. I'm now going so fast that the world slows down and literally seems to stand still. The blur beside me gradually falls back until it's well behind me again. Once again it's just me and the vast wilderness of Lorien. A bead of sweat brews across my forehead and I waste precious time to wipe it off. Every second of distance between me and the pack matters. In that single second I slow down enough to hear the wolves' excited howls once more. The blur starts to catch up again, racing beside me. I sprint forward, ducking under branches and tearing through bushes. At one point I even jump over a fallen log. My feet protest loudly when they hit the ground, sore from my constant sprinting, but I keep moving forward. There's nothing to do now but keep running.
The trees clear in a split instant and the ground below me drops suddenly. I'm sliding down a sharply angled cliff, more falling than running. I freeze for a moment in surprise and panic, but I push myself to my feet before I tumble off into the dizzying abyss. The blur finally rushes past me, not even concerned with the sharp angle. I grit my teeth and struggle to find solid footing as I tumble down, but it's nearly impossible. I can hear the wolves' howls at my back when I finally manage to prop myself up. I push myself even harder than before, running so fast that gravity doesn't even affect me. The ground starts to even out, and I leap from the wall, finally back on level ground.
I turn back over my shoulder, hoping to see the pack tumbling to its death, or perhaps pausing uncertainly at the cliff's edge, but there's no such luck. There they are, streaming down behind me, rolling over each other in free fall, but coming after me nonetheless. I catch a glint of their crazed eyes and rolling tongues locked inside their snarling jaws before I spin and start running again. For the millionth time I try communicating with them telepathically, telling them I'm their friend, not enemy, but I keep on getting the same overpowering blanket over their thoughts.
I grit my teeth in frustration and sprint forward, trying to put some distance between myself and the rapidly advancing pack. I've once more entered the dense forest, and I have to place my feet carefully to avoid tripping over the multitude of tree roots and snagging branches. The blur comes into view and soon we're level again. I'm just jumping over the crest of a small hill when I feel my feet pulled out from under me by an invisible force on the last step. The blur roars ahead, and I stumble and hit the ground hard, and roll straight into a tree. My velocity from the run hurls me against its side, and I feel the wood crack against my body. The tree literally explodes as I'm hurled through it, and I watch as millions of tiny fragments billow out from me in slow motion. I feel a jagged edge of the blown away trunk graze against my bare, exposed back, and I cry out. I hit the ground and my back howls out in pain. When I put my hand to it, it comes away red with blood.
The worlds reverts back to real time as I scramble back to my feet, staggering under the pain. The hair on my back stands up and I reel myself around just in time, speeding myself up just as the pack leaps for me. They slow down in mid-air, reaching out with wild claws, their matted fur pressed against their bony ribcages. Even sped up, I only have enough time to hurl one off to the left with my telekinesis before they're on me. I jab my fist at the lead one, knocking it senseless and lift my right forearm to deflect another. I flinch in pain as it sinks its teeth deep into my skin. I stagger back, but fling my arm out, hurling the wolf deep into the forest. A small arc of red droplets follow my movement, splattering the nearby leaves. I have just enough time to hear the crack of the tree branches as it lands before I'm off again, scrambling away from the pack before I can sustain any more injuries.
I put a hand on my arm as I duck through the forest, hastily trying to stop the bleeding in my sped-up perception of time before I lose too much blood. I'm worried the bite might have pierced an artery, in which case I seriously need to get to the clearing where my Chest is hidden as soon as possible. I can hear the pack tearing through the forest behind me, and I occasionally use my telekinesis to hurl stray branches or rocks through the forest into their path. From the few yelps I hear behind me I can guess that my attempts are at least somewhat successful. The ground below my feet to starts to level out and clear up, the trees in front of me stating to slightly thin. I must be near the clearing: the last checkpoint of this stupid exercise. Encouraged by the idea of the finish line dangling in front of me, I put on one wild, final burst of speed, desperately trying to put some distance between myself and the pack. Once more the world seems to pause, and I rip through the forest at a breakneck pace. The blur takes shape ahead of me and then falters as I race past it.
A few seconds later I'm struck by dazzling rays of light from Lorien's twin suns. I'm standing in a small, low, grassy clearing, devoid of any trees, with a low rocky wall and cave on one side. I put my hands on my knees and hunch over. I know I only have twenty seconds before the pack is on me, tops, but I appreciate this short moment of rest after the exhausting sprint. Suddenly the blur materializes, and I hear a voice.
"Damn, Four. I thought I had you back there."
I turn to see Number Nine panting beside me, but smiling all the same, "Maybe you really are faster than me after all. I think that's the first time I've lost a race." He says, shaking his head.
"Jerk." I mutter.
Nine just laughs and pulls the Xiathris from the waistband of his pants and tosses it to me, his eyes glinting, "I've heard it all before, bro. I'm sorry I tripped you, I just wanted to make it a bit more interesting."
"Interesting like this?" I snap at him, turning to show him my back and forearm, but just then the twelve or fifteen so wolves burst through the thicket, snarling as they leap into the clearing. Nine and I immediately spin back to back as they surround us but he flinches, when he feels my bare back, slick with blood and sweat.
"Eugh, man. How'd you get that?"
I take my eyes off the wolves just long enough to glance back at him, "You tripped me."
"Dang, bro. Seriously, man, I didn't know the fall would cut you up like that. I'm sorry, man."
"It's okay," I reply tersely, eying the wolves circling us, "We've got bigger things to worry about."
I tighten my fists and feel Nine tense up against me as the wolves start to circle in closer. A large, ash-coated male snarls and the rest follow his lead, growling lowly.
"I think the big grey one's the pack leader." I murmur softly. Nine nods and flicks his long black hair out of his face.
"You picking up anything from them?" I whisper.
"Nothing," he replies, "It's like they're brain-dead or something."
"Or someone doesn't want us listening in."
"Lupa." Nine growls and I nod in agreement.
The wolves growl and tighten their net even further at the mention of her name. They're now close enough that if I took just two steps out I could hit them. It makes me wonder why they haven't attacked yet.
"Why haven't they attacked yet? They're just circling us."
Nine gets a dangerous smile on his face, "They're waiting for something."
"Us." he growls as he throws himself forward, tackling the pack leader to the ground. The pack reacts instantly, surging forward toward them. I hurl some into the air with my telekinesis and dive toward the rest, trying to take their attention away from Nine and the alpha male wrestling in the dirt. Unfortunately, it works, and they turn towards me, hackles raised.
I try to keep moving as much as I can, dodging through the air past snapping jaws and swinging claws. I roll underneath one wolf as it leaps for me and land a wild punch on another as I come up. I see its eyes glaze over just before it goes flying to the edge of the clearing. I spin and deflect a wolf's lunge in mid-air with telekinesis, stopping it inches from my throat. It grunts as it hits the ground, but I'm already gone, dodging the wolves' flashing teeth with my enhanced speed. I briefly catch a glimpse of Nine wrestling the pack leader to the ground, his bare back plastered with sweat. The wolf writhes on the ground, tearing long gashes in Nine's forearms, and then my view is obscure by another wolf lunging at me. I grunt as my back hits the floor, flaring with agony, and struggle to hold off the wolf's muzzle with one hand. I drive my palm into its throat, stunning it, and shove it aside.
The rest of the pack jumps at me as soon as I'm exposed, and I go down under a writhing mass of teeth and fur. I just barely manage to get a telekinetic field around myself before my senses are dominated by hands and thrashing, frenzied fur. The weight forcibly drives me into the ground and my field flickers for just an instant, allowing one of them to inflict a shallow cut across my exposed chest. I suck my teeth in pain and close my eyes, struggling to maintain the field. I grit my teeth and narrow my brow in concentration, then push my field out wards in a sudden burst. A miniature, invisible explosion, with me at the center; wolves go flying in all directions, and I suck in a deep breath as I'm suddenly freed from assailing teeth and limbs. I've just jumped to my feet and swatted another wolf to the ground when I an earsplitting crack rings out.
I turn to see Nine sitting in the center of the clearing, breathing heavily, with blood and sweat pouring down his forehead. He has a long, thin cut down his side, but his hands are gripping the split jaw of the dead pack leader. He takes a deep breath and sits back, letting the body fall lifelessly to the ground, its jaw positioned at an unnatural angle. The reaction is immediate: every single wolf in the clearing whimpers and start to slink away, their tails between their legs. Within seconds they're all gone, disappeared into the far-reaching forests of Lorien.
I shakily stand up, my limbs creaking in protest. My back hurts like hell, and my arm has gone numb, but I can't help but smile at the sheer exhilaration of triumphing over the odds. I slowly walk over to Nine, picking my way through dead carcasses, and extend my hand. He looks up and gratefully accepts it, and I haul him to his feet. We both just stand there, surveying the carnage around us. Blood trickles from the wound in his forehead, drying in his pitch black hair, and his arms are hanging in strips, but he's wearing the same crazy, exhilarated smile I am.
"Well…" I say, drawing the word out.
"…that was fun." He finishes for me.
A/N Please, if you have time, review! This is my first story, so I'd love any feedback.