Bow Echo
Bow Echo
Author: Jilguera

Chapter 1

The musty smell of damp earth tickled Zephyra Callahan’s nose, and she had to resist the urge to rub it or, worse, sneeze. Something big had scared off her tag, an impressive buck, and was heading her way. Zephyra ducked behind some thorny shrubs and underbrush as she waited to see what manner of creature it was. Licking her lips in anticipation, Zephyra’s gut told her it wasn’t a norm — a normal human. While norms were pretty clumsy, whatever was heading this way was making a lot of noise.

Zephyra was sure even a drunk-off-his-ass redneck tromping through the woods wouldn’t make this much noise. Her gut was right. The largest beast Zephyra had ever seen emerged from the trees and stepped out into the small clearing. It stood about fifteen feet from her. The beast moved with a grace unnatural for its size as it stopped in almost the same spot as the buck she’d been hunting only a minute ago.

The beast’s massive paws, a little bigger than her hands, moved with predatory silence as its dark nose hovered inches from the ground. It looked like a wolf, except that it had the weight and size of a mastiff, and that could mean only one thing: shifter. Alternatively, some referred to them as werewolves, or were-something-or-other, but only if they happened to be feeling brave. Rumor had it shifters didn’t like the name. None of the aberrations, supernatural, didn’t like labels that could make them look more monstrous than they already were.

Zephyra watched the shifter sniff the ground with the determination its kind was known for. What was a shifter doing here? The bear shifter pack was the closest one, and they were two states away. That had to mean this was a loner. Zephyra’s muscles tensed, and her stomach tightened as the truth dawned on her. Damn, damn, and double damn! Moving painfully slow in an attempt to avoid making noise, Zephyra removed three arrows from her leather quiver.

She notched one of the arrows and held the other two in her draw hand. With a steadying breath, Zephyra pulled back the string. She could do this. No sweat. Just as long as it wasn’t the feral kind of loner she was good. Those insane bastards were damn near unstoppable. Having given in to their unnatural instincts, feral loners, if the stories were true, killed and devoured—or worse—everything that had the misfortune of crossing their path.

Zephyra was confident she looked pretty badass with her bow but she was no G.I. Jane. Zephyra had exactly one self-defense class in her life. Yet, these woods weren’t big, and the shifter could reach one of the norm-filled small towns in less than an hour if it ran. If it were feral, it’d be a massacre. Aberration problems had to be solved by aberrations anyway. She didn’t have the time to find someone else more apt to deal with this beast.

It drew in quick, shallow breaths, the sound loud to Zephyra’s ears. As its beastly head turned in her direction and it lifted its snout into the air. She was sure it’d caught her scent. Zephyra allowed a smug smile, willing to bet it had never smelled a nymph before. Fates don’t cut me down yet, Zephyra thought as she freed her arrow. Quickly, she notched one of the two that remained in her hand and drew it back as the shifter yelped in surprise.

Its golden eyes fixed on her with a predatory glare as it hunched up. The thick, blond fur rose on its neck and back, and a low, menacing growl rumbled from its throat.

“You have no place here, shifter,” Zephyra said with as much authority as she could muster. “This is my territory, and lone wolves are not allowed. Especially those that don't have the common courtesy to introduce themselves before hunting in my woods.” When in doubt, bluff like a boss. That was Zephyra’s motto. Now to see if the shifter believed her or tried to make her it’s evening snack. It growled just before its massive body crouched to the ground and leaped towards her.

Her eyes widened, dropping to her knees and rolling out of the way. It looked like what they said is true: shifters will always try to make problems go away by tearing them to shreds. Someone threatened your life? Tear them to shreds. The mailman delivered the neighbor’s mail to your box again? Tear him to shreds.

The shifter made another yelp as it crashed into the brush.

Zephyra kept rolling until she had a good ten feet between her and it. She pushed up into a crouch. Holding the bow and arrow with one hand, she placed the other on the ground. Zephyra dug her fingers into the moist ground at her feet. Magic surged through her, calling as much of the moisture in the earth to her in the few seconds she had before the shifter regained its footing. Water filtered up to the surface, pooling beneath her hand.

The shifter emerged from the brush, its fur matted with sticky weeds. It growled and bared its nasty-looking canines at Zephyra in a very the-better-to-eat-you-with-my-dear look. Luckily for her, Zephyra was the hunter, not Little Red Riding Hood. “Wrong move, Rex,” she told the beast. Zephyra brought up her hand; the water followed it. With her magic, Zephyra evaporated the water into a small cloud of fog. She hurled it at the shifter. The fog swallowed its head and blinded it.

The little cloud wouldn’t last long, considering the warmth in the air, but it would give Zephyra more than enough time to ready herself. Her bow drawn, Zephyra narrowed her eyes, sending out the magic to cool the cloud back into water. Like a mini spring shower, the fog condensed and then rained down. The shifter waved its head side to side, its crystalline blue eyes wide with confusion. Its gaze fell on her. With its muscles tensing, the shifter growled yet again.

“Growl all you want, but if you jump at me again, I’m going to free this arrow. It may not be silver, but it will hurt like hell and knock you on your ass. When you get back up, I’ll have a silver one ready. This time, I’ll aim for between the eyes,” Zephyra told him, going again with her bluff like a boss technique. She didn’t have a single piece of silver on her. Now that it was pretty much illegal to carry or wear anything silver one would be hard-pressed to find it.

The shifter didn’t move a muscle for several minutes. Finally, with a snort in her direction, it turned tail and ran off into the woods, making enough noise they had to hear it down in Nashville, and during rush hour at that.

“Yeah? Well, you too buddy,” She yelled after him. With a disheartened sigh, Zephyra relaxed the tension in her bow. Any chances of catching some game today had just dissipated like her little fog cloud. With another sigh, Zephyra packed up her things and made the half-hour walk back to the park’s parking lot.

Comments (1)
goodnovel comment avatar
Can't wait for the next updates!!! This is so great! I wish you could share any social media I could follow so I can send you lots of love!!

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