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Dakotians Book One Chapter Two Sneak Peak by Redwolfless

Chapter Two : New Heights

   A groan escaped Dakota’s mouth, his eyes shut tightly as he stirred. Chains rattled with his every move, he took no notice to this, his paws coming up to clutch his head. He hated what ever sedative they used, gave him a horrible hangover feeling. Dakota noticed his paws were stopped short, his gaze looking down to see himself covered in chains and shackles. ‘Damn humans…' he thought, a harsh growl coming up, he made no attempt to suppress it. To his surprise no fellow Dakotian snarled, yelled, banged their cages at him, at this point Dakota realized he was in a room alone, in a very large cage with plenty of chains. The cub could care less if they ‘upgraded’ his status or living conditions, he was more focused on the room and its contents. Weapons,extra cages,chains, and all those lovely devices humans use on his kind. His green eyes looked somewhat dull, his body ached but he ignored the pain, stood up and struggled against the chains. ‘Come on, now would be a good time to have my power break this crap!’ Dakota thought, before his jaws came around one of the chains. Teething much like a cub his age would, his teeth still from his youth… sharp and small, Dakota wished he was full grown, he was sure he could make quick work of any bond, even if it was shadow stone. His stopped his struggled when he heard footsteps approaching. Dakota wasn’t surprised he heard them, with no annoying dakotians to distract him made it all too easy. The cub smirked as the huge metal door creaked open, and before who or whatever it was stepped in, he slowly and quietly sat in a prideful position, acting like royalty despite him being a captive, and royalty he was, whether he was imprisoned or not. Dakota half expected Jade or Grim to walk in… no it was the small boy, shaking with food in his hands yet again. The human child slithered in quickly, his eyes determined, his fear was less than last time, but why was that? Dakota cocked his head to the side with confusion and curiosity as the boy came over, showing as little fear as possible. “Not a-afraid of you!” The kid choked out, his hand coming near the bars, stopping a safe distance. This made Dakota chuckle. His eyes closing slightly looking away from the boy in a taunting manner. “Go on, put it down where I can reach it… I won’t hurt you yet anyways…” Dakota whispered, his ears perking, waiting for the boy to do so. A few minutes passed and Dakota got annoyed, his head turning around with open eyes to see the boy sitting down… Against the cage, amusing and surprising! “Why come so close, don’t you remember what happened to the first man that dared to come close?” The boy didn’t look at Dakota as he spoke, but the child’s heart was racing fast, fear or was he excited to be this close to something so dangerous. “I….. do, but my friends made a b-bet...with m-me.” The kid studded not as often as last time but it still showed fear. Dakota let a small smile burn past his fierce gaze. “A bet? What kind?” Dakota said softly, shifting to lay down, the chains rattled and the boy spooked, turning around and sat a good foot away from the cage, he was tense but that soon disappeared as he realized the creature was not going to attack...at least not now. “To….” The boy stopped his sentence, avoiding eye contact with the murderous creature. Dakota perked his head with even more curiosity than before, his green eyes softening as they brightened, this kid interested him, and Dakota kinda liked his company. ‘NO what the hell am I thinking! HUMANS ARE A DISGRACE!’ His conscience screamed at him to bite into this child’s neck which could be very do-able at this distance. Dakota let out a long sigh before speaking again “Speak boy…Do not be afraid of a caged animal that cannot hurt you from this distance, listen to what the man said be-” Dakota stopped, his gaze down at his paws. The kid looked at Dakota for a moment, thus causing Dakota to look up and speak with no shame whatsoever. “Before I ended his existence, fear can make you stronger but you have no right to be afraid of me.” Dakota frowned, his eyes turning harsh as the boy stared in awe. “You… you taught me m-more than any… of these hunters ever have.” The boy looked down at Dakota’s food still in his hand. Dakota sneered then gave a skeptical look towards the boy “That's not disturbing.” The cub joked, which made the boy giggle. To Dakota’s surprise what the boy did next, caught him off guard, small hands fearlessly entering the cage, coming mere inches away from Dakota’s jaws. “I know you’re not supposed  to be fed for a while but…I thought… I thought if I gave you food you could… do a favor f-for me?” The boy finished slowly, taking in words he was speaking, also fearing the beast might not like that and take his arm off out of spite. Dakota tried not to think about food dangled dangerously in front of his jaws, and a very bite-able hand at that! The creature strained his eyes, willing his every fiber not to kill the boy, after all he was amusing and interesting. “Does this favor have to do with the bet, and child believe me, I am far from starving… BUT I’ll play your game, what is it you want?” Dakota spoke sternly, his voice turning into a gleeful happy tone towards the end. “I… need evidence of spending time with...you.” The kid spoke with a new nervous tone, all the while avoiding eye contact. “Evidence eh? I’m sure a bite would suffice!” Dakota said happily before opening his jaw trying to scare the boy more. The child let out a small nervous scream, dropping the meat on the floor of Dakota’s cage, before retracting his hand. The beast started to laugh. “I’m just kidding, so jumpy even for a young hunter!” Dakota closed his eyes, giggling silently. “I won’t bite you… unless that is the only proof the’d except?” The cub craned his head to gauge the kid’s reaction. “Um… I don’t know, maybe but anything can bite right?” For the first time the child spoke correctly, no stuttering, no pausing, no yelping, it made Dakota happy for him. ‘Stop showing sympathy to such a lowlife you wretch!’ his mind raged at him “I… suppose you are right… hmm.” Dakota thought hard, trying to avoid the kid’s gaze. “Maybe I could take some fur?” Dakota’s head snapped towards the kid as he spoke. “That could work, how much do you need… WAIT I know!” Dakota yelled with excitement, jumping to his feet, the chains rattled violently, which made the boy jump back. “K-know what?” The kid stuttered again. ‘GAH and we were making progress, 'STOP BEING SO JUMPY DAMMIT’ Dakota snarled inside, hiding it on the outside best he could. Dakota shook his head harshly trying to scare the expression off his face… it worked ‘need to do that more often.’ Dakota thought briefly, his green fiery eyes resting on the boy again. “You could make something out of the fur, I don’t have as much gold in my fur since I’m a s-” Dakota cut himself off quickly saying “Well...since I’m not a...purebred!” Dakota lied, but technically it wasn’t a lie… just partly the truth… ‘partly’. The boy looked skeptical, but seemed to go for the lie. Dakota pressed his side against the bars of the cage, his head craned to keep an ever watchful gaze on the human boy. “Well? Go on, cut some fur off, I know you didn’t come here unarmed.” Dakota scoffed in a somewhat curious but happy tone. “I don’t… have one!” The boy said, picking up his tone and speed near the end. Dakota narrowed his eyes, smiling after a few moments before whispering “Don’t lie to me, I know you’re lying, out of common sense you’d have a weapon case things turned… ugly, and your heartbeat as sped up, so please cut off all the fur you desire.” The child froze up when he realized the creature had incredible hearing and the fact that it was smart too, hesitantly he pulled out a small dagger, coming closer to Dakota, who seemed quite unafraid or uncaring of the danger a dagger could posses, which caused the boy to become curious. Dakota smiled, turning his head away, averting his eyes to give the child more confidence. Dakota's hide shivered at the sheer coldness of the blade, he calmed himself as the bow pulled out a cloth. The kid started to cut off some of Dakota's fur, catching it in the cloth he possessed.

    Dakota remained still,calm and silent the entire time, but honestly he wasn't sure why he'd help this kid. Maybe it was the fact this human child reminded him of himself. Once enough fur had been removed the boy quickly retracted the blade back into his pocket and tied the cloth together with his prize. Looking to his side where the boy had taken the fur, he was surprised at the boy's gentleness and finesses, it looked like nothing had been taken, but of course the fur was smaller in length. Sitting back down Dakota looked at the meat he'd almost forgotten about, his eyes gazing towards the boy, he seemed to gesture that he could eat. This caused Dakota to smirk, laying down to slowly savor the meat. "Thanks k-" Dakota stopped himself, quickly saying "What is your name?" He continued his meal after he'd asked the boy his name, scoffing down every last piece, licking his paws afterwards. "Cole, what is your's?" Cole had asked before saying "WAIT, that was stupid, I already know your name sorry..." Cole's voice quieted down to a whisper near the end. The beast chuckled with amusement. "Well... Cole, you're not stupid, but I suggest you leave before someone finds you, oh and do show me what you make out of my fur." Dakota spoke with pure confidence and not a shred of anger or misery in his words. Cole smiled, shoving the cloth that contained the creature's fur down in his pocket, and headed for the exit. Dakota's eyes briefly flashed in longing for the child to stay, he was a tad bit lonely without his fellow kin, but he quickly brushed that thought to the back of his mind. Cole opened the door carefully looking back and saying "Can we be friends?" The child spoke with pure affection and caring nature in those four words. Dakota perked his head up, his mind yelling at him 'SAY NO, HUMANS CANNOT HAVE US AS FRIENDS!' The beast's expression turning into a sour frown as he simply said "No." Turning around to face the back of his cage, huffing angrily as he regretted those words but made no attempt to change his mind. Cole looked on with dismay before sighing and leaving, closing the heavy door completely. Now Dakota was alone... in total darkness, although there was a window in this room too it was smaller and the outside was a dark grey color, a sure hint of rain. It wasn't long before Dakota dozed off from boredom, seeing no point of laying her with nothing to keep himself busy with, and sleeping would be good, keeping himself strong was important to survival in this place.Sleep came easy but so did the nightmares…

    Dakota seemed to be in pitch blackness, much like where his captors have been keeping him, the only difference was, there was no cage, no chains,no doors or windows, just a dark void. He couldn’t even see the floor, which was unnerving and it scared him. He walked around for what seemed like days, not seeing any sign of life or light. ‘Am I dead?’ he thought, continuing his endless walking. A few more minutes ticked by before he came to the conclusion ‘No, death would be too merciful, I’m in a nightmare ,of course. Suddenly as he thought those words the nothingness became a room, much like the one he’d first been in, more cages than before though, no noises just the silence. Dakota narrowed his eyes looking around, the cages had beings in them, dakotians at that, but what was different. ‘WAIT.. was… was that Geldur?!’ Dakota’s mind raced, flashing an image of the old Windseeker. Geldur stumbled up from his cage, covered in dark crimson blood, his body thin as bones, and mangled badly. Geldur’s eyes were hollow, dead,milky white, wings torn to where his bones showed. Most of all he smelled like a rotting corpse. ‘No, that… that cannot be right, I can’t smell!’ Just as Dakota told himself that, he fell down, clutching his muzzle, gagging harshly from the awful sense, he briefly looked around to see Dakotan’s he’d never seen in the cages, all in the same condition as Geldur, his eyes widened into small dilated pupils filled with the dull fearful eyes. Geldur appeared to walk right through his cage, as well as the others, circling around Dakota. “Why did you do this Archen?” Geldur spoke with a horrifying hoarse voice. The other dakotians speaking in unison “Why did you do this?” Dakota looked up, tears falling down his eyes. “I’m not Archen! I’m Dakota, Geldur whats going on.” Dakota sobbed, he suddenly felt weak and small. He felt something kick him in the side, blood spilling out of his stomach, causing him to scream in fear as he looked at his insides now falling out of him. “LOOK WHAT YOU DID SHADOW DAKOTIAN!” Geldur yelled, digging his claws into Dakota’s stomach. “I didn’t! I didn’t do it!” Dakota screamed at the top of his lungs, suddenly finding it very hard to breath. His fear causing him to look at Geldur, who held the youth’s lungs in his talons. Dakota coughed up blood, his eyes squinting shut from sheer fear and guilt.
Chains rattled as Dakota flew up from laying down, screaming “Stop!” He breathed heavily, he felt worse from the nightmare, sleep did not help, only made him scared. His eyes still wide like they were from his nightmare, he looked down at his stomach, poking and prodding to see if anything would fall out. Tears welled from his eyes, as he flung himself to the floor, covering his head with his forelegs and paws. “I’m not Archen.. I’m not Archen, I’m no monster! Not a shadow dakotian!” He sobbed quietly, the sound muffled by his paws, luckily he was left in peace as no one heard him from the empty room he was held in. After Dakota regained himself, he wiped away his tears. The cub stood up, he wanted to get out of here, even if it killed him. 'If i broke chains and bars before I can do it again, this is what I've been training for!' He thought fiercely. Ramming the bars of the cage turned out to be harder than Dakota had thought, the chains around him rattled, causing him to growl in annoyance. Again and again, ram after ram still proved fruitless. 'Damn, almost forgot, still in the heavy duty cage...' This angered Dakota even more, laying down, he started to gnaw on the chains. Ten minutes passed, and he managed to get one chain almost broken, and at this point Dakota started to claw at it, much like he did when making the shadow stone wall. 'YES!' he thought happily, he may just manage to overcome shadow stone eventually, but it someone showed up it'd be useless to keep trying to escape. Dakota shifted still laying down, angling his body to hide the broken chain, plopping his head down to take a break for now, no use trying, he'd already made too much noise. The cub fell into another sleep, one without dreams or nightmares luckily. Breathing deeply and slowly he relaxed for now.


    Everything smelled of herbs and blood, Jade never liked spending time in the infirmary but he needed to get his wounds cleaned and checked. Jade's mind was on Dakota, anger,worry,fear, regret, he could never forgive the beast. "Jade, all good, You're wounds are healing nicely!" A nurse piped up, and Jade came out of his thoughts. "Oh, thanks..." Jade responded, he looked down at his feet. "Jade, speak to me." The nurse spoke again, with a slight hint of concern. She sat down on the bed right next to Jade, putting her arm over the hunter's shoulder. "I'm going to kill him!" Jade snapped, he turned his head to look the woman nurse dead in the eye, frowning with confidence. The nurse tilted her head. "Grim won't allow that ,at least not yet and you know it Jade." The nurse spoke true words and it made Jade snarl, he pushed away from her and stood up, clutching his bandaged chest. "I have to go..." Jade spoke quickly and before the woman could answer he already left. "Poor Jade..." She mumbled under her breath, before standing up, and continuing her job.

    Jade stormed down the halls, they were a white almost grey color unlike where they kept the Dakotians, halls and halls filled with doors that lead to rooms, seemed almost like a school or business sort of building. To where Jade was going, is Grim's office, he was determined to convince Grim to off the monster. Cole almost rammed right into Jade, they both weren't paying attention for reasons unknown between each other. "Cole watch it!" Jade spoke harshly, frowning down at the boy. Cole looked honestly concerned, but more fear showed instead. "Sorry Mr. Jade!" Cole spoke, swerving around Jade to stand out of the way. "What are you doing here Cole, You're off for the day." Jade put his hands on his hips, looking down at the boy, he dwarfed the boy by a good one and one half of a foot. Jade was about eight years older, maybe around eighteen years old, with Cole being ten maybe eleven. "I... uh, Needed to talk to my friends?" Cole spoke with uncertainty in the lie. 'If Dakota accepted being friends it wouldn't be a lie.' Cole thought. "Right." Jade spoke with a skeptical expression. "Come now, what are you really doing in this area Cole." Jade half grinned, placing a gloved hand on Cole's ruff black hair. Jade's green eyes looked right back into Cole's brown eyes. "Well go on, don't let me stop you." Jade ruffed up Cole's hair a bit more, before leaving towards Grim's office, waving a single hand behind him as a goodbye gesture. Cole gulped before moving on his way, down the hall and towards the exit. Jade turned a head to watch the boy scurry off, smiling before entering  a room. The inside was just like the halls, but it had a few trophies,pictures,weapons, and most of all a desk. Seemed like any normal office, but it looked more like a principle's office at most. A chair or two in front of the desk, paperwork, and shelves. Grim was sitting at the desk, he was filling out what looked like a student overall grade sheet. Grim's eyes never wavered towards Jade, simply he spoke. "What is it?" His tone said it all ,he was a bit tired and annoyed. Grim would rather be out in the field instead of cooped up in his office. Jade chuckled softly, taking a seat, and relaxing, his hands behind his head. "Come now, that's no way to speak to you're top hunter." Jade sneered. Grim let out a small grin, not moving his head, but eyeing Jade carefully. "I suppose so." Grim calmly stated. They stared at each other in silence for a couple of minutes, before Grim sighed and broke the silence. "You can't kill him, not yet anyways. We need information, more so on him and not his land." Grim said before going back to his work, knowing Jade would scowl or yell, so might as well not make eye contact. "You mean, his behavior? Dammit Grim, there's nothing else to it, the beast lost his mind." Jade snarled, slamming a fist down on the desk, his eyes shooting an intense glare. Grim set down his writing utensil, pushing the paperwork aside, cupping his hands together, Giving Jade his full attention. "Jade, where did you find him?" Grim questioned. Honestly Jade hadn't really taken notice to where he'd find the dakotian. "In a shadow stone quarry, an abandoned one at that."Jade looked away from Grim, as he mumbled that out. "What was he doing?" Grim questioned again with a firmer tone. Jade gritted his teeth together, looking down at the desk. "Sleeping in the sun, he was injured badly, he acted like he was someone  else..." Jade said loudly, shifting in the seat. Grim seemed more interested now. "Someone else?" Grim asked, tilting his head slightly. "You know... like... like an experienced adult or something." Jade said, taking in a deep breath before continuing. "He was doing some kind of training, He had a shadow stone wall carved out, thick and large." Jade turned his head to face Grim again, leaning back in the chair, crossing his arms over his chest. Grim leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk. "That is interesting, any other information that you know about Jade?" Grim sounded sharp despite his tiredness. "Well, He managed to damage his cage, force some energy to form, and well… shattered some other cages, you remember don't you?" Jade questioned as if Grim was too old to remember what he did or had for breakfast. "Yes I remember, just curious if anything happened before then." Grim grabbed a pen and paper, noting down their conversation, well mainly the important stuff.

    Back in the first holding room Noren lied down in his cage, he hurt badly, so close most of them came to freedom. 'Gah, maybe Geldur is right.' Noren rubbed his droopy eyes with his paws. Yawning slightly before settling back down, this action caused some other dakotians to yawn too, this made him chuckle quietly, trying not to wake anyone. A wolf dakotian shot their head up, flapping it's feathered wings, and letting out a few low murmurs, signaling everyone. Noren stood up and stretched then sat down as did many others. They all knew the drill. "Lunch time already?" Noren asked the wolf dakotian, who merely nodded excitedly and watched the door like a hawk. 'Such great ears.' Noren thought cheerfully. No one knew who the wolf dakotian was, he never spoke but jumbled words or didn't speak at all, he was lean, furry, most of all broken. The wolf hadn't been here as long as Noren, but he'd already cracked, which made Noren frown pitying the wolf dakotian. The heavy doors opened quickly as a new man came in with a cart of food portions each with numbers next to them. Each dakotain would get a portion varying in size of the others, depending on what kind they were and how old, didn't matter if they were sick or not. The portions were always small, given the fact that they got fed three times a day, and that dakotians can last a long time without enough food. The man guided the cart around, tossing meat to every cage. Noren sat patiently, it still bugged him to swallow his pride and spirit just to eat, most of the others didn't care anymore. The man tossed Noren's food right at his feet. The bull horn waited till the man moved away, he knew full well that sometimes humans can be grumpy if they ate right away, as to why, Noren could only imagine. Stupid humans, mad at nothing. Noren exhaled deeply before slowly eating his food, savoring ever bit of it. 'Mhh deer.' Noren cooed in his mind. 'I wonder where that fearless cub is? Hope he's not getting into too much trouble.' Noren worried for his little friend, as crazy as it seemed, kinda ruined his reputation here, but his fellow inmates don't care so that's good. Before long Noren had already devoured his meal. His eyes glancing around at the others, who were doing the same. The humans had entered and left quickly, locking the doors on the way out. Settling back down, Noren huffed before closing his eyes. Sleep was the only thing to keep them up and healthy at this point. exercise was not an option, it never was.

    'Did I say you could ever stop training?' That ever so pestering voice called out to Dakota. His paws coming up to cover his ears trying desperately to ignore or shut out the voice. "I can't." was alll the youth replied. The voice sounded angry, snorting like a pissed off horse. 'How can you ever expect to go home like this. You're a weakling!' It snarled from Dakota's mind. Dakota was laying down, wishing he'd never had that nightmare. For now he was afraid to sleep, fearing that dream would return, or even worse become real. "Who is Archen?" Dakota asked, trying to change the subject, clenching his eyes shut as if expecting a scowl or smack across the face. 'That name does not matter anymore. Now pick your sorry worthless ass up and try again.' It snarled the last sentence, seemingly clawing at Dakota's brain. Now the teen or cub rather was sobbing, shaking from the sheer emotion. 'ARHH USELESS!' The still mysterious voice roared in outrage. Dakota flinched from the sudden angry statement, curling up in a fetal position, screaming quietly as the unknown owner of the voice started to pierce his mind. "Stop it hurts! It always hurts!" Dakota cried out, covering his eyes and temple now. In truth, the voice always scared Dakota, but it was right. It was always right. Listening to it was a reward when the fruits of his labor and actions relied on them. Not listening was bad, punishment enough, and it always led to trouble. "I'm sorry! I'll do it!" Dakota cried out again, getting up despite the pain the action was causing. And when he did, the voice calmed and stopped assaulting his mind. 'Good boy.' it said happily, obviously enjoying that small victory. The praising the voice offered was like candy. It was the best thing he could ever have or ask for. His father never praised him, and his mother rarely did either. The praise made a small smile crack on his expression, but it just as quickly left when the door to the room opened. Dakota's expression turned to nervousness mixed in with fear. Fear for who it could be.

    Who it was, he had every right to fear. This bastard was crazy in Dakota's eyes. A bastard known as Jade. "Having a good stay I see." Jade chuckled, leaving the door open as he entered the room. Fearlessly walking up to the cage that held Dakota. Jade was taller than Dakota in height. The cub was only up to Jade's lower chest, and that was from his head. Just one thought crossed Dakota's mind as his obvious height disadvantage became known finally. 'Just wait till I'm full grown!' His mind hissed, eyes narrowing as Dakota sunk to the far end of the cage. Not liking having Jade come up and kneel down at the door to his confinement. "What do you say? Wanna go for a walk. If you're a good boy maybe I'll let you off the leash. After all good pets deserve a reward for good behavior." Jade said with some excitement. The human was treating Dakota, a very intelligent creature much like a dog! Dakota didn't like it one bit. However the phrase 'good boy' Struck hard when he realized he could get praised by someone else besides his voice friend. Unconsciously his tail started to wag, despite the painful device it carried. This got Jade to smile, and go for his keys, deciding that action was reason enough to let him out. However he had another motive for letting him out. And the 'walk' they would do was more like running for you're life.
    
    Jade had hooked up a tough metal collar around Dakota's neck. It had a wire on the back, that stood up, with a red light by the base, beeping a red color every few seconds. To say Dakota didn't like it, he was also nervous about being led outside in a dome fence arena, and it had a small exit, big enough for a prong horn dakotian to fit through and that's saying something! The only other exit led back to that dreaded dark building. Jade pretty much treated Dakota like a dog, keeping him on a small chain as they neared the exit on the outside. A small group of... kids? Odd. The group looked like trainees. wearing light leather armor. Each had a weapon of sorts, possibly their own picks. All had either serious or excited faces on. However Dakota was far more interested in that exit, now that he was closed the cub realized it had a bull pen like cage, each with a way out on either side. He wasn't paying attention either when Jade was talking to the small group, and failed to fight back when he was forced into the bull pen, with the gate closing behind him. Looking around with panic, Dakota had to breath deeply at the sudden adrenaline rush. Once he did that, the cub took it upon himself to see what kind of threats may occur. "I'm going to release him here in a minute. Remember, you are not to kill him. Only catch him. If things get out of hand I will step in."Jade said firmly. 'I have a chance to get away!' Dakota beamed hopefully, pressing up against the gate wanting to get free. "He'll get a five minute head start." Dakota froze when he heard that, taking the time to see what he was up against. Four kids. Herne; stocky and muscular, blond haired and blue eyed. Carries a heavy sword, looks like the leader. The next Gali; has dark brown hair, grey steel eyes. This one was much skinnier, and taller at that. Possibly smart, also had a crossbow along with a quiver at his hip and throwing knives. The third Ivo; seems to be like the first, however he was skinnier but not by much. They kinda looked like brothers, except this one has light brown eyes, with a smaller faster looking sword. And lastly the fourth. Caine; A female, unlike the other three. Long reddish dark brown hair. Hazel eyes and a skinny build. From what Dakota could tell was, she would be at home in the forest, and the cub was sure he knew a tracker when he saw one, if the obvious hunting bow wasn't enough information. She also had a skinny saber like sword, reminded Dakota of Jade himself. "Alright, better run for your life Dakota!" Jade suddenly yells, causing Dakota to flinch and jump forward as soon as the gate opens. Oddly enough Dakota froze up, looking at all of them with stilted eyes, cautiously backing up, never letting his eyes off of them. He was panicking yes. 'Run now you fool!' The voice piped up again. The cub's eyes widening when Gali, who had his crossbow aimed at the cautious dakotian.

    Instantly Dakota turned tail and sprinted off, keeping his wings closely wrapped to his sides. He wasn't much of a flier, so he naturally took to the ground. He was faster that way. And instead of running towards open plains, he sprinted off towards the heavily wooded area nearby. It looked like a redwood forest, giant thick trees everywhere and they blocked out the sun, giving him some cover in the dark forest. He'd never run this fast, let alone for his life. He was a top predator! This shouldn't be happening! Dakota was running blindly, his thoughts clouded everything else but to run, to flee. 'Use the trees, don't leave tracks.' Again the voice was telling him what to do, and not even thinking about it he obeyed. Climbing up a tree and using it to gain momentum  by jumping from tree to tree, side jumping so he didn't accidentally land on a branch and break it. No evidence could be found and this high up it should be hard to see any scratches. Dakota would glide every now and then, but he soon realized he was getting tired, and surely five minutes had passed. Then it dawned upon him. 'No one else could have escaped this situation.' Quickly he looked down and behind him, noticing old and outdated signs of battle. Yes, others had been put to this. 'No one can escape because they are too overwhelmed by the chance to escape.' Dakota growled quietly, looking down at his paws, he was angry. His kind had been tortured to think they had gotten away, only to have it  taken away. 'I should be  hiding out and moving when I'm rested enough.' His claws were digging into the tree branch he had perched on. Shaking his head out of irritation for the first time in his life. Little did Dakota know this would be a telltale habit of his. 'Time to turn the tables.' The voice spoke again, earning a grin from Dakota. "Let's turn the tables shall we?" He spoke aloud, before jumping off to a higher branch. Dakota's wing was still injured so he couldn't fly long. Once Dakota had found a suitable spot high up in a tree with a thick wide branch so he couldn't be seen from below or far away. Now it was time to wait. Wait and strike or wait and run. Minutes passed by and still no signs of the little group, which Dakota hoped was good. Making sure they weren't around, the youth leaped off the high branch, gliding to a slightly lower one on another tree a few meters away. Repeating this action till he was a couple hundred feet further away, hunkering down where he was. More time ticked by, and he was about to leap off to another tree when he caught site of the group. With Caine, the girl in front. She was pointed high up at the tree bark where Dakota had used to jump from tree to tree. 'Damn. She's good.' The young dakotian thought angrily, narrowing his eyes at them. Dakota's eyes widened in shock when the next thing she pointed at was the very spot he was hiding. Growling quietly he started to inch back, remaining as low as he could. They were running towards the tree he was hidden up in, he could hear them conversing, but not about what, that he didn't care about right now.

    Jade had gotten his armor on and horse ready just in case something bad happened. However no incidents like that have ever happened before, but protocol was protocol. Rules were rules. He was leaning carefully on his steed, who merely stood there looking alert and ready to take off at a moment's notice. This of course was a different horse, and no cart was attached to it. This was Jade's personal steed and it was built for speed while retaining a good amount of muscle and stamina. A beautiful dark seal brown stallion along with a super dark brown mane and tail. And ever black eyes. The stallion held a fantastic arch in his neck, standing tall and proud, flicking his whip sounding tail around wildly. When the stallion snorted Jade smiled slightly and said "What?" Before pulling out a small device with a screen on it. No phones don't exist here, the device Jade was holding was a tracker that went with the collar he put on Dakota, showing him where that blasted cub was. When he took a glance at it his eyes widened in shock. And he quickly took a step away from his steed, pulling the device up closer to his face, like his eyes were playing tricks on him. "No, he should be much farther than that! Hell he should even be running!" Jade started to yell out with worry and fear. This got a look from his stallion who quickly looked away seeing it's owners mood. Jade had run over quickly, telling the nearest person where he was going, before grabbing his weaponry, slinging them over his back. Running back to his stallion, he fearlessly ran up right behind him, only turning so he could get to his side. Jade jumped on with little effort while he was in mid run, seating himself in the saddle before giving a rough kick. "Hya!" He called out to encourage his steed to get a move on, tracker device still in his free hand as he grabbed the reins with one. Rearing up mid way the stallion took off like a cheetah, moving quickly for a muscular horse. Jade needed a fast horse. Dakotians can easily outrun them in both speed and stamina. Especially Rapido Dakotians. His horse was moving around 56 miles per hour. A Dakotian can easily top that with an average speed of around 80, but again it depends on which species it is. "Come on Nash we need to go faster!" Jade spoke loudly, looking down at his horse, who tilted his head to eye it's owner. Nickering Nash did just that, pushing himself as hard as he could. After all, a happy owner was a good owner. Nash's tail was flagging high with pride, his mane reaching for Jade's determined face. Every now and then Jade looked down to gain where Dakota was exactly, clutching the device fiercely. 'I should've listened to Grim.' Jade thought, gritting his teeth at that. He hated to admit things, to admit his mistake. After all Jade was a top student and warrior and he rarely made any. 'I knew this one was different! He's too smart!'

    The group of young trainees had definitely surprised the young cub in their skills. And the branch he'd chosen to hide up on was being assaulted with exploding weapons. Mainly arrows with bombs on them. This was ridiculous! His resting spot was giving way, ready to fall to the ever distant ground. The cracking of wood made it all too apparent that he needed to bounce and escape quickly. Growling out of annoyance he crouched down readying to jump. Then something hit his flank with much force. Earning a shocked and pain filled gasp as he was sent tumbling off the heavily assaulted branch. It took him a few seconds to right himself, but a few seconds was all it took for him to reach the ground. Luckily he righted himself much like a falling cat at the last second. Wincing when his body smacked the ground. Even if he spun around he didn't land on his feet. No he landed on his belly and it would surely bruise later on. The cub was blatantly aware that the team were celebrating their success in of getting Dakota off his safe haven. The one known as Herne came charging towards the fallen cub. Green eyes widened in fear as the broad sword came swinging without mercy. Wasn't he supposed to be unharmed? Or at least not dead!? Thinking quickly the dakotian rolled out of the way and before Dakota could counter  the look alike Ivo came charging, fully prepared to take a swing with his smaller faster sword. Dakota ended up jumping to his feet and out of the way in one go, hyperventilating from this experience. He'd never fought before, well fought against more than one being. Dakota had never had something fight back and therefore was considered a total rookie in actual combat. The only reason the cub was still alive was because he was the shadow dakotian, and without that he was doomed to lose. All his training in school was spent taking hits not giving them, mainly by bullies. Snarling out of annoyance he prepared to return the favor and attack back. He was stopped when he felt a  crossbow bolt his his shoulder. Screeching in pain and shock from the hit, he turned around and dashed away. Not even bothering to climb the trees or fight back. He needed to just get away and out of sight. Dakotians were much faster than mere humans so he lost them easily, and this feeling of safety and advantage lulled the cub into running blindly and in a straight line. Dakota only came out of the trance when he reached a secluded yet open area. About the size of  that terrifying black prison he'd been stuck in. Stopping directly in the middle of this peaceful opening where the big trees dared not touch. Where the sky was visible and screaming for Dakota to fly to. The cub was panting hard, yes he was tired even with his stamina however it appeared the youth was more panicked than tired in truth. If not for his hyperventilating it wouldn't be noticeable. The sun was beating down on his golden form, causing both relaxation and worry. Sitting down for a breather, the cub turned his attention to the contraption on his tail. He needed it off if he wanted to stand any chance. Without thinking it grabbed the object stuck on his long tail, claws scraping and digging at the shadow stone material. All of his training he'd undergone paid off to some degree. Dakota had managed to do at least something to it, causing cracks and cuts to appear on the tough material, and even managed to painfully remove the rods that impaled the tail and that were held by the clamp like object itself. Soon after  he was quickly becoming lax under the intense welcoming heat from the sun. This lax feeling was being caused by his need to heal. Dakota's body was screaming for him to stop and lay down, but it wasn't wise to do so not when he kept getting this feeling of being watched, despite his obvious distance between him and the group. Eventually his bodily needs won, causing the cub to collapse as if he were dying. His ever green eyes closing without hesitation. Deep breathing calmed down his panic to some degree his mind and body slipping into a small light sleep out in the open.

    Jade was amazed on how far the 'hunt' had gone. Normally most dakotians didn't make it far. However over the course of this particular one it went far and slow. The warrior became aware of his steed laboring from exhaustion. Jade grit his teeth out of annoyance, the fact his steed, HIS Nash was tiring was grating his nerves. Perhaps he was utterly wrong by using this new dakotian in such a rough event. And it was stupid. Slowing Nash into a trot, Jade looked around the forest before deciding a quick break would do them both good. Hopping off his dark stallion. He didn't bother tethering him to anything. Nash was loyal as dog, and was trustworthy enough to let roam free. No doubt Nash has little Nashlets running around among the wild horse herds, that thought made the young hunter smile. Sighing as he slowly slide his back down a tree into a sitting position, taking a swig of water from his canteen. When Nash came over, Jade didn't even need to think or look, already knowing what his trusted steed needed. Cupping his hand, pouring some water into it, letting his dark colored horse drink greedily from it too. Patting his horse's nose, earning a nicker. A short break in Jade's mind was 30 minutes at most, this was because he was lazy at times and his horse needed to be in top shape to maintain a good speed. Indeed 30 minutes seemed enough as Nash appeared to be fine now and itching to go. Jade stood up silently, taking a quick gander at the device he was still clutching, making sure indeed nothing happened or changed. Oddly enough appeared Dakota hadn't moved during the duration of his break either. Lucky Jade. Wasting no time, the young hunter climbed up on his dark steed, giving a gentle kick and a 'yaah' sound as they once again took off.

    Golden hide stuck out like a sore thumb when the sun shined it's undying light upon it. Deep breaths were taken by the sleeping cub, eyes closed yet he remained nearly half awake. Dakota's ears twitching and swiveling at every sound. His wounds were improving within the safety of the sun, and part of him wanted to lie there forever. However his wish won't be granted anytime soon. Dakota knew he was being watched for the past couple of minutes. The ever snapping of twigs and crunching of fallen leaves alerted him some time ago. Yet his pursuers didn't charge him. The feeling of them surrounding him was making his half sleeping state awaken more so. There was a chance he wouldn't be able to flee now. So why not feign sleep. Maybe catch them off guard while they thought an advantage was on their side. Something emerged from a bush at blazing speeds, the ever sound of an object zipping through the wind. The telltale noise of a weapon being fired not far from him. Green shining eyes opened before whatever it was left the bush. Body acting on complete instinct. Jumping upwards with one fell move. Untrained eyes scanning for the group of brats. Dakota's air time didn't last long, his body only just beginning to fall as the arrow swept past, digging it's head right into a poor tree. Dakota's inexperience caused him to relax thinking they'd wait or retreat, so he merely stood there, scanning the area with eyes and ears. Easily he became anxious and quite nervous, stamping his paws into the ground as he backed up against a tree for more cover. Before he knew it something rushed him, coming from a close by group of heavy bushes, leaves and branches giving way to the being's mass. The mass was none other than the largest of them all, and possibly the one Dakota didn't want to be left to fight; Herne. The heavy sword he carried took both of his arms and hands, slightly dragging behind him, ready to be swung. The sheer proximity of him was enough to cause Dakota to act like a deer in headlights, frozen with shock. Herne was upon him now, blade coming forward to cut into whatever it hit. Snapping out of it, he attempted to dodge, lunging to the side, getting some of his fur cut clean off in the process. The young cub could feel the warm and wet liquid spilling of of the decent graze. 'Sword sure is sharp, better take him down first' Was Dakota's first instinct and target. Claws ripping up the gentle grass as he skidded around the bulky human teen. The large weapon was slow to some degree, and hard to stop, causing a small grin to fill Dakota's expression. Herne's broad sword had cut him but it also cut into the tree. Now the human kid had to pry it out while his target was making the next move for sure. Eyes quickly trying to analyze any weakness that could be on this leader like human. Dakota wasn't aloud the time of day to do so, the obvious sound of footsteps charging towards the pair. Instantly his ears flew back to listen in on it, eyes and head only turning to face it afterwards. Apparently Ivo was making his move now, going for the defense. A well rounded team would be the right words for this group of kids. The much smaller and faster sword of Ivo's came swinging in the blink of an eye. Its speed was greater than the dakotian cub's. Yet Dakota managed to avoid the full blade. A cut appearing on his right cheek shortly after he turned to face the threat head on. He was full on snarling at Ivo, keeping an extra eye on Herne who now had successfully pried his  sword from the bark of the tree, and was now charging again, directly behind Ivo. Dakota readied himself to leap out of the way, two against one was not to his advantage nor his liking.

    Another of the four young hunters popped out with decent speed, emerging from behind a bush and tree directly behind the young dakotian. Caine wasn't too far off by the time Dakota knew she was there, thin saber sword readied in one hand. Dakota definitely didn't like his three against one odds so far, and the fourth's location is still unknown to him. 'To your left.' The mysterious voice warned him, just in time to locate and dodge a fired crossbow bolt by jumping up in the air. The trio that had been charging him nearly crushed into one another. Yes a very well rounded team. For now Caine had whipped out her hunting bow, grabbing and firing an arrow with practiced skill and speed. Not as good as Gali but still good none the less. Dakota didn't have time to unfurl his wings and dodge with aerial maneuvers. The speeding arrow lodged it's way into the right side of his chest. Hissing in discomfort. Surely the cub wasn't used to such fast paced combat, he was still learning being so young as he was. He'd have to step his game up tenfold if he ever wanted to be free, let alone get revenge and not die in the process before he could even seek it out. Instinctively his wings opened up as he began to fall as gravity demanded his return to the ground. Weaving around more arrows and crossbow bolts. 'Try to break off the tail clamp kid.' The voice said with utter calmness, not even slightly worried about the situation, amused even. Green eyes narrowed on Herne, yes his sword might do the best if Dakota tried to break the object off. Flying around aiming for Herne's left side, Dakota did a front flip towards the bulky brut, tail flying forward seeking contact with the heavy blade. Contact was indeed made, Herne went for his tail, but it made contact with the metal clamp. The sound of metal against metal made a satisfying sound. Ivo sought out his chance to strike the young dakotian down, with Caine covering him with ranged attacks. Arrows flew past Ivo directly for Dakota himself. But the cub wasn't having it and quickly leaped back, rolling out of the way when more arrows shot towards him. Still the fourth known as Gali was no where to be found. 'More bolts coming your way kiddo.' Said the voice, now he sounded bored and it was starting to get on Dakota's nerves. The voice was vague about where they were coming from, but the cub took a wild guess and rolled out of the way as another bolt shot past his form. The three ahead of him jumped out of the way as it come  towards them. "Watch it Gali!" Caine was the first to bark out from the almost friendly fire. "Sorry!" Was all the hidden Gali said, but one word was enough for the cub. Ears immediately flying back towards his location. Grinning the cub whirled around and charged for his supposed hiding spot.
Gali was forced to evacuate his hiding spot at the first sight of the dakotian charging for him, crossbow still in his hand and loaded at that. When Gali side rolled out of the way he fired the loaded weapon. This bolt made its mark this time, landing in Dakota's lower left fore leg. The cub grunted from the sudden shock of being hit with such force and faltered for a mere couple seconds. When he looked sideways to see if the other three were coming at him again he panicked, seeing the three closing in with a fanned out movement pattern. Gali wasn't far now as he kept up his pace, struggling to get another bolt loaded into his weapon. No Dakota wouldn't have that at all. 'Use your wings to knock them down.' Advice was given again from the  voice, and the more it talked to Dakota the more convinced he was of it being a very experienced fighter. It was for the first time any information to have leaked out of this mysterious being. Spreading out his wings Dakota purposely ran slightly past Gali, the kid's eyes widening in slight confusion. However that confusion was turned into one of fear when all for kids noticed the ever strong pair of wings fly forward, the left one slamming into Gali with such force. Knocking the kid back a few yards, his weapon left where Gali used to be. All four seemed frozen in shock, with Gali being the only one trying to deal with pain. Ivo was the first to snap out of his shock, readying his sword and charged towards Dakota's backside. The dakotian only spun around when the next challenger neared him, tail flying towards the sword like last time. The sound of metal making contact with such force was heard once again, and from the looks of it the clamp wouldn't last much longer, which meant the cub had a chance! With Ivo busy holding his sword in place trying to push the tail back Dakota took the time to do the same trick that he did with Gali. This time spinning in a wing sweep aiming for Ivo's legs. The teen was knocked flat of his feet, landing on his back with a thud and gasp, sword still in hand but now being used to keep the dakotian from ripping him to shreds. Dakota took action, and advantage of the still two frozen trainees, who were still trying to get out of their daze, and the fact that Ivo was at his feet. Jumping on the kid, holding the sword roughly in his jaws, trying to pry it away from him. Blood was seeping out of the dakotian's mouth, some spilling onto the kid's chest and face. Ivo's own blood was mixed in there, from one of his hands that held up the sharp bladed part. For the first time Dakota relived the feeling of being feared so much, tears coming from Ivo's eyes, like the kid had a good feeling he would die young, here and now. That look caused Dakota to stop, staring down at the writhing and struggling kids face. "C-caine!" Was all that Ivo said, crying out of the girl to do something. Both Caine and Herne snapped out of their trance and took action immediately. The young huntress pulled out two arrows, firing them in unison as Herne warily but quickly charged to his friend or brother's aid. Dakota was sure they were related. Panicking Dakota attempted to move off from on top of Ivo, just barely dodging the arrows, mouth opening up to release Ivo's blade. Thinking on his feet, Ivo swung the blade towards Dakota's face immediately after it was freed, making a semi deep gash over the cub's right side of his face. One paw coming up to hold the fresh wound to his head. Ivo moved out of the way and dashed towards Gali's crossbow, snagging on to it then running to Caine's side who was now firing arrows again. Some managed to hit Dakota on his right side, the worst being the one on his upper right hide leg. Herne was closing in with caution in this time. However this time Dakota was the first to try and make a move, coming in as he attempted to knock the brute off his feet with his left wing. It didn't do much, only pushed the brut teen back a few steps, only then unleashing his heavy sword towards the dakotian. With surprising speed Dakota spun around, bringing the clamp on his tail into contact with the heavy blade's full force. Right then and there the object on his tail gave way to the immense pressure it had been receiving, it snapping in half as it fell off the tail of Dakota. Gali had finally stood up, one hand clutching his right arm, most likely because it was broken or something, and the obvious reddened tear filled face he had on.

    Everything seemed to be happening so fast, the sound of a horse galloping sounded as Jade made his entrance, leaping off his steed towards the only one on his own; Gali. Ignoring the fact that this team took a beating and instead focused on the broken clamp at Herne's feet. Dakota leaped backwards, grinning at his success, mentally thanking his voice friend for the help. The sun was beating down on the opening in the forest, but the sky got somewhat darker when Dakota majestically spread his wings, his pose proud. The pose he was holding made the cub look like an experienced fighter, and it made him seem larger, but he still wasn't to his full size, almost there but not at the same time. Green eyes shifting towards a pupil-less glowing red color. His body turning a void black with smoke seeping out of it. His horns,claws,wings and tail tip turned blood red. The group that now consisted of five froze upon the sight they were seeing. "Shadow Dakotian..." One of them mumbled. And it was said by Jade.
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January 12, 2017
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