! -DISCLAIMER: -I don't own DC (Detective Conan) it's owned by Aoyama Gosho. Only the OC Characters and some parts of the story are by me.
Chapter 13: DIUK (The Forest)
Date: Sunday 23/November/20XX
Time: 5:40 (At The Sunset)
Location: Sherwood Pines Building
The Arabian Teenagers had already made a collective decision to abscond from the turbulence of the city and bask in the tranquillity of nature. All of them yearned to detach from their electronic devices, except for Layan, who was using her Nikon Camera to capture moments. Their goal was to immerse themselves in the simple pleasures of the great outdoors, and this expedition was a much-welcome respite from their daily struggles, providing a chance to rejuvenate. That's what Layan knows, but what she doesn't know is that they came here to recatch her lost yet mysterious memories.
The four teenagers were already engrossed in a wide range of activities, including playing games, sharing stories, exploring new hobbies, and acquiring fascinating knowledge. They were all resolved to create indelible memories with their dear ones, an aspiration kindled by the void that life had engendered in them for more than a decade.
Ali, the driver, and the rest of the group were gathered around the fire, sharing stories and hearty laughs. Layan was scrolling through pictures when she let out a big yawn. After this exciting adventure, she felt the need to rest and recharge to prevent her episodes of seizures. Suddenly, a compelling idea sparked in her mind, causing her eyes to light up with enthusiasm. Jumana felt her cousin's joy and energy, turning to her to see Layan with curious and playful looks.
Layan had a brilliant idea and eagerly shared it with Jumana. Jumana, intrigued, asked her to explain. Layan leaned in and whispered her idea, causing Jumana to smile and agree, "It is indeed a great idea!" The boys, curious about what they were discussing, turned their attention to the girls.
Omar asked, "What idea?"
Layan excitedly explained, "We should take a memorial photo. Each of us can keep a copy to cherish."
"Sounds good to me," Omar replied.
Jaber shrugged and said, "I don't mind either."
The boys chuckled along with the driver, who added, "Taking memorial photos in this weather will be breathtaking!HAHAHA~!"
Omar then turned to Ali and asked, "What about you? Do you agree?"
All eyes turned to Ali, waiting for his response. Ali knew that opportunities like this only come once in a lifetime. He cleared his throat and replied, "Of course, I do! Let's get ready for the photo." The boys were more excited than the girls; as the last time they took a photo, they received a bonk on the head.
After a few moments, everyone gathered in front of the camera. The two girls stood in the middle, with their twin brothers behind them. Ali and the driver stood near the boys. The sunset and the partially snow-covered landscape provided a warm and picturesque backdrop for the photo.
Layan and Omar adjusted the Nikon camera and quickly got into position. The two small foxes popped out from the twin's pockets and perched on their shoulders. Finally, everyone was ready and waiting for the camera.
"Five... Four... Three... Two... One..." Layan and Omar counted down.
The camera beeped, "Smile!" and in less than a second, a flash captured an unforgettable memory.
After dinner, they all pitched in to help with the dishes. As bedtime approached, Layan's brother turned to her and asked, "Layan, did you take your medicine?"
Layan nodded and replied, "Yes, of course, I did." She stifled a yawn as she covered her mouth with her right hand, revealing a faint scar across the back of her hand. Omar's gaze flickered for a moment, and then he looked away, saying, "Good... then... goodnight." and headed off to sleep in the boys' room.
Layan called after him, "Make sure you take your medicine too!"
"I took it even before I remind you." She let out a small side smile and turned around. With that, she walked to the girls' room to get deep sleep.
Layan was in the girl's room, preparing to change into her night clothes. As she turned around, she noticed Jumana took off her hijab and was already dressed in comfortable nightwear. Her hair was dark silver like silk with her shining silver eyes. Layan couldn't help but be amazed by her cousin's appearance. "Wow," she exclaimed, her eyes filled with admiration.
Confused, Jumana looked at Layan and asked, "What's the matter?"
Blushing slightly, Layan complimented Jumana's hair. "Your hair looks incredibly beautiful and soft," she said.
Jumana chuckled, feeling a bit bashful. "You're embarrassing me. Thank you," she replied.
Intrigued, Layan picked up a small notebook and approached Jumana. "Could you please share your hair care secrets with me? I would love to know how you achieve that look," she strictly asked, trying to sound polite as she realized her attitude. "If you don't mind, of course," she quickly added, nervously intertwining her fingers.
Jumana chuckled sat down on the floor and gently lifted Layan's face with her soft hand to meet her gaze. Since Layan was shorter in height(Layan is 1.1 meters long while Jumana is 1.68 meters long ), it was easy for Jumana to reach her cousin's level.
"Absolutely," Jumana responded warmly, displaying a kind smile that exuded hospitality. "I would be more than pleased to assist you in any way that I can." She gestured for Layan to sit down next to her, emphasizing, "Please ensure that you take note of every single detail." Layan sat near her cousin with her small notebook in her hands,
"I am all ears."
In the boys' room, Omar was engrossed in playing games on his phone while Jaber emerged from the bathroom, freshly showered and dressed in his usual t-shirt and cargo pants. Unbeknownst to Omar, Jaber observed him with a hint of disapproval. Omar was the only one who had broken the rule of not using electronic devices in the room. Jaber sighed and walked over to his bag, retrieving a book he had recently purchased.
As Jaber settled onto his bed, Omar suddenly spoke up, capturing his cousin's attention. "You know, Jaber," Omar began, his words hanging in the air with a hint of mystery.
Jaber raised an eyebrow, his curiosity piqued. "What?" Jaber replied, his tone tinged with boredom.
Omar paused for a moment, letting the anticipation build. "All adults were children but not all adults will become children,"
Jaber couldn't help but roll his eyes. "Isn't it obvious?" Jaber asked bored, "No matter how many days we pass, we won't be able to go back," he walked and sat on his bed, " We can't turn back the clock, no matter how many days pass. Unless, of course, you've stumbled upon some magical artifact that can transport you to the past." He settled onto his bed, clutching a book in his hands.
Omar's curiosity was instantly ignited. "Really?" he asked a glimmer of excitement in his eyes.
Jaber nodded, a mischievous smile playing on his lips. "Yep," Jaber confirmed, nodding his head as he glanced at the book in his hands.
"Then what it is?" Omar asked, curiosity running in his veins.
Jaber pointed to his head, a knowing look in his eyes. "Your memory." he declared.
Omar's excitement quickly turned into disappointment, his face falling. "Oh," he grumbled, suddenly bored. "Is that so?" Said Omar and slept again on the bed playing,
Observing Omar's reaction, Jaber couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt. "It seems that you didn't like the answer," Jaber informed, raising an eyebrow.
"No," Omar replied, his tone flat. "I am not interested in things like memory. That's all." He cut Jaber off before he could say anything else, his words laced with a hint of defensiveness. " And if you even mention her health condition, I won't let it slide easily."
Surprised by Omar's sudden change in demeanour, Jaber quickly raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.
"Woah, Woah, Take it easy Omar!" he exclaimed, trying to diffuse the tension.
"I didn't mean to insult her or her health condition. I am at my word. I swear!" Jaber doesn't blame Omar for taking these sorts of things seriously; because he won't let anybody talk about his sister Jumana too. He understood the sensitivity surrounding his twin cousins' neurological health issues, especially Layan, who had recently lost her memory. He had merely wanted to offer a different perspective, but he had forgotten the impact it could have on them. Now, he needed to find a way to calm the atmosphere.
"Besides, her memory has been incredibly improving since the last time she came to the UK," He glanced at Omar, hoping to see a glimmer of understanding.
Omar, however, continued to stare blankly at the ceiling, his gaze distant. Confused, Jaber asked, "Omar?" Without warning, a wide grin spread across Omar's face, and he leaned forward, almost toppling off the bed.
"Oh no." Realizing the implications of Omar's sudden reaction, Jaber dropped his book and rushed to his cousin's side, catching him just in time to prevent a fall. Omar let out a small whine as he experienced a seizure, and Jaber's instincts kicked in immediately.
"It's ok. It's ok. I got you cousin." Jaber whispered soothingly, gently rubbing his cousin's back to help him relax, "All right we're almost done. Hang on." Jaber told Omar and started counting in his mind, assessing the severity of the seizure and ensuring Omar's breathing remained unobstructed. After one minute he slowly felt the tension in Omar's muscles begin to ease, a sign that the seizure was nearing its end. As Omar's breathing steadied and he fell into a deep sleep, Jaber let out a sigh of relief.
"I should be careful." Thought Jaber, "He hadn't recovered yet from the incident." Taking care not to disturb Omar, Jaber carefully laid him on his side and covered him with a warm blanket, ensuring his comfort.
With high responsibility, Jaber made his way to inform Jumana, who would then relay the news to Layan. He stepped forward, his mind occupied, when a faint howling sound echoed from outside, gradually growing louder.
Jaber's realization came a moment too late, as he found himself doubled over, clutching his head in his huge hands. The intense urge to imitate the howl consumed him, but he fought against it, gritting his teeth and sweating profusely, desperate not to wake Omar.
"Don't..." Jaber pleaded with himself, his voice strained, "Don't ...DO...IT... " He slowly straightened himself, attempting to resist the overwhelming compulsion.
The howl grew louder, causing Omar to stir and awaken, rubbing his head in confusion. His gaze cleared as he rubbed his eyes, and his eyes widened upon realizing Jaber's struggle.
"You ok Jaber?" Omar asked, his voice filled with concern. He moved closer to his cousin, ready to offer support. Jaber, still grappling with the overpowering urge, managed to utter a few words. "It's o-okay." Said Jaber raising his shaking hand, "I... must h-handle it on m-my own...NGH!" he choked out, his head throbbing with the effort of resisting the compulsion. The sound of the howling wolf grew louder, intensifying his struggle." Urgh. My...head." Jaber became unable to handle it and bend his head near the ground sweating rapidly.
Trying to control the situation, Omar looked around the room, searching for a solution. His eyes landed on his wireless gaming headphones, lying near his bag. An idea sparked in his mind, and he hurriedly grabbed his phone and the headphones. Turning them on, he swiftly connected them to his phone and rushed to Jaber's side, holding out the headphones. Jaber's face was red and his big hands trembling as he was about to explode.
"I hope this helps." Omar thought, placing the headphones on Jaber's ears and turning the volume to its highest level. Miraculously, the howling sound abruptly vanished, and Jaber's trembling hands began to steady. The redness in his face faded, returning to its normal colour. Jaber took a deep breath, adjusting his hair, and Omar couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief and slapped Jaber's shoulder,
"Oi! Jaber! You feel good?" Omar called out, concern lacing his voice as he approached his cousin. Jaber turned towards him, a questioning look in his eyes. "Do you feel good?" Omar asked again, his voice filled with hope.
Jaber, still trying to understand Omar's intentions, removed the headphones to hear him clearly. Omar quickly waved his hands, guiding for Jaber to keep them on. Confused, Jaber stopped, not able to comprehend why Omar was insisting on it. Omar let out a sigh, realizing that Jaber didn't understand his silent message. He swiftly typed on his phone and showed it to Jaber, the words displaying,
#' Don't remove it. '# That is what was written on Omar's phone.
"Oh," Jaber blinked twice, processing Omar's message. "Ok, I will. But why?" he asked, his curiosity piqued. Omar typed once again and showed Jaber the screen. #' The Wolf's howl might come back again. We have to talk with the others to figure it out. We still don't know what is going on.'#
Jaber sighed, a mixture of frustration and resignation."*SIGH*I don't think this will work out." he admitted, his voice tinged with disappointment.
Omar typed again, showing his phone to Jaber.
#' Why not?'#the message read.
"Becau- Wait ..." Jaber paused, his gaze fixed on Omar. "How did you know about my psychological issue?" he asked, his voice tinged with confusion. Omar felt a pang of stupidity, realizing that Jaber hadn't confided in him about his struggles. He typed on his phone, showing Jaber the screen,
#' It's hard to explain right now.'#
"No, I need to know right ...now..." Jaber trailed off and asked his cousin, "Was it my father?" Jaber insisted, his eyes searching for answers. He looked at Omar, waiting for an explanation. Omar sighed, his eyes meeting Jaber's. With a nod, he confirmed Jaber's suspicion.
#' Uncle Waleed asked me to help you because you needed support.'# Even if what Omar typed was true, Jaber wasn't pleased. Jaber felt a mix of emotions wash over him - gratitude, confusion, and even waves of rage. His veins tightened as he struggled to contain his emotions, and Omar took a step back, realizing the weight of the situation.
Just then, a knock on the door interrupted their conversation. Omar rushed to open it, revealing Ali, the driver, along with James, Jodie, and Jumana. Jaber, still trying to lower the volume of the headphones joined Omar to understand what was happening,
"Ali, Mr. driver, the FBI, and Cousin Jumana?" Omar wondered and Jaber came asking, his voice mixed with annoyance and roughness, "What is happening here?" Jaber demanded to know. Omar watched as his brother let out a heavy sigh before uttering a single sentence that sent a chill down their spines.
"Layan went missing Again."
"Kitsune?" Layan called out, walking cautiously through the dense snowy forest, her small backpack clutched tightly in her hands, flashlight ready. The usual sounds of nature were absent, and she couldn't hear any response from her tiny robot companion, Kitsune. Only listening to the squeeze of the snow under her small foot.
"Kitsune, Where are you? We are in the middle of the forest right now." Layan called out again, her voice echoing through the trees. "We have to recharge you, Kitsune." She still didn't hear any response. She let out a sigh and spoke, " Please if you are listening to me make any recog-"
Before she could finish her sentence, a broken and distorted voice cut through the air,"Ỵ̸̩̑̔E̸͕͖̒̿I̶͍̹͛̆I̵̧̛̪̐Ṕ̴̜̺!̶͉̙͝!̶̦̥̈́͝!̶̜̓͒!̶̯̏͜"
"Kitsune?" Layan quickly made her way towards the source of the voice, pushing aside bushes with her small knife. As she reached the location, she didn't find her tiny robot companion, she sadly let out a deep sigh.
"I think they are looking for me now." Layan thought, disappointment etched on her face. "Now I am the one who is bringing troubles here." Layan focused her attention back on the task at hand as she finally managed to remove a large thick branch from her way and was going to shove it away, but she stopped and looked at the branch for a bit. She felt that she might make use of that strong bough for something, like protection from predators. She tied it to her bag and continued her search for Kitsune. She walked looking at her phone.
"There is no internet here." Realizing that there was no internet connection in the forest, She sighed in frustration and slipped her phone back into her pocket, understanding the urge to rely on her own instincts and resourcefulness to navigate through the wilderness. Undeterred, she pressed forward in her search.
As she ventured deeper into the forest, a sense of anticipation filled the air. Suddenly, Layan's path intersected with an immovable object, causing her to stumble. Startled, she reached out to steady herself, only to find her hand sinking into a soft, velvety fur of a creature.
"So fluffy..." Layan thought absentmindedly, running her hand through the creature's fur. She quickly snapped out of her daze, realizing what she was doing. She quickly apologized to the figure, her voice filled with nervousness and respect.
"M-My apologies for bumping into you..." Layan apologized instantly, bending her body a little bit and her hand at the back of her head, "I-I did not mean to do any harm to you..." She raised her head with an apologizing smile on her face to meet her gaze with the gaze of the figure before her, hoping for forgiveness.
"...Sir...?..." Her smile faded as her gaze met a massive black wolf. Its eyes glowed with a fiery red intensity, and the scars across its face and neck added an air of mystery. The wolf's wide smile, stretching from ear to ear, sent a shiver down Layan's spine.
" O̸̧̳͠ͅḩ̶͖̝̤͛͋̄̃ ̷̣͂̀͠͝ͅḩ̸̖͔̲͐ò̵̧̹͈̹͑͆͝h̸̙̮̫̅ó̸̥̹͉h̶̜̘͕̀͗̚o̶̭̟̗͗͒̅ͅh̵̞̐̿́o̵̯͒̈́͝.̸͎̄͑͌̄.̵̞͓͑͋̂.̴̖̱́̌̕͝.̷̭͕̠͑̉̽͝.̴͚̿̂̎̕ " The wolf let out a voice that seemed almost unnatural coming from a wolf, the creature spoke, its words laced with an otherworldly quality.
" N̴̮͎̯͆̿ò̴͙͍͇͛̓ ̸̛͍̜͚̮̿̐p̵͓͔̆̃͒ͅŗ̵̦̬̾̉̐ô̶͕̿b̶͐̀̈͠ͅl̶̮̰̟̔̈́̀̾ě̶̪̬͒͜m̴̟̔,̷̤̣̖͘͜ ̷̲̂̈́̀B̴̧̫̼͋͛r̴̩̦̯͇̓́̆͝a̸̙̠͗̔̊͠t̶̩̺̤̭͒̅.̸̡̹̭͉̓̇͋" It chuckled softly, its tongue gliding over its sharp teeth as it leaned closer to Layan. The wolf's breath was less than pleasant, prompting Layan to make a lighthearted comment.
"OFF!" Layan put her hand at her nose closing it with annoyance, " You might want to consider brushing your teeth, Mr. Wolf," she quipped, unable to resist a playful jab at the intimidating creature. The wolf was momentarily taken aback, its smile faltering, but it quickly regained its composure, determined to maintain an air of dominance.
" I will brush ." said the wolf, its voice now a distorted blend of human and animal tones," A̶̺̔f̵̜́t̸̺̃ẹ̵̔r̷̩̿ ̷̪͝İ̶̥ H̴̼͋à̶̢v̴̺͊e̸̗͐ ̷͚̓m̸̟̐y̶̖̎ ̸̲̒ḟ̶̙o̸̰̅ō̵̱d̵̠͘,̷̫͗ ,̶͓̰̃͘̚ ̸̧̝̍̓̽w̶̬̗̤̾͋h̵͍͠i̷̺̇͒͝c̶͙̏̌h̷̰͙̅͑ ̸̨̰̪͛͝i̵̯͌̚s̴̢̬͒ i̶̼̅n̵͓̝͆̊ ̴̜̪̤̪͒̑̏̚̚f̷͔͉̼̱̉̈ŗ̸̹̥̽͆͐o̷̘̓̂n̸̯͋͐͌̊t̴̛̫̫͕̊ ̴̢̦͙̑͂̇̂ǫ̸̩̐̽͠f̵̢̗̯̦͝ ̸̨̳̹͖̍̍̅̑m̵̗̑̀e̶̡̒͐͒́."
"Oh, so you are hungry?" Layan replied casually, and the wolf blinked, seemingly surprised by her nonchalant response. "I have some snacks inside my bag if you want some. Wait a moment." She turned to her bag, opening it to retrieve any snacks she had. Unbeknownst to Layan, the wolf had sinister intentions. It quietly approached her from behind, its massive size looming over her small stature. Opening its jaws wide, it prepared to strike, but Layan sensed the imminent danger,
"You know Sir." Layan began speaking, her voice calm yet filled with determination, "I have something better than a snack for you." In an instant, she realized that she had a large stick nearby, and without hesitation, she swiftly grabbed it with both hands. To the black wolf's luck, Layan was faster, not knowing that she was called an 'Electric Velocity Competitor'.
"SURPRISE! MORON!" With lightning speed, she stuck the bough deeply in the wolf's jaws, rendering it unable to remove it. The wolf recoiled in shock, attempting to free itself, only to experience more pain.
"A̷͓͇͕̿̎A̷͙͗͛̎̚A̸̢̬̯̜̓̊̌̋ͅȂ̷͎͔̮̟̅̈́͜A̴̞̓̃̓͜Ā̶̱A̵̧̳͑͐͝͠R̴̻̘̅̀̔̌͑ͅŔ̸̪̮̳̞͉͘͝R̶͔̘̘͓̻̒̈́͂̕Ğ̵̱͒H̷̦̳͗͂ͅḨ̶͍͈̒̚H̴̤̻̲̞̪̅̈́́̆!̶̣̖̣̹̊͒́͆͘!̷̥͚̳͑̋̈!̵̗̭̺́̈̃!̸̮̭̙̜̆͒͋!̶̢̜͙̮̤̀!̷̛̹̭̹̥͙͗͒̾̂" The wolf writhed in agony, rolling on the ground and banging its head against a nearby tree, but the stick remained firmly lodged in its jaws. Layan, undeterred, pulled out her camera as a second line of defence.
"Don't underestimate a short girl who is studying Anatomy." she declared; her voice laced with confidence. With her amber eyes still on the wolf, she swiftly retreated, knowing she couldn't let her guard down.
The wolf, determined not to let its prey escape, Jumped high in the sky and down at her, but Layan's reflexes were quicker. She smoothly sidestepped, causing the wolf to crash heavily onto the ground. She swore she heard something snap, and to her surprise, the stick remained steadfastly lodged between the wolf's jaws. She couldn't fully trust that it had lost consciousness, though, as it might be waiting for an opportunity to strike from behind.
Carefully, Layan nudged the wolf's paw with her foot, ensuring it wouldn't attack her. "Oi," she called out, "Wake up, Mr. Hungry." She didn't see any response, "Well," she pondered, lifting her foot slightly, "Let's try another way to check it out." With a firm stomp, she pressed down on the wolf's paw. Still no movement. It seemed the wolf had indeed lost consciousness.
"Good," Layan muttered to herself, retrieving a rope from her bag and tightening it between her hands. "Just to make it more peaceful." With a childish yet evil grin, she began securing the wolf's hands and legs, ensuring it wouldn't pose a threat, and stepped back looking at the results satisfied.
"That should do the work," she remarked, patting her hands together to clean off any dirt or snow. She then turned and cautiously walked away, leaving the unconscious wolf behind her as she disappeared into the dense underbrush.
Unbeknownst to Layan, four sets of flickering lights in the distance were rapidly approaching the wolf's location.
Moments earlier, Ali Omar and the rest of the group split up, each searching a different area of the campsite in a desperate attempt to find Layan. Ali, the driver, and James took the right side of the campsite and headed towards the back, while Jodie, Omar, Jaber, and Jumana went to the right side and moved forward, ensuring that they covered every possible hiding spot.
The second group was calling Layan everywhere, especially Omar, who was calling from his Lungs,
Omar, filled with worry, called out for Layan with every ounce of strength he had. His voice echoed through the trees, "LAYAN! IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, MAKE A SIGN!"
Jumana joined in, cupping her hands around her mouth, desperately hoping her cousin would hear her. "Layan? Are you around? Please say yes!"
"Cosion Layan! " Jaber, struggling with his tired vocal cords, tried his best to call out to Layan, but his hoarse voice didn't carry far. He coughed and choked, making it difficult for him to speak.
"You ok?" Concerned, Jumana approached her brother, and Omar quickly joined them to ensure they stayed together.
Jaber apologized, his voice raspy,"*Cough* A-Apologies cousin." Jaber managed to speak.
"It's ok," Omar reassured him, pulling a water bottle from his backpack and handing it to Jaber. "Here. Don't strain your voice."
"Thanks.*Cough* " Jaber replied, taking the bottle and carefully drinking the water. As Jaber finished hydrating, he noticed Omar lost in thought, clearly consumed by worry for his sister. Jaber and Jumana walked over to their cousin to offer support.
Feeling a hand on his shoulder, Omar turned to see Jaber and Jumana. "You okay, Omar?"
"Yeah," Omar replied, lowering Jaber's hand. "I'm good."
"Don't worry," Jumana comforted. "We'll find her soon."
"I hope so."
Suddenly, The second group heard the black wolf's painful scream and immediately hurried to the source of the voice. They heard Jumana gasp, realizing something,
"That's the black wolf's voice! Right, Jaber?"
"Yes!" Jaber confirmed. "That's him! The black wolf that attacked us that day!"
"What? Attacked you?" Omar asked, trying to understand. He hadn't been present when Jaber had shared the story.
"We'll explain later," Jodie interjected, pulling out a GAMMA speaker to contact Ali. "This is Jodie Santmillion to Edward. Answer the call."
##This is Edward.## A voice came through the speaker, identified as Edward's.##What is the situation?##
" There was a scream about half a mile from our location. The scream belonged to the black wolf who attacked Waleed's Kids. The twins recognized the voice." Jodie explained to the speaker,
## What?!## Edward's shocked voice crackled through the speaker,
" I repeat, There was a scream about half a mile from our location. The scream belonged to the black wolf who attacked Waleed's Kids. The twins recognized the voice."
## Alright, we'll call the police immediately and head towards you,## Edward responded. ##Be careful and keep your eyes on the brats. Let us know if anything new occurs.##
"We are not brats!" Omar, who was running alongside Jodie, angrily interrupted. "How many times do I have to tell you that!" Edward abruptly ended the call, not responding to his brother's outburst.
"Take it easy cousin." Jaber calmly spoke as they neared the location. Jodie readied her gun, signaling for the others to slow down.
Jodie's hand tightened around the grip of her gun as she exhaled a deep sigh, silently signaling for the rest of the group to slow down. Her experienced eyes scanned their surroundings, searching for any signs of danger. The others, understanding the gravity of the situation, nodded in unison and began to tread carefully, their movements deliberate and measured.
In the midst of their focused strides, the boys couldn't help but notice Jumana's hand trembling slightly. They exchanged concerned glances but refrained from voicing their observations. Instead, they found solace in the unwavering determination shining in her eyes. It was clear that she was driven by an unyielding resolve to find and save her beloved cousin.
As they ventured deeper into the unknown, their senses heightened, attuned to the slightest sound or movement. The forest seemed to hold its breath the air heavy with anticipation. Each step taken was a deliberate act of bravery, as they pushed past their fears and pressed forward, determined to unravel the mystery of Layan's disappearance.
"It should be there." Jodie led the group to the designated location, her voice filled with assurance. But as they arrived, their hopes were shattered. There was nothing but a gruesome scene before them. A rope, stained with blood, hung ominously from a nearby tree. A large pool of blood, with splatters reaching the surrounding trees, confirmed their worst fears.
"Oh God." Jodie gasped, a hand flying to her mouth in shock. "What just happened here?" she managed to utter. The children, eyes wide with terror, joined her in disbelief. Jumana's heart skipped a beat, her hands trembling and tears welling in her eyes.
"No," she whispered, her voice quivering, "Layan won't die that easily..." Jaber, trying to keep his composure, clenched his teeth in anger and attempted to calm his sister by offering logical explanations. He carefully kept her away from the pool of blood, shielding her from the horror before them.
"This can't be Layan's blood." he reasoned, his voice laced with determination, "The amount of blood here is too much for her to survive. And if she were dead, we would have found her body nearby. But it's not here."
Omar, speechless and filled with a mix of emotions, surveyed the scene. His gaze fell upon something unusual, a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness. Despite Jodie's warning, he cautiously approached the incident. "Omar stay away," Jodie commanded, concern etched on her face. But Omar reassured her, his voice filled with newfound optimism.
"Don't worry, officer." Spoke Omar walking to the pool of blood, "I won't ruin it." he assured her as he reached the pool of blood. With his flashlight, he focused on something that brought relief flooding through his veins.
"Guys, check it out!" Omar called out, his voice tinged with joy, "Layan is still alive." The group let out a collective sigh of relief, none more so than Jumana.
"See?" Jaber said to his sister, his voice gentle and comforting, "No need to worry. Now, wipe your tears."
"How did you find out that it's not Layan's blood?" she inquired, her eyes narrowing in concentration.
"There is some black hair in the blood." Omar explained, moving the flashlight a bit to make the black hair in the blood visible, "That's not the length of Layan's hair."
"Ah," Jodie noticed it, "Now I can see it clearly!" she exclaimed.
Jumana, still puzzled, pointed towards the bloodied stick. "What about the wooden stick?" she asked, her voice quivering, "It's covered in blood."
Omar, momentarily forgetting about the stick, scratched his head in frustration. "Oh," Omar blinked, "Almost forgot about it," he admitted, walking carefully towards it.
"It's the wolf's blood." Omar stated, shoving his hands in his pockets, "Remember when we heard that wolf's scream? He was screaming because this stick was stuck somewhere causing him to howl in pain, but..." he trailed off, his brow furrowing, "Where exactly?" He mumbled placing his index finger horizontally at his chin. The others came to check the stick without touching it,
"Maybe because it was...Stuck... inside his... body?" Mumbled Jodie loudly. The three kids looked at her and questioned,
"Hmmm..." Jaber pondered the idea and added, "To think about it. It might be correct." His words supported Jodie's theory.
Curious, Jumana asked, "Huh? How?"
Jaber pointed at the stick. "Take a look at the stick." he directed their attention. "If you notice the direction of blood flowing from the stick, it will be from both sides of tips of the stick to the inside." Jaber explained, "Not to mention the saliva on one of the stick's sides."
Omar acknowledged Jaber's observation, admitting, "You're correct." Jodie then inquired, "In this case, how it can be stuck inside his body?"
Omar turned to his cousins, wearing a hopeful grin. "Come on, doctors." he urged them, grinning, "It's your turn to guess it out. So, we can confirm Layan's safety."
"Uhh, O-Ok," Jaber and Jumana conversed in Arabic, discussing the possibilities. Meanwhile, Jodie was left puzzled by Omar's reference to his cousins as doctors.
"Doctors?" Curious, she asked, "What do you mean?"
Omar realized that Jodie was unaware of his cousins' profession. "Hm? Oh," Omar blinked ." I forgot to mention, my cousins graduated early from high school when they were 13 years old. Now they are studying General Medicine."
Jodie remarked, "That's incredible! So, they're as intelligent as you and Layan?"
" Exactly," Omar nodded with a smile, " We... most of the time consider ourselves as brothers and sisters. That's why we stay with each other all the time." Explained Omar with a sheepish grin.
Impressed, Jodie couldn't help but remark, "How impressive."
Jumana's voice suddenly broke the conversation. "It's his mouth!" she exclaimed. Omar and Jodie turned their attention to her. " It was stuck in the wolf's mouth!"
"Woah, now I got it," Omar said, a sense of realization washing over him. "She stuck this stick in the wolf's mouth, deep in the jaws precisely," he explained, pointing at the bloodied stick. " Then, in pain, the wolf tried to free itself by hitting it against the trees," he continued, gesturing towards the surrounding forest. "And when he saw Layan running away, he tried to catch her but somehow failed. That's when Layan managed to tie its limbs using that rope over there." He concluded, pointing at the rope.
"Now wait a moment." Jodie, now standing up, voiced her concerns. "The stick is tall and thick how does it fit in the wolf's mouth?"
Jaber sighed, realizing the need for further explanation. "That black wolf is not like any normal wolf, Mrs. Officer." Jaber begins explaining, "If we compare him to my height which is 5.9 feet long (1.80 meters). His height would reach my shoulder easily." As Jaber explained, he felt his foot sink deeper into the ground. Raising his foot, he discovered a massive wolf footprint imprinted on the ground.
"Oh God," Omar exclaimed, his eyes widening in realization.
Jodie, now fully grasping the gravity of the situation, stated, "We need to find Layan quickly before he gets her!"
Layan's tiredness had begun to take hold as she maneuvered through the thick bushes, camera in hand. A heavy yawn escaped her, a clear sign that the effects of the medicine were starting to kick in. She knew she needed to find Kitsune and get out of there as quickly as possible. Fighting to stay alert, she rubbed her eyes and pinched her arm, hoping to shake off the drowsiness. But something strange caught her attention. Examining her arm, she noticed a red mark where she had pinched it,
"It doesn't hurt." She thought to herself, "That's odd." Perplexed, she gave her arm a firm slap leaving a red mark, yet still, no pain. This anomaly left her questioning a concern,
"Do I have any genetic or neurologic disorder or something? " she would bring up to her mother later. But she had no time to dwell on it as she heard the sound of a broken stick nearby. Instantly, Layan turned towards the source of the noise, her voice echoing through the surroundings as she called out,
"Who is there?!" She yelled out, scanning the place. "Show yourself!" Gripping a canister of chili spray behind her back and holding her camera in front of her for protection,
"If it was you again, I would kick the heck out of you." She prepared herself for whatever or whoever might emerge from the bushes. As the bushes rustled and moved closer, Layan focused, trying to gauge the size of the figure within. Suddenly, a tiny figure jumped out with a familiar ##YEPI## sound. Relief washed over her as she recognized Kitsune.
"Kitsune!" Layan joyfully exclaimed, "I've been looking for you everywhere!" She tucked the spray into her pocket and extended her hand for the tiny robot to jump onto her palm. Kitsune leaped onto her shoulder, and she affectionately petted the small companion.
"Please, don't do this again." She whispered and suddenly heard an echo. She shushed her tiny robot and ambled to the echo which became more than a call for someone. She swore that she heard her name. Then she saw lights moving randomly around.
"LAYAN!" She recognized Omar's voice, "WHERE ARE YOU?" Her joy refilled when she heard the others calling for her. Just as Layan was about to respond to the calls from Omar and the others, she noticed Kitsune snarling. Alarmed, she turned her attention to the tiny robot,
"What's wrong Kitsu-"As her gaze was centered on Kitsune, she raised it only to be met with a shocking sight. The black wolf was badly injured, blood dripping from its forehead and mouth. The wolf's eyes filled with rage as it glared at Layan, its voice strained with pain.
"You-" the wolf growled through gritted teeth, its wounds interrupting its words."Y̷̡̛̬̮̤̘̪͙̣͙̣̬̞̒̒̀͒͑̐̽̇́͋̅̏͠͠O̵̡̰̗̮̜̜̪̯̰̻͒͑͆͋̉̃̌͆̂͆̕͝U̸̝̔͂̐͊́̓̕̕̕͠͝" The wolf's words were filled with anger, its bloody eyes locked onto Layan's amber gaze.
" I̶̡̖̜̮̙͚͇͔͚͎͍͉̽͐̌ͅ ̵̥̗̞͔̪̘̥̮̅̅̅͘̚̕W̷̢̠̭͈̥͖̝̩̹͝Į̵͔̱͓͉̩̙͔͖̳͓̥͓̯̌̐̍̿̑̚̕Ļ̶̢̡̫͈͚̫͓͓̥̺͙̻̯̌͋̀̀̃̈́͛͑͗̓̀̑̕͜L̶̬̓̽͐̔͒̔̈́́̆̈́̂͝͝͝͝ ̸͎͓̣͇̤̋K̷̳̮̉͛͌̂̄̓̔̿̈́I̶̞͘L̷̢̖̳̠̩̥͔̦͇̔̐͆̽̚͝͝ͅL̴̛̯̗̈̉͑̄͊͌̉̍̐̚̚̕͠ ̵̡̡̛͎̖̟̗̻͍̪̪̻̜͚̓͜Y̶̫̫̱͎̫͚͉̰̩̭͕͍̒̀̈́͂̿͝Ơ̶̱͍̍̋̈̅̀͋͂̈̐͑̕͝U̸̯͕̟͓͚͖̺͚̐͒̈̾̀ ̴̛̙́̐̔̂̀̑͊͆̀͐͘͝Ä̴̯́͊͒̐̀͝Ň̴̨̧̛̤̺̞͔̺̳͈̯̞͇̇̒ͅD̶͚̜̟̆̂͐̎̄̊̂̀ ̸̣̔̓̌̽̓̑͘̚͝T̷̡̨̢̬̣̟͕̠̳̣̿̿Ë̷̩̗̙̥̻͕̫́̈̈́͒̃̽̓͐͒̀̇͊̓͝A̶̘̯̘͕͍͇̻͕̳͈̟̰̭̔͛̄͐̀̄̚ͅͅR̷̡̛̙̠͓̄͐̀ ̶̤̦̹̦̼̲͌͋͊͒͝͝Ÿ̴̨̞̲̱̹̠͓̺̯̘̬͕́̾͐̔̋͗̄̂́͘͝O̵̳͉̝̳͖̥̺̩̳͓͌̾̓̊̂̽̚͜͝U̸͚͂̑̄̽͝ ̴̦͙̲̜̤͉̻͆A̶̮̣̩͙̠͖̖͎̹̤̰̞̝̯̟͋̏P̷̡͚̼̜̮͉̦̦̓̓̍͗͠A̵̲̠͈̜̼̗̩̠̜̮͓̒͌͘͜R̷̮͊̉͑̍̔̒̑̿͌̑̕̚T̸̛̬̺͈͈͆̓̇͋̒̅̓͋̏͌̚͝!̶͚͈̄͐͒̈́̈̉̎!̷̡̤̰̠̪̼̖̰̀̔̈́͛ͅ!̸̢̼͍͇̭̹̗̠͛̅͋͒̊̒́́͒͐̄́̊̚͝!̴͚̰̻͔̱̠̩̻̹͖̟͕̲͌͘͜!̵̨̭̬̮̮̻̪̗̪̜̞̱͉̙͊̊̌̃͑̎̐̈́͋̏́͋̾̕"
Layan's heart raced as she struggled to comprehend the wolf's words. Before she could react, the wolf lunged at her, causing her to instinctively step back confused. Kitsune, acting as her protector, leaped between Layan and the enraged wolf.
"Kitsune!" Layan's eyes widen while cries out in a mixture of fear and urgency. "Kitsune Step back! It's dangerous!" But before she could process what was happening, a pink flame engulfed Kitsune, creating a barrier that startled the wolf, causing it to retreat momentarily. Layan shielded her face with her arms as she fell to the ground, her heart pounding in her chest. As she cautiously opened her eyes and rose to her feet, she was greeted with a sight that left her astonished.
"K-Kitsune?" Layan's eyes widened as she beheld the transformation of the tiny robot into a magnificent, glowing Kitsune. The nine tails of the Japanese mythical creature swirled through the air, ready to defend them against the menacing black wolf.
The wolf, undeterred, charged at Layan once more, only to be intercepted by Kitsune's lightning-fast movements. With a swift scratch to the wolf's left eye and a powerful kick to its leg, Kitsune momentarily disabled their foe.
"Kitsune!" Layan called out; her voice filled with urgency. The glowing creature turned its head towards her, listening intently. "I've got an idea!..." Her smile faltered as she noticed the black wolf rising to its feet behind Kitsune. Panic threatened to overtake her as she realized the wolf still had the strength to fight.
"KITSUNE! BEHIND YOU!" she shouted desperately. Kitsune turned just in time to see the black wolf's claws slashing toward it. The robotic creature was thrown against a tree, its pinkish glow fading to reveal the motionless tiny robot. Layan's heart skipped a beat as she rushed to its side.
"NO!" Layan sprinted to the tree where Kitsune lay, her companion in dire need. But the wolf, seizing the opportunity, pursued her relentlessly. Just as Layan reached Kitsune, she knew she had little time left. She cradled the tiny robot in her arms, her guilt overwhelming her as she took in its scratched and damaged face.
As she snapped back to the present, Layan fixed a steely gaze upon the charging wolf. She withdrew her chili spray cane, preparing herself for a desperate last stand. Her grip tightened, ready to defend her life. But then, a realization hit her: any false move could mean the end, whether from the wolf or her own neurological illness. She needed to react swiftly but with precision.
"Be calm..." Layan thought, trying to steady her racing mind. Layan thought, trying to steady her racing mind. She focused on reading the wolf's movements,
"Listen..." She calmly thought focused on reading the wolf's movements,
"Feel the air..." She sensed the air around her. The wolf drew closer, and Layan's body tensed, her instincts primed.
"React!" she commanded herself. And then, with a surge of adrenaline, she moved her body aside in slow motion, narrowly evading the wolf's head as it collided with a tree.
With the wolf's momentarily realization, Layan seized the opportunity. She raised her chili spray and unleashed it upon the wolf's eyes and mouth. The wolf's agonized screams filled the air, its throat on the verge of exploding from the pain.
" Ḁ̶̺̓̐A̶͕̯̻̩͈̱̼͍̪̠̙̣͓̒̌̿̏̑̑́̀A̷̡̛̜̳̰̩̞̰̺̖͌͌͊̿̋̉R̸̨̧̛̛̛̛̙̥̫͒̉̐͌͘ͅR̶̨̛̛̼͈̥͗͂͂̽̍̀̍̀̄̐̓̚͘Ŗ̸͎͚̽̓̐͒͠G̷̡̢̭̙͍̿̆̍͊G̶̢̡͉̬͓̹͍̿̉͋͑̃̽̀́̒͂͆͜͝G̶͔̤̬̦̟͇͎̉̃͌͘Ḩ̷̨̢̫̦̙̮̙̱̀͗͌͜H̵͉̫̊̈͆͒̈̐͑̆̊͑͑̾͝H̵̡̢̛̜͇̠̞̣̬̩̽̿͐̾̆̃͠H̷̡̼̼̙͔̠̠̤̞̩̯̟̎̑̔̇̀̓̍̒͊̍̓̍̾̏̒͜!̸̭̺̜͖̮͙̭̯̈̀̈́̍̽͊́͛̈́̌̈̊͝͝!̴͉͎̤̭͆͂͋͑͑͗̈́͊͜͝͝!̷̛̻͚̼̥͔͛̎͋̔̀͗̏̎̇̉ͅ!̶̨͎̟͍̣̩͕̟̲̰̗̻̹̗̒͌̆̍̎͒̈́̾̆̈́̕̕̕͝ͅ!̷̡̢̨̧͍̥̳̪̻͎̱͍̇̓̈́̐͐̀̐̇̊̍͗̉͌͘̕ͅ*̶̧̛̘̜̠̩̞̭͎̺̳̠̒̀͑͜͠ͅC̶̡̦̲̖̱̙̯͓̫͙̆̾̓̓͜͠H̴̨̬̼̣̳̟̹̓̐̿͗̈́̈́̉̽̚͜͝ͅƠ̴̭̫͚̮̤̺̳̾̾͑̑̍͆̌̊̆̄͘͘C̴̡̟̬̫̙̜̻̖̠̺͖͔̎̎̂͌͗͋̑̌́̊͘͝Ķ̴̨̹͔͕̙̻̬͈͓̹͓̇̇͜*̴͈͔̃̍́̈́̽̒͊͂͆͆̈̌͝F̵̧̩̗̼͎̠̹̦̬̹̘̙̗̮͊̕̕Ǔ̷̢̹̬͈̘̩̥͉̱̫͉̌͆͗͜C̵͉̹̀͑͆̔Ķ̴̨̨̹̬̱̭̪̭̼̝̄͑̎̑̓̈́̓̇͒͋̒̕̕͝͝!̶͇̙͉̼̭̗̤̞̈!̷̧̨̤̹͇͉̫̘̳̫̠̬̆̊̀͘̕ͅ!̶̘̟̫̩̒͋̈͋̐ͅͅ!̸̢̬̦̙̣͔͔̹̠̻͊̃̎͊̅̒̊̅̀̒̾͝ͅ!̵̙̫̙͆́͑̀͒͒̄͗͌͊̚̕̕͜͝͠ͅ" The Wolf howled, its cries echoing through the forest and rolled on the ground in agony. Layan maintained her resolve, knowing that her survival depended on her wits. She fought against the fear that threatened to consume her, channeling her every ounce of strength and determination.
Layan let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding and allowed herself a moment of relief. But she knew she couldn't stay there for long. She had to find safety, find her brother. Holding Kitsune protectively in her arms, Layan took the chance to run away from the black monster. She let her legs race the wind, not giving attention to the twigs and bushes that may harm her.
"OMAR!" Ignoring the snowy weather and the abrupt fog, she called for her brother from the deep of her throat, "I AM HERE BROTHER!" She strained to see through the haze, her heart pounding in her chest. And then, she spotted the light drawing near. Exhausted and dizzy, she fought to maintain her balance as she waited for her brother to reach her. The only thing that Layan wanted was to reach them and went into a deep sleep.
"LAYAN!" The rushed Omar was finally shown in her gaze, making her mouth muscles move involuntarily, her voice was near to a whisper,
"Glad to see you, my hero." Layan managed to whisper, her tired smile a testament to her gratitude and relief. He rushed towards her; his arms outstretched to catch her before she could fall. And just in the nick of time, he managed to support her short trembling body.
"Layan!" he called out urgently, but she remained blissfully unaware, snoring softly. His heart raced as he heard a menacing growl, and he turned to see a black wolf limping towards them. Despite its distance, the wolf's intentions were clear, its snarling jaws poised to attack the vulnerable twins. Determination flooded his veins as he stood tall, cradling his sister in his protective embrace.
"Stay with me, sister," he whispered, a plea laced with love. "I won't let anything harm you again." With unwavering resolve, he began to walk, a small blue robot perched on his shoulder, its eyes widening in concern as it cried near the injured Kitsune. The truth dawned on him - Layan had fled the campsite to find Kitsune. Tightening his grip on his sister, he pressed on, tuning out the wolf's haunting howls.
Finally, they reached the group, who rushed towards them with a mix of relief and worry etched on their faces. "Omar!" Jodie exclaimed, her voice filled with concern. "How is she?" Jumana asked, her eyes brimming with anxiety.
"She's alright," he replied, glancing down at Layan, who slept soundly. "Just exhausted." Another echoing howl pierced the air, reminding them of the looming danger.
"I've... kinda got an unexpected company along with her." Omar apologized a hint of regret in his voice. Jaber and Jumana exchanged knowing glances, their realization sinking in.
"We need to leave," Jodie urged urgently, looking at Omar who didn't like the idea of running away," You two spica-"
But Jaber interjected, his voice filled with determination. "No," he asserted firmly. Jumana nodded in agreement; her gaze unwavering. "We can stop him."
"The other group is on their way here," Jodie spoke, crossing both of her arms frustrated, "You kids have to get out of here, all of you."
"We know how to stop him. Mrs. Officer." Said Jaber, "It's true that we couldn't stop him the first time, but now we know how to. If we couldn't stop him now, who knows what he might do next."
Jodie's stern expression faltered, replaced by a mix of resignation and admiration. She sighed, conceding to their unwavering determination, and rubbed her temples wearily. "Fine." She relented, sensing the kid's happiness in the air, " But before we proceed, do you have a plan?"
Jaber nodded, his eyes filled with determination as he picked up a sturdy stick from the forest floor, using it to illustrate their strategy. "Yes, we do have a plan," he declared, his voice resolute. "But before we execute it, Omar, Can you tell me..." His gaze moved to his cousin, Jaber asked,
"...How fast you can run?" A mischievous glint danced in Omar's eyes as he understood the implications of Jaber's question. A sly grin curved his lips as he replied, oozing confidence. "Oh, you're about to find out," he responded, his voice brimming with anticipation.
The injured black wolf, fueled by an unwavering determination to capture Layan, momentarily struggled to regain its bearings after the unexpected barrage of chili defense. It cautiously followed the path of Omar's footsteps, hoping to rediscover its prey's scent. But to its dismay, the trail abruptly led it to a circular patch of snow deep within the forest. Confused and frustrated, the wolf let out a howl of irritation.
At that very moment, a sharp gunshot shattered the stillness of the forest, causing the wolf to freeze in its tracks. Its keen ears swiveled towards the source of the sound, its senses on high alert. Another gunshot echoed through the trees, further unsettling the wolf and igniting a spark of curiosity. It cautiously made its way towards the origin of the noise, its predatory instincts urging it forward.
As the wolf reached the tree, it searched frantically, its gaze darting right and left, but finding nothing. Confusion clouded its mind as it questioned the reality of the gunshots. Suddenly, something fell from above, landing on the wolf's neck. It was none other than Omar, who had positioned himself in the tree, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
"Yeeehaaa!" Omar yelled, his voice filled with adrenaline as he kicked the wolf with the heel of his foot, like a cowboy. The wolf stumbled, running in circles in a desperate attempt to regain its balance. Omar continued to taunt and provoke the wolf, firmly grabbing its ears and squeezing them, causing the wolf even more irritation.
In a moment of realization, the wolf understood that it didn't have to endure this torment. It stopped its frantic movements, sending Omar flying and falling into the soft snow. As Omar hastily picked himself up, he turned to run away, only to find the wolf hot on his heels.
"Oh, hi, Mr. Wolf!" Omar called out, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "I believe you've already met my sister earlier, and Thanks for the ride!" His last words slurred quickly and began the marathon, his speed rivaling that of his sister, but with a cautious edge.
While Omar led the wolf on a relentless pursuit, Jaber and Jodie patiently waited for the sign they had been waiting for. Finally, the moment arrived. Omar sprinted towards a tree with incredible speed, and the wolf, seizing the opportunity, increased its pace, closing in on its target.
In a display of agility and skill, Omar leaped towards the tree, using it as a launching point. The wolf, caught off guard by this unexpected move, stopped in its tracks, its eyes widening in disbelief.
"Don't you dare..." Omar's voice was cold, a plume of steam escaped his mouth, a visible testament to the frigid breath of winter that surrounded them. His presence was a force to be reckoned with, his eyes ablaze with an intensity that seemed to pierce the very soul of the creature before him. "TO LAY A HAND AT MY SISTER EVER AGAIN!" The wolf desperately tried to maintain its balance, its gaze locked upon the fierce countenance of Omar, who seemed impervious to pain or fear.
"That for my sister!" With a thunderous eruption of strength, Omar unleashed a punishing kick toward the wolf's limb, the impact reverberating through the clearing like a crack of lightning. The wolf's pained scream echoed through the stillness of the forest, a haunting cry that seemed to resonate with the anguish of all those it had harmed. But Omar's fury was far from sated.
"And that for my Cousin Jaber and Jumana!" Omar's voice carried a chilling resolve, his words a declaration of vengeance. His kicks continued to rain down upon the wolf's battered body, each strike a symphony of pain and retribution. The force behind his blows left no room for the creature to react, its once formidable defenses crumbling under the onslaught of Omar's wrath.
"If I ever witness you inflict harm upon the people I care about again, know this: I will not grant you the mercy of leaving this place alive." Omar's voice, cold and resolute, cut through the stillness like a blade of ice. His warning glare bore into the heart of the defeated wolf, sending a shiver down its spine, a chilling reminder of the consequences of its actions.
And so, the black wolf lay defeated upon the unforgiving ground, its breaths shallow and ragged, its body a testament to the price it had paid for its transgressions. Omar stood tall, his chest heaving with exertion, his eyes blazing with a fierce protectiveness that knew no bounds. The air hung heavy with the weight of his presence, as he focused on regulating his breaths, the adrenaline slowly subsiding.
It was then that Jaber and Jodie burst out of the surrounding trees, their gazes filled with concern and urgency. Jodie hurriedly approached Omar, her voice laced with worry, "Are you okay?" Omar nodded, his eyes conveying his gratitude for her concern. Jodie's gaze moved to the black wolf and her eyes widened, remembering Jaber's explanation earlier.
Meanwhile, Jaber had taken hold of the rope, his grip firm and determined. He cautiously approached the semiconscious wolf, his intention clear – to secure and contain the formidable creature.
But just as they were about to take control of the situation, something unexpected happened. " S̸̛̭̦͍̿͂͊͘̚͜T̸̥̈͑̚͘A̴̡̧̰̼̤̥̹͗̋̇̊̃̅͑̿̇͝Ỳ̴̝̲͚̌̒͊̓͛̐̍͌͐̓͘͝͝͠ ̶̡̰͈̥̀͑̆̔̏͆̅̑͗͘A̴̞̤̮̯̺͙͎̜̠̒̇́͛̄̐̀́̀̅̏W̸̤̮͍̥̺̱̅̌̋̀̄̑̽̚͝͝Ả̵̻͙̾̾́̒̈́̕̕Y̵̛̜͔̜̱͍͙͈͖̪̬̆͛̀̽̈́͑̊̓́̑͑̌͝ ̴͙̰̜͌́̓̑̎͌̈̎͆͝F̴̨̼̠̥̬̦͈̩̖̪̱̀̀Ȓ̴̨̧̥̫̮̫̦̲̲̾͋̒͜͠Ò̴̢̨͙͉̜̟M̸̤͖͐̋ ̸̛͓̟̑̐̓͊͌͝M̶̲̮̦̤̻̤͚͙͊̈́̿̈́̍̀̌̋͜͜͝E̴̺̭̙̥͙̐̀͐͗͝!̸̢̫̫̘̤̼͍̯̮͔͇̗̫̀̿̓̓̏͋͑̈́͌̽̀̀͘!̴̢̓͛̇̚!̸̨͙̬̩͈͕̝͎͙̗͒̉́́̀͝͠!̶̢̧̼̱̙̲͍̆͑͐͒͆͌̿̑̈̔̀̽̚͜͝!̶̲͇̘̱͂̿͌̃̕" A sudden red vortex materialized around the wolf, engulfing Jaber, Omar, and Jodie. In an instant, they found themselves far away, falling on the snow-covered ground. Jaber was the first to regain his senses, struggling to stand up amidst the moans of his companions. His gaze fell upon the fleeing black wolf, leaving chaos in its wake.
Panic gripped Jaber, "This is bad." Thought Jaber, his eyes widen, "He will run away. What should I do?" He scanned his surroundings, searching for anything that could help him stop the creature. His eyes spotted Jodie's gun lying in the snow. Without hesitation, he reached for it and aimed it at the black wolf. Though inexperienced with firearms, Jaber remembered his uncle's teachings on aiming and steadied his trembling hand. His heart pounded as he pulled the trigger, the deafening gunshot filling the air.
The vortex abruptly vanished, but the black wolf had already made its escape. Jaber released the gun, his hands shaking as he sank onto the snowy ground. It was his first time using a weapon, and the experience left him shaken to the core. Jodie and Omar rushed to his side; concern etched on their faces.
"Are you alright?" Omar asked, his voice filled with genuine worry.
Jaber took a deep breath, trying to steady himself. "Y-Yes," he stammered, his voice barely above a whisper.
Jodie's attention shifted to the whereabouts of the wolf. "Where did it go?" she asked, her eyes scanning the area.
"He... ran away," Jaber replied, pointing towards the bloodstain left behind.
In the depths of the shadowy forest, two enigmatic figures cloaked in tattered red robes and adorned with macabre plague masks exchanged hushed whispers. Twisted branches and leaves clung to their masks, concealing their identities as they sought refuge amidst the dense undergrowth. The figure on the right leaned in, his voice barely a murmur.
" D̵-̶D̷i̸d̸ ̸y̵o̶u̴ ̴s̶e̷-̶e̵e̵ ̶t̸h̶-̶t̸h̴a̴t̵?̵ the figure on the right, whispered to its partner.
His partner on the left cast a sidelong glance, an air of skepticism etched on the surface of his mask. "̸N̸o̸,̶ ̷I̸ ̴h̶a̴v̶e̵ ̸n̷o̴t̸ ̷b̸e̵h̶e̷l̴d̸ ̴a̷n̴y̶t̸h̷i̴n̴g̶,̶"̵he retorted, a trace of irritation tainting his tone.
"̵B̴u̸t̷ ̷ ̵I̴'̵v̸e̸ ̵s̴e̷e̷n̷ ̵a̷n̸ ̷i̸d̴i̵o̸t̸w̷h̸o̷ ̸k̵e̶e̴p̸s̷ ̴a̶s̵k̸i̴n̴g̸ ̶m̷e̸ ̴'̴D̸i̸d̶ ̴y̸o̶u̷ ̷s̵e̴e̷ ̸t̸h̸a̸t̶?̸'̵"̶ The right figure blinked, taken aback by the response. " T̶r̵u̶l̶y̴?̶" he ventured.
In response, the left figure delivered a swift bonk to the right figure's head, causing them to cry out in pain. Clutching his throbbing skull, the injured figure protested,"O̵u̴c̵h̶!̸ ̴W̸h̶y̷ ̴t̶h̷i̸s̸ ̴u̵n̶w̵a̴r̴r̴a̵n̸t̸e̸d̷ ̴a̵s̷s̵a̸u̵l̴t̴?̵"
" O̶f̸ ̷c̵o̴u̵r̷s̸e̴,̷ ̴I̵ ̶h̸a̴v̵e̵ ̵s̶e̵e̵n̵ ̴i̷t̸!̸" the left figure snapped, exasperation dripping from his words. " D̶o̸ ̷y̴o̸u̵ ̵a̷s̸s̷u̵m̵e̷ ̷m̵e̶ ̷t̵o̵ ̴b̶e̷ ̸a̸ ̴b̴l̴i̴n̶d̷ ̸i̸d̶i̷o̷t̵ ̶l̴i̶k̶e̵ ̷y̵o̶u̷?̸" Yelled the partner and looked again at the forest.
" B̶-̷B̸u̴t̴ ̷I̵ ̸a̷m̴ ̶n̸o̷t̴ ̸b̴l̸i̴n̴d̶!̷ I̸ ̷c̸a̵n̷ ̸s̵e̸e̶ ̸e̶v̶e̸r̵t̷h̶i̵n̴g̵ ̸a̸r̸o̷u̶n̵d̶ ̷m̶e̶.̷ ̷L̸o̸o̴k̶!̶!̸" Said the right figure blinking.
The left figure snapped," S̸h̷u̴t̶ ̴u̸p̷.̵"
The right figure recoiled, chastened by the rebuke," Y̷-̴Y̸e̵s̸ ̴s̶i̷r̷.̷" he mumbled, his voice laced with contrition.
The left figure, growing weary, glanced nervously at the forest. " S̶i̸n̷c̴e̶ ̸M̷a̷s̸t̷e̴r̶ ̶u̷n̵l̵e̷a̶s̵h̸e̸d̶ ̶h̷i̸s̴ ̵v̶o̸r̸t̸e̷x̵,̴ ̷w̴e̸ ̶m̵u̵s̶t̵ ̸l̶e̸a̵v̴e̸ ̵t̶h̴i̸s̵ ̶p̸l̴a̷c̶e̵ ̸a̷s̸ ̷s̴o̸o̵n̵ ̴a̶s̶ ̷p̶o̵s̶s̵i̴b̷l̶e̸.̸" the left figure declared wearily. Fatigue weighed heavily upon him, yet the gravity of their mission left no room for respite.
Just as they were about to make their move, a voice interrupted them, "Care to explain where are you two going?" The right figure turned to face the source of the voice and was rendered speechless.
"W̷h̴y̶ ̸d̷o̶ ̵y̶o̵u̷ ̵s̷o̵u̸n̸d̸ ̵l̸i̸k̶e̵ ̵a̸ ̷F̴ ̷#̶$̴k̶i̵n̸g̴ ̵h̴u̷m̶a̵n̸ ̷b̴e̸i̴n̶g̷?̵ ̸N̵o̸l̷a̴n̷?̵" the left figure questioned. But the right figure, Nolan, still in shock, tapped his partner's shoulder, drawing their attention upwards. The left partner turned their head and was equally stunned by what they saw.
Ali, James, and the driver stood before them, observing the two creatures with curiosity. The driver crossed his arms and remarked, "So, his name is Nolan. Interesting."
James, adjusting his glasses, couldn't contain his surprise. "How can these two creatures speak Japanese?"
The driver explained, "They can speak many languages. It doesn't take them long to learn, maybe about two months at most."
James blinked, removing his glasses to wipe them. "Unbelievable."
The trio awaited the creatures' response,
" G̴-̷G̵o̶o̵d̸ ̸J̴o̶b̴,̷ ̴N̵-̵N̵i̸x̶o̵n̵.̷" Nolan muttered, " N̵o̴w̵ ̶t̶h̵e̴y̷ ̶k̸n̸o̵w̸ ̶m̷y̴ ̵n̴a̷m̷e̵.̵" The left partner, Nixion, almost lost its mind from Nolan's idiocy.
" A̵n̵d̸ ̷t̵h̵a̴n̶k̷s̶ ̶t̵o̷ ̶Y̷o̸u̷ ̷,t̸h̴e̶y̶ ̴k̴n̸o̵w̵ ̶m̴y̵ ̸n̵a̴m̷e̵ ̶t̶o̷o̶!̷!̴!̸" Nixon stopped when it heard Ali cracked his fingers, a menacing aura enveloping him.
" Good, it's a pleasure to meet you two. Nixon and Nolan." Ali finally addressed them, his voice devoid of warmth.
"Now...I need you to tell me..." Approaching them calmly, he placed a firm hand upon each of their shoulders, his demeanor emanating an icy chill.
"Everything about your plans, and Why are you attacking these teenagers?" Ali demanded, his words cutting through the tension-laden air.
Ali's ocean stare made Nixon and Nolan tremble uncontrollably; the weight of their fear was palpable. Nolan summoned the courage to speak." A̶-̶A̵r̸̷̶e̴̵̸ ̵̸̸w̴e̷ ̷d̵̷̵o̷̴̴o̶̴̵m̴̴̴e̵̵̴d̵̶̸,̴̵̸ ̷̶̵N̴-̸N̵̸̷i̶̶̸x̶̷̶o̴̸̶n̴̶̷?̵̵̸ "
Nixon nodded," Y̸-̸Y̷e̶s̸,̶ ̸N̴o̸l̴a̸n̶.̷" Nixon's voice quavered as it replied, " W̶e̶.̸.̵.̵A̷R̷E̸ ̶a̸l̶r̶e̷a̶d̷y̴ ̴d̷o̸o̶m̷e̷d̴.̶" Their voices filled with resignation, the two creatures gulped and awaited their fate, knowing that their secrets would soon be laid bare.
End of Chapter 13: DIUK (The Forest )