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Bane of the Hunter

Bane of the Hunter

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Book 2 of the Animalians Hall series

In the sorcery-filled city, Pax and her friends are barred from probing into a deadly beastie's killings, but her drive to become a Hunter pulls her into dangerous territories and reveals secrets about her associates. As Pax delves deeper and the year advances, her fears intensify, culminating in a final hunt that threatens to claim lives from their group.


Every Hunter has a bane—but not everyone survives the hunt.

In the city of sorcery, a dangerous beastie is on the loose, killing the unwary, but Pax and her friends are forbidden to investigate. As she throws herself into becoming a Hunter, which include perilous visits to backwater Fae training grounds, she suspects that her professor and the new kid aren't telling the truth about their tragic pasts. As the year progresses, Pax's concerns about the killer escalate, until she's drawn into a final hunt that will lead to at least one of their number not surviving the year.

Chapter One Look Inside

Pax stared out the second-floor window in the Lovelace building at driving rain with her hand deep in the intestines of a speckled locanath. The lizard-like creature had white-dotted amber scales that turned crimson near the tail, and a firm underbelly that was currently split down the middle, the tough skin stretched wide like a kite. To some people, her situation would be a horror show, but to Pax, this was exactly where she wanted to be, even if events weren't always perfect.
"Nothing like a rainy day in Portland," said Esmerelda, nodding towards the streaked window as she lifted the bloody fist-sized heart from the corpse. "Which is, like, every day, but that can't be what's got you sighing more than a preteen after her favorite celebrity mage."
Pax bit her lower lip. "It's Kali. She's been gone for a few days. Not that it's totally unlike her, but since I'm leaving tomorrow..."
Esmerelda gave her a warm smile as she plopped the bloody organ onto the scale, splattering blood on her light blue leather apron.
"I bet she'll be waiting for you when you get back home, curled up on your bed waiting to cuddle. Given, you know, what she is, I doubt she would let you leave without her," said Esmerelda, shifting her mouth to the side.
After revealing the truth about Kali to her friends, she'd done the same with Esmerelda when she'd returned to the zoo that summer. She'd always suspected that Kali was different, but how different was something of a shock, even for an Animalians alumnus. They usually kept the dangerous predators behind glass, not invited them into their beds for belly scratches.
"You're probably right," said Pax. She almost sighed, but bared her teeth in a feral grin instead. Esmerelda, despite the difference in their ages, had been her best friend since she was a preteen. But as much as she leaned on the older Animalians alum, she wanted to learn how to navigate her unusual challenge on her own.
Esmerelda tapped on the intestines, raising her eyebrow. "Found the venom sac yet?"
"Almost, I think," said Pax, scrunching up her face as she dug deeper into the squishy, warm tubes.
Her rubber gloves went up to her armpits, but she was getting dangerously close to reaching that limit. The locanath was nearly seven feet long, an enormous specimen for the supernatural creature, which meant there was a lot of inner cavity to search.
"It should be right above the coprodeum, or not far from the cloaca," said Esmerelda.
The protective rubber gloves made searching difficult, especially since everything felt like a wet bag of mulch.
"Still nothing," said Pax. "How'd it die?"
Esmerelda sighed. "Don't know. She was eating fine, nothing unusual on her checkups except for a little weight gain. Our biggest worry was that she was our only speckled locanath. They're usually found in groups. But I can't imagine she died of loneliness."
The inner cavity confused Pax until she pulled her hand out—complete with sucking sound—then shoved it back in further up. Almost as soon as she dug around with her fingers she came upon a firm sac.
The look on her face brought Esmerelda around next to her, shoving her hands in parallel until she found the same spot. Together they wedged the viscera to the side, revealing an amniotic sac with a tiny, but dead, speckled locanath inside.
"What the...? I thought you said this was the only locanath in the zoo?" asked Pax.
Eyes widening by the second, Esmerelda shook her head, which made her ponytail dance.
"This explains a lot," she said as she wiggled her hands back out of the cavity, complete with a giggle-inducing sucking sound. "Though I never would have guessed it."
"Virgin birth? You're not going to claim divine intervention or something," said Pax, laughing as she stepped away from the table.
"Parthenogenesis," said Esmerelda suddenly. "Which, technically, is a virgin birth. Some critters can have a regular birth, but when they can't find a mate, they clone themselves. There are some sharks, Komodo dragons, a few other species that can manage the trick. She probably had a complication which did her in. Poor thing."
"Wow, that's crazy. I've never heard of that," said Pax.
"Nature comes up with all sorts of crazy ways to stay alive," said Esmerelda, shaking her head. "If you think this is weird, you should see this amphibian called Themyscira that steals DNA from other amphibians, not even their own kind. Frogs, lizards, whatever it can get its hands on so it can use their survival tools for their offspring."
Pax was about to shove her hands back into the dead locanath when she noticed the time.
"Shit. I need to get home. I told my parents I'd be cooking tonight," she said.
Esmerelda nodded towards the sink. "Sure thing. But I'm surprised they agreed. Things getting better?"
"They're not getting worse," said Pax, thinking about the uneasy truce that had been her first summer back. "Which in itself is a win."
"Small miracles," said Esmerelda as she dug her arms back into the bloody cavity in search of the venom sac while Pax washed off in the sink, being careful not to get the blood on her in case the sac had ruptured. "I'd give you a hug, but, you know. Good luck this year in Hunters. I still can't believe you joined those crazies."
"Patron Adele seemed to think that I'll fit in," said Pax, lifting a single shoulder before grabbing her pack. "Sorry about rushing off. Maybe I'll see you again during the school year? Though preferably without Logan, next time."
"Try not to die, Pax!"

Main Tropes

  • Urban Fantasy
  • Magical Academy
  • Found Family
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Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
Magical adventure!

In this very fast paced, magical, action adventure, Pax and her friends help the professor hunt for the Dragon Salamander. Wonderful series, looking forward to more adventures.