Red and The Wolf [EverlyxNivan]

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  1. "Listen up. It was fifteen years ago today that a wretched furbag tore this family apart. He stole my mother away from me. He put a stop to the good work she was doing ridding the world of those damned creatures! I did my part and I got my revenge, you all know that. Got him stuffed like the dog he was. I thought things were over then, but I was wrong. They had started a war. I know you've all heard this again and again, but I will not let you forget! Your mother was taken by these beasts five years after their leader fell to my hands and I will not let that go without punishment any longer! It's been ten years! I demand we put a stop to this now! No more! By the end of this year, this will be over, one way or the other!"

    There was a collection of cheers, but Kaiya was not paying very much attention. Every year, her father gave the same speech. Almost every word was exactly the same. When Gram died, he was angry, but when he lost his life.. He had become something else. Anger colored every move the man made. He told everybody that he met about the dangers of the werewolves. It didn't matter who it was, they had to be warned.

    Kaiya was the youngest of seven, and the only girl. Her six older brothers were much more inclined to follow orders than she was. They were just as excited to go off to fight as their father, but she just wanted it to be over. This had taken up the majority of her life and she was tired of the fighting. She knew the werewolves were evil, of course, but she wanted to do something else. Perhaps travel, or go to the city to get a job. Instead, they lived in the middle of nowhere, roaming during the night in an attempt to catch a were who had already transitioned so that no innocents were accidentally killed.

    "Red, I want you to go out with Nathan on first patrol," her father said, getting her attention. Red. That was her. Her mother had made her a blood red cloak before she died, and Kaiya still wore it. They used to call her Little Red, until she started smacking them around. Now they only did it when she couldn't reach them.

    "Okay," she agreed, standing up and following her eldest brother to the door. Thankfully the first patrol was usually boring as could be. None of the werewolves seemed to come out just after dark. She assumed they wouldn't be seeing any tonight either, but that didn't mean she was so stupid as to go out unprepared. Several small silver blades went in various places, from her belt to her arms under the sleeves of her tunic. Being caught without a weapon meant death.

    She looked over at Nathan, then grabbed her cloak and headed out the door behind him.
  2. Cathal leaned his hip against the wooden counter in the front of his home-turned-remedy-shop. There was an old woman, bent with age, and creaking at the joints, perusing his bottles. He'd offered her assistance twice already, but she'd waved him away, insisting that she was fine on her own. The sun was sinking in the sky outside, and he could hear the full moon singing in his veins. He itched to be out of his clothes. To feel the moon on his fur, to nip at the hamstrings of a deer, and feel it's lifeblood flood his mouth.

    But the woman was old, and his remedies helped ease her pain. His hunt could wait another few minutes. Just as Cathal resigned himself to a short hunt of the night, the little old woman hobbled up to his counter, her gnarled cane clack-clack-clacking against the floorboards of his little house. She carried in her palm a midnight-blue vial, stoppered with a cork, and labeled with a slip of paper tied to a narrow blue ribbon. A balm for her arthritis, then.

    Cathal smiled, and straightened. "Mrs. Delaney," He said with a smile. "Your knees acting up?"

    "Ah, but they are. Winter's been hard coming, and slow leaving, you know, and the change's got all the joints hurtin'." She leaned forward conspiratorially, "And I heard that there have been sightings of wolves outside of the Wolfwood! If I've got to hitch up my skirts and run for the hills, I don't want to be creaking all the way!" She cackled good-naturedly, and it brought a grin from the young alchemist. She set a few silver coins on the table, in recompense.

    "I'd pity the skinchanger that happened upon you when you've got your dander up, Mrs. Delaney." The stooped old woman gave the man a wink, and turned for the door. "I'll be by next month for some more, Mr. Devlin." She called over her shoulder, as she disappeared into the night.

    With a sigh, the young man shook his head, and took up the coins to tuck them into the strongbox beneath his counter. He straightened again, trying to hide a grimace as the bell over his door announced another new arrival. "I'm sorry, we're closed." He said as he straightened.

    Just inside his doorway stood a hooded man, shrouded in a thick woolen cloak. He was a large man, taller than Cathal, and just as broad, and he'd pulled his hood forward to cast his face in shadow. Even so, Cathal knew only one man as large as he, that would be wearing a thick cloak on a warm spring night.

    "Is that any way to greet family, boy?" Asked the man.

    Cathal grinned, and straightened, before bowing at the waist. "Welcome to my home, father. I thought you'd be out with your friends on a night like tonight." The shop was vacant but for Cathal and the hooded man, but life among humans had taught him caution.

    Big hands split the cloak, and rose to push back the brown hood. His father was a ruggedly handsome man with stark white hair cut even shorter than Cathal's, and a hooked nose that looked like it had been broken a time or two. He sported a closely-trimmed beard, one that didn't hang so much as an inch from his chin, and had piercing golden eyes. "I thought it might be nice to visit my boy for dinner." He said, with a grin.

    Cathal nodded, and swept towards his father for a brief, firm embrace, before sweeping around him to lock the front door. "It's an honor to have you, Father. Let me close up shop, and I'll treat you to one of my favorite meals."


    Cathal finished counting his earnings for the day, stowed his potioneering kit, and made the house secure before stepping out the back door with his father, and locking it behind him. Both he, and his father began to disrobe for the transformation. Clothes and valuables were secreted into a hidden hatch behind a row of bushes along the side of the house, and each man stretched to the sky as the last of the sun's light sank over the horizon.

    "Is it safe here, boy?" Asked the bearded man.

    "Yes father, safe enough." Assured Cathal. And then the transformation began. It was not pretty, and it was not pleasant. All snapping, creaking, groaning bones, re-forming joints, and growth of new skin, and bone. Fur grew in quick and full, and faces elongated to muzzles. Ears shifted, re-shaped, and quivered.

    When all was said and done, a pair of wolves -one white, one brown- stood waist-high behind the house for just a heartbeat, before racing toward the wood. Toward the hunt.
  3. Kaiya and Nathan did a slow circuit, taking the familiar path and keeping both eyes out for any signs of movement. A few rabbits scampered across the path, a couple of birds gave the passing humans bits of song. No wolves, not even regular ones. That was expected. It was not quite dark out, but the first couple of stars were beginning to twinkle above and it was a bit had to see under the tall trees of the wood. The Wolfwood. Nobody in their right mind went in here at night unless they had a death wish - either for themselves or a werewolf. First patrol, however, was a cake walk. It always was. She had a sneaking suspicion that was why her father always put her on first. He seemed to think that just because she wasn't one of the boys, she couldn't handle it.

    To be fair, she had never killed anything before, especially a werewolf.

    She hadn't even seen one up close, only in the distance for a short time. As she wandered, she wondered what they really looked like when you got close. Did they have human-like faces? No, that was probably just part of the myths surrounding the creatures. Her father said they had the face of the devil, but she wasn't sure what that meant. Demonic? Evil? Probably. She doubted a werewolf would be intimidated by her, despite the myriad of blades she carried. No predator in their right mind would fear a girl who barely hit five and a half feet tall, with big blue eyes and golden curls. She despised her own reflection. The rest of her family had dark hair and dark eyes - each one a copy of their father. She was the only one with any traits of her mother, and it made her feel like some sort of outcast.

    "So, are you going to tell Pops that you're leaving?" Nathan asked randomly. Kaiya glanced at him in surprise - normally he was a stickler for silence and keeping to the rules, but it seemed even he knew that they had been tossed the reject patrol.

    "I don't think it's a good idea to say anything about it until this is all over," she muttered, shaking her head once. "You know how he gets. This is all that matters to him. If I walked out, he'd disown me completely."

    "He's going to do that anyway. This is never going to be over, Red. They outnumber us at least ten to one, probably more for all we know. We can keep picking them off but there are always more, and it's only a matter of time before they sniff the house down. This is a life-long business," he said sternly, pausing in his steps to give her a frown. She stopped as well and sighed, shaking her head.

    "This isn't what I want to do with my life, Nathan. Is that a crime?" she asked, feeling as though she was just a kid whining to her big brother. He didn't care what she wanted, not really. It was silent between them for a minute, then he grinned at her.

    "Tell you what. I'll race you to the Falls. We're halfway there anyway. If you beat me, I won't bring it up again. But if I win, you stick around with your family like you're supposed to," he challenged. She considered it carefully - the Falls was the halfway point in the patrol, and there was more than one way to get there. Some shortcuts were too difficult for somebody to get through unless they were small. An advantage. She smirked and nodded once. "Alright. Don't cry when I whoop you," he said, nudging her aside before taking off at a sprint. Kaiya simply laughed and ran as well, cutting down a different path that was nearly guaranteed to be faster.
  4. Cathal and his father ate up ground as they approached the wood, wolves brown and white both bounding with unreserved gaiety for the freedom and the thrill. Sometimes Cathal chased his father, and sometimes he was the chased. They chuffed at one another, growling, yipping playfully, but their frolicking was silenced as they ghosted into the Wolfwood.

    Slowing not a hair, the pair ghosted between the trees. Ears alert, and eyes sharp, the pair of skinchangers stalked in near-silence through the woods. There were humans about, of course. Ever since the Feud had started, humans stalked the Wolfwood at night, looking to catch a lone Lycan in the hunt, alone and weak. Bartram -Cathal's father- Had initiated a protocol in that each wolf was to hunt with no fewer than one other at night, and often with more. It had cut down on casualties considerably, and had reduced the number of human incursions into the Wolfwood.

    One wolf was a threat, but a whole pack was silent death. Another chuff -from the white wolf- sounded, and the larger of the two peeled off to the west, toward the river. He'd caught scent of game. The hunt was on.

    Cathal put on the speed. Where his father was the more powerful of the two, Cathal was easily the quicker, though he kept pace with the elder lycan cautiously. He hadn't survived living among the humans by being reckless, and he knew that there was good reason behind his father's cautions to stay with a partner. Even so, the scent of terror, of flight spurred him onward.

    A flash of brown-and-white in the moonlight lit his soul afire, and his tongue lolled out of his mouth. A deer. He peeled off to one side, to cut off the deer as Bartram stayed hot on it's hindquarters, emitting a low growl to spur the terrified deer onward.

    Cathal burst from the bushes beside the beast as it passed, his jaws sinking into it's rear right flank. They left just as quickly as they'd come, the coppery taste of blood filling his mouth, his nose, and his mind. The deer was a buck, young and strong, with a full rack of horns on it's head. Dangerous, even wounded.

    It bolted off into the woods, slower, and the two wolves gave pursuit once again.

    Again, the same tactic worked, Bartram harrying the beast, Cathal flanking and wounding. Blood trailed in their wake, and the sounds of the hunt were unmistakable. When the deer finally tired and collapsed, it was at the head of a great waterfall.

    The wolves ate their fill, the rocks stained red with blood. Their silhouettes stood out stark against the sky, dark against a pale moon.
  5. Kaiya couldn't help but smile to herself as she sprinted through the trees. This was what she loved. The freedom of leaping from one rock to another, darting around trees and sliding down hills of dirt that were covered in dead leaves. Any small animals that were wandering around the Wolfwood scattered before her, escaping her notice as the sky grew ever darker. She adored the feeling of the wind whipping through her hair. It was a type of joy that she only experienced while alone. None of her brothers understood the thrill of running, unless they were competing in a race for bragging rights.

    It wasn't the same.

    She reached the Falls in record time, slowing before the water came into view just in case there was a coyote or something hanging out that would be startled. As she moved through the grass, her boots were near silent. Nothing was there. She smirked and looked all around, feeling highly confident. Nathan hadn't stood a chance. He was too tall and weighed down by muscle, and he had taken a longer route. She was so going to rub it in his face when he got here. Now she didn't have to worry about him dragging her down and keeping her at home. It wasn't as though she couldn't handle herself.

    She stretched her arms, absently wandering closer to the water as she waited for her brother. He shouldn't take more than a moment or two, she assumed. She pulled out a blade and examined it in the dim light, ensuring the leather wrapping around the hilt hadn't come loose like it had the day before. Nicely secure. She was about to put it back in the sheath when she heard something. What was that? She frowned and turned, stunned to see that she was uncomfortably close to a pair of wolves having dinner. But those were not regular wolves, were they..? They were rather large..

    Uh oh.

    Two. She hadn't even fought one werewolf on her own before.. or not on her own. And here were two, clearly hungry. She glanced back anxiously, seeing no sign of Nathan anywhere. He had either gotten lost, which was unlikely, or he had gotten held up by something unexpected. Her hold on the blade tightened and she slowly took a step back, wondering if she could slip away without being noticed since the pair seemed busy filling their bellies. If it came to it, she'd fight as hard as she was able. She wasn't going to hold back against the evil creatures.
  6. Cathal finished first, his long, pink tongue licking at his bloodied chops as his father continued to feed. His jaws stretched in a lazy yawn, and he sat back on his haunches. Deep, brown eyes turned from the feast, as he surveyed the surroundings. It wouldn't do to be taken unawares as they were eating, after all. A flash of light on metal caught his eye, and he growled low, a warning. His father stopped eating. hackles rose, and the larger wolf pulled the kill away from the waterfall.

    There was a person, Cathal saw, down near the rocks. Only two kinds of people came into the Wolfwood at night. Werewolves, and Hunters. Anger bubbled up low, in his chest, and he chuffed the warning to his father. The older wolf let out a low growl. Retreat.

    But if they retreated, the hunter may take another wolf unaware. It took Cathal only a moment to decide. Lightly, he bounded over the waterfall, hopping from rock to rock, more reminiscent of a mountain goat than a wolf, before coming to a stop just on the opposite side of the river from the blade-wielding woman.

    Bartram let out a series of stern barks, as he vanished into the woods. He would not be able to descend the same way Cathal had. Few wolves were as light on their feet as he. But it wouldn't take him much longer than ten minutes to find his way to the base of the waterfall. Less, if he was feeling particularly quick. Cathal growled his warning, his hackles high, and his bushy tail bristled out. The wolf was very nearly the size of a horse. A little longer, and a little lower to the ground, but still huge in comparison to the average wolf.

    He backed up a pace or two, before getting a running start, and bounding across the river. He landed in the shallows with a splash, and he pulled his lips back to bare razor-sharp teeth. If he scared this one off, then no other wolves would have to die. She looked young. Inexperienced. She was alone.

    Really, he didn't want to kill her. But he didn't want her to kill any of his, either.
  7. Kaiya watched the wolves closely, catching the exact moment that they noticed her presence. She stopped moving, knowing now that trying to slip away was a pipe dream. All she could do now was either run for it, or stand her ground. She stood perfectly still, only her eyes moving as she watched one of the fur-demons hop down the rocks with a grace that she would have found admirable if she was not torn between disgust and terror. Fear was winning out by far at the moment. She stared at the werewolf, trying not to let her discomfort show as she realized just how large it was. He? She? Did it matter?

    She tore her eyes away from the creature for just a moment to glance back. No Nathan. She was entirely on her own. Where was the other wolf? She frowned, taking a careful look around. Nowhere in sight. Surely it didn't run off to leave this one alone, even if the fight seemed easy. That was foolish. She looked back at the wolf in front of her, flinching back a step as it jumped across the water and landed a scarce ten feet in front of her.

    'The thing you gotta remember about these beasts is that they're the same as any other thing in the forest. They smell your fear, Red. Just keep your chin up and focus. Then, throw those blades of yours. I've never seen ya miss and I know you can handle it. Now come on, show me what you can do!'

    'Yes, Papa.'She shook her head a little, pushing away the memory. That was years ago, when she had first started learning how to throw knives. That was an unmoving, nonthreatening tree stump. Not a growling demonic beast that could easily tear her to shreds. She had to focus. Chin up. Don't show your fear. It probably already knew, but she had to at least give it her best effort and not run like a scared child.

    "Kaiya! Kill the damned thing!" Nathan shouted suddenly behind her. She jumped in surprise and looked back, seeing that he was cradling his arm at an odd angle. He had fallen and broken or sprained it, from the looks of things. He'd be useless now. She quickly turned back to face the werewolf, realizing now that she had no hopes of getting back-up, and the other wolf was still missing.

    "No," she said after a moment, holding up one hand with her palm outward while the other hand slowly sheathed her blade. She kept her eyes on the wolf, carefully backing up until she was next to Nathan.

    "What are you doing?! It's alone! Take your chance! You can't turn away now!" he hissed at her, shocked and outraged that she would back down from a fight.

    "I'm not going to get us both killed out here. Come on!" she insisted, grabbing his good arm and hauling him away from the clearing as quickly as she could. She didn't want to admit that she had just come to the horrid realization that she could not stomach the idea of killing anything, werewolf or not.
  8. The bloody-mouthed wolf's dark eyes flicked to the girl's right, as another human approached. He heard the man before he spoke. Smelled him. Blood occluded his senses, but he was still present enough to think. The man was injured. Cathal could take them both. The girl was skittish, the man wounded. He might not even take any injuries fighting, the way they were now, but the danger was there. And the girl apparently didn't want to fling one of those dangerous silver blades at him. He'd seen their like. Been burned before. But they were going.

    He made a faux-lunge as they began to retreat, coming just free of the water, though he moved no farther in pursuit as they retreated into the forest. He sat himself down when they were out of both eyeshot and earshot, and cleaned his muzzle. He drank from the river, and laid himself down on his side to relax. Perhaps his father would find the Hunters on their way out, but he wouldn't engage them. Not alone.


    It took the older wolf nearly ten minutes further to reach the younger, who'd stayed where he was at the base of the waterfall. Cathal shifted back to the form of a man, an bent to wash the rest of the blood from his face. His father -still bloody- returned as well, and he was glowering.

    "That was foolish, boy. Jumping into a fight alone. Those Hunters carry silver."

    Cathal rolled his eyes. "I didn't plan on fighting her father. Just scaring her away from the Wolfwood. She was only one, and afraid besides."

    "She had a partner. And you could have been killed."

    The younger lycan let a rueful smile flit across his face. "It's unlikely. But you worried about me. I will follow your lead next time, father. Would you like me to escort you back to pack lands?"

    The elder shook his snowy head. "Just make sure to steer clear of hunters on your way back home."

    Cathal dipped his head obediently.

    Both men shifted, and went their separate ways.


    The moon remained high, as Cathal raced back through the forest, following the trail of the Hunters for a time to make sure they hadn't looped back to continue the hunt, before making his way back home. It was always a risk coming out on a full moon. Someone could see him leaving, or returning.

    But the thrill of danger made the hunt all the sweeter, and Cathal would have gone mad had he had to abandon it. The risk was worth the reward.
  9. "I can't believe what I just witnessed.."

    Nathan was angry. More than angry. The rage rolled off of him in waves that were so thick Kaiya could almost feel them crashing in to her. He was walking a couple of steps ahead of her, but that didn't stop him from frequently stopping and turning to give her a livid glare. It seemed the pain from his injury was nonexistent in comparison to the betrayal that he felt when he now gazed upon his only sister in the light of a failure.

    "Nathan, you know that I can't fight a werewolf alone!"

    "You've been trained for this for years, Red!"

    Kaiya frowned, desperate for him to understand. Training against a wooden stump and flour-filled targets was not the same as facing down a werewolf. Those eyes glowing in the moonlight, the deep growl that she had felt shaking her soul, the bristling fur that gave off a clear threat and warning. None of her training had prepared her for that. She had never even killed a squirrel!

    "That doesn't matter! You're injured! You could have died and it would have been my fault!"

    "You know Pops is going to freak out, right? You had a werewolf alone, cut off from the pack, and you had a knife in your hand. You didn't even try! You could have at least hurt the damned thing instead of just letting it go! That menace is probably off killing some hiker now!"

    "Oh, Nathan, you know that nobody comes in the Wolfwood at night. And it had already eaten!"

    "How do you know?!"

    "I saw it eating! A deer! It wasn't munching on some human villager or anything, stop yelling at me!"

    "No!" Nathan shouted, stopping again to turn and face her. "You don't get it! That thing that you just let live might have been the one that ripped Mom's throat out, and you just let it walk away as if it was some dog," he hissed, making her cower back from him. "You know what? Fine. If you think you know what's best, then you finish this patrol on your own. I'm going back."

    Kaiya stared after him in shock, but he was completely serious. He turned and walked away, taking a direct route back to the cabin instead of continuing on the patrol route. She couldn't abandon the patrol now! Her father would be even more upset than he was already going to be! She frowned and pulled a blade out in each hand. This patrol was going to be finished, and she wasn't going to be scared again.


    She swallowed, glancing around the silent woods before starting off on the patrol path again by herself.
  10. Cathal followed the trail very nearly to the edge of the forest. One of the set of tracks kept on going toward the clearing. Toward the city. But the other set of tracks turned back into the woods. With an irritated chuff, the young lycan glanced towards his home. He might not have been part of the pack any more, but at the very least he could still help protect them.


    He raced off down the path, ghosting among the treas. Moonshadows hid him, and his brown pelt blended well with the forest floor. The girl had remained. He remembered her smell. Fear. Anger. He doubted she'd best a wolf in single combat, but if she came upon a wolf in the midst of a hunt, it could end badly. So on he followed the trail. He kept right on tracking her, staying downwind of her by habit. Skirting bushes, and avoiding dry twigs.

    The moonshadows were still deep, but soon he picked her out among the trees. He picked up his pace, and with a rustle of leaves he cut out in front of the Hunter again. She had a pair of daggers, one in each hand this time. He let out another one of those low, warning growls, his hackles rising, and his ears laid low. His teeth pulled back, and his legs bent, prepared to spring.

    He let out a low, commanding bark. She needed to leave.
  11. Kaiya walked carefully, staying as quiet as she could. Gone was the simple joy of running through the woods and watching the moonlight play on the leaves of the trees. Now she was scared and alone, but determined. If she ran off home now, she would have failed to complete what was supposed to be the easiest patrol of the night. Nathan would never let her live it down, and he would probably go back on their deal. Maybe he already had. Perhaps even now her father was in a rage over her ideas of leaving her family to go out on her own into the world.

    Hopefully it wasn't as overwhelming as being alone in the Wolfwood.

    She kept walking, staying strictly to the path. No wandering, no poking around, no pausing to admire pretty flowers or adorable sleepy animals. She was barely even looking around for werewolves anymore - hopefully they weren't following. Another run-in was not anything she neede-.. Her thoughts trailed off to a silent dismay as she saw movement ahead. She stopped walking and stared at the wolf that had just popped in front of her out of nowhere. It was the same one that she had just left behind at the Falls, she was certain of it. She frowned as it growled at her, now getting a bit annoyed even though she was still scared. When it barked, she tilted her head slightly.

    "What?" she snapped back at it out of reflex. It was late and her constant level of terror was exhausting her. She was sorely tempted to put her hands on her hips and tell the werewolf off for following her around, but she knew that wasn't wise. It looked ready to tear her apart, and she was in no shape to kill it. She stared at it, wondering why she had bothered to speak to it. Horrible things probably didn't even understand Common tongue. She glanced to the side, weighing her options. Going back the way she had come was pointless and would only lead her further from home. The most direct way to the cabin was through the werewolf, which was obviously impossible. Going to the side meant going off the path into unknown territory.. and possibly leading the thing away from her family.

    It was her only chance.

    She hesitated, then threw one of her knives at the werewolf without truly looking or aiming, then she turned and started running through the woods in a random direction.
  12. Cathal might have smiled in amusement at the girl's temper, had it not been imperative to force her out of the wood. She looked irritated, but determined. He continued growling, low and threatening. He thought about making another faux-lunge to drive her off of the path and towards the edge of the wood, but she looked skittish. And those blades looked sharp. Her hand whipped back, and then forth again.

    A silver dagger spun through the air.

    The wolf flinched away from the flying silver.

    Pain, sharp and burning pierced his shoulder, far too close to his throat for comfort. He didn't know whether the girl was skilled or lucky, but he knew immediately that he had to get out of there. He'd have to risk the shift with the blade still in his arm. There was no telling how long it would take him to get back to packlands with a blade in his shoulder, and by then the poisonous silver may well render him too weak to recover. His house was considerably closer.

    This all flashed through his mind the moment the blade struck home, and stuck fast. He let out a startled yelp, and clenched his muzzle closed. He wouldn't let the Hunter hear him whine.


    As quickly as he could manage, he darted off, away from the heart of the woods, blind with pain and fury. If he could get to his hut, he could knit the flesh back together. If not...

    Determined, the wolf crashed through the brush all the grace from earlier that night gone, skirting only shrubs too large not to pass through as he made a beeline for his home. He was leaving a trail wide enough for a blind man to follow.
  13. Pain.

    Kaiya could hear it in the yelp that escaped the werewolf. There was pain, not anger. She ran onward for a few moments, then darted behind a tree and held her breath. Nothing. She hesitated, then peeked out around the solid trunk. Where did it go..? She bit her lower lip indecisively, finally realizing that she could not linger there all night long. The path was the way home, she had to go back. And so she headed back the way she had come, only to find that the werewolf was nowhere to be seen. Had she killed it? Was it wounded terribly? Would it be okay? She looked all around, then peered down at the ground. The wet shine of blood looked back up at her. There wasn't a lot, but it was definitely fresh. She had hit it.

    Instead of feeling proud of her accomplishment, she felt guilty. She had harmed a werewolf that, if she was completely honest with herself, hadn't attacked her. It had only been growling at her like a dog would when defending a bone. Instead of backing off, she had lashed out and run for it. Now it was bleeding and had run off. She turned and saw several disheveled bushes and trampled bits of grass leading off from the side. Well, it wasn't being careful now. That made her feel worse. What if another hunter found it and finished it off?

    Wait, why did she care?

    She grimaced and glanced up at the moon. There was still a little bit of time. She cast one last look toward home, then set off down the path that the werewolf had taken. All she wanted was to make sure it was okay. Then she'd go home and pretend none of this ever happened.
  14. It was harder to run with a knife in his shoulder than he'd thought it would be. Brush and branch caught at the hilt, tugging, tearing. If he'd been lucky, one of the catches would have pulled it loose. None such luck was to be had, however. He broke free of the forest at a slower trot, his tail drooping, and his ears hanging low beside his head. His great, pink tongue lolled out of his mouth as he gasped air.

    He could see his home, windows dark, and chimney smokeless, a darker shadow against the pale of the golden grass. He would have to shift to open the door. Wolves couldn't use keys. Or uncork bottles. That would be painful.

    Sluggishly, the great wolf cast a glance at his backtrail, catching sight of the gold-haired huntress once again. He kicked himself for a foo. He'd left a trail a mile wide, right back to his house. His father might kill him, if the blonde hadn't beaten him to it. The brown wolf grimaced, circling about to face his pursuit. His right, foreleg glistened darkly in the moonlight.

    He backed towards his home slowly, watching the huntress approach. He didn't see a bow. Did she plan to finish him with a dagger? A dangerous prospect against a werewolf. Closing quarters with a beast nearly twice your size, equipped with natural weapons was as sure a way into an untimely grave as there was.

    But he was wounded. And tired.

    He let out an exhausted growl. He couldn't run. The only other place to go would be back to pack lands, through the wolfwood. The poisonous Silver would kill him by then, and that was presuming he could make it past the huntress.

    Beginning to feel nauseous, Cathal gritted his teeth, and began the transformation. At the very least, he could get the bloody dagger out of his shoulder.

    The night was punctuated by a snap-snap-snapping, as bone shifted, shrank, and relocated. Fur receded into pale skin, and his face shortened to man-sized features. The dagger made a scraping noise as bone ground against it, re-setting, and Cathal sank to the ground dressed in nothing but his skin.

    A hand rose to the weapon buried halfway to hilt in his shoulder, and with a grimace, he tried to pull it out. More nausea, and light-headedness swept him.

    "Stay back," He said.

    His vision was going blurry.


    The world went sideways. The huntress grew nearer.


  15. Kaiya ran through the trees, trying to be quick and quiet at the same time. It was not an easy feat, and she found she was making more noise than she would have liked as she went through the forest. Still, she didn't see the werewolf. Where did it go? She knew that she was on the right path - it was hard to miss the trampled branches and patches of blood streaked across the leaves every now and then. Just when she was starting to wonder how much endurance the creature had while wounded, the Wolfwood opened up. This was the edge. She recognized the town in the distance, but her eyes were focused on the werewolf that she could now see before her. Its movements were sluggish and the eyes seemed dim, though it was hard to tell from this distance. She heard it growl, but it was backing away instead of advancing.

    Was it scared?

    She tried to step closer, but as soon as she did, something started to happen. It took her a few seconds to realize the creature was shifting right in front of her. She stared in shock. No werewolf would ever transition in front of a human, much less one that was armed and trained to kill them. It was full exposure, wasn't it? She watched as the creature changed into the appearance of a human, working hard not to be sickened at the sounds of snapping bones. Soon it was over, and she came to the conclusion that the creature was male.

    And naked.

    Her cheeks turned a bright shade of red and she looked away, clearing her throat. Well. This was a whole new level of inappropriate. Her father would crap a cow if he could see her now. She sighed and was going to suggest that he take her cloak, but then she heard a soft thud and looked up to find that he had collapsed. He said something that she could not quite hear, so she moved closer, only to see his eyes close. Damn it! She quickly moved closer, but he was no longer moving. He wasn't a threat to a field mouse in this state. She dropped to her knees and braced one hand on his shoulder, using the other to pull the blade out with rapid efficiency. Once it was out, she tossed it aside on the ground and pressed a hand to the wound to staunch the bleeding as best as she was able while her free hand unbuckled her cloak. She used it as a bandage, wrapping it around his shoulder and fastening it to stay in place. Now she just had to move him.

    Move a naked man.


    She took a deep breath and kept her eyes carefully pointed to the sky, thanking her lucky stars that her brothers tussled with her enough that she could handle half-lifting the unconscious man. Even one she was standing upright with his arm around her shoulders for leverage, his legs were still dragging behind. Oh well. A bruise on the knee was better than being dead. She tugged and pulled, slowly getting him to the door of what she assumed was his home. Locked. She sighed and forced it open with the help of a blade, then hauled him in and laid him down on the first thing large enough to support him that she found - a couch. He was laying on his side so that the wound would be easy to access, and she spent several minutes looking around for a salve and bandages. To her immense surprise, she found that the werewolf seemed to be an alchemist. That was... strange. Her father told her that all they did was rip people apart, not help people or have jobs. She frowned in confusion, but carefully cleaned and bandaged the wound with what she found. Once she was confident that it would be okay, she covered him up with a blanket and left.

    Now to figure out how to explain the blood all over her hands and cloak..

    The next day could not come swiftly enough.
  16. Cathal faded in and out of consciousness, which was absolutely ludicrous. He was dead. He'd passed out, in human form, in front of a Hunter with a silver blade lodged in his shoulder. The bleeding might've killed him in a few days, or disease in a week, but the silver... The silver would have ended him before the night had turned to day, and that's to say nothing of the hunter, armed and willing.

    But even so, he woke. "Am I dead?" He asked, his voice hoarse, and his mouth dry. He got no answer. He felt gaunt. Sick. If this was death, he was surely in hell. He tried to sit up, and found himself swaddled in blankets on the couch in the back of his home. Had his father followed him? Chased off the Huntress at the last moment? Unlikely. But more likely than the alternative.

    With a groan, Cathal sat up, his eyes squinting as he looked toward the window, glaring sunshine. The light stabbed at his eyes, like daggers. That was the east window. It was still early. Before noon. Blearily, the lycan swung his legs out over the edge of the couch, and pushed himself to his feet. He wavered for a moment, and shambled -still naked- to his alchemical set. His affinity would deal with the wound, though more slowly than it would have for an iron blade, but the poison of the blade had to be flushed from his system.

    He found the potion he was looking for in a cupboard beneath his counter. An inky black swill, that stank of eggs when he popped the cork. Holding his nose, the young werewolf tossed back the potion, trying to ignore the taste. He gagged, and felt his temperature rise. But the potion was working. He'd survive.

    What a night.
  17. All in all, the night could have been much worse.

    On the way home, Kaiya had known she would have to lie about the blood. But, as she looked at it, she realized it was no different than her own. That gave her an idea. She used one of her blades and gave herself a shallow cut across the arm, then wrapped her bloody cloak around it. There. An excuse. She went home and was fully prepared to give some sort of rambling story about how she had spooked herself and accidentally tripped, but in the end, she didn't have to. Nathan and her father met her at the door, and her brother was sporting a brilliant bruise on his cheek. Apparently her father had been outraged that Nathan lost his temper and abandoned Kaiya, so they had fought. Nathan lost. They had looked for Kaiya but hadn't found her, so she gave a feeble excuse about being lost. Thankfully they had been so worried that nobody was upset with her.

    As she laid in bed with a bandaged arm and freshly washed hands, she wondered if the werewolf would be alright. She had done all she could. Honestly she didn't know much about them. Did they heal at the same rate as humans? Faster? She knew that silver meant death, but she had taken it out. Perhaps he would be okay. Maybe she had saved his life. That made her feel good, but also guilty. She had attempted to save a werewolf, who would have torn her to shreds if he hadn't been so weak.

    Had she made a mistake?

    Her sleep was restless and she rose with the dawn, taking a large apple and heading out to walk through the Wolfwood for a little while before her father began insisting on more training. He let them wander alone during the day, as no werewolf would be out hunting then. She walked to the Falls and sat on a large rock at the top, munching her apple and watching birds dance overhead.
  18. The day following the full moon was one filled with tense anticipation. Equally unwilling to put up with the questions that his injury would draw, and the idea of sitting around the house all day, Cathal never bothered opening his storefront. Still too weak to comfortably transform -with fresh scar tissue binding the wound in his shoulder- Cathal grabbed his pack, his pocket-knife, and a walking stick, and he set out northward. Toward the Wolfwood.

    The day was a lovely, spring day, and the sun beamed warm upon his shoulders as he walked. The Wood always made him feel better when he was brooding, and already his mood had started to improve. By the time he got to the edge of the great forest, he was smiling, and humming a merry tune.

    The dappled light that made it through the leaves overhead wasn't as warm as the direct beams that had bathed him in warmth on the way, although after the rather lengthy walk, the cool of the shade was a pleasant change of pace. Cathal's mood dampened slightly when he came across the trail he'd taken back to his house, still spotted with his blood. He cut across the path, and made for the river. The night wouldn't rob him of a day in the woods, or the joy of the wild.

    When he found the river, he followed it northward toward it's source. The waterfall where he and his father had feasted on the deer just before the rather unfortunate assault. When he came to the base of the waterfall, he set down his pack, and his walking stick. He wasn't alone, but there wasn't any reason to think that he was in danger. No Hunters came around during the day. There were no werewolves to hunt. He'd be fine. And the likelihood of running into the hunter that had stabbed him again... Well that was incredibly small.
  19. Kaiya finished off her apple and tossed the core aside. Such a beautiful morning. It was a shame she had to spend the rest of it in training. She sighed and stood up, dusting herself off before stretching. It seemed rude to waste such a wonderful morning completely. She grinned to herself and glanced around. Maybe just a little run. After confirming that nobody was looking, she took off sprinting around the field, a wide grin on her face. The open air, the warm sun, the birds overhead. Freedom. She laughed and ran back over to the edge of the falls, taking a flying leap over the side and landing on the grassy hill that ran next to the rocks of the falls. Tucking her body down, she laughed as she rolled head over heels like a child, bouncing her way to the bottom.


    She laid on her back, gazing up at the blue sky for a minute before she hopped up to her feet and brushed herself off. The roll had made her arm ache, but it was nothing she couldn't handle. She absently rubbed the fresh bandages and walked over to the water to wash her hands off, only then realizing that she wasn't alone. A man? At first she thought nothing of it, but then she recognized him. She froze, staring at him for a long moment before panic set in. Alone, unarmed. Again. She hesitated, then turned away with full intentions to run for it.
  20. Cathal was busy peeling his shirt up, intent on going for a swim when the girl tumbled down the hill. He heard her of course. Even outside of the form of a wolf, he had heightened senses of sight, sound, and smell. But a tumbling forest-goer was no concern of his. His arm made clambering out of the shirt stiff, but he managed after the uninjured one came free. He simply peeled the sleeve off of the other, and cast it aside. He'd been about to drop trow, and wade into the water in his skivvies, but his hands stopped at his belt as his eyes fell on the other waterfall goer.

    She was blonde, and lovely. And she'd stabbed him. And she knew where he lived. He frowned, as she caught sight of him, thoughts running through his mind in a panic. What would she do? Would she identify his home? Set an ambush during the next full moon?

    He needed answers, and she looked as if she was about to bolt. That triggered an instinct in him, deep and primal. He paced closer, his face set in determination. Human bodies were clumsy, and slow, but his would do for the chase, if the girl decided to run.

    She turned.

    He broke into a dead sprint, careless of the stones and branches that caught at his bare feet, and pantlegs. His feet were quiet on the shore of the river, though not as quiet as the wolf's pads. They would do. She was close, but was she close enough?

    He reached out a hand to grab the sun-haired girl.
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