The Forest Witch

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by The Mood is Write, Jan 27, 2015.

  1. [​IMG]

    A werewolf is found by a farmer and her son who live in a strange forest. Her care keeps him alive, but he's nowhere near where he last remembers he was when he closed his eyes. Is there more to the woman than her simple home lets on?
    #1 The Mood is Write, Jan 27, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2015
  2. A man with much to hide has lost his home, his past, and his family and friends. The strange new world to which he awakens is one of which to be wary. Fortunately his lupine instincts are good at getting him out of physical scrapes, but what traps him is something on a much larger scale. How can he go home if he doesn't know how he arrived here? The mysterious owner of the house in which he comes to may be his only option.
  3. Lyall was panting. His head still reeled as his adrenaline rush slowly died down and he beheld the scene. Both vampires were dead, there was no mistaking it. Decapitated. Not even the undead could survive that. The mess of blood and other fluid strewn around the alley was mostly the vampires' own ichor-blood solution, but a few splatters of it had come from his own wounds and those of his comrades. The other werewolf in the alley clutched her shoulder as she hunched down, and bright red fluid seeped from between her furred fingers. His own paw was on his waist before he could help it, a grimace of pain pulling across his muzzle. It was quite a gash that had sliced his middle open; the sooner he and Em could get back to the den and get patched up, the better, but could they make it before bleeding out? His eyes flickered back to a sloppy pile of clothing behind them in the alley. He'd managed to get his arms out of the sleeves of his coat before he'd transformed, but his pants and boxers were history. Oh well...hopefully they'd make good makeshift bandages.

    A throaty growl from nearby caused his ears to perk back up and his fur to bristle. He swung his head around to seek the source, and he beheld his second companion, a young woman who seemed to have taken much less damage than the two wolves. Her eyes were on a corpse slumped against the nearest wall that belonged to neither of the vampires. It was a human, dead for at least the last few minutes. The vampires had been found feeding from it. And here his friend was eyeing it with a strange, dangerous, singleminded stare. Her lips pulled back to reveal fangs even as he watched her. The hungry growl in her throat grew louder.

    "Astrid, no." Lyall's low, growling voice was firm. "That's not yours."

    She seemed not to hear him. Her pace picked up as she licked her lips.

    The werewolf twitched in worry and then lurched forward. His wounds stung, but he ignored them. "Astrid! Don't you dare!" He staggered in front of the girl and made to push her away by the shoulder. "You can't let yourself--"

    But the woman who whipped her face up to meet his was not Astrid, not the Astrid he knew. The glint in her eye had turned to fury. He was face to face with a third vampire, ten times hungrier than the ones they'd just fought. How could she not be? She'd never truly eaten. She hissed, and in a flash so fast he couldn't perceive it, her fangs were embedded in his shoulder.

    He balked. His back arched in spasms as fire spread through him. Pain. Oh good heavens, the pain. It entered his flesh in pulses from her fangs, each pulse a fresh surge of paralyzing electricity. A strangled wail of agony fought its way out of his throat. His arms twitched helplessly. They weren't obeying him. They couldn't fight her off. He couldn't hurt Astrid.

    There was a yell and the sudden feeling of something being yanked out of him. He blinked in confusion. Astra's teeth were no longer embedded in his flesh. He looked instead up into the eyes of his other comrade, the other wolf. "I told you not to bring her, you numbskull!" Em snarled. "And you just had to go and not listen--"

    "Lyall!" A higher-pitched shriek, and then Astrid reappeared in his vision. Her face wasn't that of the beast who'd just attacked him. It was the face of his friend, contorted in fear and shame. "Lyall, I didn't..."

    "Stop. Just...go." He could feel himself trembling, his fur melting away as he weakened. "Em. Patch yourself up. Take...Astrid back. Live, both of you." He forced himself to roll onto all fours as his body reverted completely, but as soon as his weight seemed to settle, his limbs seized up and crumpled beneath him. Bare skin hit asphalt. Every inch of his body burned now, and numb blackness clawed at the edges of his perception.

    "And what, leave you here?!" Em's voice was indignant. "No way we'll--"

    "Go." His voice felt weak in his throat. "You know vamp venom is...lethal I'm done."

    There was a pause. Then footsteps, heading back the way they had initially come. Then another pause...and after that, he wasn't sure. The pain all over had started to turn into a dizzying tingle his brain could hardly make sense of. He saw nothing. He heard nothing. The last thing he perceived was the slight weight of something covering him. His coat. He'd have chuckled if he had any strength left; as it was, his body only shifted a little. At least they would let him die with a little bit of dignity.
  4. Eventually, Lyall could feel his own body again. He was under a thick quilt, and laying on a very thin mattress that felt like it was stuffed with straw. His head rested on a feather-stuffed pillow. A few shafts poked out at his head and neck. His midsection, where he'd been clawed, was bound tightly in what felt like starched cloth that also wound about his bitten shoulder. Both wounds itched and ached, but the pain was dull. The scent of mint, herbs, and salt clung to his nose, and the sound of a boiling kettle came from somewhere to his right. Smoke an crackling came from somewhere below-- in the direction his feet were pointed.

    He felt warm, but his body was stiff and refused to move. His back, shoulders, and neck ached. His arms and legs felt like they were absent, though he could detect their weight. The more he woke, the more he could feel static there, resembling snow from an old television.

    Soft footsteps approached, and stopped near him, and he could hear the sound of softly creaking floorboards as someone sat. The back of a small, cool hand rested against his forehead for a moment. "The fever's finally gone down." It was an unfamiliar woman's voice, and she sounded relieved. When she sighed, it was heavy.

    Careful fingers pulled Lyall's mouth open, and a rough cloth soaked in something strong and vile filled his mouth. "Drink and rest some more. You're still very weak."

    If he opened his eyes, he could see the woman leaning over him was round, with a soft face that was tanned and heavily freckled. Her hair was mostly held in a bun, though wild streaks of the sun-bleached brown flew out in every direction. Her brown eyes watched his mouth as she tried to get him to drink from the cloth. Beyond her, clusters of dried fruits, vegetables, meats, and various jars hung from the rafters. To his left was a wooden wall, and to the right, the woman who leaned over him.

    With his limited field of vision, he couldn't see much else. From somewhere else, it was hard to tell where, he could hear a splash.

    The woman scowled and rose, about to hurry off. "Beliam!" She paused, then looked back down. "Beliam will be fine, even if he's being terrible." He could see, when she stood, that she wore a plain, rough-made dress with a white apron that had clumsily-embroidered yellow flowers along the bottom. She knelt again and watched Lyall's face.
  5. At some point, Lyall realized he was conscious. It was all he knew, and the realization was but a weak thought, but it was something. It took a few more moments after that for his mind to rev up fast enough to start processing anything else. He was awake, if only just. He was lying somewhere, and it wasn't very comfortable. His brain told his body to try moving, but he only felt the neural message shoot through a few muscles in his core before it fizzled out, vanishing somewhere in the general vicinity of where he thought his legs were supposed to be. He couldn't feel his limbs. Or could he? Come to think of it, he could, actually. Just barely. They did not respond when he tried to move again, instead responding to him with a weak but uncomfortable pins-and-needles sensation. Ugh. He ached, he ached everywhere. His shoulder was the worst.

    Lyall's thoughts stalled on that as his brain attempted a gear shift. His shoulder. That had all really happened. Astrid had turned on him. And...he had survived. It couldn't be, yet it was. Somehow, through some miracle, that bite that he could have sworn was about to kill him on the spot had not killed him at all. His eyelids twitched with the fresh desire to determine where in the would he was, but they were not ready to obey him and open, not yet. He clenched his teeth in irritation. His body was fighting him, rendering him helpless. Lyall did not take kindly to feeling helpless.

    His other senses had begun to function once more. He smelled herbs. He heard a kettle, and then footsteps. The footsteps came closer and ended with a pause and quiet creak off to his side. Someone was near him. A moment later he was startled by the sudden touch of someone's fingers at his mouth, but he was still too disoriented to protest. Something told him keeping his mouth clamped tightly shut to spite the stranger was a pointless idea. His mouth opened. Something wet, scratchy, and horrid on the tongue was poked inside; discomfort twisted across his face. But he was instructed to drink the fluid, and he'd just decided he had no reason to spite the stranger, so he complied. He closed his jaw and pressed with his tongue to squeeze out whatever fluid from the rough cloth that he could, though he shuddered from the taste as soon as he did, and forced himself to swallow. He relaxed his jaw and pushed the cloth out of his mouth with his tongue.

    He tried to open his eyes again. This time they responded, at least partially. They creaked open about a third of the way, not yet willing to let much light in, and beheld Lyall's companion. A woman. A round-faced, sun-baked woman who immediately struck him as motherly. He took a careful inhale, trying to get the scent of her to fill his nose. Human, he was pretty sure. But he smelled many things on her that made him less than certain, and his nose in this form wasn't as good as his wolf's nose. What he was positive about was that she was certainly neither werewolf or vampire. He knew those scents well.

    There was a splash somewhere, and the woman responded to it, but after a moment she settled back into her seat and looked closely into Lyall's face again. He blinked a couple of times. He shifted his shoulders in place a little. Hm, his body was starting to feel responsive, if only in a few places, but it was something. He tilted his head toward her, thinking about what he wanted to say and could afford to say before he attempted to say it. His voice came out quiet, though his faint Scottish accent was audible. "What sort of concoction have you given me, and can I buy some from you?" was what he came up with. It was dry humor, but that was how Lyall rolled. He had reason to believe this woman was the one responsible for the fact that he obviously was not dead, and if she had developed some cure for vamp venom, against all odds, he wanted to know about it. His thoughts flickered briefly to the notion that she might know what he was, but he shook those concerns away. There was nothing to be done now.
  6. As his eyes began to adjust to being open, he could see more-- if he looked left, he could see around the woman. There was a shelf across the room, stuffed with nicely-folded clothes, farm tools, bags, boxes, and even a few familiar items-- his own clothing, from top to bottom, all present. Beyond his feet, he could see the chimney of a fireplace. The room was small-- perhaps three and a half meters across.

    The woman smiled as she saw him move, and pushed some stray hair behind her ear absently. His voice sounded half-drunk to her, and she took a few moments to find his meaning. "That particular one is just to help you stay asleep-- you're still in bad enough shape that too much activity might cause troubles." She adjusted the quilt, pulling it up to his neck. "You've been waking up more often of late, though, so perhaps your body disagrees with me." For a few moments, she watched her guest. He did have more color to his face than when she first brought him into the house, and humor was always a good sign, as far as she was concerned. Perhaps he was finally ready to wake up? She had been keeping him asleep for quite some time...

    Small feet ran around outside, and a door at his feet slammed open. A young boy, perhaps eleven, who looked just like his mother ran in. He wore a tunic right from a ren faire, belted with a length of rope that held an axe just his size at his hip. He was soaked and beaming, though his smile withered at his mother's glare.

    "Beliam! Did you finish what I asked you to do?"

    The boy shrunk away. "Maybe?"

    "I'll take a switch to you if you don't have it done by lunch-- including bringing me those reeds!" She swatted the boy's head. "Now go, you're getting the floor all wet! If it soaks into our guest's blankets, he'll catch cold. Shoo!"
  7. That wasn't the answer Lyall hoped for. It told him nothing, save that it wouldn't be long before he fell asleep again. In fairness, it had been rather optimistic of him to hope a stranger would give away a secret formula like that. The woman tugged the quilt a little further up his body; he felt it slide over his bare skin in several places, and he noticed for the first time that his collarbones and the top edges of his shoulders--at least where they weren't bandaged--had been exposed to the air this whole time. He was still unclothed. This strange woman had stuffed him into a bed without covering him with anything but this very quilt. The thought brought heat to his cheeks, and he didn't like it. Not that he should have expected her to give him anything of the sort, he supposed, as unclothed was presumably the state in which she'd found him, but still.

    The entrance of a boy, presumably the woman's son, was what finally kicked Lyall's mental gear up to overdrive. His clothes looked...wrong. Several centuries wrong. His eyes darted back to the woman, now focused on her attire. A rough dress and an apron. Just as wrong. A visual sweep of what he could see of the room around him further cemented the scenario in his head. Wherever he was, it didn't look like anything out of twenty-first century Earth. But then where on Earth was he? Or rather, when? His eyes lingered on the shelves nearby once he discovered them. If he wasn't mistaken, those were what he'd been wearing before the fight. Faded black longcoat, check. Army green cargo pants, check. Ash gray boxers, check. The last he'd seen of those latter two, they'd split at the seams because he'd been startled into transforming early, and yet here they were, whole, and folded neatly besides. He could see from here that a lot of thick-threaded needlework had been done on them to piece them back together. That took dedication...and more importantly, time. How long had he been asleep? Who was this woman to care so much? What was she capable of? How had he come here, wherever and whenever "here" even was? His mind spun furiously, desperate to achieve something before it inevitably slowed down again from that sleep-medicine, but all it had were questions, way too many questions. There were no answers.

    He made eye contact with the woman again. He was visibly troubled, and though that rendered on his face as a look of anger and suspicion, it masked that he was frightened as well, frightened of having been flung into a world of so many unknowns. He couldn't afford to worry about saying things that did or didn't make sense anymore. Nothing here made sense. "What year is it?" he asked, his voice stronger and harsher now. "What planet are we on?" Let her judge him, let her think he was crazy, he didn't care anymore. He needed a fact, any fact. He needed to latch onto something real.
  8. The boy fled before his mother as she raised her hand again.

    "I'm doing it, I'm doing it!" He yelped as he hurried out, slipping as he reached the door. He flew out on bare feet.

    She sighed as she watched him go. "That boy. He has no sense of responsibility some days, I swear." She turned toward Lyall, and froze at the sight of his fierce expression. Had she done something wrong? Was he one of the ones who heard about her? She stepped away from him, fearful as he demanded answers. She knew that tone well-- that tone led to pain. "I'm sorry." She uttered before she remembered he was drugged, unable to move, and still very injured. Slowly, her fear faded before that knowledge. He wouldn't be able to hurt her, not for some time, at least.

    Ellith took a deep breath and let it out. "Calm down-- the medicine won't work if you're this upset." She fought hard to keep her voice even, to force her expression to calm. "You need your rest."

    She wanted to answer him, but she'd been gone so long from other people, she had no idea what year it was. She didn't know what a planet was. She only recalled the name that those who knew about her called her forest-- the Witchwood. She assumed it was for the wild witchberries that grew there. Unsure if claiming ignorance would anger him more, she made no comment. "I need to... feed the chickens." She excused. "Just rest. Don't move. Let yourself sleep." With those words, she fled from the house and closed the door behind her, leaving him alone as she leaned against the door.
  9. His tone did its work. The woman was now quite obviously scared of him. Sadly, Lyall could not back up his words with force at the moment, and after a few seconds passed, she seemed to remember this fact as well, taking a deep breath and soon letting herself out of the room. His face lost its edge as he let the weight of his head roll back to the center of the pillow. He sighed. Yes, he felt helpless, completely helpless. Not only was he bedridden, he was completely and utterly without knowledge of his situation. But had he really needed to lash out at that woman? No matter the questionable circumstances of his current state and his presence here, nothing changed the fact that she had saved his life.

    Griping about his current lack of ability to do anything wouldn't help him be able to do anything. He might as well do what she asked: get rest. Stuck as he was, that was the only productive option. Besides, he was starting to feel like he didn't even want to think. He'd taken in too much information and yet not enough. Thinking with what input he'd been given would lead him in hopeless circles. Thinking was...too hard. Too tiring. Some other level of his consciousness was aware that his cognitive functions were slowing down. He was getting sleepy, but there wasn't anything he could do about it. He had known it would happen. Why fight? A yawn took him before he was aware of it. Yes, sleep did sound...more productive...than anything else in his power right now...

    It only took a few minutes for sleep to wrap itself around him again, blissful, dreamless sleep. He didn't need to think about anything.
  10. The next time he woke, his body felt heavy and sore, and his limbs were numb. The taste of the drug the woman gave him before clung to the inside of his mouth, and his entire body ached from being still for far too long.

    There were noises outside, rather than inside. Chickens clucked, a cow mooed, and a pig grunted somewhere on the other side of the wall. A young boy's voice chattered, muffled by a wall between him and the sound, and the woman's voice answered. Their words were unclear, and they sounded as though they were walking away from the house.

    The peaceful moments continued. When his eyes opened, he could see the sunlight, made visible by floating motes of dust as they swirled through the air above him. The beam was almost horizontal-- it was either near sunset or sunrise.

    From the other side of the wall, the animals sounded like they objected to something.

    The sounds continued, and as time continued onward, and any attempts at motion slowly woke his body from its slumber. Motions came with the soreness of over-rest, rather than the soreness of injury, and he could feel the lack of stiff bandages on himself-- and anything else, for that matter. His bedding smelled of soap, tinged slightly with sweat.

    Despite however long it had been, his hair and body were clean, save some fresh pink scars.
  11. Something dragged Lyall back to wakefulness after a time. What it was, he neither knew nor cared. His eyes opened more readily than last time. His body still felt heavy, but not in that crackling, paralyzed way. Now they just felt heavy and limp. It was rather uncomfortable, actually, that feeling that he hadn't moved a muscle in, probably days. The inside of his mouth tasted terrible to boot, not just of the medicine she'd given him, but of the rotten flavor he got in his mouth if he fell asleep midday and slept too long.

    The sun angled through the window, and the sounds of livestock could be heard outside. The world—whatever world it was—was out there, open and tingling with life, waiting for him to rejoin it. And here he was, cooped up in a bed. His body itched all over with a new feeling of restlessness. He needed to move. He felt gross staying still after so long. Whether it be dawn or dusk, his instincts yearned to join the outdoors. Wolves were crepuscular beings by nature.

    He raised his head an inch. His long-unused neck muscles crackled in complaint, but he stubbornly held the position until he trembled from the strain. Then he slid his arms back, lifting his upper torso by a few inches. He waited another minute as his shoulders quivered and finally shook off that horrid, stagnant feeling in much the same way. Then he pulled his elbows back behind him, rising further. Then he waited. Then he pushed himself to a seated position. Then he waited. He was aware by now that his chest was entirely bare, even of bandages. He looked down at himself to see that what had previously been deep gashes across his middle were now stripes of fresh pink scar tissue. He couldn't see the shoulder wound from here without a mirror, but it probably wasn't far behind in the healing process, if at all. Once again the question of just how long he'd been out cold came to mind. A week? More, less?

    Over the course of several more painstaking minutes, Lyall gradually shifted his weight across the bed until he could take it on his feet and finally stood up. He groaned as he stretched his arms above his head and arched his back. He still ached, but despite the pain, it felt good to move. He turned and located the shelf above the bed behind him. His repaired clothing was still there, just as he remembered, though there was a very light coat of dust on them. He shook them out one at a time and dressed himself in the same attire he'd worn that fateful night. He noticed that a large strip out of one of the pant legs had been replaced with fabric that was close enough in color but of too coarse a texture to match. He hoped the original piece of fabric was missing because it had gone towards bandaging up Em's bleeding arm. After another couple of minutes, he stood fully dressed, or at least what had counted as "fully dressed" for him for the past few years. He'd stopped wearing shirts and shoes long ago; they were just two things that took too long to remove and thus regularly got destroyed whenever he had to transform in a hurry. He did still prefer having most of his body covered if possible, though, leading him to his current ensemble: open longcoat over cargo pants. He hesitated a moment at the front door but went ahead and stepped outside. Mmm, a deep breath through the nose was warranted at this time of day. He stuffed his hands in his coat pockets and teased the fresh grass under his toes.
  12. (I'm back! Minor correction, the shelf is across the room, and there's no true bed-- just a thin mattress on the floor. Just letting you know for the future.)

    It was early evening-- before sunset. The sun was above the trees right in front of him, and its light bathed the man in warmth and dazzled his eyes. As they adjusted to the brightness, he could make out a path at his feet of hard dirt. The path split off towards four destinations, and at either side of it, the grass grew tall and untended.

    Fruit trees surrounded the area, separating clearing from forest proper. Ripe apples, oranges, pears, lemons, cherries, and nuts hung from them, ready for harvest. One of the paths went through these trees and into the darkened woods.

    The next to paths led to Lyall's left-- one to a well near the house, and the other to a field beside it. In the field, he could see berry bushes, grain, root vegetables, herbs, and more. Corn was absent, but a few known poisons were included among the crops, grown openly. One was wolfsbane, growing beside other herbs. Another was belladonna-- deadly nightshade-- grown right between the raspberries. and the strawberries.

    The final path led to a round fenced area, put together with rough poles criss-crossed to prevent escape. This fence connected to a low building whose low, thatch roof was roughly half a meter from the ground. The animal sounds came from there, and he could clearly detect the scent of their droppings.

    "Beliam, we don't have time to play. Get that chicken off your head and help me get this stubborn hog into his pen!" Ellith's voice came from inside the low building as she scolded him.

    "I know, I know. Night's coming!" The boy sounded annoyed.

    "Besides that, our guest's medicine is probably wearing off as you lollygag around. Get busy." Her voice became quieter as she spoke this time-- no longer shouting, nor quite whispering. Her voice could be heard relatively clearly through the open windows of the low-roofed building-- likely a barn.
  13. (Ah, whoops. Jumped the gun about the grass too. :/ My bad for making assumptions! Before I make another one, that seems like quite a low roof on the barn...does that mean most of the barn's space is hollowed out from the ground?)

    Curse the sun for being right in his eyes. Lyall put his hand to his forehead to block the light and swept his eyes over the area. There was much to take in. Dirt paths through tall grass. An old-fashioned well. A garden that grew a peculiar mix of beneficial and dangerous plants; he could tell from their scents. Who does that? Berry-picking shouldn't be so treacherous. Oh more oddity about the woman that he would investigate when the time came. He resumed his survey. Fruit trees around the whole area. A corral connected to a barn. There seemed to be a commotion in the barn, and since he didn't have much better to do, he decided to walk that way, his bare feet padding quietly along the path where most people's feet in their shoes would have crunched instead. The telltale smell of livestock grew even stronger as he approached.

    "Besides that, our guest's medicine is probably wearing off as you lollygag around. Get busy."

    A hint of amusement played at the corners of Lyall's mouth. So he'd foiled the woman's plans by waking up a little early, had he? He folded his arms and leaned on the [gate/door frame]. "It already has, I'm afraid," he said, loud enough that anyone inside could hear. "I hope that's nae an inconvenience."
  14. (It does. Thanks for asking. XD And yeah, no problem on the assumptions. They were just minor.)

    The gate creaked under his weight, and all went silent in the barn. After a few moments, Ellith cracked the door and peered out. her hair was done up in a bun again, stray hair flying out in all directions. She stared at him a few moments with a strange mix of relief and fear. "I'm glad you're feeling well enough to get up and around. I hope I didn't muss your pants too much with my sewing-- it's not my talent." She forced a smile. "I'll be out in a minute, and we can head inside before dark." She withdrew into the barn before giving him a chance to speak up.

    He'd scared her last time he woke, and though he seemed pleasant enough now, it was hard to say if he would get angry again.

    She still didn't know what had upset him so much last time.

    After a few minutes and quite a bit of a ruckus inside the barn, the woman and her son emerged and lifted a bar into place over the door. The woman's dress was a different color-- still dark and earthy, but less red. Her son's tunic was undyed, just like the other, but had different stains from the one before.

    Once the bar was in place, Ellith looked toward the gate and her guest. "How are you feeling?" She slowly approached.
  15. The woman still seemed kind enough, inasmuch as she expressed relief that Lyall was up and about, but it was still easy to see that she was wary around him. Maybe the fright he'd given her last time was a bit much. By this point he had come to terms with the fact that he was somewhere completely removed from his home, and thus there was no logical reason for him to stress about learning more of his situation as soon as possible or attempting to return as soon as possible. He was where he was. A sense of urgency would be futile.

    In any event, she seemed busy while he clearly wasn't, so he waited for her. After another few minutes, she emerged from the barn again, this time with the boy in tow. When she spoke, he pushed himself off the gate to stand properly, ready to walk back to the house with them. His formidable height was clear when he stood up straight, not to mention a thin strip of his well-muscled chest and abdomen were clearly visible thanks to his coat not being closed. "Not too shabby, actually," he answered. "It feels good to get up and move." He stretched his arms again as he said this, but when he dropped them, he also dipped his head. "I owe you an apology for the other day. Didn't mean to frighten such a kind lass." When he straightened up, a hint of a polite smile was on his face, more than he could normally say, and he extended a hand to the woman in greeting. "Name's Lyall. And believe me, don't worry about the clothes. You've done far more than enough for me as it is."
    #15 FiliaFlammae, Feb 3, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  16. "I'm Ellith, and my son is Beliam." She smiled at him, though it only partly met her eyes. "I'm glad you're feeling better, though it's nearly night, and we all need to be inside before the sun sets." She nodded and cast a worried glance toward the lowering sun. "Let's go inside. I'll make dinner, and we can see how your wounds are doing." She opened the gate and began to walk toward the house.

    Behind her, Beliam closed the gate and paused to look up at Lyall. "Come on, it's dangerous at night. Last time a guest stayed outside after the sun went down, he was killed and eaten. Come on." He reached for Lyall's arm, to tug him toward the house.

    (Sorry it's a bit short. Having a little bit of a hard time, but I really wanted to reply.)
  17. Strangely, the woman—Ellith, she was called—didn't shake his hand. Lyall stuffed it back in his pocket after a few seconds, trying not to think about the awkward charge than now filled the air between them. Maybe she didn't know what a handshake was. It wouldn't be the strangest thing he'd seen in his last few cumulative hours of consciousness.

    Her warning about returning before nightfall was also odd. He initially dismissed it as an old-fashioned, feminine fear of forest predators, but when the boy Beliam spoke up with even more urgency, warning of being "killed and eaten," Lyall stiffened. His ears would have sprung to full attention has he been in his other form. "Was he, now?" he responded, his voice low and dangerously curious as his eyes roved the forest around them. A local vampire clan? He doubted it. Vampires didn't eat people, they drank from people. No, this was a threat he did not know, and not too far below the surface, Lyall's reckless side was itching to see what it was. He stretched his arms a little ways back and then forward before he was consciously aware of it, as if loosening up and prepping for a fight.

    But that didn't change the fact that he'd been invited inside. He shook his antsy mood out of his head as best he could and allowed Beliam to take his shirt sleeve. The boy guided him inside, though Lyall didn't really need it; the gesture was endearing enough. Once they were inside, Lyall looked for Ellith again, his hands slipping up to his coat lapels, ready to take the garment back off if his self-appointed nurse was ready. "You want to look at me first, or dinner first?" He wasn't yet sure how much to reveal to her about his eating habits, but he'd cross that bridge when he got there.
  18. The woman answered from the kitchen, slightly tense. "Let's start with you once I get dinner started. It'll help everything move along quickly." She glanced back. "Belly, close the door and lock it." She took a deep breath, then let it out. No time for fear. Even if the man frightened her with his size and the sheer intensity of the hateful stare he'd given her last time, now was not the time to dwell on it. Night was coming swiftly, and she wanted to be in bed quickly after a long day. She began by pulling two jars from their spots, hung from the rafters as they were.

    A big meal would do more harm for her guest than good. He'd eaten only what he could suckle from a cloth for some time. "Dinner is jerked beef in soup with beans and potatoes. Does that sound good?"

    Beliam closed the door and pulled the string in through the hole, then put a wooden bar on the door to further block it. "Is it jarred soup, Mama?" He called.

    "Yes. I want to get to bed soon, so I'm not going to take a lot of time cooking." She leaned out and held up one of the jars. It was unlabeled, and sealed with waxed cloth that was bound tight with twine.
  19. His caretaker seemed to be on edge. Lyall couldn't have known how much of it was that she was still nervous around him, how much was her fear of the night-dangers outside, and how much was plain old it's-been-a-long-day crankiness, but he didn't need to know those specifics to decide that bringing up his diet right now wasn't the best idea. He could only imagine how that request might have gone over. 'Dinner is jarred soup because I want to get to bed. Is that fine?' 'Actually, I require raw meat. You wouldn't mind if we nipped back to the barn with night approaching and picked one of your livestock out for slaughter, would you?' Nope, he was going to avoid that topic. Perhaps he would raise it tomorrow.

    "At this rate, Ms. Ellith, I'm hungry enough that I'll eat pretty much anything," he said. "I'm sure it's been a long time since I've had any solid food." He looked around the small house again, this time for whatever seemed to serve as the dining table. "Out of curiosity, how long have I been here? Feels like it's been days at least."
  20. "Well, I hope the soup is good." She shot him a smile, though it was tinged with nervousness. "It probably will feel much better than the broth I've been feeding you." At his question about how long he'd been there, she shrugged. "About three weeks or so, maybe a few days more." She nodded. "I admit, I kept you asleep longer than needed." She sighed, frowning as she retreated back around the corner into the kitchen, to begin making the meal.

    If Lyall followed her, he would see the table inside the very confined kitchen. There were three seats, one of which was right up against an open barrel of water. One of the stools was shoved underneath the table, so Ellith could move around freely.

    The woman placed a pot on the stove and broke the wax by yanking the twine and lifting the cloth away. She dumped the soup from each in-- there was a large amount of meat in it, quite a few potatoes, and some beans. There was more filling than broth. She used a tin cup to add some water, and opened the vent from the oven to heat the stove.

    Beliam peered around the corner hungrily. "Make it hurry, Mamaaaaa!" He whined. "I'm hungry!"