The stench of fear invaded my senses, the damp clots of dirt and torn grass plastered to my face. The hitched breathing of my parents as they clutched me close and ran only added to my panic and I felt the air being battered from my small lungs as the two vices keeping me from falling scampered across uneven ground. My father was bleeding heavily, but kept up with my bruised mother, who would occasionally falter in her steps before moving the heavy limbs again.

They were frantically clawing through the undergrowth, searching for somewhere to use as cover, when I heard the feral growl prowling close by. My mother, pummelled and growing weaker with the effort of finding a place to hide me, sobbed softly and my father let out a growl of anger, his severe silver gaze sweeping over the trees and bushes surrounding us.

I was still covered from view in between them, whimpering like only a terrified five year old girl could. It had all happened so fast, my parents and I sleeping peacefully in a low cave for the night, when the echoing howl had wrenched us all from our sleep. My parents had scrambled at the rock at our heads, clawing at the granite and making a rough passage for our escape. It had all been a blur from there, a huge midnight black wolf descending on my father, while two others had appeared from the hole my parents had created. They had leapt at my mother and I, teeth at the ready to rip into us, when my mother had jumped up to defend me. It had been brutal, my hands creeping to my face to keep away the images of my mother and father fending the creatures from my vulnerable self.

The shouts, grunts and exclamations of pain from both the wolves and my parents had made me start crying hysterically, shouting for my mother and father as they dodged and struck back at the wolves, but had fled when the chance had presented itself.

The two remaining wolves were closer now and as I heard a large crack, my fathers' bloodied arms took me up and into his chest, before he set me down in a small cavern in the cliff they had created. They had then kissed me frantically and covered the hole partially, so that I wouldn't be completely shut in. "Darling… Don't come out, just remain as quiet as you can and don't move—" The crack as the nearest tree branch broke and fell over the remaining light from the moon made my parents jump up, glaring around the clearing for the wolves. It was not a second later that they had emerged, growling those wild growls becoming almost deafening to me as I brought my hands up to my ears.

Mother and father… they would live and come to get me… they wouldn't die here, at the hands—or claws—of these beasts. Agonised yells and the tearing of material was impossible to drown out and then, two light thumps as two dead bodies hit the soggy dirt. I took a chance and craned my neck, getting onto my hands and knees and raising my head to peer past a large clump of leaves blocking my view.

The corpses were bloody and mangled, the faces all but torn from their necks, the clawed mouths open in endless screams. "Mother?" I squeaked, before I could stop it. My hand flew up to cover my mouth and I fell back into the corner, stifled sobs coming fitfully from between my fingers. There was a dead silence, chilling me to the bone, when the branch was suddenly thrown away from the opening, being replaced by a coal black eye, set above the blood smeared muzzle. The rock covering the other half and a large, hairy claw shot through the hole, blocking out all light that had come from the moon.

I had turned to put my head against the corner I was wedged in, a horrified scream coming from between my clenched teeth. It was withdrawn and a snarl followed. My breath was coming fitfully through my numb lips and my eyes closed, tears running down my muddy cheeks.

Fear made my mind clearer, the scents pouring in through the open hole. The wolves were just outside, snarling and growling in argument, their feral eyes glaring every so often at me. Please, please, Mother, Father, protect me? I whispered in my mind, a small sob escaping my lips. Give me strength!

My whole body began to shrink, the travelling gown my mother had made for me melting into my skin. My arms and legs shrunk with the rest of me, widening and sprouting feathers. Pain was all I could feel as I found myself staring down to my small black talons, my form now a baby raven. I was sure the wolves who had murdered my parents were too absorbed in their grumbling argument before I darted out of the cavern, trying and failing to lift off as my wings flapped rigorously. Before I was completely out of the clearing, my form began to shift again and I broke off into a mad rush, breaking through the undergrowth and clumsily darted through the bushes and tree trunk roots with my reformed human limbs. It was only a matter of half a minute before the wolves had realised that I had left and howled in unison, bounding after me. Tears, mud and perspiration ran down my face and body as I jumped when I dared over the roots too low for me to slip under, my speed increasing with each short footfall.

The realisation that I was being hunted drove all thoughts about my dead parents and failure to escape the cavern from my mind and as I caught the scent of a flowing river near, I changed my course, cutting sharply to the left and kept my panicked pace.

I was so close to the water, when I realised that the first and largest of the two wolves had caught up, out of breath and enraged by my escape. I was only two steps from the river, when a large claw raked over my back, cutting through the thick material and slicing through my skin. I fell forward, crying out in agony and my eyes closed for a moment…