Progeny Progeny

~ Calendars, tally sticks, stone circles all counted to this night, the 13th night of Deireadh Fomhair, month of Samhain. So many humans fear these nights, nights that they attributed with power to begin with…but in some cases, there is reason to fear. Anna is one of those reasons.~

*It was a night of power, Friday the 13th, in October…and a full moon to boot. Humans caught out on this night hooded their lanterns and hurried home, making sure everyone was accounted for before settling down for a long night. Parents and children huddled before fires, keeping safe and warm, while doors were bolted against the dangers outside, both real and imagined. Ghost stories were told around some of the braver hearths, almost to defy what skulked around at night. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts and other beings were frequent sightings, but still alien enough to cause alarm. And one rather alien creature stalked this night.*

* The pale orb of the moon rose above the horizon, swollen and gleaming as white bone. It cast its light in a slow curtain over the world, bathing half of it in silver light, plunging the rest into inky blackness. The full moon, greeted by the cries of night creatures, the hoots of owls, and the howl of the wolf…and the wolf-like. Anna, pulling herself to her feet, tipped her head back and howled like any wolf, greeting the circular orb beyond her vision. Her head tilted back, revealing the cool arch of her throat, half hidden beneath the wild waves of black hair. Arms raised slightly as if to clasp the moon and draw it down to her, and then her breath was finished. She stood a moment longer like that, reaching to the stars before relaxing. And relax she did, shaking herself slightly from head to toe, tossing her wealth of hair as if it were fur and rippling the muscles beneath her skin. Lips curled back slightly to reveal acutely sharp teeth, sharper even than usual, and long nailed fingers smoothed down her ragged clothes, brushing off dirt.. This night she was ready, and by scent she picked her way to a package hidden in the roots of a tree. From it was produced a new set of clothes, fashionable enough to let her pass for a real human. But she was far from it, despite the appearance once she was dressed. For once not clad in rags, she seems a shade of her former respectable self, of what she was before her transformation. She laughs harshly, a sharp bark of sound and leaves the clearing, trotting quickly along the forest floor, heading for the deeper recesses.*

*Someone will have an unlucky Friday the 13th…but it won't be Anna. Again there is the sharp bark of laughter as she runs through the woods. She emerges into pack territory, scenting the alpha wolf ahead. Howling a greeting she nears the pack, dropping to all fours naturally. An exchange of growls and whuffs gives her the information she needs; the hunters' encampment is still inhabited…and in the same place. She passes a small amount of time with the pack, but they go their separate ways for their own separate hunts. Back on two legs, Anna courses through the forest once more, unerringly avoiding trees and heading for the encampment. She can smell the human stink, the acrid reek of gunpowder, drying meat and curing skins long before she arrives. Her lips peel back and her nose wrinkles at the intrusion of these scents on the cool night air, forcing their way into her brain, glaring with their dissimilarity with their surroundings. A low growl sounds in her throat at this affront on nature…strange that she should feel that way, she who was unnatural. But these humans, humans she was once akin to, had wronged her, violated her sanctum and paid the price in blood. But that price was too high, for it called one to repay it each night. Shaking her head at herself, she steps forwards out of the shadowy trees, into the pale moonlight, and seeks the one she made like herself…to end his misery.*

*There were sounds all around her, the buzzing snore of a sound sleeper, the restless shifting of one in dreams, but these she ignored, following her nose to the scent so like her own, faint and masked in blood…but distinguishable. She'd torn his face, condemned him to her fate, but she wouldn't leave him like that. Silently she padded around the banked embers of the fire, smelling the wood smoke and drying leathers, and a faint undertone of onion, all woven around the smell of a lycanthrope. She pitied him, more than herself. She'd had no choice in her own fate, less even than he had. If he'd not been in her cabin, not been rifling through her things, she would never have even scratched him. It was his fault, but now her responsibility. She had no way of knowing how he was cursed, if it was with her own manner of shifting, or the more conventional…lighter…curse which allows transformation at will. If it were the latter…perhaps he could be saved. But if it were the former, her own curse, she would end it this night.*

*She could feel the coarse fabric of his tent as she brushed her hands along it, seeking the opening. There was no doubt this was the right tent, by scent and by sense. The cloth was rough, cheap but enough to keep out the worst of the elements. The human aspect of her mind judged the tent, thinking the man not too prosperous, while the wolf part was repulsed by its very presence. Another war, and the wolf was winning. Dropping to all fours, tugging viciously at the tent cloth, she pulled the flaps apart, letting the light stream in on the sleeper. He was tossing and turning, hands working in the rough cotton of his blanket and rivulets of sweat…or tears… dripping down his face and soaking into his pallet. He still bore the bandages of the healer, stretched across his face to hold it together, and the scent of herbs was stronger in here, though still faint. She could hear his movements, guess at his discomfort…but he was still a human, and still alive. Crouched in the opening, moonlight streaming past her and casting her silhouette over him, she waited. She wanted to be sure this was the right one, so she waited, watched him for some moments. His movements became more restless, more frantic and he was soon nearly clawing at the blanket. Of a sudden his eyes snapped open and he sat bolt upright, staring past Anna, at the orb hovering behind her..*

~The hunter's mouth went dry and his limbs felt as though they were blocks of granite, but he sat up, eyes trained, drawn to the bone white moon. Something in him yearned for it, he could feel it in his blood. There was a strange itch at his cheek, a tingle beneath the bandages and somehow, he managed to lift a hand to is face and pull the wrap off. It was still coated with blood, but he tossed it away. Fingers probing the outside and tongue searching the inside, he was shocked to feel the gashes closing of their own will, beneath his very touch. Hastily he mumbled a prayer and crossed himself to ward off the 'evil spirits' that had already taken hold of him. It was then that he noticed the dim shape crouched in his doorway.. and wondered why he hadn't noticed it there before. His eyes went wider and he scrambled backwards, away from Anna until his back was pressed against the tent pole.~

*Anna merely sat there, hearing his movements and shaking her head slightly at him. He really was pitiful. Muttering prayers against something in the blood. She of all people should know how useless that was. She waited, head cocked slightly to the side, until he noticed her, then gave a sharp bark of laughter when he scrambled away from her. She'd been found… Her lips pulled back in a grin, revealing white teeth, just catching the moonlight, and she moved a bit further into the tent. She could hear the hunter scrabbling around and again she shook her head. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing more than nonsensical growls and whuffs came out. Mentally she cursed, hating the juxtaposition she was put in this night. It was so much easier to just be wolf or human…not both at once. She held her hand up, reaching out for the hunter, fingers curled slightly, looking threatening without meaning to.*

~The hunter stifled a small scream and kicked at the hand, recognizing the movement.~ Y.. you! It.. itt's you! ~Words thick from injured mouth, and gutteral from nature, he kicked out again~

*Anna merely shook her head and drew her hand back. She nodded {Yes, it's me. You remember don't you?} knowing her wouldn't be able to understand anything she said. She moved further into the tent, letting the moonlight spill in greater waves past her to pool on the unfortunate man.*

~Once more, his attention is transfixed on the moon, and regardless of Anna's presence, he shifts closer to the tent flap. Unnoticed, he begins to change…gradually…hair lengthening, thickening, teeth becoming more pronounced. On hands and knees he crawls to the tent opening, then just sits there, watching the moon rise and hugging his arms around himself. He rocks back and forth slowly, eyes wide and reflecting the light, mumbling snatches of prayers and old songs. His eyes close slightly and his face twists up slightly in pain, arms tightening around himself as though to hold his body together.~

*Anna 'watches' this all with a cool eye, before stepping out beside him. Unsure still whether or not he'll understand her, she speaks anyway. A low chorus of barks and whines are all the world will hear, but to those with the understanding, they will hear this: "Child, for you are my child now, know this. The moon will govern you now. You will feel the rush of the hunt in your blood, feel the howls rumbling around in your chest and the unfettered wilds roiling in your brain. But it will make you stronger, once you learn to use it…and learn you will. We are the same, and we are different. You are more wolf than I this night, so you stand a chance of controlling your shift. I cannot, I am at the mercy of the skies." She turned to look at the once-man beside her, smelling the animal in him now more than the human, hearing his whimpers of pain as he went through the change for the first time. Somewhere she was impressed at his restraint. She had expected him to be howling aloud, half screaming in pain. But no, he was strong stuff, stronger than expected. He might make it.*

~There was the sickening sounds of bones stretching, the popping report of joints dislocating and reforming and someone with sight would be able to see the skull plates of the hunter shifting to accommodate the changing shape of his cranial cavity. His nose extended, chin and jaws stretching and bare sinus cavities quivering before a lightly furred skin forms over them, thickening and furring over. All over his body these changes were taking place, met with surprising stoicness and dignity... but perhaps it was merely that the hunter was too busy whimpering in fear and pain to howl out. Anna could smell the sweat soaking through the man's thin shirt.. thinner now that it was rent in many places. Her nose wrinkled, but was reassured by the growing scent of wolf about him.. He would live through this night, at least as far as she was concerned.. afterwards it was his own choice. She waited until the whimpering died down and she could sense him shaking on the ground beside her, like a frightened pup, and then she took his chin in her hand and turned his face to hers. 'Speaking' softly she explained things to him. "We are kin now, you and I. I am alpha of your clan, your pack, but the choices are yours. Even so, you are answerable to me in the end. Believe me that I will seek you out if you get out of hand.* She dropped his chin, letting his head curl down against his chest and bringing her own hand back to rest against her thigh. Standing, she tipped her face down towards this man-beast quivering in the night air…and felt some kind of pity. "Hyagh…Up you, on your feet. We're moving out." She wrapped a fist in the fur at the scruff of his neck and forcibly hauled him to his feet, marching him out of the camp. She couldn't leave him there like that. Gods wasn't she pitiful…couldn't even leave someone the way she'd been left.. to fend for themselves, even if it was their own stupidity to get themselves into this situation.*