Two figures eclipsing the warm sun, snapped Juliette to attention, she opened her eyes, having fallen half asleep after a session of erotic activity. She was naked; so was Viscomte de Valmont, who was still asleep. The intruders were two men with firearms and murderous looks.
Juliette's clothes were within reach along with her garter holster and pistol; she made a move to grab the latter but halted when the intruders' guns quickly aimed at her, a musket and a pistol.
"We missed you at Dijon Juliette." Said the Musket man. "Had you fled the country you just may have stood a chance; but no, we catch you here being the whore you are."
These were the two of the Seven Virtues, Juliette recognised Patience with the musket and Diligence with the pistol.
"Who sent you?" She asked.
"You can ask that question in Hell." Answered Diligence.
"Why so fast?" Juliette smoothed out the words. "You can take your time and enjoy this kill."
The naked target laid herself down invitingly on the grass then realised the two Virtues were not going to be tempted.
"After all." She added. "Your friend Humility enjoyed it immensely. He enjoyed it so much that it killed him."
"Bitch!" The two assassins spat in unison.
The expected sound of the guns firing at her was suddenly cut in by a horrendous growl from the bushes to the right. Patience and Diligence were stunned by the noise and turned to see a huge wolf enter the vale; it was monstrous,red eyed, black, big with drooling jaws of flesh ripping teeth. The two assassins bolted in blind panic and separate directions, completely forgetting their nearly achieved objective.
Red eyes focused on Juliette, the wolf had no interest in chasing the fleeing assassins. Reaching for her pistol, the League member realised this was the Beast of Gevaudan and it favoured women as a priority prey. Juliette was terrified but not helpless, over the years she had confronted the monstrous nature of mankind in many shocking states, she would not let the sight of this monster compromise her effort to survive. She knew the pistol would do little to stop this lupine fury, only anger it.
Viscomte was still asleep, when Juliette got to her feet she kicked him to wake the self gratifying aristocrat, he could decoy the Beast or serve as a human shield when it attacked, he awoke but was slow to rouse.
The Beast braced to pounce on the naked prey. Juliette had no time left to include Viscomte in her escape strategy; she braced her foot against a large rock and tensed it to act like a spring. Upon the instant the Beast pounced, Juliette sprung aside from the monster's attack path, the timing was crucial and she just made the dodge feeling the wolf's hot breath on her back; landing with balletic grace,she began a series of spritely, fast jumps across the brook. Vicomte de Valmont roused to a get a face full of wolf fur, the Beast turned to the waking male for a mutual stare, the aristocrat fainted as he felt the wolf's breath flood his senses adding to the shock of the vision.
Leaving the unconscious Valmont, the Beast began its pursuit of the naked female, who had just gained valuable seconds for her plight, bounding across the brook it began to gain on the spritely prey. Juliette rushed into a copse of densely planted thin trees hoping she could maneuver through them fast while they slow her large pursuer down. The nymph-like women's flight through the copse was fast but snapping and straining noises of the trees revealed that the wolf's speed was only mildly abated; it stampeded the obstacles, breaking them at the trunks with its vicious momentum and bending others aside with its large bulk.
A women wielding a knife was running around the edge of the copse, Juliette noticed her while in flight and realised she was trying to intercept her with intention to murder. The fleeing target realised this was Charity, one of the Seven Virtues and she was out for the kill that Patience and Diligence missed.
Juliette cursed under her breath, she had a big enough problem as it is without this; then realised that the assassin did not know about the pursuing wolf, otherwise she would have stood aside and let the Beast take her. A tactical change of direction sent the desperate prey to a chosen exit point, the Beast was so close, she half expected to feel the teeth enter her flesh; a trip or stumble right now would be fatal. Juliette exited the copse as timed, just before Charity's intercept, then swiftly cut right. The assassin was closing fast and would be on the naked target with a burst of speed, Charity raised her knife and let out a murderer's death cry that suddenly became a scream of terror and pain.
Huge jaws bit into Charity's side as the Beast jumped out of the copse, seized the running assassin and shaking her to and fro. Charity managed a weak stab at the monster with a minor scratch resulting, the Beast threw her to the ground, pinned her down with its forepaws then bit into her knife arm. Juliette turned to see all clothing and skin get virtually ripped away from that limb to leave a bloody appendage of muscle, bone and dangling tendons; the knife dropped. Growls intensified as the wolf turned its primordial savagery on the screaming victim's belly, chest and throat; the unfortunate Virtue could only beat futilely at the Beast's side while her screams were cut by a gush of blood spurting out of her mouth. It would be over for Charity soon, Juliette deduced as she turned and fled the scene, realising it was best to do so before the Beast remembers its former prey.
An incline to narrow level ground got Juliette out of the vale to a track that winded between the many hills. A man with a sword had gotten of his horse, probably to investigate the screams.
"Your not getting away this time foul harlot." He said as he raised his sword.
Juliette recognised Kindness, another of the Seven Virtues; they must have been combing the hills looking for her after seeing her leave the park. Kindness was going to split her in two; she gave a kinky flex with her naked body then kissed the air in his direction. The assassin must have interpreted her cheeky actions as salutary acceptance of her fate, because he charged with raised sword. It was when Kindness got close that she brought out and levelled the pistol she had cleverly hid behind her back as soon as she noticed the swordsman. The weapon fired the instant before the intended sword strike; at close range it hit the charging Virtue with lethal effect sending the sword falling limply to the ground.
It was after a short, sweet silence following her victory over the Virtues that the latter's horse began to fret with great unease. Juliette looked down into the vale to see the Beast had ceased mutilating Charity and resumed its pursuit of the former prey; it was picking up her scent and would soon be chasing her at great speed. There was no tree which she could climb; her only escape was the horse and it was in panic. Discarding her spent pistol, Juliette rushed to the steed; it began its frenzied flight just before she got there; hugging the moving equine neck, she placed her feet on a track-side rock and bounded onto the stallion's back. The canter became a gallop; Juliette did not unclasp her arms from the neck, lest she fall off, so groping for the reins was difficult and she was getting knocked about by the constant head movements.
Finally locating the loose reins, the naked rider seized them and sat up on the saddle to achieve some balance on the frantic steed. A savage growl from behind drew Juliette's attention to the Beast of Gevaudan, who was chasing with open jowls drooling the blood of its recent victim; the horse's panicked rush was quite justified; yet the wolf was gaining.
Hawkeye and Chingachook heard the savage growl from their hilltop and were soon looking down on the pursuit. Whatever concerns they had about why Juliette was naked on a horse were made irrelevant by the sight of the wolf chasing her; they had seen many wolves but nothing as big as this. Two hunters raised their muskets for a shot each at the monstrous predator; carefully taking aim, Hawkeye fired at the very instant both he and the Mohican were suddenly bowled over by a running stranger, the shot went wide.
The runner was called Diligence, though the frontiersmen didn't know that. Hawkeye did not get time to get back on his feet before the runner, who was in a state of blind panic, got stuck into him, grabbing his top and trying to throw him aside. A good wrestler and brawler, Hawkeye managed to hold his ground and push back the screaming interferer, who then made a move for his pistol. The brawling trapper let loose a well timed backhand that knocked the firearm out of the panicked hand; the other hand made a fist and slammed into Hawkeye's stomach; he keeled forward leaving him at the mercy of a knee lift that sent him sprawling backwards in a heep.
Chingachook had not recovered his still loaded musket, he rushed the berserk man hoping to restrain him. Diligence drew his knife, Chingachook brought out his tomahawk; after several feints, thrusts and swings between them, the Indian brave managed to knock his opponents blade out of his hand. The newly disarmed and uninjured hand made a quick circle and seized the Mohican forearm and yanked the Indian off balance; pivoting while bringing the seized arm over his shoulder, the assassin threw Chingachook over him to a nasty thud in the grass ahead.
Hawkeye was there a second later and delivered a fist into the stranger's face, followed by a kick that sent him backwards several feet to a fall that brought the assassin within reach of his lost pistol. Seizing the firearm, the still panicked stranger aimed at Hawkeye; the deadly instant ended, not with a pistol firing, but with a musket shot that hit the assassin's chest and thus Diligence, one of The Seven Virtues died.
The smoking musket was held by Chingachook who by coincidence was thrown to find himself within reach of his weapon. Both hunters were knocked about by the brawl, but before they could sit down and recuperate, they realised that both had missed their shot at the Beast and Juliette was in danger.
Juliette heard the first musket shot, but it came to no benefit and the Beast was still getting closer. The horse was at its top speed and no amount of panic would make it go faster. This track between the hills seemed to be never ending and the naked rider couldn't tell if she was heading back to the park or not.
A second musket shot went passed her towards the Beast, it veered aside after being only scratched; its momentum was slowed but was quickly regaining speed. The track was narrow and a low grassy embankment was on each side; a familiar sight of Prussian blue caught Juliette's eye.
As the wolf ran through the narrow defile a blue figure dropped onto its back and gripped its fur. The fleeing prey looked back from the horse to see Baron Munchausen riding the lupine terror, which was no longer focused on slaughtering her but baffled and furious at the arrogance of the human who was riding it. The horse continued on, its panic not yet abated.
Karl Munchausen seized the wolf by the ears so it could not turn its head and bite him; it tried to but the Baron's grip and strength kept the lupine snout pointing forward. The Beast suddenly halted its run, but M's legs clamped tightly on wolf's torso to prevent being thrown over.
Snarls of anger filled the air; the black furred horror began a motion to roll over, thus either crushing this unwelcome rider or forcing him to dismount. Munchausen predicted this move, while maintaining his strong grip on the wolf's ears, he nimbly removed himself from the saddleless back. The Beast only half completed the roll, the hold on its ears was limiting its actions, it wanted to turn and rip apart this arrogant soldier but the Baron kept its jowls pointing away. After getting back on its feet, the wolf tried some frenzied twisting, turning and buffeting to shake off this nuisance, but the calculating adventurer was always one step ahead of it and with the grace of a cavalry man, remounted the hostile steed.
Furious at being mounted again, the Beast bound into a run across the hills; Munchausen held on tightly to its ears and noted it was heading for low branch trees. The first attempt to knock the rider off was an oak branch, M bobbed down on the wolf's back and felt the branch scrape him; the second required the rider to lean far aside; only years of cavalry experience kept him from falling off. As the huge wolf passed under a pine tree the Baron saw his opportunity to end this ordeal; some of these branches were flexible. Grabbing a thin pine branch, Munchausen left the lupine back; the branch carried him forward then up, seizing another branch and then a series of them until his momentum was was spent, the adventuring soldier finished his miraculous escape high on a sturdy beam.
The Beast of Gevaudan stood on the hillside, disorientated at the surprise absence of its rider and frustrated that he was nowhere to be found, torn and rendered. The Baron looked down at the wolf from his safe perch and saw it run off due to a team of hunters appearing on a nearby hill.
"Well, this is one more tale for my adventures." He said to himself.
Juliette rode comfortably now that the horses fear was gone, so to was the Beast. The steed slowed to a trot and passed a troupe of adolescent schoolboys being led by monks. It was when Juliette noticed the shock reaction of the monks and the wondrous awe of the schoolboys that she remembered she was naked. With no attempt to cover herself, the Nymph like beauty shook her hair, made a few slinky movements and smiled at the pubescent class as the horse trotted on.
Concern over the consequences of her indecent exposure were nil. She was nearly mauled to death by the Beast of Gevaudan today, but she survived, with all her beauty for the world to see; it was amazing what Charity and Kindness could do.