I heard crashing footsteps and hard breathing, so I halted, still in my wolf form. Who was the stupid human person to be stomping around wildly, making so much noise, in my territory? I peeked out from the bushes and, to my surprise, saw a pretty girl, probably 18, with messy hair and an frustratingly large and impractical gown, which was now almost ripped to shreds. The girl no longer had her shoes, and she had no obvious injuries, despite her noticeable limp. She was supposedly creeping along the forest floor, but she was as loud as a horse, and it was hurting my ears. I was too used to being alone, other than the animals that I hunted. At least they knew how to be quiet. Not quite enough though.
She tripped so suddenly, I flinched. She fell onto her hand and knees, sobbed, and then burst into tears, her shoulders shaking. She fell back into a sitting position, wrapping her arms around herself. I could tell she was attempting to stop her tears, but couldn’t. I wondered what had happened to her, she was obviously running from something, or someone. Something told me her history wasn’t as rough as mine, but I shouldn’t be so quick to assume.
But I can’t help but doubt it.
I doubt that, considering her age, she had her brother and father taken from her during the Eskan-Wolf war. I doubt she was told by her worst enemy that they were killed. I doubt she watched her mother drown a year after, trying to save a young child from a river’s swift flow. I doubt she was kicked out of her pack, or so-called ‘family’, when she was 18, simply because she had an affair with the pack leader’s girlfriend. And I really doubt that she had been living in solitary for three years, fighting hand and foot for the small place she called her own. I doubt it.
But I still shouldn’t be as quick to assume. And I was still sad for the girl, no matter what reason she was here, because if she was here, the reason must be serious.
The girl was still crying. A sudden realization hit me, and I jumped and looked quickly around, pricking my ears to listen for any creeping wolf. Some of these wolves were feral, and would kill her for food. Thankfully, I heard nothing but the crickets and the girl’s sobbing. I shifted into my human form, looking down at my old jeans and shirt. I have been wearing this for three years, but I’m not in this form enough for them to be rags yet. They only looked as if I’d been wearing them for a week.
I quickly circled the girl, and decided to approach from the front, not too quietly, so that she could hear me coming. I didn’t want to scare her. I could come from behind and pounce on her, so she doesn’t get away, and tell her I won’t hurt her, but that wouldn’t be good first impressions. I crept forward silently, and then purposely put my foot down a bit too hard, and she looked up instantly, attempting to scramble to her feet, and then stumbling over straight away. She was terrified.
“Hey, it is okay, I’m not going to bite.” I whispered quietly, as she failed to stand again. I realized her leg must be worse than I thought. She watched me.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be here, I should leave, I’m sorry...” she attempted to stand again, and I moved quickly forward to place a hand on her arm.
“Don’t. It’s not safe anywhere else, the other wolves will kill you.” I paused. “Or worse.”
She stared at me, horrified, and sank back down unto the ground, and swore, which was something I did not expect.
“I’m already dead!” she sounded almost hysterical. “I might as well be dead. I should just kill myself right now. I can’t even walk, I’m dead, I’m, I’m...” she groaned in frustration and hit her head against her palms.
“Hey, that’s not true. I’ll look after you. Come on.” I held out my hand to her, and she watched me suspiciously.
“And what makes you so trustworthy? Why should I trust you? What if you are just taking me to your lair to kill me yourself?”
That made me laugh. “Why would I do that? Firstly, I would kill you right here, right now, if that was true, and secondly, what other choice have you got? I want to look after you. I know you are scared. I understand, I have been in worse situations than this. I can help you.”
She studied me for a second longer, then reached out her hand for me to take. I grabbed it and carefully pulled her up. She leaned on me heavily, so I asked her what she had done to her leg.
“I tripped. I don’t know what’s wrong with it.” she told me. On the way back to my ‘lair’, I had to lift her up over some logs, but 3 years of looking after my own self made it easy. When I arrived at my small shelter, she thanked me, curled up onto the floor, and fell asleep.
I watched her a while, still feeling sympathy, and empathy, for her. The poor girl, she had gone through a lot. No matter what’s happened to me, it doesn’t mean anything should happen to others. I lit a small fire and got some of those huge, thick, soft leaves and placed them on her for warmth. Then I shifted again and curled up on the floor to sleep.