TEVERIUS - The White Wolf
Since that strange meeting on the road, Teverius watched over the strange purple creature. Radix would prey on her if he happened upon her.
And she…Who hasn’t the sense to fear anything!
If she does sense otherworldly things. Radix will want her.
On nights like tonight, her hair appeared black until moonlight caught it. He peered around a tree and across the meadow. He saw her twirling and laughing. Pulling excitedly at layers of skirts. The crone stood outside their shack watching her. Leaning heavily on a long staff.
“Do you like the clothes, Dear Girl?”
“I love them!” She cheered. “I’ve never had such pretty colors before! I love everything here!” She beamed brightly at the old woman. “You must teach me everything, so I may get such pretty things for myself!”
“I sell potions, Dear Girl. Would you like me to show you how to mix them?”
“Indeed!” She bounced exuberantly.
Despite himself, Tev chuckled.
Startled when the little one’s head spun to eye the trees. He ducked behind one. Whipping the edge of his cloak to capture his white hair. Pulling it from view in a smooth motion.
Her vivid violet eyes darkened to turquoise as she studied the grove of trees where he hid.
How’d she hear? His sound was soft. And they were opposite the meadow. An impractical distance.
She heard me over her own chattering? Impossible.
“What is it, Dear?” The crone queried.
“A man. I heard a man laugh.” She said decisively. Dashing away his assumptions.
“Come. I’m sure it’s nothing.” But the old woman put a hand to her shoulders and led her back to the shack. Glancing fearfully over her shoulder.
His eyes narrowed on her.
What does she fear?
It worried him what the woman feared. What would hurt her or the child?
I need to stay close until I know…
Less than a fortnight later, Tev discovered what hunted the woods around Gilwynn Village. He’d kept near the crone’s strange little shack. Close enough to hear if something went wrong.
Something is going wrong now.
The little girl was screaming.
Rushing toward the back of the shack, Teverius reached the rickety wooden bridge crossing the NetherRunnel behind the house. He lunged over. Passing the cow pen, he skidded into the clearing before the front door.
A huge Sarabi had bit into the girl’s arm. The crone gripped her other arm, shouting unintelligibly.
The girl’s shrieks cut the air as she jerked her arm from the jaws of the beast. A thick drop of blood fell to the puddle of water at her feet.
Tev’s gaze trailed the movement with unbridled fury.
Rain pelted the dark clearing before him. The louder the tiny one’s screams became the harder rain poured.
Tev hardly noticed. Ripping the gold broach from his cloak, he let the wind carry the cloth off his shoulders. Floating hauntingly to the shrubbery behind him. Snagging on a bush and billowing in the gale.
He took to all fours. Loping toward the three. White hair melded with the bright fur coating his flank and climbing his back. Ribs tightened with a crunch. Making him gasp for air as he leapt a log and crossed into the clearing.
The Sarabi tossed its head upward.
It’s caught my scent.
The black creature spun to face him.
Good. I don’t like attacking from behind.
Tev loped to them as a wolf. Better equipped to take on the Sarabi then the lumbering cat he preferred. Though it did have nicer claws it lacked the stamina…
The Sarabi’s focus was riveted on Teverius.
Come here you, big dumb beast. Tev’s watchful gaze was intent as he awaited the monster. Glancing beyond the torentuous rain, his brow furrowed as he looked at the girl clinging to the crone, shivering.
The Sarabi licked drooling jowls.
Horrible creatures… Nearly the size of a horse but uglier. Giant red and orange eyes glinted as it reared onto thick back legs, tossing its spindly ones forward to run at Tev.
An atrocious adversary. But slow, nonetheless.
However, Tev hoped this one couldn’t fly. Some can. He knew.
Tev’s pupils dilated to see his opponent. Does it have wings?
He’d been surprised by Sarabi wings before and it had nearly cost him his life as the creature coasted over him and raked his back with vicious claws.
The little girl beyond the charging Sarabi whimpered. Tucking her face into the crone’s robes.
Good. She shouldn’t see this violence. He jerked his snout rapidly to invite the attack.
The Sarabi chittered gleefully. Charging faster.
Tev let it get almost upon him before lunging to the side and veering under the animal. Sliding sideways through mud then twisting onto his belly to catch a bony leg in his jaws. Jerking violently and pitching sideways generated the satisfying snap of the Sarabi’s thin leg.
Tev watched its back and caught the movement of a narrow wing trying to unfold. Hopping onto the broken leg, he leveraged higher to catch the wing in his teeth and dropped his body as dead weight. Hearing the wing rip violently in wicked spurts.
The shrieking creature reared around to viciously swipe at him, but he lunged sideways and skid under its arm before jumping high to catch the elbow of the other. Crunching through solid bone. Snarling.
The Sarabi stumbled on its ruined leg and Tev jumped toward it as it came down. Fleeing from underneath, with part of the cimmerii’s black throat still dangling from his mouth. It wheezed, struggling for air.
Tev charged the women next. To drive them inside where they’d be safe from future attacks.
And to keep the little one from seeing what the Sarabi would become as it died…
The crone shooed the girl inside and slammed the door, bolting it.
Satisfied, Tev loped a circle and returned to the crumpled body of a man that spasmed several times. Attempting to breathe through the gaping hole in his neck. Clawing clumps of grass and dirt in the hand that still worked. Dragging his body sideways.
Shame. He thought. Had I had time…I could’ve changed you…
Tev contemplated putting him out of his misery but remembered how he had bit anxiously at the little girl’s soft arm. Sinking in short triangular teeth despite her desperate screams.
He sat, content to watch it suffer. Only moving when he felt something along his back. He spun and nipped the tiny arm snaking over his shoulders.
She squawked but realized he’d not made contact.
What are you doing back out here, Child? He eyed the drenched little girl.
“What is it?” Her eyes moved to the dying man. “Why’d he look like that?” Her voice was unafraid.
Tev snarled and bared teeth as he looked back at her.
“Do not pretend.” She waved a little hand dismissively. “You saved me. I know you did.” She petted along his head despite all his threats, before patting his thick shoulders.
“You’re My Friend, I know it. My Wolf.”
What the Hell is happening?
She slid to the muddy ground to lean her back against his side.
He eyed the top of her purple-haired head a moment in confusion.
It was not long before her small hand wandered out from between them to pet down his back soothingly.
Have I been adopted? Tev wondered ruefully. She pets me like some lost puppy. But a glance at her huge turquoise eyes peering at him and he didn’t have the heart to chase the scared little girl off.
Perhaps I’d like some company. He grudgingly admitted.