Chapter 1 ~ On Silent Wings
I followed them through the trees on silent wings. The wind was cold but my feathers sheltered me from the worst of the freezing bite, unlike the exposed skin of my targets. The night was alive with all manner of things that were nonexistent to human senses, but my keen eyes and ears picked up on instantly.
But I focused on my course, watching and waiting for the man to make the wrong move. If the girl made it to the small town that the path led to before something happened then I would not act. But to her, the path would be nearly invisible in the shadows of the night. Just a few hundred metres and she would be protected by the townspeople.
I could hear her ragged pants of breath as she stumbled in the dark. Meanwhile, her chaser homed in on the sound, reaching out with his large, hairy arms. He started gaining ground so I swooped down before he could snatch at the girl’s hair.
My razor talons raked across his arm, tearing the skin and drawing blood. I heard him call out in pain as I flew away before he could swipe at me. The girl glanced behind her to see the cause of the commotion and snagged her foot on a gnarled root.
I left the man on his knees and swiftly followed the girl as she rolled down the hill through piles of leaves and dirt. Judging from the sound of the loud crack and her cry, I assumed the girl had either snapped or dislocated one of her arms. Possibly both.
It was when she reached the bottom that she hit her head against a rock. I spotted the blood that started to pool immediately and knew I had to act fast. I landed gently next to her, my body already reverting back into that of a young humanoid male.
My talons became toes while the bones in my wings popped into the shape of human arms and hands. My beak became a nose and mouth while my eyes slid to their normal positions on my now human face. My ears, mere holes in the side of my head grew out to form the radar-dish shape that I found so amusing sometimes. And finally, my feathers retreated back under my skin and my slight tail disappeared.
All of this happened in the span of a few seconds.
I tore off a piece of my coat and did my best to wrap it around the wound. Then I scooped her up effortlessly and carried her back to the cave I was using as my temporary shelter. I would be able to fix her up better there.
I was in for another sleepless night.