Spare me your pitied looks and feelings of doubt

Early Shifting

POSTED: Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:09 am

Silent Meadow | Fore-dated: Jan 21 (+3,627)
Early shifting

Trouble was at it again. Skirting around the adults became harder with each passing day. They had gotten wiser, and she had gotten bigger. Her growth spurt could be seen from the gnawing patterns on the sisters’ door frame, and had only recently stopped as the last of her adult teeth had finally grown in. She was no longer a little puppy anymore, and so she had had to think of newer, better plans if she wanted to ditch the confinements of the fort for the fence-less freedom that lay beyond. Most days, she did it because she truly wanted to explore her ever-growing world, on others, she did it just because she could.

With each passing month, the Styrder child had grown more confident in her skills, her body, and her natural power. It had become clearer and clearer how different she and Indi would be the older they grew. The koi-colored sibling would be beautiful like their mother, lean, long-legged, and quick. She, on the other hand, had grown more on the heavier side in comparison to her lithe sister. Where her sister had speed, she housed an innate power. They complimented each other, she had mused on one of her days with her mentor.

Gaining a mentor earlier in the month had been the first real step towards adulthood. Sooner or later, she could go on hunts and patrols, and, if she was lucky, would be able to explore the territories beyond Casa di Cavalieri. There was so much potential, so much to be gathered and analyzed by her insatiable thirst for the unknown. She had to remind herself to take it one step at a time though. It would all come in due time, it was a saying that she had been reminded of often by her parents as she had grown. Things would come when they were ready and when it was the right time, no sooner.

Her paws quickened their step as she padded along through the undergrowth. The forest beyond the village had been something of a godsend for Teagan. There was a reason she continued to frequent it; there were so many new sights and smells every time she ventured off into its depths! Today had been no different. She had started off following a pair of rabbit tracks, but had quickly lost interest and had simply started exploring the area in general. She recognized a few places she had ventured through before, had made many loops and u-turns as something interesting caught her eye.

She had worked her way beyond the sheltering branches of the Sugarwoods, and had found herself gawking about a large, eerily silent meadow. The whole area was shrouded in shadow even though the winter sun was clearly visible anywhere else in the mid-afternoon sky. It made her feel weird to venture out onto its ghostly expanse. Teagan was cautious as her relaxed, easygoing pace was slowed to a cautious step. Everything seemed…off here. She couldn’t place it, the weird sensation that buzzed through her body. It was like she was anxious…or maybe she was nervous?

Her previous confidence was taken down a notch as she looked about. Not a sound. Not a bird singing, not a squirrel chattering. It was dead. Quiet. Some part of her told her to leave, to turn back and go somewhere else. Don’t be such a pussy cat, her pride argued to her considerations of flight. “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” she murmured aloud, as if saying it so she could hear her own voice would strengthen her resolve. At that moment, her paw landed on something hard. Her canary gaze snapped down to what she had stepped on, raising her paw from it.

It was a bone. Nothing new. She had chewed on quite a few of them. As her eyes took in what else was littered with it though, Teagan felt the fur along her spine begin to stand on end. She backpedaled quickly, tripping over something large in her haste. The youth rolled away from the offending obstacle, her heart beginning to pound in her chest as she realized it was another one.

Another skull.

She had seen dead things before. Had been the cause of the demise of another living creature. It was what she was, a predator, it was in her blood, and she had accepted it as part of their way of life.

These…these creatures though. Their soulless sockets stared out emptily into the distance, their carnivorous teeth cracked, dirtied, and with a few missing from age and nature’s weathering. The rest of their body laid disjointed, pieces of them scattered from their original resting place. They were solid, real. They had been alive at one point. Alive like her. “What is this place?” Her voice wavered, a shattered remnant from its once confident tone.

A sudden intense feeling overtook her. Her canary-gold gaze shot up from its trapped trance on the macabre scene she had stumbled upon. She scanned the tree line with spooked eyes. No one…and yet, she felt like she was being watched. The Lotta’s tail flicked agitatedly behind her and her muscles were beginning to ache from their tenseness. Teagan took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she tried to gather herself. You’re just overreacting, Tea. You’ve got this. Just…walk away… Yeah, she could return later, with one of her parents, and have them explain what this place was. It wouldn’t be scary anymore if she knew about it, knew why they were there. She nodded to her plan of action, and opened her eyes.

And saw a lone, dark figure standing in the far tree line.

Teagan nearly jumped out of her skin at the sight of them. Her instincts had proven true. She had been being watched. The pain in her muscles returned, dull and pulsing.

The Other observed the lone child for a moment, its molten gaze practically glowing in the dying light. When it was satisfied with its haunting stare, they separated from the wood, slinking forward like a slithering snake. “Afraid of the dead, little one?” Its voice was raspy and deep, slippery and coated with deceit.

It was a wolf, large and of colors of sooty greys. She didn’t recognize him. Teagan willed her inner strength to her, showing it off in false bravado as she gave a stuttering bark, “W-who are you?!” Her eyes narrowed. Her features became hardened and suspicious the closer he stepped towards her. She tried to look strong, envisioning what her father or mother would have looked like in the face of this stranger.

Yellowed teeth spread from beneath his black lips. “Someone who’s not afraid of the dead.”

Behind him, his tail wagged high and stiffly as he slowed his approach. Her hackles rose as she mimicked the display of tension-filled dominance. He wasn’t a Cavalieri. “I-I’m not afraid,” she declared stubbornly, cursing her trembling tongue. She watched as the male shifted to her left, his fiery gaze roving her before looking down at the gathered remains. He laid his paws heavily on the bones, causing a few to snap from under his weight. The sharp sound caused the pup to involuntarily flinch.

“And yet you’re quivering,” he observed with a calm humor.

Teagan turned as he continued his circle, not daring to give her back to him. “I’m not afraid!” She shouted, louder this time. A snarl was at her lips as she gave him the meanest glare she could. Her muscles tingled, almost burned. “You don’t—” She swallowed another stutter. Why was her body betraying her when she needed it most? “—You don’t belong here.”

The Other gave an amused, rumbling chuckle. “And you do?” He countered incredulously. He gestured to the empty meadow around them with the tip of his snout. “Seems like an awfully dark place for a child.”

“My pack owns this land,” she replied obviously. Though, there was doubt in her voice. Had she, unknowingly, wandered outside of its borders? She didn’t remember this gruesome area being part of her previous adventures. She mentally tried to retrace her steps, searching for the heavy smell that was her pack’s boundaries.

The stranger’s hot gaze narrowed a fraction of an inch, as if storing a piece of information away. He didn’t pursue the subject though, instead, let his eyes fall to the bones littered around their feet. To emphasize his previous comment, he kicked one of the skulls towards her. Teagan instantly backed up as the pieces tumbled awkwardly towards her. “Do you know what these are?”

Teagan looked from the skull to the large male. “Bones…?” Her answer was meek, unsure of where he was going with this new direction he had taken the conversation. Faintly, she recognized the beginnings of a headache starting to form.

He smiled wickedly at her, tail tip flicking dangerously behind him like a cat before it was ready to pounce. “Clever girl, but, do you recognize your own when you see it?” Her canary gaze flicked to the pieces of the skull once more. Turned on their side, the deceased’s sightless gaze turned towards the Outsider. Its lower jaw was scattered away from it, useless to its owner. “It’s a Luperci. Like you and me.” He found her attention once more. “Left to the elements like this, for scavengers to pick apart and scatter their remains to the winds, it’s likely that they’re not one of your precious pack members.” He took a step towards her, and she took two steps back. “Tell me, sweet child, why would the dead be disgraced in a land filled with knights? Have your kin no honor?”

The Lotta’s head had begun to pound…or maybe it was her heartbeat that made it hard to concentrate. Her charcoal ears burned hot the longer she stood under the Outsider’s scrutinizing gaze. “I…I don’t know,” she answered weakly. What was he getting at? It was becoming harder to think when her body burned like it did. “They were probably bad,” she winced at a particularly painful throb as she tried to give him a proper answer.

“What is ‘bad’ is subject to opinion,” he tutted with a low snarl, “Who do you think killed them? Left their bones to rot?” At her silence, he continued, “Who owns this place you call ‘home’?”

Her lips curled as she caught on to his insinuation. “Casa di Cavalieri isn’t bad,” she defended proudly. Teagan took a step forward, fighting back the urge to yelp as her paws felt like they were shattering beneath her shift in weight. “You…” She winced and swallowed. “You need to go.” She took a breath, hating how her lungs had started to burn as well. “You don’t…belong here.”

The Outsider’s molten gaze turned sharp as he recognized defiance in her stance. “Who’s going to make me?” He moved faster than her hindered mind could comprehend. His teeth grabbed a mouthful of her scruff and shook her, tossing her smaller frame away from him like a ragdoll.

The contact sent tendrils of fire through her body, and Teagan yelped loudly from the pain. Everything hurt: where he had touched her to every part of her that had bounced along the snow-covered ground. Blearily, she tried to stand, willing her paws told hold up her own mass. She had to fight back, had to fight like Mom and Daddy would have. She had to be big and strong. She wanted to be a Knight too.

But it hurt. Everything hurt.

Why?

Through the fog, something faintly answered.

She saw his dark figure descend upon her, and, weakly, she tried to snap at him, tried to defend herself from her attacker.

Everything was on fire.

“You’re a child too far from home.” He continued to talk, though his words had begun to become muffled. The male put a heavy paw onto her shoulders, forcing her back to the ground. She groaned, fighting the clutter and noise that wracked her head and body. He brought his mouth near her ear, his breath hot and putrid. “What can you do besides tremble beneath my power?”

Teagan attempted to squirm beneath the heavy burden he had forced upon her. Tears formed in her canary eyes at her own frustration. “I’m. Not. Afraid!” She snarled in a moment of clarity, glaring hatefully at the Outsider through the haze of her own delirium.

The weight was lifted, and she eagerly sucked in air as her lungs were able to expand fully once more. “Let me rid you of the arrogance that runs through your blood!” His sharp teeth sunk into her neck once more.

Fire. Everything was on fire.

She barely recognized her own scream as pain erupted through her, barely recognized as he threw her, sending her tumbling amongst the dead. Her body refused to budge now, refused to heed her pleas. Alarms screeched, wailed, in her pounding head as she registered his dark shape come after her. A demon with fiery eyes. “Let me show you what my brother saw in his dying breathes!”

She was alone.

She was afraid.

Her vision nearly went white from the pain that erupted from her body. Everything. Burned. She twisted and writhed as her limbs took on a mind of their own. Her maw gapped, and a horrific, blood-curdling noise ruptured from deep within her. Every nerve ending in her body cried out in agony. Teagan fought to keep her eyes open, struggling to see her own death through the blur of tears that drowned her canary gaze.

The sickening snaps of bone were sharp in her world of chaos. They were loud in her ears, like the rapid beat of her own heart, and she wondered if the Outsider was ripping her limb from limb, crushing her youthful body piece by piece. What would she be when it was all over? Would she be nothing but bones forgotten in an empty meadow? She couldn’t tell if he was still attacking her. Her whole body felt numb from the onslaught of pain signals.

Was this what death was like?

Sorrow suddenly overtook her, and her body was overtaken by a great tremor.

She was afraid. She didn’t want to die. She didn’t want to leave to leave her parents. She didn’t want to go alone.

She didn’t want to leave Indi.

A soft voice whispered to her, called to her, and she struggled to hear the words against the deafening roar that surrounded her.

The void that had swallowed her had started to slip, and she felt her senses return to her with a sudden harshness. The world came back into focus, and her clouded vision cleared. A snarl greeted her, and Teagan screamed as she recognized yellowed teeth moving toward her like a charging bull. She scrambled, attempting roll onto her back in a weak attempt to escape the oncoming danger. Her limbs felt like lead though, and, before she knew it, the Outsider’s fangs had clamped onto her…leg?

The adrenaline rushing through her temporarily deafened the shots of pain that ruptured from her limb. She stared, wide-eyed and confused as she realized it was an…arm that was held in his jaws, and it was hers. In that startling moment, she realized she had shifted. The moment was lost as she was shaken violently, dragged along the cold ground as if she weighed nothing.

Instinct quickly enveloped her as the astonishment passed. Her lips pulled back and she let loose a frightened snarl. She struck out like a snake, sinking her teeth onto her attacker’s snout. Her elongated limbs felt clumsy and disjointed in this new form she had taken. She didn’t know how to fight back with them, much less wield them effectively. Her mouth though, she had plenty of practice sinking her teeth into things. He would be no different.

He let out a yelp and ripped his head away from her. A hatred burned in his wild eyes as he stared down at her, furious at her sudden retaliation. Blood coated his glimmering fangs that threatened to maim her once more. The male’s jaws opened wide, ready to taste her life liquid once more.

“Get away from her!”

WHHHACK!

The Outsider was sent sprawling away from her as something hard collided with his head. He let out a startling cry at the sudden onslaught, shaking out his head as if to rid the ringing in his ear. His vision swimming, the male tried to focus on exactly what had hit him. Two sets of eyes glared back at him, one of gold and one of chocolate. He thought he had been seeing double at first, but, as his vision settled, he was able to make out that there were two distinct individuals that stood between him and the cream-coated whelp. He growled, taking up a defensive posture as he realized the two adult Luperci that stood between him and his toy.

Teagan had never been so happy to see the Colbentz brothers.

The two wolfdogs stood firmly, acting as a defensive wall between the young princess and the rogue that had trespassed onto Casa di Cavalieri land. Jonas held a thick tree branch in his hand, poised and already bloodied from use. Beside him, his taller littermate, Isaac, had his trusted ax held readily in his own grasp. Both looked formidable, and were a welcomed sight for the injured Stryder. “Didn’t your mother teach you any better than to pick on little girls?”

The dark male spat defiantly, glaring at the two newcomers to the arena. He didn’t look like he was ready to turn tail just yet, but, it was clear that he was weighing his options in light of the changes in the game. The opposing parties appeared to be at a standstill, neither drawing their eyes away from the other. Finally, the rogue was the one to make the first move. He darted forward, mouth wide and stained teeth seeking the flesh of his enemy. Isaac moved to intercept the incoming attack, smacking the wolf aside with the back of his ax. The Cavalier followed after the Outsider, not giving the male any chance to do anything else but evade his deadly swipes with his ax.

At the sight of his brother obviously having the upper hand and the rogue with his tail between his legs, Jonas turned to Teagan and discarded the makeshift club to the side. She laid on her side tiredly. In the absence of any immediate danger, the pain from shifting for the first time and being attacked hit her like a great tidal wave. She felt weak, and her eyelids felt heavy. The heeler’s sharp, golden gaze looked her over, softening a fraction as they took in the angry wound that bubbled on the young girl’s arm. “Always looking for trouble,” he grumbled, unintentionally earning him a faded, mischievous smirk from Teagan.

“Sorry…Mister Jonas,” she managed between deep breaths. Tears threatened to spill from her canary eyes once more, and Teagan weakly tried to wipe them away with her good arm.

The baker kneeled down and grabbed her hand, moving it down to her wound. “Hold this really hard. Can you do that for me?” She nodded blearily, and, after a bit of effort, managed to make her foreign fingers curl around her arm like she wanted them to. He positioned his hands behind her shoulders and knees, scooping her small body up into his arms. Teagan was too weak to protest being picked up, knowing full well she couldn’t walk if even if she had wanted to. She did her best to do as she was told, but her hands trembled to apply the force that she wanted them to.

Jonas repositioned her so that he could put pressure on her arm as he held her. The Stryder child rested her head against his broad chest, slowly lulled by his rhythmic heartbeat. Jonas let up a howl and began a hasty trek back to the fort. Belatedly, Teagan realized Isaac had rejoined them looking no worse for wear. The brothers offered a few words to each other, but Teagan had tuned them out. She stared drunkenly at her arm as noticed that her fur was coated in crimson near the sight of the wound. “Mister…Jonas?” Her voice was small.

A grunt of acknowledgment rumbled from the grumpy Colbentz as he ducked under a low-hanging tree branch.

“I’m not…I’m not going to…lose my arm…am I?”

He spared her an odd look, but it had been the butcher that answered her. Isaac let out a low chuckle, “No, it’s not that bad. Just a scratch.” It was a partial truth. She wouldn’t lose the arm by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t just a scratch either. Since she was still young though, it was an injury that would be nothing but a surface wound when it healed.

She was quiet for a little while, fading in an out of consciousness. As she was beginning to slip into the black of sleep, she groggily pleaded, “Please don’t…tell my parents…okay?”

She would never hear the end of it if they knew.

“Okay.”




Last edited by Teagan Stryder on Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Teagan Stryder

New Caledonia
Commoner
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Songbird

You shoot me down
but I won't fall
I am titanium

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