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Ara

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Between Trees
« on: September 29, 2013, 10:11:57 pm »
Between Trees
Closed.

The sun was going down and no matter how quickly she walked, she would not be able to get home before it was gone, before those last rays of orange and pink were swallowed by the deeper blues. Already the shadows were growing thick between the old trees and an almost sinister chill began to claim the air of night.

Penelope drew a deep breath of that cold air and tried to smile at her own nerves. There was enough moonlight to see the path she followed and it would lead her right to the edge of the woods and the town in the valley. She had nothing to worry about. The stories of monsters and witches were nonsense. Everyone she knew had a story of terror about these woods but no one had ever seen such a creature themselves. She swallowed at a lump of fear in her throat that reminded her very much of being a small girl. No one she knew had ever been in the woods at night either.

Nervous fingers pushed brown hair behind the shell of her ear. She had braided her hair back this morning in a long cord that reached for the tail of her spine, twined and tied off with a thin ribbon, but the ride through the woods to the town on the other side had loosened the strands. If she had the time, she would have stopped and made sure the ribbon hadn’t fallen out completely. Green eyes looked between the shadows ahead and flat shoes never lost her brisk pace. She wouldn’t run. She had decided that. If she ran then she really would be afraid. No. She was going to walk home and think herself a complete ninny when she was soundly inside.

Her brother, Fredrick, had borrowed Mr. Hamish’s horse again and forgotten to return it. Penelope would not be indebted to that man and Fredrick had refused to return the horse once the hour was late. She had been too full of temper at the time to worry about the setting sun. She had ridden quickly and declined sitting down with Mr. Hamish for late supper when she brought him back his horse. He had been a friend of her father’s when he still lived and when he passed, Penelope felt that Mr. Hamish spent too much time checking in on her and her brother. He had protested her leaving of course and even gone so far as to invite her to stay the night in a guest room rather than walk home in the evening. She had masked her alarm at the idea of sleeping in the same house as him with a quick smile and a polite curtsy before excusing herself.

She had been afraid then that he might follow her. Now, in the full of night with nothing but the sound of distantly cracking twigs and creaking trees, she almost wished he had. She could have suffered through conversation with him if it got her home.

The piercing sound of a wolf howling pierced through the darkness of trees. Penelope stopped so suddenly that she almost fell over. Eye's wider now, she turned to look into those pockets of darkness between branches and trunks. For a moment she held her breath and strained to see, blind and yet so certain that something was staring back. Another twig broke, this one in the woods to the other side of the path, now behind her. She turned and her heart raced. Almost as suddenly as she had stopped, she started walking again.

She curled her arms around herself, holding her blue cloak tight as though it were armor rather than worn cloth. Her pace was quick but still, she did not run. She would not run.

Beau

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 10:33:20 pm »
click
We were all wounded in some domestic war
I found you to settle my score

The ribbon lay on the forest trail, curled like a sleeping lamb.  The shiny white satin shimmered in the dimming light.  Roman discovered the out of place fabric and curiously tipped his head to study.  He bent low and touched the gleaming material and watched it move like a ripple of water.

Pretty.

A whisper came to Roman – a voice in the shadows.  “Yes.  Lost it is.”

His head turned to try and spy the one that spoke.  Three there often were, although he could never judge their true form. 

You looked like father
You felt like mother

Amber eyes scanned the trees as shadows became solid into night.  Another voice, higher pitched but just as grating to Roman’s sensitive ears said, “What will we do?”

Is there any doubt?

The first voice could almost be felt to nod, “Play with it, we will.”

A shiver ran up Roman’s spine as silver light spilled out onto the path.  He lifted his eyes towards the moon which gleamed brighter against the thick black sky.

The third voice descended on Roman from somewhere in the air above.  It echoed in his head the command, “Fetch!”

My mind told my heart
There is no other

Roman let out a of howl in response.  The black fur on the throat of his wolf body rippled much as the ribbon did in a vibration of sound. 

One paw snatched the ribbon from the dirt.  He sniffed the air for the owner, sensing she was ahead of him on the path.  Toned muscles bunched and he sprang into the moonlight, four legs tearing at the ground as the hunter sought the prey.

And I gave you my soul
And every ounce of control

The forest spoke of legends and monsters.  Roman knew nothing of the villager’s version.  He cared not for fools.

I gave you my skin, And my original sin
I gave you my pride…Oh my pride [/i]

Ahead a form stood on the path. A young girl in blue. Roman veered into the shadows to avoid detection. 

“Yes, pretty,” whispered the hiss. 

Roman shook his head and slowed to a walk.  He didn’t want to breathe deep in the dark, but the transformation was inevitable.  Four legs became two.  Crouched form stood upright.

Formless hands draped clothing over his body in fluid movements of practice to honor convention.  Words buzzed in his ear.  “We will have it.”

Ain't that enough
I turned your dreams into lightning

Roman could hear the steps approaching, belonging to the girl.  He’d noted her age similar to his own as he’d moved past, but his vision now wasn’t nearly as sharp as before when he glanced over his shoulder.  Remorse filled his heart as his long fingers clutched the delicate ribbon still trapped in his hand.   He lifted the ribbon to his human nose and took another sniff.  The cloth was soft and the fragrance of strawberries pleasant.

Ain't that enough
I held the world back for you

His stomach fluttered.  Filled with a thousand butterflies as he heard, rather than saw the girl in the cloak moving forward.  Each step brought her closer to where he hovered just on the edge of the trees. For an instant it seemed that hunter became the hunted.  Roman cursed the simple innocence, almost wished that she’d sing off-key, or toss a rock in his direction to cause harm.   She touched nothing of nature as she moved on, her steps unhurried.  The rhythmic pattern of boots on gravel a haunting melody to the stillness of night. 

Vanity caused Roman to run fingers through his dark hair to calm the wild windswept appearance.  Experience warned that first impressions were everything.

Ain't that enough
I loved you past the point of dying

Roman stepped from shadow to moonlight.  The silver above cast his form with a faint ethereal glow.   He wasn’t much taller than the girl, but he blocked her path to the village, the last rise in the road effectively hemming them in from rescue.

“You dropped this,” Roman said.  His hand extended towards her.  The ribbon an offering, laced between his fingers.

Ain't that enough of me for you
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 10:37:56 pm by Beau »

Ara

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2013, 10:38:26 pm »
Penelope stopped so suddenly that she almost fell, her heart racing all the more for that end of motion. She was no longer moving toward the safety of her home, no longer moving toward that moment where she could smile at her foolishness and reassure herself with new certainty that there was nothing in those woods but squirrels and old dogs.

She stared at him for longer than was appropriate, though, she had never heard any code of conduct for meeting strangers in the woods. A children's story popped into her thoughts and she wondered grimly if that wasn't as close to a guide as she might come. He was no one she had ever seen, which meant he did not live in her village or the town on the other side of the wood.

It wasn't until she realized that he was holding out something in his hand that his words caught up to her. One hand reached back thoughtlessly to pull her braid over her shoulder, now a disheveled length of unbound hair. Her ribbon. Lost somewhere behind her. Her green eyes moved up to his face again. He was not behind her.

Her heart made her chest sore but she pressed her shoulders down and lifted her head just a little higher. Her mother had once told her not to show men fear. She had warned that they could be worse than wolves if they saw it. She wanted to smile and hide behind that gesture of politeness, but nerves would not allow it. She took a step closer, every instinct she had screaming at her stiff limbs to hold fast or run hard. She couldn't quite muster more than one step, couldn't quite put herself within his arms reach. "Thank you." Penelope whispered and swallowed hard afterward to try to clear the panic from her throat. She reached out for her ribbon, her pale hand trembling, but she was just beyond his fingertips and her eyes didn't quite dare to leave his face. "Are you a traveler, sir?" She forced herself to ask, mustering a little more courage to stretch closer, her boot scuffing the road to take that last bit of space and dip her fingers into his waiting hand.

Beau

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2013, 10:41:32 pm »

Roman let his arm remain stiff and outstretched.  Her eyes caught his interest, green like the summer leaves.  Perhaps he was staring too, but his manners had never been the best. He inhaled slowly, his lungs filling with scent and information.  His expression remained calm.

She didn’t appear scared, although her throat muscles constricted, causing his gaze to flicker lower on her body to watch the butterfly like movement.  Fear was something he understood – a fool’s reaction to stupid action.  He expected her to flee.  In moments the unusual curiosity before him would be prey again.  His leg muscles remained tense and his weight rested on the balls of his feet prepared to give pursuit.

Instead, she took the bait and moved closer.  Roman felt a twinge of disappointment with that first step.  Adrenalin and anticipation caused his tongue to wet his lower lip as she reached for the ribbon.  The satin seemed to cling to his skin like spider web netting as she gently tugged to claim.  Imagination added a spark and soft hiss as the white ribbon left his hand.  His arm fell gently to his side.

She spoke again.  He blinked.  The words were understood, but the question had not been asked for so long that Roman was unsure of the answer.  He couldn’t explain the desire to speak and linger, rather than finish what was started.

“No.”  He wasn’t a traveler after all.  If he elaborated fear would likely be the reaction.  Strangely he didn’t want her afraid of him.  That realization kept him silent as he pondered the reason. 

His gaze flickered to the path behind the girl.  To his keen eyes the shadows seemed to shift and draw closer.  Standing here was no longer an option.

Roman half turned and offered the crook of his elbow. It was a gesture he recalled vaguely.  Something chivalrous.  The irony translated to a ghost of a smile.

 “Would you care to walk with me for a bit?”  He tipped his head towards the road leading to the village.  “It’s late and the woods are dangerous if….traveled…alone.”

Ara

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2013, 11:12:43 pm »
Penelope hesitated again when faced with his back and his offered arm. The words sounded right but the situation was wrong. The steps that brought her closer to him made her heart quicken with panic. She felt on edge and yet could not possibly imagine running. Penelope was a firm believe of only running toward things and never from things. Running away would only make her afraid and certainly prove her to be prey. She wouldn't run from a bear just to give it the short chase and she wouldn't let herself run from a man either. Her arm gingerly threaded through his to allow him to lead her down the road, closer and closer to safety and further and further from the dark creaking wood. "Are you visiting someone then? In Camsdon?" It would make sense if he was staying with someone in her village, strange that she had not heard of it, but at least it would make sense. She wanted it to make sense, especially now that she was literally in his grasp.

She would have blushed when she realized that she didn't even know his name, if she wasn't already flush with nerves . "My name is Penelope Gran, by the way. And you are?" Perhaps if she knew his name her stomach wouldn't be in knots. There had to be a reason for him to be on the road. Walking made her feel better, even if he was so very close. They were moving in the right direction and she didn't have to look at him uncomfortably. Her fingers twisted in the ribbon now held at her side against her skirts. The woods on the sides of the paths creaked against the breeze, groaning into the dark with sinister whispers. Why didn't she feel any safer at his side?

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2013, 11:15:26 pm »
“Camsdon,” Roman tasted the town name, letting it roll over his tongue like fine wine.  “I do go to town occasionally, but not to see anyone...specific.” The evasive answer was truthful.  He knew of the town, but visiting wasn’t why he went there.

She took his arm.  Roman let the pleasure of touch spread across his face and widen the wolfish grin.  White teeth gleamed in the moonlight.  She might dismiss the sharp and straight canines as illusion in the dark.  Everything always looked larger and scarier in the night.

Their footsteps fell together.  His free hand crossed over his body to rest atop hers as it lay on his forearm.  The warmth of his palm trapped the small digits.  He could feel her heart beat, and see the flutter of the vein on her neck.

You smell like strawberries. He bit back the thought before he could admit to the observation.

"Hello Penelope." He said instead.  He paused, considering the taste of the name and how it mixed with the scent that lingered. She was asking another question, and he had to tear his gaze away from the wave of her hair against her cheek to offer a coherent answer.

“My name is…” emerged before he could stop himself.  Something buzzed in his ears and he hesitated over the last.  Names held power.  It wouldn’t do to divulge such to an enemy. Then he shook his head at the label. The girl seemed harmless.  He was the hunter, not the other way around.  And yet he found himself limited to, “They call me Roman.”

Heightened senses noted a shift in the shadows near him. Perhaps ‘they’ were closer than he thought. Roman chose to look ahead, as the pace of his long legs matched the girls, rather than alert her to the fact they were not alone.  “What brings you to these woods on a dark night?  Surely you know it’s not safe.”

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2013, 11:31:54 pm »
There was something following them, she was certain of it, but when she strained to look back nothing seemed out of place in the already eerie woods. He didn't seem to notice and his certainty drew her along at his side.

She looked at his hand over hers, locking her fingers to his arm. No matter how she willed it, she could not even the fluttering of her heart. He had asked a question. That was a relief of some kind even if he seemed to be reminding her again of how dangerous this path became in the dark. "I was returning a horse. My brother borrowed it for the day." She explained. "I wouldn't usually travel at night." She assured and then quickly added, "Not that I'm afraid. It's just... dark." She frowned a little at her own words. She sounded like a child. "I hadn't considered the hour when I left Camsdon. It was my own fault." Penelope was used to taking responsibility. She had two younger brothers, one more trouble than he was worth and the other still quite young. Hopefully he'd gone to bed by now.

She glanced up at Roman and decided not to press for his last name. He didn't seem to be a vagabond. "Do you live nearby, sir?"

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2013, 11:42:08 pm »
Duty.

Penelope shared her reasons for woods wandering with a simple explanation.  He nodded in understanding.  Property had meaning.  Things should be returned to their owner.  And yet he frowned over the wayward brother.  Roman looked behind him, perhaps for a moment thinking the brother too might be on the path, but he found the dirt walkway empty.  A memory pulled at him. It seemed he might have something in common with the girl.

“Duty fell to you.”  Once upon a time he’d been the same.  “I used to mop up for my sister.”

He let the story end there.  Perhaps it had no other ending. 

The dark held its own presence.  His fingers offered a comforting squeeze.  “Your eyes will adjust.”  Indeed as Roman glanced toward the thickening shadows he thought he saw the faint glow of eyes watching.  The yellow orbs hovered about waist high, body masked by the trees that separated them.

A growl started low in his throat but never emerged.  Penelope was asking another one of her questions.  Conversation these days apparently meant trying to get the other to share.

“I live close.” He couldn’t really elaborate.  If he admitted forest dwelling she’d run.  If she ran, she’d be dead.

Ask a question.

He banked the urge to ask her if she knew how to climb a tree.  He didn’t know why he felt a sudden need to protect when his own role was to harm.

“Have you lived in Camsdon long?”  Roman rolled his eyes.  The answer was obvious. To his knowledge families lived in the same peasant villages for generations. Not that he followed the pattern.  Not that he cared. “I mean, is your family one of the farmers there?  Or do you trade?”

Ara

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2013, 01:17:14 am »
There was something following them. She was certain of it. Again and again she thought she heard twigs snap and branches shift. She thought she heard a low rumble somewhere in the ever encroaching dark around them but his voice made it all seem like a trick of her nerves, convincing her of things that weren't there. She could not be certain whether her heart beat quickly by blind fear, fear of something in those trees around them, or fear of the man holding her arm.

He said he lived close and she desperately wanted to pretend that she believed him. No one lived in this area without the whole village knowing about it.

Penelope smiled at his question and then a little less at his correction to it. "My family did have a farm for a time, not very large but large enough. I'm afraid it's just my brother and I now and the land that we used to work belongs to another." She replied simply rather than grinding her teeth on the truth of how her brother had sold it after their father past. It was too much work, he had said. They would never be able to bring up a crop. It took all she had not to sneer at that memory. What did he know of work? She picked up her smile quickly. "My mother taught me to sew so I work for the seamstress of Camsdon. She had no daughters of her own. I have a bit of a garden in our yard though, it's not much but-" Her babbling was swallowed by the not so distance howl, shrill and so much closer than the one she had heard early that night.

If it weren't for his arm holding her forward she would have whirled around to search for the origin of the sound. Her heart beat wild now. "Do... Do you think they're following us?" She whispered, subconsciously holding onto the arm she'd only barely allowed herself to touch before.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2013, 01:22:32 am »
He listened to her chatter and found if mildly amusing.  Not so much for the words, but for the melody of sound.  The unfamiliar tones tickled his ears and he found the sensation pleasant.   Hearing the howl caused him to frown, an unwelcome interruption.

Of course they are following us.

Roman looked down at the woman standing next to him.  He wasn’t terribly tall, but she seemed much smaller somehow in the dark.  He imagined the shadows chipping away at her, causing her to shrink, and the vision likely wasn’t far from the truth.

“Following me.” He offered by way of explanation. “Not everyone in the woods likes me.”

An over simplification to say the least.  But there was no time for further information sharing.  He followed his original impulse and suggested.  “You need to climb a tree.”  He quickly scanned the area and directed her towards a tall pine.  The low branches would require a boost up which he’d offer if she agreed.

“I hate to say it, but I’m going to need my…hands free.”

That wouldn’t be all of course.  He didn’t carry the traditional human weapons.  He smiled displaying the sharp canine teeth, but the gesture was meant to comfort and urge her on.  “If you want to live, don’t come down.”

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2013, 01:25:55 am »
Climb... a tree? Her mind nearly stopped all attempts at processing what was going on when she heard those words and felt her hands suddenly touching bark. He had moved her to a tree. He truly meant for her climb. She couldn't possibly. She hadn't climbed a tree since she was a child. Another howl followed shortly by a snarl, close enough that she could have sworn she heard the click of teeth when that jaw snapped angrily.

Had she nodded her consent? He busted her upward and she inhaled sharply in a mix of shock and embarrassment. A stranger was pushing her into a tree. This was the strangest night of her life, she realized, reaching for a branch and trying not to look too incredibly ridiculous when she pulled herself up, grabbing another to sit herself on the first. She looked down and felt the world stretch beneath her. Had trees always been this high? The ground looked as though it were coated in darkness, like an inky mist that hung over it, swallowing his legs and reaching for his torso. He told her firmly that she should not come down if she wanted to live. She was about to demand a better explanation for his behavior when she saw something move in the dark.

That something wasn't alone. It was dark and rumbling with anger. Yellow eyes shone in the scant glints of moonlight, sinister. She had never seen a wolf this close and she hoped dearly not to see one any closer. Panic tightened in her chest when she realized that though she was sitting in a perch above, he still stood on the ground. A wolf lunged for him and she almost lost her hold on the upper branch, almost tumbled right out of the tree and into the black. And then her night became even stranger. Her fingers pressed into the hard bark of the tree, straining in the cold. She couldn't blink. She couldn't look away. He was gone. Or rather, he had changed. He had changed!

She might have screamed if she weren't so completely breathless. His whole body had melted into that darkness and twisted into something else. He was a wolf. He was a wolf and the only reason she knew she wasn't dreaming was the pain of the branch beneath her fingers. They moved so quickly that she could barely see it, her eyes straining to watch as they moved further away into the woods. Sounds of growling, breaking twigs and mashing teeth were a whirl around their struggle.

When they were almost completely out of site a new panic rose up inside her. He was only one wolf against a whole pack. He was alone now and all she could do was listen to the sounds of a dog fight in the dark. Clenching her teeth she did the most foolish thing she could think of- she jumped out of the tree. Her legs ached from the landing and she almost fell over. Her hands digging around in the leaves for a stick but finding a sizeable rock instead. She didn't think, quite certain that if she did, she would have turned the other way. Instead, she ran into the dark toward those awful sounds.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2013, 01:30:37 am »
Her flesh was soft.  He let his hand trail from hip to ankle as she scrambled up into the tree.  Roman tried not to think about the pleasant sensation as he heard the growl of the approaching wolves.  Quickly he stepped away from the shadows of the pine tree and back to the road, hoping Penelope was smart enough to stay quiet.

On the other hand he needed to be loud.  Three wolves emerged from the western side of the track.  Normally they challenged him one on one.   The full moon must have made them bold. He waited for them to reveal themselves.  Waited for one to lunge, before allowing his body to transform.  And then life became sound, sweat and strength.  Reflex without thinking.  Death without question.

Roman drew them away from the tree.  He ripped open the soft underbelly of one wolf, but left his back vulnerable.  Another wolf jumped him and the two rolled into the trunk of one tree.  Roman managed to land on top, biting the throat of his second opponent and shaking the body to be sure he breathed no more.

The third wolf was the leader.  He went for Roman’s legs, powerful jaws clamping down and sinking until they reached bone.  By some miracle, Roman managed to free himself.  The taste of blood was in his mouth even as his own ran down his leg.  He started to run further into the forest only to be tackled again.

The wolves weren’t the only thing waiting in the trees.  As Penelope advanced she might have heard the same voices that followed Roman.  A set of three that spoke in whispers close to his ear.

“Pretty.”  A pause.  A shift in the air. “We wants it.”

Ara

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2013, 01:46:09 am »
She scrambled in the thickening dark, her pulse so vivid in her veins that her skin ached. Her stomach knotted and she could have sworn that roots were grabbing at her skirts, ripping at the hem. The darkness was moving, not just around the sound of violence but in the corners of her vision.

A voice. More than one. It was impossible to hear over her pulse, the crushing leaves and the sound of violence. She stumbled over a body, warm and wet and coated in fur. Panic grabbed at her heart and her fingers hurt around the rock she clutched, her legs kicking at ground and skirt to push herself away from the fallen wolf. It didn't move to chase or make sounds of anger. It just lay there, a part of the darkness now. Her arm was wet from touching it but the endless sounds of a struggle so close by would not let her linger on it.

Penelope stood and hurried those last steps before her body seized up, tight with terror as she now stood close enough to see the movement of bodies in the dark. Her fingers held that jagged stone so tightly that it would bruise her palm if she lived long enough.

Her father had told her about wolves once and those words rang in her thoughts then. 'There's no point in running from things that are faster than you. If you run, they will chase and if they chase you- they will catch you.' He had been certain then and it had been important to him that she know it. 'If you let yourself run you'll be prey and all manners of wolves will hunt you.'

She squared her shoulders, entirely unaware of the tear tracks that shone on her face, reflecting bits of light in that darkness. "Hey!" She shouted, holding her rock tight. She didn't want to throw it and hit the wrong beast so her boots set stiffly into the ground and she waited, swallowing hard. Her plan was simple enough, get the attention of something terrifying and if it moved toward her, throw a rock at it. It was a stupid plan, but Penelope had already jumped from her tree and those words in her memories would not let her turn and run.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2013, 01:53:56 am »
The growl in Roman’s throat nearly masked the voice in his ear.  It couldn’t be real.  No human walked in the woods at night if they wanted to live. His eyes tracked the sound.  The girl seemed to shimmer in the moonlight as she stood beneath the trees.  If he were logical, the sweat rolling into his eyes could be blamed for the effect, but in that moment he knew nothing other than the thought, beautiful.

Roman had always liked beautiful things.  His fatal flaw.  His downfall.  Some of the fight went out of him in that moment.  Drawn like a moth to a flame his jaw relaxed as he strained for a second glance at the vision.

His opponent was not so easily distracted.  He took advantage of Roman’s looser grip to break free of the bite on his shoulder.  He stood apart now, torn between finishing Roman or dealing with the intruder.  Both prey seemed equally tasty as he looked between them.

It couldn’t be logic – some sense that the girl meant something to Roman and thus would add to his pain.  No, it was probably the sound of her voice that drew the hunter forward.  The implied threat. A growl of menacing response rumbled through the throat and shoulders of his dark coat.

Roman’s mind was more human than the wolves, even though his sense of identity was blurred.  He understood the consequences of remaining prone on the ground.  If he wanted to live he needed to rise.  The injured leg held little weight, but Roman managed to stand on all fours.  He’d been down, moments from death.  Now it seemed he might live to fight again.

Or fight now.

He barked a warning.  One sharp retort meant to draw attention back to the business at hand.

The other wolf looked over his shoulder at Roman, then back at the girl.  He chose beauty over age and stalked forward knowing Roman couldn’t move fast enough to stop him.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2013, 02:03:10 am »
A thousand thought warned for the forefront of her mind and yet all she had was the rushing of blood in her ears and the violent beat of her own heart. Teeth. She saw teeth when those lips curled and that body of muscle and fur turned finally toward her, stalking forward two steps and then springing at her like the wind itself set afire with yellow eyes.

She could only feel the rock in her hand, it was suddenly so light but still so hard. It was scraping at her palm and fingers, her arm pulling it back. Some thought told her to throw it but she couldn't bare to let it go, as though it was the only strength she had.

It leaped at her, jumping high, those teeth opening to multiply from the shadows before her eyes. She felt sick.

Penelope finally moved. There was no thought to it. Her arm swung forward in a straight swing from side around to front and a cry of alarm left her when that large rock in her palm connected with the face of a beast, the nearness sinking in and making her vision sway.

The contact of the rock to the wolf's face reverberated through her arm, making muscles and bones ache. It shoved the beast to the side and the ground and left her staggering, almost falling over as well when she turned to look at it. It hadn't lain down for the blow but seemed momentarily surprised, sidestepping and shaking it's head before those lips peeled back with a new rumble of annoyance, lean body turning slowly toward her again from a new direction.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2013, 02:04:13 am »
Roman couldn’t stop the wolf strike.  His enemy stalked his prey.  The injury slowed him down.  But limp forward he did, he didn’t think about why.

Penelope’s aim was good.  A rock, however, was not a powerful weapon and it angered rather than maimed.  However, the time it bought was used wisely by Roman.  As the wolf moved again Roman was positioned to spring.  He managed a half leap onto the larger wolf's back, sinking his teeth into the brown fur.

A howl of pain followed.  Then the wolf surprised Roman by turning a flip and landing on its back, this time pinning Roman beneath him.  He wiggled his body, pressing Roman into the dust and smothering him.  Roman refused to yield.  His teeth sunk deeper.  His front paw slashed and soon the other wolf was on his side, leaving enough space for Roman to wiggle out from underneath.  Another second and the battle was over, the brown wolf's throat ripped open.

Roman's jaw held until the other wolf stopped struggling.  Then he staggered backwards.  Muzzle bloody, he looked at Penelope.  He growled.  She did, after all, ignore his warning.

The shadow voices returned.  They whispered to Roman, reminding him of duty.  Now would be the perfect time to finish her.

He couldn't though.  Something about the moonlight.  Something about her voice. 

He shook himself.  It took a minute to transform back to human.  The process was painful, moreso with his injuries, various cuts and bruises and one long gash in his leg.  He gathered the cloak around him and offered a glare.  "You don't like my trees?"

Roman tried to put weight on his leg and stumbled.  She could easily get away.  He'd limp to his cottage and sleep.  Still his eyes narrowed in warning. "Now would be the time to run."

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2013, 02:04:57 am »
There was a moment in which her mind slowed and her skin grew cold when he changed forms again, right in front of her eyes. The heartbeats that followed were slow, giving her pause, and then the world moved quickly again and she was rushing to his side, always rushing forward. Penelope crouched to rise under his arm, against his side. He suggested she run but the forest was littered in dead beasts, what was left to run from?

"Are there more wolves?" She whispered, hands holding his arm over her shoulders and legs trudging across uneven ground to lead them back the way they'd come. The forest was so dark she could not see more than a meter in front of them. "Are you injured terribly? There is a woman in our town that knows medicine." She offered, always willing to fill a space of silence with words.

They kept walking, passing trees and bushes but when she was certain they should be coming upon the road, there was only more trees to be found. She looked around but nothing told her she had gone the wrong way, nothing said turning another direction would be any wiser, and then she saw the shadows fold around the shape of a cottage. She stopped them and blinked at it. "That should not be there." She was certain. If someone had a house in the woods she would have heard of it, the village would have known.

A candle flickered inside, a sharp bit of light in the darkness cast by branches that held back all shards of starlight. It was there a moment, she was certain, but then gone the next. Whispers in the trees echoed in the movement of the wind and she found herself walking them closer to the cottage, the prospect of a door between herself and this forest too tempting to pass up. If someone did live there, perhaps they could help him and direct them back to the road.

When they reached it she knocked, manners never yielding even in the face of this strange evening. Her knuckles rapped against the cold roughly carved wood and the sound echoed inside, but no one answered.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2013, 02:07:13 am »
The human touch was foreign but gentle.  Roman looked down at the girl as she bent to help him.  He allowed it, perhaps less reluctantly than he should have.

Were there more?  “I don’t know.”  He sniffed the air and listened, but he couldn’t sense anything beyond death and girl with him.

“No village,” Roman said with a shake of his head.  He almost left her then, thinking to lick his own wounds without her help.  It wasn’t safe for him to have thoughts of the village, let alone visit.  “No village.” He repeated. The leg hurt, but he’d survive.

Surprisingly a cabin loomed in the dark.  Roman was familiar with the forest by night.  He’d not known of this shelter, although he couldn’t recall the last time he’d been this close to town.  Could it be that some brave soul had moved to the edge?  He agreed with Penelope, “Yes,” he said.  Houses here were…unnatural.

The candle flame was almost hypnotic, drawing him closer.  He didn’t object when she knocked.   But no one came to the door.   Roman leaned to the side, trying to get a better look in the window.  No face or figure near the candle.  No sinister shadows.  He didn’t sense eyes on him.

“It looks empty.” He said. 

She knocked, so he’d try the door knob.  It swung open with the slightest of touches.  He watched as it swung wide in a slow fluid motion.  The hinges were well oiled and made no sound.  The air caused the flame to flicker, but the candle remained lit.

“I do not know who lives here.”  The furnishings were rustic, but this was no animal cave.  “I would like to sit.  At least for a short while.” He figured if she had an excuse she’d go inside.   Roman glanced behind him as he led the way across the threshold.  Nothing moved beneath the trees.

Inside he noticed a hearth and some wood.  If they got cold they could start a fire.  Right now he was more interested in the two chairs which sat beside the table with the candle.  He aimed to sit in one.  Pretend everything was normal.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2013, 02:09:23 am »
She didn't want to go into the house. There was something about it that kept her on the doorstep looking in until the lean of his weight pushed her over. The floorboards creaked lightly beneath her boots, making her look down and for the first time take in the state of her skirts. She would be lucky if she could wash the mud from them cleanly and something told her that some of those stains, the darker ones, were not mud at all.

When he sat the door closed. Her heart raced and only then did she realize that it had begun to calm. "Perhaps we should not be here." Penelope exhaled. The sound of her whisper reminded of childhood, of being in the graveyard at night listening to ghost stories. Her skin felt tight and her nerves raw. Her eyes could not widen enough. The candle flame moved and with it the shadows swung around them, moving up and down the walls and stroking over the rough furnishings.

"I think it would be best if we sought the road and went to the town." She insisted. It was easy to forget the terrors outside now that she stood inside. Nothing seemed terribly out of place and yet her stomach was in knots. Someone must live in this house, though she could not imagine how without her having heard of it. If the candle was lit, then perhaps they would be back shortly.

It wasn't until her sight landed on him that some of her fear focused on something other than the rug and rocking chair. "How badly are you hurt?" She took a step closer, the color of his blood so frightfully vivid in the pale wash of candlelight. She knew nothing of medicine or healing, something she had not regretted in the least until just then.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2013, 02:10:51 am »
“Of course we shouldn’t be here,” the grin was wolfish.  A sense of humor lurked even after all this time.  He was surprised how entertained he was by her genuine emotion.  “You are free to go if you like.  I believe you could find the road if you so chose.  The town, however,” Roman looked at to the windows, “you’d be better off waiting to first light.”

Such was not too far away. A few hours, perhaps.  Time was difficult to tell.  Even if he could see the moon its location in the sky always seemed the same to him.

“Others have tried before you,” he clarified.  Roman shook his head and realized the action made him dizzy.  “You are brave, but magic doesn’t bow to intellect...”

He felt the power of her gaze and his own eyes tracked to her face.  He expected her to ask other questions beside the state of his health.  Perhaps some of the confusion over her concern showed in the furrow of his brow.  He drew the cloak closer to him to hide the gash and blood.

“I’ll live,” he said.  That much was true.  He wanted to put his head down on the table and close his eyes over the futility of it all. Long eyelashes lowered adding a shadowed look to his eyes. 

But then humor returned and the grin split over his face and showed the white teeth which glowed in the light.  “I can’t believe you threw a rock at Morganis.”  A snort.  “A rock.”  A full-fledged chuckle.  The eyes opened and he looked at her fully.  “He’s been a thorn in my side for…” Roman couldn’t say how long.  He didn’t want the look of fear to return. 

“I should thank you.”  A myriad of emotions crossed his face.  “I should scold you for defying my order to stay in the tree.”  He sighed, “I should probably kill you to protect my secret, but we’ll go with sharing a cup of tea for now.” 

Roman pointed to the fire place.  “Perhaps you’d light the fire and start a pot of water boiling."  He'd clean the wound at least, and try to pass the time until dawn without doing what his brain screamed for him to do.  "We’ll share it with our absent host when they return.”

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2013, 02:13:05 am »
Penelope had never been a pointed disobedient person. When she was, she always tried to disobey politely. It was often the result of a misunderstanding or a foolish rule anyway. Staying in a tree had been a foolish order. If she had stayed in the tree, he might have died and then what would have come of her? Surely she would have been eaten, as her rock tactic had been a fluke and at it's best- bought her half a minute. She thought all of these things while obediently turning her attention to the fire place. Strange, the wood was already stacked. She lifted the lid on a little clay bowl to find dry shavings to set at the base.

"Morganis?" She heard herself ask before realizing that he had named the wolf that tried to eat them. "You're acquainted?" Penelope sounded a little more aghast than she had intended. She pressed her lips when she looked about for a means of starting the fire. "They weren't... like you, were they?" She wasn't sure what the polite way was of referring to a man that turned into a wolf. Was there a polite way of saying such a thing? The thought of what he was worried her- making her wonder if she ought not take the opportunity to flee from him while she could. It didn't seem right, running from him while he was wounded and waiting for tea. She frown more at how silly that thought sounded.

Her worries about her company dissipated when she looked down at the clay bowl beside the stone fire place only to see a flint now sitting beside it on the floor. "Did you...?" She began and then glanced at the man still sitting in the chair. Of course he hadn't put it there. She would have heard him hobbling wouldn't she? She must not have noticed it.

She struck the flint. Once and then twice. The small sparks leaped into the modest fire pit, catching the tinder and turning to small flames that reached slowly for the wood. The shadows of the room moved wildly as the flames grew to fire, as though the darkness struggled, pained as it was forced back into the corners to cower and wait.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2013, 04:58:10 pm »
Roman chuckled at Penelope’s naivette.  No my dear, I just run around and fight random wolves.

He let his dark eyes follow her movements towards the fire and studied her graceful gestures, wondering, not for the first time, why he was so fascinated with her.

“There are varying degrees to what is ‘like me’.” Roman said.  He paused and considered his answer and how much to say.  The light in the room dispelled some of his hesitation along with the shadows.  “Some are born with magic, and some are made.”  Long fingers traced a pattern on the wooden table surface.  He looked down and away from Penelope as he spoke, subconsciously fearing her judgment.  “Morganis was always of the opinion that born was better.” Obviously then Roman was the other, less superior breed.  It went without saying.

“The two with him were more wolf than man.  You will find, should you continue to venture into the forest at night,” a glance to share her need to rethink such thoughts, “that not all manner of creatures are as they seem.”

He might have said more, but he decided to wait to be asked.  The tea might loosen his tongue, or perhaps she would say something to distract him.  It had been years since he’d sat at a table and enjoyed such mundane conversation with another.

And yet, perhaps their time together was meant to be brief and shared.  Keen hearing caught the sound of approaching feet.  His head cocked and nose lifted to test the air and listen.  He half rose, the better to protect Penelope, but his leg wouldn’t hold the weight and he dropped back into the chair with a wince of pain.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2013, 05:34:20 pm »
She found herself nodding as he spoke, as though conversation of the secrets of wolf men were something she had every other evening. It was absurd, of course, but nothing he said seemed like a lie or contradicted the very unique night she had taken part in. The notion that it wasn't unique at all, only she had never seen such things before, made her feel like sitting too.

Magic. Of course all villagers believed in magic, but she had never had to see it for herself before. "I see... I don't suppose you are really a traveler, are you?" She swallowed and heard it in her ears. She pushed the kettle of water into the fireplace to hang above the flames and then stood, nervous hands stroking down her skirts again and watching him from the corner of her eye. "Why did you meet me on the road?" It was little more than a whisper of a question she didn't really want the answer too.

He turned his head and at first she thought he had simply turned it from her, before realizing that his attention had turned to the door.

When he stood, she jumped, turning to see both him and the doorway fully. He slumped back into his chair and her heart clenched tight in her chest. Her heart had dealt with a flurry of abuse already this night and it seemed it would not end. The ridged metal knob of the door tensed before opening. Wind stole in, violent and threatening the flames but no one stepped inside. No one stood in the doorway.

Penelope swallowed again and this time her ears popped. Her shoes sounded loud on the hardwood when she crossed the small room to grab the door with both hands, trying to still her nerves when the wind calmed and she looked out into the dark wood. Shadows moved and branches swayed, threatening to be something other than trees and leaves, but no one stood on the stoop. She closed the door and it latched firmly, with more definitive sound than she remembered last time. Silence swept the room in the way of the weather outside and just as she sighed she felt the presence of someone beside her. From the shadows came the face and then the haggard crooked body followed.

She inhaled to cry out but managed to swallow it down and backpedal as the old woman seemed to emerged from shadows themselves, hanging up her cloak and smiling wide with broad lips and creased face. "My, my, you must be lost." The crone said, turning from the wall and walking closer to her. Penelope continued to backpedal until she had no choice but to stop or else topple into Roman's lap. "How did you..."

"What dear?" The crone smiles, something about the shine in her blue eyes striking Penelope as strange. "Did you not see me come in?" She laughed. "The wind must have really scared you." She looked at the man behind the girl and frowned for a moment, eyes bluer when locked with his. "Or maybe something else." She turned toward the fire and grinned again. "Oh, good, you've started the water for tea. Best get you both nice and warm."

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2013, 06:40:25 pm »
He was left with little time to answer her question about why he’d come for her. “I was sent.” Was all he managed to say as his muscled tensed and the approaching sound of footsteps grew louder.

Roman couldn’t move. Penelope managed to get to the door before he could warn her not to open it. Perhaps the point was moot as the door blew open and resisted her touch to close it. Roman sensed the magic, but couldn’t see it manifest. His eyes only made note of the new arrival as she stepped into the light.

Penelope backed away. Roman might have too, had he been standing. He lifted a hand to rest on the small of Penelope’s back to steady her. His fingers clenched in the soft folds of her cloak, even though he had no reason to keep her with him. He forced his grip to release and hands to fold on his lap.

“Please forgive the intrusion,” Roman said. They weren’t lost, really. “I’ve been injured. My companion thought it best that we take shelter.”

The crone sniffed the air and smiled. “Hum,” she said. Limping towards the fire she lifted the lid of the pot to test the water. Steam wafted up to bathe her face in smoke. Roman imagined a more youthful face in the steam and candlelight. “Nice set of wolf pelts outside. Are you to be congratulated?”

Roman shook his head. The room felt warmer, although no noticeable source of heat had been added. The crone fetched a couple of mugs and set them on the table. The pottery was worn and chipped, but it would hold the poured water. The brew hissed as it joined herbs in the base of the mugs.

“I never knew anyone lived here,” Roman said. “We were on our way to the village.”

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2013, 09:24:53 pm »
The old woman gestured for a chair and told Penelope to sit and without thinking, Penelope sat. The crone smiled at her and put a mug in front of her. Penelope felt a strange sort of calm coming over her, hands reaching out to hold the rough cup, soaking in the heat through her palms. Roman mentioned the village and Penelope nodded distantly, looking down at her mug and the swirling liquid inside. The steam smelt almost sweet.

The crone smiled, pale eyes finding the wolf again as she sat at the end of the table. "You don't belong in a village." She remarked curiously, watching the beast. It wasn't often wolves crossed her path. She pushed the cup toward him and smiled wider to one side, as though excited at the idea of him drinking it.

Penelope sipped her tea and exhaled relief. Why had she been so tense? She took another sip. It tasted lovely, despite its vessel and her fears seemed to drift away. She was doing something, wasn't she? Yes, Roman. She looked across the table at the crone and then to her side at Roman. "He's injured." She reminded.

The hag looked surprised at the girl, briefly wondering if her tea had grown weak over the decades or if the girl was so worried for the dog. She smiled more. "Interesting situation you have, boy." She said to the wolf, looking at him again and ignoring Penelope's inquiry. "You seem to have had trouble during your hunt." She made a disapproving 'tsking' sound. "I don't think I've ever had a wolf trespass on my home before." Her voice hardened when it lowered, those iris so pale now that they nearly blended with the whites of her eyes. "Perhaps we can come to terms, you and I."

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2013, 09:30:58 pm »
“I didn’t say I belonged there,” Roman corrected the woman as she sat down with them. He didn’t smile or appear embarrassed by the twisted omission. He wanted to introduce himself properly, but even though his name might strike recognition, names also held power and he could not tell for sure if what sat before him would think him friend or foe, given the company he kept.
 
It was wrong he knew, but Roman let Penelope drink the tea, holding silent the warning on his tongue.  Chances were good that the crone and the tea were not what they seemed.  Fairy tales warned about eating or drinking within the fairy realm.  Such a thing could trap you there, transform you, and make you stay.  He had no such personal experience, his own fate decided by duty.  And yet, he remained silent, unwilling to acknowledge the secret hope, the pleading glance, that the crone might aid him in his quest to capture Penelope’s interest, even if it limited her choice. 

I have grown selfish,he thought as he let his gaze fall to the fluid in his own cup.  His future was not recorded there, but he wished to see all the same.It’s not too late… But then he heard the concern in Penelope’s voice and his stomach was all at once filled with butterflies.

Roman’s blue eyes lifted to study the crone.  If she could see through his guise, perhaps he would be empowered to do the same.  He picked up the mug and let the steam enter his range of vision, viewing the crone through the mist.  Her form shifted, but it didn’t hold on another image.  The mirror, as it were, was warped and she seemed taller and shorter, younger and older at the same time. 

She offered him some sort of deal.  One side of his mouth lifted. “Maybe I’ve been hunting the wrong thing,” Roman said.  He didn’t focus on her eyes as placed the mug, untouched, back on the table.  He decided instead to watch her hands through lowered lashes.  “And I am not completely helpless.” A vague warning not to underestimate him.  “We might be of use to each other given the right circumstances and terms.”

The wind outside seemed interested in the occupants of the cottage.  The glass rattled as Roman finished speaking.  His keen ears heard a whispering, “We wants it. We will have it.”  He didn’t acknowledge the plea or the noise by looking towards the window. 

One of Roman’s hands moved to Penelope’s.  He planned to place a reassuring hand on her wrist and show the solidarity to the witnesses.  “What did you have in mind.”

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2013, 09:31:48 pm »
She laughed, the sound almost sharp and making the flames move in this place that belonged only to her. "Oh, not helpless at all." The crone agreed, tilting her head slightly and watching him with those seeing eyes. "But do you have much choice in what you hunt?"

Both Penelope and the old woman seemed to look at his hand over that pale wrist at the same time. Penelope might have blushed if she'd had more sense about her. The world felt hazy and yet she felt calm. She watched his hand on hers with slow moving lashes. "What's going on?" Penelope asked, voice tinged with the slightest worry. There was something not right. No right with this place. Not right with this woman. Not right with her. She put her cup down but it was already empty.

The crone looked at the wolf again, his blood was making the air smell metallic in that small cabin and her pupils were growing smaller. "I have no interest in you." The hag admitted, long mouth curling into a slight smile when she looked at Penelope again. "But you have something of interest to me." Her gaze returned to him. "I'm not unreasonable. I won't steal your sport. We can trade." She smiled wide and showed those rows of gray teeth. "I can heal that leg of yours..." She stood and went to one of the old dust coated wardrobes. "Or, if you like, I could help you with any other problems you might have..." She trailed off, waiting for him to take the offer. She opened stiff drawers and shuffled crooked fingers through the contents. More than a few things inside seemed to move about, trying to evade her touch.

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2013, 09:34:09 pm »
Roman could wax philosophical on why he hunted what he did, but the truth was there.  “Free will is limited.”  It took great effort to resist the call of the moon and the shadows.  “But not impossible.”

His mind raced with possibilities of what Penelope might have that the other would be interested in.  Youth?  Beauty?  Freedom?  All those things called to Roman.  He was tired of existence and longed for something new.  Happiness was always fleeting.    If indeed those things were what she wished for he could not offer himself in trade.  He was not young.   He was not beautiful and he certainly was not free.  At the same time her words seem to indicate that he had some say in Penelope’s fate and his heart beat faster over the prospect.

He sniffed the air, trying to smell what she was searching for.  Garlic, other herbs, but nothing that sent a warning or hint on motive.  He believed the cup might contain some sort of sedative based on Penelope’s hazy reactions, but for now she seemed to remain somewhat alert and curious.

His brain told him to run, even if his ability was limited.  Indeed he stood, clenching his jaw as the limb protested.  The wound was no ordinary bite.  It might be poison, but he suspected magic instead they type that likely would force him to transform to evade the flesh eating powers in due time.

 “My leg will heal soon enough,” he said in response to the offer of aid.   His face was stoic.  Brave to the last.  “You say you may be able to help with…other problems, but I don’t know your skills or abilities.  Have other travelers come this way and offered you trade before?”  He was hoping for some hint on who and what she was since his vision and senses were not empowered to see.  The shadows in the corners of the room seemed to shift again as he moved a few steps closer to the window.  Moonlight touched his skin.  “I’ve lived in this forest almost a century. And I don’t believe we’ve met.”  His tone implied that he doubted her abilities.  “Perhaps a demonstration?  Something small that will show me exactly what I am being offered so I can understand that the price is fair.”

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2013, 09:35:03 pm »
"A century?" She half asked half noted. "My home has always been here and never been here." She smiled. It was a part of the forest, a part of something in the forest that he been here long before the trees. "Such a bold request from a hound." The crone said with no little amusement. An old shoulder shrugged with the carelessness of a youth. Again her gaze slid down the table to where Penelope sat, eyes glazing for a moment before she blinked and stood. "As you wish."

She went to her chest of drawers again. Boney fingers wrapped in old skin reached in. There was a rumpling of paper and then her fingers returned with shadows captured between her digits and with her back to them, she fed whatever it was to herself. She chewed and swallowed and shuddered pleasantly. Her back seemed a little less crooked and her skin a little less withered when she moved about the small floor space again. She mumbled and the shadows in the corners seemed to murmur back, shifting about.

Proof. They always wanted proof. Smart but annoying. She touched the frail front door, tapped it twice and then unlocked it, opening it into a slow swing. The storm outside was gone. The forest was gone. A lush valley beneath the broad moon stretched out past the front steps. "You could leave if you like. Go anywhere." She closed it again tapped twice more before opening it. A sandy beach and moonlit waves lapping so close to the front door that a small spray of water drifted in on the fresh air. "You can step right out and be far from the reaches of this place, of these trees." She closed the door stiffly and it locked this time.

Penelope jumped at the sound, having stared in dazed shock at the oddities beyond that door.

The crone reached into the shadows near the corner and pulled out a small chest that gleamed gold even in that slight fire light. With a show of effort she put it on the table, the lid opening to have jewels inside. She doubted what he desired most was wealth but he wanted a show and she wanted her payment. It wasn't that she wouldn't try to take her by force if need be, but she had learned long ago to avoid quarrels with wolves. "If you tell me what you would like in return, I am certain I can provide it." She smiled wider and it appeared more sinister despite her efforts. "She is only a girl after all and when your leg heels you will find another."

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Re: Between Trees
« Reply #29 on: October 05, 2013, 07:16:03 pm »
Undoubtedly true – there would be other girls.  Roman blinked, his expression bland.  The jewels before him were pretty but he wouldn’t touch them.  It wouldn’t surprise him if they offered a trap much as the tea had.  Roman’s hand had moved from Penelope's wrist to her shoulder and remained even as he stood, and she watched the demonstration.  Penelope hadn’t yet shoved him away and he took that as a sign to protect.

He said, “You can’t offer me freedom.”  He doubted anyone could, and had given up long ago.  The pictures shown behind the door were no more than lies.  His look of distain implied that he would not be fooled.  “I have my orders.”  Not that he intended to follow them.  The devil he knew, however, was better than the one he did not.  “How is it that our paths have not crossed before?”

The shadows near the corner shifted again.  Roman was tempted to blow out the candle, considering it the likely source of life, but the fire would remain and he couldn’t quench that without time and skill he lacked.

Whispers began again in his head.   The force of them echoed making Roman wonder if they could be heard by others, so loud they were.

We wants it. 

Yes, yes, now we needs it.

The shadows shifted, but this time a grayish hue colored the humanlike form that pooled and grew near the entrance to the cabin.  First one, then two other hunched figures emerged, standing so close that they might have been one multiheaded shape.

“You asked for a sacrifice,” Roman said, although his words were for the shadows, and about the hag.  “Perhaps you’d care to take what is offered?  I understand I can have anything I want.”  His eyes fell like flint on the hag.  "Deal."

He smiled, all glowing teeth.  He'd let magic meet magic and let his fate fall to the results.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 07:20:24 pm by Beau »