Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 3 A Wolfish Rescuer

  • The cool rain had given way to a misty drizzle that clung to Olivia's damp hair and clothes as she crouched in the underbrush, her body trembling with a combination of cold, fatigue, and adrenaline from the night's events. She pulled her knees tighter to her chest, the soggy fabric of her cloak doing little to retain any warmth.
  • Though the raging battle between the two massive wolves seemed like an eternity ago, the sounds of their vicious snarls and crunching impacts were still ringing in her ears. Her gaze drifted down to her mud-caked hands, replaying the gut-wrenching memory of that immense dark beast tackling the other predator just before its snapping jaws could clamp down on her defenseless body.
  • If not for the eleventh hour intervention of her mysterious savior, there was no doubt she'd be lying as a cooling corpse on the forest floor right now. The thought sent a shiver rattling down her spine that had nothing to do with winter's chill.
  • Lifting her head, she peered out through the tangle of branches shielding her from view. Not twenty paces away stood the heavily-panted form of the immense wolf that had come to her rescue. Its rippling musculature heaved beneath its thick, smokey fur as it gulped down ragged breaths following the intense skirmish. Powerful haunches taut, it stood vigil with its hackles raised and teeth bared in a feral scowl as its nostrils flared, still poised for any resurgent threat.
  • Yet when Olivia studied the wolf's glowing azure eyes boring into the night's gloom, she saw a probing, sentient quality wholly at odds with the mindless bloodlust of an ordinary predator. Those eyes weren't just pinpricks of animal savagery, but rather orbs gleaming with a disquieting hint of human-like intellect analyzing its surroundings - assessing, plotting, almost...strategizing.
  • The sight made her insides churn with the uncanny, the abnormal sensation only intensifying whenever she stole glimpses of the wolf's sheer size and mass. Never in her life had she heard of such a colossal, monstrously powerful specimen existing in nature. Not even her healer's grandmother - a fount of knowledge on all the arcane flora and fauna across the lands - had breathed a word about beasts of this magnitude roaming their woodlands.
  • Goosebumps prickled across Olivia's clammy skin beneath her sodden cloak as the wolf dipped its snout low, dragging in her scent. Its head swivelled in her direction until its formidable glare locked on to her hiding spot so directly it seemed to command her soul to bare itself. Any doubts of it being a simple, unthinking animal were cast aside as their gazes meshed. Olivia shrank under that potent scrutiny laced with an inhuman perception acutely attuned to her very essence.
  • When the wolf finally shifted its weight as if to charge her, she instinctively flinched - until its taut muscles relaxed into a languid, almost lazy prowl as it nonchalantly turned and padded between the trees into the mist-wreathed darkness.
  • Olivia exhaled, though whether in relief or disappointed longing for one last glimpse of the cryptic creature, she couldn't say. As the the rhythmic cadence of its fading pawsteps faded into silence, a tremulous horror slowly creeped into the void of solitude she'd so craved.
  • She was marooned in hostile, uncharted territory far from any help, with no way to call for aid and her only defense the small hunting knife tucked into her boot. Who knew what other preternatural adversaries lurked within these ancient groves where primordial laws of nature still reigned?
  • The snapping of twigs beyond her shrouded cover made Olivia stiffen, her heart pounding against her breastbone. Straining to discern details through the veil of fog and branches, she reached down to the hilt of her knife tucked into her boot, fingers trembling against the carved bone.
  • Out of the corner of her eye, she detected movement - a shape materializing through the gloom, growing larger as it neared. Olivia fought to control her panicked breathing, painfully aware of each wheezing inhale filling the night's stillness. In one fluid motion born of combat training, she unsheathed the wickedly curved blade tucked against her shin—
  • A pair of luminous azure irises flashed before her. Olivia froze, the air stalling in her lungs as an overpowering aura of bestial ferocity washed over her, a suffocating musk of singed fur and masculine musk saturating her senses—
  • Suddenly, the ground shook with muted booms, as if cannon blasts were reverberating through the earth. Olivia instinctively curled into a ball, hunkering down as she wildly scanned for their source only to see the wolf striding nearer, its paws depressing craters into the soft loam with each step.
  • The sheer magnitude of the beast they belonged to fully registered - this was no run of the mill predator, but rather some ancient force of primordial nature given supreme physical form. It loomed over her cowering body like the entire forest had sprouted sentient, sinuous fangs. With a deific menace, it cocked its head as if examining a curiosity while its panting grew heavier and fell into a guttural, rumbling cadence.
  • Olivia recoiled at what she saw in those azure pits glaring down—flashes of intelligence feral yet undeniably human battling feral savagery. A terrifying duality of nature converging into something both sophisticated yet utterly untamed by human laws. Her breaths came in feverish pants as droplets of sweat trickled between her shoulder blades, her grip white knuckled on the knife clutched defensively before her like a pitiful twig.
  • With glacial slowness, the monstrous wolf dropped into a predatory crouch, every iota of its hulking mass hyperfocused on her quivering form. Olivia closed her eyes, steeling herself for the deathblow—
  • The resounding crack of shattering bark sent her flinching. She whipped her head up to find the source of the sound—
  • There, amidst the dense foliage, emerged a man strolling with lupine grace, clad in nothing but shadows and splinters of moonlight gilding his bare skin. He moved with a sinewy, bestial fluidity completely at odds with a human's gait as he languidly approached the spot where she'd last seen the wolf—his eyes flared in brilliant sapphire pinions glowing in the night.
  • Olivia gaped, shaking her head in numb denial of what she'd just witnessed, before those uncanny eyes snapped onto her like iron shackles clamping onto her soul. She flinched back against the mossy trunk, heart stuttering at the predatory focus in that blood-freezing stare.
  • With each step bringing him nearer, his features emerged from the forest's gloom into sharper relief – revealing clenched jaws, a hawkish nose, and sinewy musculature rippling beneath tanned skin that seemed to radiate lupine menace. He closed the distance, each footfall slow and purposeful, until he towered over Olivia in a physical presence as weighty as a mountainside.
  • And then, with a lethality and suddenness that sucked the air from her lungs, he struck—lean muscle coiling as his arm whipped out to seize her by the throat and immobilize her against the tree, iron-clad fingers boring into her pulse points.
  • Olivia's eyes blew wide and glassy as she gasped for breath, her boots dangling inches above the ground as his grip constricted. Wheezing, she forced her gaze upwards to glimpse his face—
  • And saw a flash of electric blue blaze behind his eyes like shards of lightning, followed by a guttural snarl that rippled from his chest and scorched her cheeks with preternatural heat.
  • Stray beams of moonlight pierced the canopy and illuminated his flesh, reflecting off carved muscle and chiseling shadows beneath a patina of slick rain—until his form seemed to distort and warp as it contorted in impossible and gruesome ways, bones creaking and tendons shifting, solidifying into a horrifyingly new shape as his grip tightened around her airway...
  • Olivia's last bit of air hissed through her clamped teeth as total darkness closed in, swallowing her vision with a roaring rush of oblivion. Just as she teetered on the edge of losing consciousness, something primal urged her to keep her eyes pried open - a deep-seated instinct demanding she bear witness to whatever unholy metamorphosis she was beholding.
  • With the last shreds of her fading strength, she forced her lids apart once more. Blurry shapes coalesced as the blood rushed in her ears like a furious tempest. There, silhouetted against the moon's feeble glow, the figure's mass seemed to billow outward as its spine arched and elongated.
  • Coarse fur sprouted across its rippling hide, spreading in virulent patterns as a pair of slavering jaws unhinged in a cataclysmic roar that shook the forest's very roots. Skeletal appendages erupted from its back, unfurling into vast, leathery wings that spanned the clearing in their shadowed embrace.
  • As Olivia's dimming senses drank in the stripes of feral crimson bleeding into those hellish pits where the creature's eyes once were, a core-rending truth finally pierced her addled psyche:
  • The true monsters dwelling in these ancient woods were not mere wolf or man - but something far more ancient and terrible combining the two into an ungodly, ferocious hybrid that defied all mortal comprehension...