Chapter 1: The Black Wolf
Rei was deep in thought, not paying attention to where her mare was going. She didnt even need to, for the horse was good and knew the way from the village back to her little log house in the middle of the forest. They had travelled it many times. But something had caught the mares attention and she was going to go investigate it, even with a small trailer strapped to her. She was thinking about how she was going to get new clothes when Sahara rose to her full height, squealing in alarm.
With quick soothing words and hands rubbing her neck, the black horse stood still on all fours, shivering. She dismounted and ordered the Arabian Mustang mix to stand. Rei then went forward, to the dark lump on the ground that frightened her horse. Circling around, she gasped.
It was the biggest wolf she had ever seen. It would easily stand a shoulder above her hip, the top of his head reaching her boobs. The ground around it was soaked in blood, as well as its fur. Crouching to get a better look, she saw that his hide was riddled with bullet holes, blood sluggishly flowing out of them.
Resolving quickly, she half carried, half dragged the wolf to the cart. Heaving him up, she secured him in an empty space, making sure that her supplies would fall on him. She then mounted the young two-year-old mare and gave the command to head home. The mare, smelling the wolf and blood behind her, hurried back to safety.
Rei stopped the mare close to her house, turned her around and backed the trailer up close to her front door. Braking the wheels, she went around and opened the front door. She then proceeded to bring the injured beast into a small white room connected to her bedroom and put him up onto a steel table and left, shutting the door behind her. A place where he could do the least amount of damage, everything locked up in steel cages.
There were many advantages to living in a long cabin in the middle of a thick forest. First, there was nobody around. Second, nobody saw to care what you did. And third, nobody bothered you. SO they didnt care that you never seemed to age, or that youve been around for a long, long time.
All her life shes been told that crows were the partners to the wolves. But she had never seen a wolf. Well, none of the wolves that They talk about. She was an alternate form of the crow, a person who could change into a crow. What shes been looking for since she struck out to live in the wild was the alternate wolf. These wild wolves were the closest shes ever gotten to them. And the wolves seemed to flock to her, like the crows do. They tell her what has been happening in the forest; tell her what was happening within their flock or pack. Now, she was hoping that this wolf could tell her what had happened to him. Why he was attacked?
She rushed back to her mare and unhitched her. Telling her to guard, Rei snatched the First Aid kit from her pack. She didnt have anything within it to pull out the bullets, but she didnt need that. She needed the anti-bacterial stuff within it, and the bandages. She hurried to the wolf, not knowing how much longer he would last and checked his pulse.
His pulse was feint and inconsistent. She hurriedly stripped out of her clothing as the wolfs eyes opened and focused for the first time. They were golden and very intense, intelligence hidden in their depths. She blushes a little as the wolf stares, but tells herself that it was only an animal and began her transformation.
Black mist started swirling around her, hiding her naked form from the curious animal. He had never seen another do that before. To his surprise, when the haze cleared a glossy black crow stood where she had been. She flapped up to land next to him on the table and cocked an eye at one of his bullet holes before looking at his face.
He lifted his head and poked his nose at this bird/girl, trying to get her scent. When he got too close, she cawed and pecked it, making him jerk back. The movement hurt and he let his head fall with a groan. He could feel himself getting weaker, and her no longer cared what this crow was going to do to him. His eyes slipped closed and he willed death to come upon him.
He started to sleep into complete blackness with pain made him snap his eyes open. With effort, he lifted his head to look at where it came from. The crow was right there, a bullet in her beak. She dropped it into a little silver coloured tub with some water in it. She looked at him, ready to flee the moment he showed hostility. He did nothing but look at her in puzzlement.
She hopped to another of his wounds and looked closely at it. She pecked a little at the fur there, moving it out of the hole. She then swiftly shoved her beak into it and snatched the bullet out of there, and putting it into the container with the other. She did the same to the other twelve bullets before washing her beak off in the water of the bullet bucket and hopping off of the table to the ground next to her clothing.
The silver mist swirled up to her normal height, the girl reappearing in human form when it cleared. She hastily got dressed, not liking the wolf watching her naked. The other wild wolves did not watch her as intensely as this one seemed to. Well, the other wolves werent riddled with bullets that could only come from a human.
Shaking off the unease that seemed to have settled over her, she opened the kit and pulled out the gauze wrap. She unrolled it as she walked up to the wolf. He growled as she got closer. She stopped and looked at him. He was a fickle creature. First he lets her pull out the bullets, which had to be painful, but then he doesnt want her to touch him.
Its alright. Im only going to bind you wounds so that they wont get infected. I want them to close up. If I dont, theyll most likely get something in them that wont let them close up.
She talked relaxingly as she put the wrap down on the table and opened a bottle of peroxide. She put some on a cleanse pad and looked him in the eyes. Its going to sting a little, but itll kill any infection. The wolf only stared at her as she came forward with the pungent smelling stuff. When she put it on his wounds he sucked in air, but did nothing else.
You know, youre the oddest wolf Ive met so far. I wonder what happened to you, to be all filled up with bullets.
Once she had cleaned all of the pellet abrasions, she wrapped bandages all around. She resisted the urge to laugh. The poor wolf had bandage wrapped just about everywhere. He looked pathetic.
I do hope you heal soon. You
She grabbed the steel bowl with the bullets in them and was about to throw them out when she noticed something odd about the bullets. Taking it over to the small sink, she rinsed all of the blood off of them.
Bringing them to the microscope, she put one under. She put that one off to the side after a moment and put under another one. After she had looked at all of them, she leaned on her hands, laid out on the counter on either side of the tin of bullets. She was completely confused. Bullets werent supposed to be made out of silver.
She shook her head in frustration and left the examination room, closing the door behind her. Taking her red mass of hair, she lifted it off of her neck and tied it up. Going back outside, she unloaded the cart, binging a few much needed clothing and groceries into the house. She then hooked Sahara back up to it and had her pull it around back. She then replenished her diminishing supply of firewood. She led Sahara to the stabled to put up the grain and hay before unhitching it in the barn.
She put Sahara out to pasture with her other nine horses. They included four mares and one stallion Mustangs, two mares and one stallion Arabians, one Thoroughbred filly, and Sahara, the Mustang Arabian mix. The Mustang stallion whickered and trotted over to her. He was the oldest horse, only an age of six, but he was her first horse, and the most educated.
She had found that animals that stayed around her for long periods of time tended to be more intelligent human wise. And if she raised the animal from birth of infancy, they tended to be even smarter than that. Shes leaned heavily on Talons horse sense as she had broken off from her family, as all crows do at some point or another. But they usually start their own flock, or join a flock their own age. She liked to fly alone, as she knew from stories that some wolves liked to run alone. A lone crow, but that didnt sound as awesome as a lone wolf.
Talon snuffled at her hair and snorted at the scent of wolf.
I know. But hes safe; hes in the examination room. For some reason, I trust him.
He shook his head and snorted in her face.
Dont scorn me. When have I been wrong?
He rolled his eyes and shook a black strand of mane from his sight.
Thats different! He was trustworthy and good, but then that bitch weaved her claws into him. He was human after all, and everyone knows that they have weaker minds then the Shifter kind. I better go check on our patient.
The golden stallion whirled around on his brown stocking hooves, brown muzzle bobbing, and trotted off, black tail swishing.
Well go for a ride tonight.
The brown stripe down his back shuddered acknowledgement.
Swinging down from the fence, she did a flip and landed on her feet. She had a spring in her step as she walked back to the cabin. Just as she put her hand on the door handle, she heard the galloping of hooves. Turning, she saw some men riding up on Belgian Quarter mix horses. They stopped their horse five feet away.
Nervously, she played with the silver ring on her right middle finger, a heart with two hands beneath it and a crown above it. All females within her family received one. A symbol with a meaning, the heart facing you means that you have a significant other, away from you meaning you dont.
An emotionless mask slipped over her face. Can I help you, gentlemen?
One of them nudged their horse up a couple step and looked down at her as he might a bug. Have you seen a large black wolf around here, Miss?
No, I dont think I have. But this is private property, Mister. I dont appreciate you huntin on it. I won all this land within a ten-mile radius from here.
Im sorry, Miss. He said, not looking sorry at all. As a matter of fact, he looked amused. Its just that hes
well, hes a man killer. You keep an eye out for him, Miss. Hell get your horses too. If you see him, come find us.
Thank you, but my horses and I know how to take care of ourselves. Now, please leave my lands.
The man who was acting leader nudged his horse forward a couple more steps, looking down at her in obvious anger. The geldings eyes focused on her and his teeth bared. The sound of pounding hooves got closer and a golden body knocked the gelding away from her. Ten large bodies placed themselves between their mistress and her oppressors. Even the yearling Thoroughbred, Wings.
The man backed himself and his men up, looking shocked at first, then annoyed. Rei weaved between the equine bodies until she was in front of them, next to Talon. She glared at the trespassers until their leader commanded them around and out.
As they thundered away, she heard one ask the leader, Is she one of them?
No, he answered. The horses wouldnt have defended her if she was. Shes something else entirely.
Maybe theyre just well trained.
They were gone, faded into the forest through the puff of dust. Sighing, Rei leaned on Talon for support. There was something wrong with those horses, for she could not hear them. And no true animal would have threatened to attack her, or would have at someones command.
I want you guys in tonight. I dont trust those men.
She led her brave defenders to the stables and let them go to their own stalls. Each stall was quite large, and she had room for a lot more horses. She could start an actual ranch here, for the Family paid for everything. Weekly, she had gone down to the village and got the items she needed and returned home. That had moved to every other week, and now monthly. She was thinking of again moving it up, to every other month.
She whistled a little tune and a crow flew down from the rafters to land on her offered hand. It cocked its head and peered up at her with one eye, clearly asking, What do you want? She smiled down at him and kissed his head. Can you go find the packs that reside within my territory and ask them to meet me here please? And tell them not to howl too much? The crow dipped his head and she launched him into the air.
Glider had chosen to be her companion until she had a permanent one. He flew with her went she went out for a flight, and even went with her into her box home. At first he had caused a lot of problems for her with his curiosity. But after that was sedated, he acted as any other domesticated bird would, but probably better behaved.
Knowing that he would accomplish what she had asked for him to do, she returned to the house. Humming to herself, to calm her nerves, she started up her stove and put water on to boil. She opened a fridge and pulled out one of the skinned rabbits. Poking the spit through it, she put it over the fire in the fire place. Once that was done, she went into her room and closed the door.
She froze four feet from the door, noticing that the door to the examination room was open. The handles were easy to open that all you had to do was push it down and the door would open. Looking around, she found the big wolf lying on her bed, looking at her with those powerful golden eyes. She opened her mouth and closed it again.
Any normal wolf wouldnt have been able to move so soon after so intense wounds. He healed as fast as she did. Then things started clicking into place. The silver, which the wolf Shifters were allergic to, stopped regeneration and Shifting. It also slowly kills the wolf. Each Shifter species had some kind of natural resource that they were allergic to, silver obviously to a wolf, but not to any of the other species. Gold was a cats and copper a crows. Platinum was a horses. She didnt know all of them, but she knew quite a lot.
Youre the one, arent you. She said, rather than asked. The one that those hunters are after. I think they know that youre here. Its no coincidence that they came only a few hours after you arrived. Theyre tracking you.
The wolf said nothing, only continued to stare at her. She stared back for a little while, until her feet started to hurt. She broke eye contact and went to her dresser. Once there, she took her jewellery off and put it in a special silver box with a lock. Then, warily, she went to the bed to sit on the edge and took her boots off. Then wolf did nothing but stared at her. She was an odd human, not running from the sight of him fit and healthy, especially after the wounds that he had suffered.
She looked at him, then scooted a little closer, still wary. I need to check to make sure that the holes are completely closed. He let her remove the bandages; they were annoying and limited his movement a little. She ran her fingers through his fur, checking all over to make sure that none of them were left. He just about fell asleep at the pleasurable feeling that that brought.
She then did something that was definitely not checking the bullet holes. It felt even better than her running her fingers through his fur. She scratched behind his ear, down his cheek to under his jaw and back again. That was a completely new sense, one that he enjoyed very much.
Are you stuck in that form? Did you get a silver bullet stuck in you earlier? Is that why you dont transform into you human form?
He opened his eyes at the sound of her voice to see her looking at him worried. That one was kind of new. Hes had people worried around him, but never for him. He looked at her closely, taking in the detail about her. Her wavy red hair, falling out of its loose tie, her big green eyes that seemed to notice everything around her, but also seemed to focus only on him. He found himself getting lost in their forest like depths, as she was sinking into his honey like pools.
Neither seemed able to break the contact. They both could feel that they were starting to loose control over their forms. They could feel the bones shifting within their bodies. Only few in legends have been ever truly meant to be together. And when that happened, their bodies were able to shift to half-form. But that was the legend on how all of the Shifter forms could have a half-form, which was stronger and faster than either of the two full forms.
A caw at Reis bedroom window interrupted the moment, allowing them to break gaze. Rei went to the window and allowed the disgruntled crow in. He cawed out his report on two packs killed and on being run down. Rei almost dropped the crow when she heard, and barely got him back to the window before her hands shook too badly. She looked back at the wolf, watching her curiously.
I want you to stay here. The men who are hunting you are still about. Theres something Ive got to take care of. Ill be back later.
She hurriedly shed her clothes and started the Shifting. Within seconds she was a crow the size of a golden eagle. She hopped onto the window sill, then launched off, cawing into the sunset. He jumped off the bed and watched her leave from the window.
She followed the crow west, to where the first pack went down. It was Trackers pack. The first pack that accepted her. The first pack that she had found. But only four of the five pups were there. Touching down, she Shifted back to her human form. She called out until the young growing pup came out of his hiding place, a hole he must have found on accident.
She quickly told him what she was going to do and Shifted once again. And again she took on crow shape. Rei gently gripped the young pup in her talons and lifted off. Flapping as fast as her wings could go; she flew back to the barn and lightly lifted down into it. Already there were three packs within the barn. She told them of what happened and showed them the pup, the sole survivor of Trackers pack. Buffet immediately adopted him into her pack, taking on her brothers pup as if it was her own.
Once she had made them promise to stay in the barn, she took off again. This time north, where the second pack lay. Their demise was more brutal than Trackers pack. Climate was a wolf who did not take threat to his pack lightly. They were no survivors in this pack, and thankfully they had no pups this year. She flitted on after her flying companion to the north west.
She saw four wolves of the ten-wolf pack of Silencer, running as fast as their tired injured bodies could, towards her home. With a feral caw, she dove down at one of the attackers. The human cried out and fell off his horse. His arm bent in an unnatural angle. The horse, sensing his riders weight suddenly leave him, turned and looked at him. The gelding tossed his head, but did not run. Instead he stood protectively over him. She didnt have time to kill; she only wanted to distract them long enough for the wolves to get to safety.
She flapped a wing noisily in front of another horses eye, making him rear and buck. His riders attention drawn fully on him, instead of aiming on him. How five humans could kill two packs of wolves and nearly all of another, she didnt know, but she did know that they were too dangerous. When she had the time, she was going to have to get rid of them. And before the next time she went to the village, for she couldnt leave her packs and flocks without protection.
As she flew at a third person, she saw the leader gallop in out of the corner of her eye. She pushed it momentarily from her mind, relying on her speed to keep her out of trouble. She hit full on with her claws, grabbing at his eyes. One toe got lucky and pierced one. Blood gushed over her foot and it wouldnt come free right away, getting stuck in the whole. His terrible screams as well as those of his horse covered any other sound, so that when she finally got free, she didnt know that their commander had told them to aim for her.
The first guy was unconscious, falling on his head and arm, the second had just barely calmed his horse and the third was invalid at the moment. The fourth pulled his gun up and shot randomly, missing her by a wide mark. But the commander and her sighted dead on. She turned and faced him in time to see the gun as it went off. She banked sharply to the right, but it still got her some.
Cawing loudly out in pain, she clumsily flapped up, into the glare of the dying sun to hide in the clouds. Her companion, being a smart bird, had left way before the scuffle broke out. She heard his caw of inquiry and she answered her condition. She got quite a distance from the hunting party before she started to falter. She had to get the bullet out of her, for she was starting to loose a lot of blood. She left the clouds to sink into the trees shelter, a mile from her cabin.
Her wing dipped on its own and she was forced to land now, or risk crashing into a tree. Painfully she hit the ground and forced herself to Shift human. She tried to get up, but her tired muscles wouldnt listen to her. The last thing she remembered as she left the realm of reality for one of darkness was the distressed caws of Glider.
Glider hopped from foot to foot when his large friend did not raise from her other form. She had never done this before, even when she had been shot before. Her Shifters blood helped her heal fast. That he knew, for all of his ancestors were companions to the alternates. They should rise, especially when they have shifted. He flapped off; cawing for other flocks around to watch over her while he went after the other one. The alternate wolf that was in her bed room, the one who did not Shift to his human form.
He found him still in Reis room, nosing around in her stuff. He flew in and landed on the back of her computer chair. He hopped a little and cawed to get the alternate wolfs attention. Once he had it, he told the wolf as best he could that Rei was injured in the woods. The wolf immediately barked his reply and the crow lifted off.
The jump out the bed room window was easy for him. He had jumped form higher before than a second story and lived to tell the tale. He followed the crow on to where the woman lay, sprawled out. His cold nose poked at her shoulder and the scent of blood came thickly to him. The blood that was strongest was her own, although she did smell of anothers blood too.
He assessed the situation quickly and silently cursed her, for she had forced him to take the form he had vowed to turn his back on forever. He shifted over to his human form, long black hair falling down to his lower back, his lean body was well-built. Grumbling to himself, he picked her up to find that she was as light as a bird.
Of course genius, she is a bird. Strangely, she fit just perfectly bridal style in his arms. Clutching her close, he started to run. Like all of Shifter kind, he was faster than humans, but he had been a wolf for a very long time, testing his strength and speed everyday, forcing himself to get better. He was now almost as fast as a Shifter cheetah.
Back at the house, he brought her to the same examination room that she had put him in. He called the crow named Glider in and told him what he wanted the bird to do. Scrutinizing the wound thoroughly, he placed his beak in the hole and clamped onto the bullet. He tugged it out as painlessly as he could and dropped it into the water bucket as hed seen Rei do.
Doing as she did to him, he put some peroxide on a gauze pad and cleaned out the wound. But there was something very wrong; the wound was not healing as it should. He placed a new gauze pad on the hole and wrapped up her upper left arm completely. She roused a little as he carried her to her bed. She focused on his face and her pupils dilated in fear as her body went rigid. He gently placed her on the bed and backed away.
What did I do to cause that reaction? Or better yet, what has happened to her in the past to cause that reaction to someone just carrying her?
Black mist swirled around him and he leapt out the window. He sped up, just running for the fun of it, skirting the human camp with the scents of gun powder. He soon came upon a scent that he had smelt on the crow-girl. Growling to himself, he followed that scent to the main camp of the Hunters.