Just an Old Legend Ch. 11byTaLtos6©
This was an interesting bit to write. I mean, I created the arena that I wanted in the island and I put these two on it at a time of year and in circumstances that would pretty much guarantee that they could hunt in a natural state for them. I even gave them wind and rustling fall leaves to make it different.
But until I got them here in this arena, I wasn't sure about how it ought to go. Anyway, I really hope this reads properly. I've read it through far too many times to maintain objectivity. A lot of coffee went into this chapter. o_O
He looked around the inside of the barn and saw something that would be perfect for what he had in mind there on the ground.
He stepped back to where he'd been and watched as she set her clothing down and placed her knapsack on top. The sword was returned to her back as she strapped the scabbard on again. Then he saw her strap a sheath onto her left thigh after she'd taken a few seconds to carefully look around before squatting down to urinate quickly, as though she didn't want to be carrying the slight weight of that around. She covered the spot with dirt swept by her foot, and then tightened the straps on the sheath.
A dagger and a sword, he noted, both with rubber hafts to keep the silver from her skin. So there was high silver content there, he thought. Silver was a terrible weapon material by itself, having little strength, but if it were alloyed properly or if it were plated on, that would be a different story. He somehow knew that this was an alloy. That was what he'd have wanted if he'd had a say in how it had been forged for him.
He was sure that she was doing this for his benefit, but wasn't certain of what she was trying to convey. Either she thought he was stupid and wouldn't now be watching her from someplace, or she was like him, and was certain that he would be watching.
Was he supposed to be losing confidence in himself seeing her weapons? Was this display supposed to tell him that his time was up or something?
All that it told him was that she was right-handed, but he did enjoy the show, he thought.
He watched her disappear out of his view as she walked around the building. He felt something of a primal urge, and brushed it aside to do nothing and keep watching. It took only ten minutes, but he saw her come around the other side, looking carefully about in a tense way.
He almost laughed out loud now. He knew that game perfectly, though he'd never played it. He was supposed to have been drawn to where she'd urinated to sniff to see if she might be receptive.
He was grinning now, enjoying it. He'd get her scent anyway soon enough.
Lia had assumed that he'd been watching. That he hadn't run right over to smell told her that this one was many levels higher than a newly-turned individual. Well that was fine, she thought. She'd have been disappointed if this turned into a quick kill. She looked around and went low. The ground told her which way to go, and it made sense. She headed cautiously toward the barn.
Standing now near one of the front corners, she could see the large door and down along one side. The open windows told her quite a bit. If he was inside, he'd more than likely seen everything up to this point.
That was good too. She approached the door.
He saw the changes in the light coming in under the edge of the door as she came close to it and watched the shadow deepen, moving back and forth. The sounds of her careful snuffling came to his ears. She'd realize that he was here in just another second. The door was very slowly pulled back, just enough to tell her that it wouldn't open because it was latched from the inside.
Lia stepped back to where she'd been. A quick look around the other side told her of only one window there, and it was closed. Back where she could look down the other side and also see the door, she stood ready.
He was inside, she was absolutely certain of it.
"Come out of there," she said.
Her answer was the stiff breeze ruffling her fur.
"Look," she said, "just come out. There's no point to hiding in there. I'll just rip the door off and then we can begin it if you wish. I'm not here to hurt you, unless you force me to."
Of course, he thought to himself with a smile, I'll just come out and we can be instant friends. Me with the hope of mating, and you with the silver sword and dagger. Doesn't every wolf-girl carry those things if she's hoping for a little romance?
He moved just a little sideways to allow himself just a moment to admire her form through a thin gap between the planks of the heavy door from well back so that she couldn't see the motion.
He shook his head. Why did she have to be so lovely? The way that she'd come here made no sense to him. Why would any werewolf come here for him? The weapons told him more than he needed to know, but why a female werewolf would come to hunt him made no sense at all. He almost sighed as he prepared himself.
He hefted the horseshoe for a moment to get the balance of it and thought back to the horse that he'd bought it for. That had been a crying shame that he still blamed himself for. He'd never owned a horse before, all by himself. That one had been perfect - friendly, strong and healthy, almost impatient to be hitched up for some work. He'd had a hell of a time getting the animal onto the island, but once there, they'd gotten a lot of work done in no time, he remembered. They'd both enjoyed every minute of it.
And then Danaya had come.
She'd ripped the poor fellow apart the same way that she'd torn up everything else in his life. To a man who'd known only farming, he felt that he also bore some guilt for the death of his cattle.
The loss of the horse had been far worse because they'd gotten along so well, but he couldn't have foreseen what she'd do while he was off working to get money for the things that he'd need to keep her from killing people. It still bothered him, he realized. He told himself that he should have known and just set the horse free, but he knew that she'd have found him anyway.
It was an island, after all.
He calmed himself, listening for his visitor's next move.
She'd force this in only another second or so.
"Have it your way then," she said as she stepped to grab the edge of the door.
The shutters of the closed window exploded outward off their old hinges, and Lia jumped and ran to the far corner of the building, hearing the crashing through the dead leaves receding through the trees on that side. When she got there, she saw nothing.
"Fair enough," she said quietly with a grin, and followed at a run.
He jumped through the open window on the other side, hit the trunk of the tree outside, and watched her run off from where he stood now on the roof. He'd smashed out the shutters and thrown the horseshoe. She was chasing the sounds of the horseshoe as it tumbled through the brush for a few seconds. He was satisfied that she'd fallen for the ruse, but was now even more puzzled.
He'd heard her clearly, and the last phrase had been spoken in Romanian.
He jumped down and went off in the other direction.
Lia stopped, and stepped forward. She was looking at a horseshoe, half buried under a few dried leaves. She picked it up and walked back to the barn, laughing at herself now. Her nose told her where he'd landed as she climbed inside through the window that he'd left by.
So this wasn't going to be a simple hunt for a half-crazed fool, she thought.
She stood there a moment and then went to unlatch the doors and push them open wide for some light. If he spent any time in here, she wanted now to get a better sense of her quarry. She looked around and thought of the builder and who he might have been, but shook her head. She wasn't here for that anymore, she thought, but then she stopped.
Maybe, she thought. It was still a possibility.
Her approach with her challenge had sometimes brought hiding males out almost following their erect organs, as ridiculous as it was, with them doing their best to charm the visiting wolf-girl. She never, ever showed any sign that she wanted to mate or was even the least bit receptive, they'd just always assumed it. The worst were the old ones who'd lived outside since they were turned. Many years of living the hard way usually turned werewolves into nasty-looking things.
The more usual response was a furious one, the actual door crashing outward. Those ones had always ended after a quick fight. Only a very few had done something else, and none had just tried to cover their escape with a ruse. It was as though he didn't want to hurt her or something, and had only wanted to get away. But there was something missing here for that to be plausible. She sniffed around and was certain.
This one wasn't the least bit afraid.
The ones who'd run from her had always been afraid because of her confident approach and the silver, if they could sense it. She could pick up their fear in the smells that they'd left behind. Their uncertainty had always turned to fear.
She sniffed again and realized that she was up against a whole new animal.
There was something here that set her back on her heels a little bit in wonder, and raised a possibility of something that she'd never encountered before in all her long years as a huntress.
He wasn't afraid of anything.
Was this just a game to him?
Her chasing after the horseshoe had given him the time that he'd needed. A quick sniff at the dirt told him that he'd been correct - she wasn't in season, not even close to it. Though he'd only spent a little time with one, he knew that female werewolves come into heat just like the wolves, but unlike real wolves, they also had as much freedom to mate as a human woman would. He got much more from the quick look inside her pack, and with her clothes there as well, he now had her scent. He moved quickly, but made no sound as he tried to give himself a little space. Once in the cover of the trees, he ran quickly, but made hardly a sound, avoiding the dried leaves as best he could. He needed to ditch everything that he was carrying.
He'd been hunted by men with rifles, shotguns, hunting bows, snares, traps, and even dogs. He snorted, now even werewolves wanted him dead. Nothing surprised him anymore.
So now he would be hunted by one of his own kind using silver. Everything else had been taken from him. Now someone was after the last thing that he had left. Whoever she was, she obviously knew her business and coming here like this just stated what was plain to him. She was after his life.
Well that was fine too. Since she was a werewolf, he could play this for keeps, since he wouldn't have to worry about the police coming to search for anyone. For her sake, he hoped that she could run.
He was enjoying this, he realized.
Lia stood there inside the barn, still trying to get herself into his mind and how he'd think. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a small stone hitting the back of the barn. She glanced at the wall. There was daylight coming through the spaces there. When the place had been built, the planks had been nailed tightly together. After so long, the old wood had naturally shrunk a little. She began to step over to the wall.
"Hey," she heard him call to her in accented English, "Aren't you being a bit rude here? How would you like it if I came to visit you with weapons and threatened to tear off the door to your home? Would that be alright with you? Would you like it if I went through your things while you were gone?"
She placed her eye to the wood and peered as her jaw dropped.
He stood on the small rock ridge above her there, not a hundred feet away. She couldn't believe what she was looking at.
He was massive and God, he was put together well. He turned sideways and walked slowly along the crest of the ridge looking in her direction. It gave her a view of his heavily muscled chest and arms. His fur shone as the wind blew it a little, but it couldn't hide the reserves of power in those muscles and fur-covered sinews.
She's never seen body language such as this when she hunted. There was no tension in him, only complete ease in his readiness. She'd seen pretty much everything in her time as a huntress, every unconscious sign of uncertainty - and all of it was missing in this one. The alarm bells in Lia's head were going off like a fire alarm.
This was all wrong.
No tension, no fear, she thought. She looked hard for the signs again and came up empty. There was no macho here, placed to cover uncertainty or foolhardiness. He knew that he was being hunted. By now he'd figured it out and he must have sensed the silver.
There was absolutely no bullshit here, she thought. He was the real deal and none of this bothered him beyond what he saw as an affront in her poking around in his personal belongings.
It was obvious that he knew something of what he was facing. He just accepted it and was prepared to deal with it. She snorted quietly to herself when it came to her, the perfect definition for this attitude. What he gave off wasn't even what she could call confidence.
It was more a sense of certainty.
"I can see you through the cracks too, you know," he said quietly with a half-smile, "you really should step back a bit."
The eyes there watched her as he walked without worrying about a misstep. In spite of herself and her reasons for being cautious, she knew that he could get to her.
She'd never seen any wolf-man like him.
She doubted the story in the novel now. This couldn't be the one in that book, could it? He had been here this long, lived in the wild and was still at his peak?
Those were most definitely not the eyes of an insane werewolf, she realized, as she saw the late autumn's weak sunshine on his fur. He might not be a human woman's kettle of fish when he was like this, she thought, but to a female of her kind, he was like a god to look at.
He dipped for a second and came back up with an arm motion that the gap in the wood didn't allow her to follow. She heard the faint hiss plainly though, and ducked as a rock almost the size of her head crashed through the tired old plank where her face had been only a moment before. Lia revised her estimation.
Those were the eyes of an annoyed werewolf, she decided.
"I warned you to step back. I do not give warnings often and I would still like an answer," he said calmly, "or do you think that carrying your silver toys allows you to be this rude? Your silence only reflects badly on the way that you were raised."
"Come down here," she called to him as she stepped back, trying to decide which way to run for some space if she had to, "and we can discuss my manners. You can instruct me where I go wrong."
There was no reply.
She walked around the corner of the barn to see his back as he walked off the far side of the little ridge. She almost ran straight up the sloping rock face, a little off to the side, and only needed to use an arm to grab a root once. Unless he'd been running, he was now an impossible distance away as he walked without looking back. The ground was too rocky for her to run very quickly.
She smiled as she held up the horseshoe. She'd never seen a large male yet who could resist a direct challenge by a female. It was one of their weaknesses.
"Hey Handsome!" she called out as she threw it hard, hoping that he'd turn around. He did, but he turned far too soon and moved his head aside effortlessly as the horseshoe rang off the boulder behind him.
He smiled genuinely, "Not bad."
Lia was surprised at how his simple praise warmed her vaguely. It made her smile back at him.
"Thank you," she grinned with a mock curtsy, "now we're even."
He chuckled with a nod, "Maybe you should not warn me anymore either."
With a soft laugh over his shoulder, he was gone into the field of corn. When she'd gotten to the spot, she had no trouble finding his footprints and followed carefully. She was sure she'd heard his tone correctly.
He wasn't laughing at her. She felt that clearly. She felt a thrill of uncertainty as she thought about it. To a regular male who was not overly frightened, what she'd done would have brought him storming back at her, full of attitude. His attitude was an indicator that hunting him would plainly take her into new territory. She'd never hunted someone like him.
He was having fun.
She went for a little distance and then stopped to listen. All that came to her was the wind among the dried stalks. She went on again, but now heard rustling coming from her right, a lot of rustling.
She turned and wondered if there was a herd of cattle coming at her. This was far too much noise for even someone as large as he was to be able to make. Could it be that there were more of him somehow? Was there a pack here? It might explain his sleek and healthy condition. But since there had been no reports of killings in the area over the Kaze feeds which scanned the news wires of the world looking for just that, she knew that it was unlikely.
The noise came closer at a fast pace and she could even hear the sounds of feet and between the tops of the stalks she could see the ones a bit farther off being bent down. Lia reached over her shoulder and drew her sword as she tensed, but had no idea what this was.
It stopped just a few feet off. The only sound now was the wind through the stalks again. She stepped forward cautiously. There was nothing there now. She was about to examine the ground, but heard the sound now coming from farther off and receding. She wanted to jump up to see if there was anything visible, but then heard the sound coming back at her from a different direction now.
She waited with the sword in a two-handed grip. Again, the commotion stopped abruptly just in front of her.
The wind had died off for the moment, and though she listened hard, she couldn't pick anything up. Then the wind began again and she heard the stalks moving with it. She was about to relax, but saw something there - or thought that she did.
She took a pace and swung anyway, in a blindingly fast horizontal slash before her. The dried cornstalks gave way to her blade until it rang against something hard and metallic.
It was a signpost, a metal signpost with a white enamel-painted sign facing away from her.
The sign now wore a gash halfway through its middle, and peering to look, she read 'NO TRESSPASSING - NO HUNTING'. The stroke had been stopped by the post itself. The noise in the stalks had come from his carrying the post sideways through the cornstalks until he'd quietly forced it into the ground in front of her.
As Lia examined the edge of her blade for damage, she heard the soft laughter from behind her a way off and receding.
Lia walked the other way.
She didn't like this so far. She was much more used to calling the shots in her hunts. She had the distinct impression that he was the one doing that in this place. She needed to gain the initiative and then some momentum. With that in hand, she could force him onto the defensive - where he ought to be, running for his life and making mistakes.
She ran out of the corn and began to turn to come around the field, but stopped for a moment. She could hear him coming through the corn directly toward her. She dashed away with a quiet laugh, and hoped that he'd be curious.
Out in the clear, she lengthened her stride. Lia wanted to open some space between them, but not too much. A quick look over her shoulder and she was almost disappointed for a moment, but then the cornstalks parted and he came after her.
She laughed out loud while she had the breath, and poured on the coals as she made for the trees a hundred yards away. She had to reach them. Once inside, she'd turn and they'd see what was what.