Into the Forest

Sage awoke, her fingers tingling. She ached to go outside and hunt. Also there was a draft in her bedroom from the absence of Dina's body heat. It was easier to get out of bed without the added warmth, that seemed to trap her in bed most mornings. She stretched before dressing for the day. She climbed into a pair of boys trousers and ties a cord tightly about her waist, so they wouldn't fall off. She dressed in a simple burlap tunic that was far too long for her. Lastly she laced her deer hide boots tight enough so she would avoid tripping in the forest.

Sage hung her bow on her back. She was nervous about running into Baron, who would probably try preventing her from going out into the forest after yesterday's ordeal. Luckily he was an early riser, he was probably already sloshing his ale at a saloon somewhere. Sage tip toed into the kitchen, careful not to wake anyone who was still sleeping. She reached for a basket of apples that sat on the rickety table. One by one she began filling her satchel bag. The pleasant smell would surely allure the hunt to her. She was reaching for another apple, when a hand came down on her wrist.

Bollis, the Pigman stood there, his beedy little pig eyes full of accusation. “One per customer.” He snorted, angrily. Sage dropped the last apple back in the basket and he released her wrist. “Want a bite?” She asked gesturing towards the apple she had put back.

The captain had already reprimanded her from making anymore pig roast jokes. Bollis simply stood there with his arms crossed glaring at her, he was not amused. Sage repressed a smile. The captain chose this moment to stumble into the kitchen. He shot Sage a warning look. He knew any exchange of words between Sage and Bollis were not those of pleasantries.

It wasn't the way the pig man looked,with the head of a boar and body of a man, that repelled her. It was his behavior. For one, he was a horrible hunter. His kills were often in vain as he wasted the meat in his eagerness by shooting his prey in bad places. He was greedy, often stealing from the captain and the crew when he suspected nobody noticed. But Sage noticed everything that happened around the Jackdaw. It was her human duty to be the observant one. Observation, was her key power, so to speak. She knew that if she came right out and told Captain Leopold about Bollis's behavior. He wouldn't believe her. She was waiting for the the evidence to fall into her lap, even if she knew she might be waiting for a long time.

Captain Leopold eyed Sage with what she thought was meant to come off as scrutiny, but his head still hurt and his eyes were far too squinty. Sage smiled and muttered something about urgent errands as she left the kitchen, heading for the outer dock. She found the person she had been looking for, leaning against the railing of the great vessel. Taking in the fresh air.

“Dina!” Sage exclaimed excitedly. She had been wanting to take Dina out hunting with her, not as a wolf, but as a girl wit keen senses. Lately she had been too consumed in her training with Drakmor and Sage wasn't given the chance. Dina offered Sage a weak smile. The two were growing closer, but they would still be weary of the other one's motives.

“I'm going in the woods, would you care to-

Dina nodded anxiously, before Sage could finish her sentence. It was obvious she wanted to be off of the ship.

A few minutes later Sage and Dina had ventured deep into the forest. Dina had switched forms. Sage stared at her friend. She looked so happy and carefree in her wolf form. She was fast and graceful, Sage felt a pang of jealousy. She quickly brushed it off, and began running after Dina. Careful to avoid stumbling over roots. They were going downhill. Sage took her bow off her back and carried it in her hand, so she wouldn't tip over from the weight. Dina came to a sudden halt and Sage ran smack into the wolf, with an “Oof!”

She fell on her back. Dina was still. Sage noted that she carried her tunic and trousers in her mouth, so she'd have something to change back into when she shifted back. Dina's posture was all wrong though, even for a wolf she was far to tense and rigid. “What's wrong?” Sage asked as Dina began to shift.

Dina didn't answer right away. She changed into her clothes, and began surveying the woods around them. “Danger,” she whispered.

Sage arched an eyebrow. “Can you possibly elaborate?”

Dina ignored Sage's skepticism. “Get, back.” Dina said grabbing Sage's hand. The two settled behind a wide oak tree. Sage squinted her eyes ,staring off into the distance, wondering what Dina was talking about. A couple minutes later, she heard a voice in the distance.

It was only a couple, going for what seemed like a pleasant walk through the forest. They seemed harmless, Sage thought. She trusted Dina's senses enough to stay put. The man was laughing as he took the woman's hand in his. He had short black hair and wide shoulders. His eyes were a taunting shade of blue, and his skin was as pale as Drakmor's, if not paler. He held himself with a charming confidence. His fist coiled around a rolled up piece of parchment. The women; a petite freckled red head, smiled at his affections. The man's smile transformed into a grin. He stepped forward, making his lady friend back into a tree. She giggled obliviously.

Dina's cold stare never left the couple. She dug her sharp nails into Sage's hand. Sage gritted her teeth so she wouldn't scream out from the pain. She glanced at Dina's hand's as her wolfen nails began to extend, drawing Sage's blood. She needed to calm her friend down, before she tore her to threads. She studied the couple again. Something was amiss about the man's grin. His eyes began to dilate. Did Dina know what dangers he possessed? Or could she only sense danger in the area.

“Dina.” Sage whispered pleadingly. Dina snapped out of her trance, her nails retracted. She stared at the blood and claw marks on Sage's hand for a second, mortified. Sage smiled and gave Dina's hand a reassuring squeeze. Sage would be fine. Should they survive this man. She instantly recalled a story her mother told her about a cunning young man luring women into the forests and alleyways. If the story proved to be true, she knew instantly what this man could be. She watched as the man bent his head closer to the woman's neck. “Vampire,” she whispered to Dina.

The women took the piece of rolled up parchment from the man's hand, still giggling embarrassingly. “Well.” She asked unrolling the paper. “What have we we here?” She held up the paper to examine it closer. Sage couldn't make out the sketch on it, but Dina had grown tense all over again.

“The Jackdaw?” The girl asked, excitedly.

“Do you know where it is? I have business with the crew,” the man's voice came out eagerly with a bit of a southern drawl.

The women shook her head, no.

Dina stood up, she was ready to attack. Sage grabbed her arm before she could lunge towards the couple. Dina glared at her. “Please Dina. Your much faster than I am. Go warn the crew, before he can get to them and I will distract him.”

“No. Not leaving you.” Dina growled. Sage sighed, Of course the Lycan would put up a fight. “ I have my bow. I promise I'll be fine. Go, before it's to late.”

Dina sighed, before switching forms. She ran through the forest just as Sage stood and raised her bow. She targeted the vampire where he stood looking feral with his pointed fangs out. She pulled the arrow back and released it. She had fumbled and missed the man, completely, but his attention was off of the girl now. She heard an inhuman hiss escape the man as he lunged towards Sage, seeking her out immediately. Sage wasted no time running away from him. He had never lost her sent. Sage threw the satchel bag full of apples, down the hill of the forest, deciding it might throw him off. It did for awhile and bought her some time. Sage turned around for a moment. She concealed herself behind a tree, as she poised her bow again. The man's back was to her. He had found the satchel bag about ten yards away. He tore it apart angrily. Sage took advantage of the opportunity to shoot at the vampire again. This time her aim was dead on. She couldn't be sure, but she thought her arrow pierced threw his heart.

She didn't waste time second guessing herself as she ran for the clearing of the forest.

The End

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