Running Wolf, Hidden Man

Kaiveh is a shapeshifter- he can switch his form between human and wolf, on his own command. He views it as a gift, but his clan, The Aeigromae Clan, fear the creatures of myths and legends. He has hidden it from them for a year, hunting only at night, alone; but when he is injured in a vicious attack, his ability to change back to his human self is affected, and he cannot return to his natural form. Will he be able to convince the Aeigromae of his true identity? And will they help him?

Lifting his muzzle up towards the sky, the wolf sniffed the sharp night air, quickly deciphering the multiple scents in search of prey. To the north, he caught the scent of a bear, snuffling for berries with her two cubs. Bringing down a bear would ensure a full belly, but mother bears were fiercely protective, and the wolf had not the energy for taking her on. He felt like an easy kill tonight.

Swinging around to face into the wind, he sniffed with increasing vigour, the hunger that was gnawing at his empty belly increasing in intensity. At last, he caught the scent of a young doe, grazing contentedly about a half mile away. Growling with anticipation, the wolf launched himself off the rock on which he had positioned himself, and bounded in her direction. He slowed as her scent grew stronger, and advanced silently as her clearing came into view.

She was a young doe, sleek and lean, and in blooming health. Her scent was strong and alluring, and the wolf silently thanked her for having the false sense of security that had convinced her to stray alone. Inhaling deeply, he fixed his gaze on her soft throat, tensed his muscles to spring, and launched himself from the edge of the clearing.

She heard him at the last second and tried to run, but he was powerful and prepared, and she was startled and young. He slammed his body into her flank, causing her to stumble and crash to the ground. She struggled fiercely under his weight, her innocent eyes flashing white as she stared up at her attacker. Shielding his heart from her imploring gaze, the wolf wasted no time in lunging at her throat. He bit into the soft flesh, puncturing the jugular vein. He revelled in the warm flow of blood that filled his mouth, tearing off more of the doe's flesh as he was taken over by the instinct to fill his empty belly.

It was not long before the doe's lifeless body had been stripped almost clean of flesh, and the wolf's hunger satisfied. The wolf stepped back and reviewed the scene; the doe lay in a pool of congealing blood, her carcass twisted and broken by his feeding frenzy. The ground to her left bore signs of her struggle, and the undergrowth around the clearing was spattered with red. Disappointed, he noted that the scene still did not resemple the precise, clean kill sites of other wolves. However, this attempt was better than his last, and he consoled himself with the signs of his improvement.

Licking the remaining blood from his dripping muzzle, the wolf stood and shook himself, enjoying the satisfaction of his full belly. Taking a last sniff around to ensure there were no hostile creatures to encounter, the wolf bounded from the clearing, a renewed vigour in his limbs from his recent kill. He ran swiftly and quitetly through the darkness, revelling in the feel of the wind in his sleek coat and the cool ground beneath his pads. He swung his ears around, hearing mice and badgers through the trees. He saw the orange flash of a fox darting across his path, and snapped playfully at it's tail, amused by it's terrified reaction.

The trees began to thin out as the wolf reached the edge of a great clearing, and he slowed his pace to a walk. Noting his surroundings, he trotted over to a large boulder, sniffing intently along its edge. Then, rising up onto his hind legs, he slammed his front paws on to a crack in the rock, and watched as it slowly rolled to the left, exposing a gap large enough for a slender human to crawl through. Dropping to the ground, the wolf pressed his head through the gap and snagged a bundle in his jaws. Pulling it out, he dropped it beside the rock and raised his head, using his intent hearing and superb sight to assess his surroundings. Satisfied that he was suitably alone, the wolf rose again to his hind legs as a ripple coursed through his body.

Closing his eyes, the wolf felt his fur recede into his skin, and his torso shorten. His muzzle receded, and his ears shrank and pressed into the sides of his reducing head. His four legs elongated, his hind paws lenghtening and his forepaws broadening, producing fingers and thumbs. Finally, his hearing dulled significantly, and his eyesight became shortened and coloured. 

Opening his eyes and flexing his limbs, the shapeshifter bent and retrieved his bundle of clothes from beside the rock. He shivered as he pulled them on, feeling the chill now that he was back in his human body and minus his furry pelt. Fastening his weapons belt across his tunic, he stood and shouldered his now empty pack. Observing the lightening skyline with his inferior human eyes, he began to jog back in the direction of his clan's camp, before any of his people noticed another of his mysterious nightime absences.

The End

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