It smelled dead. It had to be dead. The dark presence quickened it's pace, in pursuit of me, as I ran through the woods. Leaves barely hung on their branches as the waxing moon spilt through the almost naked, wooden figures. I lept over tree roots and ducked under low hanging limbs.
Blood that did not belong to me crusted on my face.
Looking over my shoulder periodically, I only found the hooded creature had gained more ground.
Suddenly, I was on my knees, hard. The feeling of cold mud seeped through my already torn jeans, stinging my cuts and scrapes. I looked to see the culprit of my fall; a solitary tree root.
The predator's scent snapped my attention back to the problem at hand. I turned around quickly, still in my kneeling, vulnerable position.
I was able to crawl into a clearing hoping the moonlight would protect me; for she always protected her own.
The creature advanced on me slowly, knowing I could no longer escape. It was almost arrogant as if it wanted to play with its prey.
I was a scholar not a fighter, but this was a moment that made a warrior.
The creature straightened it's stance as we both heard rustling from behind me. My stomach sank, thinking it was another of the same kind.
But from the opposite tree line, the largest black wolf walked forward. I sighed with relief as I noticed the dead creature began to back away.
The wolf would not accept it's retreat. I pulled myself onto my feet and back away as the creature and the wolf circled each other.
The wolf's coat was so dark and shimmering, even in the small moon light. His muscles were taunt and ready to fight.
His glacial, slanted eyes locked onto me for just a moment. He knew I was not prepared for the sight that was about to occur. I nodded, quite agreeing with him. So, to my shame, I turned my face away.
Not soon enough to protect my ears from the assault of crushed bone and screeches. That I would not leave unscathed.
I did as I usually did. I pretended it did not happen. Drawing attention to myself was an unfamiliar task. But I could not help but wonder, what would I have done? Had the wolf not appeared, had I not fallen, or better yet, had I stayed inside as told.
Tears streamed down my face, mixing with blood and dirt.
The wolf approached me after he had done his duty. His muzzle glistened with blood and his fur began to matte.
He nudged me to leave the clearing and go back home. But I was more afraid of what would meet me there than I was here. He went ahead and I followed. We were deep into the woods when he changed back to his skin.
He pulled me to his chest and held me with his massive arms.
He was a stranger to me. I had never met this male before. In the dark I could not even see his face, but I felt comfortable in his embrace than I had ever felt before. A shock took over me as if his energy was embracing me as well. My wolf began to submit to him, and I knew if I did not get away, I would have easily given myself to him without even seeing his true face. He could sense my submission and tried to sooth my fears, knowing I had been through enough tonight. Any other male would have gladly accepted my aquiesant as payment for saving me. This male was different; thankfully.
My knees felt heavy as if they were full of sand and so the male picked me up as a child and carried me home. In that comfort I let my eyes close and rested my head against his hairy chest.