Caelana stood atop a rock outcrop, looking down on the large lake, shinning silver in the sunlight. She squinted, searching across it’s shores for the wolf. Nothing stirred. Slowly she crept down with the long eared squirrel on her shoulder. It swiveled around her neck and pulled itself up by her hair to sit on her head. Shaking it lightly to get the little creature to move, Caleana frowned. “Stop that,” she whispered.
“You’re not all that comfortable, elfling.”
“Neither are you, and we need to be quiet. If it hears us…” She shivered and looked behind her, half expecting the large beast to be looming at her back. Nothing.
“He’ll eat you first. I’m safe.”
“Great. Thank you.”
The squirrel chittered and curled at the back of her neck, pulling the top of her cloak around like a blanket. Caelana reached around and scratched the little one’s neck, hoping to encourage this settled behavior. She carefully picked her way down the rocky face of the enclosed, private valley between the mountains. Her eyes were always watching the landscape, waiting for that giveaway of movement. The beast would be hers, even if it took her with it.
There! She stopped suddenly and looked across the lake. A flash of white and gray streaked from the edge of water near a copse of short trees.
“Hold tight, squirrel.” Caelana darted across the rocks, jumped to bottom when she was low enough, and ran as fast as she could. She kept a hand at her hips, on the hilt of her long dagger.
The wolf came to a halt on the shoreline where it could move about in the open. It stood slowly, it’s body a twisted form of man and beast crushed together in a painful form. It’s fur was a mix of white and many grays, matted on the belly at around the feet, of which he stood now on two. He pulled back his lips revealing sharpened pearls and blooded gums.
It did not stop Caelana in the least.
The squirrel rose up, saw what they charged at and yelled out, “Stop! No, what are you doing! It’ll eat uuuuuuusss!”
The wolf-beast charged her head on, tearing across her. Caelana slashed with her dagger and was sure she’d gotten something before she was sprawled into the sand and water of the lake. She jumped up quickly, and spun, sputtering freezing water but the wolf was already up the mountain side and passing into the next valley.
“Damn him! Damn him to whatever God hates his soul the most.” She coughed again and looked down at herself. The damage was minimal, mostly she was wet and cold now. Her dagger had a tuft of hair attached now, though, which she ripped away and flung as far as you could throw a tuft of hair. It blew back across the ground with the wind and drifted past her ankles in the water.
Sloshing her way out, Caelana was glad she’d left her pack up in the rocks. She gathered and settled in for the afternoon with a fire, boiling water and vegetables in a small iron bowl she carried. She stripped her clothes, leaving the squirrel no where to curl.
Caelana looked over at it as they sat by the fire, sun shinning too brightly on the lake. It was only then, in the quiet as her rage subsided that she noticed it was tending to it’s paw, licking away blood.
“What happened?” She asked reaching over.
The long eared thing chittered angrily at her and scooted away. “You made a werebeast angry and I got my paw crushed under your heavy rear.”
“Hey! It’s not that heavy.”
“For me it is.” He licked his paw again.
Caelana sighed. “Look, I’m sorry. Come here and let me help. I have a wrap in my pack that will help it.”
The squirrel came tentatively and perched on her bare knee. Caelana grabbed a white salve and a thick green leaf. She put the salve on his wound and wrapped the leaf around it. “There, better?”
“Yes, actually. Thank you. Now, can I ask, why do you hate that poor creature so much?”
Caelana looked away and busied herself with the food. “Not now… I’m sorry, I don’t even know your name.”