The Murdered Mother
The white shewolf stalks along the upper reaches of the mountains that surround Fallowfell, her ears attuned to the sounds of the forest. Her white coloring is a disadvantage three out of the four seasons of the year, but for now she blends in, a white ghost in a white world.
She spots a brown sparrow on a branch of a nearby tree, and with the determination of a apex-predator, she decides to pursue it. She quietly trots up to a log, where she stops to survey her next move. She could move around the tree and trust in her natural camoflauge. She could jump over the log and rely on her speed to close the distance. Or she could just leave it be.
Eating in her second form has a tendency to be messy, and you don’t know what irritation is until you’ve tried to remove bird-feathers from between your teeth. Yes, she reasons, no birds.
Finding no point in hiding anymore, she opens her mouth and howls, a cry that shakes the mountains. The sparrow takes flight in a mad scramble for freedom. An owl hoots, worried.A couple of squirrels skitter up a tree.
“Are you done scaring away the local wildfire?” The shewolf huffs a white cloud of breath at the lithe girl who moves gracefully through the forest, the girl who seems to know where she should step, as not. Chiyo Sawamura smiles. “I will take that as a yes then. Shall we run?” The shewolf tilts her head, as if pondering the question and then bounds away, hoping that she will be able to outpace Chiyo.
Werewolves don’t run alone, she thinks, looking back at Chiyo who is doing her best impression of a juggernaut; everything in her path gets torn or thrown away in front of a run that can be likened to that of a train. No, werewolves don’t run alone. There isn’t some magical reason for it– it’s a social construct that grown to be a part of their lifestyle over long centuries, yet this construct is neccessary evil. There are very few werewolves who can go longer periods without succumbing to moon-madness, a viscious mental-rot that cannot be cured.
Her grandfather once told her that the stories about Grendel and Beowulf had a real-life basis, but when she asked him the specifics, he wouldn’t tell her more, simply saying that old history is sometimes best left forgotten. And her grandfather…. And now he sits in a prison people never escape.But, she muses, what if he did escape? They’d send either one of the Seven or a Branch-Leader of Pier 7 after him and who could tell the outcome of that meeting…..
A large noise startles her, and she misses a step in her run. She sees blue sky for a split-second before her tumble reorients her on her back, looking in the direction of Chiyo, who has left a human-shaped hole in a large oak, like something out of a cartoon. She yips at Chiyo, wishing she was skilled enough in shapeshifting to manipulate the inner workings of her throat, but one day she will be.
“Well”, Chiyo says, inspecting the hole she just made,” you were getting moody. I had to get your attention somehow”, she offers, pointing a finger up. The shewolf follows her line of sight, and finds herself looking up into a waning moon. Of course. Some werewolves, she being one of them, are especially sensitive to the turnings of the moon. Yeah, it’s not enough that her body bleeds once every month in an attempt to kill her, she has got to keep track of the friggin lunar-cycle.
A snap of fingers, and her attention is back at Chiyo. “Look, I feel like this isn’t going anywhere. Can we please just go home, start a movie or two, and eat copious amounts of chocolate?”
The shewolf tilts her head, once more. She already knows the answer.
Amanda extends her arms above her head and stretches, not just physically, but mentally too. The headspace of a wolf is not like the headspace of a girl. This might seem obvious, but you cannot understand the difference before you have experienced it, something young werewolves are told at an early age, but never believe. Or atleast she didn’t believe it.
Chiyo puts a bowl of sake next to a bowl of dark chocolate. Amanda eyes the Japanese rice-wine with suspicion. “I am sorry, but it’s made from rice. I mean, how does that even work?”
Chiyo ignores her question and fills a small cup with the translucent liquid. She sips lightly from it, smacking her lips in appreciation. She pours another cup and offers it to Amanda with a form of courtesy that is as polite as it is unyielding; Amanda has no choice but to accept.
“Come now”, Chiyo muses. “What is it that troubles you?” “Nothing troubles me”, Amanda retorts. Chiyo drinks from her cup and stares at her. And she stares at her. Then she stares some more.”It’s just the season”, Amanda offers, eventually. Chiyo nods, and waves her on.
“The cold, the waning moon, that shifty-eyed orc-” “No, that’s not it”, Chiyo interupts. “Oh”, she continues,” those things certainly have an effect on you. But there is something else, isn’t there?”
Amanda rotates so that her face is turned slighly away from Chiyo. She grabs her cup of sake and downs it all in one take, protests be damned.”Agh, that smarts”, she comments. ” How… how much do you know about my family?”
“I am aware of your grandfather, of course. And your father is certainly known to me”, Chiyo recites. “Hah, that doesn’t surprise me. Fenrir and Garm have played importants roles, and they will play important roles in the future. The Council keep a prophecy or two if I remember correctly. But what about my mother?”
Chiyo frowns. “Some say-” “They’re wrong”, Amanda interupts. She grows claws and severs the upper part of the sake-bottle. With a deft move she empties the contents of the bottle down her throat. “They’re all wrong”, she repeats. She grabs some of the dark chocolate, and munches on it.
“She was murdered”, she adds, feeling a bitter taste in her mouth. “Murdered”.