They know what you are
The tree branches ripped at her face and clothes, ripping flesh and cloth as she ran
They reek of terror
She stumbled on a tree root hidden in the leaves of late autumn.
They reek of hatred
They were upon her before she could stand.
It was twelve against one; a dozen grown men fighting a weakened girl of fifteen.
You will survive
"Pretty for one of those freaks, ain't she?"
We cannot reach you in time...
"Not so dangerous once 'er clothes are off!"
Close your eyes, child
"By the stars, does she never die?"
But they will be punished in this world and the next
"They never die right off."
They fear what they cannot understand
There was the sound of a sword being drawn.
But we try to protect our own
"You can't be too sure."
A flash of metal, a sword raised in the moonlight that filtered down through the trees.
There was a low growl behind them, then to the side, then all around.
A blinding attack left them with throats ripped, bodies splayed in all directions. Panting heavily, the wolves nudged the fallen girl, licking her wounds. One stayed with her. Another paced around them, listening for any sound from the forest. The others dissolved back into the shadows.
The girl breathed shallowly. One half her face was a bloody mess, her body was covered in bruises and scraped from rough handling. Her arms and legs were scratched from her flight. A few times, she stopped breathing, only to return with a coughing breath that brought up blood.
One of the younger had returned.
A gangly youth stumbled into the clearing and was instantly surrounded. Nervous, he reached for a dagger that was no longer there. A black wolf dropped it beside the girl and stared at him. Swallowing nervously, the boy looked around. The men lay where they had fallen, here and there already the ants were steadily taking care of the corpses. Suddenly he fell forward; one of the wolves had nudged him. Catching his balance, he edged toward the girl, his stomach turning as he looked at her wounds. Blood everywhere, matted and dried in her long hair, on her face, on her lips, her arms and hands, her stomach, between her legs, it had turned the dirt on which she lay into a deep red mud that had since dried and been moistened by the morning's dew. Some fresh, some old. But she still breathed. He knelt beside her, hesitantly moving to pick her up. The wolves watched him, a few growling faintly when her breath hissed through gritted teeth at the movement. Unsteadily, he lifted her. The pack moved around him, hiding in the trees, as he carried her slowly through the woods towards the town.
He will help
He glanced down at her, at a face that might have been pretty, once.
He might have been one of them, once
Her one eye opened, an eerie amber stare took in his face for a moment before she passed out again.
He would not harm her
The wolves held back as he approached the old tavern on the outskirts of the town.
His sight has faded beyond repair... But he will understand
But will she?