Timeline: January 13th, 2008
Deepening shadows from the trees concealed her movements. The night was still, the moon pale behind the whispering clouds. The wild called her and she responded. There are many paths to enlightenment the Goddess had provided, this was one of her favorites. The embrace of the wild. The thrill of the bloody hunt, and victory over the prey. For several nights, the sable wolf had wandered its territory alone, her beautiful eyes glowing with a cold fire, searching for others of its kind. So far, nothing. But she was not content. There were signs, signs of other wolves in the area, yet she had not seen them yet. But they were there, perhaps even watching her. She was not worried, more curious. Rare was the wolf of New England. What kind of creature would this be?
There was a sent mark that seemed to rise like a great pillar before her. In her wolf form, her senses were more acute in many ways. Her sense of smell, for instance, allowed her to detect an entire sensory world she didn’t have access to in human form. Her hearing was likewise enhanced. Her sight, while largely lacking the ability to discern color as a wolf, could pick up light more easily at night, allowing for night-time hunting of nearly any kind of game.
Now her senses were sending a small thrill of alarm through her lupine body. Ahead she, sensed a territorial mark of another wolf. Quick investigation told her the border marking, at her best guess, put her inside this wolf’s territory. Her only conclusion could be that she had crossed the boundary without realizing it as a human and then discovered it as a wolf.
The sound of a lupine yawn and licking of lips drew her attention. Looking about she noticed the wolf that politely let himself be known sitting quietly in the shadow of a tree. Her nose tested the air, then discovered that the stranger’s scent matched the one who’d marked this territory.
Now that it had her attention, it stood and began to pace toward her. Moonlight struck its back and reflected up from the snow as it stepped out of the shadows, revealing what appeared to be thick, grey and white fur suited to the wintry season.
She looked him over and pulling back her ears, narrowing her eyes in a penetrating stare. A beautiful beast, she thought to herself. She sat, sphinx-like and continued her stare, growling lightly that he should beware.
He seemed to take it as a challenge. His fur bristled and he began stalking forward with stiff legs ready to pounce or chase. He passed slowly in front of her, exposing his body almost as a dare to see if she was willing to push the challenge further. In doing so, she could make out the patterns in his fur had been marred by deep scars beneath. The scars, some visible through fur near the belly could be seen to be fresh — and massive. Something very big and very powerful had nearly gutted this wolf from stem to stern. More, she thought she detected ugly scars lurking just beneath the grayish fur on his back, wounds that looks suspiciously like they had once been deep knife wounds. Clearly, those wolf was no stranger to battle or hardship.
The steady, eerily intelligent gaze, the aggressive stance, the complete lack of tentative, shy investigation common among typical wolves marked this one as unique in Ann-Marie’s experience. This was the kind of wolf that gave wolves in general a bad name. This wolf was a man-killer.
So much the better, she thought, her eyes fixed on him, so am I. She sat up and walked behind and to the right of him, almost in a figure eight pattern as she looped long and wide, watching this masterful beast, passing in-front and then back again to the left silently, her tail calmly pointing down with a slight wag, not submissive, but playful, confident and nonplussed. Yet giving him a wide berth of respect for his many battles.
He turned and faced her head-on again and emitted a low growl that vibrated with such powerful bass tones it felt as if it went through her chest. A snarl curled his lips and he seemed to look bigger and more menacing than any creature Ann-Marie had yet faced — including other Kindred. This creature emitted a sense of power that went far beyond anything she’d felt and she knew instinctively that instigating a fight, even if it had even been on her mind, would have been a true test of her own, considerable resolve.
But fighting wasn’t on her mind, not yet anyway. It was obvious that this wasn’t a mere wolf, nor kindred. She’d know a kindred instantly. This was something new, perhaps a legend made flesh, perhaps not. She returned his growl, calling upon the vitae within to strengthen herself and armor herself, her fur bristling up. As supernatural beings go, she may have just tipped her hand, but then again, he did so first. A slight wag remained in her tail, despite the danger, despite the unconscious fear of such a power, despite it all, this was something new. And for someone like herself, something new was a rare treat to observe. She cautiously continued her walking pattern, suspicious of his next move, but ready to see where this goes.
He moved in, forcing her to choose to give ground or let him come into contact with her.
She followed suit walking up to him and looking him right in the eyes, aglow in confidence, at the last moment she shifted to the right and slid by him, her fur running against his until she had passed him by and began walking deeper into the woods, her head briefly turning back, and then continuing forward. She had teased a powerful, supernatural being. No need to push it any farther. At least not yet.
As she was moving toward the border, he didn’t follow. This was the time. He played his hand before, she would now. When she was far enough, she turned and transformed into her human form, “Hello there.”
The wolf, unafraid paced toward her, growing as it did so. In a moment, what stood before her was a man wearing jeans, and a thick winter jacket with a rifle slung across his shoulders. Scars seemed to crawl from beneath his coat up his neck and it was a good guess that what scars he had as a wolf, he also had as a man. He showed her a lazy, self-confident half-smile. He wasn’t a particularly handsome man — he’d clearly led too hard a life for that. But he wasn’t ugly, either, unless the scars put one off.
So, a new kind of shape-shifter, he thought.
The newcomer, soon revealed to the werewolf as a shape-shifting vampire, introduced herself as Ann-Marie, while the werewolf returned the introduction in kind with his own name; Ironclaw. Still positioned at the territorial border in the darkness, they negotiated with regard to territory. Ironclaw was willing to give no territory, but he chose to tolerate her movement and minor hunting in his territory so long as she never attempted to mark it or take any part of it for herself. He made sure that she understood hunting restrictions such that federal rangers wouldn’t be drawn to his territory since a portion of it was national park. Ann-Marie was led to understand he commanded an entire pack of such shape shifters as himself, though no specific numbers or names were traded. But it was enough to know they were out there in the shadows, keeping a constant eye on their territory.
She smiled and departed, confident she would encounter him again.