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Canidae; Part III
Kindle had finally reached Nana's cabin at sunset. It had taken her longer than she had
thought it would to walk back through the forest. Kindle winced as she walked through the door. Nana was going to beat her again. But Nana didn't yell or scream at her when she walked into the room – in fact, Nana wasn't there. Kindle blinked. Where was she?
It was the second night of the week of the full moon – the time of the month Kindle dreaded the most. Each night for a week, Kindle was given the opportunity to transform into a werewolf. She hated transforming, but, for some reason, every time the week came around, she had the urge to transform. It was strange, really.
Kindle peered out the cabin's window, gasping as something hit her in the chest full-force. Her pupils dilated, her hearing and sense of smell increased until she felt dizzy from the information she was receiving from the world around her. Her small, child-like hands swelled as they grew claws, and, all of the sudden, Kindle felt strangely unbalanced. She felt her legs shorten and fur grow all over her body as she fell forward onto the cabin's wooden floor. She landed on her hands – which were now paws, and she looked back at her legs, lifting one up so she could make sure it still worked. A growl escaped her throat as she took in the sight of the back legs of a wolf.
All of the sudden, the peasant rags Nana had given her didn't fit. They were loose in some places, but tight in others. Kindle turned her head around to her shoulder and ripped off the rags in seconds. There. That was better.
Kindle flattened her large, wolf-like ears and threw her head back, parting her lips into an “o”. She let out a howl, one that rose above the rafters in the cabin and filled the room with a sort of longing. Now it was time. Kindle burst out the front door to the cabin and raced into the woods.
Trees flew past Kindle as she raced through the forest. The sights and smells were overwhelming to her now-sensitive eyes and nose. Her claws acted like cleats as they dug into the ground, gripping the earth and pushing her forward. She could feel herself growing closer and closer to the village. She could smell fear and anger from the villagers. As she made raced through the dirt streets, she was well aware of how close she was getting to the heart of the village. She stopped.
Something was wrong.
She heard cries of approval and cheers of delight, so Kindle took a few steps forward, panting from the run. She found herself behind a barrel of wine that was sitting outside of a brewery. She peeked around it, her ears flattening. She gasped.
In the clearing before her stood a mob of villagers. They were holding torches and blades that looked like...
Kindle sniffed the air, wrinkling her nose as the pungent oder of aconite flew up her nostrils. What were they doing?
In the center of the mob was a platform. Kindle squinted her eyes, straining her ears, trying to find out what was going on.
“-And if we don't kill her now,” a voice was saying, “it will be the end of us later!”
Again came cries of approval, and the villagers raised their blades and torches. Kindle's ears flattened.
“That werewolf is a demon, and she will destroy our homes and eat our children!”
Kindle squinted some more. On the platform stood a boy that looked a lot like...
The dark-haired, dark-eyed boy was also holding a blade of silver. He raised a beautiful, purple flower. Aconite!
“This flower is called wolfsbane, because it keeps werewolves away. While we're out on the hunt, we hang this plant on our doors and in our windows, so that any other werewolf will stay away!”
Thoughtful grunts came from the mob, and Kestrel continued.
“Now, I say we take the silver and ram it through her heart. That should kill her, before she has the chance to come here and kill us! Who's with me?”
A loud cheer rose from the mob as they raised their torches and blades once more.
“Then let's go!”
Kindle's eyes widened as she soaked in what had just been said.
They were talking about her! Kindle had a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Run! Her instincts screamed.
So Kindle whirled around and took off through the streets, her fur bristling.
“Hey! There she is!” shouted a man's voice.
The members of the mob turned around simultaneously, and cries of anger rose into the night. Kindle heard the pounding of many feet against the earth, and she knew she was being followed.
Kindle weaved in and out of the buildings, her lungs burned and her paws ached. She ran as fast as she could into an alley, and she heard the cries grow faint.
I've gotta get out of here! Thought Kindle.
It was dark around these parts, and the only light was that of the full moon above. Kindle could see, however, because of her night vision she gained when she transformed. She looked around frantically, searching for a unique place to hide so the mob couldn't find her.
Her gaze rested on a shrine. Without hesitating, Kindle raced through the shrine's doors. Inside the shrine was pitch black. Kindle could hardly see, even with her night vision. She stumbled around in the dark, looking for something to hide behind.
“Is that you, boy?” the voice made Kindle jump.
She stayed silent, hoping whoever said that would think no one was there after all.
“Boy?” the voice called again.
A low warning growl rose in Kindle's throat as she heard someone make their way toward her.
“Stay back,” she snarled.
But whoever it was continued to advance in Kindle's direction.
“You're a girl,” it was clearer to Kindle now that it was an elderly man that spoke to her.
“Who are you?” her voice was softer now.
“I am the village priest,” the elder replied.
He continued to make his way forward, until he was only a little ways away from the red wolf. He held out his hand, placing it on her shoulder. Kindle flinched, her muscles tightening. She wasn't used to being touched softly. Nana always beat her, so she had it in her head that when humans touched each other, they were being aggressive.
“Be at peace, young warrior.” the priest said softly.
Kindle felt her muscles relax.
“You are one of the Hounds of God. You must battle against the demons of the world.”
Kindle blinked. Demons?
A loud crash made Kindle jump. There were bangs and sounds of something breaking wood.
“I think she's in here!” came the sound of a muffled voice.
They're back! Kindle thought, terror gripping her heart as though it were going to rip it to shreds.
The priest's grip tightened, and Kindle shook his hand off of her shoulder.
“Listen to me,” the priest's tone was urgent. “You must do battle with the demons and witches of the world. You are one of the Hounds of God; a guardian of mankind.”
“How will I know who's the enemy?” Kindle asked defiantly.
She didn't believe anything the priest was saying.
“Instincts. Trust your instincts.” the priest replied quickly. “Now go. I will try to reason with them.”
There was the sound of the shrine's door being knocked open.
Kestrel bust into the shrine, his silver blade raised.
“Now,” he cried, “now we've got you, demon!”
The mob held their torches up, looking around for the girl they thought would destroy them. But the village priest was the only being that stood before them. Kestrel's gaze hardened.
“Where is she?” he demanded.
The priest shook his head.
“Be at peace, boy. Calm your fury. The Hound did nothing to you.
“I need the werewolf!” he hissed. “Now, where is she?”
The priest shook his head again. Kestrel, blinded by rage, turned to his mob.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” he screeched, “This man is no priest! He has proven that he, too, is a demon!”
The mob's members exchanged confused glances.
“But he's a priest!” called a woman.
Kestrel shook his head.
“He's hiding a werewolf!” he hissed. “He must be a demon disguised as a priest, his innocent nature is deceiving us!”
The mob hesitated.
“What do we do, then?” asked a man.
A murderous look entered Kestrel's gaze.
“We make him tell us where she is.” he cried, “If he doesn't...”
Kestrel turned to the priest. He balled his fist, looked at the priest, and punched him, hard, in the stomach. The priest, as old and feeble as he was, cried out as he was knocked off balance, falling to the shrine's floor with a thud. The mob stared, horrified, at Kestrel, who was standing there, proud of that he did.
“... We kill him.” he finished quietly. “We kill him.”