I’ve been running for days. Sometimes it is one man, sometimes a mob. They have been chasing me constantly, with no chance for me to catch my breath. The forest has helped me as much as possible, tripping and entangling my pursuers while I lithely bound ahead. It hides me under exposed roots and behind thick foliage. It covers my tracks in the dirt but leaves my hunters’ footprints untouched, letting me know where they have and have not tread.
My heart feels like a hummingbird beating its wings. Impossibly fast pulse pushing my blood to every inch of my muscles. My veins feel electrified. I can see the adrenaline coursing through me. My eyes are taking in everything, in detail that flatly defies all reason. Forty feet away, I see a strand of brown hair floating on the cool night air. I smell the sweat on it and know that the hair came from the village blacksmith, who has always feared me. I know in an instant that he will die first.
I can’t spend any time trying to devise the most gruesome manner in which to end him. The mob, which I can now hear has grown to twenty three people, is quickly closing in again. I turn my back to a steep rise of loose dirt, too treacherous to consider scaling, and open my ears and nose to all the forest can tell me. The peasants smell of fear and murder. They approach on…dear God, three sides? I was lost in the flood of senses and did not account for their being skilled enough to hunt more than a scared rabbit. They have me at a disadvantage, carrying weapons and cornering me. I cannot climb to an escape, and I cannot go through the oncoming hunters. At least not quite yet. But my advantages are more than enough to tip the battle back into my favor.
My legs, stronger than those of any five men, launch me straight into the air. I grasp the thickest tree limb within reach, and look down upon the forest floor, crouching on a bough higher than the tallest home in the village. I can detect the whisper of air filling the lungs of the hunting party’s leader as he prepares to signal their charge. That damnable blacksmith. He brought them after me. Now he brings me upon them all. The shout, from the blacksmith and immediately from the entire crowd, echoes through the wood. So loud in their own ears they do not hear my howl soar above their own. Within moments they are facing the empty rise, absent their prey.
Their bloodlust turns to stark terror when they hear a chorus of howls sweep through the trees, answering my call. My advantages have served me well. Stealth, power, senses, and friends they did not expect to face. Rather than scattering in a panicked attempt to flee, the villagers huddle and shrink in fear as they become prey. A pack of wolves, hungry and furious, stalk toward them, hemming them in as they meant to do to me. I open the flesh of my palm and let my blood flow, dripping onto the head of the blacksmith. He looks up, wetting himself instantly upon seeing my smile. I leap out over the mass of frightened fools, landing between the two wolves leading the rest. We outnumber the humans, but the rest of the wolves know that no matter what else happens, the marked human is mine, and mine alone.
The blacksmith dies first. The rest die just as surely, and just as quickly. My final advantage, the full moon, came just in time.