She heard the familiar cry, the signal for her to move. In a flash she was gone, running lightly through the undergrowth. No twig broke, no eye could give shape to the copper-grey blur.
Drawing near, his scent filling her nostrils, she slowed to a trot and let him scent her.
His snout rose, sniffed, and he sauntered over to her, touching her nose with his.
“Ahead, 200 metres.” he said softly, more growl than speech.
“Attack It from both sides.” she replied and set off, stealthily, to the right.
Her partner, sleek black and touched by silver, slid to the left and moved forward.
Together they crept close, as one, each needing no assurance that the other was doing the same.
It came into view in a small clearing. She circled around, gaining his side, knowing he would gain the other.
For a moment she stood, hackles up, crouched and ready to pounce at some unknown, instinctive signal.
The signal came, and she leapt. Flying through the air, darkness come to life.
She had time to see the crouching, hideous figure turn to her partner. It’s eyes blazing yellow under an overhanging brow, teeth pointed and glinting in the faint moonlight.
It launched toward him, arms outstretched, and caught his muzzle in both hands.
She landed on It’s back and dug in with sharp claws. It’s head turned and she snapped, heard a tear, spat out the grisly, cold flesh.
It let go of her partner for a second, rose, flung her violently to the floor. She hit hard and lay dazed as It turned back to her partner.
With a shake and a howl, she leapt once more, barreling into It’s side.
It tumbled onto it’s back, leaving her partner to fall to the floor. In a flash, she was on it, biting, scratching, until It’s struggles grew weaker with exhaustion.
Then, in the blink of an eye, she shifted.
Now on it’s chest was no large, 200lb wolf.
Now on it’s chest was a 6ft tall, naked woman. Blood dripped from her mouth and hands as she pulled up It’s head and gripped it, front and back.
With a swift, easy flick, It’s neck swung round and cracked deafeningly. So injured, It lay still, accepting defeat and hoping for freedom.
Then it saw.
Attached to her back was a scabbard of battered leather. She reached behind one shoulder and pulled out a 15-inch silver sword.
Knowing, It tried to struggle but was too weak. She stood, one bare foot pinning It to the forest floor.
In a fluid movement, she lifted the sword above her head and brought it down onto It’s neck. Before It’s head could moved, he burst into searing blue flame and was gone, leaving no mark. Then she turned away, an unconscious sneer of disgust turning her lip upwards, and went to her partner.
He was now a naked man, lying helplessly on the ground. Bleeding, one eye gouged loose, the other half-conscious, tears scouring his body, a chuck of flesh missing from the base of his throat.
She dropped to her knees beside him. “Danieel.” she whispered.
He touched her, tried to speak and found only blood. He spat it out and tried again. “I can feel…the poison…SansÃ?Â©.”
“No…” she told him, eyes glistening wet.
He matched her tears and swallowed. “Yes…he was a bad…bad one…you must do it…before…before it is too…late…”
“I cannot.” she pleased “Perhaps-“
“You know.” he interrupted. “There is no perhaps…better this…death…than that…life…”
Sobbing, she kissed him gently on the forehead, then lifted herself up and took hold of the sword once more. She bent and wiped it clean on the grass, then stood over him.
Her tears touched his ravaged face and he tried to smile. “Go on…my love…never forget…I’ll be waiting…”
SansÃ?Â© lifted her arms, the silver weapon shimmering cruelly, gaining weight every second she held it, but finally it rose above her head, triumphant in the forest sheen.
“What good is good if life is just to make no difference and then die a nobody, after giving everything?” she asked.
He had no reply, simply caressed her ankle and traced the shape of a heart.
She pursed her lips and kissed the air. Then, as of their own accord, her arms fell and his head rolled away like a final punctuation.
“What use, if the evil always wins and grows ever larger?” she asked, dropping the sword and loosing the scabbard from her back.
She let the leather fall behind her as Danieel’s body melted silently away into the dirt.
“What use to always love – and always love?” she asked, then shifted again, back into the copper-grey wolf.
“No use at all!” she growled, then slunk away to find a place to sleep until the dawn.