Din Beskytter

Title: Din Beskytter
Time Period: May, 129 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Two little girls go searching for rainbows, and find nothing but teeth.

In the early afternoon, when Cordie and Constance were last seen, the sun had still been peeking out between white and fluffy clouds. A chill in the air promised the coming of a rainstorm, but there were no ominous dark clouds to suggest it would come so swiftly.

By the younger girl's calculations, they should have had plenty of time to get to their destination and back before supper. She promised Constance it was no more than an hour's walk beyond Dornie proper. There lay, hidden by the woods and rugged hills, a "secret" waterfall, Cordie'd been told by one of the town's elders, and that waterfall was the birthplace of all rainbows.

The scheming child had listened, enraptured by the story, and asked questions before hurrying away to draw herself a map to the magical place.

"If it's where all rainbows start," Cordie had whispered conspiratorially to Constance earlier this morning, "it might give clues to where the end of the rainbow is, and we can get the leprechaun gold. We can split it. I bet that's why no one's ever found it before — they probably figured it'd be in Ireland, not Scotland, aye?"

Peter was nowhere to find to bring into the adventure, but the girls had decided that simply meant a bigger split of gold between the two, and set off, planning to back by supper — if not with gold in hand, at least with clues for finding it some other day.

After all, Cordelia is practical.

Now, it's nearly dark, and the road they had been following has dissolved into the countryside, overgrown by grass and weeds. Nowhere near a waterfall, and nowhere near home, the impending night is a frightening enough prospect but the first few sprinkles of rain along with a boom of thunder and a flash of lightning make this journey suddenly all the more perilous.

Constance was more than happy to tag along on an adventure. It was exciting and with the pair of cousins as the heroines, she was sure it'd be an exciting tale when they came back with an entire pot of gold. She carries herself along happily, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders to ward off the chill, eyes scanning the woods for whatever clues they might find.

"I'm sure that's why no one found it. And maybe no one was smart enough to go the the birthplace of rainbows, too. We'll be the first and they'll tell tales of us for generations! Our children's children's children's children will hear about this."

While Constance wouldn't have minded the presence of her brother, she was more than happy to have a larger take of the gold. Imagine all the dresses she could buy with that! She might even buy a nice one for Celia, too. A purple one. She'd like that.

The dark, however, begins to sink in and the rain begins to slowly crawl its way in through the trees. Constance swallows hard, looking back to Cordelia. "Well, it's hard to find rainbows without rain… we should have started earlier. Maybe in the morning and packed a lunch…" She pauses. "D-Do you think we should head back? Just in case?"

When a child goes missing, people will of course look for them. When children of both Ross and Rowntree go missing, however, it is a tale to be told. The daughters of two of the most powerful sons of Dornie have gone on an adventure, and when someone realizes that they are nowhere to be found, there is an understandable chaos that ensues. Children can travel quickly if they wish to, as does the rain. It was around suppertime itself when families converged to homes, only to find out that the girls had snuck out from under somebody's eye.

Jorn, having been with Edgar the entire afternoon, did not happen to take the news terribly well. Though he was not the one to be watching either of them, it felt not only an affront to his duty, but a blow to his already heavy heart. The northman was not about to allow another minute go by where he was not part of the search.

With the search within the town reaching a swift head, several small parties have gone out on horseback to the farmlands and fields. Jorn, however noble his intentions, was so set on action that he simply took his ivory-white form and put his muzzle to the ground, leaving the town before the horsemen had even gathered. When they head off, the bulk of polar fur is already making his way into the woodlands, his clipped trot swift enough to get him far-flung. A bear's nose is one of his most valuable weapons, and Jorn puts it to the ultimate test, even as minutes pass into hours, the dark encroaches on the wood, and the clouds overhead begin to drip silently between his dark eyes.

The smaller girl chews on her lower lip. To go back would be to admit defeat, but if they don't return soon, they'll be in much more trouble than she's ever seen in her ten years of life. "I guess… it'll be too dark to find any clues anyway," Cordelia says a bit petulantly, shivering when the rain begins to grow from a trickle to a shower.

"We better turn back," she agrees, and turns to face the opposite direction — the road is no where in sight, but walking in a straight line should bring them back to it.

The ground is already growing mucky and thick, Cordie's boots squelching as she walks. A sound she doesn't comment on — somewhere in the distance — makes her pick up her pace; dark eyes peek through their corners to look for the source of the noise, and then to her cousin to see if Constance noticed it. Better not to alert the dramatic girl if there's no cause, after all.

Better to walk just a touch faster, just to be safe.

The shawl around Constance is wrapped tighter, folding her arms over her chest to try and keep them a little warmer. She manages to keep her balance well as she treks through the mud, but Cordie's quicker gait is noted—as is the sound that caused it. She swallows hard, her head turning back and forth as she searches, meeting Cordie's gaze once it shifts in her direction.

"No rainbows here," she murmurs, but her head is still moving back and forth quickly to find the source of the sound. "But something else is…"

The wood is filled with frightful things at this time of day- the twilight, when the sun bleeds down over the hills, and the dark creeps from one end of the earth to the other. Trees that had been green and damp before, are now slick with shimmering water, and blackened by shadow. Their features bend under the rivulets, and knotty branches appear to jab at one another in the canopy. Birds have long silenced for the coming of night, and the only sounds now seem to be those of terrible things that lurk in the forest.

Cordelia's ears did not betray her, and Constance puts her fears on her sleeve for good reason alone. The sound comes again, closer and clear as a bell- a single, higher pitched howl, that rings through the rain and chill. A moment later, another answers, far on the other side of the wood.

Jorn hears them, as well. His understanding of the four-legged goes beyond recognition, however; the wolves are alert, and on the prowl. One of them has caught the sodden scents of the girls, and has signaled his kin from afar. Far enough from the duo that just maybe they will think it simple wild clatter. The bear knows better, and sets off in the direction of the first to yowl.

Though a year younger, Cordie prides herself on not being easy to scare, on being practical and as hardy as any boy despite her small size. The howl is much closer than she's heard before, and without the safety of her home and the protection of her kin around her, it seems the most frightening sound in the world. She grabs Constance's arm, looking wide-eyed in the direction of the wolf's cry.

"Maybe we should climb a tree," she suggests — wolves can't climb trees, she doesn't think. "Do you think we should climb a tree?" That she's asking Constance's opinion of the matter belies her fear; normally she treats the year between them as nothing but paper on a calendar.

The sound of the howl and it's definite presence closer to the pair of girls forces a small shriek from Constance's lips. She might be easier to scare than her cousin, but she's smart and tends to only get scared at things that deserve her fear—and that seems to be something getting closer. Shifting in the mud so that her boots won't sink too far into the wet earth, Constance looks intently back at Cordelia.

"I don't think we're fast enough to run in this mud and rain. I don't think they could get us in a tree… but we need to find one quick, and a really tall one. They might jump." The older girl swallows hard. "We need to go fast, I don't think I can climb as well as you so I might need your help."

Something moves to the west, shifting in the black between oak and spindly pine. They may not have enough time to start climbing, much less find a suitable tree. There are a few here, with low hanging branches, and neither of them are in the direction of the pair of amber eyes now glinting at them from the brush. A slim bitch, teetering ready on her toes, has them focused in her line of sight, remaining silent when she catches them standing there.

The time that passes may feel drawn, before the wolf peels back part of her upper lip to flash the front of her teeth and splay both ears outward. The tail behind her hovers in the air like an auburn bottlebrush.

The glow of eyes stays Cordelia in her path; still she grows, and for a moment, the only the rise and fall of her chest is the only motion in the tense child's body. Her eyes drop to avoid eye contact, and one hand slides slowly toward her coat pocket to get the small knife she thought to bring with her, but didn't think to have out and at the ready.

She vows to learn from this lesson — if only she can live through it.

"If it attacks, kick it. We can't outrun it," she whispers barely above a breath, as she looks to the ground for any rock big enough to serve as a weapon — but the universe seems to be made of mud and rain.

Constance freezes at the sight of the wolf, though she doesn't look for a weapon. She's more afraid if she looks away the wolf will attack. So she stares at it, trying to stand tall. Animals can understand body language, right? So if she looks menacing and strong maybe she can make up for the fact that she has no idea what to do.

"Um, if it attacks, I will not hate you if you run while it's distracted… so long as you don't hate me. It can't get two of us at the same time…" She swallows hard. "We really have to fight it? Do you think it'll eat us?"

Mud, and rain, and more wolves. While Cordelia looks over the ground, a short, growling bark comes from their rear- there is another one- and as any folktale tells you, wolves come in packs. The rest of this pack is not dispersed as far apart as one would hope. They know the terrain, and the sounds of feet on leaf litter become too numerous. It is not a large pack, though not small. Exactly how many lies only with the canids themselves.

The alpha female, presumably because of her boldness, steps forward, long legs slick with water. She is slim, but wiry, and is missing a notable piece off of the tip of her nose. A male appears off at the left, his wide features a mottled, dirty gray. Perhaps they want the girls to run- to do something, to start a chase, however short it could be.

"I don't think it wants to be our pet," Cordelia's answer would sound more snappish if she weren't clinging to Constance with her free hand, and slowly sliding out the knife with her other.

As the other wolves join the first, she takes a slow step backward. "If they eat us, I'm sorry I got you killed, Connie," she whispers. It might be the first apology she's given her cousin that wasn't prodded out of her by an adult. It's a sign of just how dire their situation is in the little girl's eyes.

She takes another slow step back, hoping to put a little more distance between them and the wolves — it won't buy them much time, but any is more than none.

"I'm sorry if I was ever mean to you, Cordie…" Constance whimpers, one arm clinging to Cordelia as she stares out at the wolves. "W-We need a plan. I don't think we should move, we won't get very far and they'll have an advantage if they're chasing us." She takes a step back with Cordelia.

Constance takes a quick look around, assessing for any sort of things in their environment they can use to their advantage. "I think we should just try and keep them in front of us and try and fight the same one at the same time. Maybe if we hurt one the others will get scared?" She tries her best to sound brave… and like she knows what she's doing.

The rain hits a head- it begins to crackle overhead within the clouds, and the water feels more like tiny pebbles in the wind. It soaks the girls, and the wolves closing in- one of the males lunges forward to grab onto either girl and pull them down, jaws more likely to snap upon skirt or coat than flesh. A smaller one is quick to follow suit, all grabbing teeth and coarse, muddy fur. The rain also falls heavily down onto the thing that crashes its way through a row of saplings in the dark.

The sounds are sharp, a cracking of resistant wood being crushed underneath of something heavy. A few of the wolves flinch their heads around, ears pinning and teeth flashing in the dusky light. All of this only spans but a few seconds- a few wherein the girls are attacked, and the rest of the wolves detect danger in the wood.

A rare shriek comes from the littler of the two girls, and she scrambles backward at the same time she lets fly the tiny little knife in a moment of panic — fight or flight becomes throw and flight, but the flight part only goes so far when her boots stick in the mud and she lands with a splat in the mud.

Her feet continue to move, and she crab-walks herself backwards; the thing barreling through the woods has her as frightened as the wolves until she sees the flash of white that tells her she is saved.

Constance isn't far behind Cordelia in landing in the mud as the sharp teeth capture her skirt and she trips, sprawling on the ground. She scrambles in the mud to pull her skirt away from the wolf, echoing Cordelia's shriek as she flounders in the mud.

Saved, yes. Out of the woods, no. Literally and figuratively, to boot. The flash of white through Cordelia's vision spouts into the grove, and the other wolves snarl and lunge for it, rather than the cousins now on the slick forest floor. The canine barks are soon drowned out by the bellow from Jorn, which rumbles through the grove and into the ground, a heavy vibrato inside of bone and branch.

Constance's skirt tears down one of the seams as a paw wider than a dinner plate careens into the underside of the wolf latched onto it. He gives a wail of noise as he tumbles ass-over-teeth into the trees. Looming over her is the bear, and for that moment all she can see is damp white fur, and a quivering black nose as big as her fist. She can even smell him back, though she has little choice- the bear smells of musk, and of wet skin and fur. He moves over her with a short gallop once he finds her healthy, maw opening to threaten the other one that has Cordelia in his plan.

As was said, wolves travel in packs- the pack itself comes after him now, instead. The first is the wolf in his path, who finds his boldness and leaps to snap at Jorn's long Roman muzzle.

"Jorn!" Cordie cries out, a sob as much as a yell. Having lost her knife in her panic, she reaches around her until she finds a branch; her protector now being attacked instead of her, she is up on her feet and swinging the branch at the wolves that snap at Jorn.

The branch itself is not weighty enough to do much damage, nor does Cordelia have the power to wield it as a true weapon, but it serves some purpose — each thrashing of one of the wolves causes a brief moment of distraction and an opportunity for Jorn.

Still on her back, Constance is too stunned to be of much help when the bear roars to the rescue. Once she's out of danger, at least for the moment, she scrambles through the mud to get to her feet, eyes looking between wolves to see what's the most dangerous and where she should stand to be away from impending danger.

Cordelia's valiant nature is to be commended, even if it does not do much except provide those seconds of distraction when a wolf finds its face or legs assailed by the branch. The enemy at his front has nicked a now bleeding cut over his lip, and those at his rear may have four inches of fat to bite through that they were not expecting, but they will still be able to clamp into his skin and thick fur. Jorn's next bellow is as much for Cordelia to back away, as it is to preempt a swipe of paw down across the wolf on his face. The strike knocks it loose, and it rolls into the mud, feet somersaulting.

When the bear turns, his waist pivots upward, allowing him to shake another from his shoulder and to the ground. Claws catch on the next wolf that comes for him while he pushes himself partway onto his back feet. They catch on skin and pull it nearer, into range of a large set of sharp teeth. Jorn shakes the wolf like a rag-doll, jaw clamped around its neck.

The girl backs away at the bellow, eyes wide and face streaked now with tears, rain, and mud. She backs up to where Constance stands, realizing that her nearness to the wolves and Jorn might cause more distraction to the latter than the former. For now there is little she can do but watch, hope, and repent for her foolish adventure.

"I wish I were a mage… I'd make the wolves disappear," she whispers, the vow made solemn and earnest with an almost prayer like tone, as if she could will it to be so.

Constance grabs for Cordelia's arm again, mostly for her own comfort as she watches Jorn ravaging the wolves. She stares in horror, not likely to have seen much of a fight like this. "We'll be okay," she whispers, barely audible in the wind and the rain and the fight. "We're okay now…"

Three wolves have been tossed aside, and another is hanging dead and bleeding from Jorn's mouth. He yanks it loose with both forepaws, tearing it open from neck to ribcage. While it does not spill the animal over the ground, the red in the rain is too much to be washed away even in the storm. The other wolves see enlightenment in the death of just one, the injury of two more. The pack is not large enough to sustain the attack, and the alpha female lets up a baleful yowl for the rest of them.

They lower their tails, save for the bitch, and she is the first to lift her paws and scrabble off into the trees. Several more peel out behind her, and they are lost in darkness soon enough.

Jorn still holds the dead wolf in his mouth when he stands up straight, the animal hanging awkwardly by the chunk of flesh he had torn loose. The crimson dribbles down his front in the rain, and he keeps his back to the girls. The only sounds are his laboured breaths, and the steady pounding of rain. To make sure they are gone, he will be silent as long as he needs to be.

Cordelia presses her lips together to keep from blubbering in relief; when the remaining pack finally turns tail, she lets go of Constance to take a few steps closer to Jorn.

She lets him stand guard without interrupting, knowing he is overseeing the wolves' retreat. She simply wants to be closer to her protector, her head bowed in gratitude and apology, tears of shame continuing to stream down her muddy cheeks.

Constance reluctantly lets Cordelia move in Jorn's direction, but she stays rooted to her spot. She watches the woods for more signs of danger, but the silence is relieving and causes her to realize just how cold she is. She shivers, wiping her face with the back of her hand in a futile attempt to clean it.

"Is it over?" Constance asks.

Jorn coughs, lowering himself to all fours and dropping the rust-colored wolf onto the ground. Turning heel by heel, the bear places flat feet firmly into the mud when he faces down Cordelia so nearby. The purple tongue in his mouth lifts up to wipe the red from his muzzle, and he steps forward to put his head close to the little girl. The bend of his brow seems to echo the one he has as a man, though the dark eyes are startlingly different. Still, it is Jorn behind them, and he regards Cordelia closely, and Constance second, to make sure she has not scampered away out of fright.

Cordelia finds her messy face disturbed by the outside dampness of the bear's big nose huffing into her cheek and hair, before his skull lowers to put it under her skinny elbow. It is time to go.

When he nuzzles her, Cordie throws her arms around his neck, wet face pressed into his thick fur. She is safe. They are safe. The fear of nearly being mauled and eaten by wolves makes the dread of facing up to her misdeeds a dim thing, indeed. What's more important is safety, warmth, and the light of their home.

"Thank you," she whispers, a final shaky and shuddery sigh that lets him feel just how frightened she was, her heart still pounding in her chest audible to his keen ears.

"Let's go home."