Hate, not Desperation

Title: Hate, not Desperation
Time Period: February 3, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: What should have been a bit of fresh air turns into something much more deadly.

While the weather might be cold, it takes quite a storm to keep young women locked away when there are things to do and places to be. Constance is just one such woman, and while the warmth of the fire can be enjoyed in the nearby Eilean Donan Castle, she prefers to trudge out in the cold for some brisk air. The woods nearby offer a peaceful escape and a perfect setting for a walk while the sun is still in the sky and the trees haven't entirely made the way dark. Bundled up in a warm coat and a scarf wound around her neck, she scurries off into the woods to surround herself with the trees.

While she may be headstrong and independent, the young woman is aware that she needs to be safe, should her father even happen to ask for her. Before heading out, Constance was sure to let someone know she was going for some air and wasn't straying too far—she'd rather not get lost. It was some air, not an adventure.

This time at least.

Snow floats from a blank gray sky like downy shavings of gull feathers. A few more weeks and the trees will begin to show veins of green and closed buds at the tips of their long, spindly branches, and although the first month or so of spring isn't much warmer than winter, the ground is at least thawed by then and won't crunch under Constance's shoes like it does now.

She is far enough away from the castle's bridge — still visible in the distance between the trees as a wall of stone spreading across the loch — that no one would be able to hear her call for them when she realizes that she is not alone on the path winding through the aspens.

Somewhere off to her left, a twig snaps.

It's times like these that Constance secretly wishes she could just send her familiar off to investigate. But it's not her with the familiar, it's her brother, and Peter couldn't be pulled from his studies to come with her and Heart Song stayed with him. So instead of having someone to muse over the noise or investigate it, she freezes for the moment.

A twig snapping could be anything — a bird, a fox, a bear, a deer — and could easily be something she shouldn't worry about. But one can never be too careful. A glance is thrown back towards the castle before she searches for the sound. If it's an animal, she can startle it with the sound of her voice. If it's not…

"Hello?" Constance calls, hesitantly.

The reply Constance receives is a low, husky growl from the snap's origin. If it's an animal— and it certainly seems to be— then the sound of her voice doesn't appear to be acting as much of a deterrent.

The shape that emerges from the trees on the edge of the path is too big to be a fox and too small to be a bear, but it has a face vaguely like the first and stalks toward her with the slow purpose of the second.
She's never seen a wolf this close before.

Constance had been but a child the last time a wolf had come near her, but for one this close and not trying to snap at her heels was an entirely new experience. Given that the voice didn't deter it, she wasn't entirely sure how to scare it off. Startling it might give it reason to feel threatened, but it didn't have its hackles up like it was ready to fight. So instead, the girl stays frozen, contemplating her options.

Constance could run, but wolves are fast and she could easily be overtaken before she escaped. She could yell, but she wasn't close enough for someone to hear and the wolf didn't seem perturbed by the sound of voices. So instead, she stays put, not moving. She'll just stand her ground and see what it does.

The wolf's mane stands on end, hackles raised, and its lips peel back around a louder snarl that shows long, angry teeth. Its movements are fluid and its slender build packed with dense, wiry muscle; she cannot see the animal's ribs, and her intuition tells that it isn't desperation gleaming behind its eyes, which are rimmed in skin black as kohl.

It's hate.

It's angry. It would have been on her in an instant should it be looking for food, but instead it was waiting. Constance swallowed hard. It was likely waiting for her to fight back, to try and run. It wanted her to make a move. She shifts her weight, just slightly on her feet so she can have better footing before she slowly begins to take a step backwards, still facing the wolf. She slowly tries to back away. Perhaps she just inadvertently stumbled into the wrong territory, or perhaps there were pups to be guarded.

Perhaps it was just toying with her and waiting for her to slip up.

It doesn't wait for very much longer — maybe it's impatient, too. Long legs and large paws carry the wolf across the distance that remains between them, and it's on Constance before she has the opportunity to turn and run.

Jaws with the strength and force of an iron trap clamp down around the girl's forearm and punch through the fabric of her clothes, opening up the skin beneath. Teeth graze bone, blood blossoms bright red, and it drags her down into the snow.

Dragged into the snow, Constance gives a scream of pain which escalates into one of terror, her arm captured by the vice grip of the wolf's teeth. Her free hand flails around in her fallen position, feeling for anything that might be of use as she tries to wiggle into a position to use her feet to kick at the wolf in an attempt to get it to release her arm.

One of Constance's feet connects with the wolf's chest, and rewards her with a sharp grunt from the animal, its grip on her arm loosening enough for her to pull free, but then it's on her again, savaging the offending leg at the thigh despite the fact that she's showing it her face and throat in the struggle.

Either it wants to make this last, or it doesn't intend on killing her. At least not right away.

There's another cry of pain as the teeth sink into her skin and Constance's mind swims between pain, fear, and desperation to find some way to beat it off. One leg and arm are already brutalized but she's at no good angle to kick at the wolf without painfully twisting her body and alerting the wolf to her attempts. Instead, her free arm continues it's desperate sweeping motion for a stone, a stick, or some sort of useful object to use as a club to bash the wolf's head with. She shifts her leg to brace her foot against the ground in an attempt to push herself a little towards the bridge. While it may not bring her that much closer to home, it may allow her arm to find a weapon of some sort.

Constance's hand closes around a stick, which isn't as good as a rock, but it's thick enough, hefty enough that a well-placed hit might give her enough time to clamber back to her feet.

If she can clamber back to her feet. The wolf's head tears away from her leg, taking with it tatters of bloodied cloth and a strip of skin dangling from its teeth. Another bite cleaves across her cheek, splitting her skin and fracturing her jaw — a few more inches in a different direction, and one of the animal's teeth would have hooked under her eye and forced it out of her socket. Instead, her molars now show through the gap in cheek.

The scream is ear-splitting, or would be if it weren't for the fact that Constance no longer wants to open her mouth any wider than it is. Screaming, though, is a lot of throat and not as much mouth so it still comes out, but she's not sure any of it will carry any sort of distance. Mostly, it's for her own benefit, a way to express the pain and to focus it elsewhere.

The idea of getting up isn't one that particularly appeals to Constance at the moment, but she needs to get some height on her and some force behind her swing. As soon as the wolf's teeth aren't in her skin, she quickly sits up, her leg moving to at least get her to her knees. Regardless of her momentum and success in moving, she swings wildly at the creature as many times as she can. It may be wild, but she's using her energy and adrenaline to make the swings powerful.

The branch connects with enough force to break on impact, showering Constance with snow-covered splinters and leaving her with a blunt piece of wood not much bigger than the fist that clutches it, but the wolf is backing up and giving the injured girl room. Its eyes sweep from the blonde crown of her head down to her mangled leg, then back up again before its ears, pressed flat against the curve of its skull, prick back up and hone in on a sound that its victim cannot hear — and not only because hers are ringing.

Constance closes her eyes for what feels like only few moments but must be longer than that; when she opens them again, her attacker is gone and the night air is still.

The sky, too, is dark.