The Black Dog

Title: The Black Dog
Time Period: February 2, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: A jealous rival sends out an omen of death.

The road to the Fairbairn farm may not be traveled down often, but it's one Cas Blackburn knows quite well. A folded colorful blanket rests under one of his arms, the intended gift for the widow to see her through the rest of the winter this evening in February. There's a few things he wanted to talk to her about, as well.

A recent attack in the woods, not by a dragon, being one of them, but his mind is more occupied by other thoughts as he walks alone in the direction of the farmhouse. He can almost hear the animals in the distance.

Maybe while he's there he can spend a few minutes with her horses as well.

The dark blue and purple shades of dusk on the field shelter the sleek animal from being seen. The sheen of its black fur shining in the few bits of glimmering light left before the sun sets completely. Its lazy lope carries it over the field from Fairbairn farm toward the road, slowing as it gets closer and being careful of small sticks and branches.

I'll take care of this.

The last thing Traa-dy-Liooar said to Jain on her way out of the house. She doesn't like it there but she doesn't have the capacity to take care of the man as Mairi can. She doesn't like it, but she endures.

Golden eyes find her prey and white teeth gleam as she smiles. It's a terrible smile, likely frightening to a casual observer but there are none here. Only she and him. For some reason, Jain is afraid of him.

The man may be of around the same age as Jain, but one wouldn't guess it from the look in his boyish face. Even before he's within range of the house, a toothy smile graces his mouth, making a dimple appear on one cheek as if he's thinking of something that makes him smile. Not overly large or strong looking, he probably couldn't stand up for himself against someone of Jain's caliber, but—

Luck can be on anyone's side someday. It's not really on Cas' side today, though, even as he glances up at the trees near the road, bare of leaves for the most part. Only a few scraggly dead ones still cling to the untamed branches. He doesn't even appear to be armed, except with a small belt knife, better for cleaning fish than anything else.

Using the bare scrub and naked trees as cover, Traa-dy-Liooar sneaks closer to the man on the road. She creeps low to the ground, long legs making it more awkward than when she's in the form of a shrew. Once she's in the ditch, she lies down, huddled in a long line, waiting for the right moment.

It should be any time now.

As she hears the crunch of his boots against the frozen mud and gravel, she straightens and ghosts onto the road just ahead of him.

Standing tall and proud, the black mastiff peels back its top lip, curling it as she growls. Yellow eyes almost gleam as she angles her head just right to catch the color of the setting sun. Mastiff's drool and this one seems to be practically foaming at the mouth.

While Cas may, in general, love animals, there are certain kinds of animals, like people, that he doesn't want to be around. The growl attracks his attention first, pulling his thoughts out of the air and he comes to an immediate stop. Brown eyes widen in surprise, the silly boyish smile fading on his mouth.

"Whoa— did— I— it's okay… dog. I'm not going to…" he starts to talk, voice carrying worry in his West Yorkshire tones. But he still tries to talk to it, as if his voice alone might tell the creature he's too scared to be a threat.

That and he already starts to back away, away from the farmhouse. Away from the drooling black dog.

Inwardly, the dog smiles with satisfaction, it's too easy.

Dropping her head down, she glares at the cowering man. Thick muscles ripple at her shoulders as she proceeds slowly, walking in the same direction that Cas is backing toward. Any stray step and she moves with it. A farmer might recognize the action as herding, Cas might even recognize it too, depending on his frame of mind.

His stammering is blocked out, mostly due to the fact that the dog doesn't care one way or the other what he's going to do. He doesn't have a gun at the ready and in this form, in any form really, she's fairly fast.

The blanket makes a flimsy shield, even, but Cas holds onto it. Never does he like throwing away something he worked hard to trade for. Whether intended as a gift or something for himself. That's probably why his clothing carries so many noticable patches. What he keeps, he keeps. Even if he has to sew it back together himself.

The knitted blanket probably wouldn't make good patching material, though.

Herding horses is something he understands, and his years living on a farm might also recognize it, but at the same time—

Usually he isn't the one being herded. And all he can see is the teeth, the mouth. And recall a body in the woods with his innards spilled out, with large dog-like prints nearby.

Backwards steps increase in frequency and speed, stumbling over rough ground, but managing not to trip and fall on his back. Perhaps by sheer luck.

As Cas moves backward, moving precisely the way the canine wishes, the growling stops. Snaking along the road, the black dog lets its lower jaw hang, a trail of drool dripping almost near its elbow. She's not fond of this form, too much spittle and not enough venom. At least it has teeth.

When he stumbles, she lunges forward. On a better day, if she liked him, if he was Jain, maybe, she would try to catch him. Maybe. Sometimes she wouldn't catch the love of her life but that's because he requires a firm hand.

Paws that spread as wide as a grown man's hand pin Cas down by the chest. The blanket makes good armor against unkempt nails, the little holes that she pierces through to the final layer are dirty at the edges. As though the dog has been walking too far for too long.

It had seemed a safe stumble, until the dog jumped on him. Cas hits the rough ground with a grunt, the wind knocked out of him while the weight of the dog keeps him still. The air in his throat becomes a ragged cry of surprise, not loud enough to be heard in the farmhouse, or by anyone who might be able to help him, but it is uttered none the less.

Struggling under the weight, he tries to push back against the dog, using the blanket as his only shield, as tries to drag his body backwards down the road. From the grimaces on his face the added weight didn't make that a good idea, likely scrapping his backside up a little on jagged rocks and broken frozen branches. The cold will likely mask that pain.

And the fear.

His struggles attempt to free himself, just enough to get up.

A long line of drool extends from the corner of Traa-dy-Liooar's jowls. Like a game bullies play with their victims, she aligns her face so that the spittle has the optimum chance of getting into his nose and or mouth. Then she shakes her head once to release it. Her two paws move after that sinister deed has been accomplished, only because it's uncomfortable to try to stand on Cas while he's trying to inch his way back.

Still, she stalks him. Following him slowly, stepping only an inch every time he gainst two.

Once he's up, she begins to bark loudly. Her voice in this form echoing over the fields, likely rousing the fear of farmers tucked into their homes for the night. Perhaps calling their own dogs.

More than a little of the spittle lands in the boy's mouth, from the way he gasps and spits as he gets to his feet. Cas doesn't have quite the same humiliating reaction as he had to seeing the man sprawled out in the woods, but it certainly is up there, with dirty hands mopping ot his mouth.

The freedom from the paws gives him the chance to crawl away a few feet and then get back upright, so that he can do the only thing that comes to mind as the dog starts to bark into the night.

Run. Quickly. With the blanket still clasped in hand trailing behind him, knitting ruined.

It's fun to chase him, at least for a while. Traa-dy-Liooar doesn't make a huge effort to knock him down again but the blanket does interest her. Wool is soft and a bit of it would do wonders for the times she is sulking beneath the cupboards and unable to crawl up to the pillow to lie with her love and whisper sweet things into his ear.

All because of damnable kestrels and their suspicious ways.

The dog grabs at the trailing blanket and stops dead in its tracks, wrenching its head to one side and then the other. She must have that blanket.

It perhaps says something about his nature that he tries to keep a hold of the blanket when she first grips it in her teeth. The colorfully dyed strings of yarn pull even more, unravelling at the broken edges, and revealing the pattern that strings across them.

A paisley pattern, by the dim light of the setting sun.

Cas actually pulls against her, for a whole few seconds, until he seems to realize exactly what he's doing. The blanket isn't worth his life, or his ability to walk. Or the insides hidden under his too fragile skin at his stomach.

"Fine, keep it," he chokes out in the same terrified tones, as he releases his grip and lets the dog take the blanket— so he can continue to run away. To the nearest safety he can find.

I will.

Quite aware that the man can't hear her, Traa-dy-Liooar still speaks, her tone as snide and as full of hubris as ever. Tossing her head to one side, she ends the argument over the blanket with a final shake if the thing. As though to make sure it's dead. Then she turns her back on him and trots away, head held down to snuffle along the ground and tail straight out.

Before he disappears completely, she stops and turns, letting the blanket drop from her mouth as she barks a final warning to him. Her terrority. Don't come back.

From the speed at which he runs, it is unlikely that Cas Blackburn will be coming back this way for some time.

And not only because he lost a present intended for the red headed widow.