Return

(N.B., this is about +anima, just not obviously in this first chapter, ~Rapigeon)

Tasha patted the puppy's silky grey head, smiling at him as he flicked a paw and whined quietly. Jekyl was getting better, his soft stomach plump and sleek over his most recent meal, rather than hanging in scraggly tufts off the gaunt outline of his ribs, like it had been only a few weeks ago. But the bandage and splint still held his rear left leg still. The doctor had said that he might never run again.

"But we won't let that happen, will we, Jekyl? Will we boy?" Tasha said, picking the puppy up and snuggling him to her chest. Jekyl yelped, not appreciating the disturbance, and nuzzled at Tasha's collarbone. She laughed and hugged him tighter.

"Tasha, sweetie! I'm back!" Tasha looked up as she heard her mother's voice coming from the gate. Mirai had gone to Astaria city several days ago to sell the various little trinkets that they made, and hadn't yet met Jekyl.

"Coming Mother," Tasha called, and ran around the house, still holding the puppy.

"How have you bee - Oh my God!! Tasha what is that? IS that a wolf?"

"Wolf pup," Tasha corrected with a shrug. "I found him, and called him Jekyl."

Mirai was leaning against the fence, very pale.

"Put it back right now! Those things are dangerous, not to mention whatever diseases it could have!"

"But-"

"Now!!" Mirai's tone told Tasha that this was non-negotiable, as she pointed towards the forest, her hand shaking. "And don't try to smuggle it back in either."

"But he's hurt!"

"Wolves are meant to live in the wild Tasha, and definitely not this close to a village. So you have to put him back, even if he is hurt." Mirai's tone didn't soften at all.

Tasha bit her lip, it was so unfair. Her mother left her alone for weeks at a time, and now she wasn't even allowed to keep Jekyl to play with. As if sensing her despair, the wolf cub whined and pressed his wet nose into her shoulder. blinking, Tasha left teh yard, cradling Jekyl as she made her way into the wodds, golden-leaved with autumn. HE wriggled, trying to get down onto the ground so that he could romp among the cruncing piles of foilage that littered the forest floor, but TAsha held him tightly, worried that he might damage his injured leg, and not wanting to let him go.

*

It was getting late, as TAsha sat on the forest floor, still trying to think of something that she could do. She didn't want to lose Jekyl, nd knew he couldn't survive by himself, but if she took him back, then her mother might do something to him, like hurt him...

She jerked her heead around as she heard a howl in the distance. Jekyle whined in response, barking. Tasha backed up against the tree, hearing another howl, closer, louder. Jekyl barked again, ears twitching.

There was a rustle, and a ghostly shape appeared between the trees,shortly followed by a second and a third. Wolves.

Jekyl growled, springing out of Tasha's arms to stand in front of her, his injured leg held off teh ground as he snarled at the circling shadows.

"Jekyl, Don't!" Tasha screamed as one of the wolves leapt at her, but Jekyl jumped between them, fastening his needle teeth onto the wolf's paw. The wolf snarled, and sank his teeth into the puppy, shaking him like a rag doll and flinging him into a tree, with a sickening crunch. Tasha screamed again, ignoring the wolves as she ran to the cub, cradling his shattered body in her hands, blood running staining them, concealing the black caligraphic lines that began to form on her hands, running up her shoulders and around her face.

A second wolf leapt, fangs bared. Tasha snarled and turned, lashing out with her hand, knocking the wolf flying with a yelp. She twisted, ducking away from another wolf, and sinking her teeth deep into the dark fur, tearing through muscles and filling her mouth with blood. She punched him away with a clawed hand, and turned to fac ethe first wolf, who was favouring his front paw, her ears pricking at the sound of his panting. Tasha crouched down on all fours, circling, anger coursing through her, the hot tears trickling down her cheeks mixing with the hot blood smearing her face, and filling her mouth with the taste of revenge.

The wolf snarled and attacked, its claws slashing across Tasha's shoulder, slicing through her tunic and opening a deep gash. Tasha howled and bucked, attacking with both her hands and her fangs, rolling over and over on the damp bloodstained ground, trying to fasten on the wolfs neck. Eventually, with a spray of blood, she managed to bring her claws across it.

The wolf stilled and died, and Tasha stood up, staring at the bloodstained claws, surrounded by silky grey fur reaching halfway to her elbow, She felt fangs rubbing against her lower lip, and her hearing had become unnaturally acute. she reached up to touch her ears, but, like her hands, they had been replaced with the pointed grey ears of a wolf. Shaking, Tasha moved over to Jekyl. His little body was limp and still, already cold his once bright eyes flat and dark. Tasha felt tears well up in her eyes, as she gently put the brave little puppy back on the ground, and howled.