Story of a Hunt.

Westly stops, looking into the distance.  At first glance one could easily be mistaken for a tree in the frozen monochromatic woods.  He pauses, his eyes narrowed in the failing light as he sees the blot of warmth in the woods.  He smiles a little, and watches what the animal is doing…

( The deer is a Buck, a big one by the look of it.  It crunches through the snow with that superiority that says “I am master of this land”.   )

Westly frowns a little, he doesn’t like trying to take down healthy buck.  He looks around to see if there’s a harem following him, but when he doesn’t see one, he sighs, exhaling a slow breath that forms no vapor.

( The deer flicks its ears, hearing a sound in the distance, but it could have simply been the brush of the swirling snow.  It moves on, content that it is safe, that nothing in these woods is larger than it… )

Westly moves forward, his boots crunching softly through the crust of the snow.  He moves carefully, a dark predator in the slowly darkening woods.  He sneaks up on the beast, crouched low, his hands in the snow, uncaring of the cold against his pale skin.  He waits, wanting to see the animal off its guard, not wanting the chase to go too long, not sure if his own body would be able to handle it before it faltered and failed in the frozen night.  He wasn’t sure he should even BE out here, chancing the dangerous cold on a dangerous hunt.  Not that it would be the end of him easily, but his need to hunt had driven him here, and it was about to pay off…

( The buck is a cautious animal, though there are few predators about, it knows better than most, having survived a run-in with the other beasts of the woods before.  It exhales, breath a cloud of steam.  Something is moving out there.  Something is watching it.  It dances a little on its razor sharp hooves, trying to startle the predator it can only sense, but not see.  Another exhalation, after trying to scent fur and danger on the wind.  Nothing.  It should not be worried.  Perhaps the sensation is that of being watched by an ambitious ferret.  The stag, in an attempt to rid its self of anxiety, thrashes its antlers against a nearby sapling, creating quite the noise… )

Westly was about to think the jig is up.  He’d been trying to hunt upwind of the animal, but you came across them as you came across them.  He held as still as he could, trying to will himself in his dark clothes to match the monochromatic woods, whites and blacks in the snow and trees.  He watches the animal’s breaths, the way it raises its snout, ears rotating.  He knows it knows he’s out there.  He doesn’t think that it knows how dangerous he is, otherwise it would have begun running already…  As the animal is thrashing the leaf-less sapling, he sweeps around behind it, death on silent feet, boots crunching through the regretfully noisy snow and surface coating of ice.

( Eyes wide, the deer stops thrashing, turning its massive array of antlers as quickly as it can jerk its head around.  It stares, registering, trying to pick out the moving form from the rest of the darkness.  It does not know what it sees, this is not a beast of the forest.  Options filter through its head, stand? Fight?  Flee?  No, the way the animal on two legs is coming for it, there is no doubt that it, with its pale front paws extended, claws hooked, means to simply startle it.  Muscles bunch beneath fur, and at the speed of thought the animal is moving, powering its self through the trees. )

Westly couldn’t stop now if he wanted to.  His instincts stab through his mind, his body, forcing him to follow the animal at speed.  He’s fleet of foot, that much is sure, and he seems to have little trouble navigating the dark woods.  Like the others who look like him should.  He reaches the beast, the deer having difficulty with its large antlers in the smaller trees, he had known to do that, to slow the animal down, the way that elk were hunted in Ireland.  He manages to catch one of its flashing hind legs, and pull the weight of the animal upward with a jerk, intending to throw it off of its feet.

( The deer brays, a high squealing sound of fear as it feels an iron grip around its rear hoof.  If slashes out with is other leg, feeling it connect with something, even as the world spins around it, and it finds its self sliding on its side until it skids to a stop.  It wastes no time trying to pull its self up once more, fore hooves planted solidly on the ground, but it takes time for the animal to do that, and the predator is still on its feet… )

Westly reels, taking a blow across the face.  He staggers back, holding his wounded nose, feeling something cold and liquid in his hand.  He’s taken a hoof across the face, scratched nastily along his cheek, and probably broken his nose.  The beast inside of him howls in fury, how dare the prey react this way!  The vampire himself draw his lips from sharp curved fangs, the growl one of pain, frustration, and anger.  He watches the animal fall, a victory on his own part, and launches himself at it.  He grabs it around the neck, settling behind it, grabbing to its antlers, pulling it’s head back at what is obviously an uncomfortable angle.  He wraps his legs around the creature’s body, before he hisses “Shh…shh…” like one might do to a child.

( It feels the weight of the predator upon him, and panics, it can smell unnatural blood on the air, its limbs giving beneath it, no longer trying to stand, but instead throw the creature from its back.  It’s lungs are billowing furiously, heart pounding madly as it struggles, but feels no pain.  It feels the monster over it pull its head back, exposing its slender and vulnerable throat.  Panic again, thrashing madly.  It hears the soft sounds, above it, even over the rush of its own blood in its ears.  It seems to know its defeated, the dance of predator and prey has reached its conclusion. )

Westly isn’t a monster, despite what the monster inside of him, raking it’s sharp claws of hunger and bloodlust across his mind is trying to force him to do.  He coos quietly to the animal, telling it to calm down, rest, even as his legs tighten around its torso.  He knows the prey is his, this battle has been won, so he lowers his head to that pale white throat.  A brief sting, and the body of the deer goes rigid, then…relaxes, pawing lazily at the ground.  It looks almost kind, a man holding a terrified beast, so that it doesn’t hurt its self anymore in its frightened thrashing.  It’s a few minutes, and the man lifts his head, the flush of stolen blood obvious across the unwounded cheek.  He pants a moment, then looks up.  He unwraps his legs, and carefully as he can, he stands, still holding to the animals antlers.  He moves as far away as he can, and then releases it.

( The deer, dazed some thanks to the potent venom hardly realizes that the feeding has stopped.  But, the movement snaps it back to the here and now.  It watches the pale hands on its antlers, listening to the new heavy panting, seeing the predator’s breath on the frozen air.  The predator releases its antlers, and, without thought, the deer staggers to its feet.  It stares a moment, as if trying to understand why it would let him go.  It then turns, moving a little drunkenly away, it taking some time to get its self together enough to run, but run it does, tail flashing white, disappearing into the darkness. )

Westly pants hard and heavy, having fed deeply from the beast.  He touches his face, wincing a little, swearing softly at the fresh dark blood on his fingers.  He’d have to get someone else to straighten his nose for him, not being able to use a mirror to be sure its set properly.  He sits down in the snow, giving his aching body some time to feel the fresh meal filter to his cold limbs, and thaw him out a little.  He seems to suddenly realize how cold it is, and he gets up once more, shivering, face a half mask of blood from his wounds.

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