In a night with no stars and no moon, a shadow stirred in the darkness. The creature knew it was being hunted and it knew by what. The howls in the night were closing in on them, she had to get her daughter to safety, she had to hide her. “Elaynia stay close, they are near now,” she whispered forcefully. Out of the shadows came a girl with red hair and freckles who was probably the age of six. “Mother I’m scared, what is out there?” Elaynia said fearfully. “Silence Elaynia, we must move stealthily, or we will both have an arrow-” Elaynia’s mother listened for a moment and waited hoping not to hear the noise again. Then the rattling of antlers on tree branches came once more. She knew it was too late they were here and she had failed. From the darkness stepped forward a humanoid figure, with fur, gnashing teeth, and the worst of all, long deadly antlers that rose from its head like wicked tree branches. “Run Elayn-” she gasped as she fell to the ground, a feathered arrow sticking out of her heart.
Elaynia turned back one last time as she heard her mother’s scream in the night air. She knew they were hot on her trail. What did mother say to do? Hide? But where? She thought to herself as she ran. “The Cave!” she exclaimed silently. The sound of hooves beating against the ground tirelessly as her pursuers started catching up with her filled Elaynia with a sense of hopelessness. “I must reach The Cave,” she said to herself. As she ran through the ominous black of the night she began to see something flickering between the trees running next to her. Oh no, they’ve caught up to me! She thought fearfully. Suddenly she heard the whistling of an arrow being loosed, and then in an instant, she felt the biting pain as it burrowed into her leg. She stopped running and let out a scream of pain and agony. The darkness peeled back and out walked her pursuer, ivory antlers glinting in the dim moonlight, it slowly approached and drew a long dagger from its belt. As the Hunter grew nearer, she felt the growing apprehension of what she knew was about to come.
The wolf looked up from its meal as it heard a scream pierce the cold black night. The wolf felt empathy for the poor creature that had fallen prey to them, but he knew there was nothing he could do for it now. The wolf’s acute hearing began to pick up something else though, someone running, and hooves not far behind. One still lives, he thought silently. He turned the other direction and he began to walk away to find someplace else the Hunters weren't so active, but then he heard another scream. A scream of a child that was afraid and about to die. A scream he knew all too well. He turned back the other way and began to speed his way towards the helpless child.
Before the knife sank into her heart a blur flew in front of her and then a ripping sound came as the Hunters throat was separated from his body. She stared in horror as she recognized the creature before her. “A wolf!” she screamed. The wolf stared back at her for a moment and then began to speak. “It appears I am,” he said with a snarl. “Now come on, there will be more shortly behind this one”. They stealthily moved through the night and the silence was only broken when Elaynia whispered “Why did you save me?”. The wolf looked at her for a moment with sadness in his eyes “I had a pup once” he said. “She was very curious and would always wander off at night, and one night she left the pack. We went out searching for her but the Hunters had found her first.” Elaynia silently nodded her head as she now realized why the wolf had saved her. “We are almost there now, stay close” he growled quietly. After a while, a cave appeared in the distance and Elaynia began to feel overwhelmed with joy. A place where the Hunters dare not enter, She thought ecstatically. Then her hope sank as two Hunters walked out from the night, the wolf began to snarl deeply. In a flash, the wolf was on one of them and savagely tearing at its face. The other Hunter drew his knife and ran into the fray stabbing the wolf in the hindquarters. The wolf wheeled around to face his assailant growling fiercely. “Get to the cave,” he said through gnashed teeth. Elaynia stared for a moment then made her decision. “I will not leave you,” she said confidently. The wolf pounced on the Hunter going for the throat, but the Hunter brought up his knife at the same instant and the wolf fell to the ground, quickly getting back up, but mortally wounded. The wolf howled a deep howl and in the distance, it was returned, coming from multiple directions. “Get to the cave now, others of my kind would see you more as food than anything else,” the wolf snarled desperately. Elaynia turned her back and ran knowing the Hunter would come for her after it finished with the wolf. She finally reached her haven and looked behind her one last time to see nothing in the moonless night. As she entered the shadows of the cave she felt the anxiety and fear begin to melt off of her. Her exhaustion finally hitting her, she crumbled to the rocky floor and began to cry- to cry for the loss of her mother and for the death of wolf and his sacrifice for her. After a long time passed she finally drifted to sleep, dreaming of being with her mother again, and somewhere far away from the Hunters.
Elaynia awoke suddenly to rustling outside the cave. Something was coming towards her. “Leave me alone!” she screamed hoarsely. “I have done nothing to dese-”. Out of the night came the wolf. Bruised and bloodied he fell to the ground at Elaynia’s feet and she frantically tried to tend to his wounds but he raised a paw and said “No use, I’ve already lost too much blood,” Elaynia looked at the wolf through teary eyes and said “You’ll be fine, just let me patch this up.” The wolf raised his head one last time and looked at her and said with his dying breath “You are safe now, Elaynia.” Off in the distance, Elaynia heard a howl long and deep that was filled with great sadness and grief.
The sun had not began to peek over the hills yet, but Elaynia‘s father was knocking at the door “Come on honey you need to get up and get ready, if you want to get there before the deer start moving.“ A wave of relief hit her as she realized that the horrors she had seen were only a dream. She walked out into the kitchen to see her father all in camouflage checking his bowstrings. Her father looked up from his bow to see his daughter was sobbing. “Elaynia are you okay?” he asked worriedly. She embraced him and said “I don’t think I can go hunting with you anymore“.