In the Wake of Giants


The Eager Rper
Janine struggled to do anything: standing upright, making a hit, biting a body, something... Anything! She had never been in a situation like this before with wolves before, and she tried to figure out what to do. Rarely had she gotten herself pinned down like prey, and even if it did happen, she would just over power them. But then again, no other enemy went for the legs like these wolves did.

Suddenly, Janine heard a horse crying out. Her mind immediately went to Raban - was he in trouble? Did he get hurt!? Out of nowhere, she felt a couple of her legs being freed by snapping jaws. Despite being shaken around, the demon took the opportunity to get them aimed at the wolves still attached to her.

Then she sensed a large presence approaching her and felt the wolf being pulled away from her neck. The wolf tried furiously to hang on, but Janine pulled herself in the opposite direction, and soon freed herself from the jaws of the wolf. Her world spun around from the vigorous shaking, but when she was even able to see better, she immediately saw her savior to be Raban. She was happy to see the newly shifted knight being able to fight in his new form, and alongside him was Chestnut as she tried to fight the wolves off her.

With the wolves preoccupied, Janine put her freed paws under her body and pushed them, ignoring the pain in them. The wolves did fight against Raban and Chestnut, but they still did try to go after Janine as their main target. The fact that she was pinned down for so long angered her to no end, and the fact that she put her new friends in danger gave her a resolution. Enough of these wolves; they were going to be put down - permanently.

With a fierce roar, Janine got on her hind legs to take the attention away from Raban and Chestnut, and rushed the closest wolf to her - the one Raban was occupied with. The wolf barked at her, but didn't get the chance to do anything, for she immediately snapped her fangs into its neck. She shook it around before throwing it to the ground, leaving it to writhe around and whine before succumbing to its fate. Her attention swiftly turned to the wolf that she scratched first, and when it leaped at her, she leaped up at the same time.

Her body went over it, but when they both went down, Janine slammed her tail right on its back - the wolf gave a short yelp before it collapsed on the ground, lifeless and limp on the leaf litter.
The wolf with the broken leg was easiest to deal with. One slap against its forelegs, and it snapped like a twig. Now that it was completely downed, Janine wasted no time in going for the kill.

Two wolves went down, and there were three left over. One by one the wolves were attacked by Janine, only going down when given a fatal blow. One more wolf was left, and it steadily hid in the bushes as Janine furiously went after it. Eventually, she backed away and waited it out in the open. Her hind feet instinctively thumped on the ground, the knowledge that danger being nearby still present. Suddenly, the wolf snarled as it came down on her from nowhere. The demon creature roared and jumped around like disobedient horse, trying to get the wolf off her back as it snapped its fangs around. With a huff, Janine leaped up and threw her weight forward, throwing the wolf off her back and onto the forest floor. It barked as it went after her once more, but Janine had had enough. She waited until the wolf was close enough before she opened her mouth, and the wolf's head went into the gaping mouth of fangs. She lifted her head up as the creature squirmed around, muffled yelps being heard from inside her mouth.

With a rattling tail, the demon beast lifted her head up and slammed the animal's body on the ground repeatedly, hitting it with more and more force until she threw it down. With it still on the ground, Janine took no time in placing a foot on the neck, and with a well placed stomp, she snapped the beast's neck. It's eyes were green for a little bit longer before they faded and went to what was assumed to be the wolf's natural eye color.

Panting heavily, Janine took a look at the damage that was done to the wolf pack. All five were dead, but Janine just couldn't trust it. She let out a furious roar and performed a series of actions that were all aggressive in nature: stomping her feet and thrashing her tail and slamming her paws into the leaf litter. She roared at the lifeless wolf, angry that they forced her and her friends' hand into killing them. When she was done, Janine huffed and paced around the trees before she paused and looked down at her legs and paws. Her head grew dizzy and she half collapsed, half laid down on the ground, panting heavily as she tried to understand why the trees were swirling around her.
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the Hugger Troll
Raban snorted as Chestnut cried out, his attention diverted to peer as a wolf lashed out at her, catching her across the face. Raban winced as he saw red streaks open across his skin. He looked back at the wolf he was hauling away from Janine and snorted again as it tried to free itself. He clamped his flat teeth held fast as it writhed and struck out at him. He half reared in pain when he felts its claws drag across a black hide.

They carried on trying to aid Janine and Raban was glad when he saw movement from her. He was worried that the wolves attack had been too much for her. It still could. He backed up slightly as she charged for the wolf in his teeth and had presence of mind to let go as she grabbed it. His sides heaved and he looked to Chestnut as she stood watching Janine deal with the remaining wolves with a rich fury. She was leaning on the sword point.

"Don't go blunting it. You all right?"
"What? Oh... Yes. New scars for your collection. "
"Same for you,"

Raban looked back to Janine as she finished off the last. He frowned, black eyes blinking before he lowered his head, inspecting the wolf Janine had left for dead. It looked nothing more than a normal wolf, a wolf that would have answered his dominance had he been in his lycan form but something told him that whatever power had held them would not have cared either way. Someone was after Janine and they were stepping up their game.

He stood and watched as Janine howled and roared her dominance. It was a curious thing to watch in another knowing he did it himself when he knew a wolf pack was near. He knew he was more lupine because of what he was but even though she was a demon, she acted more like a mountain lion. He smiled in himself at the thought. He blinked when she went down so suddenly and he moved towards her, his neck twitching before his head lowered next to Janine's. He snickered at her, nosing about her face and neck inquiringly.

"Chestnut... Something's wrong..."

The demon in his body looked up before moving over after struggling a little to sheathe his sword. She looked at Janine and cocked her head to the side, unsure as to what was wrong with her. Chestnut walked by Janine's side after looking her over. She frowned before she moved to a wolf's body and grabbed the jaws, opening them before chucking it to the side again.

"No difference. Just normal wolves..."
"Even normal wolves can kill... You'll need to check her wounds."

Chestnut looked at him before she sighed, moving to the saddlebags in which knew Raban kept ointments, salve, bandaging and spirits for cleaning wounds out. She took the alcohol but left the rest before moving back to Janine.

"Janine?" Chestnut asked, trying to see what wounds there were.


The Eager Rper
Hissing pants forced their way out of Janine's mouth, her chest heaving up and down from the fight. As much as she hated to admit it, she wasn't sure if she would've made it by herself. They weren't normal for some reason, and she couldn't figure out why, but with them going for her legs and head, she was almost prey.

Maybe that was a sign that she needed to tighten her fighting skills. Get stronger, faster, more harder to pin down and kill. But she'll deal with that later. Raban's head suddenly appeared into her view, and she stuck her tongue out at him before she craned her neck, to see her wounds.

Blood trickled from her wrists and heels, mostly the wound from the one who first initiated the attack on her hind leg. With all the adrenaline coursing through her veins, she was basically able to ignore the pain, but of course once that went away, it all came crashing back down.

And the pain in her leg increased twofold. What the hell?

"It.... It burns," Janine muttered as she kept shifting her bitten leg. It felt familiar, but she couldn't place an immediate source to the pain, at least not yet. For some reason, she felt herself building up slightly more aggression, like it was... forcing it out of her.

The burning sensation had spread to the rest of her body, but it wasn't as bad as her leg itself - just very uncomfortable. But it did make her slightly more snappy.

"The hell did that wolf do?!" Janine snarled. She paused and took her gaze to Raban, then Chestnut as she went to her to see her wounds. Her neck puffed out a little, but she couldn't help but whimper a little before she lowered her neck back down to the ground.


Damnit. They actually injured her, even if it was a little. Like a horse or rabbit, she needed her hind legs to be fully okay before she could move properly.

"Just need to lay down... for a moment.... Yeah," Janine panted as she shifted her head on the softer leaves.
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the Hugger Troll
Raban watched Janine for a long moment before he gave a trouble whinny without realising he had given one. A horse was less watchful of its emotions even it been well trained to withstand warfare. He could do nothing and it enraged him. He wouldn't be able to renter his own body for another day or so, it was one major drawback of the body switch and yet another reason why he disliked it.

"It's burning... What's that supposed to mean?"

Raban looked at Chestnut in her thought question and frowned. Burning was something a fire demon relished doing and did. There was no other kind for her but the more Raban thought on it, the more he realised that this was not fire they ought to fear. He looked back at Janine before he blew air huffily out through large nostrils.

"Feel one of her wounds. Does it sting, tingle, bring a reaction to you?"

Chestnut moved round in a clink of chainmail and creak of leather boots before she felt the wound in Janine's leg. She frowned with his brow at him and nodded. Raban snorted, not liking it all all before he nosed more about Janine's face trying to get her to calm down.

"See if you can find that bottle in the saddle bag... Should be there,"
"That grey one with the sludgy stuff in?"
"Mhm, It may help slow it down... It's what I use on you when you get bitten by snakes in the grass,"
"Hate those things."

Chestnut stood and moved to his side, rummaging within the saddle bags, even going through the secret compartments that Raban had installed for drastic measures. He had no qualms about what he was and knew if there was no other way to stop him, silver was the only way.

"Tell her, Chestnut. I can't. You're the one with the vocal chords,"
He reminded her knowing how irritating it was to be kept in the dark. Chestnut thew him a dark look back but she did oblige.

"Raban says it may be some kind of poison. He has a something... Here we go, always at the damned bottom. He should really pack better."

Raban snorted before he lay down, staring at Janine in worry and concern, ignoring the whinnies of a worried horse nearby. Chestnut returned and opened the bottle, wrinkling her nose at the smell.

"This... might sting... I think," Chestnut warned as gently as her high spirited and blunt nature could allow for. It was as close as to an aplogy Janine was likely to get as Chestnut followed Raban's internal instructions and applied the brown sludgy mixture after washing the wounds out with the alcohol.

"Raban says you'll need to stay calm... as you can. He's not wrong in that. The quicker your heart beats, the faster blood is pumped round the system. Pain in the arse really," Chestnut muttered as she worked with fingers not her own. She glanced as Raban peered towards the wolf and huffed air again.

"Raban is worried that those wolves were not the only ones watching, they were certainly under some spell and someone's been fiddling. If there was someone watching... Means all our secrets could potentially be known. It's clear someone wants you dead."


The Eager Rper
Janine felt herself growing fearful. What was happening to her? Was she going to be alright? Her claws continuously flexed in and out as she tried to ride out the pain. Janine had always considered her pain tolerance to be fairly high, but this particular pain just made her insides cringe and tense up. Her body wholeheartedly rejected whatever this stuff was, so it obviously wasn't good for her. Chestnut said Raban suggested that it could've been a poison, so she wondered what it was, since she was able to absorb venom and neutralize it. Were venom and poison different from each other?

Raban's presence did calm her down, and she appreciated it greatly. If she was alone with this affliction, she'd panic and probably make it worse. She heard Chestnut's warning and nodded her head, bracing herself for the sting that may hit her wounds.

Just when the sting presented itself, Janine hissed and curled her tail a little. It was startling, but she could breathe through it, so she relaxed a little. The serpentine head turned to Chestnut as she voiced Raban's concern. Her gaze then turned to the wolves spread out on the forest floor. Wolves under a spell? That could explain the strange glowing eyes. It could also explain the relentless energy - the fact that they kept going even after they were severely injured. If they were normal at the time she would've given the wolves some respect, but it wasn't the case. She looked to Chestnut and sighed.

"I.... can't see who would want me dead. I just can't. I never thought that I was so sloppy as to reveal what I was.... How do you figure that out, if you've kept to yourself most of the time? How can you make the most accurate guess?" Janine asked as she looked between Raban and Chestnut.


the Hugger Troll
Chestnut worked through every wound should could physically find knowing that her Little Wolf would wish her to be thorough since he was unable to do this for himself right now. Of all the damned luck for them to have struck when they had. It was as if they had been waiting for that very chance, which would not surprise the demon at all. Raban was at his weakest when he was human. He could still die from a silver weapon to his heart and it was always easily to kill a werewolf in their human state than it was in their non human state. There was only so many ways a horse could fight off something that was designed to attack and kill prey animals.

Raban remained with her, keeping his large head close to hers knowing at least she hadn't been alone. He would not have liked finding her much later than he had and was glad Sir Kiegal had sent him after after rather than any other Knight. For all he knew, it was another Knight that was behind all this. He shook his mind at that. If it was another Knight, why were they acting with underhanded tactics and waiting till she was in the forest before raising such an attack. He couldn't discount the plausibility that it was one of their own behind this but he knew if that Knight was using some kind of sorcery to ferret her out... they would equally find themselves in trouble. Sorcery was not something most understood well enough to lack fear for.

He listened with pricked ears as she spoke and asked them a question. Chestnut glanced at Raban who flicked an ear, seeming to answer in return before Chestnut replied for them both.

"Raban didn't know what I was until I could be sure of his intentions. I played the dumb horse for weeks after he had rescued me, little demon. He was clueless for a good while, just as as I was about him. I learned he had honour, trust and seemed to have a genuine desire to help other without thought to his own safety. Damned reckless if you ask me... Don't give me that Raban, " It appeared Raban had flipped his lip at her again.

"I did not trust humanity at all back then. They were all beneath me, meat sacks for the fires that burn. I could not see how they could rise from the muck and learn to be more than that what society dicated of them. Little Wolf showed me that I was wrong, but it was a secret I kept close for a very long time."

She paused after giving her end before speaking again, "As for my Little Wolf... he was lucky. He might have lost his family, but through one man's kindness and understanding regardless of the code that spoke against it, he gained a new one. However, it was a family he could not share his secret with."

"We've kept our secret to ourselves as much as possible... but there are those who hunt what we are. Hunters who refuse to believe anything human could remain in a werewolf or a demon. They don't want to understand. They wish to remove the blemish from their perceived society's norms. It is why my kind have closed their doors to them for so long. The human world is one of banishment, a prison cell. Fancy that for cold shoulders."

Chestnut looked at her, "We may not know who, but someone does want you dead. Someone you once knew perhaps, someone who just hunts our kind or someone you might have pissed off unknowingly. Who knows, but those beasts ignored us two and we're just as dangerous,"

"As for learning secrets... That often takes time, a slip up on the hunted's part or they already know and have take this long to do something. Raban says it may be worth asking your mother if there's anyone who may wish you dead, or harmed. She's the one who knows your younger life and the people who came and went,"

Raban rested his head gently against Janine as he let Chestnut speak the most she had in his body since the first time they had done this. It was bugging him that there may be someone out there that knew everything now. None of them were safe, but they both had a duty to uphold. To run now would be to forsake that duty and lose trace of the one behind it all.


The Eager Rper
Janine sighed. The information was a lot to take in. The possibilities were many, and none of them less dangerous than the others. She hoped that she didn't make anyone mad - it would give them the ideas that only a vengeful person would think of. What was their ultimate goal?

She somewhat hoped it was a Hunter.... They might have strong beliefs in their work, but maybe... Just maybe, she could change the person's mind. But then again, who knows how long that would take. Not to mention that they'd be specialized in hunting demons and werewolves and goodness knows what else.... Not only would Janine truly be in danger, so would Raban and Chestnut....

She shook her head with a hiss. So many dangers, so many scenarios. And she had only one way to figure it out. She had to ask her mother when the day was done. Maybe her stories would help give some insight into this threat. She just hoped that she didn't give herself away unknowingly.

Janine scoffed and shook her head. "Great. Just wonderful." She lifted her serpentine head to Raban and gave a soft hiss. "Never a dull moment in the forest when we come around is there?" Janine amused with a hissing chuckle. She then turned to Chestnut and nodded her head.

"Thanks for putting that stuff on me. I think my wounds feel better. Maybe my body.... But it could be wishful thinking."

Janine shifted her body to put her legs under her body, moving slowly to make sure she didn't poke or scrape at anything. She then slowly put her weight on her paws, being especially careful on her hind legs, and got up on her feet.


the Hugger Troll
Raban raised his head as she looked at him and snickered in return. It followed an earlier thought that from the first moment, this forest had nothing but a weird ride for them both. Something had happened every time they'd been in here. Perhaps the forest itself was cursed or was watching. He had rumours of forests like that but he didn't know if this one was one of them.

Chestnut nodded, "Take it slow, little demon. Raban says we probably should head back soon. Kiegal will start to wonder what's taking so long,"

Raban snorted, there was never any rest for the wicked when you were one of the order. There were rules and protocols for everything. Well, mostly everything. It had nothing for sane werewolves and friendly demons. He rose to his feet with far less grace than Chestnut would achieve but he was on his hooves and that was all that mattered. He stood as Chestnut returned the alcohol and salve to the saddle bags.

"Will you be all right to change back?" Chestnut asked, her head tilting slightly before she moved to put the armour Raban had removed back on his body. He snorted at every moment she got a particular part of it wrong and she in turn corrected herself.


The Eager Rper
When Chestnut asked if she could change, ahe looked to herself with uncertainty. She looked down at her feet before she moved her feet carefully for a moment, wanting to gauge her body before doing anything else. When she was sure that she could move properly without hidden complications - minus the one stumble from her front paw - Janine sighed and nodded to herself, then looked to Chestnut and nodded. "Yeah, I can change back." Janine said as she sat down and initiated her change. When she was done, the young half-demon would be sitting down in a criss-cross position, with small scratches on her body from the scuffle earlier. She wasn't sure how long she'd been in her demon form, but she was just happy that she wasn't going any further down that aggressive and emotional spiral. She was sure that if it continued past today, she'd most likely would've revealed her other half to all of Amastad.

She was very fortunate that Raban and Chestnut were following her - if it was anyone else, they would've been attacked.... and possibly severely injured. Getting up on her feet, Janine looked to her comrades and smiled softly, suddenly unable to see how she'd manage this long on her own. But then again, she never had this much stuff happening to her before. Either way, she's gained friends... Today was special in that sense. She couldn't wait to tell her mom about it.

The woman walked over to her horse and observed him. He was whinnying every once in a while, eyeing Janine warily. He must've still thought that she was too dangerous to be near. Understandable. Once a horse has perceived something as a threat, it's hard to have them to see it as otherwise.

Janine sighed. She hoped that Venus was better. She'd have to check up on her when she got back home. Petting and stroking the animal softly, Janine shushed the stallion to relative silence, not withstanding the few snorts and huffs from his nose.

"Hi there. Sorry about these last several days. I'm not normally like that, I promise. I was just having a lot of bad days. A lot of them. Let's just go slow with this okay?" Janine said as she got on the horse's back. She untied the knot that attached the stallion to the tree, and took the reigns. After a few moments of walking around and getting used to his girth again, Janine looked back to Raban and Chestnut.

"How are you Raban? You okay with running?" She asked with a concerned voice.


the Hugger Troll
Raban listened as he practised his walking in circles once again just to get used to the feeling of four legs that could not walk on two. He could feel Chestnut watching him with amusement for a moment before she finished up putting his armour back on. He stumbled a couple of times before he got used to the gait knowing that soon enough he would be taking weight upon his now equine back and knew too that he'd be expected to trot too.

"It's not that hard, little wolf. Front left with right hind, right front with left hind"
"One thing being told... another thing doing..."
"Don't worry, tomorrow, you'll be you again,"
"Can't wait!"

Chestnut snickered at his response before looking back to Janine and nodded, "Take your time, little demon." Chestnut moved to Raban pausing him in his stride to take the lead reign and mounted up, resting in the saddle allowing time for Raban to get used to his own weight. She supposed that'd be a hard thing to get used to in some ways. She nudged Raban's sides and he snorted before he walked his circles again.

He felt the nudge again and knew this was Chestnut's way of teaching, her words of gentle reminder of the stride fluttering about his mind. He attempted to follow the commands, his pace increasing awkwardly, stumbling here and there and paused when Janine spoke. His ears lowered and flicked before he snorted lightly.

"He'll try... He just won't be as fast as your steed. Little practise, Raban will make for a fine steed, no?" Chestnut smirked, earning herself another flipped lip of reproach.

"Let's go," Chestnut nodded and helped Raban turn round, picking his way through leaf litter. It took him a little while to do but he eventually got the rhythm of the trot.


The Eager Rper
Janine nodded her head and turned her steed around as Chestnut made her joke. She chuckled, and nodded her head as Raban began his trot.

Along the way, Janine kept giving a mental note of her bodily state. While the salve was very helpful, she wanted to make sure that she wasn't going to be sucker-punched by some delayed or hidden side effects.
She also thought about today as a whole. And then she thought about Raban saying that she needed to explain everything to her mother. She sighed inwardly, beginning to think the same. Perhaps she needed to know, just so she wouldn't be completely in the dark. Maybe Her mother being completely oblivious to her problems would be detrimental at some point.

She thought that maybe it would be the same for Raban and Chestnut. They are her comrades after all. She turned to the knight and horse with a small clearing of her throat.

"I'm happy that you two came for me instead of someone else. I'm afraid that I would've hurt everyone else who'd approached me.... Chestnut, I'm sorry that I attacked Raban earlier. I.... Believe that I was angry that he spoiled my hunt... I was attempting to hunt a rabbit at the time. See, every once in a while I feel the urge to eat.... Wild things. No matter how much domestic food I eat, I steadily get hungrier and hungrier, and my impulses and desire to hunt things get more and more stronger. That unfortunately includes aggression and seclusion."

Janine sighed and shook her head. "I would've gone and hunted way before this got out of hand. I would've gone out and hunted that same night it presented itself, but my senses detected danger. I kept getting this horrible feeling that I was being watched, and I went inside in fear of being found out.... It kept happening every night, and I guess I grew too fearful to do anything without the risk of revealing myself. My mom tried to hunt for me, but a normal human can only do so much, otherwise why would we make traps?" Janine lightly joked.

"The aggression is one thing, but the fear just made everything so bad, and I ended up making everyone afraid of me. Again, I'm happy that Raban hunted for me; I seriously think that we got very lucky that I got better despite me not hunting the deer. Maybe it accepted the deer after me hunting the mice."

Janine looked down to her hands and thought about what to say next. "My mom of course knew about this, but I tried to keep it hidden from you two because I was embarassed about it. Like, how many people do you know eat mice whole?" Janine asked with a sheepish shrug of her shoulders.


the Hugger Troll
Raban knew it was going to be a strange day of mind probing from Chestnut. Since they were linked and knew everything about each other except for the reason she had been punished, he didn't have to worry too much about her giving the wrong responses. She knew him well enough by to gauge what he would say and what he wouldn't. It helped that Raban largely kept to himself whilst staying in keeping with the Order as required of him out of his instinctual need to not draw too much attention to himself. He was more concerned what to do in the meantime. He was well aware he couldn't walk about aimlessly nor ask people things since he currently lacked the right vocal chords. Raban knew he had potential hours of being kept in a stall with nothing to keep him busy but hay and other horses.

Janine spoke and his ear flicked towards her indication that he had heard but he was busy focusing on maintaining trot without slipping up. He didn't want to throw himself. He snorted, it was all very weird. Even to themselves. Chestnut looked at her and grinned, chuckling a little as she listened to Janine's apology to hurting her little wolf. It seemed strange to her now that she was in the safe knowledge that Janine could handle and stop Raban when the moon held her sway. It may mean broken bones for him but Chestnut knew that unless Janine stabbed him through the heart with a silver pointy object, it was something that Raban would prefer and would never heed a thought to mind.

"Don't you worry about hurting him, Janine," Chestnut replied, shaking her head, "He heals quickly. Only reason he doesn't that often is because there's usually other people around at the time. Humans don't heal as fast as werewolves do, so he has to keep control of that otherwise he gives up the game."

"Doesn't help I forget what a human rate of healing actually is these days,"
"Heh, that's a 'you' problem, little wolf,"

"You don't have to apologise for it. You are what you are. A predator. Like Raban, you're made for the hunt, the chase, the kill, little demon. Next time though, do tell Raban. He understands what thirst is. Perhaps better than most."

Raban snorted but kept his mind on his stride, it faltered slightly but it was clearly he was picking it up well enough to look more or less natural.

"The only difference in your thirst compared with his is that you can sate it with animals. Raban... isn't that fortunate. His uncontrolled state might chase a deer if it spots it fleeing, as it calls to a wolf's thrill of the hunt, the chase, but the were half... it's weird, it almost always seeks fellow meat sacks. Thus why he has to distance himself so,"

"Raban says to not be embarrassed and wishes you to know you can ask him about anything."


The Eager Rper
Janine looked to Chestnut as she acknowledged her apology. She was happy that she didn't get any malicious or hateful response, as she really didn't mean to hurt him. The fact that he could heal quickly was a bit relieving. But neither her nor Raban could afford to abuse the ability, lest they be found out by whoever was playing these mind games with Janine.

The young woman nodded her head at Chestnut suggesting that she tell Raban next time. They didn't taunt her or judge her this first time around, and Raban apparently knew about this kind of pull, so she would make sure to tell them the next time it happens, although she hopes it won't happen for a long while.

"It kinda makes sense. The wolf side anyway. Strange urges drive the were side though.... is it possible to stay far from humans, or will his senses always find a human to.... find?" Janine asked.


the Hugger Troll
Raban felt minutely weird to be talked about without being able to speak verbally. He had to speak through Chestnut as she did through him when she was in the horse. He put it out of mind. It couldn't be helped. He would be stuck like this for a while yet and for a time it might serve them

"How humans have survived for so long with only the basic of senses is something most would find peculiar. Raban's gets heightened sense in his normal, human state but when he's in form? They are so much more. He could track a human even if they were a week away from his location. Werekind are supernatural, born of the night and shadow."

"Yes, human blood will often be the only thing that will satiate the beast until the moon releases its hold on him or, as we now know, for as long as you can keep him restrained. For him, the drive of the thirst is... hum... overbearing, as he puts it,"

Chestnut readily explained his intricacies. He was a freak not only to humankind but to werewolfkind as well. He was what they yearned and envied to be. So he was an outsider from two social realms. She knew Raban did not wish to ever have to come to face with the ramifications of anyone finding out, especially the Order. He understood what position Janine was in and by association, he was held to a similar position. He had an interest in finding out who was behind this before they routed him out too.

((So sorry for the delay! I forgot to tell you we were moving. We're now in the new house :D))


The Eager Rper

Janine nodded her head as Chestnut explained the primal thirsts of a werewolf. It was, admittedly, unnerving and concerning - but only in the sense that she felt for Raban. He must hate feeling his own humanity pulled away from him in the face of an uncontrollable thirst… But what if she felt that as well one day? Some intense thirst that pushed down her humanity and unleashed the full capabilities of her demonic side? A dread-filled shudder shook her at the thought. She had her own urges herself, yet they were different. In any case, she hoped that they didn't have to deal with the likes of either her own urges, nor Raban's urges for a good while.
She proceeded to talk to Chestnut and Raban for the entire trip to the edge of the forest, injecting a few jokes here and there to lighten the mood. Thankfully, nothing had stalked them, or at least, Janine didn't sense anybody stalking them. She had enough of the ridiculously dangerous incidents that seemed to happen every time they went in the forest - she had the foreboding feeling that this would become some strange habit, though she hoped that it was just her imagination. Finally, the three had reached the edge of the forest, overlooking the city of Amastad.

Janine felt a little nervous as she looked to the sky. Damn, it was damn near sundown already. How did the time fly so damn fast? With a small clearing of her throat, Janine continued on, her mind racing on what to say to Sir Kiegal when she got to the courtyard. She steered her horse through the open gates, through the large crowd of people, and made a few turns before they made it to the courtyard without a hitch. Janine paused as she stared inside the walled area - she could see Sir Kiegal on his horse, talking to someone else. She looked to Raban and Chestnut in their switched bodies, and nodded towards them, but not without saying 'wish me luck' on her way inside.

She and Sir Kiegal spoke for about five or six minutes before being sent on her way back home. She was especially fortunate - it seemed as if the older knight figured that she was going through personal problems at home and couldn't keep up with the emotional pressure. He gave small anecdotes pertaining to similar problems in his youth, and how to deal with them. He then gave Janine a slight punishment regarding her behavior from earlier in the day, and sent her home. Thankful for such a merciful leader, Janine took today at heart. She had to remind herself that she had a little more friends and a little less enemies in her life, and that they were going to be there for her, as she was for them. She had to remember this, or else risk losing control like she had done these last several days.
She led herself home, excited to tell her mother the good news.


When she finally got home, Janine unsaddled her horse and put the saddle away, then let him loose in the designated area for himself and Venus. Janine went over to her recovering horse and brushed her body for a short moment.
"Hey girl. How are you? Your leg is holding up?" Janine asked her equine comrade. The headstrong mare snorted as she tried to pick up some of her rider's hair with her lips, making Janine giggle as she gently nudged the mouth away.

"Come on girl, knock it off! But I miss you too. Here, I got you a treat," Janine said as she lifted three shiny apples, one of a different color. The horse seemed to beam with an excited nicker, and reached out to eat one, in which Janine stepped back several feet. The mare snorted as she watched the apples get further away from her, soon to stomp a hoof into the ground. Janine laughed.

"You can have them if you walk over here. It's not that far," Janine said with a small smile. Venus snorted softly before smoothly getting to her feet - which was already a good sign of a nice recovery - and went towards her owner. Janine studied the gait and smiled, knowing that her horse was almost ready to get back out and ride her again. She gave Venus an apple as promised, and examined her as she ate her apple. The scratches on her hind leg were healing rather nicely, but she wanted to be safe than sorry.

"I'm so happy that you're getting better, but I'm gonna have you stay here for another day or two, just to be safe," Janine said with a small pat on the back. Venus snorted and neighed in what seemed to be protest, and Janine backed out of the stable with her hands up. "I'm sorry, but I just want you to be better. I can't have you running around when you aren't ready to go back out. Just a couple more days, okay? In the meantime, why don't you run around with Headmire? It could be fun for you," Janine said with a smirk as she gestured towards the large and hefty stallion. Venus snorted as she flipped her lip upward, making Janine laugh as she sat the two apples down. "Ohhh, stop it. I don’t think he’s that bad. Play nice alright?" Janine said as she walked towards the house.

When she walked inside the house, she closed the door slowly, so she wouldn't scare her mother. "Mom? I'm home."

But there was no answer. Hmm. Perhaps she went to go get some food for dinner? Either way, it allowed her to get more comfortable for the rest of the evening. She went upstairs to undress her armor and into more comfortable clothing.

She went downstairs to wait for her mother, getting an apple to snack on as she did so. As she waited, Janine looked towards the fireplace, staring blankly as she swirled the events of her day in her mind. Soon, the door opened. Janine reflexively stood to her feet, her eyes focusing on the woman entering the house. Her mother didn’t see her at first, but when she turned around, she saw Janine at the table. Janine immediately sensed her mother’s fear rise the moment they laid eyes on each other, which made her sigh sadly. She never meant for this to happen. To make her own mom afraid to be near her…. It just made her shake her head solemnly.


The woman hurried over to Janine and sat the basket that was in her arms down on the table. “Now Janine, I know that you said that I wasn’t supposed to go outside -”


“- but I had to go shopping for dinner. And besides, I am the mother here, not you. So I can go in and out of my house as I please.”

“Mom, you -”

“Don’t interrupt me! I know what you're gonna say, and I’m sorry. That being said, I brought something for you.”

“Mom, seriously, I -”

But Janine couldn’t get a word out before her mother revealed a well tied up sack from out of the basket.

“I normally wouldn’t have ever done this, but since this is an emergency dinner, I made an exception - I know you have your preferences sometimes.”

Janine eyed the sack before grabbing it. The scents from inside the sack wafted to her nostrils, making ehr sniff reflexively before gasping softly. Was it really? She untied it slowly, and when she finally opened the sack, her suspicions were confirmed: in the bag were six large rats laying still on top of one another.

“Well? Aren’t you gonna eat? This is what satiates you right? I want you better by the time morning comes along. Now go along, shoo. Go on and eat it upstairs,” Janine’s mother said.

Janine couldn't help the tears that formed in her eyes. One by one they streamed down her face, making her mother’s facial expression soften immediately. “Oh dear. Why are you crying? What are you doing that for? Shouldn’t I be the one crying?”

“Mom. I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“For making you feel this way. For doing all this for me. I’ve been trying to tell you that I’m fine now. I’m all better. I’m normal now - ya know, what evr normal means for us. I’ve finally eaten, so I’m good for a while,” Janine said behind her soft crying gasps.

Her mother paused to take in the words she heard, and the tone they were said in. When she finally processed them, she began to cry as well. The mother and daughter hugged one another in a relieved embrace. “Oh, Janine. I’m so so relieved. You have no idea how worried I was about you. You had me so worried.”

Janine looked at her mother’s face, shaking her head softly. “I’m so sorry. About everything. I should’ve told you what was happening to me from the beginning. I just didn’t want you to -”

“Cause a scene? Is that what you were gonna say?” Janine’s mother asked.

Janine gave a sheepish chuckle. “Oh… Um… Nooo? Okay, yes. Kind of. But I was mainly worried about you being caught in the crossfire. I don’t want anything to happen to you,” Janine said with a sigh. Her mother put her hand on her daughter’s shoulders, shaking her head slowly.

“Child, if something is going on with you, it is going to affect me, whether you like it or not. Who’s to say that something won't happen to me, just for being your mother? Anybody who has an inkling of intelligence knows that the quickest way to your enemy’s mind is to go after what they care about most. And for you, that means a few things; and anybody who’s seen you for any more than twenty minutes will have to be blind to not know that you care for your own. It’s just as simple as that.

Janine sighed and nodded her head. What ehr mother said was true - but she wished that she wasn’t right. “I know mom. But I just wish that I could do something about it. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Janine, baby, if I didn’t want to deal with all this, I wouldn’t have you. Hell, I wouldn't have married your father. I knew what I was getting myself into the moment I fell in love with him. Do not think that you are a burden on me Janine. Yes, you drive me crazy sometimes, but what child doesn't do that to their parents? And besides, your mother’s not completely useless - remember, I taught you a little of the basics about horse riding. And how to defend yourself. Everything else was from the Guard and your father. I’m pretty sure I could help you with some things if you asked me. I thought you told me what was on your mind?”

“I know. I was just…. So rattled about the incident. I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t a good feeling really.” Janine said with a sigh. Being what she was, she subconsciously developed the idea that she was the main protector of the house. Be it from strange men or dangerous animals or rampaging dragons, she was the one to keep her family safe. The mentality was exhausting, but she kept dutiful in that ideal for years, even before she strove to be part of the Guard.

Her mother nodded with understanding, despite never really being in that specific situation before. She may have never been attacked before, but she knew how bad of a feeling it was when you felt helpless. Like you can’t do anything on your own.

“Sweetie… I may not be as strong as you, but I can still help you. You just have to let me help you. I’m your mother for god’s sake! If I can’t at least assist you in your life, then I’m a failure as a mother,” Janine’s mom said as she looked down to her lap.

Janine shook her head. “Mom, you’re strong. Mentisly strong. And physically. You can still slap someone pretty hard; you’re not a failure. Ever.” Janine said with a tight hug. “But…. There is something that you can help me with. I’m… Unsure about my abilities. Papa and I were the same, right?”

Her mother blinked in confusion as she pulled back a little. “Yes… Why do you ask that?”

“I was wondering if you knew my strengths and weaknesses. I want to be able to fight it off or at least know when I’m in danger. It’s the only way to know if I can confidently fend for myself if someone wanted to exploit me any further. I just want to know what I have to watch out for.” Janine explained as she put her hands in her lap.

Her mother pondered on the question, but she only took about a minute before shaking her head. “Sorry baby. I’m afraid that I don’t know much. We never really talked much about vulnerability - not sure if he just avoided the topic, or if the topic never came up.”

Janine blinked in surprise. “Really? You being with someone like Papa, and you never asked not one question about him? Not even out of curiosity?”

“Well, we did do a lot of things, but surprisingly, we had more discoveries regarding personality and behavior. Questions about weaknesses just never happened. Maybe he didn’t feel confident in explaining in detail…. Or maybe I just never wanted to impose on him. It didn’t seem too important to me.”

Janine sighed softly to herself at the answer given to her. Strange how no questions were made about her father. She figured that anybody would be all over a demon with questions if they were somehow together. So strange indeed. The young woman stared at the wall in front of her as her mind searched for answers. What were her weaknesses then? How would she defend herself?

“However, I did happen upon a couple of curious events that happened to both you and your father. Perhaps they can help you understand yourself better?” Janine’s mother asked. Janine tilted her head for a second before nodding it. Why not? Even if she might’ve rembre something.

“Oh really? Okay. What do you remember?”

“I do remember the first winter with your father. He was nervous during the fall. He shivered more often than usual, and became focused on gathering wood for the winter. I understood why he was worried about being warm, considering how cold the winters got, but I thought he was being a little... extra if you will.”

Janine paid close attention to the story - she always liked hearing a story about her father, since her mother seemed to have endless amounts of them.

“When winter came around, I asked him why he was so uptight. He said that he was worried about food and keeping warm. He couldn't handle the cold, he told me. I rubbed his shoulder and said that I didn’t like the cold either, but he just shook his head and said that I didn’t understand. When he said that, I immediately grew worried, because when he said that, I suddenly had this ominous feeling. So I watched your father gather as much wood as he possibly could, and hunt animals to the point where I had to interfere. When winter finally came around, we stayed inside for the majority of the winter - until one night, he decided to go check on the few animals we had.

Janine blinked at the story being told by her mother. She couldn’t recall this story being told - that, or she couldn’t remember it being told this way. “What happened to you? Was this when I was around?”

“Oh no, Janine. This was a few years before you were born. He went to go outside, and I offered to go outside instead, but he just told me to keep the fire going. So I stayed, rather reluctantly might I add. I waited for your father to come back around the corner, since the animals we had were only chickens, cows and horses. At first, the time went by and it was easy to forget the fact that it was supposed to be a quick endeavor. But as time passed, I realized that he should've been back already.

I waited for him as patiently as I could, but the time was passing too long. I got up and peeked my head outside to see where he was, but I didn’t see anything. However, I heard the horses crying out. Worry settled inside me, and I hurried to put on something warm before venturing out to the barn. The winds were blowing rather hard that night, so I hurried along to find your father. And that’s when I saw him. Your father was lying at the very edge of the barn doors, his feet exposed to the winds, and the rest of his body covered in straw. The animals were having fits most likely due to the cold weather.

I called out his name, but he didn’t respond. I shook him, but he wouldn’t move. I was so scared, I had to hurry and get him back to the house. I tried my hardest to drag him back, but he was so heavy.” Janine’s breath was soft and shallow as she listened to her take a pause in the story. What happened next? It was so interesting.

“What happened to you? What did you do Mom?” Janine asked with a bated breath.

“Well, I kept trying. In normal circumstances, I most likely wouldn't have made it. But I think desperation and worry was my motivation that night. I dragged your father from the barn to the house, slowly but surely. I felt myself getting frozen stiff from being outside so damn long, but I couldn’t give up on him. By the grace of God, I managed to drag myself and your father back home. I opened the door, and pulled him inside, laying him right in front of the fire. I hurried to put more wood in, so I had to go back outside. When everything was right outside, I came back inside to tend to your father. I will never forget how your father’s skin felt that night. He was so cold. Colder than I thought possible for a person to feel. Like he was made of ice. I had him sitting by the fire, wrapped in my blanket, despite how cold I was. I remember crying, because I couldn’t hear him breathing. I had to put my ear right on his lips to even hear the faintest sign of him being alive. He was barely alive.

But I was going to be worried for a long time after that. He didn’t wake up after I brought him inside. He stayed still long after the house was warm as a baker’s oven. I tried rubbing him, wrapping him up, anything I could to warm him, but it just didn’t work. I feared that I had lost him… Days had gone by, and I stayed by your father’s side. I ate of course, but he didn’t. Or couldn't. It puzzled me so. It was about two whole weeks after that incident before your father showed signs of waking up. I had since laid him on the bed, wrapped in warm blankets.”

Janine’s mother sighed as she searched her memories. “When he woke up, he was ravenous. He was a bit scary if I might admit; there was a hunger in him that I hadn’t seen in a long while before then. After eating and gathering his bearings, I explained to him what happened that night. And that’s when he told me why he was so worried about winter. If he got too cold, his body would shut down into some deep sleep. That was why he wasn’t moving all that time. He said that it lasted two weeks at least, and that it could’ve been longer. Either way, he would’ve surely died had I not gone out to see him. We were surely more grateful for each other’s presence after that. And I went outside to do any and all errands for the rest of winter,” Janine’s mother said with a soft chuckle.

Janine sat in awe at the story. It was a little scary - to think that mom almost didn’t have her husband at that moment in time. She paused her train of thought and looked down in her lap. “So, you’re saying that I might have the same weakness as Papa?” Janine asked.

Her mother nodded her head. “Oh, I don’t ‘think’ - I know. You had snuck outside during winter one day, after I had told you not to go. You were outside for all of ten minutes before you shivered yourself to the ground. Much quicker than a normal human would, but still slower than your father. I believe that your human half made you a bit more tolerable towards the cold, but you still have to be very careful around it. Which is why I worry for you this winter season. You’re going to be obligated to be outside during the snowy season - you won’t last very long out there! What are you going to say to your superiors?” Her mother asked with a soft hiss in her tone.

“Mom, calm down! I’ll just wear thicker clothing. Or maybe I’ll ask to be inside most of the time. I’ll figure something out.”

“You better. I might have to help you out though. Nothing scares people away from home faster than sickness. Not too sick though - don’t want to spread panic among the town.”

“Mom! Calm down. We don’t even know if we’ll need to get to that…. Is there anything else that I should watch out for?” Janine asked.

“Well…. Typical holy items. Why do you think we never went to church?”

“Well, I never really thought about it much. Besides, I don’t think I’d have liked it anyway - those prissy little girls looked too snobby anyway.” Janine joked.

Her mother laughed. “Haha. Well, that’s good on you. Well, I’m pretty sure there are more stories to tell you. But how about we go over them while making dinner?” the woman asked as she got on her feet to reach for the potatoes in her basket. Janine got up after her and smiled. “Sure. Oh…. Mom?”

“Yes baby?”

“Why do you keep saying, “your father?” Did you not know his name?” Janine asked with a lowered head.

“Well, I never wanted you to address your father by his name. It’s not proper. Besides, are you gonna call him by his name?”

“Well, no. But I’d like to know it…. If you can remember,” Janine innocently added.

“Hmmm…. Well, his name is hard to pronounce - I had a lot of trouble saying it at first. His birth name was Rudith’zkart, but he made it easier on me and had me just say plain “Rudy”. To be honest, I liked Rudy better,” Janine’s mother mused with a chuckle. After the small banter, mother and daughter began their evening movements around the house, starting with dinner. And since Janine was feeling much better, she was able to sense all the apprehension and fear dissipate from the atmosphere within the house. It made her very happy indeed.
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the Hugger Troll
Chestnut was enormously pleased to be able to talk normally as Raban could. His body was still a trapping but it was one that came with the ability of speech without the need for translation. The downside it had for her though that she found she disliked was having to do that translating for the man now in her usual form. She could feel him stumble every so often and snort with irritation. Unlike with her where he never needed to give any actual direction or intruction through the reins and stirrups, he needed a little guidance here and there. She didn't have to tug hard, a horse's mouth was a sensitive tool and he was quick to pick up on them and to try and correct his mistakes. Chestnut knew that was born out of an almost pathological need for the illusion or the sake of appearance in the fear of being discovered.

"You're doing better than before. You chase a task like you do your prey,"
He returned with a heavy snort, "It's wholly unnerving. Hooves don't have the same feel as pads,"

Raban disliked being a horse almost as much as Chestnut hated it. He was a born predator in some ways, and asking a wolf to bear the skin of a horse felt insulting. Something even normal werewolves would struggle with and more likely than not point blank have refused. He, however, was not like every other werewolf and he had to trust the herbivore to know what it was about. It was a tall order for both herbivore and predator. he supposed that in some ways by now, that through the years the horse was used to having another inhabit and control it. He lost count of the years now, he only knew that he was likely much older than Janine despite looking to be in his early thirties as he did for one of the order, and Chestnut much order still. He frowned, he had to think and so much did he lose himself to absent though, he stumbled again and had nearly stepped into a rabbit hole if not a tug to his mouth.

"Your hooves are so heavy!"

It was unlike him to pout but he was wrapped up in thoughts and concerns. Especially as he and Chestnut spoke with Janine on the return to Amastad and the parade ground. The going got easier when they reached the forest's edge, the tree roots were a little more sparse now and he could feel the horse feel more at eas too. It was a weird sensation. If and when he finally was able to free his erstwhile companion, he knew it would not only be the demon who was going to benefit their freedom. Given all the horse had gone through in the years he had her, she long deserved her retirement as well. He gave this promise to the horse and in turn it seemed to resist him less.

The sky was darkening and he lifted his head to the sky, the broad face tilting before he tossed his head completely. Now that Amastad drew closer, he would have to adopt the many quirky habits Chestnut exhibited. Head tossing was one of her favourite little moves to do. As was kicking, snorting, huffing and on occasion biting, amongst other things. It was a dance of pretense that they played and now that his circle of those who knew what they were had grown bigger, that dance was now in some ways a duet.

Raban glanced at Janine as they half walked and half trotted back to the parade ground. He knew she was worried about how the meeting with Sir Kiegal would go but Raban knew the man was a lot more forgiving than most that had undertaken his station in the order in the past. He demanded the best from those who served under him and gave a lot more leniency or at least kept an open mind with regards to situations. Whilst he wasn't sure how well of an open mind that Kiegal had, Raban had faith that Janine would likely suffer a lecture at best and communal duties at worst. Those that had provoked her in her frustrated mood would have likely received the same punishment. Kiegal was as fair as he was disciplined.

Despite knowing this, he still conveyed through Chestnut his well wishes and butted her gently at the knee with his nose. It was odd seeing everything that was usually normal for him through a horse's visionary field. Unlike predators, prey animals often had their eyes on the sides of their head so they could gain a horizontal view of the world. He had not done this for a long time and not for the first time that night did something spook him when it entered a peripheral larger than his usual. With his duty done, he felt the soft tug at the rein and he turned, looking forward to lying down and going to sleep.

"Enjoy the smell"
"Enjoy the landlords," he snarked back with a giggle, especially when Chestnut drew silent for a moment and than gave an inner groan in reply. Chestnut disliked the pair. He supposed he could relate a little but he preferred it to the barracks. Perhaps one day he would buy his own homestead but he never got round to it.

Still, he was hopeful that today was a good step and he felt a little relieved that he and Chestnut had been able to help Janine with her concerns. He understood her fears completely. He still had a natural born fear of being discovered and what consequences could entail from such an event. However, he had years of experience in dealing with and accepting this fate. He was not a fool to blind himself in the thinking that he could hide his secret forever. He had been stupidly lucky that it had been Janine and her mother to have witnessed his change and that in turn he could trust them to keep his secret and that of Chestnut's. However, with everything going on, he was still worried about their future. It felt succinctly odd to realise that he was more worried with Janine's secret being discovered than that of his own.

"That's because you and I both know that creatures from hell are more deeply feared than those of the nightmare and shadow,"
"I'm not entirely sure most hunters would grant us that distinction, but you're right. Humans fear death and its many faces,"

It was a harsh truth. Humanity feared the unknown and nothing was more unknown than death. If they had the time and the mind to, he was sure that they could learn all they would wish to learn of death and its many differing faces from his kind, demons... perhaps Vampires moreso. He flicked an ear, Vampires were far more dangerous than his kind as far as he knew. Young or the recently turned had to feed far more often between sittings than he ever had to as a werewolf and they did not feed out of a need of rage and blood thrist. They fed not only because they had to but because they also enjoyed the taste and it was not easy for the youngsters to withstand their thirst.

"Amastad should thank itself that Vampires don't live here,"
"That we know of... Some hide very well... especially the ancient kind,"
"Ancient kind... Hellfire forbid... Oh, here we are,"

Raban turned into the small courtyard that led to the stables for where he resided. He felt the weight shift upon his back and a heavy tread follow soonafter. He recognised the voice of the Landlord and fed the responses he would given had he been in his own body right now. Chestnut removed the saddlebags before allowing the other man to tend to the horse's needs. The shift from forest floor to a hay filled one could not have been more different as he was lead into Chestnut's usual stall. He noted another horse in the stables which he didn't recognise. It was a grey and of a riding breed built for speed than for endurance. He raised his head as much as the lead rein would allow him to get a better view and he could see the horse's master was not a kind one. The horse was underfed. He could make out the points of the hips and a little of the ribcage. He snorted, he disliked those who misued the beasts they depended upon for transportation. It made very little sense.

"At ease, girl. He just arrived today, docile thing. Gonna give him a little extra I think. I'd tell the man to care for it better but from the look of him, not sure he fairs much better either," the man said in the fashion of one used to speaking to horses. Raban was aware than his wife could be a little overbearing at times and tending horses gave the man a moment of reprieve, so he didn't try to stop the other. Besides, it was useful infomation.

"I wonder who it belongs to,"
"Well, seems he's lodging here too... See if you can't find out who"
"That's a fine thing. This... woman has already said they have another lodger and that the man doesn't wish to be disturbed,"
"Guess he won't be joining us for dinner then"
"Doubt it. Stew tonight,"
"With dumplings...?"
"... Yes."
Her voice was almost gleeful and wholefully unsympathetic

It was just his luck really and he had to settle with the usual feed for horses though the man did treat them to a a small apple each. He ate though it tasted of next to nothing. At least the brush through felt nice before he was left alone. Awkwardly, he laid down on the bed of hay and curled round, resting his head on the ground. He excused himself from Chestnut, allowing her the freedom to wander about freely as a two-leg for a change though he was aware the change was still tiring for her even if she did find it easier to tend with than he did. She didn't get the chance to everyday so he was content to give her a few days. He allowed himself to think and speculate.

The wolves in the forest that had attacked them worried him.
The attack on Janine worried him.

Someone knew Janine's secret or at least suspected. They knew alchemy or had access to someone who was learned in the practice. He was not aware of what substance could make a demon show their true form. For himself, it was far simpler and depended how strong and pure the mix was. That someone was following Janine to an extent and they were watching. He was not entirely sure what the signficance of the green eyes and the overbearing intent of those wolves was but he could not escape the feeling they were there for a lot longer than they had attacked. He laid his ears back. He had dropped his guard in his endeavours to get Janine to see to reason, to understand what she was going through and in doing so, they had both opened themselves to attack and purview. Did that someone now know both of their secrets?

"Calm your storm, Little Wolf. I will check your silly archives tomorrow. Perhaps there is something you missed. Rest, we're not going back to that blasted forest, not untill we have to,"

Raban sighed and didn't protest that command. They could all do with avoiding that forest for a little while. Nearly every time he had gone there of late he had ended up turning either willingly or not and ending up naked in the view of others. All of them female. He wasn't ashamed of it, it was something he couldn't help all the time but it did leave him a little abashed at times. He huffed and rested, allowing himself to fall to sleep.

Chestnut was as good as her word and spent the next few days in the archives as much as she could physically get away with inbetween doing Raban's other duties that he was obligated to fulfil as a Knight of the Order. All of which she found horribly boring and mundane. It was a constant effort to effect Raban's usual way of speaking to others. It was an opposite to her own. Where she was short, impatient and tired easily of the mortal beings that she called meat sacks, Raban was a soft but defined speaker who was incredibly patient and dutiful and always happy to offer aid where it could be offered. She supposed he was an example of a perfect gentleman if she had to think like a two-leg. There was a strength to him that showed itself in many ways.

She was very thankful to Raban to allowing her to stay in his form for longer than she had anticipated. She knew he had only put forth the decision so that Janine could speak with her properly, demon to demon. It allowed her to look at the scrolls and tomes the Order kept. She had to give them credit, they were diligent and well organised. Chestnut had heard the rumours of more werewolf talk and thus she masked her own research with that of werewolves, reviewing the same tomes which Janine had covered some time before. It would also hopefully dissuade others from suspecting Raban. It was a big hope but it couldn't hurt either way. He was one of their eldest Knights after all. He would be expected to keep his knowledge up to the current human understandings of Werefolk, Demons, and other kin. The Order kept archives of many creatures ranging from Hell to Fey. It would have been impressive if most of it wasn't comprised of half truths. Humans never bothered to have open minds, peace and ask.

Research attained and copied down, hidden in the folds of Raban's armour and tabard, she left the extensive library and headed back down to the main grounds. She was bumped into by another and the spindly man frowned and seemed about to berate Chestnut as if it was her fault that he hadn't been watching where he was going. It was then he recognised Raban's face and standing and seemed to think better of it before hurrying off.

"That was... odd,"
"I know his face... "
"Mhm, he was stood next to Keigal the other day, when Janine lost her control,"
"Wonder what he's here for...?"
"No idea, but he's up to something. I think... Not sure... You know how to read your gut better than I,"
"Keep an eye out."

Chestnut snorted before continuing on her way before later learning there was a meeting to be held the very next day and that all Knights were to attend. She didn't like the sound of that but knew her time of two-legged freedom was over. They would switch back tonight.


The Eager Rper
In the upcoming days, Janine had taken it slowly, to make sure she fully recovered from her near brush with discovery. She had learned a lot in that past week and a half, and she strove to remember the lessons presented to her. How her mother was a sturdy rock to lean on, how more bearable life was with comrades and friends, how not to let fear control her actions…. Well, if she was honest, maybe she didn’t let all of that one go. Fear was real for her, but she hated acknowledging it. In many cases, fear was a weakness that could be exploited, and her fears were powerful - they controlled how she lived her life.

But she didn’t have to go through them alone. Her family grew just a little bigger. Janine thought about the notion of Raban and Chestnut being part of her family. Maybe it was a stretch - they were only friends and comrades, nothing more. Perhaps it was just her tendency to be over-excitable when it came to her happier moments. In any case, she had to be more careful and attentive to her surroundings, lest she and Raban get caught. She hoped that only she was the target, and not him. It would be horrible to think that he would be in twice as much danger for his secret to be exposed simply for being her friend. It would be a reason for him to ditch her.

But Janine shouldn’t think that way. They’ve already gone through so much in such a short amount of time. But what if it was already enough for them? No, not already. If that was the case, then the King’s guards would’ve already pounded at her door, or better yet, just broke it down and arrested both herself and her mother.

Such anxieties plagued Janine when she let herself relax and let her mind wander. She shook her head - no, they were loyal. It was a quality that she admired in someone like Raban.

For the last several days, Janine had taken special punishments that also happen to double up as lessons. Lessons in controlling one’s emotions, and learning to take emotional stress when pushed near that edge. Constantly being poked, prodded, and overall mentally and physically exhausted wasn’t pleasing in the slightest. She would be overjoyed once her punishment was done. And today was to be her last day. So she made sure to be up at the courtyard on time.

But there was another reason Janine would be happy today. She finally was able to ride her own horse! She had given up her temporary horse the previous day, and walked back home afterwards. She was so happy to tell her horse the good news, and as expected, her own horse was happy to hear it as well. To see her stubborn mare trot around and stomp the ground made her especially happy. Her horse had received a good rest, and it was high time to have her move her legs around properly. But she was still going to take it easy - no high speed races or chases or anything of the sort. Maybe a lap or two around Amastad’s outside borders, but other than that, nothing more.

The young knight saddled her horse and took off, her mind focusing on what was to happen today. She and the rest of the knights were told that something was to happen today, and everyone was required to attend. It was puzzling, but at the same time, it wasn’t unheard of. Maybe it had something to do with dragon hunting? No, that menacing dragon hadn’t shown itself since its big debut. Werewolves? She did hear people mutter about the topic here and there. She hoped it wasn’t so, though. Whatever it was, she would find out when she got there.

After a few minutes of navigating the sea of human bodies, Janine made it to the other courtyard on time. Of course she wasn’t the only one - many of the knights were already there, and some others had yet to attend. She saw Raban and Chestnut a distance away, and gave a small nod of her head in greeting. Venus looked up to the bulkier mare and blinked, then lifted her head and chuffed in greeting.


the Hugger Troll
Raban was for a change sitting properly in the saddle with none of the carefully masked slouch he usually adopted. Changing bodies with Chestnut was not something he savoured and could sometimes be more disorientating than those of his own lupine ones. Only one had been worse to date and he prayed he would never have to fall victim to that ever again. He was probably wishing upon a false star. Blood moons had happened in his life time before the last but he had never had such a transformation such as the one had he been forced to undergo by the werewolf venom that run throughout his blood. It had scared him more than he had entirely let on. It was only tempured by the discovery of what Janine was and that she was powerful enough to hold him in check. He owed her a lot and his wish to help her through what she was feeling was bolstered by the knowledge.

He closed his eyes briefly, steadying himself and trying to loose the small woozy feeling that sat like a heavy cloud in his mind. If what Chestnut had told him had any dark truth behind it, he would need clarity. Chestnut shifted impatiently beneath him. He could not blame her. It seemed none of the other Knights were wise to what this meeting was about and even Raban knew it could be about any number of matters. He thought the dragon could be chief amongst the list of possibilities but since it's little runaround that day, they had yet to see it again. He didn't doubt it would return. With such a gargantuan, it would took all of the Order and possibly more. However, it had been some time and the fear that surrounded impending dragon attacks lessened day by day. However, the talk and whispers of the werewolf sighting had not died down as much as Raban would have preferred.

He knew and understood why. Anyone in Amastad could be a werewolf and not know it and a werewolf had to come from somewhere. The logical conclusion would look to the populace and Raban had reasoned the first to be seen would be those that would otherwise seek to find. Cadfael had been right in that the Order was the perfect hiding spot and thus he had not been discovered in the many years he had served. However, Raban was aware he could not hope to stay for much longer. He would need to figure out what that would mean for him since he had promised Janine he would be her friend and that he would be here for her. His time was running out. Kiegal had already remarked upon the length of time he had been with the Order and the fact he had aged really well would lift some eyebrows, nevermind the events since the the day of the Dragon.

He opened his eyes and let a breath slowly out before breathing in. He had to remain calm and collected and he had to keep his patience. He glanced around at the curious and questioning faces before he caught one that was a welcome familiar sight to him. He was glad to have another friend who he didn't have to decieve. It was a horrible price to pay. That an honest man should have to protect what he was through dishonesty and yet equally it was simple self-preservation. Cadfael had been adamant on that. Raban smiled and inclined his head in return. His smiled broaden at the sight of her horse. The beast looked as good as she had been on the first day he had come into contact with her. Another horse to have accepted what he was purely through knowing what her master was. Horses were strange and complex beasts, he decided.

"You have no idea," Chestnut answered rhetorically as she eyed Venus and then returned a head toss of greeting, her voice dripping with a mix of distaste and sarscasm.

The door opened and Sir Kiegal stepped through. The wide wooden door remained open adter had passed and this got Raban's attention. It was customary for the door to remain closed. Something was up. Even though they were not there, he could feel his hackles rise in response. He wasn't sure what was afoot but something was poking his gut to move. He focused on the elder Knight and frowned with confusion and concern. He didn't like this much as he watched Kiegal look at them all, appearing to be counting. Head count, he assumed promptly and wondered what was so important to require it.

"I think you'll be finding out soon enough. That horse you saw is here." Chestnut huffed and Raban glanced around, his nose sniffing the air slightly. Sure enough, the malnourished grey stood tethered to one side of the parade ground and seemed to be slowly chewing through hay. Kiegal finally spoke through a finely groomed beard commanding attention without much effort at all.

"Knights! You have been prompt and from what I can make out, you are all present and accounted for! Tether your horses, you won't be requiring them till this afternoon. The city guard will be maintaining watch whilst we see to the Order's affairs!" He half turned and gestured towards the wide open door, "When you're ready, come inside to the hall and take a seat, please." He nodded at them all before he completed the turn and headed inside, the door remaining open with the silent command for the last one to go through to close it.

"Wonder what the old man's up to?"
"He's never had us miss patrol before"
"He did once... you weren't with us then," Raban muttered but he didn't pretend to be any less confused by it all than those around him as Chestnut and made a beeline towards Janine and Venus, joining them by a hitching post at the side.

He looked at Janine, "Any idea what this is about?" he asked quietly before he rose and dismounted from Chestnut's back, looping the reins over before tying them around the wooden beam loosely. He found himself not wanting to enter through that door but he could not say why for. However, he was a man of duty and the orders had been given. Knights trickled through the wide door by two's and three's. Raban walked at Janine's side, as they moved towards the door. They made it through and headed into the hall often used to host feasts or meetings during wet weather. The decor was plain suggesting no feast to be the answer to this strange day. There were rows of benches but the tables had been moved to one side suggesting that this was not the usual meeting they were likely to expect.

It was then he caught sight of where Sir Kiegal was stood at the head of the room where it was raised to a slight platform that allowed all the sitting Knights to see what was going on up there. They found a spot in which to seat themselves, shoulder to shoulders with others of their station. Raban hardly noticed the jostling for more room on the bench. He had noticed the thin, spindly man that did nothing to calm the hair on the back of his neck from rising.

"What's with the chair?" he heard a Knight to his right mutter irritably, straining to see and raban shifted his attention to what the man had pointed out. Sure enough there was a chair but it had been reinforced with metal brackets. Raban frowned, he knew of no distinct reason why a wooden chair required metal reinforcing... unless. He strained and was dismayed to note it was equipped with the ability to shackle and bind at the wrists and ankles. He felt the heat from Chestnut bicker angrily. They both had seen just what the shackled parts had been covered in. Raban slumped, hoping this was just some random test theory.

"As if you believe in coincidences, Little Wolf"


The Eager Rper
Janine smiled a little at Raban's acknowledgment. She was happy that he saw her, as her only real comrade in this regiment. She then heard their superior, Sir Kiegal, come outside to address them. The meeting was going to start. Janine sat up straighter as the older knight began to do some sort of… count? Strange. Sir Kiegal rarely did that, but maybe he wanted to make sure that everyone was present for the meeting. Honestly, she wanted that too, just so nobody would be left out and get in trouble.

Some things also felt different. Janine noticed the door being left open, and wondered why that was so. She assumed that the meeting would be outside, but inside could work as well. Whatever worked for them. He then spoke. Leave the horses? Odd. She thought they were going to go through some sort of exercise. She looked down at Venus, who seemed to move around back and forth. Her hand patted and rubbed on the mare’s neck, calming her down before she made too much noise.

“Calm down, you’ll get your chance to run around. We just have to do this one thing okay?” Janine said softly.

Then the wind blew around, forcing strange new scents into her nostrils. She reflexively sniffed the air, now noticing something different. Someone new was here. She glanced around the yard, where she then saw a stranger’s horse minding its own business. Interesting. She didn’t know how she didn’t see that before.

Now, a bit of confusion had settled in. What was this? Who was this new guest that she had yet to see? Was it a new recruit? If there was, was there a need for all this mystery? At this point, Raban and Chestnut had trotted their way beside her and Venus. She didn’t turn her head towards him immediately, but after a few of the other knights had made their movements, she began to dismount her horse as well.

Raban asked her if she knew what was going on, and she shook her head as she looked at him.

“Your guess is as good as mine. I have no clue what’s happening. I heard about this meeting literally yesterday,” Janine said. She and Raban walked together, wondering what the meeting was truly about. She didn’t really know what to expect, but off she and everyone else went.

Then they went into the meeting hall. Some things were shifted around, and others were gone. Then she saw Sir Kiegal standing at the head of the room. Things were getting a bit weird, and she didn’t like it. If this was supposed to be some sort of exercise, then this was a rather strange one. She and Raban sat down, trying to piece together what was missing from their logical hypothesis. Something wasn’t adding up.

And then she took notice of the strange chair, just seconds before some other knight mentioned it. The sheer design, while seemingly simple looking, was rubbing her the wrong way. Metal reinforcements? For what? She turned her head to Raban to ask him a question, but she noticed how worried he was. He was just as unsettled, if not more so than her. If he was nervous about the chair, then this chair was no good, and neither was this meeting. She couldn’t catch herself fast enough, and a low growl escaped her throat; but to her surprise, it was more on Raban’s behalf than her own. She didn’t know what this chair was about, but Raban seemed more unsettled about the chair than her, so she couldn’t trust it.

“Strange chair. Don’t understand why it’s here though,” Janine muttered.


the Hugger Troll
Janine had no clue what this meeting was about either, it seemed and that to him was only adding to his concerns. There had been nothing in the calendar about any meetings to be held inside until just recently, as if it had been hastily remembered in the nick of time. Raban knew however that could not have been it. Sir Kiegal and his collection of clerks were fastidious about keeping record about past and future meetings. Sure enough, there was a couple of clerks in brown robes sat at writing desks already making notes on parchment. They were to keep the minutes of the meeting, recording what happened and what was said throughout all of it.

Raban reached to rub at his temple as he read the room keenly, taking in every scent and sight and feeling that was contained in the hall. The feeling of the men in general was curiosity, anxiousness and a casual sense of relief for the most part they didn't have to ride in the saddle. Raban rarely afforded much thought to it but then neither he or Janine were average humans and didn't worry themselves over the everyday issues of most men. The scents were numerous, both new and decayed but there was one, distinct fresh scent that he did not recognise except for that morning when he had left his residence. The smell had been there too and it further confirmed the presence of the stranger in town.

It furthered his dislike and opinion that this was not just a coincidence but something that had drawn on some perceived importance. He couldn't sit still for very long, peering towards the chair before a growl broke his fever of worry and he looked towards Janine as she then spoke.

"Guess she didn't do anough reading" Chestnut muttered in his mind. Raban disliked being unaware of the dangers involved of being what he was and as such had made a point to keep tabs of books revolving around hunters. It was how he knew instinctively that the chair on the stage was not a tool for socialising but rather restraint and torture.

He tried to school his expression, not for her but for others around them. He already knew that she would have picked up on his anxiety more acutely than others. He didn't want to hide that from her. As much as he had asked for her to be open with him, he had to return that in kind, otherwise it was a false form of friendship that he was bestowing.

"For the same reason that stranger is here for," he replied quietly in a tone that clearly spoke of his unease and distaste as he directed her attention to a figure that joined Sir Keigal on the other side of the chair that stood in the middle. It was clear how much Raban did not like the look of the chair for he had seen the silver covering the metal brackets. It would not be enough to kill him outright, but if he was forced to sit in it, it would make him very unwell and would slow him down the longer he was kept restrained by it.

He gave an exhalation of breath that had a definite shudder to it as he paid attention to the stranger, of whom he had seen only once before at Sir Keigal's side, on the day he had been ordered to follow Janine into the forest.

The man was tall and slender, dressed in simple clothing. Trousers, shirt and a jacket that ended mid-thigh. It seemed weighted by whatever he kept in the pockets. His face was weathered with defined cheekbones and jaw. His hair was short and tawny brown but it was the eyes that spoke the most to Raban. They were a steel coloured blue and quite piercing. His stance too spoke of an easy confidence fed from years of experience and reputation. Raban could tell this man got results and a knack for finding his prey quicker than most, for there was nothing of a sheep's nature about him. He drew an instant dislike as he studied the man's scent. It was musty, rough laced with several other smells that spoke of the wilds, flowers and metals. A hand with alchemy, perhaps? Raban could estimate the man was knowledgeable.

"I'd bet that foul thing belongs to him. It's recently made," he added, looking back to the chair. The wood was sharp and there was no signs of wear or tear. Indeed, Raban could smell the wood and the stain it had been treated with.

"Right! We're ready... I'm sure you're all wondering why you're all here," There was a mutter of agreement to Kiegal's words that ran through the seated men and women of the Order. The elder Knight waited for the murmur to quieten down again before he continued.

"I won't keep you in suspense. It has been a few weeks since the day the Dragon came to the fields outside of Amastad. In response, we have kept up a diligent patrol throughout the day, everyday, in readiness and watch if it should return. However, we are still duty bound to protect Amastad and its inhabitants not only from the threat the Dragons present, but also from the threats presented by other dangers from the unknown and feared. I am speaking, of course, in referance to the sight of a werewolf, that for reasons I cannot fathom, had appeared during the day and had attacked the dragon, according to accounts."

For Raban, this announcement couldn't have been more damning.
This meeting was all about him and Kiegal had no idea.

"I don't have to say how dangerous Dragons are but in some ways, Werewolves are even more dangerous than the dragons we're more used to defending Amastad from. We don't know who it is, only that there is likely a Werewolf living amongst us in Amastad. After all, the next nearest civilisation to us is more than a month's ride away. We're fortunate that we have someone here who is experienced in hunting creatures that are not so easy to find. This is Jedidiah Greaves, he will tell you to what to be on the lookout for and will also be showcasing one of the ways he roots out the monster in hiding."

"Monster?! Who the fuck does he think he is?!" Chestnut's yell of rage inside his head was loud enough to make him given a sudden wince and he gripped the bench, his arm and hand shifting against Janine's a little

"Not so loud, and as far as humanity is concerned, I am a monster. They don't tend to accept gray areas, you know that."
"Don't know how you can be so easily accepting of their excuses to kill you, Little Wolf"
she seethed. She was angry both at him and at the Order for what this chair meant for him, and through extension, herself. He could not fault her for her anger and he didn't say more in attempts to placate her mood. They had that argument several times over now. He was just more concerned how Janine was seeing this. This was an eventuality he knew her to fear as he did. Raban could not pretend to not be afraid of what could or would happen but he had long accepted that it was a real possibility in his life. After all, he had no control over himself in the moons that held their sway over him. And by not having told Kiegal, he had made himself a dangerous liability. It echoed of past arguments between him and Cadfael.

"Thank you, Sir Kiegal. I am glad I can be of service to the Order." Greaves acknowledged the elder Knight with a nod of his head before he looked upon them all with a piercing gaze that swept through the many faces looking back. Raban could shake the feeling they had rested on him longer than they ought to have done.

"My trade is in hunting those that hunt innocent lives. Those that prey to slake their undying thirst for blood. I speak of creatures such as vampires and werewolves and so on. From what Sir Kiegal has explained to me through eyewitness accounts and through my own tracking of the monstrous beast, you definitely have one in Amastad."

"Werewolves, whilst not as dangerous as Vampires, are still necessary to root out of our society. Once a full moon, they will turn and run rampage searching for human blood. It will not recognise any of you, be you a relative or a friend. It will tear you apart, feast and move on to do as much damage as it can before the moon loses its hold on it and it returns to human state. That human will have no idea of what he or she has done, and will quite often fear the same fate by a beast. For those that do battle this beast when it shows must also be wary and careful!"

Greaves continued in a voice that matched his confident stance, "Their venom runs in their teeth and in their claws. If you are bitten or scratched, you may find yourself infected and will turn at the next full moon. Given the armour you all are wearing right now, the danger present by these is lessened. I would suggest you keep your armour on at all times as much as possible. Of course, the general populace is not as lucky as you are to be wearing such fine plate and mail. Fortunately for us all, there are easy ways to discern the werewolf in a man. They do have weaknesses!"

Raban grew more uneasy at the infomation being told to everyone as it was told. Every single one of the Order would be more suspicious and wary, making life for him a touch more difficult than it already was. He had been very fortunate right up until now.

"They can be killed through the means of silver or silver-plated stakes or swords. Anything pointy, but I have learned that whatever you use, it must be covered or be made out of silver. No other metal, precious or otherwise, will work. Silver will also slow them down considerably, making fighting them a little easier. Get a silver chain with a little spikes so it catches their skin is a favourite of mine."

"Here it comes. He left he best for last," he muttered quietly to Janine, leaning closer to her ear in the process. Whilst he knew she was never likely to agree to it, she would still need to know what would and could kill him and slow him. If he had to die, he wanted it on his own terms, and if he could not do it himself then he would prefer her to deal the killing blow. That, in itself, was perhaps a little selfish and nor did he think it likely she would ever agree to the idea.

"Wolfsbane is a natural growing plant with properties that both slow and can prove to trigger a reaction or tranformation. So strong is it that even in human form, they will show a dislike for it. It will present as being unwell or sickly. I have prepared for all of you a vial with a silver and wolfbane mix. Use it wisely and only if you're certain your target is who you're after. Normally, I work alone but the Order is being very insistant."

"It would. It doesn't like the thought it could be one of their own," Chestnut scowled in his mind like a dark cloud. Raban was getting a headache that pulsed at the temple.

"What's with the chair?" a Knight called out, Raban couldn't tell who it was who had said it but it drew a smirk from the man called Jedidiah Greaves who nodded and looked to the chair set up in the middle of the stage.

"This? This chair is a tool of discovery and restraint. We'll use many means to discern who this wolf in human clothing is and if we suspect an individual... We shall put them in this chair to eliminate them as the monster we're after. The effects would be almost immediate to present, so we can tell rather quickly. So, if the person is lucky and just a person, they won't be in it for long. If they are not, they are easier to be restrained and dealt with. A demonstration, perhaps?"

The murmuring assent was something Raban found wholly disturbing. The man looked at Sir Kiegal, who was eyeing the chair whilst stroking his beard in thought before he realised Greaves was asking for his attention.

"Oh, yes, indeed so. Easy to operate, I assume?"
"Yes. Simple in its design and yet highly useful. Would you like to suggest one of your Knights to help me demonstrate? One with standing, perhaps?"

Raban's brow lowered by an inch. This man was fishing, openly fishing and yet fishing in a way most people would not see through the intent of. It made him wonder if this greasy individual had anything to do with Janine's problem or had even orchestrated it. The question presented made it seem as if the man was using the Order more for aiding in a hunt he was already on. It was an allegience of convenience more than of duty or other intents. He blinked when the Knight on his right nudged him and pointed towards the stage.

He looked to see faces looking his way, Greaves eyeing him with a predatory interest and a smiling Kiegal who was gesturing for Raban to come forth with an expression of encouragment.

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