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In the Wake of Giants

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
Janine’s heart pounded in her chest once again as she raced through the pine forest. The scent was strong with the pine needles, and they offered the best masking of her scent, but it was too late at this point. Raban was hot on her heels, and she knew the wolf inside him wouldn't give up too easily. Not that she wanted him to anyway.

Now she had to figure out what and where to go. Her head lifted up to scent the air, but she only caught water and… wait… flowers? Perhaps that could be the key to hiding again! The scent seemed to be straight ahead, but with Raban so close behind, she needed to make more distance. Distract him somehow, or make him falter. Those extra few seconds would make a world of a difference. Her mind concocted an idea, but it was risky - she wasn't even sure if it would work, but with no safer solution, she had to do it if she wanted to have another chance.

Her pupils then narrowed as she scanned the trees, steadily picking out the ones that she wanted to use. When she picked them out, Janine veered towards the first tree, leaping up and angling her body in position. Her body turned to face Raban's racing figure, where she launched herself with her powerful legs directly at him, claws and fangs outstretched in what seemed to be an attack.

Knowing Raban, she knew he'd rather not risk being hurt, even while they were playing, so she bet on him faltering to duck and move out of the way. Janine landed on the ground in a roll, using her rough landing to rub herself in the dirt in an attempt to neutralize her scent again. When she felt herself slowing down, she got on her paws and dashed again, using the traction from the ground to gain more speed.

Several yards later, Janine saw the forest become a field, and with tall grass! Janine would've made a hiss or a roar but she had to keep what little energy she had left. She was running out of it, and she'd fall out if she didn't find a place soon. But the long grass was enough to take away Raban's sight, giving her a chance - unfortunately, it took away most of Janine's sight as well, making her unable to see ahead of her.

Nonetheless, she bounded forward, using her remaining energy to zigzag out of range now that she was well enough in the field. Left for a few yards, then right, then she dared to backtrack before shifting to turn again. She then skidded to a stop completely, forcing herself and Raban to use their sense of hearing to track their surroundings. There was a cool breeze in this area, in which the grasses made their own noise to counteract their potential ones.

And thankfully, the wind was blowing upwind from Raban, giving Janine the advantage this time. Crawling low like a feline, Janine was confident in herself until she felt the ground drop from under her, a strained gasp escaping her mouth as she barely recovered her paws.

Thankfully, she caught herself, and noticed that she almost fell in a hole... a rather decent sized hole. When Janine craned her neck over it, she realized that it was deep and wide enough to effectively hide her from above ground. Grass had covered it's entrance, and various flowers grew at the mouth and entrance of the hole - it reminded her of a rabbit's burrow.

Janine's heavy panting was all she heard as she looked around, and decided that it was the smartest thing to do. As she slowly crawled into her newfound 'den', she noticed that it looked really comfortable, if one was used to being underground in any case. She actually felt like a rabbit for a moment. But then she remembered that she was in the middle of a game, and focused her attention to the world aboveground. Realizing that this was the break she needed, Janine scooted herself to the very back of the burrow, where the darkness offered some coverage, and laid down to recover. Hopefully this bought her some time from Raban's relentless chase.
 

Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
The real game was on now. It would boil down to who could last the longest or outwit the other. From his experiences with Chestnut being a fire demon, he knew her kind could prove to be wily creatures who didn't tend to play by the rules. However, he also knew Janine was tempered by a human half and she wasn't quite a fire demon even if she enjoyed the heat. Raban had to keep his wits and his senses about him as he raced after her on his fours. He ran faster this way and could cover a greater distance with each bound he made. It was also an easier and more efficient way of locomotion when in full chase.

His nose was thick with scents now. Hers, deer, old bear, birds of various species, snake, lizards; it was a heady mix floating around his nasal cavities. Whilst he could identify them all, he focused the one he wanted. Janine's scent, which was a mix of a lot of things in itself.

His head turned sharp as he made to leap what he might have thought to be one of his last leaps in the gaps of the trees when he realised she had changed her tactic entirely now and one even he liked to use to spread confusion or catch those who wanted him dead off guard. Nothing was more intimidating or more frightening to a human than an angry ball of raging fur baring its teeth and claws flexed coming at them. He approved even as he bared his teeth with a flash of white and was forced to opt for a different tree with minimal time to gauge angle and distance.

As a result, his body slid haltingly down the trunk of his new tree, creating long gashes as his claws drove into the bark to slow his fall and catch himself. His ears flicked. It was a momentary setback but her scent was stronger now with her proximity, so strong he could taste it. Even with her move costing him seconds, his body turned readying itself for the following pursuit. Raban stayed himself only for as long as it took him to see what she was up to before he made his own decision on how to proceed from this.

Raban dashed after her was he was sure he had allowed just enough time to pass to perhaps waylay her mind. You had to play mind games with prey. Some were easier to fool then others but it all came to the same detail. He knew she may not fall for it entirely, she knew he was in the vicinity, she knew he wouldn't give up on their game... His nature of honour and love of a chase wouldn't allow that but he hoped he could perhaps make her question from what route he might be taking to catch her.

Her scent had weakened somewhat, marred with that dirt again but this was not a distraction. However, what concerned him more was that the trees were thinning out and the space was brightening up with the sun's rays filtering through. She was headed for open ground then. This presented new challenges for them both, but mostly for him. Trees were highly useful in a chase especially if you were after ground dwelling prey. You could sneak up on them and chase them from above before making the kill. On open ground, all bets were off.

The tree-line gave away to long grasses that was tall enough to easily hide him and his quarry. He slowed down and halted altogether at its edge. He kept his treads careful, light and made little to no sound himself. Had he been without his own will, the wolf might not have cared as much for the use of a quieter approach. However, he had to take a moment to consider how he proceeded. Grasses was something he greatly disliked. It house too many scents, hid too much in terms of local fauna and made it impossible to anything. Raban would have to use his hearing and sense of smell to greater effect.

It took him a moment but he found an entry point. Her scent was here, weakened by the dirt but undeniably present. There was some stalks of grass that had shifts or had broken stems. He had been too far to have heard their breaking but it confirmed his mind's thought as he moved slowly now. Had he been in his youth, he knew he would not be quite as this measured. However, time and experience had taught him the value of taking your time. Go with speed, but never in haste, would be his mentor's words, he knew. His ears stood erect, swiveling to the slightest sound he heard close by to its direction. The triangular points worked independently of each other and he had a good range of hearing. It wasn't quite as acute as a regular wolf, but he reckoned he had just over half their hearing range. After all, wolves used howling as a means of communication so hearing the message was just as important as its use for prey.

The grass however did well to swallow much of the sounds he heard. Raban had to filter through the sound of wind going through the stalks and then ignore that whilst reading everything else his ears heard. It lengthened his hunt for Janine but he was determined to not fail this game of tag. He wasn't even sure how long this round had lasted for, he was that immersed. He didn't mind, they had plenty of time and going home in the dark wasn't a problem for either of them. It would perhaps hamper the horses more than him or Janine.

He paused a long moment. He lost the scent. That was problematic. He knew she had to be here somewhere. The long grasses would offer her a means of hiding and respite. Ears swiveled constantly to each and every new sound as he moved now with painstakingly deliberate movements. He didn't want to give his own position away. It hadn't mattered too much back in the trees but now the playing field was more balanced. He had to rely on his hearing, sight and tracking skills. It wouldn't have mattered what form he had done this in, this grass was making his task difficult.

Raban stilled as something rustled close by and he crouched low on his fours, both ears focused towards the sound. Yellow eyes looked to match the direction of the sound with intense scrutiny. He wasn't sure if she was making the sound or if it was something else. Like a cat, he slowly crept forwards, being careful to make each footfall as quiet as he possibly could as he wanted to get as close as possible without spooking his mark. At the last moment he broke through the cover between him as his mark and had to draw his head back quickly as he was met with a sudden face full of feathers.

Raban flicked his ears as he took a moment to sit on the ground, a short stubbier tail twitching with his irritation as he watched two pheasants flap harder into the sky above him before they went south and then dropped back to the ground. He presumed for a return of cover away from predatory birds in the area. It was clear that he had missed a tell somewhere along the way and Janine wasn't here. He retraced his own steps with the same careful slow movements. He moved in slow zig zags now, and save for his intentional retracing of his own steps previously, he didn't cover ground he had already searched. He had to flush her out but it depended where she was hiding.

This grass could hide a large herd of deer, maybe even a bear or two never mind something like Janine. He paused in thought, eyes narrowing somewhat. He wasn't sure if she could burrow or not but he knew bears did. One could have carved out a hole for themselves at one point. He flicked an ear. It was a point of consideration, he was already having to be mindful of rabbit holes, it could easily be a collapsed warren too. That would aid her. It made his job more difficult.

He wasn't backing out. This was fun and challenging and in turn it was good practice.
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
Never had Janine felt so worn out. This game was still fun, but her throat was so dry from breathing so hard. Janine's tongue flickered out her mouth as she tried to detect anything that resembled Raban, but she really didn't catch anything but dirt, which made sense considering where she was hiding. Whether that was good or bad she couldn't determine. But she knew that every part of her - not just her inner demon - was relishing this feeling, this back and forth of a chase. It all felt so freeing. She hoped that when Raban was up for it that he'd be willing to let himself be chased - after all, once you were caught it was your turn to be 'It'.

'Come on big boy, where are you?' Janine prodded with a slow flicker of her tongue. Her tail flicked in anticipation, but thankfully it didn't rattle and threaten her location - like last time. Janine flicked her tongue angrily at the thought, for she hated when her tail betrayed whatever Janine was trying to hide or show. It was a visual display of emotion to a higher degree: anger, nervousness, excitement, anxiety. And while it aided her many times, if often was a poor assessment when it came to being hidden. Just to make sure she didn't give herself away, she lifted her tail and put her hind paw firmly where her rattle met the rest of the tail. That way it wouldn't shake when she got nervous.

Having settled her tail related problems, Janine kept her eyes focused on the mouth of her hole. Her breathing finally began to even out, but her legs and lungs still needed reprieve. Her mind was constantly racing through ideas and scenarios, wondering what would happen if Raban found her down here. She'd be anxious, not knowing what he'd exactly do, but at least he'd be unable to pounce her… at the very least.

Would she just dash past him? No, he'd be able to tag her. Should she engage in an actual spar, as if she really was a wild animal trying to get away? Tempting, but no. She could do that later on. It didn't cross her mind until that moment, but it seemed that Janine had managed to corner herself down in this hole. Damn, of course she did. No matter - this chase was very fun, even if it did make her mind go somewhat mad with anxiety. Thinking on her toes was somewhat fun, if not tiring in a sense.

With a sudden swell of nerves, Janine dared to extend her head and neck out of the mouth of the den. She did her best to not disturb the flower bed anymore than she already had, and used the wind in an attempt to find Raban. If he was too close, she’d stay hidden. If not… She wasn’t sure if she had the confidence enough to make a full emergence, but at least it was a good thing.

Suddenly, the air was filled with the flapping of birds - startled by something that approached them.

Oh…. Was that Raban? The distance was somewhere between too close and too far, but how close was too close? With a soft hiss of frustration, Janine retreated back into her hole, curling herself back up in hopes of resting a little bit longer. But the longer she stayed, the more anxious she became. What if Raban was on top of her? Was he really waiting for her above ground? No, she would’ve felt vibrations or something. Besides, the winds were on her side for now, she’d smell him. No, not down here, dammit.

Humph. No way she’d be trapped down here. Besides, her limbs and lungs finally recuperated, not to mention the desire to be chased was still there, so long as she had an upper hand. Janine stilled herself, telling herself to say goodbye to this amazing hideout, and lifted her head once more out of the mouth of the hole. The tall grasses just made this game twice as thrilling, even more so than when she was in the trees. But as always, this kind of tension always made Janine anxious, viable for her own body to betray her. Perhaps this was a chance to test her stealth.

Having built enough confidence within herself, Janine slowly crept over and out of her den, body as low to the ground as she could without compromising her crawl or disturbing the ground underneath her. Slowly, she felt her body move with precision that wasn’t her own. Paws spread out and senses on the alert for anything out of the ordinary. The grasses were troubling for distance, but not for proximity. For now, she didn’t need to see five, ten, or even twenty feet - just whatever she saw at that moment. Janine noticed her vision become sharper, detail in the dirt more clearer as she moved over them. Her tongue flicked out and picked up more scents - dirt, grass, birds…. Raban. He was somewhere behind her, but the distance was unclear. So long as she was far enough for him to not see her, she was fine.

Her senses then found something ahead of her. What was it? Tongue flicked out to detect a living creature. Was it another bird? Those were too skittish to creep around. How many? No, that didn’t matter either. One bird was enough to give her position away. She lifted her paws to slowly back away and retrace her steps back to her hole, but she sensed the nervousness in the bird ahead of her. It probably felt something watching it, and began to grow skittish.

‘No you better not,’ Janine hissed in her head. Should she make a run for it? No not yet. Maybe it’ll calm down. One second became two. Then ten. Janine lowered herself to the ground, tail flicking with impatience as she waited for the bird to calm itself. The bird seemed to calm itself down, which made Janine relax.

Until she felt the wind shift again. Janine didn’t take much notice until she looked up at the grasses as they shifted from forwards to backwards. She gave a hissing gasp when the realization hit her - it was a slight shift, but it was all that was needed.

The winds have made it to where Raban could smell her again.

Anger trickled within her in that instant. What the hell?! Why did that happen when she finally left the hole?! She mentally cursed Mother Nature or whoever the hell thought that this was a funny joke, soon feeling the prickling sensation of fear cascade down her spine. Shit, she had to move! But where? Forwards? She lifted a paw and startled the bird that she had so quickly forgotten about. Damnit! Retreat….! Back into the hole? Maybe. But how far had she traveled? Then she thought she heard the grass move somewhere behind her. Foolishly, Janine rose to her hind legs to scout her position. She shouldn't have been that far from the hole, so -

Janine froze when she saw the head of Raban not too far from her - at least twenty feet.

Still not far enough.

‘Godamnit!’ Janine hissed as she dropped down to ground level, panic flooding her body as she froze like a rabbit in danger. Maybe he didn’t see her? The mere thought dropped like a rock when she thought she heard rapid pawsteps; Janine gasped and made a leap for her hole. She made it halfway, leaving her hind legs and tail in the wind. Fear drove Janine to move quicker, aligning paws to the ground so she had the means to push her body to the back of the hole. Breathing rapidly, Janine stilled herself as she kept her eyes to the mouth of the hole, hoping that the flowers would still give her a chance.
 

Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
Raban was glad for all the times he had sat or stood watching cats in his life. They were amazing creatures, something he quite envied sometimes. Not only were they capable of seeing in the dark as well as day, they were perfectly designed to not make a single sound during their hunting. Thei paws had fur between their pads that enabled them to be completely stealthy and quiet. Their chosen prey would know little of their presence until it was too late. In this moment, he tried to mimic them although his feet were not designed for as quiet a tread as a feline's. His feet were more suited for running with blunted claws on his hinds and sharper claws on his fours that aided traction when running.

All this slow movement was time consuming. The longer it took for him to search through the grass for his qarry, the greater the chance she had to recoup and escape through another route. She could be walking semi-circles around him for all he knew. However, he continued on with no loss of determination. He would endure and succeed or lose his prize. This was slow, methodical and painstaking but time was both an enemy and a friend. Time would tell soon enough.

He paused as sounds filled his ears but it was only the breeze. It took him a moment to realise why a change of direction in thei airflow had caught his attention but there it was. Her scent! There was also those phesants he had statled before and a few other scents drifting in the air like the seedheads of a dandilion but hers was there with its distinct flavour. It was not massively strong but it was enough to cause him to stop his zigs and zags and go for a more parallel route towards the direction from whence her scent had come.

Raban continued with the same slow measured pace not wishing to spook her or cause her to flee prematurely. He wanted to close the gap before he sprung. He was still grinning however, lips loosely bared back in a doggish smile with excitement sitting in his eyes. This game was a lot more fun than he had initially accredited and he hoped this would not be the last of their day outs.

The scent was getting stronger, fresher which spurred him on before he paused at the sound of a exhalation of breath. He knew he must have been closing in by now but he hadn't thought he was this close just yet. No matter, his body moved squarely for its origin know birds did not make like gasps like that and it was too loud for a smaller creature. His stride quickened in anticipation and honed in on a spot only to find it void of his prey. She had been here though, the grasses were bowed or flattened indicating her size and carefulness. Had this been a bear, the grass would be entirely flattened from its bulk and deer were more dainty in what they flattened. This was just right to belong to Janine.

Emboldened by this deduction, he followed the stronger scent further. Movement! A flash of a rattle; it was there for a second before it was goe again but it was just what he was after. He moved closer and closer, ears facing the direction of where he had seen the rattle go, where he detected the scent fron and seen of the trace left behind in the grasses. He moved on before he lost the trail again for a moment, not realising he had just pass the mouth of her hiding spot. Confused, he shifted to his hinds, his short stubbier tail slowly swishing through the dirt with a little rainbow of movement before he focused.

If Janine paid attention to his ears, she would be able to note that his left ear slowly swiveled to face her head in a straight line to match her nose and mouth. Raban had given pause here. He knew she was close, he had seen the tip of her rattle flash in view... How could he have not with sharp movement being a good way to get a wolf's attention. He had reasoned she was in hiding using the long grasses for cover. She must have moved thinking she had either the time or that it was safe to have moved but had retreated perhaps because he was close. His human and wolf mind worked hard in tandem with his line of reasoning and his heightened senses.

Bu-dum... Bu-dum-bu-dum...

His right ear flicked to match the direction of his left for a good second as if confirming what the left had picked up before his triangular head and upper frame turned to face Janine's direction. She had found herself a hole and this presented the hunter with a quandry. A hole was both a good place and a bad place to be if a predator knew or found where you were and much of that depended on the depth of the hole. He faced her completely with a grin of white teeth, a tongue licking over his nose as if displaying hisplesaure in the finding. However, game wasn't done yet. He still had to 'tag' her.

With a mind to not harm her, he leapt for the mouth of the hole with a sudden burst of speed. She would have seconds to make a choice of whether to retreat into what space the hole provided her or to make a run for it.
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
‘Oh no, he heard that. He definitely heard that!’ Janine frantically thought as she shuffled against the earthy wall behind her. Why was being out there so terrifying?! All that built up anxiety was spreading through her, making her body react with jitters and twitches. Despite this, she shook her head, trying to cool her thoughts. This may have been a game of tag, but she felt like prey in a sense. She liked what she felt, despite being in this situation. It was a continuous back and forth of whether she wanted this, and enjoying it to the fullest.

She laid on her tail entirely by accident, but it was even better than stepping on it. She needed absolute silence to hear the overground. Her heat pounded against her chest as the anticipation within her rose to its peak. Would Raban find her this time or not? The wait was killing her!

She wanted to rise to her feet, but the fear of giving herself away was too strong. Her tail wiggled against her belly, confirming her fears, but she needed to scout her surroundings! She shook her head with a mental snarl, forcing all her unfettered anxiety down to a somewhat manageable level. Inch by inch, Janine lifted herself up off her tail, and when it didn't rattle, she took it as a sign to move before she faked herself out. Her head was just about to reach the mouth of the cave when she saw the unmistakable sight of black furry ears. Eyes widened as she saw how close she was to Raban, so close she could almost taste his scent on her tongue. And of course, on cue, her tongue flicked out silently, scenting the air in front of her.

It was as if she could taste his emotions - excitement, anticipation, eagerness. Everything she was feeling, but it seemed a lot stronger, not that she minded. It all seemed to make her even more determined, raising her excitable energy back up to their higher levels. She felt that he couldn't possibly miss this chance, he was as close to her as he could possibly be - if his nose was broken at this point, she'd never let it down.

She almost hoped she could tease him like that. It would be very fun.

The serpent gave a smirk, but it quickly faded away when she noticed his ear swiveling in her direction. He was listening out for her. Her eyes narrowed as she backed away slowly, hiding herself in the darkness as her suspicions ran high. Did he..?

His other ear swiveled in her direction as well. Shit. He did. He was close enough. He can hear her this time. Well, at least his ears worked. Janine tensed as she backed away, senses screaming for her to take action. Seeing the werewolf lick his fangs with pleasure filled her mind with the hisses and rattling of her warning signals, saying danger was imminent. This was it. This was the end game. The moment they both were waiting for. She couldn't help but let her tail loose and allow it to rattle, confirming her position.

But she was not going down without a fight.

'Oh yes, yes, yessss… come on Raban.'

Eyes glowed brown in the darkness of the hole she hid in. No use hiding it now. The muscles in her body bunched up, bracing for action. She had to wait for the right moment to run. No way she was hiding anymore.

Wait for it. Wait for it…

She moved mere seconds before Raban did, her large body rushing out to exit the hole and launch herself just as Raban's body launched inside it. She landed just before the mouth of the hole and hissed with excitement.

"Haha! Almost Raban! You gotta be quicker than that!" Janine whooped before she launched herself into the grass again.

She ran with a reborn speed, the thrill filling her again. But she knew Raban was going to be close again. She wanted to see how close though. She launched herself into the air like a prancing deer, using the height to locate Raban. When she landed, she'd make a dash in a random direction, using the grass as cover.

She'd do this several times before she opted to just run, laughing and hissing as she just let herself feel the sheer fun of the game. But soon the tall grass, which was her ally for the longest time, became her enemy. Unable to see a sizable dirt mound, Janine's paw landed on it, throwing her delicate balance off center. With a gasp she stumbled, and with her high speeds she experienced a rather hard tumble.

Her body crashed into the ground several times, but Janine was determined to regain control despite her world doing summersaults. Despite the slight disorientation, Janine regained traction and dashed off again. The fall made her lose precious time, and she felt panic rising again as she began to run once more. Where was Raban? She heard footsteps get closer, but she couldn't tell if she had the upper hand or not. And it didn't help that her vision was still tainted with dizziness.

'Run! Just keep running!' Janine urged herself.
 
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Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
Raban growled softly clear in the knowledge he had waited a few seconds too long in his pounce towards her as he felt rather than saw her flash past his own bulk. He came to a halt in her hiding spot, sending dirt flying into the walls as his frame fought to correct his position and give chase. Without a human speaking voice-box to hand, he howled after her in response to her words and it cut through the air like a knife through butter.

He leapt after her with leaping bounds using her scent markers now combined with the dirt and the sight of broken grasses her running bulk now made to aid his own course as he chased her. The blunted claws of his hinds made traction with the ground he was speeding across easier to deal with, enable him to make sharper turns. She was also giving herself away with her prancing leaps which made it easier for him to course correct and close the gap between them.

Closing the gap was not hard for him. With each bound he was clearing in the excess of sixteen to twenty feet. He was light and agile, everything that he was using to his advantage as he moved. He could feel his excitement in his ears and a chuckled snort from Chestnut in his mind.

The grass was beginning to thin and he pushed himself harder now especially when her tail her tail flop upwards and then rolled beneath her again. Her stumble would cost her some valuable distance and he howled again now that he was that much closer. Raban's short tail was almost erect as he bounded towards her with eagerness driven to a chase like this.

Raban vaulted to one side, looking for all appearances to be chasing the wrong target as a pheasant took fright and flapped upwards again but he used his speed and cunning to blindside her. He was aiming to get ahead of her or at least far enough to come at her where she least expected. Once he gained a suitable distance, he veered back towards her having kept her in sight as she righted herself at last and ran on. He grinned wolfishly and then bounded for her.

His muscles strained and burned and he didn't know if an hour or hours had passed. It did not matter. He was living in the moment and enjoying it completely. He snarled in greeting as he leapt straight for her back, clawed hands outstretched and ready to make contact with her hide, ready for that tag.
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
'Keep moving!'

The ground under Janine's paws were constantly thrown back in her need for speed. The fall and the resulting consequences lay heavy on her mind - it gave Raban a chance to catch up. Even so, she had to keep going, keep the chase for as long as she could. No stopping, even if it was a game, no giving up even if it seems futile. She could sense Raban near her, spurring her body to keep going - she looked up to her left to see birds flying, but she didn't think too much off it - she wand Raban were running like they were on fire, and it was already established that birds were hiding in the grass as well.

Not once did she think that Raban was about to make his move.

Panting and feeling her energy wear back down once again urged Janine to figure out her next move. She didn't even notice the grass thinning out until the last second; it probably meant new terrain… it also meant that Raban would have full sight of her.

The serpent hesitated - should she stay further into the field where she had a chance? Or did she want to see where the new terrain would take her? The decision was difficult, but she had thought for too long - a sudden snarl alerted Janine too late, and as she turned her head to the sound, all she elsaw was Raban's body lunging towards her, teeth bared and claws outstretched.

A startled hiss-roar thundered out of Janine's maw as she felt the full weight of Raban's push as he tagged her. Her body jerked to the side, making her fall down again and roll in the grass. Janine managed to stop herself again with her long claws, the world once again spinning around in front of her eyes.

"Ugh. That sucked," Janine groaned as she lifted herself off the ground. What she failed to notice was that while her upper body was still in the tall grass, her lower half was on the side of a small hill, the natural barrier that separated the field with tall grass and a field of shorter grass. While Janine struggled to get up, her hind legs gave way, allowing gravity to pull her down the extra three feet, dust and dirt flying all around before she landed back-first into a bed of softer and greener grass.

"Owwwww! That sucked even more!" Janine said with a sound that sounded like a hiss and a whine. The world continued spinning as her limbs lay awkwardly above her belly, mouth agape as she panted from her constant exertion.
 
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Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
Her face was akin to a deer's head brought high with acute alarm, her eyes were wide with surprise and he could almost picture the deer's like ears sticking upwards had she owned any in her current form. The image was clearly amusing enough for Chestnut to find hilarious as he collided with her, partially rolling across her back before his kientic movement from his bounding leap and her own from falling vaulted him off again into the dirt and grass beyond. Raban landed hard in a ball of fluff before his frame uncurled and he took a moment to catch his breath from his exertions. He imagined they could probably both use a little breather before this game carried on. If it carried on.

It was then he realised he had been vaulted and rolled into a mud spot, and as he stood, it proved a challene to not fall upon his arse again. He chuffed at himself, his black fur was now thick with mud. Sighing, he leapt out of the mudpile and then shook himself vehemently but he did not get it all out. He wrinkled his nose. It would seem he at least would have to venture the water of the lake soon enough anyway.

Raban walked bipedly back to where Janine now lay, hearing her words. He grinned wolfishly, boyishly, and chuffed towards her. Even in his lycanthrope state, it was more of gentle bemusement that poking a laugh on her exspense. He cocked his head at as if questioning her in some way, likely a way of asking if she was all right. Raban knew he did now have to worry too much about hurting her and that his venom would be useless on her but the game of the chase had put them through their paces and he was a little afraid he might have landed on her a little too hard.

He tilted his head a moment and then flopped to the ground beside her, his stomach shifting with heavy intake of breath. Ears remained listening as always to the sounds around them, but he was content no one was around. Perhaps even bounty hunter's took a day off for Sweetfall's. That was wishful thinking on Raban's part but he was grateful nonetheless. He was sure this had to be the strangest sight for anything else around them. A demon with a werewolf, lying on the grass on their backs without so much as a care in the world, even if it was just for a day.

Raban reached only to write one word into the ground with the claw of his forefinger, spelling out a neat upper case 'REST'. He peered back to her for confirmation. He knew he could just have easily transformed back to human and talk normally that way but he was content in this form as he was now.
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
Janien panted heavily as she laid on her back. She finally got tagged. So many emotions welled inside her - relief that the round was over, irritation stemming from her competitive spirit at the fact that she got tagged, happiness that she and Raban were out here uninterrupted. Her head shifted when she heard something moving in something wet, and realized that Raban had flown into a mud hole of sorts. A hiss that reminisced laughter flew out of her mouth, happy that she didn’t fall into that mess.

When she heard Raban approach her, she finally decided to let her body fall to the side, her limbs facing Raban as he approached her. She smiled when he smiled at her, his grin not making her anxious or nervous anymore, but rather relaxed and elated. He made a sound at her, and without thinking, she gave a small hiss back in greeting. Not everything humans did was a voice or word, so she figured that they were able to greet one another with no words. The way he tilted his head looked inquisitive, as if he was asking a question. Probably to ask if she was alright. She got on her belly and wagged her tail like a canine, watching as he sat down next to her.

“Are you asking if I’m alright? I’m fine! If anything, I feel great! You just startled me, is all,” Janine said as she looked to her hip - she could still feel where Raban tagged her. “Well, the fall did bump me around and whatnot. My back hurts a little, but who’s back wouldn’t hurt when you’re falling down a hill?” she added with a smile. She got on her paws and turned around in a circle before lying back down next to Raban. The wind blew against both her and Raban, and for once, since they began their game of tag, she didn’t care much about it - not whether she would be found, if she had to run for her life, or anything. She didn’t even feel cold.

It was just so peaceful.

Before she just enjoyed her time in silence, Janine took notice of Raban moving upward. He began drawing in the dirt, spelling out a single word: ‘REST’. A soft hiss was all that came out of her maw for the moment, cocking her head to the side as she read the word in the dirt. She looked up with a chuckle.

“Of course Raban. We’ve been running forever. You don’t even have to -”


Janine paused as she finally took more notice of Raban’s lack of dialogue. Why didn’t he say he wanted to rest? Or anything? She knew he'd say something at this point.

"Wait… why aren't you saying anything? Can't you talk? Did your hurt your throat?" Janine asked with concern.
 

Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
Raban watched her with a lopsided smile to his maw, his tongue panting between the open jaws as he regained his breath. Whilst he could sweat normally as humans do in human form but when he was in his wolf form as he was now, he had to do it their way. That was through panting, it was somewhat undignified but he was used to it. It wasn't as if he had a choice if he wanted to remain in this form.

It was amusing when she shifted to her stomach and waggled her tail. He copied suit with his own in reply although given how short his tail was by comparison, even with a normal wolf, he wasn't sure she would even see it. She clarified his head tilt and he nodded, smiling wider when she said she was fine and more so. Good. He was happy about that. He nodded again lightly to the back hurt and falls, they generally did hurt. His own in the mud puddle had rocked through him but it was a very minor annoyance.

Raban felt the breeze brush through his fur and his frame arched higher to higher to enjoy the feeling of it all. His tail continued to wag as she encircled around him and he didn't mind the show of her doing so. In some weird way it felt entirely comforting. No doubt she'd see he was now due a bath since not all of his fur ruffled in the wind the way it should thanks to the mud he an unwittingly vaulted into.

With him now on the ground, the flat of his hocks rests fully against the earth, keeping him in place on the slope as he just allowed his frame to replenish his strength and oxygen. His tongue continued panting, but flopped to one side of his jaws as he lay there with ease and comfort. He didn't have to worry about those around him, his space, being seen and he was happy he was here with someone in whom he could trust his life with. They understood each other in a way not even Cadfael could have understood.

It was then she gave questions and he looked towards her as she spoke. She look as confused as she sounded. His head tilted before he shifted to rest on his side, allowing a space of earth between them. He cleared where he had written before before he used the same claw to respond.

'WOLF VOICE BOX. NOT HUMAN. CAN'T TALK. NOT HURT. JUST DON'T WANT TO CHANGE BACK YET.'

He looked back to her once he was done sketching letters in the earth and smiled. He wasn't bothered by the inability to speak the human tongue in his lycanthrope state. There would always be pros and cons to anything and everything in life. He was still able to communicate in other ways be it through writing in the mud as he was now or using hand gestures. Sign language had been something he had painstakingly learned and not something he had found easy but Cadfael had insisted. All in all, he just had a non-verbal voice in this form.

Raban's tongue shifted, licking over a dry nose with a flash of pink before it returned to its panting, lolling state even though it was now panting more softly now.
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
When Raban wrote his reasoning for not being able to speak, Janine craned her head to see the words. When she was done reading it, she made a short hiss as she flicked her tail.

"Oh. Really? I hadn't noticed. All this time I figured that you just didn't feel the need to talk," Janine surmised as she laid down on her side. “But I don’t want you to change back either. This form is more fun to play with!” Janine said as she pawed at his shoulder. Her paw recoiled when she felt something that didn’t feel like fur, and upon investigating the substance on her paw, she found it to be mud. Oh yeah, how did she forget so quickly? Janine chuckled as she lifted her gaze to Raban.

“Looks like someone’s dirty. The Big Bad Wolf's gonna need a bath soon~!” Janine teased in a singsong fashion as she wiped her paw on the ground. "Luckily I didn't fall in a mud spot. Grooming my fur is bothersome sometimes," Janine stated as she shifted to lay on her back like before, sighing as she stared at the sky.

As she laid in silence, Janine began to recall all that they did for who knows how long it had been. The best game of hide-and-go-seek-tag she ever played! Her tail flicked as she thought about running through the forest, hiding in the trees and being filled with anticipation as Raban searched for her.

Tcssh

And then she thought about the battle of stealth in the grass - how any sound could've been Raban, How any sound would've given her away, how tense she was every time the wind blew...

Tcssh Tcssh

How close Raban was when he finally found her hiding spot.

At this point, Janine's tail was rattling at full blast, and she giggled constantly like a mad woman. Squirming and giggling and hissing, Janine had forgotten about Raban's presence until she turned over and saw his black frame looking at her. She gasped and hurriedly got up on her feet.

"Oh crap! I'm sorry! I just…. I w-was thinking about our game." Janine felt a wave of embarrassment sweep over her again, knowing that it must've been weird to see her behave like this.

"I… I don't normally act like this, you know. And don't get me wrong, I feel so safe and relaxed with you, right now, it's almost ludicrous. I just still get those moments you know?" The serpent explained. She turned back around, staring at the distance with a flicking tail. It was going to be hard for her to get used to others seeing her so giddy and vulnerable. But she doubted that she would allow herself to to get that far. At the same time, her being this emotionally deep with Raban was something that she'd never thought to be possible in itself.

Something to be happy and celebrate about.

With a smirk, she tuned her head to Raban once more, her tail rattling again to show her excitement. Annoyed, Janine hissed at her tail and brought it to her feet to stomp on it, silencing it with swiftness. Her eyes then turned to the werewolf, her fangs showing as she spoke again.

"But I know you had fun didn't you? Best game of hide-and-go-seek-tag you had right?! Running through the forest without a care in the world, just being yourself and not worrying about anyone or anything. And I saw how you looked at me when you found me in the trees! I was so scared!" Janine hissed with elation. It was hard for her to contain her emotions again, the embarrassment dissipating with each sentence.

"And I even felt myself kinda get into some other mode, like my body was taking over in some small way… like instinct in a way. It happened when I was in the tall grass too. I don't think I ever felt that way before," Janine mentioned with a childlike curiosity.

"Ooh! And then when we were in the grass! It was even scarier than the trees. At least I could see you in the trees - the grass made it impossible to see you! I never felt that way before!" Janine exclaimed before she began bouncing around the dirt.

"And then when you found me!? You were so sure you had me!" As she let out more giggles and short, sharp hisses, the young demon began running and hopping around, legs flailing in the air before she hit the ground, and then doing it again every time she landed. She bouced on the edge of the hill and pushed herself backwards, landing on the green field before rolling in it, leaped in and out of the green field, up and down, rolled in the dirt, made mad dashes in the long grass field for a short moment before rushing right back out; her body was seemingly filled with endless emotion and energy. All the while she cackled and made all the different noises she could think of. She soon stopped in Raban's view, turning her head to face the wolf.

"Oh! And then when I found that hole in the field? I almost fell in!" Janine laughed. She began spinning around, her feet and tail whirling around as she threw her body in circles. This lasted what for seemed like hours, but Janine eventually stopped. In a skid, the overjoyed demon stopped just next to Raban, tongue lolling out like Raban's. "I was so excited when you found me I-" She stopped herself with a gasp, tail erect and rattling endlessly.

"We should go find the hole again! It was big enough to hide me, it has to be big enough to hide you! We could take turns going in or…" Janine stopped herself mid-sentence and hissed softly. "W-we could…. Take naps in it… the hole was rather comfortable since the dirt was soft." The young demon sheepishly added between pants.

With that said, Janine seemed to have run the boundless energy out of her system. The serpent demon walked around Raban to find a spot to lay and stretched herself like a typical feline, a yawn exposing her fangs and the rest of her mouth; when finished, she laid down on the ground and sighed. "Of course, we don't have to do it now."

'or ever.'

"This is as good a place as any to sunbathe... And rest since I ran my energy all out again," Janine chuckled breathlessly as she got herself comfortable on the ground, stretching her body once again before staying outstretched on her side.
 
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Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
His ears had flicked back and forth lazily at the numerous different sounds of the forest around them as they lay on the ground but the instant she had hissed, they faced her with complete attention before one lazily flopped back whilst one remained on her. Raban had always admired this ability of wolves, to be able to source sounds from multiple directions and yet keep one ear focused on the main sound they wanted to remain track of.

Raban gave a wide loose toothy grin in response to what she said glad she understood and was happy for him to remain like this. It was, after all, better on the eyes till he found where he left his tunic and trousers. Sometimes clothes felt akin to shackles, as a lycanthrope, he had this level of freedom that both of them understood the importance of. No human could know this feeling. His eyes closed briefly before he watched her inspect her paw. It would appear the mud on him was still damp.

He chuffed at her, a wolf's way of mirth or soft laugh, as she gently teased him. He felt no malice and grinned before he shifted to his fours. He shook himself hard, ears slapping against the side of his skull before he sat, his stubby tail resting on the grass. He looked at her, eyes bright and mouth set to a shit-eating grin after having sprayed a little mud away from his fur. He would still need a bath but it had helped a little in some of the mud removal. He nodded with feeling in time with her comment of grooming being a bother. Course, he doubted she smelt of 'wet dog' when she bathed. That was his downside.

He turned in a little circle before he lay back down and enjoyed the breeze ruffle through his fur again. He loved this feeling! And at speed, it was even better! His ears moved to set their attention on her as her rattle went off again. He smiled, she was excited for something again and he was happy. Raban was happy that Janine was comfortable with herself and around those she trusted to just be herself. People like them didn't get days like this everyday. It was one of the few things that they could envy humans for.

Raban shook his head in the manner of not worrying about apologizing. He understood and it didn't need translating for him to understand. They were both predators who loved the thrills and excitements that chases or hunts brought. If the Order could bring themselves to be more open-minded about what else was out there in the world they shared, they would find they could add so much strength to its foundations. Alas, that would never happen and they would have to continue to be wary of the world around them.

His head dipped slightly as she looked at him and his maw gave a smile, the corners of his 'lips' pulling back gently although he couldn't hide his amusement when she stood on her tail to stop its excited wiggle rattles. He rather enjoyed the sound.

"Weirdo."

Raban's ear flicked slightly at Chestnut's one word of input. He had almost forgotten she was in the vicinity alongside Venus but he had understood she had simply allowed them time to do their thing whilst she did hers.

He nodded in semi-vigorous agreement, he definitely had enjoyed himself. He loved the thrill of a good chase and she had not made it easy for him. She had found ways to throw him off and hide her scent. Raban was proud and knew her mother would have nothing to worry about. Janine was capable of chasing or outwitting those chasing her in turn. Their game might have been just a game, a way of letting off steam and enjoying themselves, but they both excelled at it and there was the practice involved as well.

She spoke of the grass and he chuffed at that. The grass had been annoying for them both then! He had been forced to slow down and take stock more of his surroundings. He wiped out the words he had previously written and replaced it with, 'Bloody pheasants!'

He watched her bunny hops and grinned with open bemusement, it looked as adorable asn it was amusing. Sudden bursts of speed but a short distance, it was not something he could do. His legs were designed for long distance running as it was for ordinary wolves. He could make long leaps but struggled with little hops like she was producing. The small perks of them both, he mused. She was filled with clearn joy and excitement that it was hard for him to not follow with a goofy expression of his own, which amounted to his tongue hanging out of one side of his jaws, his head tilted to one side with his ears erect and pointed together as he watched.

It was then she talked about finding the hole again, wouldn't be that hard... the grass stalks that had been in the course of their chase were all either lain down or broken. Then there would be their scents to mark the way as well. She seemed coy or sheepish, he wasn't sure which and it left him a little cinfused.

"She means you share a hole, numnuts. Together."

Oh...

"..."

He felt her walk around him again even as Chestnut filled him in to Janine's meaning and subsequent silent disbelief at his inward reaction to this. He looked to Janine and then grinned, she had run rather hard today, they both had. Perhaps he was just that much more used to the long distance chases, he didn't know but he enjoyed it.

Raban looked towards the sun at the mention of sunbathing and tilted his head again at an activity he seldom did. He could tan well enough in human form but the fur worked well in protecting his hide. He did not envy her weakness to the cold and knew she would relish the warmth of the sun's rays. He shifted and lay down next to her in a sort of ball, except it was more shrimp-shaped.

He would remember today for as long as he had left on this Earth. It was one of the most important days he ever could remember having since Cadfael taking him in as a Squire. Raban gave a deep sigh of open contentment and trust to dose off like this. This, for one of his kin, was a vulnerable spot to be in but he trusted her implicitly and knew there was nothing they could not face together. It was a new world.
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
Janine was happy that Raban felt the same way as her when she rambled about their game. Her enjoyment was important, but she wanted Raban to have so much fun he’d remember for the rest of his life. With his constant canine grinning, she could imagine how happy Raban was as he recalled his chase along with her. Though she felt that she failed in saying what she wanted to do when they found the hole she stayed in. It was a bit hard to even say what she said, and the embarrassment came in full force, so she tried to mask it with a simple dismissal.

‘Stupid, why even ask that? Why would he even want to go inside with you? He’d probably think it would be weird,’ Janine mentally scolded as she stared at her paws. She inwardly sighed, forcing her mind to focus on the sunbathing as she opted to stay and absorb the sun’s warmth. But when Raban moved to lay closer to her, curling himself up in the process, Janine felt herself smile wide as her tail flicked excitedly. He was willing to lay next to her? Out here, where they would easily be seen? Janine felt her embarrassment melt away yet again as she took in the werewolf’s form. She admired how cute he looked, and moved her tail to be lined underneath his paw-pads. She felt honored to be able to be able to relax with him, and opted to keep watch while he’d slept.

It wasn’t long after Raban dozed off, and the sun kept on beating its sun rays down on the demon and werewolf. Janine couldn’t help but succumb to the peaceful and quiet scene around them; tiredness and contentedness swept over her as well, and gave a few flicks of her tongue as she lifted her own head, taking in the scents that flowed in the wind before she lowered her head down next to the wolf’s head with a soft hissing sigh of her own. With a deep inhale, the serpent made herself comfortable, taking in Raban’s scent in the process; with her exhale, she let all her worries go, allowing the positive energy to flow through and relax her fully. Janine’s body was adorned with the warmth of Raban's body, and as a film covered her eyes, she let herself get carried away with sleep.

~~~~~~~​


As she came out of her sleep, Janine stirred a little. The sun was still beating down on her though, so waking up wasn’t as easy as it looked - she still very much wanted to stay in her comfortable position, and maybe sleep the rest of the day away. Her drowsy form hissed softly, looking up to the sky to see the position of the sun. It was sometime in the afternoon - the sun had leaned more to the left - it was noticeable, but it wasn’t too far in the afternoon. Good, still time to do whatever they wanted today. But, that was, if she would be able to rouse herself from sleep. She felt herself relaxing into a sleepy state again, unable to notice the shadows of something flying above them. As the shadows grew larger and larger, the owners of the shapes came onto the ground: ravens. They landed behind Janine and Raban, slowly hopping towards the larger predators with the utmost caution. When they got close enough, they began to chatter and pluck the furs from the resting knights’ bodies. Some plucked at Janine, while others plucked and pecked at Raban - some even had the nerve to peck at his snout and nose.

Janine was forced to rouse herself from sleep this time, the feeling of calm and serenity dashing away with every prickle of pain that emanated from her back. As she focused on clarity in her eyes with a groaning hiss, she suddenly felt weight on her head just as she saw the large birds surrounding herself and Raban. Her heart jumped at the sight, but just before she could think of anything, in that same moment, pain in her back was just superseded by a sharp poke on the corner of her eye. With a harsh hiss, Janine lifted her head and snapped at a bird, narrowly missing it as it jumped and flew away. She turned her head with a hissing roar as she saw two more of the birds with clumps of fur in their beaks. A sudden rush of anger filled the demon as she flipped over and lunged at the birds, roaring at them as they flew off into the sky.

“Fucking miscreants!” Janine snarled with a rattling tail. She huffed at the sky until the pain in her back turned into an itch, making her sit down to scratch at it rapidly. “Raban, are you okay? Fucking birds sure know how to ruin a good nap,” the young demon hissed in irritation.
 

Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
He was happy and content for the longest time in his many years and he felt relaxed and comfortable, something of which he had never known a time for previously. Not even with Cadfael. With Cadfael, it had always been reminders and duty. Don't forget what you are, remember what you're capable of, don't let people see because they won't understand you. It was a series of do's and don'ts's and personal time was rarely obtained. Raban appreciated what Cadfael had done, had risked and potentially sacrificed in order to look after and raise him but now that he had found Janine and had experienced this, he did wish Cadfael had allowed more time for him to be himself with the worries and concerns. This was soothing in so many ways.

Raban felt comfortable and elated to have the friend he now had in Janine. She had given him a chance to see what he had missed in his younger days. The comments from her peers drifted to mind but he was hardly bothered by their age difference and he supposed he was generally used to older friends himself. Cadfael had been both a friend and an adopted father. But with Janine, he knew he could just be himself and no worry for her safety or that he would hurt her. He felt Cadfael would have approved. She was not quite human and she as capable of stopping him in his dark turns if she had to. He was relaxed and it was not long before he dozed off completely feeling that he was safe and secure.

His ears were drooped as he slept and lowered the more deeply he did so, although they never fully relaxed beyond a certain point. Some things were impossible to quieten completely, it was just a inner security system at play. The sun felt warm and inviting and he wasn't sure for how long they slept for. He found he didn't have a care in the slightest.

---

It was a long time before he felt something pulling at him. He wasn't all that sure what it was even as one of his ears flicked in the direction of one of the crows. It paused for the right amount of time before it pulled at the fur again. He gruffled, stirring although he didn't quite awake in that moment, it was that kind of movement one made when they weren't ready to acknowledge that a world existed about themselves. However, the little constant pulls that were akin to nags on the mind continued and his eyes slowly opened in an unwilling weary blinking state.

That was up until the crows began pecking at his muzzle and then his nose directly. It awoke his instincts in a heartbeat and just as one crow went to peck at his snout once more, his jaws opened and closed on the bird without a thought by Raban. The others flew away from his head in a flutter of feathers and his ears flicked towards Janine's shouted words as they penetrated the airspace around him. He sat up, watching her for a moment as she gave the birds a what for. He hadn't entirely been sure what had just happened until he noticed some of his fur strands caught on the blades of grass.

Raban looked at her with the bird limp in his jaws, its head lolling with an open beak before he looked and inspected himself. He made a full circle before he sat his rump down again and then dropped his unwitting catch to the ground. He nodded before his head tilted, watching her scratch and furrowed his brows in a return question of the same inkling. He then wrote in the earth where he had before.

"NEST MATERIAL I GUESS. CAN'T SLEEP ALL DAY. HUNGRY?"

He then picked up the dead bird with his jaws before he plopped it next to her and sat again. He felt renewed, revived. He was aware that if their game was still in operation, it was his turn to hide and her turn to come hunt him down. He was interested in doing this. Werewolves might be mad with hunger and bloodlust but they were also intelligent and wily. It was in a werewolf's nature to hide when it had to. If he took an unwilling change and she wasn't there to immediately put a stop to him, her being able to hunt him down would prove to be a boon.
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
Janine turned her head just in time to see Raban writing in the dirt. She shook her body after she was done scratching her back, then got on her paws to walk towards him, only for him to already be in front of her, dropping a dead crow next to her before sitting like a dog would - or as dog-like as a werewolf could be. She would never get over how cute Raban looked every time he did that.

"Oh, you caught one?" Puzzled, Janine craned her head to see what he wrote, hissing at the speculation about the crows.

"Okay, but there are safer ways to gather fur for nests. The risks surely aren't worth the reward - as this bird has unfortunately proved," Janine said as she nudged the dead bird with her paw. "Unfortunately, this one won't be able to tell their precautionary tale," the serpent dryly chuckled.

Switching the tone, Janine flicked her tail with positive feelings as she looked at Raban again. "And why can't we sleep all day? The sun is so warm. And Lord knows that we don't get enough sleep back at home," Janine said with a sigh.

"Thanks for the crow Raban, that's nice of you." She bent over to grab the crow in her mouth, lifting her head in preparation to swallow the small creature. But then she stopped when she saw all the feathers on the smaller creature. Hesitant, Janine laid down to try and find a better way to eat the black bird; she started by racking her claws across its back, hoping to tear off the feathers that covered its body. When she only tore off a few feathers, Janine tried to tear them with her mouth, quickly realizing that her mouth wasn't designed to do such tasks. Sighing, Janine got up on her paws, lifting the crow in her mouth and gently placing it at his feet.

"I love the gesture, but I'm afraid of swallowing feathers. I just don't think that they would feel right going down my throat. I'm afraid that there are still some things that are still ingrained in my eating habits," Janine said as she sat back down. "But you're welcome to snack on it before we head on. We could go find some water… or we can play another round of our game! It'd be your turn to hide if you want to play again~!" Janine said in a singsong tone of voice as she swayed her tail behind her.
 

Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
Ears pricked and he settled, happy in the knowledge that the crows would not bother them again. Not with him now knowing their ill-intent beforehand. He licked his nose, there was the taste of blood, fleeting and sweet coupled with a metallic tang. It fed the beast within and without. Raban quirked an ear slightly, she was looking at him in such a way that he didn't know or had learned to recognize, and yet it wasn't unwelcomed either.

Raban nodded, jaws widening with a large, tooth-filled grin at her question. His human side had not expected it, he never did but the wolf reacted faster, more instinctively, than he did more often than not. Survival mechanic, enthralled by the temptress of the hunt perhaps... He did not know but it was something he could never deny, never truly stop completely. Raban was a creature of shadow, of the supernatural, the under-dark. He could never deny or escape that nor would he.

He chuffed and then looked towards where the crows had sought their sanctuary from the demon and wolf. Even from here he sensed their laughter coupled with the knowledge of their fear of getting too close again. He howled a reminder towards them, the sound meaningful in its warning. It expressed his intimidation, his thrill and excitement should they try again this day. They grew silent as a grave. He huffed before he peered back towards her, calm in the knowledge they would heed his warning. Fur they could both regrow, but the birds could have left with more. Raban understood the intelligence of crows. He had witnessed one using bread to bait fish with once, and that was a level of intelligence that meant they were capable of problem solving. And yet, humans, as short lived and weak as their lives were, had inherited the earth in this day of age.

With a swipe of his paw he wiped clean his old message and wrote anew, "I TOLD THEM TO FUCK OFF."

It was plainly put despite the eloquence of what he had intended in his howl but he did not doubt for a second that she had not read that in his howl. However, it offered assurance that something a slow as a feathered fiend, even an intelligent once, would bother them again.

She spoke of sleeping later and he supposed there was truth in that but he understood the dangers of pushing one's self too far in a day's sprint. He looked upwards to the sun and estimated that, in reality, only a couple of hours had passed since he had so willingly curled up against her. Again, that was something he did not quite understand. Perhaps he was not mea-

"Oh, you are still as young and foolish as when we met, idiot, meat sack. You like her. I think she reciprocates, young wolf."

He stared at Janine quite owlishly despite his llupine form but the action was meant for Chestnut in itself when her words cut into his mind like a knife through butter.

"You're old but Cadfael failed in that lesson. What? Think a demon knows nothing of love, wolf? Don't be stupid. She's quite your match and if I am ever to be free of this entrapment, there's no one else I'd trust with you. Big words, yes, yes, I know. Perhaps I've grown senile, but alas, there's the truth of it. I suspect her mother feels the same intuition, little wolf."

It was sincere and heartfelt, not something he knew was common from the likes of Chestnut. After all, she suffered few humans to pass and yet Janine and her mother must have made an impression on the fiery demon within his noble steed for her to express this much in a sitting.

Raban realised then his relationship with Janine might be slightly shifting into an unknown field for him. This was friendship still. A true and honest friendship, but with what he might have described as a quirk. Not for the first time did he now wish Cadfael had prepared him for this. This was not something he knew the answers for. What if he did something wrong, said something wrong... it was a whole new headspace.

"Be yourself, idiot."

Raban blinked and then stared at the return of the bird even after watching her try to negotiate the feathers. He wasn't even sure how he must of looked during this event, perhaps she had not noticed, gods, he hoped not. Lupine faces might not be human but they were still expressive. He peered at the lifeless crow set before him and her reached for it. Perhaps he should have thought of that prior to him gifting a bird of all things but his hands began plucking feathers out of the bird's skin. he reached half the bird before he realised this action and tilted his head. Perhaps they could just use the feathers in some way, they were glossy black and quite decorative in their own way.

He looked sharply back to Janine as she spoke of continuing their game. He nodded, he was game for this, he wanted to see how well she could track. Perhaps in some ways it was a little mean but games were practice modes set to ensure their own survival. If they kept each other safe and alive, then this relationship benefited them more then they, Janine's mother or Cadfael could ever have realised or hope for.

Raban plucked the bird until it was feather free and then tore it in half before he offered half the small bird back to Janine and wolfed down the rest himself. His tail wagged and then wrote over his words again.

"I HIDE. YOU CHASE! COUNT DOWN 10"

With the rest of the bird given to Janine, he bounded away with no warning. He aimed into the trees away from the birds. Birds were little sentries and didn't know when to keep quiet half the time. So, he avoided that direction and headed straight for the darkness where his dark fur just melded into the scenery. However, he knew it would take more than that to throw her off so when ever he spotted wildflowers, he merged his scent along with them. Flowers, mud, even poo when he happened upon it. All of this born to his life experiences when throwing hunters off his scent.

It was then that a thought struck him. What if Greaves employed the use of dogs?
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
After returning the crow, Janine wasn’t sure if Raban would eat the crow or not. She had the most confidence in his refusal to let anything go to waste, so she was ready to forgo food if it meant that there would be better options down the line. Of course, that wouldn’t be the case, since Raban decided to pluck the feathers for her, tearing the black shiny feathers by the handful as they sat in the field. Janine craned her head back with a cocked head, curious as to what he planned on doing with the bird himself.

‘Silly, he’s going to eat it, of course. He doesn’t want feathers in his mouth either,’ Janine scolded. She mentally groaned at how ridiculous her thoughts were, grateful that neither Raban nor Chestnut could hear them. Her thoughts faded when he reacted to her suggestion at another game of tag - how exciting! Now she could be the one to test herself on how to track. Even as she watched Raban pluck the crow, she wondered whether she ever tracked something as extensively as Raban did in this game. Looking back as far as when she was with her father, she couldn’t exactly tell if she did a full blown hunt, or even a mock hunt. Mice were rather easy, with the close quarters, small spaces and abundant numbers. Well, this game would be as much practice as it was going to get. She felt herself grow nervous - she hoped that she could do as well in hunting as she did hiding.

The sharp scent of blood pulled Janine from her thoughts this time, just barely noticing Raban tear the crow in half. So he planned on sharing it after all. With a soft hiss she grappled the torn carcass with her paws, holding it awkwardly as her feline paws tried to hold the small body. She watched as he wrote something on the ground, and just as she began reading it, he bounded away from her. With a gasp, Janine made a short hop, startled at the sudden burst of action. She quickly read the sentence in the dirt, just then realizing that had begun the game.

“No fair, Raban! You’re not supposed to run on a full stomach!” She shouted after him. But Raban was long gone by then. Was that his strategy? Distracting her with food so he could have a decent head start? The nerve. She’d show him. But as much as she wanted to go after Raban, Janine hesitated on whether to drop the crow or eat it. Several seconds of indecision later, she hurriedly scarfed the morsel down and ran after the wolf, just barely able to remember the direction he took. But that was as far as she had seen. The rest she had to figure out herself. When she entered the forest again, she ran past the treeline, stopping only after a few moments of entering. The scents of the forest bombarded her, which wouldn’t have been much of a bother if she wasn’t playing this game. She still held Raban’s scent in her mind, but whether she could pick it back up was another thing. Damn, Raban made this tracking shit seem super easy.

Lowering her head, she sniffed the ground, searching for the base points of his scent. When she caught it again, she lifted her head, opening her tongue to expand her olfactory system. She long ago found out that opening her mouth to expose her tongue to the air helped detect fainter scents. Confident, Janine ran off once more, her tongue lolled out of her mouth to keep track of her quarry.
 
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Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
The bird would not provide much in terms of sustenance but it was a nice little snack since their picnic earlier and perhaps they'd hunt for something more substantial later. Raban was happy to let the day unfold naturally without prompt or enforcement. He wanted to enjoy today. Raban watched her try to handle her half of the tiny crow and was bemused by her actions. Janine had a way of getting him to laugh, not something everyone could achieve. One of two women now in his life, if you could include a demon horse under that.

He grinned as he bounded away melding into the darkness of the forest above the ground and enjoying its reaching comfort. He leapt from tree to tree to find a good spot. Raban was interested to see how quickly she would find him and how she would employ what she had at her disposal. Hunting and ambushing, or hiding in this case, often meant he tried to get into the mind of what it was he was hunting or was hiding from. Things like deer he knew were fleeting creatures who relied on their hearing and sight. Others that were worth avoid like Bears were better with their sense of smell.

If he was Janine, he would be trying to see this from his advantages and disadvantages, where was he strongest and where he was weakest and exploit that. It would be an interesting game of tag for them both. It would be challenging for both since he was already having to consider how she would hunt him down. Would she use all of her senses to find him or just a one, would she keep her cool or lose her head, would she anticipate his moves... It was all a series of questions and intrigue.

He knew Janine could estimate he would seek the upper canopies for a quick means of getting through to where he wanted to go. He was conscious that he would not be able to hide his claw marks so he tried to keep them to a minimum and opted to leap from thick branches to the next tree as opposed to the tree's trunks where claws would mark his passing.

Raban paused and sniffed the air before he descended down a beech tree. He moved to about halfway and then stopped to listen out for her with his ears. She had followed him, undoubtedly had already picked up on his scent, maybe had found a pawprint... He hoped the flowers and poop he had rolled in along with the mud he had thrown himself into before would throw her off.

Raban kept going, shifting from tree to tree like some lupine monkey before he spotted a thick large bush. He cocked his head as he eyed in. It was hawthorn, so the thorns gave him pause but he knew it might not be the first consideration to Janine that a wolf was willing to hid in something spiky. He moved towards it then with his decision made. He spent a moment to work out the best entry point before he carefully hide himself within. Turned out something else had the same idea in the past as he picked brownish fur from a thorn. He sniffed it and grinned, a small bear had used this bush before, perhaps cubs or a juvenile. It was fairly recent, perhaps that'd throw her off too.
 

Jannistory19

The Eager Rper
After a short while of running, Janine had managed to pick up another scent that began to mingle with Raban’s.

Why was she picking up flowers?

Puzzled, Janine kept running until she found a patch of flowers that held his scent. She licked a flower, scents on her tongue confirming that Raban had in fact, ran over the flowers. Or maybe he rubbed himself all over this flower bed - that’s what she would’ve done. Her head lifted as she walked away from the bed of flowers, trying to pick up where he might’ve gone.

Eventually, she got Raban’s scent again - along with other other scents that she didn’t want to pick up. She picked up earthy scents, like mud, though that could have easily been from earlier in the day. That didn’t help her much. If there was a difference between wet and fry mud, Janine wouldn't have knowledge difference - to her, mud was mud. Nonetheless, she kept going with the information she had, not wanting to lose the trail.

‘You’re not going to lose me that easily, Raban,’ Janine thought.

Janine’s serpentine snout somehow managed to scrunch up at the horrible stench that began to mingle with the wolf’s scent in the air. She reflexively skidded to a stop, snorting at the nasty smell that was now deliberately floating in the air. Was that him? Or was it a coincidence? Was she running in the wrong direction? She slowly walked over to a random tree, trying to confirm her suspicions. The serpent recoiled as she closed her mouth and reeled in her tongue - she managed to find a tree that held the mixed scents. Would he really do that? Roll in that shit just to get rid of his scent? Was he trying to mask his scent or just plain deter her altogether? Either way, it was going to work. Her tail thumped on the ground in irritation as she contemplated on even finding the wolf - maybe she should let Raban bask in the stench he so willingly rubbed himself in, let him see how long he’d be willing to work with it with his sensitive nostrils.

Ugh. That sounded super childish and petty. But also a bit amusing. She almost wanted to see how long he’d last.

Well, she’d have to find him if that was to happen.

She decided to focus on his main scent and the flower scent, even though it was always tainted with the other scent. She ran again, her pace slower since she wasn't being pursued this time around. Soon enough, she had the idea of going through the trees - there was no harm in scouring the treetops, searching for a clue that would lead her to Raban. Besides, it would be good for silencing her heavy footfalls.

She stopped by a random tree and climbed up the trunk, claws scraping off the loose bits of bark as she scaled the tall tree. Careful to not put too much weight on any one branch, Janine sniffed the air once more, picking up cleaner air and bird scents. A part of Janine was disappointed - she thought she might get lucky and catch a stray scent or two. With her strong legs, she hopped across two trees, her weight hinted with each branch she landed on, and stopped to admire how high she was. It was often a fantasy of hers, being so high away from everyone that she didn't have to worry about anything. Being able to jump from so high and not worrying about being hurt on the way down because you can fly.

'It is nice up here,' Janine thought with a sigh. Her mind would've drifted if it wasn't for a strong gust of wind that made a familiar scent float in the air. Janine gasped, quickly reminded of her game, she descended, hurrying herself to find her hidden wolf. When she was halfway down, Janine spotted some shredded bark that didn't come from her. Curious, Janine suspected the marks, seeing how deep and jagged the grooves were. Her nose and tongue drew closer to it as she sniffed the tree.

Raban.

Janine's tongue rattled excitedly, happy in the fact that she found another clue. So she was getting closer! Maybe… hopefully. Still one way to find out.

With a single leap, Janine landed on the ground, sniffing the air one last time before running off in the direction the wind was blowing. A bit of vigor rejuvenated her efforts, prompting Janine to run faster in her quest to find Raban.
 

Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

the Hugger Troll
He smelt horrible but if it was something that helped you stay alive, then it was worth doing. Most creatures did not like the smell of shit. Some animals would defecate on their meal just to stop others from stealing their kills. Didn't always work but it had the chance to and that was all he needed; a chance that it would make her confused and recoil, lose her bearings even for a little moment.

Raban had to wait this out knowing she could potentially find him at any moment. As he waited, he carefully constructed himself an escape hole from the hawthorn. He didn't want to get himself cornered after all. It was a good thing his hands were more human like than they were lupine. He still had the fur, claws and pads but the thumb and longer digits that allowed him to pick and grasp.

Escape hole made, he sat ready with his legs ready to release the energy waiting in coiled muscle. After several minutes, his head tilted as his ears discerned through several sounds of birds, rodents and other mammals. Thud. It was too heavy to come from a falling bird or even a small branch. Could have been a large branch but there had been no surrounding sound to go with it. It had to be her, surely. He wasn't aware of any large cats in the area... him and big cats didn't get along and they tended to stay away from where they knew his turf was.

Well, all except for one cat but she was also a cursed creature and a little more tolerant of sharing space with something else that was cursed and understood human persecution. Raban frowned, he couldn't recall their last meeting. Perhaps she had found a better place to lurk.

Still, he would wage coin this was Janine behind the thud nearby and he readied himself. The hawthorn stank of bear and had bear fur stuck to its thorns. Hopefully that would make her think twice but he was ready to spring out should she find him.
 
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