The Werewolves' Story
Healer and Hunter: Chapter Twenty-Two
It figured that the first full moon Ronan was away, and the first
night of that full moon that Thonyn was actually out hunting instead of
shadowing them, was the full moon that Zzandoren actually decided to go rogue on
At least he sort of had cause. Thonyn was alerted to the whole situation not through someone shouting a warning through a bond or the Huntermind, but when Rythri's sudden and very unexpected pain came screaming along her nerves, sending her sprawling with the shock of it. For the first time, she appreciated what Ronan had felt, when Zzandoren shifted unexpectedly on him. Her prey, of course, got away.
Worse, the pain and accompanying panic didn't stop: even blocked out, she could still feel it around the edges of her senses, because Rythri was still feeling it. There was no thought in Thonyn's mind except that her own hunt was over, even if she'd been unsuccessful. Honestly, she felt a little panicked, herself. This wasn't just an "I ran into a tree on accident" kind of pain-- that had actually happened once-- and it was so bad that Thonyn couldn't even get a picture of where he was to teleport. She had to narrow in on his mind and run-- but run she did.
It didn't take her long, but when she got there it was already too late. Rythri was curled on the ground and shaking, a low, keening whine coming from him and a gray-fletched arrow protruding from his shoulder. The sight made Thonyn nauseous; ridiculous, in a hunter, who had killed, butchered, and skinned beasts before, but she couldn't help the sick feeling at the sight of her bonded, down and bleeding like an animal, himself. As if that weren't enough-- and, really, it could have been more than enough-- there was a large, silvery, wolf-thing charging across the moonlit grass towards--
There wasn't time to deal with Rythri, no matter how much she might want to. Not when Zzandoren was about to-- correction, just did take down a boy with a bow. She paused by her bond long enough to make sure he wasn't dying, her mind reaching along the Huntermind for the nearest one to her which, as she'd expected, was Ronan.
His response was immediate, and a little pained. ::I know!::
::Don't tell me he was in the back of your head this time, too?:: It was low, but she couldn't help a jab.
::Oh, just shut up and give me a damn picture, would you?::
Wincing as Zzandoren let out a horrible howl that actually sent her sense of balance askew, so that the leap into action she'd been considering turned into staggering sideways, Thonyn obliged dizzily. ::A clear picture?:: he clarified impatiently.
::Well, I'm sorry, but your stupid bond just used magic in Hunter form, and it messed me up for a minute.:: She tried again, finding both balance and vision again, and roared. Maybe if she got the beast's attention....
No luck, Zzandoren's attention was fixed. All she got was a crossbow bolt flying out of the trees at her. She ducked in surprise, teeth bared and mandibles spread wide and threateningly, but it had been a wild shot to begin with, more a startled loss of control than anything actually aimed at her. There were more people in the trees, she realized, as a second bolt came flying at her; she dove protectively in front of Rythri, with no time to get out of its way entirely and only enough time to make sure it didn't hit anything vital. More people-- people Zzandoren could, and would, set his sights on. He was already bearing down on one, knocking some kind of dog out of his way with a casual toss of his horned head-- damn, where was Ro--
Another roar interrupted her thought. Aha, there he was, appearing between her and Zzandoren-- closer to Zzandoren-- shit, just as he was taking down a third. Ronan charged forward, right at him, and spun his hips enough to lash his thick tail at his bond, knocking him not only off the woman he'd just taken down, but off his paws, as well. He went flying into a tree with a remarkably dog-like yelp.
::Could use a little help, here,:: Ronan suggested, annoyed-sounding, as Zzandoren picked himself back up, shook himself dazedly, and bared his teeth at him. Ronan roared, and the Hunter-thing arched his back like an angry cat and snarled.
::Be glad to,:: Thonyn answered, stalking over to back up the half-Riihan, limping as the crossbow bolt in her thigh pulled at muscle and flesh with each stride. She pulled her mandibles apart and snarled right back at Zzandoren, who she noticed was also shot, in the shoulder. He was ignoring the wound even more than she was.
Faced with two dragons so much bigger than him, and so prepared to throw him into another tree, Zzandoren did what any intelligent beast would do: he fled. Ronan looked briefly torn, glancing back at Rythri and the three bodies, but Thonyn head-butted him to get him moving. ::If you lose him now, you might never find him again.::
::I can see in head still. I just couldn't before because--:: He hesitated briefly, then finished gruffly, ::Because I'd plowed into a rock when he changed, and my head hurt.... By the time I could see again, all he was looking at were the people, and I didn't want to appear on them.::
::If it were any other time, I'd laugh,:: Thonyn promised. ::Now get moving before he circles back to find those other people in the woods.::
A few minutes later, both bolt and arrow were out of their respective puncture wounds, and Thonyn was frowning at the arrowheads. Both were silver, which was a very strange metal to be making arrowheads out of. Though he'd howled when she pulled the arrow out, Rythri was still shivering and whimpering, and he refused to shift into human form so she could get a better look at the wound.
::Well, fine, then, just lay there and I won't fix you,:: she snorted at him. He looked at her with mournful amber eyes, but she ignored him to investigate the bodies.
First, young blonde man with a bow, throat torn out: check. She nudged his bow away, in case Rythri wanted it-- the kid wasn't going to need it anymore, after all-- and rolled him into the little sinkhole she'd found behind the bushes. Next, the older black-skinned man with no weapons at all and his arm torn out of his socket: check. Him she kicked dead leaves and damp dirt over; he'd get a better burial later. Dog of some sort: oh, wolf, actually, how ironic-- and apparently alive, if knocked out. Lastly, middle-aged, brown-skinned woman with a small armory on her person: ... oh, abyss, that one was still alive, too.
Thonyn wasn't the best healer ever-- she was nothing compared to Zzandoren, and when she was honest about it, she could admit that even Ronan had studied medicine harder than she did, no matter how much stronger her gift for it might or might not have been-- but she could at least do a little damage control. He'd definitely torn her up, she mused as she pulled ruined clothing away with careful claws, but at least no important organs seemed to be hanging out. Thonyn made another mental checklist: shoulder, bitten; back and hips, clawed; collarbone, broken; bicep, probably cracked; nose, definitely broken, and bleeding like a fountain.
Well, bleeding she could handle. She might need to wait on Rythri or Zzandoren for the broken and cracks parts.... It didn't take her long, but she was starting to get a little worn out by the end of it. Her sprint, on top of spending most of the day hunting, her own wound-- which she hadn't bothered to do more than knit up enough to keep it from bleeding all over the place-- and then more healing? If she had enough energy left to make another attempt with Rythri, she'd be lucky.
But looking over at him with his eyes squeezed shut and his shoulder bleeding sluggishly across his dirty fur, Thonyn couldn't not at least try. ::You gonna let me look at that now?:: she said gently, settling down in the grass next to him.
Rythri just whined at her, but he didn't do more than twitch when-- lacking a good, damp cloth or anything else remotely useful, to her mild disgust-- she carefully cleaned the blood away with her tongue. He seemed feverish, but it was hard to tell with all the fur. He whined again while she held the fur away from the wound, but held still when she growled, and she focused on staunching, closing, and soothing. The first two she managed, but the second refused to be done, and she was panting by the time she gave up. ::That's the best I can do,:: she apologized. ::What the abyss is with that?::
Of course, Rythri said nothing, just lay there and panted, eyes shut again. Thonyn stroked his back carefully, a little worried for him.
And of course, in her worry for her bond, she'd forgotten all about the woman she'd just healed, who had come around, staggered to her feet, and drawn a curved sword made with gold speckles on the blade. The sword was, unsurprisingly, pointed at her. The move would have been more threatening if Thonyn wasn't twice her height, four times her weight, and rather less covered in blood. And maybe if the sword weren't wavering wildly in a weak, obviously painful grip.
::I healed you, stupid, I'm not going to hurt you,:: Thonyn told her.
"Monster! I said don't move! And don't touch that werewolf!"
Thonyn sighed. It was going to be a long day until Ronan and Zzandoren got back and could handle this... until then, Thonyn would have to do her best not to just knock the woman unconscious to shut her up.... It might, she expected irritably, take a lot of willpower.