Wild Night Out (March writing prompt for [community profile] nexus_crossings)

Mar. 31st, 2016 03:43 pm
conjuredskies: (Conjuration)
[personal profile] conjuredskies
Felix wondered if he was supposed to feel calm.

It was full spring in the lowlands, bounding rapidly toward summer. The night air was just warm enough to stir the blood, heady with the scents of damp vegetation, of flowers and fear. And here he was in the moonlit forest, stripped to the waist and smeared with blood and paint.

Should he feel afraid? Excited? Bloodthirsty? A silly part of his mind was still questioning. Still thinking like an outsider. Was he doing this right? He wasn’t even sure what blood-lust was meant to feel like. He wanted to kill something, yes. Wanted to please, most of all.

He called his familiar to his side and leaned into its mind a little, letting its senses guide him as he plunged deeper along the path. Rabbit, fox, maybe even deer- somewhere out here was the prey, and he would find it…


The chant rang in his ears, the pulse of the drum in his blood. The questioning part of him never fell silent, but it all felt distant and meaningless as the ritual carried him along.

Casithil thought he had no place here. Malareth liked him, as a curiosity. Ancus didn’t care why anyone but himself was here. Glasha didn’t care about anything as long as the hunting was good.

Not the best kind of friends, but he’d worked with what he had. Held on long enough to reach this, to join in their first summoning. All the rest was forgotten amid the reek of tallow smoke, the pounding heat and the prickling down his spine as something ancient and terrible came among them…



They spread out to check the trails: he on haphazard, clumsy feet and the familiar nosing quick and quiet among the trees. Its senses were sharper on this ground than his could ever be; he had to stop quickly, eyes shut as he sifted through what it was trying to show him. So many beasts, so many scents old and new and layered with meanings he didn’t follow…

And sounds. Something close, something big. Not moving like prey. The familiar growled its mistrust.

Stalking.


He barely heard what the Hunter said to the others. He was near transfixed. He only knew it when those hungry golden eyes turned on him and everything came into quiet, deadly focus.

“Where is your pack, little pup?"

“Here, my Lord,” he said. He meant to sound firm but his mind danced along the implications and laced his voice with uncertainty. Weakness. Hircine laughed, flashing teeth in the firelight, and the others laughed around him.



Felix spun to find the arrow already readied for his throat. The sword in his hand dropped, useless. He could see the hunter’s face dimly in the moonlight. Enough to know she wasn’t even smirking. Didn’t need the light to know who it was.

Casithil nodded, very slightly. Like he ought to understand. Felix just stared.

Show me, said a memory, prove what kind of hunter you are.

Then the wolf sprang from the side. Felix felt something whip past his head, lifted his blade again as his familiar tore deep into the Bosmer’s arm. Casithil was shouting now, on the ground and striking it with the bow. The familiar retreated, bounded back a pace and started to circle, growling. Spurred by its anger, Felix stepped forward with his sword lifted. He had to get her weapons. What the hell was he going to do then? He didn’t have any rope…

He told himself later that he would have spared Casithil if he’d been given the chance. But she grabbed for another knife, and Felix hesitated. The wolf didn’t.


In the end he hauled the body back to the shrine about the same time Malareth brought a fox and Ancus trotted in with the fresh head of a stag. Glasha joined them near an hour later, a whole boar slung across her shoulders. Felix could feel their eyes on him, on the body at his feet.

He didn’t care. He was shaking, but he didn’t feel much at all until the daedra’s presence washed over them again.

The Hunter’s voice rang out above him, resounding harshly. “So, you’ve made prey of your fellow hunter.”

“She... she chose the wrong quarry, my Lord.” Felix looked up without daring to meet his eyes, praying that would serve. Please, please don’t be angry…

And Hircine laughed, deep and richly, full-throated in his bloody pleasure.

“Casithil believed she would cull the herd. He thought to prove by himself which was weak and which was worthy.” Somehow Felix found himself looking straight into that ferocious gaze. “And yet the hunt made good sport of him! Heed it well, mortal. The hunt judges both hunter and prey. Only the hunt.”
 
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Felix Caelus

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