7

The trees blurred as he ran. Underbrush sneaking out to tug at his legs and what remained of his pants, tried to trip him up but so far hadn’t succeeded. In the distance, though not far enough for his liking, howls and chittering chirp-like calls pierced the air. All around him near-true night twilight reigned, making his vision shaky, tricking him with shadows that moved when he did and some that didn’t, but he was never sure which until it was almost too late to react.

*Dodge low left.*

He did, hearing the eerie whistle of claws slicing through the air where his right shoulder had been seconds before followed by the distinct dull thud of a large body hitting the ground before it went on a crash and roll into the underbrush. Hissed as a low lying tree branch caught him in the face, cutting across his left eye and blinding him as blood gushed out. The too strong scent of copper and night blooming flowers assaulted his nose and he cursed low and furious with it. But he didn’t stop running. Just wiped at the blood best he could and willed his weak, half starved body to heal fast enough to make it until he could rest and feed again.

Though the gods only knew when that would be. It seemed like his existence was made wholly up of running, narrowly avoiding death thanks to his Others, all while desperately praying for relief, for a savior, for food, for sleep. Only he never got those things, not really. At least, not enough to give him the strength necessary to overpower that which chased him and get free on his own.

As he ran faster, right hand snapping out to grip a tree branch thick as his thigh and swing himself around a neck-jarring turn in the path, he cursed again. Cursed his luck, his race, and Fate. Cursed because he should have been safe here among the black barked trees, their interlocking canopies singing sweetly in the chilly wind. Should have been kin of the monsters that prowled between the thick trunks and trampled the into the packed dirt of the paths and the thick grass. Should have been able to make it to the Heart of this beautiful, deadly place, and beg for sanctuary, for reprieve, for safe passage, by virtue only of the honorable deeds he’d done for and to the one whom this place called master.

But he wasn’t, he couldn’t. He was alone save the Others who had been his before the Worlds’ Balance returned with the force of new Worlds being formed. He only knew memories he feared only he still had of a life before a searing pain had pierced his mind and blanked him out. He was utterly alone and he was marked for a gruesome death he didn’t deserve and sure as fuck didn’t want. A death that had the monstrous things that lived here knew what and who he was, he wouldn’t have to worry about.

Fuck Fate. Distantly his Others chuckled in mirthless agreement to a backdrop of the wailing cries and childlike laughter of Hounds that joined those howls and chittering chirps. And fuck me.

With a burst of adrenaline that wiped out what little stored magick and stamina his last feed had netted him, he ran faster. And he prayed that someone or something would hear his prayers and help him. Because he wasn’t going to last much longer.

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