The Wolf and the Forest

Now it should be said that the typical werewolf battle, much like Vigil's battle to protect Katarina, is more like a boxing match. The opponents face off head on, typically trading swipes and looking for opportunities to hit three key areas: The shoulders of the forelegs—where power in the swipes is generated, the chest, where ribs, and lungs are located. If the ribs are broken, the fighter can't breathe, the fighter can't breathe, he can't stay fresh and nimble, he can't stay nimble, he leaves openings. That in turn opens up the third area—The neck. The neck, other than being the location of one of the most important veins in any animal can affect the rest of the body. And of course, it leads to the most efficient killing blow. Vigil's circumstance, the bite to the back, came because of a daring fighting style on Vigil's part. One that of course Fenrisu had taught him because it was unorthodox. He should have given in to protect his livelihood. Instead, he got out of it to deliver the winning blow.

Derio, being the bigger, stronger wolf, was already planning his moves, intending to use his strength and size to make his punches hit harder, tear deeper, and prove why a male wolf is always dominant. They do call the leader the Alpha Male after all. His moves and experience would have made him a formidable foe, except that Lokari wasn't planning on fighting his battle. Unless their strength is proven superior, a wolf almost never lunges with their teeth. This was something Lokari always looked for at the start of a battle. It was a risky move that only worked if her opponent committed early. It worked for her almost like a leg sweep might in a martial arts battle. If you could grasp the leg and force the fighter off-balance, it was like a free move. Enough force and you might even dislocate the leg before the battle really got started. After that, the opponent would be forced to fight with a weaker or almost useless arm and she could be more bold in her moves. Going back to the boxing analogy, it'd be as if Lokari had delivered a quick, firm cross to the chin while the opponent was off-balance. The opponent may not go down right away, but the blow would pause the fighter and weaken his base. A quick straight punch to the body usually forces the opponent backward, and from there one might be able to gauge their opponent's legs. If they're wobbly, and Lokari could land the perfectly placed hay-maker, though the opponent's instinct would be to brace himself with his legs, they wouldn't be there. Making the force of the blow that much more punishing and the ensuing fall more jarring.

The match began rather normally with both wolves circling each other. This gave them an idea of who was more agile, light on their feet. Lokari had that battle won, and in a typical fighting style, it led to the first strike. She feigned a turn inward, watching him commit his right foreleg, expecting a quick swipe at the head. He was bracing himself and preparing for a counter strike. What Lokari did next surprised Derio. She didn't go first. Instead, she did something only a rookie fighter would do, over circle him, leaving her in a position to do nothing but dodge...Or so he thought. He seized what he thought was his opportunity and lunged for her with his right foreleg. Lokari saw the opportunity she was looking for. Using her smaller size and slimmer build, she crouched down low enough to dodge his swipe and because he was delivering a blow that amounted to a cross, his whole body was committed. She stayed low, springing forward and latching her jaw until his left foreleg, now his plant leg. Because she had over-pursued, she could grasp it in a way that allowed her to pull it backward. As she pulled it back, she rose onto her hind legs, forcing him to fall down to his side and her jaw pulled at his leg like it was a wishbone. Had she meant to tear it off completely, she probably could have. And knowing the wolf's attitude, she wanted to, but she wouldn't be able to make people believe Seranus had done this. So it was satisfying enough to hear the leg pop from it's socket and the manly Derio scream like a little girl.

"Cheater!" He yowled.

"Nothing's against the rules, you know that. You're just all sad because a little girlie caught you out of position." Lokari stated, a bit of a tease in her voice.

"But you were the one out of position, you should have struck for my face." Derio argued.

"You're right. I should have." Lokari agreed and she stretched up and outward from her hind legs, reaching for his face with her right paw.

To Derio's credit, he had tried to use it as bait and attempted to roll up on his feet and counter punch again with his right forepaw, expecting Lokari to plant her left leg and essentially leave herself open. Lokari, by lunging, almost leaping really, left both legs free, and she pushed aside Derio's strike with her left leg, striking him hard with her right. Without a true base, Derio crumpled again, and this time her strike had him seriously dazed. If this had been a real battle, and she had been going for the kill, she was in perfect position. If he tried to pop into standard form, he would either hit him with an even harder shot to the face, or lean into him and keep him down, The position he was in would only leave him to lunge with his teeth or try to reach a defensive position and work with his hind legs. If he went for her legs, it would leave his neck open and though it might severely damage her arm for a while, it'd be a no-brainer, if you could withstand the pain, to strike down hard on his neck and even apply pressure, digging in to the skin and drawing blood, even paralyze him if she could rake at the back and injure his spinal cord. Lokari had won the fight and she had only made two moves.

"Arrrrr...Why are you fighting me? Are you really that interested in vengeance?" Derio growled weakly.

"I'm interested in justice, sniveling puppy. I'd like to compliment you, but you were no fun. How do you expect to win if you can't think outside of the box?" Lokari chided him condescendingly.

"I'm supposed to be the most experienced. I'm supposed to be the strongest." He hollered desperately. Lokari pressed her left forepaw down on his right knee and leaned hard. Derio yelped like a wimp.

"You're supposed to respect the rules of the Clans." Lokari spit in his face.

"How would you know of the rules?" He challenged. "Men don't fight women. Women respect men." He almost begged with his words.

"You're not a man. You're a conceited mutt. And I'm not a woman, remember? I'm the She-man. Besides, women will never respect a man who rapes them, controls them out of fear. Society expects its guardians to rise to a higher standard. Even if Seranus is a young pup and cowardly at his age, he still has more honor than you'll ever have in the tip of your tail." Lokari let her disgust through with every word she spoke.

"Wait until the Clan hears about this. You'll be ostracized, exiled, perhaps even killed." The childish and scared Derio resorted again to threats.

"Oh, so you want to tell them you got beaten in only a few moves by a werewolf, and that that werewolf is a female?" Lokari laughed at the thought. "You might as well tell them you fell off a riverbank in the forest and got mangled by a current." Lokari was having more fun putting this whelp into place than fighting him. "What makes you think I won't just kill you right here?" Lokari questioned, jabbing at Derio's dislocated shoulder to revitalize the pain which had numbed his arm by then.

"Because you believe in justice. Th-th-that would be undue punishment." Derio tried to grin as if he'd thought of something smart.

"So you haven't ravaged any of the other females in this village then?" She wondered. His silence and the look in his eyes said he had. Lokari struck him in the chest to remind Derio how vulnerable he was.

"I-I-I-If you kill me then the clan will most likely blame Seranus." Derio whimpered, sniffling.

"And who was the last person they saw you leave with? Me? You'd beaten Seranus, remember? He's at home with his wife getting cared for." Lokari shot down that attempt as well. She punched him in the chest again and felt his ribs give a little. Derio howled as another new pain appeared.

"You're giving me all wrong answers here, Dear-io. I've known some girls with more backbone than you." Lokari was aiming to destroy him mentally and emotionally as well as physically.

"Then what?" He screeched. "What is that right answer?" Derio was all but crying as he yelped his words.

"The right answer is gonna be this: Seranus saw you getting busy with me and tore you off of me in a rage. Prompted by your honor you challenged him to a duel, only this time, he used some new methods you hadn't seen before and he won. I'll be your witness when I carry you into the bar and you get attention. You'll say you don't want him punished and that you consider your honor restored. I'll swear you fought bravely, fighting with a broken leg, up to the broken ribs. That you intended to fight to the death but I stopped you both. You'll swear you're a changed man, you're happy to be alive, and you're going to rededicate yourself to the Clan. You got it?" Lokari negotiated his surrender harshly.

"I got it." He agreed, defeated and between hard breaths.

"Good. But know this—If I so much as hear you change the story, or that you're mistreating other women, I'm gonna come back here and finish the job." Lokari flashed her teeth at Derio and let out a howl to alert the other clan members. She proved she was adept at forcing changes too, making him change back to his human form, where his injuries were even more gruesome and apparent. She tore her clothes strategically and bruised herself in appropriate places to gel with their story.

As she began to carry him back to the bar, others met them on the way. The story went off without a hitch. More surprising to Lokari was the concern others showed to her for the experience. No, they still called her She-man, but the look in their eyes had softened to one of concern. She left as soon as they both received medical attention and slid her way over to Seranus's house. She knocked on his door. His wife answered first, and gasped. "I'm sorry to disturb you at such an hour, ma'am. I know you don't know me, but I had to come here and thank Seranus for what he's done." Lokari tried to appear as fragile and shaken as she could.

"Seranus helped you? He only said that he was able to avenge me." His wife answered, surprised. Lokari couldn't have asked for a better opening. So his wife doesn't know about the first fight. Good boy, she thought to herself. And so she proceeded to work with Seranus and construct his end of the story to gel with hers and Derio's, and when the two of them were alone, Lokari asked Derio to come with her outside.

"What else could you want now, woman?" Seranus questioned. Still he did not call Lokari by her name.

"You need to put the past behind you and act normally with Derio. As far as your both concerned you fought hard and brave and your honors are restored." Lokari let his rudeness slide. She needed more than anything for her deception to stick. She wasn't ready to reveal her secret to the world yet.

"You didn't need to pull me aside to tell me that." Seranus grumbled.

"You men and your egos. I swear by the Goddess. You better watch it, or some day I might end up coming for you." Lokari kept it honest. She finished her visit by showing Seranus through Pantomime, the moves that she beat Derio with, in case he had to re-enact it for admirers. Lokari turned and began changing into her Shamen fox form, when from behind her she heard Seranus speak something, this time more firmly. "Thank you...Lokari." It wasn't the warmest thanks ever, but she was happy with it. It was the first time anyone in town had ever called her by her name.

She left without looking back, looped around town a bit to hear that her story was spreading and then scurried back into the forest from another path. She made good time by the light of the moon, heading to a specific clearing she liked to view the stars from. It was quite a ways away from Bolom, so that the night was well underway when she reached it. She wouldn't admit it to anyone, but the one thing she liked most about her Shamen form was that it allowed her to blend in, to be accepted, even if it was by nature, and her admirers were critters, bugs and even trees. "I need to find some place more exciting..." She mumbled to herself as she drifted off to sleep. As she slept, she fell into a dream.