|Works by Devin Hallsworth on Shifti|
Daughter stomped a hoof down on the ground. "Mother, NO!" She exclaimed. Her mother still refused to become a woman and talk to her, instead staying as a deer and just allowing her displeasure to show through her body.
Older kin could communicate quite clearly through just body posture but she was still young and her mothers unwillingness to talk to her and actually explain anything with words infuriated her.
That was it, she was done with her. No more trying to reason, no more patience, no more hoping that her mother or grandmother had any bigger plans than sitting back and waiting for the white man to consume the whole world in his belly.
She dropped back onto all fours and walked away. Her walk turned to a run, just to get the pent up frustration she had been hoping to direct at her mother out of her. She was surprised when a shape darted in front of her and screeched to a halt, hooves digging up the floor of the forest.
"Daughter..." Her mother shifted up onto her back legs like a woman. She rubbed her hands against her bare skinned arms as her daughter did the same. Mother bit her lip and thought hard before saying. "We cannot help the Cherokee against the white man. That was never our role in this world. We helped them to protect their culture, we were supposed to save them from 'themselves'." She sighed at the hardened expression on her Daughters face. The argument was already lost. "We tempt those who care more about a beautiful womans body than their family and tribe. We tempt them and lead them to their doom so that the tribe will learn from their mistakes and make wise choices when they build their families."
Mother and Daughter stared at each other. Finally daughter asked. "Anything else?" Her eyes set hard and cold against her Mother. "Your beliefs are meaningless if the Cherokee are wiped out by the white man. Half their number have already died from the disease brought to this land."
Mother surprised her daughter by nodding. "Yes. You are right. The days of the Cherokee are numbered." Her Mother looked her back just as hard as she been getting. "And what of it? When the sun rises a hundred winters from now the European farmers will have replaced the Cherokee hunters. What business is it of ours?"
Daughter reeled back, her eyes blinking in surprise at seeing her mother this way. "Did we care for the Cherokee like our fawns? No. We cared that they not wind up as wretched disgraces of men who would let evil into their hearts and take without giving back from our forests. If we truly cared we would have shown them how to feast on the grass and the leaves or how to run swifter on all four hooves then any man could run on two legs."
"But.. but the Europeans WILL take without giving back!" Daughter sputtered, this wasn't something she had been prepared to argue when she had thought the encounter over in her mind.
"Yes. But even they can only take so much. They still need wood for their homes and thus they will not burn clear all the forests of the world. We will survive easily as long as there is grass to eat and trees to hide in." Mother sighed, plucking a handful of leaves off a branch and looking as though she wanted something to quiet her stomach. Or maybe that was some other expression on her face, her Daughter thought.
"But the Cherokee will die." She stated flatly.
Mother nodded. "The armies and spears of Europe are stronger and their mouths cannot help but water at the sight of all this land. The Rabbit will be eaten by the Fox who will sate the Wolfs hunger who will die at the Cougars claw who will be hunted by the White Man who will die of a wasting disease." Mother walked past her daughter. "But long after the Cherokee are gone the deer and the crow and all those who are smarter or more numerous than the white man will still be here. The cold winter cares not if you didn't store up enough fat to keep from starving."
She shook her head at her mother. "All the more reason that we cant just let the Cherokee waste away. When it is only the white man will we then try to guide their culture the way we guided the Cherokee? I cant barely understand half the words they have, let alone the concepts behind them."
Her Mother turned back to look at her. A very sad expression on her face as she stared at her daughter for a long time. Finally her face hardened against all emotion and she turned her back on her child. "Foolish, blind daughter of mine." She walked off into the forest, her words echoing back over her shoulder. "Cant you see that some ones hand already guides the white men?"
And with that her mother disappeared into the forest, just a faint shape of a deer fading out of sight through the trees.
The daughter thought hard about this, but it only confirmed her suspicions of her mothers cowardice. The idea that the White mens god actually existed was ridiculous. Why would a god who supposedly created the white man to rule even bother with creating all the other peoples of the world? The idea of one people being meant to rule everything would make sense if they were the deer or the rabbit, alone in an endless forest of trees and grass's.
She shrugged away the thought and fell down onto all four legs. She walked in the opposite direction of her mother. Out of the forest and towards the white mans land.
"I'm afraid I must pass on the next dance, I need to get myself some air." The Daughter explained curtly to the rather barrel shaped gentleman.
"Oh.. er very well. Good night to you Miss Harcott." He bowed and took his leave. Jess Harcott sighed once he was out of sight and made her way out of the manors crowded ball room to its veranda. She looked around and found herself alone. She flopped wearily onto a wooden bench. After looking once more and straining her ears for any sound of a person she might have missed she pulled her gown up and brought her leg up so that she could rub at her left hoof. It was still sore from that stupid stupid fall she had taken yesterday. Luckily no one had been around to see that, or take concern from her ensuing limp back to her estate. Her two hooves where a woman would have feet were the only things she couldn't change, the only thing that threatened to give her away for what she was. Luckily she had learned to walk well enough while wearing a low hanging gown, yesterday had just been a freak accident.
She slapped the hoof back on the wood and quickly brushed her gown down when she heard footsteps approaching. She tried to act casual but she her muscles were all just knots of anxiety. Why had she agreed to come to this asinine social function anyway?
Jess looked up at the man who was looking at her quizzically and felt her heart skip a beat for the second time in the last ten seconds. She waved, trying not to feel meek and the brown haired gentleman smiled and waved back.
Right, she thought to herself as she grinned. Brent Fulke. The youngest well made merchant and former militia man to step off the boat in all the time she had been living in Jamestown. She sheepishly diverted her gaze when she realized she had been staring at him without realizing he had been staring back at her.
Now she felt a right proper fool. Excellent job on the first impression there, she chided herself mentally.
It was thus quite a surprise when she felt the bench creak as he sat down next to her. Still smiling.
"Hello, my name is Brent Fulke. Might I have the pleasure of yours?" He asked courteously.
Despite her now rapidly disappearing anxiety and her well learned social manners she couldn't help but chuckle. "I 'know' who you are. Every young unwed woman in a twenty miles knows who you are."
Brent for his part smiled even wider. "And I believe I know who you are. You would be the former Mistress Harcott. Widow of the late Aidan Harcott?"
Jess blinked for a moment, until she realized Brent was a merchant and had likely had dealings with people who had business with her late husband. She nodded. "He passed away last year while on a hunting trip." She had gotten much better at explaining the cause of death with a straight face. "A deer knocked him down and kicked him to death."
"Ahh, unfortunate for him. Potentially a blessing for me." He said cheerfully. Jess was quite taken aback at this statement. "I'm going to make no secret of this. I have heard much of you and I believe I may be madly in love with you. You have your husbands wealth, a body that is quite plainly divine to witness and from what I have heard you have an .." He smirked for a moment and leaned back, his voice taking on an artificial haughtiness. "An unhealthy interest in intellectual pursuits totally besides the proper use of women in raising heirs."
Jess laughed. "Reverend Phelps would box your ears in if he heard you reciting him in that tone of voice."
"Yes, I've met his wife though and obviously his standards don't go too far beyond being able to push out a child." Brent chuckled, then his face drew itself a bit more seriously, though not so much that he could wipe that grin off his face. "Unfortunately for me... I could not bear to raise a child that had inherited his mothers stupidity or lack of beauty."
Jess felt her eyes light up. Long ago, when the deer women had been the temptresses of foolhardy young Cherokee men who thought beauty was more important than ability to raise a family a light punishment might have been considered to simply bear the man a child and then disappear back into the forest one night with his son. Jess knew she had to have some Cherokee blood in her alongside the deer.
She had better ideas though. Idea's that had been made impractical by her former husbands utter lack of ambition but would work perfectly for managing this wealthy young man. She spent much of the rest of that night out on the veranda with him, chatting about anything that seemed of consequence and sizing him up just as much as he was sizing her up.
If the events later that night were any indication she was already well on her way to slaving Brent to his animal desire and lust. She grinned as she wrapped her arms around him, at this rate he would be accepting orders from her without a hint of self determination by the end of the month. Of course she would have to leave some measure of his will to him that he didn't seem like an invalid to his fellow merchants. But for all intents and purposes his wealth and influence were now hers.
She wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him deeper into her. She laughed in between catching her breath at the sight she got over his shoulders of her deer hooves. All it would have taken him to break her spell would have been for him to look down and catch sight of them.
Not that she had given him even one chance to do that. Her gown had fallen off her to rest on the floor, covering her feet but nothing else while she beckoned him to step forward into her embrace.
She lay there after he had finished the deed and collapsed on her, using enough of his strength to keep from squishing her more delicate frame. They stared into each others eyes for a minute before they both laughed. She had to admit that although the number of men she had bedded was not large and the number of bucks none existent he was definetly the most virile male she had even heard of, let alone met. Almost like something out of those old greek storys.
For his part he also seemed suitably impressed. "You deer women are everything I've heard."
She grinned at the compliment and pulled him into a kiss, until she felt the afterglow of pleasure completely annihilated by stark fear. She pulled her head away and made a futile attempt to flee as fast as she could, but his hands pinned her shoulders as well as he had pinned her hips.
"Deer women?" She said after calming a moment. Though it sounded lame even in her ears. She winced in apology at the bald faced lie.
Brent was the only one still grinning. He nodded. "I heard about you from a very very distant ancestor of my kind that I met when I first came to this land. I believe you would know him as a skin walker. Though in my homeland of Europe we are more commonly known as Lycanthropes."
Jess shuddered as she tried to push Brent away from her, she was powerless against his strength though. He leaned into and kissed her neck and shoulder while her mind raced to try and make sense of what he had said. She honestly had never heard of skin walkers before, then again she had been pretty young when she had left the forest. Had her mother just not gotten around to teaching her about them?
Or maybe her mother had ... grown tired with her foolish young daughter and thought it best for her to learn herself.
Brent pulled his head back up to stare down at her and it was all Jess could do not to scream or faint. The muzzle of a wolf now stared back at her, she could feel the fur of one pressing against her bare flesh everywhere he touched her as well. She cried and tried to look even smaller then the position she was in already did. She looked away and waited for it to be over.
She felt a clawed hand pull her chin back to look at him. "Don't be a fool like that Jess. I know your smarter than that." Despite the muzzle she thought she could still see a hint of a muzzle. "Nothings changed. If I had wanted a meal I would have gone and killed one of the deer that lived out in the forest."
She tried to sort through a haze of emotions, but the fear was rapidly diminishing. "What... What are you? You're not a man..." She pondered out loud.
Brent shook his head. The smile was clear in his tone of voice if not his canine mouth. "Not a man but neither a wolf. Long ago it was clearly us or them in Europe. The wolves that couldn't adapt died and were replaced by flocks of sheep and other domesticated animals." He licked her face playfully and despite herself Jess was not repulsed. "I sought you out. Not because of your wealth, beauty or intelligence. I sought you out because you are a wild animal that has gained all of these for the same goal that my kind has."
As Jess thought of it she realized she hadn't gone very far in her pondering beyond how to gain power over man. In her gut she had always known her ultimate aim but now she knew it in her mind as well. And she had even met another with whom she could strive to achieve it.
"They are a species of hunters that are too good at what they do." She sounded the idea out. Brent laughed and nodded, seeming thrilled that she was accepting their common goal.
"And in order for them to reach their full potential, it will be up to your people and mine to domesticate the wild human."