The wind howls and branches and leaves on the trees shake. Romantic tries to keep his coat closed and keeps following the old path between the bushes. As he walks, the young man observes the woods around him, moving the rifle the same direction as his eyes.
His foot hits a rock and he has to grab a nearby tree to not fall on the ground.
What is he doing here? He could be at an elegant party in the city, maybe with a cute girl on his lap, instead of playing Rambo in the night. What had compelled him to waste his time like this?
"We have received four warnings of people attacked in the wood at the north-east of the mansion in the last two weeks," the moustache of Battista, the old head of servitude, tremble with every word he pronounces. "Hunters talk about a beast of teeth and glaring eyes."
"Yeah, a beast…the kind that a man could see at the bottom of a pint of beer!" Romantic shrugs.
"Maybe that is so, but people in the nearby villages are getting scared and we have already received a request of support from them,"
"So? Last time I checked there is still a police force here in Erofight City."
The wrinkles on the old man's face grew deeper and longer, a sign that the young noble had learned to interpret as disappointment.
"The Malaspina Family has protected this part of the country for generations. It’s normal that people around here look at you in moments of need," The servant's voice fell deeper. "And I am sure that your father would have not hesitated a single moment to do his duty…even if he would have to do it alone."
Damn old butler…using the memory of his father against him. And worst part was…he knew perfectly that he would have succeeded.
He leaves the last trees behind him: that part of the wood is finished and now before him lies a quite narrow open space, crossed by a river. Even though the moon is almost entirely concealed by clouds, the water shines under its light.
Romantic stops walking and enjoys the landscape for a moment, a smile crossing on his face for the first time since he left the mansion.
His eyes follow the river, then focus on something. A shadow moving near the other shore. Romantic moves the rifle, aims…and stops. For all he knows that figure could be anything and he doesn’t want to risk killing someone or something if he is not sure it’s his target. He starts to walk down the slope. The closer he gets, the more he is sure that the shadow is not a roe deer, a wolf or a wild boar.
He stomps over a broken branch on the ground. The figure moves. Romantic opens his mouth wide: it’s a girl!
A long-limbed figure, with long hair that falls down her shoulders and back. She is kneeling near the river, looking at him.
"Hello…what are you doing here, girl? Have you got lost?"
As he continues walking towards her, she moves away.
What is she doing? He looks down and realises: he is still aiming the rifle. Romantic lowers the weapon and raises his right hand.
"I am not here to hurt you. Are you from a nearby village?" The young nobleman reaches the river: it’s not too deep, so he can cross it, feeling thankful for the combat boots that keeping his feet dry. "I can take you home if you want. I am Romantic Malaspina; you should know my family…"
The girl seems to nod and moves closer to him. The young man notices that her hair has a strange shape on her head. Maybe she has been lost into the woods for days and now it is dirty and full of mud…
"Are you okay? Tell me where are you from, so I can call the police and…"
A cold and powerful gust of wind whips all around. Romantic grabs his coat and closes his eyes, protecting them from dust. He coughs as he opens them again: the sky has been cleared of clouds and the moonlight is illuminating the woods and river. And the girl: she has long red hair, but the strange shapes on her head are not made of mud. They are triangular ears. She is naked, but her athletic body is partially covered with trails of red fur on her arms and legs. Her hands have long, sharp claws.
And her eyes glare in the night like those of a wild animal.
"You… you are…"
The girl growls and jumps towards him. Romantic raises the rifle, but she is already on him. Her claws rip the sleeve of the coat and scratch the skin under it. The young man tries to back off, but the girl chases him, staying so close that he cannot shoot her: he tries to hit her face with the rifle butt in order to gain space, but she just jumps on all fours and tackles him, slamming him on the ground. The rifle falls away from them and she smirks, showing him her sharp fangs.
Romantic rolls over her and traps her arms with his knees, putting all his weight on them. He tries to take out the hunting knife, but she pushes him off her with ease. The man rolls away and gets on his knees, but she is stranding over him, the arms open in a menacing pose.
"Go away, human." She growls at him, with a warm voice.
The young man backs his torso off and moves his arm behind him to not fall on the ground. His hand sinks: he has reached the small river and the shore is muddy.
"Leave now and never come back."
Romantic closes his fist and smirks. "Make me."
He throws mud on her face and jumps on her, taking advantage of the moment of surprise. He pins her on the ground and takes the knife out the sheath. He raises it on her pale neck and…something slaps his right hand, making the weapon fly away. Romantic turn the head: something is moving near him.
“A…tail?” He exclaims, noticing the red fur on it. The tail arches back and whips his face. The man falls off the girl, confused. He tries to get on his knees, but she jumps on him, her eyes cleared of mud, and blocks him.
She starts to choke him. He grabs her hands, but he is unable to move them and he is too weak now to push or punch her.
His vision starts to fade.
Sounds start to diminish.
What can he do? She is too strong…
Her ears…her fur…she has something of a cat…what does he usually do when his cats are angry?
Romantic uses his last ounce of remaining strengths to move his arms…and starts to rub her belly.
The girl trembles, her grip on his neck getting weaker.
The young man takes quick desperate breaths and rubs faster. The body of the girl starts to shake and she bends her back. Te makes use of this, moving his hand to her head and starts to pat her between her ears.
"G-good kitty…good…" He whispers, "You are a good kitty!"
She arches her back, opens her eyes wide and…
She falls onto him, then rolls on her back, looking at him with big puppy eyes.
“M-more…do it more…”
Romantic nods and continue caressing her belly. She closes her eyes, smiles and starts to purr, rubbing her head on him. He giggles as the movement of her triangular ears is tickling him.
“Good kitty…” his left hand moves on her cheek: her skin is smooth and soft.
A quick flash of light interrupts his thoughts. He moves his head, the blade of his knife is reflecting the light of the full moon, less than a meter away from him.
He would need less than a second to grab it…and she is there, eyes closed, defenceless…her neck such an easy target to hit…
He shakes his head, like he is escaping from a nightmare.
What the hell was that? How could he have even considered such a thing? Killing that girl while she is not fighting would no be self-defence, it would be cold blood murder.
Thinking about it…she is clearly stronger and faster than him, she could have killed him a million times during their fight. She even stopped her attack in order to give him the chance to run way.
Romantic looks at the girl smiling and purring; she just acted in order to defend herself from someone that had invaded her territory, and did it in a merciful way.
No matter what people of the villages said, she is not a beast at all.
Romantic caresses her triangular ears. She purrs more and opens her eyes.
"You know…maybe we started off on the wrong foot," the young man caresses her forehead with his thumb. "You can call me Romantic. What is your name?"
The girl blushes a little and twists a lock of red hairs on a finger.
"Nice to meet you, Aria." He pats her ears. "So, what is a neko girl doing all alone in this forest?"
"I am not a neko, I am a sabercat girl!" She opens her mouth wide, pointing her long and sharp tusks with her fingers. "See? Sabercat girl. Not neko."
"Sabercats? I have never heard of them."
Aria closes her mouth. The happy smile on her face crumbles in an expression of pain. Her eyes become lucid.
"I am the last of them…""
The young man gently moves her head onto his lap and starts to lull it.
"What happened to the others?"
"Humans killed them all." She replied, anguished.
"No… this is impossible. These are my lands, I would know it if someone were hunting your people."
The girl's tail whips the ground.
"Do you think I am lying? When there are no noises around I can still hear the barking of their dogs looking for us!"
The glaring eyes of the girl open wide. She hisses at him.
"There were hundreds of humans…they hunted my people with dogs and destroyed our homes with fire. There were pyres all over the woods and even on the mountain, where they had never been before."
She bares her teeth. Her claws sink into the ground.
"They were close to our den, I was able to hear the noise of their weapons and to sense the smell of the burning wood and fur. My parents hid me in a secret part of the cave. “You will be safe here. Do not move until all you will be able to hear will be the noises of the woods” they said, then they ran out the den…"
She arches her back, grinds her teeth…and starts to cry. Romantic takes her face between his hands again and caresses it. The thumb of his left hand cleans her cheeks from the tears that are crawling down.
"I don’t know how long I waited, hidden in the darkness. I heard the hunters come closer and closer to me, and then move on. I think I remained perfectly still for hours after they had gone again. When I found the courage to leave the cave, there was nothing, just silence and burned trees.
Romantic continues to caress her cheek. "What about your parents?"
"I never saw them again…I have never seen anyone I knew. I tried to follow their scent as long as I could…until all I was able to perceive was the smell of dogs and humans."
Romantic opens his eyes wide.
"They sacrificed for you; they made sure that the hunters followed them, in order to give you more chance of survival."
"They left me alone!" Aria screams. "After they disappeared, there was no one left. I have been alone for so long."
Romantic hugs her, keeping her between his arms.
The girl looks at him with a silent question in her eyes.
"I have lost so many people I loved. Some died, others just have left my life, leaving behind them a void impossible to fill. It doesn’t matter how many servants surround me, I am alone."
Without saying a word, Aria takes his hands and moves them to her mouth. She kisses them, blushing in the process. A smile returning to her face.
"It seems that, despite everything, we have a lot in common."
Romantic nods. Something tickles his cheek; the tail of Aria is caressing him. How is it possible that the same thing that almost broke his hand and chin before is helping him deal with bad memories now? Moving his eyes to the redheaded girl, the question becomes: how could someone call such a beautiful woman "beast?" How could someone notice her claws and fangs before her gentle face…or her prominent breast…or her sensual and athletic body or…
"Would…would you like to see my den?"
He blushes as her cute voice interrupt his thoughts.
"It would be an honour for me, dear."
The girl giggles and stands up. Romantic stands up too.
"Wait. Before we go, I have something to ask first..." He puts a hand on her shoulder, making her turn around. "Why are you offering me this? You have attacked humans recently and I am sure you did it other times in the past…why are you sharing the secret of your den with me?"
"Because you are different…when you had me vulnerable between your arms, you cuddled me instead of trying to hurt me. The hunters who killed my parents would have never done this. Also…the fight before made clear that if you don’t behave properly, I can easily cut your throat for good…or I could even decide to eat you…"
She smirks, showing him her sharp fangs. Romantic swallows.
"Well…you have a point there…"
She grabs his hand and pulls him.
"C'mon, I want to reach the den when it’s still full night and we have a long way to go."
Romantic nods and walks with her.
The wind is still howling in the night, but the young man doesn’t feel it anymore. All the warmth he needs is the one of the hand he is holding tight.
- "But, Romantic, there is someone else who does post-novels notes already, why are you doing the same?” Cause if something works, why don’t use it?
- Said this… hello again you beautiful people of Erofight! I hope you are all good. This is my second novel: if the first one was meant as a “test” on my writing skills and as a way to introduce Lust, literally the first person I have met on EF (her character will come back, do not worry… her rivalry with Roma is a long run one), this two-chapters story is the starting point of a “shared universe” that takes all my chars and the ones of many people. It’s an ongoing work, that already counts on dozens of games, roleplays (not all of them on Erofight), public chats, dm roleplays and more. It’s a chaotic work so I apologize if there will be plot holes or “retcons” from time to time.
- My beloved Aria is one of the major contributors of the “universe”. She is a great and imaginative roleplayer, but, most of all, she is one of the nicest person you can hope to talk with. If you are looking for someone that will definitely make you both excited and amazed, I definitely suggest you have a game with her!
- “Hunter and Prey” takes inspiration from three roleplays that me and Aria had some months ago. You can find the logs here:
- you could have noticed that the game is with “Anna” and not with Aria. Who is Anna and what is her relationship with Romantic? Why the silly lizard Drake was lurking during the rp? Well, this is a long, funny story… a story that I could soon tell you 😉;