A sheep herder looked up in surprise at the sound of a wolf’s howl, followed by a sheep’s death cry. The man grabbed his sheep’s crook and went to search his fields for the source of the disturbing sound… even more so due to the early morning grazing his Sheep were scheduled for.
There was another cry from his sheep- then another, and another and then another and another… The Herder hurried his pace and then came upon the massacre of his sheep, and he just stopped and stared.
It was a Lycan in wolf mode. Just a pup, (a girl, he guessed by the hip-to-shoulder ratio) just sort of idly wandering sheep to sheep and simply just giving idle swats with her palms rather than her claws- the sheep seemed to fall dead mostly from the shock rather than the force.
Every now and again, the wolf would pause on a sheep, then move on and attack a different one, leaving the last one spared. It was a culling, yes, but in a completely systematic way. The wolf girl was just ignoring certain sheep and killing the rest without even laying a claw on them.
“E-Excuse me?” The man called out, and the wolf girl glanced at him. “W-What are you doing?”
The Lycan held up a single clawed finger, as if to say, “Wait,” then palmed one of the sheep she’d spared. It just sort of glared at her angrily before moving along. Then she hit a different sheep with the same amount of force and it fell over dead.
Suddenly the sheep herder understood.
She was smelling something on the sheep she was killing that was making most of his herd fall over dead with a bare minimum of touch.
The wolf girl then knelt down and drew her crimson claws along the recently dead sheep’s side, puncturing the stomach lining and causing the guts to spill out onto the ground.
And then HE smelled what must have been driving the girl crazy. Something horrendous that sent the spared sheep, plus a few that hadn’t been examined yet, running away. The majority of those remaining just stood there without doing much else.
The wolf girl just shrugged in a way that said, ‘you’re welcome,’ then, side-stepping the spilled guts, continued her culling of poisoned sheep.
The Sheep Herder just stared on and watched as she finished culling his poisoned herd, and then just started bounding along into the wilderness, leaving him standing in a field of dead sheep as the sun started to rise.
A few hours later, he sent a call to Mystryal to find the girl so he could thank her. And find her they did, one pre-teen Lycan girl, sleeping beneath a bridge in her companion’s shaking arms.
“Kana,” Kaie sighed, “please tell me we are not standing over a half-turned Lycan with the shakes holding our young sheep killer?”
“I’d be lying if I did, Ranagi,” Mayoi sighed in response.
“Y…You… looking… for Aya?” The older Lycan, a teenager looking like she was fighting to stay in her human form rather than wolf form, simply asked, “Why?”
“That little girl in your arms did something that someone wants to thank her for,” Kaie explained.
The older Lycan blinked, trying to process that, then asked a single world, “Simpler?”
Mayoi sighed, kneeling down to talk with her eye to eye. “Little girl-” She pointed at the child.
“Aya…ko,” The older girl interjected. “Kei…no.”
“Ayako, right,” Mayoi nodded, making sure to remember the name by burning it into her memory. “Ayako… killed sheep.” She saw the horror growing in the older Lycan’s eyes- the starting to extend snout- and quickly added, “Sick Sheep! Killed Sick Sheep! Owner happy! Wants to thank her!”
In a heartbeat, the older Lycan relaxed, and the snout started to recede again. Kaie thought it was a miracle that the young girl- Ayako- hadn’t woken up due to all the noise yet.
And then the older Lycan girl surprised both Mystryal agents by saying, “Please. Take Aya. Be mother. I can’t.”
“W- What?” Mayoi blinked.
“Can’t… can’t take care of,” The older Lycan shook her head. “Fire Magic. Die soon. Make deal, Please…” And then she explained her plight with more broken sentences.
She had been a Pyromander in this life, Lycan in a previous one, and wanted to return to that self. So she made a deal with Hecate to return to that self. The fire magic of being a Pyromander had remained inside of her, however, much to both her and Hecate’s surprise, and carried into her daughter, threatening her life.
Thus, another deal had been struck with Hecate- the daughter would be raised as a sister, and in exchange the fire magic inside the child would be returned to the mother, at the cost of her life in seven years. And so a third, final deal was struck for Ayako’s future, but not with Hecate.
“What do we tell her?” Kaie asked as he and Mayoi, with the sleeping Lycan clinging to her back, walked back towards town.
“Her sister was poisoned,” Mayoi answered. “A magical curse that forced fate’s hand… Not even Hecate could save her.”
And that was the truth of it.