Barefoot Poetry

SS Matthews


Track of the Wolf

Anion had never attempted such an incantation before, but then she’d never felt so compelled to seek someone out. Setting the clay bowl into its makeshift cradle over the small fire, she let the combination of ingredients simmer. As the mixture began to bubble, she added the wolf’s blood and slowly began to stir the mess with a large crow’s feather. In all, it was an unappetizing looking, sour smelling glob of seeing herbs and fluids.

Deciding to follow her instincts, she didn’t really know how to define her rescuer. If he wasn’t a god, this spell should work be he a man, an animal, or a combination of the two. This grove would no longer serve her as a haven; that was clear. The magic was broken and it was time to leave. Traveling with a companion would be much safer than going it alone.

Thickening, the mixture began clinging to the feather. Determined to divine her rescuer’s whereabouts, Anion stripped the gum from the feather and began to chew.

“Bendigeidfran, Bran The Blessed, bless this, my incantation.

On your wings my vision soars above the Father Oak.
From my eyes you may not hide, ‘neath mantle, cowl nor cloak.
Blood of wolf, blood of man blend now with my own
Feel my blood flow into yours and be to me now known.”

Closing her eyes, the vision began and Anion found her consciousness in flight. With the eyes of a raven, she could see a hare bounding along the same path that only the night before she’d fled along in fear of the slavers. The marks of her desperate attempt to escape, still visible, led to a disturbed area of dried and blackened blood. The bodies of the three men were gone, but the ground surrounding that horror-stricken site bore yet the imprint of his tracks. They were truly the prints of a wolf, large and wild.

Unbelievable as it all had been, it was no dream. Two slavers the wolf had savaged with fang and claw. While their leader struggled with his fear, she’d gathered the sword he’d discarded to rape her. Putting the blade to use was an act she’d never have accomplished on her own. It was the presence of the wolf that’d helped her find the strength. Still, it wasn’t out of debt that she sought him. Strange an association as it might be, a connection was made. And there was this unfamiliar sensation, one that had crept into her blood and set it aflame. Driven by feelings she did not yet understand, Anion followed the trail of prints to the edge of the trees.


With the previous evening’s storm cleared away, the stallion grazed contentedly on the fresh green of an open field. Finding enough dry wood to light a fire, Rowan sat watching the smoke rise as his clothing dried by its heat. He knew he should move on, away from the girl and the carnage he’d wreaked on her behalf.

Still, something was causing him to hesitate. Vague as it was, the feeling over-powered the suspicion that getting involved would only bring further risk of exposure.

Being new to these Isles, he could maintain his anonymity, but that was best done by traveling alone. If word should spread of a beast loose in the countryside, someone would come hunting. Those deaths bothered him little though. They were slayers and aware of the risks. It was the innocents caught in between that weighed heavy in his thoughts. They always seemed to be the ones to reap the harvest of his violence. In trying to defend them, or they to befriend him, the result was usually the same. Those who hunted him cared little for those he left exposed.

Whistling for the stallion, better judgment insisted he leave. Like a wisp of smoke straying from wafting column, he felt her then and paused. So she was a spell caster. He hadn’t picked up on that. Her skills might be unpolished, but the potency of her thaumaturgical casting was effective. He could feel her. She was trying to get into his blood.

She wasn’t truly defenseless then. He could leave her to fend for herself and she’d probably do little harm. Although labeled a witch by the locals, she’d probably be eventually captured and stoned. In their infinite ignorance, those who couldn’t understand her gifts would seek to end them. The talent she exhibited would need direction and refining to really be dangerous, that is to say, effectively lethal. If he waited for her, he’d end up filling that role. She’d learn from him and would become a force in the magical world. That is, if she survived. Those he’d taken as companions in the past had not.

Like it or not, he was the emissary of Death. He continued on while those around him withered at his fell touch. Let it be her choice, he thought. If she wanted to learn, he’d teach her. If she didn’t, he’d teach her anyway. It was, after all, the way of things.

Out-take from Wolfe’s Bane
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