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Rising

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Red circles the Inn three times, staring into the darkness. She can sense the wolf, coming closer as if drawn against its will. Behind her, she can hear Perrault lapping delicately at his paw, dragging it over the torn corner of his ear where a mouse had bit him not an hour before. It's not a distraction, that ritual—only comforting, a soft continuous sound that swells and retreats like a wave.

"November's waiting." Perrault's voice is nonchalant, but Red can hear the disapproval.

"I know." Red turns to the right, her cloak unfurling blood red behind her as she hears the wolf. "Be silent before I rip out that silver tongue of yours."

Perrault vanishes into the inn without another word, and there it is, at the edge of the wood, pale and inching forward. The animal has been following them for miles, and Red is almost impressed. Without the moon, the wolves are forced to walk on two feet. This one has guts.

"Moon. The moon." The wolf whispers those words over and over, a mantra against the darkness. Red has no pity, no mercy, and it is dead before it sees her, its lifeless eyes peering upward into the moonless sky. Red cleans her axe on its clothing and then surveys the village and the wood one more time, but no one is about. The monsters are silent for the night, and the villagers are smart enough to lock their doors.

Red goes back into the inn, ignoring the barkeep shaking in fear behind his counter, and goes straight up to November. She goes to one knee immediately, her eyes resolutely on the floor.

"I missed you, Red." November's voice is soft, and it sends a shiver rippling down Red's spine.

"There was a wolf."

"And you took care of her. You're such a good girl, Red." A pause. "Look at me."

Red raises her eyes with something like relief, caught by the terrible light of the full moon in November's eyes. Her skin sloughs off around her, and she gives herself a good long shake before she trots over to November's side, tail wagging slowly from side to side before she lays at November's feet.

"Such a good girl." November scratches behind Red's ears, and Red lifts her snout, her tongue darting out to lick at the tips of November's fingers.

Soon, very soon, the moon will rise.

Red is content.