Welcome to installment #12 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.
Mujur jerked awake as a howl pierced the air. He growled and tossed a fistful of leaves to the side.
For two days the cat had called like a queen in heat, interrupting Mujur’s sleep with the constant fuss. Again the awful mewing. The cat had kept out of sight but the nonstop racket alerted Mujur the critter remained near.
Mujur covered his ears with his hands. Even so, the noise penetrated. He rolled to his side, but even that took a great deal of effort. Lack of sleep had left him sluggish—a quality which could lead to his downfall against the penanggalan.
Enough! He needed to put an end to the pesky feline before he lacked the coordination to do so. His stomach cramped at the thought. He was more than hungry enough to eat a water buffalo, but the flat-headed cat would make an excellent snack.
With the approach of dusk, the time to hunt had come. Mujur rose, wasted no time shifting into a tiger. Considering all the noise the feline made, tracking it would be simple.
He loped toward the cat, not bothering with concealment. Despite the ever-increasing volume of the howls, it was a good distance away. He’d worry about stealth when he arrived. His greatest concern at the moment was whether or not the cat was in a tree. Bulky, Mujur hadn’t been able to climb trees in his tiger form since he was a cub. If it came down to that, he’d have to wait out the cat.
As he neared the target, Mujur went into stealth mode, slowed his pace. The cat had started an all together different type of screech but just as annoying as the earlier howls. It wouldn’t be long before he encountered the bothersome feline. Judging from the sound, it was on the forest floor. Mujur smiled inwardly at the thought of being rid of the worrisome cat which had followed him the past several days.
The cat calls ceased, but that didn’t stop Mujur’s pursuit. On high alert, he continued in the direction he’d started. Eventually he’d come upon it, and if not, there still was the hunt for the penanggalan.
He could feel the demon’s pull as if it were leading him. Come to me, it beckoned. One or the other, it didn’t matter as long as he eliminated one threat… and soon.
A scent reached his nose, slightly sweet and wholly appetizing. He licked his thin lips and changed direction, the prospect of a different meal a delicious distraction. Not more than ten yards away, he caught sight of his new quarry, a binturong. It ambled aimlessly, filling the air with its strong aroma. Just the thought of the first morsel set Mujur’s mouth to watering.
He crept closer, the slow moving creature making it a simple hunt. He only needed to reach it before it decided to climb any number of the nearby trees. So close. He tested each step while using the dense foliage for cover. Already his stomach tightened in anticipation. He paused and judged the distance. Now. A simple rush.
A scream pierced the air. His entire body tensed. A blur of ecru fell from the sky and landed in front of him in the form of a girl. Only not a girl, a woman and one of his kind—small and delicate, but with curves in all the right places.
Mujur’s meal scampered away, and he lunged to bypass the woman.
“Stop.” She threw herself in his path, tackled him around the neck, and wrapped her legs around his body.
Though slight, the girl’s weight left him unable to reach the binturong before it clambered up a tree and out of reach. Mujur transformed with the wehr-tigress clinging to his side. He rose with her legs clamped around his middle, and arms hugging his neck. Such an insignificant creature, yet her nubile skin against his was more than enough to take his mind off the lost prey and provide a healthy dose of energy to his groin.
He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her to the front with little effort. The soft material of her barkcloth caressed his chest, while the flesh between her legs pressing against him wiped all foulness from his mood.
Eyes narrowed, nostrils flared, and teeth clenched, the wehr-tigress’s thoughts traveled down a different path. The look on her face deflated him instantly. He peeled her hands from his neck, but her legs clenched tighter.
“He’s mine,” she said between her teeth.
“I don’t know what you mean.” He slid his hands down to her waist and lifted.
She grunted as she clung to him like hardened resin on a tree. Not wanting to injure her, Mujur released his hold, and she pressed closer, rubbing her small breasts against him. His penis twitched with indecision.
“The binturong is all I have. I won’t let you kill him.” She shook her head, and her near white hair brushed his nose, filling his olfactory senses with the sweet scent of fruit and the distinctive odor of binturong.
“He’s all I have. I won’t allow it.” The hair on her body thickened, suggesting an impending change.
“Stop.” He seized her at the waist again. “He’s gone. Would you truly challenge me over a matter which no longer exists?”
“I would do anything for my friend.” A jungle of determination filled her sea green eyes.
He believed her every word but doubted her ability. If her first thoughts were to grapple with a tiger three times her size in order to save a friend which would better serve as a meal, she’d be lucky to make it back to her village alive. “Clinging to me like a monkey won’t keep the binturong safe.”
She held onto her strength for a few seconds before her countenance cracked. “Please don’t kill Teman.”
She relaxed her grip and slid down his front, scraping his groin. The top of her head just reached his chest. He’d never encountered a wehr-tiger as small as her. She couldn’t be more than a hundred pounds. If she reached five foot, he’d be surprised.
Her entire demeanor slumped. “Leave him, and I’ll help you hunt for other prey.”
Having her by his side was tempting, but where he was going, no wehr-tigress should follow. “No need.”
“You’ll let him go?” She stepped back, lifted her eyes to meet him, their green so different from the normal yellow of other wehr-tigers.
He’d only chanced upon one other with eyes even remotely similar—Berani’s grandmother.
“Will you let him go?” Her brows tented. If she had prostrated herself at his feet, her plea couldn’t have been more sincere. She sighed, and her head drooped. “I understand.”
So easily she gave up… as if she was used to defeat. Never had he encountered a wehr-tigress who seemed so lacking in power. All he wanted to do was comfort her. “Yes.”
“Your binturong is already gone. I have no intent on harming him. However, I cannot guarantee I will recognize him if he stands alone.”
She considered Mujur for a moment before nodding her head. “Thank you.” She turned and walked away, the outline of her pert buttocks flexing beneath the tapa cloth of her sarong with each step.
“Wait,” he said.
She froze then slowly faced him.
“It’s not safe to be alone out here.” He went on high alert. Perhaps she wasn’t alone. Living his life on the run, he was reluctant to trespass into the land of other clans, doing so only when necessary. “I didn’t realize this territory was claimed.”
“I… I don’t think it is.”
The half step she took backward did not go unnoticed by Mujur. “I’ve been tracking a penanggalan.”
Her eyes flitted from side to side. She reminded him of a bird ready to take flight.
“Where is your clan?” he asked. “I’ll take you back.”
Her eyes shifted to him and widened two folds, then she darted between the trees.