I slam my back against the tree, holding my bow to my chest as I did my best to control the furious torrent that was my breathing. Sweat trickles down my face, but I couldn’t spare the effort to wipe it away, as I was too focused on searching around me, my eyes darting back and forth in fitful gestures, trying to find any sign of danger.
The sound of a branch snapping locks my spine rigid and I stop breathing entirely, doing my best to stay utterly silent. Out of the corner of my eye, I see plants shifting and from it comes the sound of the dense undergrowth stirring, the ripples of grass and debris being disturbed coming closer to me. As I listen, I begin to hear a deep, rumbling growl and my heart lurches into throat.
“Grrrr…. where are you man-thing?” My stalker rumbles, her deep voice tinged with a predatory fierceness that was tempered only by the rich undercurrent of a woman in the prime of her life.
“You can run from me, but you can’t hide forever. I WILL have you!”
I feel myself gulp and tighten my already white-knuckled grip on my bow as I hear the sounds of her smelling the area, the quick, repetitive sniffs sounding like hammer blows to my adrenaline addled mind. She stops soon after and growls a fierce, feline snarl before dashing off into the forest again, crashing through the brush without any regard for stealth or subtlety.
I release my breath a few moments later, panting heavily as I wipe my brow, trying to get my damn legs to start working again after the stress. By the Chief God, how did I even get into this mess? All I wanted was to go hunting and bring back a good kill for the village like my Pa did, but now all I can think about is getting back home alive.
Sure, I knew there were mamono, or monster girls, in the forest, everyone in the village knew that, but we were always told they were calm, rational guardians that kept the order of the mountainside forest intact. They weren’t supposed to be these… these bloodthirsty creatures stalking people through the trees! Damnit, if only I had the sense to remember the listen to the teachings my Pa, the greatest hunter our village had ever known, gave. Lesson number one, “Don’t lose sight of your surroundings or the predator will become the prey.”
Well shit, I guess he was right.
I shake my head, dispelling my concerns and doubts. Damnit, there was no time for this self-flagellating, I needed to get going before she came back! I wasn’t even fully aware of what she was either, just that she had a very human-like form and was tall, muscular, yet had large, furred paws with sharp claws. I seem to recall vaguely hearing about these kinds of mamono, but in my current state I just couldn’t remember it. I DID, however, remember when I first noticed her after sighting down a large buck, seeing her off in the distance, stalking the same prey. She looked at me with those large, feline eyes that stared into mine with an intensity that seemed to bore into my very soul.
We both forgot about the buck when she started chasing me instead.
I work up the courage to stand slowly, my limbs grateful for the respite, no matter how fitful or brief, and I make sure my quiver is fully in place at my side and my trusty bow, which had seen me through no shortage of tough scrapes, was ready to go. Both were in place, and I had six arrows, plenty enough for a simple hunt, but this had long since become more than a mere trip to the forest for meat, and instead had become a game of cat and mouse, where I was the mouse. I can’t help but smirk at that thought, especially considering whatever was chasing me obviously was some kind of cat beastman.
I don’t remember much about the stories passed down to me about the mamono as a kid; We just didn’t see them where I was from, and when we did, the adults always hid us from their view, whispering about how it wasn’t our place to see such horrors. I don’t recall them ever wanting to EAT people, but I also didn’t really recall them not wanting to do so. The lack of being able to remember this crucial difference right now was sort of giving me nausea.
Either way, it was a bad idea to stay here, so I start moving through the forest again, trying to find my way out.
It was easier said than done of course, the forest being a large, twisting mass of trees and streams layered over ages of rolling earth on the side of a mountain. We had been lucky to have our village remain near such a wonderful slice of nature without being molested by either the Order, nor any mamono, but it was always talked about in hushed whispers by the elders when they thought no one was listening that we wouldn’t remain this way forever. Of course, as the village had been there for generations, it was kind of hard to believe that for someone like me, a lad in his early twenties with his whole life ahead of him.
However, if the mamono in the forest started becoming aggressive…
I feel a shiver run down my spine as I think about it before wiping sweat off my brow. The forest was humid on the best of days, but with all the running around, I was positively sweating buckets. I took a small opportunity to reach for my canteen, pulling it to my lips to find that instead of sweet, refreshing water, all I pulled up was air.
“Damnit…” I mutter, placing the canteen back. I had forgotten that I had drank it all earlier, finishing it off right before I met my pursuer. I guess I also forgot the number two rule of hunting, according to my pa, “Always be doubly prepared!”
Ugh, well whatever, I’d have to endure I suppose. Dehydration was the least of my worries at the moment.
I slowly slide down the side of a little rise, crouching low with bow ready as I listen for anything suspicious. Some birds call out in the distance and I can hear the sound of insects buzzing about, but above all of that is another, wonderful sound.
A smile cracks my parched lips as I realize that it’s the gentle flowing of water, one of the many little streams in the forest, and I take off in a slow, yet eager pace, ready to find the source. The water would serve two functions in this case, quenching my thirst and also allow me to get my bearings straight. All the streams flowed downhill without exception, and if I followed this one, I’d have a good idea where I was and would be able to get out of here in one piece.
With all the dexterity of years of hunting, I quietly approach the small, babbling brook and refill my canteen, looking around with wary eyes. I had no idea where she had gotten to, but there was no doubt she was still hunting for me, so I couldn’t afford to stay in one spot for long. I quickly drink some water from my canteen, feeling the refreshing taste of a mountain spring’s runnel wash the worry down my throat and I almost moan in delight at the feeling.
As I go to refill the canteen again, I notice something in the water, a reflection of a large and menacing figure which I recognize instantly, despite the distortion of the image from the running water. My eyes go wide and with a yelp, I throw myself to the ground as the hulking form of my assailant flies overhead to splash into the water, sending a wave cool liquid to drench me.
I roll to my side, having protected my bowstring from the splash, thankfully, and quickly nock an arrow as the mamono turns about on all fours and stares at me, her feline eyes dilated and wild with a primal frenzy, her cheeks flushed bright red, mouth open in a pant while sweat dripped from her forehead, clinging to her long, orange and black hair.
I didn’t have much time to appreciate her right then, but it occurred to me that my attacker was… uhm, well attractive was sort of not strong enough of a word. Perhaps that was a very inappropriate thing to notice in this situation, but in her crouched position, the tight, muscular curves of her hips, raised into the air with her striped, orange and black tail waving, drew my eyes in such a fashion that it was almost as if a spell had been cast upon me. I couldn’t help but notice as well the way her chest heaved in time with her panting, her buxom nature kept in check only by an intricately designed metal plate which was accentuated by matching shoulder guards and undergarment. They didn’t really do much in the way to cover her supple, tanned skin, but I guess it kept everything in place…
I was rudely ripped back into reality when she leaps at me again and I’m forced to roll away, arrow taken off my bowstring as I cry out, barely avoiding being caught in her pounce. I was fairly certain that if I got tackled by her, I would be a goner, so I scramble backward before pushing myself up and running again, following the stream.
I hear the sound of furious, padded feet chasing after me and I scream with a voice which was nothing at all like my little sister’s, ducking into underbrush and trees again to find somewhere to hide. She chases after me, snarling, and as I round a bend, I hear the sound of a ferocious snarl, a whoosh of air, and then I feel a sharp and sudden weight against my leg, sending me sprawling to the forest floor with a crash, sticks and rocks scratching my face and hands as I shake my head in a daze.
I turn my head to see the feline mamono holding my leg with a large, orange paw, a deranged looking grin on her face as she begins to laugh, pulling herself closer toward me on her muscular belly.
“Caught you!” She giggles, her already intense panting seeming to increase as she tries to pull be in closer to her. Her eyes, already dilated and wild looking, seem positively insane as she begins to gibber, a power taking hold of her.
“You’re a male… I’m a female… this is what we do, right? Don’t fight it! Come, let me have you!”
Her feline ears twitch excitedly and I feel sheer terror run through me. “W…what the fuck is this! Get off me!” I shout, struggling with all my might, but her grip is just too strong and she holds on tight, sinking her claws gently into my leg. I search around for something, anything as she reaches out for my other leg.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I quickly reach into my quiver and draw one of my iron-headed arrows, fletched with goose feathers, and jam it straight down onto her furred paw.
She roars out in agony, the bestial sound shaking me, but she lets go enough for me to wrench my foot out of her grasp, and I’m able to pull myself up, grabbing my bow from the forest floor and start running again while she continues to roar in pain behind me. I would have felt bad for her, but come on, I was terrified!
I don’t get much of a respite before I hear her charging out toward me again and I curse, slipping down another small ledge of rock covered in various plant-life, when I spot a large, hollowed out log before me. I quickly dive into it, fitting with some effort, and do my very best impression of a log laying still within the confines of the husk of bark and dirt, not even commenting on the large colony of spiders I may or may not have just noticed were all inside is particular log. At least I knew this kind weren’t poisonous…
I hear again the snarling roar of the mamono as she crashes out of the brush, landing nearby and rocking the log, forcing me to catch my breath in wake her passing. I can hear my heartbeat echo inside the log, or perhaps it was just my head and I try to calm it down, but with the spider that was now crawling on my nose and the adrenaline, that seriously wasn’t going to happen.
Outside the log I hear the sound of plant life being savaged as she trashes through them, letting out screams of rage and frustration that sound more like those a woman in duress this time than a beast losing its prey. I hear her begin to tear things up, the sound of branches snapping, bark tearing, plants being ripped and torn. She finally lets out a cry of pure hopelessness and I hear the sound of something large hitting the ground, then everything goes quiet.
I wait for a long moment before I slowly raise my head from the log, looking around without exposing myself. Sitting amidst a circle of what looked like the aftermath of a natural disaster sat the mamono, kneeling as she held a paw to her chest, her eyes squeezed shut as if in concentration, or prayer.
I consider the situation gravely. She wasn’t going to give up on chasing me until I got out of the forest and back home, and even then, could I be certain she’d stop? What if I accidently brought home a raging beast and she hurt someone? I could never live with myself if I did something like that.
I then remember then Pa’s third and final rule of hunting, “When the time to take the shot appears, don’t hesitate.”
There was only one thing to do then. I slowly rise from the log, spiders tumbling from my body like water droplets and I apply my best stealth as I quietly draw forth an arrow from my quiver and nock it against my bowstring. Then, lining up the mamono with myself, I slowly raise the bow, drawing back on the string until it touches my cheek. Should my aim be true, the arrow would fly straight into her breast, slaying the beast. I’d be a hero of my village, saving them from the predations of a wild monster roaming so close to home.
And yet, despite all my preparation, I hesitate, unable to loose the arrow. A silly thing really, as all it takes is simply letting go of the string just as one would let go the handle of a bucket. Still, as I watch the poor girl sit there, asking to be shot, I realize with a start that she wasn’t concentrating, or praying, or any of that.
She was crying.
“Damnit… damnit, damnit, no….” She mewls pitifully, her paw clenching tight at her breast. “Why I am I feeling this? I know it’s that time but… but when I saw him, my heart just wouldn’t stop pounding and..” She hangs her head, gritting her teeth. “And damnit, now he’s gone too. Why do I have to feel this way?!”
I can’t shoot her. That’s the simple truth of it. I just can’t bear to loose an arrow into someone filled with such emotion, even if they weren’t human. I don’t think I could sleep at night, knowing that I had ended a life for a misunderstanding. Sitting here like this, she seemed so vulnerable, despite her powerful build.
I lower the bow and shake my head, making to crawl back into the log when I feel a sharp sting on my leg and I gasp out in pain. I look down and see that one of the damn spiders had bitten my leg!.
The mamono whips her head toward me, her slit pupils becoming large and wild again and she leaps toward me, catching me before I can dodge out of the way, and she tears me from my position in the log with brute force that literally rips me out, dead bark coming free with me as we tumble onto the forest floor, spiders spilling in various directions at the destruction of their home.
The mamono straddles me, knocking aside the arrow I was trying to draw, pinning my arms in place with her massive paws, and pressure causes me to cry out in pain. She leans down and sniffs the side of my neck, shivering in some kind of pleasure as she pulls back with what I just realize is a decidedly lewd face.
“You showed yourself to me…hehe, that must mean you really were just playing hard to get, hmm?”
I gasp as she squeezes me again, her powerful paws digging into my shoulders. I do my best to gasp out through clenched teeth, “What do….you want with me?”
“I don’t really know myself.” She titters, her tail drifting back and forth in intense motions as she purrs, “I can’t think about anything else but you, can’t get you out of my mind. I just want to tear off your clothes and… and…” She can’t seem to think of the right words, so instead she settles of gently biting my neck and growling in a uh… well, seductive I suppose, manner.
I gasp, confusion and fear mixing together in a strange, emotional soup as I stammer out, “Y…you’re going to eat me, aren’t you?”
She throws back her head, exposing long and wickedly sharp canine teeth as she laughs, a deep and rich sound that comes from the core of her being. “Eat you? Why would I do that?”
“B…because that’s what mamono do?”
She chuckles some before placing a large paw to my cheek, her soft fur a shock amidst against my skin, a complete disparity her hard, lean body. Her crazed smile softens, however the furious intensity in her eyes never wavers as she speaks in a throaty, rumbling voice.
“Oh you have much to learn about Jinko little man-thing.” She leans down close and whispers in my ear, her warm breath sending a tingle down my spine, “But first, we’re going to fuck like animals, you and me.”
I gulp, body shaking in a mix of fear and anticipation as she moves to tear open my clothes and claim her spoils.
Sorry Pa… guess I should have paid more attention to your lessons.