Stilled, the forest made no whisper as the massive wolf stalked. Silent death on four wide black paws, the huge beast moved through the night.
On the predator continued.
The primeval wood fell away, revealing a large human settlement atop a small hillock. The wolf's massive head tipped up, demonic golden eyes scrutinized the city ramparts. Three quick, huffling breaths were drawn into the cavernous chest.
Cruel black lips curled in an unholy grin.
The prey had recently returned home. Safe in his den, the target would be relaxed, most probably asleep. An assessing gaze settled upon the guards at the city gates. Another deep snuff of air informed the wolf these men were fresh at their posts. They would be quick to raise the alarm if they spotted the malignant form, even in this weak light. A satisfied rumble and the black beast prowled off around the city wall. Ever the strategist, it soon found the weakness in the city's defence. The high wall to the back of the human's domain was set directly against the palace facade. Fifty feet of sheer stone would dissuade most attackers; the beast merely flashed a dagger-toothed leer as it waited for the next patrol to pass.
Bestial hunger mounted.
The copper-haired king slept soundly, bathed in the moonlight from his open chamber window. His back rose and fell gently with the rhythmic breaths of sleep. Long, well-muscled limbs were thrown out in contently naked abandon. The wolf drew deeply of the sweet, sleep-warm air; then released it in a quietly satisfied growl. Here lay his prey: unaware of the presence, unaware of the hunger, unaware of the danger. The inky form slowly eased its weight onto the softly creaking four-poster bed.
Massive muscles suddenly tensed.
The animal froze as the human sighed, mumbling something unhappily. The wolfen tongue snaked from the jagged maw to catch a drip of blood warm saliva. It watched the man shift at the noisy slurp of jowls. Unearthly eyes gleamed at the play of muscle under soft, flawless skin.
Wet jaws slapped greedily.
The beast's mouth flooded with anticipatory saliva as it advanced up the slumbering form. A soft splash brought the wolfen gaze to a trickle of saliva running down the nearest, perfect, bare buttock. Ravenous eyes narrowed. The giant head dipped down. The snuffling snout followed the trail of clear liquid over the roundness of the cheek, and into the dark recess beyond.
Predatorial eyes flicked up at another, more conscious, human sound. It was time. The thick black snout eased between the sleeping man's legs. A breath of hot air caused the king to shudder. A hungry pink tongue began to lap at the deliciously salty skin.
The prey groaned as consciousness dawned. The predator flashed its dagger grin and continued to savour the warm skin trapped beneath it.
At the shout of alarm the wolf quickly withdrew its long forelegs, avoiding the wildly flailing human tangled in the sheets.
"Fucking Hades!" the mortal hissed, wide eyed at this nightmare vision come true.
Black lips curled in an appreciative leer; the welcome scent of fear filled its nostrils.
Legs whipped tight to his body, the king's breath came in panicked gasps. His death-grip on the oak headboard tightened; his amber gaze darted quickly across the room, then back to the huge apparition.
Amused, the wolf's gaze followed that of the terrified man. In a dark corner by the door it could see the shape of a sword, propped up against a chair. A light sniff of the air confirmed the scents of metal, dried sweat, and leather.
"You're slipping, kinglet," the God of War's voice sounded in the darkness.
"Ares?" the king's head rose in hope, sickening terror easing as his gaze searched for his godly lover.
"Iphicles," returned the hellish monolith.
The king's gaze was guarded. "A-Ares?"
"What were you expecting, mortal?" the creature intoned with Ares' growling sarcasm. "Don't you like what you see?"
The mortal gaped at the shaggy shouldered form. "You're...a wolf?"
An annoyed clack of fiendish fangs, and the fearsome eyes rolled back in disgust. That little movement brought a faint glitter of silver to Iphicles' notice. Focusing, the king saw a familiar sword shaped earring glinting within a nest of black hair at the beast's left ear.
"Mortals," the wolf growled with contempt, huge head bending to rake fearful teeth through dense hair. The gnawing, grunting noise that followed left Iphicles grimacing in disgust. Predatorial eyes suddenly snapped up, focusing with unnerving accusation on the dumbstruck king. "Do you have fleas, Iphicles?"
"No," the mortal snapped back, about to accuse the wolf in return when murderous claws twitched forebodingly. "No," he repeated, hating the sulky tone that crept into his voice. "I don't."
"Good." A hideously lecherous grin graced the wolfen face.
Iphicles became aware of an intense, musky scent as the creature moved closer. A strangled groan broke from his throat: the wolf's cat-like grace belied its huge size. He'd seen Ares move like this before. The sight usually filled him with the heady sensations of desperate lust and world consuming need. A glance into that bestial gaze, and the human withdrew to the farthest corner of the bed.
"Maybe this isn't such a good idea," Iphicles tried to sound calm and sadly apologetic while not daring to focus directly on his nightmare lover. "I'm really tired, and I've got meetings in the morning with Hercules and my council," the mortal consciously relaxed his tensing body. "It's about the boar rampages in the south. We've got an early start in the morning, so Hercules is staying in a room down the corridor. A small room of course," the king continued, trying to ignore those great teeth. The deep growl, already vibrating the bed, grew forebodingly louder. "Ares -" The split second he looked away, the king knew he'd made a fateful error. In less than a heartbeat massive paws pinned his shoulders soundly to the headboard. Fear, almost forgotten, bit the mortal sharp once more.
"Nervous are we?" Ares' amused voice hissed hot in his ear. "You're not usually so reticent, Iphicles. Something wrong?"
The king screwed his eyes shut against the slavering maw at his neck. Hot beastly saliva ran down his chest, harsh guard hairs pricked his cheek, and hell's teeth nipped along his knotted shoulder.
"Feeling shy all of a sudden, little mortal?" the animal rumbled. "I remember you used to love to touch me. Not in the mood?"
Iphicles winced as lethal claws bit into his shoulders. Glaring at a heavy black haunch he managed to growl, "Fuck you, Ares."
"No, kinglet, 'fuck you,'" the creature snarled, and a sudden unearthly weight pinned Iphicles defenceless. Air rushed from the terror frozen mortal as voracious fangs trailed stinging bites down his body.
Without warning the wolf's head suddenly whipped towards the door. A demonic growl filled the room.
"Iph, I'm sorry-" Hercules had barely entered the room when he was hit by a snarling mass of black fury.
In a blur of fur, fists and fangs the two clashed upright, then tumbled to the floor. Punching and snapping they rolled, then broke apart. Glaring they circled, then, they stilled.
The demigod stood: chest heaving, blood seeping.
The wolf-dressed god licked its dripping mouth, tasting Hercules' blood and it's own torn jowls. It leered red-stained teeth.
There was no victory to be had here - but it had already won this fight. A glance to the unnerved mortal confirmed this. Iphicles had learned this lesson; Ares would be back for his kinglet another night.
With a bloody grin the huge wolf turned and leapt back through the open window. In a heartbeat it had disappeared into the night.
Stilled, the forest made no whisper.