Red Hair, Red Fur

The howls echoed in that dark night painting pictures of blood stained maws and sharp rows of teeth in the minds of the people in the ráth. All but one mind, anyway. It was a wolf moon, her father had said. It was wolf weather, the priest had intoned. Still, Aine ni Cathair was drawn to the hills and the cliffs and the open air. She donned a cloak and pinned it fast, pulling the hood up to hide her wild, red hair and her freckle-strewn face as she passed through the doors and into the night.
A steady rain fell and mist clung to the ground like man to a mystery, parting only slightly as Aine passed through. She carried no torch against the darkness and kept her steps light. The path to the cliff was a well-trod one and one she knew as she knew her own heart. That was why she was surprised to find something there she had never seen before: two torches, one to either side of the track.
Aine paused for only a moment before striding between them with determination and purpose. This was her place, her family’s land, and whoever was out here in the night would regret it if they were trespassing.
A lone figure stood beyond, a silhouette carved against the sky. They faced the sea and as Aine came closer, she could make out silver curls of hair.
“Gran? Is that you?”
The woman turned, a smile on her face as she looked at her granddaughter. Again, Aine hesitated. Her grandmother stood in the soaking rain beyond the torches with a knife in her hand, reflecting the light, and a fur over her shoulders.
“T’is, my dear. Come closer so I can see you.”
Aine took another step forward, hearing the howls echoing off the hillsides.
“Gran, why’re you out in the rain?”
The old woman chuckled softly.
“Why, the same reason as you, my dear.”
Another few steps brought Aine even closer before she paused.
“Gran, where’d you get that wolf skin?”
The woman reached to pat the fur of the skin thrown over her shoulders and smiled fondly, as though at a distant memory.
“Why, I’ve had it since I was your age, my dear.”
Aine stood only a single step away from her grandmother now and she could feel the fear warring with confusion in her gut.
“Gran, why’ve you got that dreadful big knife?”
The old woman flipped the blade in her hand and held out the hilt her to granddaughter.
“Why, so you can claim your own skin, my dear.”

The howls echoed in that dark night and the moon climbed further into the sky. The people in the ráth could hear the trembling call of a new wolf joining the hunt. Outside, a red wolf ran at the side of an old silver one, never as free before as she was now.

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Demons and Witchcraft

“It must be some manner of witchcraft.”
The young knight frowned and removed his helm, taking a moment to set it on a stump. Then he gestured at the blue glow emanating from the apparent tear in the sky.
“Look at it. The flames are unnatural and give off no heat.”
The shepherd boy who had first reported the light nodded, but he had a slight frown on his face.
“But, Sir Morris, mightn’t it be the Fair Folk?”
Sir Morris chuckled.
“Nothing but superstition. No, this is the work of witches in league with the devil himself. Take word to your village priest and I will continue this investigation.”
The boy saluted, turned, and ran back to the village leaving Sir Morris alone before the blue glow and the tear in the sky. Slowly, the young knight approached it. He felt drawn to the rift, almost compelled to reach out and touch it.
“I refuse to fall for your wiles, demon. Tempt me not!”
He raised his hand and shook his fist dramatically at the rift. That was when the ground began to shake. Taking a step back, Sir Morris tried to maintain his balance. That was when the figure stepped out of the rift. They were tall and wearing an odd white suit armor that covered their entire body, with a black reflective visor pulled down over their face.
“Back, demon!” Yelled Sir Morris, taking a few more backpedaling steps.
Then the figure looked at him and raised some kind of box to point it at him. Sir Morris raised his shield to deflect the demon’s magical attack and was nearly blinded by a flash of light. Then the figure held one hand up to him before turning to pass back through the rift. A moment later, the glow faded and the portal closed.

“So, how did the first run go, Angela?”
The young chrononaut pulled her helmet off with a laugh.
“Good, I think. I took a picture of the man I saw and I have some readings of the atmospheric conditions. Hopefully, that should be enough to confirm time period.”
“Anything interesting happen?”
She grinned wickedly and tossed the camera to the technician.
“I’m pretty sure he called me a demon.”