Chapter 1: In the cold
A towering dark figure pauses on his tracks to listen to the wind for a moment. He knows he is getting deep into ogre territory, but cutting his travel time in almost half is definitely worth it. Facing off a few ogres definitely beats the thought of enduring any more of the biting winter chill than absolutely necessary.
It turns out that his ears were right; he spots a young ogre nearby. The greenish-black, humanoid creature is not particularly large for its kind, but still considerably taller than the human wanderer who has invaded its domain. The willowy man and the burly, flat-faced man-eater stare at each other for a moment; it has paused in its tracks and does not seem immediately intent on attacking.
This was interesting behaviour, an ogre that came equipped with enough survival instinct to not attack an intruder on sight? That seemed somehow unlikely.
Then he sees the reason for the creature's hesitation: another ogre about twice its size is busy ripping a tree out of the ground. After this procedure is complete, the larger creature wields the trunk in both hands. Now properly prepared for the hunt, it proceeds to rush towards the cleric, the smaller ogre in tow.
The traveller loosens his mace and shield from their strappings, and faces the pair. He feels almost delighted at the prospect of the upcoming battle: nothing like bashing in some giant skull to warm a man up.
The first swing of the large ogre is sluggish and simple enough to dodge, and while the giant is still learning to use its ad hoc weaponry, the traveller steps past it to land a solid blow on the side of the smaller ogre. It responds with an angry roar and rushes to take revenge, but with an evasive manouver ends up almost running into its larger counterpart.
The dance goes on for a while, and as a third ogre shows up to the site, the traveller decides he should be taking this more seriously. The noise is going to attract more onlookers, and there is a limit to what a lone man can achieve in these woods, even with a good mace.
Before the third ogre has time to join the fray, though, some form of black furry lightning assaults it. Another, more steady swing from the large ogre ensures that he has no time to ponder this event further. The two ogres demand his full concentration now: he sets off a furious assault against the larger one while blocking the smaller ogre's attacks with his shield.
At last the tree-wielding giant goes down, beaten to bleeding submission. At the same time, the sleek ball lightning of black fur finishes off the newest arrival of the ogres. The last one turns to flee, but limps already from the many blows it has recieved. It is quickly run down by the strange ogre-flaying forest animal who promptly puts it out of its misery.
The traveller wipes blood off his mace and watches the beast cautiously. It looks like a panther, but would not be hunting ogres for food, and does not really look like it belongs to these parts. Perhaps it is the pet of some kind of twisted ranger, hiding somewhere in the shadows?
Before he has time to start shouting challenges for any lurking onlookers to come out, the panther begins to shimmer strangely. In front of his eyes, the creature turns into a humanoid form, and once it stands up steadily on two feet, it has been replaced by a female human - or what seems likely to be one, considering that it is somewhat hard to tell under all the winter gear.
He realizes he has heard some stories of people like this, somewhere in the far south. However, there is a pressing question that must be addressed promptly:
"You wear clothes? Where did you pull those out of?"
This gains him a mildly exasperated glare from the female. "You expect me to run around NAKED in mid-winter? What kind of a wet dream hallucination do you take me for?"
She, and this is most definitely a she, is also wearing a rucksack with two dead rabbits hanging from it, he realizes. That is a neat trick, indeed. "Where does your stuff go when you are a panther?"
She only stares at him for a while, as if he were somehow dense. Then she glances at the sky and seems to sniff the air in a somewhat animal-like way. "It's going to be nightfall soon. Were you planning to take on a blizzard with that mace of yours, too?"
He grunts dismissively. "There's no blizzard coming." And there better not be, because there is no proper shelter anywhere nearby that he knows of.
"My nose doesn't lie." She seems to consider something for a moment. "Tell you what. I have a hideout not far from here. You can come spend the night there if your manly pride allows it."
He cocks his head; the offer is unexpected but seems sincere. "I have no problem with being sensible and alive," he admits. Whatever kind of hole in the ground she might be leading him to, it would probably beat trudging on throughout the night.
The pair makes their way through the forest without further ogre encounters. The traveller makes a note that some deliberate evasion may be involved, as the cat-woman is not leading them on a direct route. While she could be trying to make it harder for him to find her hideout too, the twists and turns do not seem elaborate enough to make much of a difference.
That strikes a thought. He glances at his self-declared guide meaningfully and asks, "You invite unknown travellers to your place a lot?"
She smiles brightly at him and purrs, "Only the tasty ones. I'm going to have you for supper since these scrawny rabbits I caught earlier won't be enough to sate me." She casts a sultry glance at him that almost cracks his poker face.
"I see," he chuckles in response.
A moment later they arrive at a small hut, artfully hidden from sight behind a concentration of trees. She opens the door; the place is sparsely furnished but functional. There is a small bed against one wall, table next to another, a firepit in the middle and a small chimney-hole above it. A pile of firewood stands against the far wall.
As he takes the sight in, she slinks closer to him and inches a slender arm right past his bicep, almost brushing it, to point at the wood pile. "Would you mind lighting the fire while I skin these two?" He nods, not needing to look to know she has pulled the dead rabbits from where they hung at her back.
He patiently nurses the fire into life with not-entirely-dry tinder, and takes a look around the single-room hut while waiting for the flames to tentatively lick into the wood. His musings on the architecture of the small residence are suddenly interrupted when he feels a pressure against his back: by the gods, but the sneaky vixen can move quietly when she wants to! But he smells the familiar scent of her winter skins with a hint of female sweat, and determinedly relaxes his tensed, battle-ready muscles. She whispers in his ear, lips brushing against his lobe: "Did you find it difficult to light up my fire?"
The tease wins another chuckle out of him. "Not at all, I'm finding the hostess has prepared a most warm welcome for me." Encouraged by the repeated come-ons, he decides to test the waters and stands up to face her.
He is a head taller than the slight woman, and at this distance she needs to crane her neck to maintain eye contact. The gesture brings a flash of what might be slight nervousness to her eyes, as if she were reconsidering the wisdom of toying with a strange man.
But he is a guest in this house, and has pointedly left his weapons by the door. He makes sure the grave lines on his face to melt into a mirthful smirk, and sees her relax again. Such immediate trust, he muses, can likely only persist in the wilderness like this.
He deliberately moves his gaze to her lips, and she reflexively licks them. "You were planning to roast your catch, I gather?"
Her eyes widen for a moment, but then she seems to remember what she has in her hands. The tip of her tongue flicks out to touch her teeth as she grins mischievously and steps past him to prepare the meat for cooking.
Crouching by the fire leaves her back towards him, and he sheds his coat and undershirt while she is distracted. When the rabbits are all set to stew in peace, he sneaks his hands under her shirt hem, finding supple and warm skin underneath. "So... Where does your fur coat go when you're human, little she-panther?"
She squirms delightedly against his touch. "Oh, I'll show you where I keep my fur coat, woodsman, if you show me that staff you're hiding in your pants."
He grins and pulls her shirt over her head, revealing a smooth, bronzed back. Her skin rises on goosebumps where his fingertips dance on it. Over her shoulders he spies a pair of perk breasts just waiting for attention, and how her nipples are wrinkling up deliciously in the cool air.
"You look like you're a bit cold without it..." He sneaks two fingers under the waistline of her pants, "...but getting all warm down here."
She presses her back against him and then makes her way up from the crouch, deliberately brushing against his chest. "I figured you can help me with that."
"Yeah, what kind of a guest would I be if I wasn't earning my keep, anyway?"
She giggles heartily at this and turns around with a hand raised as if to swat him. Yet she freezes in mid-move when she sees the brand on his chest. Her hand follows its projected path and ghosts against the Scythe symbol, then pulls back as if it burned. The look in her eyes is distinctly nervous when she moves her gaze to his eyes, looking for confirmation - but for what exactly, he is unable to tell.
She seems to recognize the brand, so there is no point beating around the bush. "Yes, I am Scythe. Do you have a particular problem with this or are you just wondering if I will be raping and pillaging you after I make you beg for it?" His trousers are starting to feel tight, and he sends a quick imploring request to local gods: let her sense of humour carry her over the whatever issue his guild branding has awoken in her. While there are benefits to the fierce reputation of his guild, scaring her off at this point would be rather awkward.
Her reaction is rewardingly drawn all over her face: first her eyes narrow at the insolence of the challenge, then widen at the implications and finally crinkle in mutual mirth when she notices her prejudices have been played.
"Ha! I would like to see you try, Scythe whelp."
"Don't say I didn't warn you."
He grabs her by the waist and before she is able to gather her wits to resist, guides her back-first into the small space between two meeting walls and the table. Doubly cornered, she lets out a startled yelp, but it is distinctly lacking the tinge of panic that threatened to form when she first froze before him. Trust re-established, she is his willing prey now.
He presses against his catch, pinning her against the wall, and slides both his thumbs under her pants to slide them downwards. Her breathing quickens, and he shifts position slightly to let her feel his stiffening member through his pants. Her lips part in a quiet gasp as he fixes her with a lust-filled gaze. It spells out "You're mine, and I'll have you right here".
She pushes her thigh eagerly against his groin, and with a final push, her pants are past the curve of her ass and fall to the floor. She now stands completely bare and shivering slightly against the wooden wall - from cold or anticipation, or both.
He glances at the table to gauge its sturdiness, grabs her by the waist and hoists her on top of it. Standing between her legs as they hang over the edge, he holds her gaze steadily, like a hunter staring down a defiant deer. He then slowly opens the belt around his waist.
She cannot help it but glance downwards at the deliberately prolonged movements of his hands, and he bends forward to whisper in her ear, "Eyes up here, little kitten. You don't want to be getting distracted, now." Even as she corrects her gaze upwards, he moves his fingers up her inner thigh and to touch her lower lips, noting how her warm, soft flesh is ready for him.
She moans at the tease, and her eyes roll back in her head. He flicks his thumb over her sensitive spot and grinningly reminds her again, "Eyes up here."
The little feline is not entirely tamed yet; when she looks at him again, her eyes gleam with mischievous challenge. "You tease me with your fingers, man of the wood, are you worried that I'll find your equipment lacking?"
He chuckles at her defiance; amused, steely resolve settles in his eyes at the taunt. Hers widen again as he eases his erection out of his pants and runs the tip along her thigh and prods at the growing wetness between her legs with it. She draws in quick, short breaths every time he moves against her sensitive skin.
"Maybe I'm just waiting for you to ask me nicely." Another light stroke, another shiver of lust from her, then he withdraws slightly again.
She peers at him, as if measuring his self-control against hers, and the amount of leverage she can apply while being perched on the edge of the table. Emboldened, she traces a finger on his chest, around the brand, past the symbol hanging from a strip of leather around his neck and down his sides. His gaze softens slightly at her touch, but he can also feel her scanning his defenses. The delightful cool, gentle fingers are looking for weak spots to challenge him. He smiles at the effort, and responds in kind by moving to ghost his lips against the side of her neck.
Her probing fingers pause from the distraction, then grab his shoulders. He lets his warm breath fall on the base of her neck, and she is primed enough by now to grip him harder just from that. His lips brushing against the path of her jugular, he absently queries whether there was something she was hoping he would do to her in particular.
Her moan seems to be directed at present deities, so he decides it does not count as asking yet. Maybe she needs a bit more warming up.
He moves downwards past her collarbone, down her sternum and between her breasts, where he shifts sideways to tease a nipple with his mouth. Her grip moves from his shoulders to the back of his head and she seems to be expressing something fervently religious again. She must be in good favour with the gods, calling them so eagerly.
He strokes the outer sides of her thighs as he works the tip of her breast with his tongue. Her fingers are lost in his hair, exploring his skull, and her resistance seems to be melting. But still she does not say the magic word.
He moves on to the other breast, and shifts his hands to cradle her pleasantly rounded rear instead. She is now forming some kinds of words that might include 'please' into the top of his head, but he is quite determined that this important communication will require more clarity of expression. His balls are voicing a minor protest at further delay, but he wills them to silence in favour of the pleasure to be gained from working the lady up just right first.
Maybe more direct methods can be applied, though. He drops down one knee and gains a yelp from her as her balance shifts in response. Just as she is regaining her composure, he places a kiss on her by now extremely sensitive clit, which is rewarded by a startled gasp and a "What are you doing?!"
"Me? I'm just waiting for you to tell me what you want; a poor simple man like me would not have an idea what to do with a wild huntress like you." He talks with his mouth so close to her lower lips she can feel his words against it.
"Bastard," she giggles, and he slips a finger into her. An "Ah!" seems to promptly end the statement she was planning to continue with. Another one of those follows when he gently rubs a thumb against the little sensitive tip where all the horny in her seems to be gathering.
"I don't think it's very nice to be questioning my heritage while I'm trying to be a well-behaved guest, now." He slides his finger in and out while lightly rubbing her clit further, and stands up again to kiss her on the mouth.
She pushes hungrily against his fingers with her pelvic muscles, while simultaneously her mouth opens, inviting him in. She can taste her own juices on him while he slides a second finger in to make more of them flow. The stubborn woman is now squirming helplessly in his hands.
He pushes his fingers a few times deep into her, earning moans that are quickly becoming more high-pitched. When he slips his tongue in her mouth to deepen the kiss, she gasps, tenses and he can feel her inner muscles flexing around his hand. The hasty commentary she makes at this turn of events seems to be directed at the majority of recognized deities in the area. It is as if she were directing her begging at them to avoid succumbing to asking him for anything. Oh dear.
He withdraws his now thoroughly wet fingers from her and his mouth from hers and she lets out a little whine before regaining control of herself. "No-"
"You disapprove, esteemed hostess?" He grins wolfishly at her.
"Don't stop!" she demands.
He flicks a thumb over her sensitive spot and collects a very serious-looking frown on his face. He finds the expression somewhat challenging to maintain while taking in the flushed cheeks and eyes burning with lust of the woman before him. But his profession has taught him plenty of self-control, which comes in handy now. "I'm not sure what you're referring to, was there something you wanted me to do?"
She erupts in helpless giggles and pushes her forehead against his chest. "Bastard..." She raises her head and tries to fix him with a stern glare, but starts giggling again and breaks eye contact once again. She seems to try to compose herself for a moment, and he barely resists the urge to distract her by stroking her with his cock some more while she is clearly trying to work on something. "Mmmh!" she harrumphs against his chest between giggles.
He decides he is willing to extend a bit of help if she is beyond forming coherent sentences already. "I might have a solution for your problem." He cradles her chin to turn her face towards his again, cocks his head to the side in an expression of concern and summons as much sincerity in his eyes as his poker face can muster. "Would you perhaps like me to fuck you now?"
The look on her face is priceless; the juices from her orgasming earlier are all over his hand and she still has the bashfulness to blush an even deeper red at his suggestion. His other hand still under her chin, he slowly and deliberately lifts his glistening two fingers and licks them. Her mouth opens and closes a few times before her eyes roll back in a desperate attempt to break eye contact.
Eyes all but closed, not looking into his, she finds the composure in herself to utter a clearly audible "Yes, please" a moment later. She continues this something more quiet that sounds like a "Hard, now," but he decides that clarification is not necessarily needed at this point.
He hoists her up again and carries her over to the bed in his arms. She goes a little wild-eyed at being hauled around, but seems to relax by the time he starts to lower her on the bed. When she is down on a stable surface again, she manages one more surprise for him by turning on her belly, arching her back and lifting her ass up before throwing an inviting look his way.
It seems that on the bed, she is feeling more in her own element again, and recovering quickly from giving in to him only moments earlier. He moves over to admire her derrière and she wiggles it at him invitingly. His already rock-hard erection responds very approvingly at the gesture, and he moves to rest the tip of his cock against the wet slit so eagerly offered to him. A savourable moment.
She first moves slightly forward as if yielding to him, but then quickly pushes her ass towards him, plunging his manhood deep inside her. He almost comes that very second, but grabs her ass to hold it still for a moment to regain control of himself. Sneaky vixen, indeed. But she is surrounding his cock in such delicious soft wet warmness that he is willing to forgive a little ambush... or three. He swats her lightly on her bottom as an acknowledgement anyway. She responds by wiggling around him delightfully.
Once convinced he can hold on a while longer, he starts to move in and out of her in slow, deliberate strokes. She occasionally tries to push against him to catch him by surprise again, but at this point he knows to expect it. He responds to such attempts by impaling her very determinedly on his following push, pushing his cock deep into her, which sends her into more unintelligible commentary with some contextually related terminology in it.
When her breathing and other sounds start to become more urgent and pleading again, he picks up the speed. Soon he is pounding against her thighs and ass, accompanied by rewarding smacking sounds. Meanwhile the pressure building in her makes her try to ever hasten the rhythm. He feels the same sensation of urgency growing in his groin.
When she comes again, her contractions push him over the top as well, and he sinks his cock deep into her one more time to send his seed on its merry way.
After shivering around him for a good length of time, she slumps down on the bed, exhausted and panting. Still inside her, he lowers himself down on one side and wraps her in his arms, which she gratefully accepts around her.
Glancing at the rabbits slowly stewing by the fire, he smirks and asks, "I gather you found the night's catch acceptable?"
She giggles and wiggles herself against him. "Oh yes. For this, I might even share my rabbits with you."
"Only 'might'? You drive a hard bargain, woman." He nibbles her earlobe hungrily. "A second round in the morning in exchange for splitting supper?"
She squirms in delight. "That and keep me warm tonight, and you got yourself a deal."
Fair is fair, he concludes. "So be it."
Shapeshifters are a character class on Ancient Anguish, and The Scythe is a band of mercenaries who raid King Drin's heartlands every now and then. For more information on either, you can pop by at anguish dot org. The ogre woods can be found north of Tantallon; the hut is probably too well-hidden to get to for now, though.
If you find you like she-panthers, I have a world and story inspired by dreaming about the AA shapeshifter panther form on my Fictionpress account http://fictionpress.com/~ioga/. (There be shifty dragons in the historical background story of that one.)