Red Redemption

She thought she was done all those years ago, though she’d only been a child.
The huntsman who saved them had taken all the glory for himself, and rightfully so, for she’d been duped by the spell the wolf cast over her eyes.
But now, the son of the slain one had taken revenge on the huntsman in his dotage, and his own daughter had barely made it in front of the hunting pack that scented her, knew her, and tirelessly pursued.
In the small hours when the starlight gleams brightest, flattering the false vanity of moonlight, her knocking on the woman’s door was a hard and tuneless knell that echoed through the dark forest shadows.
Taika, they called the woman now: The Magic Spell.
**************************
With grandmother dead, Taika shunned the world and apprenticed herself to a dying hag seeking a novice, promising herself to never be vulnerable and powerless again.
The hag was a hard taskmistress; Taika earned every scar she received from those long, hooked and jagged nails that made her correct her mistakes.
When the hag died, her pyre would not burn. Taika then gave her withered corpse to the river’s muddy banks, and let the creatures have their way.
The huntsman’s cowardly daughter was content to tend Taika’s house until she returned.
Taika left at first light.
**********************
In the clearing, she faced the Alpha.
The thing stood on two legs now, piercing blue eyes crystalline in the darkness.
“You wear the red witch’s hood?”
“Yes, Alpha.”
“These village fools have summoned you to redeem yourself, and reckon with your past?” As the drool fell from his maw, it hissed at his feet.
The lambent red and yellow eyes of his pack surrounded her.
“Yes, Alpha. Just me and you.” she said.
“They know better than to interfere,” he reassured her. “Is this fight to the death?”
Her twin knives gleamed in the moonlight, silver fangs in human hands.
“To the death.”
Snarling, they locked.

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