Pain raced down his legs as he ran, scared, desperate. The fire in the sky had unleashed hell below, chunks of heated metal raining down. A shard had sliced through his thigh and he ran into the woods, seeking shelter amongst the trees. It was no good, the broken pieces of hull sliced through flesh and wood equally, catching some of the dense canopy on fire as wreckage smoldered.

With nowhere safe to turn, he ran wild, deeper into the woods towards home. His lungs burned as he drew ragged gasps, hissing through the pain that shot through him. There was nothing nearby, no one that could alleviate his injuries. He wasn’t meant to die this way, burning, alone. The forest blazed behind him, birds and other beasts fleeing the smoke and flame, no longer afraid of running near him. He understood, they were all desperate to escape. A wolf darted in front of him and he dove aside to avoid crashing into the creature. It eyed him with wild, frightened eyes, then fled. He sighed and limped away.

After a few minutes, the smoke no longer filled his lungs and he could take a deep breath. Blood still trickled down his leg and his eyes stung. The sound of water pricked his ears and he made toward it. A small stream glistened in the light, and he emerged from the shadow of the trees toward it.

He paused a moment as he saw a boy bent over the water, filling a canteen. The boy was frozen, eyes locked upon him. He licked his lips and approached the youth. He was tall and lean, well muscled, with plenty of vitality. Just what the coeurl needed.

The boy jumped back but was no match his strength and speed. Claws stretched, he pounced upon him, heavy paws pinning the human child to the ground. The boy struggled, breaking an arm free and struck him soundly on the nose, making him wince. Growling, he gazed at the boy, a penetrating blast of energy stunning him. His long tentacle like whiskers whipped around the boy’s torso, gripping him tightly. His eyes turned to slits as the boy’s lifeforce began to drain through, healing his leg. The child cried out in pain, shrieking pitifully as he stole the life from the boy.

Finally, mended, he dropped the unconscious child to the ground. He lapped a few drinks of water from the stream then left again through the forest toward his den.