Every night, once the girls and the father had gone to sleep, Raven would creep to the window and look at the moon. The silent disc was mesmerizing to her. She felt as if she could almost read her name in the moon, and that feeling only got stronger as the moon gradually swelled night after night.
After about three weeks, as Di was feeding Raven another few cups of Kibble, Bethany leaned over and said,
“Jesus, is she growing?”
Everyone paused and studied Raven. She raised her head and regarded them all calmly. Sam sipped his coffee and shrugged.
“I guess she was a bit more of a puppy than the shelter thought.”
The nights slipped by and the moon swelled larger and larger. The days were getting shorter and shorter as well. The sun usually set at close to 4:30 by now. Raven was only aware of 4:30 as a time because it was when Di would get home. Beth would drive her home, or sometimes a friend’s parent when Beth went out after school. Sam usually got home after six, or that’s what Di would tell Raven as she sat in the couch doing her homework and watching out the window so she knew when to turn off the TV.
Sometimes Raven would be aware of Bloor watching the house. Her sense of unease about him increased as the moon grew as well. He seemed to be drifting closer and closer.
Finally the afternoon came when the moon would be at its fullest. Raven was almost puppy-like in her excitement. The day could not pass quickly enough. When Di was dropped off, Raven was almost not even paying attention at first. She could only search for the horizon for the first hint of moonlight. She almost missed Bloor coming out of his house, calling to Di. She turned to him, unwillingly. He smiled and approached her, crouching down so his face was hidden from the house. Raven stiffened, seeing Di suddenly shiver. Bloor stood up and took Di’s hand. She clearly did not want to hold his hand but Bloor moved her along without effort, towards the high ridge.
Raven barked furiously. She reared back and threw her body against the window, paws first. The glass shivered but held. Di and Bloor heard and Di looked back, her small face pale in the streetlights. Bloor smiled and tugged Di along. Raven went beserk as they disappeared into the treeline. She flung herself at the glass. She felt no pain, only a blinding rage. As the moon continued to rise she felt stronger,but she could not break the heavy weather-proof glass.
Beth’s car pulled into the driveway and Raven had never been happier to see the older girl. Her face was white as she registered Raven’s barking and hurried to the front door. Raven met her at the door and exploded past her onto the front lawn, racing after Bloor and Di.
Beth cried out after her but Raven was on the hunt. She bayed, loud and long as the moon slid over the horizon on the gathering gloom. It was dark now, under the trees, with the faint cool light of the moon, the hunter’s moon, beginning to filter through the trees.
Raven scented the air and found Di and Bloor’s traces on the leaves and trees around and above her. Up, they were up on the ridge. Something else as well, something else was coming, something…familiar.
Raven burst out of the treeline onto the path that ran along the top of the ridge and scrambled forward. Bloor was a short distance ahead of her, standing over a shape on the ground. Something shimmered in his hand.
Raven hit him low, behind the knees, taking out his tendon with a slashing strike. He screamed and toppled backwards. The shimmer in his right hand cut at Raven but she was on the man faster than he could move. Her fangs closed over his throat and she tore it out.
Howls rose up in the woods around her and hooves thundered on the path behind them. Raven turned and saw the Hunter. He was mounted on a tall black horse and dressed in frayed, smooth leather stained by blood. The horse shivered and pranced. The Hunter used neither saddle nor bridle, but simply clung to the back of the horse with his legs and a strong brown hand wound through the horse’s mane. His other hand carried a long spear tipped with an obsidian blade. His face was covered by a simple carved wooden mask. Long tangled black hair fell to his shoulders.
Around them, the other Hounds skirted Raven. They were great shifting black and gray shapes and she knew them well.
The Hunter spoke her name, and then, “…you have killed a hunter. Run with us. Hunt with us.”
The Hound lifted her head and looked at the Hunter. Behind his mask the Hunter smiled. “Raven is a good name. Do you want the child?”
Raven sniffed Di. She was unconscious and bruised but unhurt. She lifted her eyes again to the Hunter and growled. He raised his spear, not to strike but to show he meant no offense.
“Peace. We will hunt elsewhere.”
Below them Beth was struggling up the hill. She raised her eyes and for a moment she saw the Hunter on his horse, the Hounds circling about him, one of them sniffing at the crumpled form of her sister. She screamed and they were gone, just like that, like smoke.