• It was all over; she'd done it again. The low hanging branches of trees and the thick underbrush of the forest scraped at her skin as she ran as fast and as far as she possibly could. The foliage would have obstructed her view of the sky had she cared to look, a sky that was quickly becoming light.

    “Oh no, they're after me! I have to run, I have to get away. They're coming. They know what I did.”

    Just as the sun peaked over the horizon the woman vaguely felt her bones shifting and the fur that was spread over her body receding into tanned pink skin. In an awkward moment of half transformation, she tripped on a tree root and crashed to the dense forest floor. She howled a garbled half human cry of pain as her bare flesh was clawed at by the underbrush.

    Panicked, she looked behind her, almost expecting to see a horde of angry villagers chasing hot on her heels, but there was only silence and the sound of birds awakening. Far away, the villagers were slowly stirring, still unaware of the gruesome scene at a small family farm. Slowly she stood, brushing the leaves and dirt off her scraped knees and palms. She sighed, looking around for any sign of a path that would lead her to the next town, the next poor villager who would take her in and feed her, clothe her, and ultimately become her dinner.

    'You'll never be accepted, you're an outcast. You're going to die alone, Tissaan.'

    The woman clawed at her own head, crouching down. “No! Shut up!” she screamed, crying as she rocked back and forth, hugging her knees. “I'll find someone, I will. I have to!”

    'No, Tissaan, you always have been and always will be alone. You're going to die by yourself, cold and lonely.'

    “No,” she moaned to herself, still hugging her knees to her naked chest.

    'Even if you eventually do find someone to care for you, to look after you, you will betray them in the end and still be alone. Look at yourself! You cannot control your urges, you cannot hold the beast at bay. It will come, and it will destroy you and any life you ever manage to build for yourself.'

    “No,” Tissaan said again, more assertive this time. She stood shakily, leaning heavily on the nearest tree to steady herself. “I will not give up! I haven't yet, I won't this time! I refuse to give in to your belittlement!”

    She slowly started picking her way, singing quietly to herself to keep the voice in her head at bay. Come midday she stumbled across a lightly worn trail through the bushes, obviously not a road to town, but a trail nonetheless. Her sore feet were grateful for the plain dirt path, as little relief as it was. Tissaan was thankful for the summer conditions, as she knew from experience that walking naked in winter was far from pleasant.

    As the sky eventually grew darker, Tissaan started looking for some place near by to make a camp. Finally as the sun sank below the mountains, she came across a mossy bed near a small stream. She worked digging up piles of the dark green plant that would help insulate her from the night chill, rehearsing to herself the story she would eventually tell the next people she met.