This is a rather lengthy story for a blog. This is the fourth of eleven parts. I never intended on adding onto it or making into something more. Perhaps your enthusiasm will change my mind.
The attack was an ugly combination of snarling fangs, tearing skin and slashing fur. Though fleeting, it was a terrifying morning, as I still shake from the experience.
I awoke to the sound of screaming just as the sun was beginning to peek through the trees. The golden red light was filtering through the thick canopy, seemingly setting the world ablaze. How fitting this was, the world appearing to be drenched with blood as we were in combat.
As I woke, I saw Benedict standing off with a large grey wolf. He was swinging his sword wildly at the brute, as it growled and snapped at the air. Saliva and fury dripping from the animal’s lips. Hunger was burning in its eyes as it edged closer and closer to my fellow man. I grabbed my short sword with unsteady hands. I yanked it from the sheath and stood.
“Benedict!” I called, but his eyes didn’t stray. They were focused on the large jaws before him. I lunged forward, stabbing my blade into the wolf’s side. It yelped accordingly, and tore away from the scene, taking my sword with it. It disappeared into the early morning haze and darkness that surrounded our camp.
“Thanks,” he muttered running off to help another. I followed him, turning just in time to see Oliver stabbing one of the creatures in the chest, blood sprayed from the wound briefly as the beast fell to the ground. He slammed his sword into the sheath, and juggled his necklace, before stowing it within his shirt. Nearby, Gregory was screaming frantically as he hacked at the air, keeping a smaller wolf at bay.
“Kill it!” Oliver commanded.
“Step into it and stab!” Benedict called.
Both men shouted insults to both the wolf and Gregory as he struggled to keep the monster away. He swung his sword madly, cutting back and forth. Sometimes, as the wolf lurched forward, Gregory’s blade would connect with its target. A high-pitched yelp pierced the air each time his sword tagged the young wolf.
“Kill it, or you’ll be next!” Oliver exclaimed suddenly. He lifted his sword from the sheath, holding it in front of him. “Kill it now!”
An arrow zipped out of the gloom, almost as a response to Oliver’s command. The bolt struck the tiny creature in the side, dropping it to the floor without a sound. Gregory fell down too, sighing and breathing heavily as he could finally rest. Oliver and Benedict turned to where the arrow had come from. Surprise concealed whatever pain tormented their bodies as their eyes were wide. I spun too, to see who had struck the final wolf.
Napoleon emerged from a thicket, obviously wounded from the attack. His arms had been bitten savagely, and they were gnawed almost to the bone. His clothing was in tatters. Blood was seeping through what little remained of the thin material. His face had been sliced by a set of jagged claws in the fight, as there were now long nasty cuts from his chin to his hairline. He looked nearly dead, as he walked through camp with a triumphant smile. He looked to Oliver with his lips open to speak, but collapsed before he could utter any words. He was dead before he hit the ground. Exhaustion and blood loss, I suspect.
Before we prepared the hole and the body for burial, Oliver untied his silver dagger and handed it to me.
“Take this, and be careful not to cut yourself or lose it,” he sneered. His voice was icy as his words slithered into my ears, chilling my body. “It will prove most valuable.”
We buried Napoleon in a deep grave at the base of a tree. Oliver etched his name into the tree as we prepared the hole. The ceremony was short and impersonal. None of us knew Napoleon, not even Oliver. The hunting parties are always assembled at random right before the Hunt, so hunters rarely knew one another. In addition, we had to be on our way quickly, for fear of more wolves. Even in the daylight, they can launch terrible onslaughts.
After the grave was covered, and our final words had been said, we moved on. We packed up camp and shuffled along Oliver’s chosen path. As we walked, on our second day of the Hunt, I could not help but wonder why we had run into wolves so fast?
I never heard them from the city. I certainly never saw any, so they must either be rather proficient at camouflaging themselves as they stroll through the woods or they do not venture near our wall. But how then, could we have run into this pack so quickly? We are not far from home. At the very most, we are a dozen miles outside of the city, could the wolves be this close to our home or am I that mistaken?
Continue to part five here
Go back to part three here