The Midwest: 5 Years after the discovery of magic.
The three of us were in the camp at the Old Stone Church. We thought it would be safe,
Until we heard the howls.
Will whirled around, “Get inside. Now!”
I dropped my pack, fumbling through the contents, until I could wrap my fingers on the knife’s smooth hilt, the knife silver blade flashed in the light as I pulled it from the pack.
Del already had an arrow nocked and I could see the silvery end glinting in the dying sunlight. She trained her eyes on the perimeter of the camp, waiting for the first disturbance along the wooded edges of our camp.
More howls rang out from the forest. They were closer this time, and there were at least three different howls. People flooded through the doors and Will ushered them inside.
“Get everyone inside,” Will yelled at me, “Del cover the doors. I don’t want to be caught in the open.”
Tents were trampled in the rush as people grabbed weapons and whatever they could carry into the church. They were maybe 40 members of the resistance, and most would be in the camp, with a few out scouting and hunting. Hopefully, those outside the camp would hear the commotion and stay away. At least there would be some members left afterward.
I pulled my ax from my belt. It was about as long as my arm, and it had a wicked, curving head that would hopefully do enough damage when up against a werewolf, between that and the silver knife, I hoped to last a few seconds. More and more people rushed by as scanned the clearing trying to make sure everyone got inside.
All the while the howls kept coming. They were getting closer and closer.
I was helping up the stone steps when I noticed a motion out of the corner of my eye. A young sandy-haired boy name Dale fell the outer edge of the camp. The boy was on his knees trying to gather the meager supplies he lost in the tumble.
Get up…Get Up… I thought. But he kept struggling. I darted around the people running past me. I was slightly out of breath when I got there, something Del would give me trouble about. I slipped the ax handle into my belt, grabbing Dale by the shoulders.
“My knee…” was all he said while I hoisted him over my shoulder. The last of the group was piling into the church. I ran, though much slower with Dale over my shoulder. I nearly stumbled over a collapsed tent.
The doors were closing. I could see Will and Del signaling for me to hurry. I sprinted as fast as I could while carrying someone. The steps were even harder. I slipped through the doors and I heard Will bolting the door.
But, the howls stopped. I could hear something large walking up the steps. My back was still turned when the doors busted open. I turned around to find myself nearly touching the grey pelt of an eight-foot-tall werewolf.
I made the mistake of looking up to see two yellow eyes looking down at me, and even though I had faced many threats in my short life, I’m ashamed to admit I gulped.
I stood in front of the wall of fur. It was grey and matted. It stood two feet taller than me, and there sticks and leaves, and other forest detritus in its fur. But, the state of its fur was not my concern at the moment. The glowing yellow eyes, mean golden eyes that were used to seeing fear, was nearly my sole focus. Well, the teeth also occupied a sizable chunk of my attention. The thing’s snout was as long as my arm, and each pale tooth was as big as one of my fingers.
It’s yellow eyes narrowed, and I stepped back hoping I could a little distance between us before he decided to attack. Once my vision was no longer obscured by a giant wall of fur, I had to pleasure to see two more werewolves prowling up the steps, one brown and the other black. They weren’t as big as the grey but still imposing.
“So,” it spoke. Its voice was harsh and raspy. “This is the little band that has been giving Ravengard’s men so much trouble? It seems hardly worth the trouble. Where is Will Cunningham? It’s his head we want. The rest of you will go quickly. But we will draw this out if necessary.”
“I’m right here,” the crowd of fighters parted as Will stepped forward.
“Ahhh, Mr. Cunningham. I cannot wait to pluck the Ghost of Greyhollow’s other eye out.”
I had stuck the silver knife in my belt, and I was in the process of sliding it out when the beast’s eyes locked on me.
His thick furred hand grabbed my wrist before I could. “Now what is this?” he asked pulling the knife from my fingers. He brought it to his snout and sniffed. “Silver….” he snarled, tossing the knife aside. “Someone thought they could save Mr. Cunningham.” He bent his large head down bringing his evil yellow eyes so that they were level with mine. “Mr. Cunningham, have you ever seen a new werewolf being turned? I assure you all it’s something to behold.”
His head inched towards me, his teeth bared. I could feel his breath on my skin.
I braced for the bite, hoping my friends would get away before I turned.
Suddenly, I was free. He let go of my wrist, and I twisted away, falling to the ground. I could hear the werewolf howling, and his two companions looked puzzled as well. He was roaring, stumbling backward, and I could see black blood on his arms and hands, and that’s when I saw it. Del’s silver-tipped arrow was protruding from where the werewolf’s eye used to be.
“Kill them,” the werewolf shouted. And in a flash, they were on us.
The large grey werewolf staggered backward, but the black and brown ones became blurs. I seized my opportunity. I couldn’t see the silver knife, but I grabbed my ax and charged the big wolf.
He snapped the arrow off, his eye still dripping blood. He saw me coming and lunged forward, but I faked high and dove between his legs, chopping at his knee. But despite his large size, the monster was lightning quick and he whirled around snapping at me with his jaws.
I managed to stick the ax handle in his mouth. His hot, foul breath filled my nostrils and I nearly vomited. He thrashed his massive head, yanking the ax from my hands, and sent me tumbling to the ground.
I was scooting backward, trying put distance between him and me. He rushed, and I felt the wall behind me. There was nowhere left to go.
Suddenly a figure darted between us. It was Will. He pulled something from his belt and threw it in the monster’s face. Blue powder covered his mouth and snout causing him to cough and sputter.
“Wolfsbane?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Will said, “Help Del. I’ll try to hold him off.”
I looked around the church, surveying the carnage everywhere. At least half of our camp was on the floor, injured or dead. The black werewolf was cutting through swatches of fighters, and I had to find Del.
I saw her in the corner. She had rallied some of the fighters and she was holding off the brown werewolf with several of the fighters holding makeshift shields and spears. The monster was trying to get around the spears, but Del was firing arrows any time it got close. I couldn’t bear the thought of it getting to Del.
Without a weapon, I charged the werewolf, like a half mad fool. Halfway across the room, I picked up a hammer from a fallen fighter. It was slightly heavier than my ax, but I didn’t have much choice. The brown werewolf covered its face, trying to duck Del’s arrow. I knew she only had s couple silver tipped arrows, but my guess was the werewolf wasn’t taking any chances after seeing it’s comrade’s eye taken out.
The werewolf didn’t see me coming, but the hammer was the wrong tool. Only silver can piece a werewolf’s hide, but I figured the bones underneath might still be vulnerable. They had large, powerful torsos, but their legs were surprisingly small and they were built like a wolf’s and not a man’s. It had to be my best chance. I reared the hammer back and brought it down with every ounce of energy I could muster.
There was crunch as the bone underneath broke. As high-pitched howl filled the room. The werewolf backhanded me sending me into the wall.
The blow did its damage. The room was spinning and my vision was going in and out. I could barely make out Will yelling for everyone to run.
The last thing I saw was Del standing between the werewolf and me.
Then, it went black.