Mythlos' watch was nearing its end; it was nearly time for Cassiera to relieve him. He heard commotion coming from the direction of the elder Pulkdrivvers' tent, followed by moaning, and it became clear that the two adults were engaged in an intimate moment.
He looked down and saw that Cassiera was already awake. She motioned toward the parents' tent and indicated that their activity had woken her up early. He nodded, and tried to enter his reverie, still perched up on the thick branch of a spruce.
"Gôr mig skâlla!" Betha called out with an embarrassingly loud volume.
Cassiera shook her head, trying not to laugh. Then her eyes spotted movement in the shadows among the tree cover. Her monochromatic darkvision revealed the presence of a warm body where no human eyes would have seen anything. It was a small creature, with dark fur, some sort of animal. As the animal came closer, Cassiera saw that it was a wolf pup.
"A puppy!" she said excitedly but quietly. "Come here, little wolf. It is safe."
The little dog ran up to her without hesitation, its tail wagging.
"You do not bite, do you?"
As if in answer the tiny wolf sat down, its tongue hanging out of its mouth.
"May I pet you?"
But before Cassiera could touch the animal, Hakam let out a scream of pain, loud enough to wake anyone.
Within the interdimensional space, Ilthian was startled awake. "That was Hakam!" she exclaimed. "He is hurt; he needs our help." She grabbed her carving knife, which was by where she was lying on the white, featureless "floor".
"No, child," said Galadrel, grabbing onto her by the shoulders to hold her from getting up.
Kytharrah, who had also slept up in the space, jumped out with abandon, and Szordrin rapidly descended the rope after him. Solisar cast a spell and vanished.
Outside and below, Leokas was already out of his tent and nocking two arrows. In the darkness, by the blue light from Mythlos' sword above in the tree, he could see a full-sized wolf with Hakam's arm in its mouth and growling. Hakam was thrashing about, trying to free his arm from the animal's jaws.
His two arrows plunged into the beast's side — or rather they should have. Instead, they seemed to hit and then fall off, leaving no visible sign of injury.
Then another object flew past him. Belvin, having quickly mounted Kamil had thrown his dagger. The blade left a streak of silver along the wolf's back. It released Hakam.
Leokas had encountered such a thing before, deep under the sands of the Calim Desert when they had first encountered a lycanthrope.
This was a werewolf.
...And it was a pack of them, for Kytharrah painfully landed with a thud on the frozen ground from his leap from the sky to find himself facing two more approaching wolves, coming from the east. Mythlos, likewise, leapt from his tree branch, driving his glowing blade down onto the back of one of them. It punctured its left lung, and the wolf began wheezing as it struggled to shake off the heavy elf now on its back. Mythlos rolled off and extracted his sword and noticed a distinctive sizzling, silver wound where there should have been blood. Kytharrah followed Mythlos' lead and attacked with his axe. The blade cut into one second wolf, spraying blood. This wolf then bit into Kytharrah's groin, teeth sinking in deep. The wolf that had mauled Hakam and two of its pack mates ran toward Kytharrah and Mythlos. Now four wolves surrounded Mythlos, snapping and growling at the moon elf, and one of them caught his leg, drawing blood and yanking his weight out from under him. He tumbled to the frosty ground.
Meanwhile, the "puppy" that Cassiera had wanted to pet was now snapping at her with its little jaws, yapping as she continually avoided it. She tried to hum her enchanting tune, but it did not have the desired effect.
"Anachtyr smite thee!" Hakam shouted, as he managed to clamber to his feet. A surge of holy fire fell from the sky in a column of swirling flame. Three of the wolves were engulfed, including the one that had bit him and the one that had tripped Mythlos. When the the fire dissipated several seconds later, only two wolves were lying on the melted snow, fur burned off to the skin. Beside them, curled in the fetal position, was a nude young woman.
Only Szordrin, who had just reached the surface, recognized the body; it was Mara.
Leokas reached higher ground and nocked his only remaining silver arrow. He sent it into the hindquarters of the wolf biting Kytharrah. It released him with a yelp, and then wobbled and fell to the ground.
Mythlos sprang to his feet from the prone position, avoiding another bite from the remaining wolf. He then decapitated it with a single swing. The head landed near Kytharrah's hooves and rolled, but the headless body was that of another woman. The minotaur was extremely confused. These wolves smelled like the Pulkdrivvers, and that body might look like Betha Pulkdrivver if she was not wearing any clothes. Szordrin rushed over to one of the two wolves that had been scorched by Hakam's magic and stabbed it through the neck with his dagger. Suddenly, there was Lander or Ander, also naked. But where was Brianna? Kytharrah did not know, but he knew that Cassiera needed help. The little wolf puppy was still snapping at her. He set his hoof on the wolf that had so viciously bitten him to stop it should it try to rise, then reached out his long arm and caught the wolf puppy by the scruff of her neck. She struggled in vain to free herself, yipping and snapping.
Belvin rode over on Kamil and tried calming the creature with a spell, which failed. Then Cassiera spoke at the little wolf in a commanding tone this time, and as soon as the little dog's eyes met hers, she calmed. Instead of trying to bite Kytharrah, the wolf began trying to lick him.
Hakam took up his sword.
"The fight is over," said Solisar, who appeared out of thin air in the middle of the dead werewolves.
"No, it is not over!" Hakam replied. "Werewolves still live." He jumped off the slope where he had been sleeping and plunged his sword into one of the wolf bodies. Lander or Ander's dead twin now appeared.
"Wait!" said Belvin. "Let me try to save these animals." He followed up his statement with another spell, but he could not remove the disease of lycanthropy from the little girl with his spell; she remained a wolf, held by her neck from Kytharrah's paw.
"We cannot kill her!" Cassiera argued.
"We are out of options," said Belvin.
"Feel order's wrath!" Hakam shouted.
"Faer fanil!" Solisar shouted in answer, seeking to undo the spell.
But Hakam's hold on the Weave overpowered the sun elf's. A three-dimensional grid of blue-violet beams appeared in a 30-foot cubic area, trapping Kytharrah and the werewolf pup within. Kytharrah felt a painful burning sensation as the beams blazed over him.
The small canine in his hands ceased moving instantly. Never would little Brianna sing again.
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Posted on January 26, 2017 23:08