The night was beautifully silent. A young man on his first guard patrol stamped his feet to keep them warm. He started as an owl shifted its wings lazily on its perch. It blinked at him a few times before soaring up into the sky, as if bathing in moonlight. The night was prefect for his first patrol; at least until her screams cut through the air, birds haphazardly bursting through the undergrowth, startled animals scattering everywhere.
The young man thundered towards the
scream, bravely puffing out his chest. Thorns and brambles tugged at him
leaving tiny red lines up and down his arms and legs as he passed, but he
ignored them. He had a job to do. A girl to rescue; he smiled to himself as he
thought of the damsel gratefully accepting his hand in marriage for rescuing
her. With new determination he gripped his sword. He slowed as another weaker
scream drifted hopelessly through the forest. It took him just a second to
determine where it was coming from, but once he was certain he veered off to
the left following the fading sound.
He slowed once more as he came into a clearing; his mother had told him tales of giant talking wolves that stalked these parts of the forest that would prey on unsuspecting people. He shook his head to remove the thoughts and continued his searching for the girl. There was a soft moan nearby; he recognised the echoing sound as coming from a huge nearby cave. The boy was glad he’d heard it. Once more he pushed out his chest and cautiously proceeded towards a small heap on the ground by the mouth of the cave, but as soon as his eyes set upon the scene in front of him, all traces of bravery vanished with a horrified scream.
Eliza was the jewel of the town; young, beautiful, hardworking, and innocent. She was easily recognised by all of the town folk by her delicate white silk cloak. It had been an expensive gift from many of the people of the town for all her effort as she assisted them with the autumn work and harvest. Her father used to help with the harvest and the manual labour involved. Since his death she had worked tirelessly to fill his shoes. Although she was fragile, she was regularly seen pushing herself to the limit and soon became invaluable to the farmers.
The cloak enabled the young man to recognise Eliza now. He took a hesitant step forwards, calling out to Eliza. In the corner of his eye he noticed a black shadow slink past him like smoke in the wind. Rapidly he drew his sword, spinning around as he did so. An enormous black wolf was stood staring at him, hackles raised and a deep growl rumbling through the beast. What felt like hours passed before it lithely turned and vanished into the forest's shadows. Somehow confident the wolf would not return, the guard returned his attentions to the girl. Most of Eliza’s dress was ripped away. The flesh of her neck was bloody and torn. Gently he pulled the cloak around her, it was heavy and damp turning the once white silk to a blood red. Suddenly aware of his surroundings and the chaos around him he dropped it and ran for help.
Moonlight shone peacefully across the forest, illuminating the destruction. Creatures scattered from the area as more men began to arrive. Nothing would be the same again.