Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 71 - Ghouls

Chapter 71

In the aftermath of the attack, nearly five minutes passed where Ezekiel and his brothers simply took the time to regroup and compare all of their injuries.

And Ezekiel spent most of those scant moments vigorously scrubbing at the foul blood and torn flesh smeared all over his face, caught in between his teeth and clogged up beneath his nails.

Using the shredded cloth from one of the tables that had been destroyed he cleaned away the blood as best he could.

The Guardian also used that time to put the....rage back in its place. To wrap it up tight and lock it away. He had to. Ezekiel didn’t dare let it burn out or dissipate, because for a Shifter like him....a Reaver.....there was no end in sight. The rage was bottomless once unleashed.

Luckily Ezekiel had more than enough to focus his attention on, besides the burning need to smash and growl. To Ezekiels immediate and all-consuming relief everyone had managed to survive the attack mostly unscathed.

Brandon still sported a few cuts from the glass. And both Lander and Walter proved to have superficial wounds form their own encounters with the
beasts, and after a few seconds of rest....all of the brothers were more than ready to get their revenge. Ready to hunt the intruder’s that had tried to end them.


“So, Heres the plan. I’ll remain here with the Brandon. Ezekiel....Lander, go get on their trail.” Walter began as the brothers huddled together. “If u see the intruders don’t go after them alone. Simply scout the surrounding fields for now....Make sure that they’ve at least left the perimeter around the house and aren’t trying to double back for another
ambush.” Water easily commanded, obviously in charge.

The Eldest brother stood stiff and still, supporting his right leg, and tilting his left leg....which was the only sign that his elder brother
had suffered a broken fibia not ten minutes ago. Slowly the big cat inside would heal Walter....but Ezekiel knew that it would be hours still before his brother would be able to do more then limp a few feet and only with tremendous agony:

Ezekiel nodded as Walters commands ceased. But in the back of Ezekiels mind he registered the fact that....since the attack Brandon had not only distanced himself, but that he had become as silent as a ghost.

Now Brandon stood a few feet back, nearly in the middle of the day room glancing at all the damage. Looking uncertain and unhappy.

>Felling the distance between them aquetly and not really knowing how to close it.....Ezekiel turned to Lander suddenly and tapped him on the back of the head.

Ezekiel began, tilting his head in Brandon’s direction so that his brother would follow him with his eyes. “You have something to say to him Lander. He saved your life.”

To Ezekiels surprised Lander actually smiled at him. His green eyes shining slightly. “Your right....” Lander hissed...and without another word he turned and made his way towards Brandon’s space.

Ezekiel trailed behind him suspiciously and to his aggravation he was justified to be anxious.

“Hey....Candy Pants!” Lander called in a bold tone that had Brandon flinching and turning to face him.

Once Lander had caught his eyes he stepped into his space, crowding the mortal. “So I know things got a little intense back there... and I just wanted to tell you...?” Lander began sounding sincere, but his smile was more of a sneer as he growled in Brandons face.

“That No one asked you for your fucking help...” Lander growled then he turned, smacked Ezekiel on the back. “How was that?” He snarled and walked in the opposite direction, leaving them

“I’m sorry.” Ezekiel sighed.

Shaking his head Ezekiel quickly went to Brandon and hissing under his breath, Ezekiel rubbed at his shoulder. “Brandon forget him...he’s just mad that he got his ass kicked and needed your help.” Ezekiel said as he let his brother walk a few steps away.

Then Ezekiel rolled his eyes at Brandon and reached out to tap Brandon on the back of his hand. “Anyway. Thank you...Thank you for helping my brother.”

With a blink Brandon shrugged and noticeably stepped back from him, perhaps so that he couldn’t be touched again. “Don’t thank me....I only did what you asked me to do.”

Brandon supplied coolly. And something in his words confused Ezekiel. The dull flat stare that Brandon cast about the desecrated room was speaking to his current state of mind, but Ezekiel didn’t know what was causing him to speak and move so... lifelessly.

“I owed you Ezekiel....” Brandon finished and looked away.

“Wait. You owed me? What do you mean by that? You jumped into a potentially fatal battle....just because I asked you too and you felt obligated?”

Ezekiel asked him and hoping to get his attention he reached out and touched his shoulder. “Hey...what do you owe me?”

>Brandon looked back at him then. Nothing showing on his face or in eyes, he was just so cold. Ezekiel didn’t know what was on his mind. But his next words caught the Shifter off guard. “I owed you....for the things you’ve done for me.” Brandon said.

And Ezekiel surpressed the desire to sigh. A part of Ezekiel instantly knew that Brandon had only helped Lander because Ezekiel had screamed at him to move, but another part secretly believed that Brandon had helped....because he had wanted to. Because Brandon cared about his brother dying....but now Ezekiel understood that perhaps Brandon felt....a debt to him
and him alone.

And that idea slightly saddened Ezekiel....because he had in-fact done very little for Brandon. Nothing that any decent Shifter wouldn’t already do. And Ezekiel realized
that Brandon saw his actions as...abnormal. Somehow...simple kindness seemed abnormal to him.

" Look you don’t owe me anything...” Ezekiel tried to tell him, but Brandon simply stepped away from him and with obvious irritation he gestured to himself.

“Yes I do. I owe you... and I owe you more even now, and I don’t like owing people Ezekiel...but I owe you my life....twice now.”

With a slight grimace Brandon shrugged and continued. “So, now I’ve got to pay you back. Helping Lander was just a part of, what I owe you...nothing else. I don’t need you to thank me or read anything into it either. Like a business transaction. Nothing personal.”

“You are so stubborn.” Ezekiel commented softly, holding Brandons eyes. Then Ezekiel got an idea. It often seemed that the best way to convince a stubborn
person....was to agree with them. So he did.

“Alright...fine.” Ezekiel began, smiling and taking a step closer.

“I’ll let you pay me back right now. No more feeling indebted to me. Will you do anything that I ask you to do to pay me back in full?” He inquired softly. Brandon must have sensed the sinister edge to his words by now, because he cut a small suspicious look at Ezekiel before slowly shaking his head “Yes.”

“Yes?” Ezekiel smiled and pursed his lips as He reached out and took Brandon’s left wrist in his hand, then he lifted it up between them “What...if I asked you to take off this glove...just

In a split second the dull stare was transformed into an annoyed glare as Brandon snatched his hand away from Ezekiels hold and shook his head. “No...The gloves stay
on Leopard.”

“Okay...What...about taking off everything else?” Ezekiel hissed leaning stepping in to his space and letting his eyes drift down Brandon’s body then back up. It was anything but covert, but seeing as he was mostly teasing

Ezekiel didn’t think it would hurt. He put his knuckle against Brandon’s throat and ran it up the side of his neck, tracing his smooth pulse, and stopping beneath Brandon’s chin, chucking his eyes up to Ezekiel’s, and again he leaned in. “Or what about a kiss instead?”

This time Brandon didn’t move back. He straitened up and glared at Ezekiel. “Never.”

“No? But I thought you owed me? I thought this was like a business transaction. Pay up, nothing personal right?” Ezekiel said back, innocently. Brandon’s glare became more pronounced, so with a smile Ezekiel shrugged and dropped his hand.

“Hey you’re the one who wanted to pay me back...your the one insisting that you did this out of a sense of oblighation. Well prove it! Prove that you don’t really care about me
..or Lander. Prove that your really that cold towards me. So?”

Suddenly Brandon sighed, reached down and snatched the leather glove off of his left hand. And before Ezekiel could say another word, Brandon had lifted his uncovered hand turned it around and flipped him the bird.

“There blue boy. I care.” He said. “Were even.” Then Brandon smirked at him, leaned back, slipped his gloves back on and walked away.

“Good.” Ezekiel chuckled. Though the rebuff wasn’t anything that he should be happy about, he was just glad that the cold distance in Brandon’s eyes had fled.

A few moment later Brandon watched Ezekiel and Lander dive out of the window three minutes later. He felt cold engulf him, the moment Ezekiel disappeared.

Everything in him wanted to scream at the brothers to stop.

He wanted to tell them that they had no idea what they were dealing with, but he didn’t say a word.

And fortunately Ezekiel and Lander returned fifteen minutes later. The two Shifters climbed back through the shattered window and crunched across the glass strew about the floor as they made their way over to their brother. Both of them were Shirtless and their claws and teeth were in full shift. Brandon caught a glimpse of their eyes glowing bright with unfulfilled aggression, but for the most part....they looked to be unharmed Brandon.

Brandon found himself breathing a sigh of relief against his will. But he was happy that no one had gotten killed. Too many people had already died because of him.

Glancing around at the carnage that the beasts had done to the day room he felt a familiar smack of guilt land on his back.

“What they hell were those things...?“” Walter breathed easily lifting a couch off its back and setting it upside right.

“We don’t know...I’m mean did you feel some of those hits!? They were so strong, and wild almost like they were hyped up on something.” Ezekiel hissed tossing the arm of the table down on to the ground in frustration. “They were like....these crazed jackals, hooping and calling to each other. I couldn’t understand anything they were saying though.”

“And they were fast....I’ve never see anything that big and agile....“Walter said as he calmly, removed glass out of his hair and dropped it onto the ground. “They moved like Shifters, but had the shapes of men.”

“Like men? No, they were more like abominations. Their thoughts were empty, I couldn’t understand what they were doing” Lander, who was holding his recently broken shoulder, cast his angry green eyes about the room and hissed.

“They destroyed this room....and made it smell like shit too!” he said scrunching up his noses, which in turn flashed his elongated canes. “This whole damn run sticks of piss and asshole. And one of ’em kept trying to slather me with that slimy black shit leaking out of its mouth!”

Lander suddenly growled and walked over to his older brother, without permission he took his brothers wrist and lifted his arm, twitting it slightly in the light. “Look at this shit Walter...its all over your arm... It reeks of rotting horse flesh.”

Instantly Brandon looked Lander, Ezekiel and Walter over from head to toe. But he breathed easy once again when he realized that none of the brothers, except Walter had any black saliva in their cuts or open wounds....Brandon knew that the black slime that the beasts produced was highly toxic....especially to Shifters.

But Walter barely glanced at the black spit all over his upper arm, before pulling away from his Brother and calmly replying. “It’s just spit....it can’t hurt me....” He told his sibling, his dark brown eyes breaking away to look at nothing before he added. “...Even if it does smell like shit.”

Brandon wanted to yell at the larger Shifter to hurry up and get the toxic sludge far away from his skin....but if he did that.....there would be questions. Questions he didn’t want to answer.

Brandon sighed and put his head into his hands. Ezekiel seemed to take that as a sign of distress. Suddenly Brandon had large soft hands on his face and neck. Still shocked and numb by the appearance of the beasts Brandon’s reaction to his touch was dulled at first.

“Hey...oww.” Brandon squirmed as Ezekiel used his thumbs to tilt his head back. Ezekiels glowing eyes locked on to the various bloody cuts on his face and neck. Brandon could feel the warm energy rolling beneath his skin, like invisible steam rising off of his body as the Shifter came down from the fight.

Ezekiel pulled him closer, his eyes locked on Brandon’s face and for the first time Brandon, felt the blood drying on his chin and neck, he remembered that he had sustained multiple cuts from the shattering glass, but even now he could barely feel the sting of it.

For a second as Ezekiel glanced over the bloody damage, the slim pupils in his eyes got even thinner...sharper....less human. Hungry......

Brandon swore that he even sensed a stillness settle over the Shifter. An awareness in his blue eyes that felt far too focused on the blood that it saw..... Then Ezekiel blinked and his pupils rounded out again.

Ezekiel tilted Brandon’s face to the side wordlessly then as though nothing strange had happened he hissed at him. “Did you get hit by the glass or a claw?”

“The glass. It was just some glass....” Brandon said, even though he wasn’t entirely sure. Coming back to himself enough to begin trying to push Ezekiels hands away.

Ezekiel ignored his initial resistance and kept examining his injuries. “The bleedings stopped n your lip, and the other cuts just need a patch, but you’re gonna need another few stiches for that cut in your cheek.” He said to Brandon. Shaking his head. “You’re lucky. Those things could have killed you.”

No....they would have killed you. They’ve been ordered to try to take me back alive.

Brandon thought to himself but didn’t say out loud. Instead Brandon brought his hands up through Ezekiel’s and pushed out, shoving Ezekiels hands to the sides. “Stop that....I’m fine.”

After that Ezekiel backed off. The small room seemed like a funeral hall, as the brothers silently routed about in the damage, until finally with a sigh Ezekiel spoke. He had wondered over to the window where the intruders had first managed to climb into the room. He was crouched down slightly peering into the night.

“There is fresh, unfamiliar blood all over the carpet...I think one of them is bleeding to death from that knife I put into is back...” He remarked, stepping back form the sliced up paint and wood.

His blue eyes went to his brothers, as his boots crunched heavily in the glass shattered all over. “We’ve been out there...for nights on end hunting these things and now they just bum rush us....It’s so odd that they attacked us here. They must have sensed the danger....most wild animals stay away from light and homes....they don’t claw their way into them.” Ezekiel aptly pointed out.

“Those weren’t wild animals....they were monsters. And Dads gonna be furious when he find out...if he isn’t already on his way” Walter input without much inflection other than a sigh as he gleaned about the destroyed room. He shook his head and told his brother with a strait stare. “Get ready to be out hunting there in the woods hunting things nonstop for the next few days”

“Hey....” Lander barked at him, before reaching out and tapping his brother on the shoulder with his knuckle. “Get that shit off of your arm already....” He hissed, glancing at the oil-ish looking smear spread across Walters forearm and bicep from the saliva of the intruders.

Walter shifted his arm up for inspection, grunted, and then walked over to the window that the Ghouls had slipped crawled in from. He slowly couched down and took up the ends of what had once been the widows cream colored curtain, now nothing but a cut up rag.

Slowly and patiently he began wiping at the black incur on his skin, only looking back a few quite moment later to ask. “I also don’t understand why they did this. What do you think they were they trying to accomplish?”

Lander shrugged his shoulder. “Who knows....? Who cares?” He relied.

But Ezekiel shook his head at Lander and offered his own input. “Well from what we’ve seen these things are hunters....and flesh eaters. They have fangs and talons and they were huge... So do you think they were possibly trying to hunt one of us? Look at the claw marks...they are the same as the ones we saw in Bills house....Do you think....? Ezekiel stopped.

“Come on Ezekiel!” Lander scoffed. “Nothing preys on Shifters except for other Shifters....and maybe even those Hunters that like to skin us for money. Short of that...were at the top of the fucking food chain!”

“Still....those things are getting bold.” Walter supplied. “Invading, then killing moose’s and horses and now attacking our homes.” Walter told his siblings with a heavy air, though nothing about his tone or expression really managed to change.

Calmly he tossed down the shredded piece of curtain that he had used to remove the black spit from his arm then he straitened up to his full height and took a deep breath it was the only sign that the larger brother was feeling any pain from his injured. But Walter simply let his breath out and said next. “We also haven’t found any leads on Billy’s whereabouts and after this I’d have to agree with Ezekiel. I’m begging to suspect that Billy got taken by these things. They are hunting us....”

“I hope not.” Lander shook his head, for the first time that night not hissing or growling in anger. “What are these things...?” he asked his brothers.

“I don’t know and sooner we figure out what they are, and where they went, the sooner we can protect everyone in the village.” Walter growled, his face still not displaying one iota of emotion even though his voice was calm and authoritative.

Brandon swallowed at his words.

The sooner we figure out what they are, and where they went, the sooner we can protect everyone in the village.

The words reverberated in him.

I can help them....

Brandon knew that was true. He knew the facts. Like the fact that he knew what those monsters were after. He knew that they weren’t going to stop and he knew exactly where they came from. Brandon knew that the body count would continue to rise if the beasts weren’t dealt with swiftly, but to do that the Guardians needed information.

I can’t....

Brandon thought to himself squeezing his fists in his lap. He knew he shouldn’t. HE knew he couldn’t. But....if Brandon told the Shifters more about the monsters he would potentially save lives....possibly Ezekiel’s or any of his brothers lives.

Or sentence everyone in that valley to death.

But.....what about Ezekiel? He’s going up against those things again....and it’s all my fault. I owe him for...for saving my life...I owe him.

Brandon ground his teeth as he quietly agonized over what to do and what to say. And how to say it.

“Brandon?” Ezekiel said suddenly snatching his breath out of him as Brandon looked up and realized that Ezekiel was watching him. “What’s wrong?”

“I....” Brandon began, then stopped when all of the brothers caught the change in his tone and glance his way. Feeling his guts clenching, Brandon swallowed and tried again. “I....they.....”


“Where is she!! GLEN!!” roared a deep rumble behind them all suddenly.

The voice completely cutting off Brandon’s stuttering attempts to talk. Brandon breathed, slumped back in the chair, closed his eyes and swallowed again.

This time he pulled down the words in his throat....words that he should have never thought about uttering in the first place.

Thankfully all of the brothers looked past him the door way as Mantilo swept into the room. With yellow eyes, he glanced around at the torn up day room and snarled at his sons. “Where is your mother!?” he partially shouted and for the first time since meeting the Shifter Brandon though he saw another emotion besides stiff authority. Fear.

“Whoa....Dad. She’s fine....She’s safe!” Lander quickly assured his father. “I can hear her thoughts. She’s with Erin and Drin right now....shell be returning to the Mansion any minute now....Calm down.”

Hear her thoughts?

Brandon said to himself.

Bandon had a vague recollection of Ezekiel explaining to him that Lander read people’s minds....but it was a concept he hadn’t really internalized. Even now, in that moment....he found it hard to believe that the green eyed brother was actually listening to the thoughts of his family. But seeing as Brandon had his own problems to deal with just then he had no choice but to accept what was being said. And to secretly thank the stars that Lander.....couldn’t read the turmoil in his mind.

The was a lot that Brandon was feeling, so much that he needed to do, but....he also felt so empty and numb....Brandon didn’t wasn’t to do anything. So he just continued to watch and listen as Ezekiels family tried to recover and reconcile the danger that had visited them.

After Lander repeated his words twice more Mantilo seemed to hear him. The yellow light drained from his eyes, leaving them black and cool. Lander began to recount the events of the attack to his father....and as his explanation wound down, Mantilo seemed to take a moment to compose himself, and suddenly, six minutes on his heels, another person sprinted into the room.

The last of the brothers Nate stumbled to a step into the door way, panting shallowly, and cast a curious glance about the room before he gave Ezekiel an easy smile.

“Thank.....Thank you....for leaving me behind like that... Dad.” Nate coughed, sucked in a breath, and looked down

Mantilo turned from Lander and looked at his son with a slight grimace of apology. “I’m sorry.” He apologized, before saying. “I was worried about your mother, I sensed her anger and worry and I knew that something was going on. I couldn’t wait for you.”

With a chuckle Nate waved a hand at his father. “Its fine....Besides...everyone looks okay...” Nate panted, before straitening up.

“Man...it really looks like I missed a party.” He said still breathless and in a joking fashion, but in his eyes Brandon could sense the frustration simmering slightly. The need to hunt and kill. Like the Wolf that he was. But as the brother walked further into the room Brandon found it harder to focus on his eyes and more on the conversation.

“Oh! Now the sorry dog shows his sorry behind.” Lander hissed softly with a soft sneer aimed at the last of the arrivals. “Where were you when we needed you!?”

“Nate...” Walter quickly intoned, standing to his full height as the new arrival sauntered into the room, of wreckage, wearing a happy uncaring smirk on his face. “I’ve been looking for you all day...You skipped out on patrols....twice.”

Walter told him, and if the elder brother wasn’t so stoic and flat in his every action Brandon would have called his expression a disapproving one. But the newest brother simply shrugged off Walters words.

“Sorry about that guys...” Nate apologized. “But I’ve been preoccupied with a few dozen musky books, and decrepit scrolls. Me and Dad spent the last few days translating some of it for easy interpretation....And while I was down slaving away in in the vault for Dad....I was deprived of food and sunlight and...bug repellant. “The Shifter shivered as though the idea of bugs revolted him.

That concept being applied to such a tall and handsome Shifter actually made Brandon want to smile but he didn’t, he just followed along as the younger brother in the group continued to motor away. “So, just know, that my entire week has been a complete crap fest.” Nate supplied flippantly, before his dual-colored eyes settled on the decimated furniture, broken glass, and then finally on Brandon.

The Shifter then cast him a sharp smile. “Although....” Nate began with a wiggle of his eyebrows in Brandon’s direction. The movement making the old scar across his eye lighten. “It looks like you’ve been through the preverbal ringer yourselves....Is there ever going to be a day where you aren’t a bloody mess Brandon?” The wolf asked him.

Brandon simply shrugged back at him, but Mantilo spoke at that moment drawing the attentions of everyone assembled, even Brandon, even though he already partly knew everything that was about to be said. And he secretly just wanted to leave the room.

“They are called Ghouls.”

Everyone’s attention shifted towards the large Shifter as he said this.

“What..?” Ezekiel asked and once more Mantilo spoke a name that literally made Brandon want to gag.

“Ghouls.....” Mantilo supplied once more. “I believe that is the long forgotten name for these monstrosities that have intruded on our lands.” Mantilo growled as he walked further into the room stepping casually over the shattered chair blocking the door way. “Over the last few days, I’ve dug through a few of the minds of the men in the villages, and then I did some research on my own in the library.”

“What library would have information like that? ” Lander thought to ask his father suddenly, but before Mantilo could muster a new response Nate cut in.

“Oh, it’s a super-secret kind of library that only the Clan Head is able to access. No big deal...really, but I did get to see it.” The dual eyed brother interjected.

“A secret Library, Nate?” Lander hissed back. “Stop talking out of your ass and just tell us what you found.”

“I will explain everything....” Mantilo hissed at both of his sons, stopping whatever unpleasant words could have been said next. “This room reeks of...bile. Close your mouths for a few minutes and focus on opening the windows and moving some of this debris out of the way...I have something to show you that might shed some light on this whole incident. So get to it.”

Covertly anxious, and still felling lost, Brandon remained seated as all of the brothers complied and separately went about the room cracking windows, strong arming or otherwise kicking furniture and glass out of the middle of the room. Mantilo righted one large mahogany table that had somehow only been knocked over in the fray and once everything was completed all of the brothers came back together, standing a few feet in front of their father and the table, Ezekiel standing at the far left of Brandon’s seat.

“So...what did you need to show us?” Walter rumbled as they all settled their attention on Mantilo.

“These claw markings....the scent of bile....the black fluids....” The large Clan Head said at first instead of answering, glancing dispassionately at the damage and claw marks all about the room. “That’s is a definite sign that what I had feared all this time is true.” He finally began. “These things, these intruders are called Ghouls. I hadn’t come across one of their kind in many decades. So when I first spotted the dead moose’s and the black slime on the bodies my memory was tickled, but I couldn’t exactly put the pieces together until I visited the library and recovered a few scrolls....”

And taking a moment to stop speaking Mantilo turned to the table behind him and softly slug off a long cylindrical capsule attached to a strap resting over his shoulder. Brandon hadn’t realized that Mantilo was carrying anything with until that moment, as the Shifter quickly took the capsule in hand and with a soft “Pop” he proceeded to remove the top of the capsule and turn it upside down. A cascaded of thin, yellowed papers cascaded from the opening, fluttering haphazardly all over the surface of the table and even spilling onto the floor.

Brandon watched Ezekiel and Walter retrieve a few of the fallen papers, while Lander approached the pile of pages beside his father and silently looked them over. “What are these...?” Lander asked, seconds before Ezekiel looked up from the papers in his own hand and said.

“Are these drawings?” he hissed. Turning his blue eyes up from the paper in confusion “They kind of look like some of those things that attacked us? Where did you find this?” Ezekiel asked his father, but it was Nate that supplied the answer.

“I already told you....” Nate replied, stepping over to the table and dashing through the papers, grabbing one, then pushing it down again, before turning a smile on his brother. “We found various scrolls just like these, and drawings of the intruders in that hidden sacred library that dad took me too.”

At this point Mantilo rolled tilted his head and said “It isn’t hidden or scared Nate, it’s simply an old damp cellar filled with old things and even older papers.”

Nate rose his eyebrows at Ezekiel in a fashion of nonchalance and continued. “You didn’t hear that.” Nate said then hefted the picture in his hand. “This is what we came back with and after we deciphered some of the writing....”

Apparently thinking to include him, Ezekiel turned and handed Brandon the page that he was holding, before he turned his own attention back to what Nate brother was saying.

But Brandon couldn’t be bothered to listen the moment he set eyes on the picture. Brandon looked at the image stylized on the brittle and yellow parchment in shock.

In the center of the sheet, was the Ghoul or a blocked and inked panting of it. All of the limbs were stokes of circles and blocks and in the painting its teeth were overly dramatized, its ears pulled back, and its limbs far too long and painted pitch black, but beyond all of this the essence of the picture was of a Ghoul.

Big black eyes, dripping fluids, long talons dripping in blood and a pile of silently moaning bodies laid beneath it. Bodies it was devouring. It was obviously an old panting and the dullness of color and the yellow of the canvas it was on, spoke to many years of wear, but none the less it gave Brandon a chill.

There it was. The monsters that had plagued him endlessly. The monsters that his enemies controlled. Without trying to be too obvious about it, Brandon turned and tossed the sheet to the floor and it was as he was turned that he noticed the approaching footsteps.

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