We travelled for four days to the Mountain Pass. Mountains bordered Northern Ranvier. They weren’t very large mountains, but they were definitely too large to call hills. There was a pass that led right through them.
We fell back into our normal routine of travel. If it was even possible, Arion was more eager to move. I was confused why at first, but then it randomly came to me one day that he just did figure out that one of the people who helped raise him didn’t betray him but was being controlled against his will. I then wondered if that was behind his surge of energy. Meanwhile, Artemis and Shade were just their regular cheerful selves. And I was me, whatever that meant.
As we got closer to the mountains, the thinner the forest got until it had almost completely faded away. There was more likelihood of us being seen, and I didn’t like it.
I also didn’t like how unstable mountains felt. It literally appeared that a mountain was a couple shakes away from throwing rocks everywhere. With my sense of touch, I could feel all the instability, and it put me on edge. Basically, I never enjoyed going to mountains, but there I was going through the mountains.
When we reached the mountain area, the pass started with a gentle climb. The mountain started surrounding us like walls. This made me feel around sharply for incoming rocks. We climbed this for an hour.
“Sunset is almost here,” Arion announced. “We should probably start to set up camp.”
I found a place that provided a little closure, but not as much as I would like. Once night came, I laid down on the mountain. Something else I liked about forests was the ground was softer there than it was in the mountains, or at least that’s what I noticed in the mountains I had been in. But instead of dwelling on it, I simply tugged my coat tighter around me and fell asleep.
It was a couple of hours when I heard Arion softly call my name. I woke up immediately and bolted up. Out of habit, I reached for my weapons, finding my hands immediately on my knife and sword hilts.
Arion bit back the cry of surprise as he backed away from me. I then figured that he didn’t expect me to get up that fast.
After a few seconds of being awake and alert, I was beginning to tell what was in the area. I could hear softly the voices of a few people and feel people moving around.
“I take it you heard the people in the area,” I stated.
Arion nodded and asked, “Do you think they could be a problem?”
“There are quite a few, so yes,” I replied.
Artemis at this point was starting to wake up. Shade was also starting to move, since Artemis was.
“Remain quiet you two,” I told them. “There are people around.”
Artemis nodded as she sat up. Shade also made a motion as if he was nodding.
I quietly got up and started trying to get a better feel for who was in the area. As I strained my senses of touch and hearing, I began to get an idea.
“It appears either werewolf hunters or Royal Guard are in the mountains,” I quietly informed the others. “They are hunting a pack of werewolves in the forest. I would estimate that the werewolf pack is half the normal size and that the werewolf hunters are about the same size.”
“Oh great,” Arion grumbled. “We have thirty more people roaming around this area tonight. That’s going to help us stay unnoticed.”
“It definitely doesn’t help that an injured werewolf is heading right our way,” I commented.
“What?” he replied.
“I just told you, there’s an injured werewolf heading down this path,” I stated.
Artemis sniffed a little and murmured, “I can smell him now, that’s quite a bit of blood he lost.”
Arion grunted angrily. I could understand because it appeared that we never could get a quiet journey where nothing challenging or annoying, like what we were faced with right then, happened. We didn’t have time to talk about this one because the werewolf was already beginning to run right past us.
I was a little surprised when the creature drew near that Artemis rushed out, grabbed him, and pulled him into our semi-hiding place.
“Raven, start using your healing powers,” she told me as she basically dropped the werewolf on me.
“What?” I asked her. “I can’t do anything really.”
“Can’t elves close wounds?” she questioned.
“Some elves have more healing powers than others,” I answered. “I have close to none. I can only sense physical ailments, numb others pain, sometimes slow others bleeding, and I think I heal a little faster than the average human.”
“With my wounds as they are right now, I’ll take it,” the werewolf grunted. I wasn’t aware that he was listening in on us.
“Alright,” I mumbled as I gathered what healing power I could. I pushed it into the werewolf right afterwards. His breathing did begin to sound like it was easier for him. Arion also began to look at the wounds. The main problem was one stab wound. The others were just scrapes and bruises.
“Raven, can you sense if there’s any poison in him?” he questioned.
“None that I can tell,” I replied.
“It was the Royal Guard in the area then,” Arion answered. “But that will work a little for our favor because they will probably only be here for about another hour. Then, if the werewolf pack isn’t finished off, they would be on their way. They don’t have the skill to take them on in full werewolf form.
“Also they don’t use poison weapons which mean this man will be healed the moment he transforms into a werewolf tonight.”
“How long does he have before he transforms?” I asked.
Arion turned upward and eventually stated, “I think about two hours.”
“You … certainly know … a lot,” the werewolf stated. “Guessed it … all right.”
“It’s what I’m good at,” Arion stated as he took out a spare shirt to bandage the wound. As he did, he asked the werewolf some questions. We found out that his name was Talos and that last he knew most of his pack was scattering and managed to remain fairly well.
Once Arion did a patch job, he murmured, “Now, we just need to not be caught, and you need to keep numbing his pain, Raven. I think that will help him last until it’s time to transform.”
“Well, I think I have an idea to deal with that,” Artemis stated as she sniffed the air. “It would be good to get started sooner rather than later.”
“Yeah, about five guards are closing in,” I confirmed. “I think they’re using dogs to sniff out the people they’re tracking.” Artemis nodded, indicating that it matched what she could smell.
“So, what’s your idea?” Arion questioned.
“So, you know how when I have a little bit of someone else’s blood I can give off their scent?” Artemis began. “Well, I was thinking that you guys hide out of sight, I take a little of Talos’s blood, then I throw everyone off of our hiding place by running ahead on the path. They will be chasing after where they thought the werewolf they wounded went and leave you alone.”
“You will have to avoid them for about an hour,” Arion reminded her.
“I know,” Artemis told him. “It should be a fun challenge, right?”
Without really waiting for an answer, Artemis asked Talos, “Do you mind if I take a little?”
The werewolf nodded that she could. Artemis then stuck her hand into his bandaging when she took it out she began licking her hand. She then repeated with the other hand. When she was done licking the blood off her hands, I could feel her aura start to change a little.
It was something that happened every time she had someone else’s blood, but it was more obvious then. Part of her aura seemed to feel like what she just fed on. Vampires usually had just a cold, plainer aura than most creatures. Artemis was no exception even though hers was softer than other vampires I had met. But this time, I could feel a pulsing energy to her aura start up, that resembled the pulsing aura of a werewolf.
She stood up and was about to head off. Shade was about to follow her, but she then told him to stay back this time. Once Shade obediently laid down on the ground, Artemis took off running. I was a little surprised that she moved as quickly as she did. She was faster than I thought.
Arion and I then tried to move the werewolf more out of the way. I wasn’t sure we did much good, but he was definitely out of view of the main road. Arion murmured that at least we were in the shadows.
The group of five guards and a couple of dogs slowed down as they neared us. I found myself wanting to get into a fighting stance, but, whenever I moved my hands from off the werewolf, he had a harder time. Instead I had to remain put.
The guards stopped as the dogs sniffed around the area. I was pretty sure one of the guards was looking right in our direction, but he didn’t say anything.
Then the dogs started to pull them the direction that Artemis took off in. One of the guards said something about how the werewolf must have taken a break there or done something along those lines. It wasn’t long until they were a better distance from us.
The werewolf sighed in relief, and Arion murmured how he couldn’t believe that actually worked.
I simply grumbled, “You humans don’t know how to navigate the dark at all. It’s a miracle if you get anywhere at night.”
“Compared to you Raven, yes,” Arion acknowledged. “Compared to other creatures we do fairly well.”
“Then that’s just depressing,” I told him.
“Dark elf?” Talos whispered.
“Yeah,” I answered.
“Makes sense,” he murmured. He then looked like he was about to fall asleep. I asked Arion if he thought that would be alright. He debated back and forth for a while, which kept Talos awake.
It was about forty-five minutes later that soldiers passed by us again. They were murmuring about how they couldn’t believe that they lost the trail. They continued past us though with no incident. They weren’t looking for things to attack, they just wanted to escape before it was time for the werewolves to go into wolf form.
A few minutes after that, Artemis came back.
“How did it go?” Arion questioned.
“It was rather easy,” Artemis told us. “I just kept ahead, making sure they were behind me, and led them to the river that we walked past today. The blood was wearing off then, so I just spent a little time by the river. As I did, I hid and listened to their confused voices as they wondered what happened to the werewolf. They then left, and, after a few minutes, I followed.”
I yawned and asked, “How much longer until this guy transforms?”
“It should be about forty-five minutes,” Arion told me. “Why?”
“Since I don’t have strong healing powers it takes a lot out of me to do this,” I told Arion. “I’m starting to feel tired and maybe a little light headed. But I can probably go on for another forty-five minutes.”
“This is the weakest case of healing powers I have ever heard of an elf having,” Talos murmured. Arion nodded in agreement.
I rested my head against a boulder, still pushing what little magic I had out, as I thought, Both my great blessing and my terrible curse.
Arion perked a little with his body posture as I thought that. It made me wonder if I accidentally stated that out loud, but I didn’t do anything to figure out if I did. I simply began to focus solely on using what powers I could. I didn’t really have the control I needed to focus on doing much else. I was already getting dizzy, and it wouldn’t be long until other symptoms showed.
About forty minutes later, I let go of Talos and went a few yards away. Everyone moved back as if startled as I threw up what felt like everything in my stomach and then some.
Once I finished, I was surprised to find Artemis immediately there, asking if I was going to be alright and if there was anything she could do to help me.
I murmured that it was just something that happened when I overused my healing abilities. My aura and body just needed to rest in order to recover, since the two were so closely connected.
Talos was having a harder time without me, but he insisted that he could last about five minutes without my help. He was lucky, and it was only two minutes until he transformed. One moment he was human, the next he was a large wolf sitting among us. He no longer was wounded, just as Arion said he would be.
Before anyone could say anything, there were the sounds of wolf howls all around us. In my current state, I couldn’t tell where exactly, but I had some idea.
Talos howled back. They had what sounded like a short conversation.
Talos then told us, in a surprisingly normal voice, “Thank you for your help. You saved my life. My pack is now going to make sure the guards leave the mountains while we have the advantage, so you should have no problems travelling through after tonight. I’ll be sure to tell my pack to give you a safe passage.”
“Thanks,” Artemis happily told him. “That’s going to make things easier for us.”
I didn’t catch much of the goodbyes. I found myself falling asleep without even realizing it. I didn’t know if I fell asleep before or after Talos left to join his pack. All I knew was, once I fell asleep, I was in a deep sleep.
It was two hours after noon when I woke up. My first reaction was to be annoyed with Arion and Artemis that they didn’t wake me up. But then when I thought about how much I overused my aura last night, I decided it was better that they didn’t. So I simply didn’t say anything and instead focused on getting us moving as quickly as possible.
“Are you sure you should be moving that quickly?” Artemis asked me after we had been moving for a few minutes.
“I’m perfectly okay moving at this speed,” I told her. “It’s just slightly faster than our normal pace, but we are only travelling less than half a day. It should be easy to maintain.”
“But you were throwing up and basically passed out last night,” Arion reminded me.
“Since I have weak healing powers, they recharge quickly,” I told them. “I’m fully functional right now.”
“Really?” Arion commented. “Do you even need your healing powers then?”
“Yes,” I told him. “They are a part of my soul, a weak part but still a part.”
“Well, sorry about yesterday,” Artemis told me. “If I knew about your healing powers, I probably wouldn’t have acted as I did.”
I shrugged and pointed out, “We saved a man’s life, and, because of you, we managed to avoid a fight with the Royal Guard. I thought it was good, quick thinking and decisions. That’s just my opinion though.”
“I agree,” Arion told us. “You were just acting like any leader with tough decisions would. Plus the confidence you displayed in your vampiric abilities surprised me. I didn’t know you had it in you.”
“Thanks,” Artemis answered. “You guys are great. You too, Shade.”
Shade barked happily in response.
“You’re not too bad yourself,” Arion told her. “What’s that look for Raven?”
“I don’t like false compliments,” I grumbled.
“It’s not though!” Artemis exclaimed.
“Then your delusional,” I told her.
Arion shrugged and murmured, “You’re almost completely unbelievable, Raven.”
I shrugged, not really getting what he meant by that. I just brushed it off.
Things ended up running smoothly the rest of that day and the other two days that we were in the mountains. I wasn’t sad to leave the mountains. It was nice to be on level ground in the regular forests that I enjoyed. Even if that meant that we were a lot closer to fighting a demon, I could handle it.