Fire disturbs the blackness of night,
casting a vibrant orange haze that whirls in the air transforming darkness to light.
Tearing through the verdant woodland with unfettered flames it waltzes to an unknown beat devouring all that’s in its path. The sweet kiss of heat touches every Bavarian building and structure the village has to offer, and the souls being slaughtered within, just mere kindling to the flame. Werewolf and wolf blood decorate the homes and cobblestone pathways as the attackers make their way through the ranks of this clan. The inferno, emits a harsh roar along with the battle cries from men, screams from the women and children, and the clash of steel, all accompany the symphony that is being created— Evil has made its way to Aethrid.
“Men! With me!” Cried out amongst the roar of the flames. “Gendry over there! You two, over here! Hold strong!”
Godric Okami bellowed out commands to the remaining werewolves of the clan. Taking a stand in the center square of the village.
His massive red-haired dire wolf that could have been mistaken for a horse ran to his side.
Adara. He spoke to his wolf with his mind. Stay with me girl.
What about the pup? She asked.
And just then a rather small white wolf with a large scar across his nose fell by Godric’s side. He ran to the safety of the Chief.
He’ll be able to make it on his own. The others should have had time to make it out by now. Adara…
He thought looking at the wolfs eyes that held a void of blackness unable to reflect the flames around them.
Is it selfish to ask you to die with me?
You know I’d be dead without you anyway. There is no place I’d rather be. Blood of my Blood.
Bone of my Bone. He thought.
The wolf pup shook violently as the attackers entered the square. They kept a slow graceful pace about them as they marched in step.
Pressing forward their masks seemed to glimmer in the destruction of night and absorbed the fullness of the moon. Light tossed itself over the carcassed deer skull with antlers that rose to the sky. Uniform. Twelve of them flushed in the same polished bone mask with red eyes shining through the wearers.
Cladded with armor that wielded blackness they delicately held swords the color of death by their sides. Silver engraving on the blade flirted through the night; the hilt wrapped in the same red linen they wore as an undergarment.
Godric the Great looked back at his men.
Behind the twenty remaining men and their dire wolves stood the villages heart— A massive white oak, now already taken aflame with no trace left of the spring’s pink flowers.
The heat was like none other he had ever felt. Godric had seen enough battles to the outcome, yet the werewolf held no fear. To them, to greet death with fear would be a dishonor.
He breathed this in.
Looked at his warriors who held the same face. He couldn’t speak to them the way he could his dire wolf, but he knew. He knew that they know how this would end, and smiled, and with a thunderous roar cried out!
“Men!! Tonight, we may die, and if so, we will die in service to our people! We will die with honor, courage, and pride in our heart! Let there be no question of how fierce we fought tonight! If we survive…” He let out a hardy laugh, “Well then, we’ll have the pleasure of doing it ourselves over some ale!”
Howls from the wolves and yells from the men showed they were all in agreement.
“Isaac.” He said kneeling down.
Godric pat him on the head as if they were the only two in existence. Spoke as if nothing was happening around them. Calm, as if it were simply just any other day.
“Leave now little one, this isn’t your fight. Alaric and his mother should have already made it through tunnels by now with the others. I need you to protect our boy. We’ll hold them off. Get out of this while you still can.”
Isaac watched Godric’s lips move, but nothing came out. He only heard his heart pounding as the Chief rose to his feet, seeing him as if it were the first time. Never realizing just how large of a man he is. Godric towered over the rest of his men by a foot.
The Chief stood seven feet and starred out at the attackers wearing a face a perfect blend between calm, and fierce. Light from the fire’s glow danced around his chiseled body that leaked out from the openings of his red cloak. It twisted in every direction as the wind blew and three silver plates resting on either broad shoulder lay battered. Revealing the darkness that had come in the cracks of the metal.
Godric had not known this enemy. None of them did. In all of the world of Albion he had not seen an evil such as this. The other five clans that dawned under the cloak of Okami rule couldn’t make it in time he knew. He watched them move.
Twelve against his now remaining twenty. The odds were not in his favor. These masked men had attacked during the dead of night. No one had seen them come. No one had heard only until it started. The gates were breached. And they painted their way through without mercy.
Adara. Godric spoke with his mind. I’ll meet you in Valhalla.
You think they’ll let you in?
He smiled and mussed the wolf’s fur up.
The shewolf looked down at the pup who had seemed to have frozen despite the heat that was blasting and back onto the foe that lied ahead.
“Isaac!” Godric yelled out, “Get out of here, now! Men! Together! With me!”
The pup closed his eyes as the earth quaked around him and mustered courage to finally move. Sprinting off in the opposite direction as the Chief bellowed.
Don’t look back. Isaac said to himself.
The cobblestone roads blurred as tears swelled in his eyes.
Don’t. look. back.
The pup weaved his way through Aethrid dodging the rubble, fire, and charred bodies that laced the streets. He headed toward the evacuation tunnels.
The dense stench of iron and ash, screams echoing from all directions, and thick black smoke roaring out from the buildings filled his senses.
Alaric? Isaac thought but the mental connection between him and the werewolf boy was only met in a dark void. Why can’t I sense him? Surely, he can’t be dead… I’d— I’d feel it… wouldn’t I?
The thought makes him quicken his pace as he got closer to the bridge that leads to the East side of the village. Making his way up the hill he hears it before he sees it, and all hope slowly drains out - The bridge is engulfed in flames.
The sheer roar of it was frightening while the heat blasted him casting long dark shadows on the dirt path.
Well there’s only one way to get to the East side… Heh It’s not that bad. Isaac thinks trying to reassure himself. .
Taking a few steps back he digs his paws into the dirt as he prepares to accept the challenge of this bridge. Thick black clouds of smoke fill the air as the fire moves its way around the creaking wood signaling its submission to the element as boards fall into the river below. It’s now or never… Isaac rushes forward! Entering the archway his vision is immediately blurred by a heap of orange and yellow as hell fire welcomes a new visitor. Every step becomes more and more unbearable with smoke filling his lungs and the heat starting to singe his fur cooking him alive. Trying to move strategically testing out each board before he steps on, a loud CRACK comes from above! A beam crashes down in front of him and the pup leads forward in desperation before it strikes the deck!
The fire ball collides with the deck smashing through taking out a huge section, the pup barley making it to the other side as planks of flaming wood fall into the depths. His claws dig deep into the hot wood as he dangles off this newly created edge while wood from the side walls start collapsing. A board lands across Isaac’s arm instantly rolling the skin off from the heat, yelping in pain he finds new strength to hoist himself up and bolts toward the exit. Every plank his hind legs kick off crumble beneath him as he pushes onward finally making it out, and he looks back. The bridges will to stand now failing as it succumbs to this domino effect and accepts its scorching fate, falls into the river to be swept away by the current
From here it’s just about a league to the evacuation tunnel. If I go off the trail… I might be able to get there quicker.
The wolf presses on as heat flirts with his raw skin and soon the full moon takes over as the only lighting source with trails of fire here and there to accent her.
Don’t think about the pain… Don’t think about it.
A sound faintly enters Isaac’s mind and he immediately stops to concentrate on Alaric’s voice.
I-I... Isaac! Isaac! Are you alright?! Where are you?!
I’m fine! I’m heading for the tunnel right now; did everyone make it out? Are you hurt?? Why couldn’t I contact you?
No one’s made it out. The tunnel caved in. Damnit! Alaric winces, I’m okay. H-here’s where I’m at.
Isaac sees an image Alaric projects, it’s fuzzy, but can make out some of the details.
Is that the inside of Old Pete’s farm?
Isaac sees the image Alaric projects, it’s fuzzy, but can make out that he’s in the barns on Old Pete’s farm. That’s not the only thing he gets though, he feels pain… excruciating pain that rushes through his skull making him feel like his head will split in two but as quickly as it comes it fades away just the same,
Alaric, what the hell was that?
No Answer comes.
All the wolf can see is the dark void again. Somethings… not right.
He runs off the trail and takes a shortcut through the woods. The further he moves in his eyes, adjusting to the moon’s luminescence and exaggeratedly casted darkness that kisses off the woodland, he makes it to the farm and can see the barn in the distance. Vaulting over the fence that surrounds the land when he hits the ground the atmosphere- changes. It becomes heavy and sinister… Fear suddenly grips and squeezes tightly around his heart as he looks down at the soil and freezes. Feeling all the eyes of the hooded men peer down at him with their menacing red eyed gaze he panics, and frantically moves his head around to meet what’s watching him- but there’s no one there. A chill runs down his spine. He gets down in a lower stance to sneak up to the barn, the soil beneath his paws giving in and letting out a low crunch. The closer he gets to the alley doors of the barn the moons cast a low light on them revealing a huge strange symbol painted over the doors, the dried blood giving off a rustic brown look. Light shines through the middle crack and the pup hears Alaric call out his name!
Taking his snout, he separates the doors and the wolf’s eyes dilate. A gush of fresh air sweeps in making the hundred or so candles dance as a new rhythm is introduced. The light flickers and sways tossing shadows over flayed bodies oscillating on bounded feet from the tie beams of the barn. Wolf heads are sewn on with thick hemp rope, their eyes carved out so that the wearer may see through, and their fur matted from dried blood. The wrists are bounded and dangle, pointing to the ground seventeen of them becoming the center point of a circle created by candles. Lines are drawn in between the gaps of candles with blood that connect to an outer circle formed by strange symbols. A pattern is formed out of this with the three tie beams the building has to offer. Five in the first row, seven in the second, and five more in the back.
Behind the assortment a gigantic humanoid figure is assembled out of the remaining women, children, and elders of the village. Standing around ten feet tall it leans against the back wall. A hole is configured in its chest out of dismembered arms, each connected to the other by hands grasping to severed ends forming a perfect square where the heart would go. The candles and symbols form in the same pattern around it but only in a semicircle. As the light splashes subtly, the flame starts to acclimate, and Isaac’s ears twitch as his name is called out again.
Help me… I – I can’t…
Movement comes from the base of the figure and Isaac rushes over to it as a boy tries to crawl forward. His long shaggy black hair matted with blood, Alaric pushes it out of his eyes to see his dire wolf come to him.
“haha, hey there big guy.” His voice strains out with a smile before coughing up blood.
Isaac looks down on him with grief. In a partial transformation Alaric’s ears form to a small point, fangs show while he spits out blood gasping for air, and his fingernail forms claws that dig into the dirt trying to find strength that has long escaped him. Golden eyes that are complemented by the dim light look up to greet Isaacs mixed ones and Alaric forms another scarlet smile as joy enters his heart. Isaac however- doesn’t feel it.
Seeing Alaric’s growing pale face, a tear rolls out of pup’s eye.
“Isaac no,” Alaric says in a comforting tone reaching out with an arm to put around the wolf’s neck, “Don’t worry about it… I’m going to be fine. It’s okay.”
Blood gushes out of Alaric’s lower half… Severed from the kneecaps down part of his bone scraps across the ground as he tries to wrap himself around Isaac. Grab my legs. They’re over there. No not that one. he gestures with his neck, we need to get out of here, now!
And go where? Isaac says,
Anywhere but here…