“On the scale of one to ten, how much do you like eating pig legs?”
Rey expected the dumbfound stare she got from the man sitting in front of her, but she still cracked up inside, looking at his furrowed eyebrows and confused expression.
“What?” He asked.
“On the scale of one to ten, how much do you like eating pig legs?” She repeated, saying each world a bit slower than before.
“Oh,” his answer came just as confused as before, “not very much. But thank you for asking, I guess?”
She nodded; her attention focused on the task before her. “What about chicken livers?”
“I am sorry,” he said, “but aren’t you supposed to ask me, how big of pain am I in right now? You know, something like, on the scale of one to ten, how much do you want to jump off the cliff right now?”
“You see...,” Rey said, adjusting the final touches to prevent the bandage, she tied on his arm, from falling, “I was hoping, I would distract you enough, you wouldn’t feel any pain at all.”
“Oh,” he moved his injured arm a bit and his whole face lightened up, “that’s better. That’s much better.”
“I am glad,” Rey smiled at him, “but don’t be fooled. Just because it doesn’t hurt at the moment, it doesn’t mean your injury magically disappeared. You should perform minimal tasks with that hand and do not let it anywhere near water any time soon.”
From the looks of his injury when he first showed it to her, the guy was one hell of a lucky bastard not to catch an infection before they arrived. An angry red deep cut reached all the way from his elbow back to his hand. If Rey were to guess, it was caused by a good old-fashioned kitchen knife.
“Okay. No moving and no water. I got it. Thank you very much.”
“And don’t forget to come back tomorrow. I need to re-bandage it!” She had to yell after him because his newfound excitement caused him to jump out of the chair and ran away.
Rey hoped he was not too up high in the clouds to not remember what she yelled. She had no desire to run around the village looking for him.
“I prefer the belly.”
A man in his eighties sat in the other man’s spot next. His movements were a bit slow, but he managed to sit down in his own time.
It was Rey’s time to be confused: “What?”
“You asked him about the pig legs, so I assumed you were going to ask me the same thing.”
“Oh,” Rey giggled, “thanks for letting me know.”
“Has to be nice being so young,” the old man said, his eyes somewhere far away from here.
Rey almost blurted out that the man had to be at least forty, so he wasn’t very young at all, but for the man in front of her, forty was indeed young.
“Age is relative,” she said instead, “you are only as old as you feel.”
“That’s very kind of you,” the man gifted her with a warm smile of his own, “but if that’s the case, right now I am at least two hundred.”
“Oh!” Rey cursed as she remembered what brought him here in the first place. “Could you please tell me where are you injured?”
She only noticed now, the safe distance he was keeping from the back of the chair and she felt almost guilty as she asked him to turn around, but there was no other way.”
“I am going to help you pull your shirt down, okay?”
His hands reached up as an answer and she slowly rose the shirt up and pulled it down one sleeve after the other. The old man gasped from pain but didn’t let his hands fall.
Rey almost gasped with him.
“That bad, huh?”
“What?” She blurted out absent mindedly, her mind focused on the burned skin welcoming her.
“Your heartbeat quickened,” he explained.
“It’s pretty bad, yeah,” Rey settled on the truth. There was no point in lying to the werewolf anyway. “But it also could be a lot worse.”
Whatever clothing he had on when someone decided to use him as a human torch contained the fire enough for him not to die from the impact. And judging by the faded places, his werewolf gene was still trying its best to heal him.
While a lot of humans viewed werewolves as these blood-thirsty, almost invincible monsters, it was only the truth to some degree.
Same as with their human counterparts, the younger people carrying the werewolf genes were, the stronger, faster, and deadlier they were. But as the werewolves gained age, their skills become rustier. It took twice as much time for a sixty-year-old werewolf to heal itself as it took for a twenty-year-old one. Some would even die in the process. And that’s why Brynn was such an important figure to them.
And thanks to Brynn and her potions, Rey had just the thing to help the old man. Her hand reached out for the glass bottle on the ground simply labelled as “burns”. She didn’t have enough patience to learn about all the herbs Brynn used to create her potions, but judging by the smell of it, as Rey unscrewed the lid, she had to at least kill someone to create the mixture.
Rey got used to this not very alluring smells a long time ago, but the old man complained almost immediately: “Oh god. Are you sure death is not a better option?”
“Positive,” Rey grinned again, her hands already working on applying the ointment onto his burned skin. Despite the time that passed since the attack, his skin still radiated heat.
A deep wrinkle settled on Rey’s forehead. It wasn’t fair. He should be enjoying the autumn of his life playing with his grandchildren or waste the days away gossiping with others his age. Instead, he was fighting for his life.
Where was his alpha that he let children, old people and humans fight his battles?
As if he was reading her thoughts, the old man said: “They came out of nowhere. There were no signs prior to the incident that an attack was being planned. That’s how good they were prepared for it. They used the full moon the night before for their advantage and attacked in the middle of the day. Even with all the knives, pitchforks, and daggers, they were yielding, they knew they wouldn’t stand a chance against werewolves in their full strength. But with the full moon taking the toll on us, most of our warriors were sleeping when the bells first sounded.”
He took a deep breath and continued: “It was a little after the noon and the kids were all out to play. We had to watch as the weapons stabbed through them. There were so many of them sick bastards, a twisted kind of pleasure on their faces. They were stabbing little kids and they were enjoying it. I was so out of it, I didn’t even notice the one that sneaked behind me. Not until the pain spread through my body and I turned around to see him holding a lightened torch.”
By the time he got into the middle of his story, Reys hands forgot all about applying the moisture and by the end of it, her heart ached so badly, Rey thought it would jump out of her chest.
“I-I am ...” She was unable to pull one coherent thought, all she got out was: “Why?”
But she knew the answer to it already. She had seen the same story over and over again for years. Humans hating the werewolves so much, they didn’t even hesitate to sacrifice their own kind, if it meant wiping their enemies out.
“Didn’t really have time to ask questions,” the old man joked. “But don’t be so sad about it, darling. The story doesn’t have such a bad ending. Most of the kids are already fully healed. At least physically. And for the rest of us, a miracle was brought from heavens.”
“I am sure, Mac wouldn’t appreciate this whole talk about miracles. He ran for almost an entire day to find them.” A young woman, maybe Lia’s age, joined them. She held a glass of water in her hands and she offered it to Rey, but she shook her head politely. Her hands were way too greasy for them to hold it.
The woman understood her problem and put the glass on the ground instead. Far away from Rey not to spill it on accident, but close enough to reach for it, if she were to change her mind.
The old man replied with: “Don’t you think, it was already a miracle that he got his lazy ass to run so far?”
The woman laughed: “Touché.”
Her task had to be done because she left soon after, and Rey wondered whether she was going to Lia and Brynn next. Her eyes followed her for a bit, while her hands were finishing up their work on the old man’s back.”
There was something about the woman Rey couldn’t place quite well. Maybe it was the way she held herself above the others.
Seemingly reading her thoughts again, the old man said: “She is the luna of this pack.”
Oh. That made sense. Since her father was no longer the Alpha, Rey’s mother would no longer be the luna as well.
“Your Alpha must be a happy man then,” Rey said, “she seems very nice.”
Despite how talkative the old man was until now, this time he remained silent.