Saturday October 9th
Steven opened up the first aid kit, and grabbed a cotton swab to stop the blood. He was already sick of pinching his nose, even though that’s what he was taught to do in the Youth Troops. But right now, he just wanted to stop the bleeding.
He considered himself lucky though; there were a lot worse things in life than losing a fight to Butch Johnson. And even though the hooligan nearly broke his nose, the brave trooper tried his best to save the bully from the winged creature that swooped down and scooped him up.
It was too dark at the time for Steven to get a good look, but from what he remembered, the creature resembled a man—a man with wings—dark leathery wings, like a bat or a dragon.
And it all happened so quickly, in the middle of his fight with Butch...right before the mysterious light had entered the forest. Steven used all his strength to hold onto Butch’s legs, when the winged invader pulled the bully up the to the sky. But he couldn't keep his grip for long, and swiftly fell to the ground. He was lucky though, to have landed on soft and marshy terrain, otherwise his landing could’ve been a lot worse! And the last thing that he heard was Butch screaming.
So there he sat, covered in mud, soaking wet, nosebleed and all, wondering if he’d ever make it out of the forest alive. He was grateful for one thing though: the mysterious light that entered the woods. It wasn’t as bright from his viewpoint as it was from Andrew and Shane’s, but it was enough to help him find his flashlight that he had dropped earlier during the scuffle. A small miracle he thought, but still a miracle nonetheless.
He wondered if Andrew and Shane were okay, and hoped they made it out safe, but he knew that Andrew would never leave without him. So he wasted no time and set out to find them, wherever they may be.
With the little bit of energy he had left, he clambered to his feet, and climbed back up the cliff where he last saw Andrew, keeping a sharp eye out for the werewolf, demon-wolves, winged men, and any other bizarre creatures that might pop up out of nowhere. And the weather was no help either.
The air became more brisk, with gusty winds sweeping through the trees, making his trek more unpleasant. His teeth were chattering and he couldn't stop shivering, but he pressed on, determined to find the others, backtracking his way to where Shane had fallen. But before he got too far, he stumbled upon another small miracle: the briefcase!
It wasn't too far from the edge of the cliff where him and Butch fell, and part of him wanted to leave it there and have nothing to do with it. Who knows what kind of trouble it may bring? But another part of him disagreed. It was, after all, filled with money—money that can buy nice things. Perhaps a new fishing pole, he thought, or maybe that fancy archery set he’d been dreaming about. Yet after thinking it over, he decided the best thing to do (if he survived this nightmare) was to bring it to the police. So he reached down to pick it up, and continued his quest to find the others...
Andrew and Shane stood close to the woman as she led them through the forest, using the light of the orb to guide the way. They traveled for quite a while, avoiding the warlock’s hounds, before stumbling upon the trail leading back to their campsite. And all Andrew could think about was Steven’s safety, knowing his buddy was out there all alone.
“Don’t worry,” said Moon Dove, “we’ll find your friend.” She paused and put her arm around Andrew’s shoulders. “Have faith, kiddo.”
“Where do you think the old man went?” asked Shane. He was trailing behind them. “I have a feeling that he’s watching us somehow.”
Moon Dove turned around and said, “You’re absolutely right.” She peered through the darkness on both sides of the trail. “The Warlock has many spies in here other than his hellhounds.” She took a deep breath. “But he’s waiting.”
“Waiting?” Shane asked. “Waiting for what?”
“I’m not sure.” She kept looking over her shoulders. “But trust me, when he’s ready to attack, he will. So let’s keep moving and find your friend.”
They pressed on, walking as fast as possible, getting closer to the campsite, until they were suddenly interrupted: The werewolf leaped out from behind the trees, landing in the center of the trail...
“Going somewhere!” he growled, crouching down and creeping toward them.
The boys froze for a second, then jumped back, engrossed in fear, and Andrew's heart began to pound in rapid beats.
“Here we go again!” he said, wide-eyed and shaking like a leaf. He looked up at Moon Dove. “Zap this stinker again!”
Poised and ready, she pointed the orb at the beast. She glanced at the boys and shouted, “Run!” but they refused to leave her alone.
She fired a blast at the monster’s head, but it barely stunned him, knocking him back a few feet. She did it again, and got the same result.
The monster laughed at her and said, “Your powers are useless here.” He started to move quickly in her direction. “Now we’ll see just how tough you are without your little star man.”
He closed in on her, swinging his sharp claws at her face, but she managed to duck just in time, avoiding any contact. She raised her head and jumped back, keeping a tight grip on her staff.
“I don’t need powers to take down a wretched beast like you!” She held the staff in her left hand, and began twirling it around, moving it back and forth on both sides of her body to block his strikes. She switched to her right hand and did the same, displaying expert skills, and the werewolf grew frustrated.
“Come on, demon, you afraid of a girl?” She started to taunt him, then swung the staff in an uppercut motion as he tried to attack. The impact cracked his jaw, and he fell backwards, feet in the air, before crashing to the ground.
Andrew and Shane joined in, trying to help her. They picked up rocks and threw them at the monster, hoping to finish him off. But it only intensified his anger. He sprang up from the ground and lunged at them, but Moon Dove blocked his attempt, colliding with him in mid-air, and this time both of them fell backwards.
“I told you boys to run!” she shouted, regaining her composure. “This isn’t a game!”
“We can’t just leave you here by yourself!” Shane shouted back.
“Oh how nice,” the beast mumbled, sarcastically, as he clambered back to his feet. He glared down at Shane. “Such a good boy you are to try and help this woman.” He started to snarl and growl. “It's too bad you won’t live to see another—”
Before the beast could finish his comment, he fell face forward to the ground and stopped moving. Andrew had no idea what had just happened...until he noticed an arrow sticking out of its back…