Chapter 9: Wits & Instincts
“Jack! Where did you go?” asked Jasyra.
“I was, uh, I just was exploring.”
Jack looked cautiously around. Evooku, sensing his alarm, raised a hand. Jack was shocked to realise he recognised the signal: What is it?
“Did you guys hear any wolves? I thought I heard one.”
Evooku shook his head.
“No,” said Jasyra, grabbing her belongings, “but they’re probably not far. We need to keep our wits about us.”
As they walked along the riverbank, Jack marvelled at the beauty of the forest. The trees were massive, rising hundreds of feet into the air with trunks wider than a car. Wildflowers and shrubs with bright berries grew where sunlight fell through the dappled leaves. He ran his hands along some bright yellow flowers, some strange thought niggling at the back of his mind.
What was it?
He thought about the wolves he’d seen, so much larger than any wolf he’d ever seen before. And that strange green fur. He froze in his tracks.
“Wolfsbane!” he yelled.
Jasyra jumped and Evooku turned in shock.
“What?” she asked.
“Wolfsbane! Like in that old black’n’white movie. Werewolves hate wolfsbane!”
“Black and white moooo-veee? What are you talking about?” asked Jasyra.
“Never mind that. I mean the wolfsbane; it’s a plant. Werewolves hate it.”
“What does it look like?”
I’m not sure, but I think it’s a small plant with spiky flowers. At least that’s what it looked like on…TV.”
Jack held the staff out before him and stared into the emerald. He tried to remember the plant from the movie. He felt a pang of homesickness as he imagined Great Aunt Alberta’s grand old house, but he focused himself on the staff. Slowly, an image grew in the gemstone, flickering briefly before them. It disappeared with a flash.
It was wolfsbane.
“That’s it. That’s what we need to find,” he said.
“We should hurry,” replied Jasyra, frowning at this strange boy who had appeared from nowhere. “It’s starting to grow darker. Let’s go.”
The sunlight was shifting, and beams of light drew across the forest at a low angle. There might only be an hour or two left of daylight.
As they walked, Jack weighed the staff in his hands. It felt heavy and pulled to his right. He tried to lift it but it resisted. He turned to the right and the weight shifted. He took a few steps and the staff curved to the left. It was guiding him.
“Follow me!” he cried.
The three companions walked further through the woods, eventually coming to a small glade unmarked by trees. Sunlight fell at a low angle, perhaps just a few hours of light left. There, in the middle of the glade, was a patchwork of flowers—including some small spiky ones, purple in color.
“Wolfsbane!” cried Jack and they ran to it.
Jack knelt down and looked at the flowers. There were lots of them.
The trio cut flowers from the plants, gathering them together in a satchel. Evooku reached into his pack and took out a small flask. He filled it with water and crushed the flowers, making a sticky paste. He coated the tips of his and Jasyra’s arrows with the paste and even spread some onto Jack’s sword. He smeared the rest over his body and offered some to Jack.
“Uh, I think I’ll put it on my clothes,” he said and Evooku grinned as Jack rubbed it into his jeans and sweater.
Smelling like strange flowers, the companions continued on their way.