Warrior of the Damned

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14

...night had fallen and all was quiet. "Frick?" I whispered. I got no response. I crawled out of the hallowed tree, no one in sight. "Frick!" I called a little louder this time. The crickets and frogs were the only things talking tonight. I made my way back to the castle. Alone.

...By the rock he helped me carve my name into. There was Frick. Sitting. He was calm and still. Running to him, I threw my arms around his neck. Wet. He was wet. "Frick?" No response.

...My hands were sticky, covered in something dark...

...the moon. I needed light. What was on my hands? What was on him?...

...moonlight...

...blood...

...the silence...

...they slashed his throat.


I cried into Marek's fur until the sun pierced the night sky. I cried for everyone I had lost. My parents, Frick, Naevia, my people. I cried for fear of the future. I had so many plans. Dreams. All laid to waste in the uncertainty of what was to come. I cried for my old life. For my dog who was no longer just a dog, but a fearsome killer. I cried for the loss of the relationship we used to have. A girl and her dog. It was all a distant memory now.

It was an odd feeling, being wrapped inside a werewolf's arms. Marek's arms. His embrace was comforting and quelled my sobs.

He didnt talk. He just let me mourn. I didnt know if it was the decade of loving each other or the soul connection, but he always seemed to know exactly what I needed when I needed it.

I'm angry.

USE IT.

I nodded. We entered the mouth of the cave and began our descent into the tunnels.

Thankfully they were big enough to fit a Warrior of the Damned. They had been originally constructed for multiple purposes but it was mostly used by carts and wagons drawn by horse to bring goods back and forth under the castle. This particular tunnel was also planned for escape from the Holy War, should the castle be stormed. It was large enough to fit the whole village through, even if they walked side by side, ten in each row.

It was quiet, dark and dank. The only sound was dripping water here and there, echoing through the passage. We didnt speak. We just crept. My bow infront of me, ready to aim.

Marek led the way, since he could see better in the dark. There wasnt any torches lit here as it hadnt been used since the War. I held onto his fur with the hand that was not tightly gripping my bow. I wasnt sure I was ready for this. What if I missed? Worse yet, what if Marek's life depended upon a perfect kill shot? I started to doubt myself.

Dont.

I really need to control my thoughts better.

I assumed the walk would take longer but we were at the stone steps before I knew it. I could see torches from the dungeon. Someone had kept them lit. But for what purpose?

I stopped. Suddenly, I realized I needed to ask Marek an important question. One that had just now crossed my mind with the thought of being so close to werewolves. "Just so I know, if a werewolf bites me, how long do I have before I turn into one myself? Is it instantaneous? Will it hurt?"

He laughed.

Werewolves born werewolves. Only.

Oh. Not saying I wasnt relieved, just another thing to file under rumors that were not true about werewolves. That file was getting large.

We continued on.

The smell of rotten flesh was like an invisible wall I just ran into. I wanted to gag but spit instead as I wasnt sure what was within hearing range. I heard moans of agony in the distance. They grew louder as we approached.

The rounded room was once used to hold and torture prisoners. Mostly thieves, murderers and traitors to the crown. Shackles had been attached to the wall as a means of restraint. There were no personal cells or beds for comfort as most that were sent here didnt live long enough to have use for such luxuries.

I saw my father first. He was strung by his feet, upside down, hands hanging past his head to the floor below. His eyes were open and lifeless. The huge hole in his chest hinted strongly at the cause of his death. I winced. There was nothing I could do now. He was gone.

I dont know if it was the adrenaline or the love lost between us all these years. It might have been the numbness death had forced upon me recently. Who could say? But I didnt cry.

Would things have been different if I had gotten here sooner?

My eyes scanned the room, quickly finding my mother. Shackled to a wall, she was stooped over. A small heap on the floor. I ran to her, falling on the cold stone and pulling her into my arms. "Dead. For days now." I turned to my right, seeing Gerta for the first time, whimpering. Her voice was low, I almost didnt hear her. Her face was a brighter red than normal and tear streaks made trails down her cheeks that were caked with dirt and dried blood.

I hurriedly grabbed the keys from the opposite side of the room and ran back to unshackle her. "How many are still alive?" I asked her, hopefully.

"Just me. They only kept those closest to you safe from slaughter. They needed information... where you were." She strained to talk. I hushed her as I knew she was in pain, but also because I had gotten all I needed from those words.

"Use the tunnel, get out." I told her. She didnt object.

They needed me. Aiden needed me. Someone.. or something would be returning to finish the job. Gerta knew nothing. Her time was quickly ticking down as she wasnt useful. No one had known where Marek took me. Hell, I hadnt even known where we were going.

After Gerta was safely down the steps and onward through the tunnel, I turned to Marek, "Let me know if you hear anything." He nodded.

The smell of wet dog and stale urine was getting stronger. We were closing in. We snuck down the hallway toward the Great Hall. I checked every open room, even though Marek informed me it wasnt needed. It was more beneficial for the pack to be close together. Safety in large numbers and all... which might work well for them out in the open but here, with four walls surrounding them, seemed like a very stupid idea.

Marek stopped and peered around the corner. Guard at door. Wolf guard. Take shot to head, quietly.

I stepped purposefully but silently around the corner. If this didnt work it would wake the whole castle. And we would surely die. I readied my aim, took a deep breath and prayed it found its target. The wolf was laying on its side. Stomach facing us. Its exposed ear twitching. Its paws paddling. It was dreaming. How cute. I smirked as I released my arrow.

The only sound came from the whizzing wind over my arrow as my shot hit its mark. The poor soul actually never knew what hit him as I sent him back to the hell he came from. All movement ceased. Sweet dreams, demon.

The door the now dead wolf was guarding would enter us right behind the King's throne.

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