Kel'Duel

I wrote this years ago, I was still in HS when this was written, and I joined the military before I finished it. I was opening some of my old writing boxes found this read it over and thought I’d see what people thought before I completed it.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

Fifteen minutes…

The skies above were glistening with the bright moon and the stars above; I lay in the field wondering what it would feel like.

Thirteen minutes.

Charles said this would hurt.

Ten minutes:

Mara said this would hurt; she had never lied to me before.

Eight minutes:

I could feel it getting closer, as the clouds moved over the silver moon glistening over head. I placed my hands behind my own head feeling the moist grass in the opening between my fingers relishing the feeling.

Seven Minutes….

I wonder if Genevieve will still love me after this. I had a few more minutes to think about that I suppose.

Five minutes….

The feeling was coming now, the feeling that the pain would be so severe I would want to kill myself rather than go through it again…it was so long ago though I don’t really remember the first pain.

Two minutes…

I wonder how Ama is holding up since I left. She’ll be okay for a few days I am sure, it’s not like I haven’t left before.

One minute to go. I was going to become an animal, more feral, and more dangerous. I couldn’t wait.

Chapter One: The Beginning

The year was twelve hundred fifty eight AD, I lived with my mother and father outside of a small village in England, I could never forget that night, it plagued my memory still, in my sleepless slumber.

It was a full moon and dark outside, my father and mother were inside sleeping restfully whilst my baby sister slept the night away finally placate enough to sleep, my brother and I stood outside looking up at the skies and wondering our own thoughts.

“Did you hear the stories from Caleb and the others at the Ale?” I heard him ask, he was more excited about the tales of dark creatures that existed outside in the worlds than I was, but he was still young just turning fourteen years.

“Nay, I wasn’t paying much attention to the rumors that were spreading about. My mind was too focused on other affairs.” I smiled thinking to my beloved who would be returning home soon with her father from a trip to the city, she was well educated as we all were from my mother who was the daughter of a nobleman.

“You spend too much time thinking on about Cherry, you know her father won’t give her hand so easily.” My brother Jacob jibed but my smile never faded for her strawberry blonde hair flowed in the winds next to the river with such grace and beauty I found it hard not to be intrigued by her. She had always smelled of roses and lilacs even after working with her father in the fields, part of the day before her classes.

“I know that Jacob, that is why I plan on going to speak with the Captain of the guard about a position. Uncle Charles has taught me to handle a blade well enough. I am sure I would be able to help with the disappearances that are about.” My voice faded towards the end. I would almost regret those final words, for they were some of the last kind words I had said to my brother before sending him inside to sleep.

“So you have been listening to Caleb and the others from the guard. They heard the howling of wolves out past the guard station a fortnight ago. I heard from Joquiem that he saw on the size of a horse!” He prattled on excitedly about the tales of these unbelievable beasts. I could not pay much attention to what he was saying, for still my mind was wondering to me beloved who was so far away from all of this, they would not begin the trek back until tomorrow at dawn.

“Jacob, you have been listening too much to the prattling of drunks. Go inside and sleep, mother and father will be displeased with me whilst I keep myself up pondering all night. You still have many studies to compare.” My voice was a strange drawl even to my own ears, I knew little of my past besides what my Uncle and Mother explained to me, my father spoke little of his own family from the Moors.

I opened the door and allowed my brother entrance trying to hide my fury at his assumptions that these guards could be correct; they were fools to believe a wolf could grow to the size of a horse. That was before I knew what truly lurked in the night. I saw him off to our bedroom in the loft above the house, ensuring he was asleep before I moved to my own, with Cherry so far away I would not sleep well this evening.

I slinked away to my own bed across from my brother’s in the loft. I could see outside the moon glistening, its silvery light across the skies. I heard in the distance the deep howling coming from the far off forest, I did not fully believe the tales that were told by the town guards or even the older members of the village who had fought against these mythical beasts, but I had seen what the feral wolves would do if they got near the livestock.

I reached beneath the straw that lay about my bed and removed it, the blade that was a gift from the last time my father and uncle had traveled together to the south, a Spanish blade. It hefted well in my hand, lighter stronger than many blades I have hefted. I knew where my father kept the tools for the harvest; perhaps I would grab a hand sickle as well.

I swiftly jumped from the loft and landed on the ground without making a sound, adeptness to the silence of the world around me I enjoyed. I had been berated for it many times as a child, now as a man I was sure that this would not be a problem; they wouldn’t be bothered by the waking nightmares of tales told about horse sized wolves that plague the forest.

I remembered the tales my mother regaled me with as a child as I moved to the wall picking up the sickle, it would work as well as my sword at the moment. Slowly I moved from the house ensuring that the others would not hear me, Jacob needed no more fuel to brag with his friends about down by the river of these tales I could not believe true.

I felt the electricity in the air as I stepped through the fields looking for the wolf that was howling, if it were just lost then I would not be forced to kill it, but if it were trying to come into the village and kill the livestock I would not have another choice, death was the only option I would have.

Slowly I made my way through the village hearing hushed whispers from the tavern which was still open, the towns guard must still be drinking their salaries away, yet I could not stifle my laugh until I heard the horrid cry from the edge of the forest. The cry I had heard so many times, I could not get it from my mind. The cry was a human cry for help, I had to move quickly.

My legs hadn’t moved so fast except for when Cherry fell into the river and I dove to save her, no this was different that wasn’t her scream it wasn’t a familiar scream, but it was still a scream and my legs pushed me to move faster, something inside of me clicked when I heard that scream, a blood lust that wanted the screaming to end, it wanted whoever caused the scream to feel agony beyond agonies, to watch them die but by no other blade that my own.

My eyes did not notice anything as I passed by the sparse houses, and soon I was tearing through the clearing of the field, I was close to Cherry’s father’s, the family was gone they would be safe. I threw myself full force into my run wishing now I was like these wolves that Jacob was so interested in. His face flashed through my mind, my auburn haired brother, just a few inches shorter than I was and not quite as muscular as me, but he was just as smart. The other children tended to gravitate towards him, even within our family; it made him a great asset when Cherry and I wanted to be alone for the sparse times her father had allowed it.

As I heard the scream again I growled myself, a deep throated growl, I was unsure where it came from I was unable to truly see what was happening around me as I ran towards the screaming. I felt like my hands were going to fall off by the force I was holding the sword and sickle.

I could see in the distance the wolf, crouching and circling a figure, I could not tell if it were a young woman or just a child but I knew I would have to stop it, the rage increased as I spun the sickle in my left hand gripping the blade tighter in my right, I could feel my hand begin to burn cold from the pressure I was putting on the leather wrapped hilt and pommel.

I threw myself towards the wolf and the girl landing and striking the wolf in the right flank with the sickle throwing my weight as I spun and released the sickle the handle breaking as the wolf was thrown, the blade still protruding from its right flank, it yelped and turned on me.

I was staring at the large mammoth, it was not a normal wolf as I had seen on hunting trips, no this wolf was much larger, about as large as I was, I could not get a clear sight on the beast.

“Run!” I growled to the girl gripping my blade with both hands now, there was little else I could do but kill this beast and take it back to my father, he had hunted the forests his entire life he would know what this beast was.

The girl behind me did not run but I could feel her movements, she was standing and backing towards a tree. I felt her breathing labored as was mine as the beast began to move in a semi-circle I jumped in its path each time it tried to get past me, I could not allow it to pass me, she would die if I did that, at least if I was slaughtered it would give her a chance to run.

“I said Run!” My voice escaped my lips in the same strange drawl as it had before, but I was unsure why, I had not remembered hearing this boastful echo ever escape my lips even the harvests I had sparred and bested my uncle.

Her slight giggle should have distracted me but it didn’t, it only infuriated me more as the beast lunged forward. I slashed with my sword seeing the action before the beast could perform it all things around me seemed to slow as I caught the beast in the left shoulder throwing it to the ground. Gripping the sickle I pulled it free quickly cutting into the beast’s throat as its blood sprayed across my bare chest and face, the blood seemed much warmer than any other kill I had made, a strange thing happened just then…I wanted more.

I licked my lips to the taste, it was a saccharine sweet taste, an apple picked fresh from the first bud of spring, the sweet taste of honey suckle at maturity, I could only compare the taste to the soft kiss that I received from Cherry before she left with her family to the city.

The screams were more rampant now, they were coming from all over, I felt a sudden shock of pain run through my body I was paralyzed a moment, the screams they were all too familiar, family and friends, they were in pain and I was here enjoying the taste of this beast’s blood.

I threw the sickle aside prepared to run back but the strawberry blonde stood in my way bouncing from foot to foot giggling, her face seemed familiar to me but I could not place as. “Step aside…” I growled seeing that she was not planning on moving, the blood trickled into the sides of my mouth so warm and inviting some feral part of me wanted me to lash out and the girl, and I would not deny that part as my family screamed for me.

I bounded forward and she kicked from the ground giggling as she tore through the trees, I spared a glance back as I watched flames tower from houses, something was amiss and I had followed the feral feeling, the feral feeling that had made me want more of this sweet tasting blood.

I ran now, full force I wanted to release the burden of my blade but a voice in my head would not let me, it was small boasting voice that seemed to grow louder with each step, each leap that I made to get closer to them I could not allow them to die, they were all that I had. My mother and father, they had taken me in when I was but a babe, an infant to this world they had raised me for twenty one years as their own.

I jumped and collided with a large silver back wolf that had prepared for a lunge. I grappled it around the neck with my free left arm locking my hand around my right wrist bringing my knee down hard into the back of the beast warranting a yelp and cry of pain.

He dropped to the ground and rolled quickly trying to jar my hold but I was quick pulling up against his large neck feeling flesh I turned my own body feeling and hearing the bones shatter in his neck as well as collar bone. I wouldn’t have long; I was still quite a distance from my house, the windless night made the smoke hang stagnant as it rose.

Running once more I had little other option than ignore the other cries I heard, Rebecca and Thomas were in trouble, it would do me little good to have them harmed for my inability to keep them safe.

The thoughts ran through my head as I neared the house, the only thought that could run through my head at the time as the blaze tore through the home. I was too late, they were dead. I fell to my knees gasping for breath, the blood lust was growing now, it was stronger now than it had been before, the need for blood raised through my veins.

I felt the darkness consume me just then, I had no other reason to fight, fire tore through the village and I would allow it to consume me as well, there was nothing else I could do.

A giggle, childlike as it was before drew my attention but I could not see the anything beyond the darkness, my eyes ached with the smoke and soot that burned at them. I felt hatred burning through me at that childlike laughter; it was why I had left them near defenseless.

I roared and threw myself into the flames that is where it was coming from I was sure. The door fell beneath my weight shattering as I stood slashing with my blade not connecting with anything that felt like the flesh I was looking for.

I threw myself backwards landing as I heard it again, the fire scorched at my flesh, but I heard the laughter, it was closer now, it was nearer than before. I spun and was met by the eyes of the creature I had fought so hard to save, her blue eyes reflecting the fire that burned all around me, her deep set eyes I had once so longingly looked into were now the face of destruction, her strawberry blonde hair now blew with the fresh winds that exited through the trees shuddering with the threat of the storm from these clear skies.

The roar escaped my lips just as it escaped hers; this was my Cherry, a beast of destruction. She bounded for me but I was a second quicker than she was raising my blade to pierce her stomach, it reached through her diaphragm piercing through her spine I felt the shudder as the bones shattered by the force that I threw the blade upwards with.

Pain cascaded through my body, a shuddering pain, she was dead now but that was a separate pain, this pain came from somewhere else. I released my blade turning as I realized the burning was coming from my back, four lines traced down my torso pouring blood as four more were struck across my chest throwing me to the ground. The lines stretched from my heart to my right hip as the force lifted me once more through a flaming post that was once my family’s chicken coop.

The fire burned all around but I didn’t care, I would let it burn. I would let myself burn as the darkness began to consume me, a familiar darkness away from the blood lust, away from the hatred that I had felt, and at the same time the love I had felt for the woman I had just killed. I could not bear the thought her perfect heart no longer beat beneath her supple breasts, her soft pale flesh would be cold as stone soon enough consumed by the flames that tore through our home, at least the beast strong enough to throw me did not get to her.

The darkness consumed me; black water filled my lungs with its acrid taste of iron and ash. I felt pain shoot through my body, my arms burned as if cinders were touching each individual piece of skin, my legs were next the fire was tearing from inside of me outwards threatening to tear me apart, my very self essence was fading as the pain washed over me in torrents that I could not escape.

I wished for death that would not come, I know I did not scream, I had never screamed my mother…The thought of her cold lifeless corpse laying, her auburn hair no longer resting on her shoulders as she bustled around the kitchen or village keeping busy with the other mothers and children. My father whose strong features would no longer be watching as I taught my brother to defend himself for his dream of one day serving in the Lord’s Army.

The army, town guard who had returned from their duty did nothing; they stood by and watched this happen. They stood by as my family was slaughtered, the pain washed over me once more but this time more intense but I did not care, I could feel the burning in the back of my head, as well as in the back of my throat ash was beginning to fill my lungs.

Each fiber, each muscle felt as if it were tearing through my flesh burning to escape, my lungs filled with the black ash and I knew that death would follow soon, my brother Jacob so young and naïve to the ways of the world listened to their tales as if they were the greatest stories ever told by anyone, if I would have listened I would have taken the hunt to them. To these beasts, my last sight the large fiery mane that struck across my chest, the muzzle dripping with blood of a fresh kill, the eyes deep set and ready to kill, not just kill devour.

For a moment the pain stopped with the droplet of water followed by a cascade of the thunderous threat of more to come, I heard the deafening hiss of the fire as it was extinguished all around me. Death was soon to follow, I could feel them outside of myself I felt the movements around, heard the padded feet against the newly moistened earth all around me.

The growls and howls eased the physical pain that seemed to dwindle now that the fire was gone; it seemed to last forever, my last memories of the beauty that I had loved and the beast that had killed me. If it were that the last memory that sent me to hell of my beloved then I deserved whatever hell the gods would bestow upon me.

I opened my eyes breathing heavily as water seemed to be rising about me, high above my head the sun was glistening through the torrential downpour; it had seemed to break the clouds to make my grave humid.

My breathing unsteady as I moved my hands to the ever burning scars on my chest, the four lines that traced down my torso originating at my heart; they burned with the same fury my blood lust held.

Forcing myself, to stand there was no pain, but from the escapades of before. I was unsure how long I had been laying there but it could not have been long. I could still smell her sweet scent, the rose and lilacs still reached my nostrils, even the honey suckles growing near the river with their succulent promise of sweet treats reached my nostrils. My breathing picked up in pace as I wearily stepped forward looking at the destruction of my home.

No I told myself this was no longer my home, this was a grave yard, and I had survived the slaughter somehow, unless this was hell for murdering my love whose eyes still danced in my memory with the fire, the pleasure in her eyes brought a roar from my chest. Thunder clapped overhead echoing the roar as I walked through the destruction.

The homes fallen in upon themselves with the fire, the support beams resting at odd angles, burnt bodies splayed in the center of town as if some kind of symbol of the horrors that had been committed here.

The more I walked the more steady my gait became, at first I felt
odd after the assault I could only assume happened the night before, the homes seemed to have soaked up the water into their stone foundations now, the smell of blood had washed away only the smell of burnt flesh remained as my feet walked towards the bodies.

I could be honest with myself, I would hunt those responsible until the end of my life if it meant I could avenge the deaths, atop the mound lay a small body, a child who looked no older than two, I felt my pace quicken as I stepped closer, the body was only slightly singed, not fully burned as the rest were, the pained look upon her face reminded me of the pained look of the female that night how I had tried to save her damning my family to death.

I reached forward and cradled the fragile singed body in my arms, my breathing hastened as I carried the body to my makeshift grave where I would have gladly died. I laid the body of my one time baby sister on a plank and began to tear at the chicken coop with no regard to the shrapnel that was flying.

My hands tore at the ground throwing the dirt that was quickly becoming mud as the water reached all around, I do not remember feeling the stones that should have cut into my flesh but they did not, they barely touched my hands as I looked into the hole feeling it was deep enough I picked up the lifeless form of the onetime curly red head and placed her into the hole. Her smiling face still burned in my mind, the last time I sang to her the sweet lullaby.

I could not understand why no tears fell but a mournful howl escaped my lips as I filled in the dirt and rebuilt the foundation of stone over her body. If I had time the others could wait, they could wait until I was finished with my vengeance or the scavengers could have them, she was too young, she should have been spared. She should have been let live, at least then they would have a chance to live when I caught up to them.

The blood lust tore through my veins now, I couldn’t see clearly. I wanted to tear through those that had caused her death and pain, I wanted to taste that sweet taste once more that sweet taste of blood splashing against the back of my throat.

I didn’t want just any blood, no I wanted the blood of the monsters that had killed my family and friends, I wanted their blood to cascade my throat and satiate my thirst. The thirst that never seemed to end, not yet at least, I ponder to myself as I used my newly found strength to tear through the sheds that were filled with farming equipment if I would need any of this.

I made quick work of removing the leather thongs on the walls wrapping them around my waist and picking up what utensils I could use, sickles, and two scythes and a few skinning knives, these would do the trick. Her smell was still fresh, if they had taken her even in death I would find her, so I could avenge the horrid act they made me commit.

No, they did not force me to commit any act. I am not sure why I killed her, perhaps the blood lust had finally reached its peak and I wanted to taste her sweet blood just as I had kissed her hand when she had scraped it climbing a tree near the river.

“No!” A baritone whisper escaped my lips to echo through the village, no not a village a cemetery, a mass grave of my loved ones.

“Kill them all.” I growled to myself as I ran towards the woods holding the large scythe in my hands, I was trying to teach her how to use this properly before they had left for the city, if she would have stayed I wouldn’t have gone off to save anyone.

I dashed forward running through the woods, her scent would lead me to them. Even before the attack I could find her scent once asking my mother about this but she merely laughed her airy sweet laugh, always filled with the feelings that brought a sun shine even to my darkest days.

The trees seemed miniscule to my own anger, I felt myself towering for the first time seeing the rodents that lived in the forest straying away from me, straying away from the anger that I felt.

Another scent crossed my path as the rain began to taper off; the scent of the last creature I had seen in my world before it came crashing down. The scent of the large fiery haired beast, her stench reached my nostrils and I felt the blood lust grow, more than it ever had before.

I tore away from the azure green of the moss growing upon the trees and began to run towards the scent, other scents assaulted my nostrils just then, the scents of others, I did not smell them during the razing of the village. I wanted their blood more so now than ever, the images of the bodies, of my baby sister barely a child laying atop the bodies, these monsters must have saved her for last.

I threw myself into the clearing where they waited holding the scythe in my hand feeling the smooth wood as I tightened my grip my eyes burned with fury, the reflective sheen upon the blade reflected the black back to me. I smiled feeling my lips turn upwards parting to reveal my teeth, I was ready to kill them all, now they would all die by my hand.

Movement to my left I slashed with the scythe feeling it connect with meaty flesh and then bone I pulled hearing the yelp as I stared into the auburn fur. My fury peaked as I pulled the scythe with all of my forth my lips connecting with the fur covered throat of my prey. I clenched my jaw down and tore; once more I was bathed in blood now it was more of a need rather than to placate some long driven thirst, a need to quash the anger that threatened to tear free from my very flesh and bones.

Without thinking I kicked the body back slashing with the scythe as two more lunged at me. The first strike broke the blade into the throat of the second silver backed monstrosity that dared lung for me, the shattered blade connected with the throat of the second spraying blood across my bare chest.

I bounded forward for my second kill tearing at the throat once more feeling the coppery liquid splash against the back of my throat quick for the kill I pounced on the second snapping its head around so that it faced the moist earth roaring as I bit down into the throat, the thirst…no not a thirst a hunger, a hunger for more blood. For more death and destruction, none would be allowed to live after their complete exodus of my family.

I heard the howls coming all around from the large fiery beast that stood staring at me on its hind legs, its eyes burning with fury from the destruction of its family. I stood erect bathed in blood, I tore the hand scythes from the thongs breathing heavily. The thirst was not yet placated with the three murders I had committed.

“You murdered my family…” I took a step forward feeling the anger growing pulsing through my sight, there was nothing but red, a heartbeat not my own that grew louder and louder in my ears. “You murdered an innocent child!” The roar tore through every fiber of my being before escaping my lips as more began to converge, I heard the padded feet running through the forest, no doubt an army to protect their leader.

Lost in my rage I did not see or even sense the three that came at me from behind. The first set of jaws bit down on my left arm the second on my left leg and the third into my right wrist. I did not scream, no screaming would not help, I roared throwing my body backwards as hard as I could. I felt the body beneath my left leg go limp crushed by the power of my shoulder against the muzzle. The jaws unclenched, I smelled the blood, the honey smell reached my nostrils but I fought to refuse the gifts in which it would bring. I swung my left arm back into the tree hoping to unclench the jaw that grabbed onto my body but the wolf began to claw at my neck trying to rip at my throat.

I spun and bit down hard on the arm, my teeth tearing at the flesh flooding my mouth with warm blood as the veins ruptured the creature tried to pull away but I held onto the matted fur breast obdurate in draining the beast dry.

The howling came once more a high pitched screech of agony it reached my ears and I released my own jaws wrapping my newly freed left hand around the neck of the beast holding to my wrist throwing my body to the ground hard getting a grasp beneath the jaws I spun my arm and my body in opposite directions hearing the collarbone shatter, the neck fell limp with the final escape of a whimper from the beast.

I had lost my weapons in the fray staring at the four that stood between me and the one that had killed my Cherry, it had forced me to end her life it had made a monster and I was committed to killing that monster, it had made me a monster with an insatiable thirst for death and blood.

My breathing faltered as I stared at one of the four, the fur strawberry blonde, and its eyes blue as the newly broken stormy skies, a speck of light in the darkness. My head shook from side to side, my heart began to ache as I realized what I was about to do, there was no turning back now. These beasts giant wolves had killed her, had made her a monstrosity just like I had become.

I threw myself forward just as she did her jaws opened ready for the kill. I brought up my left arm guarding my face as she bit down. My fist connected with the stomach of the beast warranting a yelp as the jaw released I brought my right hand up and pulled down as hard as I could hearing a groan of agony from the remaining three as I threw the newly torn jaw bone aside. The beast lay on the ground hemorrhaging gasping for breath as its black tongue hung out, the blue eyes I had once fallen in love with stared up at me with pity and sorrow. I stomped down hard on the exposed throat spraying blood as I crushed the bones in the neck.

Darkness once more flooded my vision, I found myself unable to move as the remaining three began a death circle around me, I began to contemplate now what I had become, the blood lust, the strength, the willingness to end life all things I had been used to but not to this scale. I felt invincible now that they had scratched me, no not they, only one had committed the act and I would force that one to pay for turning my beloved into a monster just like me.

One jumped at me, I felt it before I saw it. I dropped to the ground throwing my left hand up grabbing at the throat my right hand reached around to the closed muzzle tearing to the left as I lifted myself up kicking from the ground throwing the now still corpse into the bloodied body of the strawberry blonde wolf; the moist earth willingly accepting my offer of more blood.

My breath bated as I looked to the other two who were circling me, they would kill me if I did not kill them. A strange feeling over took me, time itself seemed to slow as they continued to circle. I could see them moving much slower as they both prepared to pounce, my hands moved to the final weapons I held on my belt. The skinning knives I had taken from the untouched shed; they were my final line of defense other than my body.

The two lunged and I spun throwing the blades into their muzzles slashing across their eyes blinding them. I bounded for the first in midair grabbing the throat and biting down hard allowing the blood to wash down my throat, as I kicked the corpse into blood soaked earth sending myself into the air.

I inhaled the crisp twilight air, icy as it was it was my saving grace from the insanity. I landed as had the second wolf whining and yelping in agony. The final black wolf, I no longer felt the thirst, I merely felt the anger but blood lust was still evident, I wanted to kill I needed to kill.

Landing on the ground I knelt looking at the final fiery wolf that stared at me not bothering to move from the spot where it stood staring into my own black eyes with its deep set brown ones. “If you can hear me, you have until I spring to explain yourself.” My voice was breathless as I stared at the large wolf that began to walk towards the black wolf, in my crouched state this beast towered over me.

The creature brought one large paw down on the throat of the creature killing it, I could see all of this from every possible vantage my breathing picking up pace, it would have frightened a lesser man, no not man no longer a man a monster, when I was a man this ability had given me a keen sense to hunt.

I stared at it as it turned around to look at me baring its blood stained teeth as I did the same. This battle would be one that would end my life and I would happily allow it, I had lost everything I had ever known unable to know my biological parents I was met with open arms by Thomas and Rebecca.

The creature lunged forward and I sprung, my powerful legs allowing me to collide with the beast. Its teeth dug down hard into my shoulder and I roared biting down on its neck, the sweet blood splashed against the back of my throat once more, this blood so much sweeter than any blood I had tasted thus far.

It was a honey scent, with an earthy taste as well, it was the finest of ales I had tasted, the coppery taste of the others could not compare to this blood, the blood that sustained the thirst. This bouquet had given me a new strength as I tore myself away throwing the creature into a tree hearing the yelp.

I bounded once more; the pain in my shoulder seemed miniscule as were all of the other pains. I stopped just short crouching ready to jump at the beast once more once it moved. I was careful I felt the heart beginning to stop but I threw the beast before I could kill it. I wanted its pain to never end, but another side of me a more feral side a beast that survived within me wanted this beast to die now so I could taste the flavor of blood once more.

The creature threw itself at me this time its jaw set its front paws aimed at me. I watched as it soared through the air, taking a deep breath time once more seemed to slow as it soared towards me my own eyes unblinking.

I threw myself into the underbelly of the creature grabbing at the matted fur throwing it to the ground as I landed atop it biting down and tearing hearing the low moan, I knew that moan, the all too familiar disappointing moan. I tore myself away as the moon began to shine overhead once more, the bloodied and misshapen bodies all began to take another form, the form of humans.

I turned away breathing heavily covered in blood I would head for
the river. My clothes would still be there I was sure. My head was swimming as I walked my eyes unfocused, the blood lust had left me, and my strength was still here, the gait in which I walked seemed all but slow from a time before the fire. Many times I had been asked to slow down.

“No!” I growled at myself no longer did my voice seem a stranger to my ears as I walked tearing the pants from my body, the threads stretched against my skin as I walked but the threading gave way with the tell tale signs of wear and tearing. “She wasn’t Cherry!” I growled once more jumping into the raging river, downstream I would swim until I needed to breathe. My beloved was dead, my family dead, my village demolished by that beast.

I swam until my muscles ached, my lungs felt like they were lead, my head was swimming I breached the water breathing heavily as I swam toward shore, I was no longer in the river, time did not seem to matter now. Only one thing mattered, a sweet scent that the new winds brought me, the smell of a fresh meal, in the distance upon a hill sat a small cottage near the edge of a cliff, smoke towered through the cooking stove.

I began my trek my clothes soaked, and torn from the swim, my wounds seemed barely visible but for scars now. I stumbled in a half step, stopping as I knelt down gripping my left side my breath captured in my
throat, another wave of pain overtook my body as I collapsed.

The darkness washed over me once more, the darkness that I had felt during the fire, the pain burning through every inch of my being. I wanted to scream now, but all that came out was a low growl as the pain grew. My body became paralyzed with it, the fire tore through me once more, now worse than before, my lungs felt as if they had turned to ash, my heart felt as if it were struggling with each beat, the sound of the water reached my ears, the sweet sound of the water. If I could just move to reach it the flames would stop, the rain had stopped by the pain before but it was too clear. I had swum too far, it was night when I began my trek and now it was day once more.

The pain tore at me, every fiber of each muscle and piece of skin felt as if it were melting away. The iron and ashy taste filled my mouth once more, I forced my eyes open to see only black, time slowed for me once more and I was trapped inside of this hell until whatever force it was that held me decided to release me, I knew there was no reason to pray to god, god would have allowed me a merciful death.

The pain ended but I was no longer in the warm field, I was inside a wool blanket covered me a kind voice spoke to me. “You’ll be okay…” her kind words began to fall upon deaf ears as she ran a cloth over my forehead; my breathing became unsteady as I caught the sweet scent once more.

“Where is your husband?” My voice intentionally broken, I could not allow her to hear my boastful baritone just yet, I no longer felt the pain from the fire, but I did feel the hunger, the thirst I could hear her heart beating as she placed her forearm against my head.

“He is serving his lordship.” She spoke curtly a smile crossed my lips as I closed my eyes taking in her sweet scent once more.

“A soldier,” I spoke more a fact than question she nodded curtly once more as she wrung another cold towel over my head.

“He should be on his way home now actually, he just went to seek the disturbance at the village just south of here.” She spoke her voice falling and my eyes shot open, my breathing became labored as I clenched my jaw shut. The words of my old home had begun to drive me to the brink of insanity now, it had been at least a day and the hunger was growing once more.

She left my bedside to move to her stove, she began to add more small pieces of wood and flawlessly I moved behind her a smile crossing my lips a I looked into the mirrored surface above the cooking stove my eyes black as the nighttime sky, my pallid skin held a ghostly hue as I lightly caressed her strawberry blonde hair. She smiled a courteous smile her blue eyes reflecting it back in the shining surface. My left hand lightly caressed her throat and she smiled I could see in her eyes her husband
had not shown much affection to her in the past month.

“Did the messenger inform you of what happened?” My voice a strong whisper to her supple ear, her fair skin and scent brought Cherry back to me, but not as she was when she lived, how she was after she died. I would not allow anyone to have her scent and live, it was a disgrace to her memory.

She shook her head and my smile broadened as I moved my left hand to her stomach lightly pulling her back into me, a slight gasp escaped her lips and I bit down hard on her neck breaking her neck before she could scream. She felt only the slightest pain.