5: Frozen Trails
There I stand on a pile of too familiar bodies, dead, shredded corpses of the people that are dearest to me. Blood everywhere and mine, running coldly inside my being. Fear strikes me harder than a hammer on an anvil; it paralyses me and seizes me into a perpetual state of hysteria. Everything is black except this blood trail leading straight up to what seems to be a person, their back is facing me seemingly shrouded in mist. I leap off the bodies and follow the blood. My nerves are shot with unmistakable horror. When I get to the end of the trail where this unknown person stands, I hesitate and dare myself to reach out. I don’t have any weapons and that causes me to shudder. Reluctantly I tap on the man’s shoulder, when he turns around it’s none other than Frank!
Drums begin to go off loudly and I am suddenly tied down, dropping to my knees by some unknown force I hit the shadowy ground. I am forced to look up at Frank as he holds a wooden cup over my head, he tilts is and it pours blood over me. I begin to strain and move against the bindings, and panic takes hold of me fiercely as he taunts me with his ominous presence.
He smiles and the smile grows wider and eerily stretching until his face began to elongate, his eyes flickering into that unmistakable yellow with black slits. He turns into a werewolf before my sights. He leaps at me, mouth agape and ready to tear me into pieces.
I dare myself to look into his death-consuming stare as I felt my immanent death approaching me.
My eyes snap open and I am jolted out of that intense nightmare. My body sweating and vibrating, I am greeted by the excruciatingly hot touch of a knife to my chest.
I throw my head back and cry, “Ahhh! Fuck!”
“Stop fuckin’ moving! I need you still!”
I whip backwards and spiral away out of the touch and voice that had just haunted my subconscious. I bump the back of my head on a wall and it stops me momentarily through my blurry, disoriented and panicked state. I start to collect my breath in short, heavy pants. My panic still volleyed in immense shock, and the pain of that burn against my chest now began to throb in my being.
I squint, blinking rapidly until the tears cease. I begin to see more clearly. My breathing calms but my mind is bursting with trepidation as I realize, I am in the wolves den so-to-speak. I am stuck in Frank’s cabin, and I need to find a way out but damn it all, I owed him my life as I had foolishly got in Frank’s way. I shouldn’t have stopped that arrow I wouldn’t be stuck here right now. Why did I care what would happen to Frank? Why should I? It left me baffled, reduced to a manner of ambiguity.
“Calm yourself, I’m not going to hurt you… I need to close the wound.”
I halt, allowing my breathing to finally get steady. My heart beating and racing rapidly against my chest, and insurmountable pain consumes my senses for minutes but it felt like eons. Then, just as sudden as my panic had occurred it settles and calms, was it because of his gentle tone? No, that is ridiculous.
I gaze around and realize I am on the second floor in the cabin, where Frank sleeps. I gaze up, seeing weaved strings of familiar animal pelts. I blink and flicker my sights to Frank, he’s in looser brown pants, a white loose shirt that was barely able to stay on his shoulders. There, it revealed a glimpse of light scars on his chest. Only for a second I saw these scars as he approached me cautiously like I was a scared, wild animal.
“I’m not going to hurt you…” he repeats quietly, I am in the corner as he crawled across the bed to me, “I just need to seal that arrow wound or you’ll bleed to death…”
I shake my head, anxiously trying to find my voice, the lit candles being the only source of light as my eyes darted across the cabin. It must still be nightfall, had I fainted? So much has happened in the last day that my mind was boggled with information.
Frank gingerly touches my shoulder as he gets within arms-length of me. Our proximity close as he continued to exam me with attentive eyes. I gape at him, wide-eyed and uncertain of how to react. My body was in too much pain and now I began to feel the wound on my back pulsate. In the warm candle light, Frank moves my left shoulder forward indicating to me that I had to move and expose my back to him. He still had the knife in his other hand, his touch is gentle, this being odd to me as I comply with him and turn around.
He passes his hand across my back soothingly I allow a quiet moan to purse through my lips. A small warm press just above the wound on my back is placed, if I didn’t know any better I’d swear it was his lips. What a foolish thing to believe as the sentiment is replaced by that familiar hot touch of metal to my skin. I seethe in pain, a yelp escapes me and I qualm at the situation.
I can’t summon myself to look at him as the embellishing pain slows and I am blanketed by exhaustion, falling into a slumber that my body was in most need for.
I grumble marching through the forest in the harsh winter morning, snow slapping my face with cold nips, my breath pronounced in the chilling air. The crunch of snow and broken branches fills my ears, along with my own cursing. I am so angry, Frank forced me to do this ridiculous task, which, I have a feeling he is following behind me and is probably amused by my annoyance.
I seethe out in aggravation, “You’re probably laughing right now! Ha-ha at me for going on this wild-goose chase while you mock me up in those trees!”
No answer. Damn you, Frank. He sent me out on this foolish chase; I am to meet some man that has what Frank considers ‘valuable information’. I only agreed to venture because I owed him my life, and he mentioned that the man might have information directly leading to the real werewolf’s identity and hiding. Our meeting point, as Frank put it is in some tavern inside Ark Lion.
I have heard of this place many times while living in Lunar Blue, we traded there often as they lived only a days’ walk. It would take me half the time as I stare at the Jackalope hopping five feet ahead of me. The Jackalope, Frank decided would be my guide. Apparently, Jackalope’s are good at finding short-cuts through this kind of terrain.
I sigh, re-checking my bag and making sure I had my machete close. Frank wouldn’t dare trust me alone to a place that is considerably close to my village… but why would I run back there? Maybe for Michael’s sake I would… Michael… I shake my head I can’t dwell on my brother’s memory long. Now, I am stuck with this guy— Frank— a werewolf. I chuckle aloud to myself, even in my head this sounds ridiculous!
I shiver, and to think that nightmare could have been a reality… I quickly rub my neck upon the memory— yes; he had me close to a fate I have tried so profusely to avoid. He took pity on me. That was the reality between him and I. Somehow, a part of me didn’t think and whisked myself to stop an arrow from harming Frank. I guess he pitied me and my wounds enough to allow me to stay alive and do his petty errands.
Shit, I’m his errand boy. I scowl and begin to rub the too-tender wound on my chest.
I arrive at a large, open path where two large wooden lion statues facing the polar opposite side of the heavy iron, wood gates sit. I gape at the sights; the Jackalope hops away and takes its refugee back in the forest. The lions’ shadow consuming me as the sun began to set behind them making me shudder briefly. I see a post where a man with a crossbow situates himself, pointing directly at me.
“State your business.”
“Visiting and trading,”
“How long are you wishing to stay?”
I nod and approach the gates as it begins to open. A scruffy man comes down and snatches my money. I nod and continue making my way in. The place looks similar to Lunar Blue, but with more colour and loads of more people. A lot less dreary with stores on either sides of me, cabins circling the large fire pit that is burning. I look around for the tavern in the village, I see on my right as I venture further up a sigh with Jewel written on it. A well intoxicated man stumbles out and falls over, I shake my head. Yep. This was the place that was certain now.
I get in and to my surprize it is quite full, whores seducing men while they indulged in drinking. Everyone is loud and cheery, relishing their hard-earned money on booze and woman with good company to boot. I look around, Frank told me the man would have a scar across his left eye and he wouldn’t be hard to miss. With so many people, I wanted to kick Frank’s ass. There are loads of people with scars, what makes him so certain I would find this guy?
I take a seat next to the bartenders table, sighing once comfortable. All this walking, all this wild-goose chase bullshit for nothing! I might just join in on the drinking everyone is literally throwing around their happiness like it was gold. This brought me back to Lunar Blue and those memories burn and obscures my thoughts, bubbling deep in my subconscious causing unwanted feelings to arise in seconds. I needed to put my old home on the backburner before I’d most certainly lose my own head.
“Yer’ not from ‘round here are ya?”
I gaze up and it’s the bartender, I notice his scar that is across his eye. I stiffen; this is the guy— shit. I look around, and once re-evaluating the place there are two suspicious looking guys two tables away from me that aren’t one bit merry or drunk.
The bartender fidgets; he’s uncomfortable as those suspicious guys glare at the both of us. Shit… I begin to analyze the room to where the backdoor is. The backdoor is luckily open and just to my right maybe four tables over.
“and Yer’ name ain’t happen to be Frank by any chance is it?”
I can’t give it away, this is an ambush.
“No... No… Waiting on a friend,” I shrug and get up.
“Sure your friends name isn’t Frank?”
I look over my shoulder again, they stood up… Shit— I make my exit and run for it. Instantaneously grabbing my machete and clutching it close to my chest. I leap off the tables, knocking cups, cash, card, and anything in my way as I bolted to the exit. I can hear the shouting pissed-off crowds behind me they aren’t far behind, those goons.
They must be working for that damn beast! I get out and turn around, machete tightly gripped in my hand. The guys stumble out and both grin at me, they look no different than the scummy thieves I had encountered hunting.
“Lookie, lookie. It’s blue eyes. You are the first to ever get away from us, y’know? Where’s your partner in crime?”
“Why would you care?”
“Seems boss wants him and sent us. While we’re at it, we’ll bring you back too. Boss would love that.”
“He’d have a good chuckle, see, he’s looking all over for you. But we can’t seem to track your scent… You’re the one offering boss can’t seem to refuse on letting go…”
The beast is after me? He wants Frank? Why? So many questions sprung in my head, rooting deep into my consciousness. Before I can rebuttal them a sickeningly familiar call screeches across Ark Lion.
These screeches and calls starts to become louder and drums go off in the night air. The torches that lit the village are out and everyone begins to panic and scream. I hold my machete close and prepare for the worst. It’s dark, I can’t see a thing. Then, muskets go off and I see from the sparks flashes and glimpses of what is going on. It’s the Redskins! They’re raiding and pillaging!
I attempt to find a way to the closest shelter when I nearly trip, finding a torch and begin sparking a source of light. As I finally get the torch lit I am faced with being surrounded by Redskins. The very same ones that I had encountered a few days ago in the forest, when I attempt to use my machete something blunt hits the back of my head and I am sent volleyed forward into a black nothingness.