The Werewolf. Fall 21 SC
“Are you sure that there is actually a werewolf out in the villages? Sounds like horse shit to me. Haven’t been one of them around since I was a lad, and even then they was just stories to keep us from going too far out into the woods when we were playin.”
“They are real Henrick, and the numbers are on the rise since about a decade ago after the Week of Darkness. All monster sightings are on the rise, the plains to the north are a hellscape at night, and we are lucky to have not been sent out on rotation there.”
“But Captin’, do we really need a full squad to deal with this one beastie? It can’t be too difficult if they are just sendin us in, an not the Strikers.”
“Then you would be a fool. Did none of you look anything up about weres like I told you to?” At this, the rest of the squad are shaking their heads. “Well, then we will be lucky if more than half of you make it back home. They have the strength of ten men, claws as sharp as dwarven steel, and its a myth that they are only transformed on the full moon. Lycanthropy is a disease, and once it sits in you for a month, you turn and kill your whole family, and then your village, and then a good half the men that are rallied to kill you.”
“How should we deal with this thing then captain? You make it sound like there is nothing that we can do to not die.”
“You have to try your damnedest. James, know that your family is waiting for you, and if you fail and get bit or die, then I will have to tell them and you will never see them again.”
“I should just stop asking questions shouldn’t I sir?”
“Yes, yes you should James. We will be at the village in about half and an hour, be on guard.”
As the squad of ten men road into the newly deserted village, they could see that one of the buildings had burned to the ground. Then they took a deeper look. The houses were painted red with the blood of the villagers. Pieces no larger than a few fists, man woman and child alike. No longer discernable. There were some that still remained whole, likely because of how far up into the trees they had been thrown before being impaled by their branches and dying bloodloss as they watched their village be destroyed.
One of the soldiers was stepping down off his horse, and he stepped right onto the face of a small child, the head all that was left of them in sight. He slipped, and landed on more severed parts, before crawling towards some bushes and losing everything that he had eaten in the last day. His armor and uniform already stained deeply with crimson, bits of gore clung to him, marking him.
“Be vigilant men, the beast is about!” The captain wasn’t looking too good himself, having gone pale at realizing what he had ridden into. “We need to dismount and move together. Watch your step as you do, lest you end up like Terk. Untie the sacrificial lamb, but don’t bleed it just yet. We need to get into position before we can begin. If the damned thing hasn’t already heard us…” The last part came out as nothing more than a mutter, but the men of the squad did as they were told.
Terk was steadied, and the lamb was brought into the center of the village, where after the rest of the squad had readied their spears, the lamb had its throat split, painting the ground in its lifeblood. It wasn’t long before a howl was heard coming from the forest to the north. They could all hear the rending and tearing as something impossibly strong ripped through everything between it and the fresh blood. The beast burst forth from the treeline, and everyone got a good look at it. Eight feet tall, a dark coat matted in blood, stuck throughout with pieces of flesh. Claws half a foot long, and still razor-sharp, still dripping with wet crimson.
The beast seeing some of the poorly concealed soldiers stopped, before letting out another gut-wrenching howl, making Terk piss his pants. A few others not far from that point themselves. It rushed forward, knocking aside the debris from its earlier rampage before smashing right into one of the squad members, and rending his flesh. One arm sheared straight off, right through chainmail and gambeson as if it wasn’t even there. The soldier didn’t die without a fight, managing to gouge a cut through its face and into its left eye, its snout pulled back in a harsh growl before its maw opened wide enough to put the whole of the soldier’s head in its mouth, before popping it like a ripe melon.
The rest of the squad were not idle, two were throwing up onto the ground where they had been standing, but the other seven were rushing its back, barely piercing through the thick hide with their spears. The captain advanced further, knowing to expect a great amount of resistance. Releasing his spear, he draws his shortsword before ramming it near to the hilt in the back of the beast. He then pulled back as quick as he could manage, running for his horse to grab his crossbow. Some of the rest of the squad had managed to pull out their spears and were waiting for the beast to advance. Others drew their shortswords.
James was, unfortunately, the next target of the beast. It rushed through the loose line of spears, batting them aside as its hands larger than horses’ head wrapped themselves around James’ torso. Then the beast started squeezing as hard as it could before James’ eyes popped out of their sockets, and he threw up a large amount of blood all over the hand of the creature. Most of his organs fell out through the lacerations the claws made all over his body. He was then used as a projectile, aimed and thrown roughly in the direction of one of his other comrades. The beast was slowing though, the sword the captain had driven in doing its damage internally as it moved about.
The rest of the soldiers then rushed, those that had been sick prior had been filled with the righteous fury of losing another friend. The managed to almost all pierce deeper this time, expecting the resistance. Two of the braver soldiers even managed to drive in their shortswords almost as deep as the captain had into different parts of the beast. It was definitely slowing now, but not before it had caught one of the two brave souls with its claws, stripping flesh and tearing through steel, sending him flying back before crashing through the barely standing walls of one of the homes. The captain had managed to retrieve his crossbow, specially designed for weres, 200 pound draw with a bolt as big around as the captains armoured forearms. The rest of the men prepared for a final push as the captain rushed back to where he could get a reliable shot.
The were was not going down without a fight, however, and half lunged half fell towards Hendrick, but it had missed, fortunately for him. The rest of the squad rushed forward, pinning the beast through with their spears, as it struggled viscously to rise. The captain had managed to get close enough to line up a shot the its head, and pulled the trigger. The bolt launched forward, skewering it through the back of the skull, flecks of brain, skull, and blood flew outward from where it had landed. The fight was mercifully over.
After all the men had collapsed to the ground from the great exertion that fight had been, a grim chuckle emanated from the captain. “Well, more of us survived than I would have suspected would. Only three men killed of the five I had predicted. We will need to burn the corpse and the rest of this village to the ground before we leave, else the disease will spread.” The captain was then seen walking towards the building where the soldier had flown through the wall, and a muffled conversation could be heard from within.
“Know that your family will recieve a full pension, your children will be able to attend any school within the realm. But you cannot be returned. I am sorry, but you were cut and will turn in a month if you survive these wounds. Goodbye.”
“Thank you captain. I understand…” The last rasp rang through the village crystal clear as the captain returned outside while wiping down his belt knife with a cloth.
“Lycanthropy has no cure. You will all be inspected before you can return to duty, as will I. I granted him a quick death, but if you are found to have received a wound and abandon your duty, know that it is not you that will suffer the consequences, but those that you love, as you will have lost your mind in the transformation. Now gather as much tinder as you can, and don’t touch the corpses, for all here will get the pyre, and not burial.”
The men looked weary, but they recognized the truth in the captain’s words. Though still exhausted from the battle, they hauled each other up, and set to work, lest this setting have to be repeated, but in their own homes.