Chapter 2

Chapter 2

I’m up three hours before we’re supposed to meet at the bus. I double check all of my equipment. New gloves broken in so my fingers slide easily into the brass knuckles I favor. I’ve cleaned them for the occasion. Before today that had been gathering dust in my closet for almost a year. I suit up in my protective gear. Guns are generally forbidden unless special permission has been granted. Still I favor the weapon no matter how brutish the eremites may consider them. I keep them hidden unless I really need them, but the twin pistols are here tucked neatly in their holsters. More weapons they consider brutish, grenades and the like. Above that I throw on my bright red robes.

I never understood why they chose tow wear bright red robes, almost neon. It draws the attention of whatever we are hunting. It doesn’t matter if we’re after vampires or werewolves. We stand out like sore thumbs. I much prefer black, as I can blend in better. But, it isn’t my call today, so I wear the robe. I sure I’m probably a bit rusty, but I didn’t have time to get back into fighting shape. They may be hoping that I slip up, but I won’t. I’ll rely on my training. Nothing flashy and everything will work out fine. I won’t be briefed on the mission until we get on the bus, but I’m sure they wouldn’t throw me back in with anything to wild. I have a cup of yogurt and an apple, something small before the mission. Leaving my apartment, I make my way through the monastery and towards the bus.

I pass Mother Dalia’s office and peak in. She hasn’t arrived yet which is odd of her. She always told me it was best to be early not late. Still, I may have done a number on her yesterday. I’ll be sure to apologize next time I see her. Still, this early in the day, the monastery is quiet. You almost forget how much goes on around here every day.

It’s like a small city inside. A school, medical facilities, apartment complexes for families and individuals. I used to wonder how people could spend their entire lives here. That’s why I would sneak out so much growing up. Now that I’m over eighteen I can just fill out a pass to take leave for the city nearby, but with my record they get rejected all the time.

I’m the first one to the bus, so I knock on the door for the driver to open.

“Really? They’re going to let your loose on the world, again,” the driver laughs as he opens the door.

I don’t respond, I’m not looking for trouble today. I take my seat somewhere in the middle and wait for more to arrive. Slowly the bus fills. Father Elser makes his way onto the bus last. I suppose he will be leading today’s hunting. He gives the driver instructions and we begin to drive away. Once we’ve been in motion for nearly half an hour Elser stands to give us the briefing of what we’ll be doing today.

“I see a lot of fresh faces here today, and an old face returning as well,” he pauses his monologue to lock eyes with me. I nod back showing there’s not much more that needs to be said. He continues, “Usually we don’t bring this many new people to a mission. But, this is a search and rescue mission. There has been a string of abductions in the area lately. Can anyone tell me which nuisances abduct people? “

“Vampires, Changelings and Hobgoblins although their abductions are for less nefarious reasons,” a young blonde boy answers with a smile. Trying to earn brownie points with Elser, anyone could have answered that question.

“Yes, that is correct. However, these abductions have all been linked to a forest that Werewolves use as a hunting ground. The Rimbury Woods are named after the family who originally owned the land. It became a hunting ground for Werewolves as several of their family had been turned. That is where we will be heading today. Our goal is simply search and rescue. We’re going to arrive during midday. While it is not strange for Werewolves to be active during the day, many prefer the night. Still, remain on guard. Any questions,” Elser concludes.

“What if we encounter a Werewolf,” a mousy red-haired girl asks. The shaky voice lets me know this is her first time out.

“If you encounter a Werewolf, you are to fire off your flair and avoid engaging at any cost. The rest of us will arrive and exterminate the beast,” Elser says with a smile.

I never got the exterminate first, ask questions later, style that Elser favors. I’ve met creatures of all kinds that are friendly, many are enrolled here at Sparington. Sometimes talking can work just as well as fighting. That’s one of the things I learned here. Still, I bite my tongue, wanting to avoid any trouble today.

The rest of the ride is uneventful. We slowly file out of the bus and await our orders. We’re ordered to pair up and I’m left unselected. I hadn’t noticed we had an odd number of people before.

“Oh, Isaias, it looks like you’re the odd man out. No worries, you’ve got more experience than most of today’s group put together. You’ll be fine,” Elser says with a smile before wandering off.

Many of the new recruits enter the forest by taking to the trees. I never had much affinity for magic. Some of the basics, I understand. I can’t do the more advance things like casting spells or firing off blasts. I certainly can’t transmute objects. Still, I can walk up walls and trees like the rest of them; I’m great at using magic to mask my tracks. That’s almost second nature for me at this point, masking my scent, making my steps silent and keeping a bubble of silence around me. I do that even when I’m not on a mission these days. I slip on my gloves then head in on foot.


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