Chapter 3

Chapter 3

I make my way through the brush on the ground level as people dart above me using the tree limbs. Some swinging and having fun along the way. That’s probably the worst way to search for living beings. If what you’re looking for is dead, then sure, go for it. You’ll get a great view of everything down below you from something beyond eye level. But, any living creature, human, Vampire, Werewolf or whatever will hear you and flee before you know it. I get the feeling we aren’t really here to solve anything. This is more of a chance for the new graduates to run wild, let off some steam and enjoy their first real mission.

Still, I’m interested in solving this case, because there is a case here. I read the news reports about the missing people in the area a few weeks ago. I didn’t know they had been attributed to werewolves. Most people wouldn’t know werewolves existed, but word hadn’t even been spread within our community. The thing is, I don’t think it’s Werewolves kidnapping people. This doesn’t seem like their kind of thing at all. What would a Werewolf even do with a hostage? Werewolves aren’t shy about attacking people. Any time they attack a person, they just leave them there. Why would they ever start hiding the bodies or taking people somewhere else. There’s more going on here.

“Wouldn’t you like to get a better view from the sky,” Elser calls down to me from a tree. Next to him stands the blonde boy from the bus. I guess he’s teacher’s pet.

“No, I’d rather be down here, someone has to check for tracks,” I respond.

“Suit yourself, don’t work too hard,” something about Elser has always seemed sinister to me.

“I’ll make sure to conserve energy,” I say with a sarcastic thumbs up before continuing on.

Elser just wants the new kids to tire themselves out. He has no concern for the mission. If he did, he would be giving them instruction about signs to look for down here on the ground. Instead, he’s just jumping from tree to tree alongside them. Probably trying to live some old part of his life again. For as ruthless as he can be with non-human creatures, the man isn’t taking this seriously.

I come across my first sign of Werewolves having been in the area. Claw markings on a cluster of trees. That means one has claimed this area for himself. I must be about five miles from the entrance of the forest. Makes sense that they wouldn’t want to be right at the entrance. The land around here looks to be flattened. Someone has been sleeping around here for sure. A few traces of fur shedding and the carcass of some small animals. Typically, Werewolves hunt bigger game than rabbits and squirrels. Small game is just something that you don’t see very often; usually, they go after as big a creature as they can, something about the honor associated with it all. At least a wild one anyway. But these are werewolf markings and this is a werewolf rest spot.

I don’t have any doubt that Werewolves did use this place as a hunting ground before, but there can’t be many left. I’ve only seen signs of one, and it probably wasn’t in great health if it was hunting rabbits. There were no signs of it having a pack either. Just one wolf hunting small game. Could it be someone who was only recently turned?

I make it a little deeper into the forest and there are more claw marks. However, these are all older. These aren’t as deep and moss has started to grow over some. The bones from the animal skeletons here are bigger, but actually starting to break down due to time. Leaves have started to cover any signs that there was a nest here. These places haven’t been used in months. It kind of seems like the Werewolves were forced further and further out until they just left the area. I wasn’t sure Werewolves were behind the abductions at first. But, now, I’m certain they didn’t have anything to do with it. The only question is who is behind it? I’m guessing my answer is still deeper into the forest.

Eventually, I make my way to a large clearing. An abandoned barn sits in the middle of an overgrown field that probably grew some kind of crops a long time ago. The scent of blood is in the air around here. That means it is either recent, or there’s a lot of it. The barn is old for sure, but it looks like there’s been a lot of damage done to it. Damage from a fight. Peeling paint, claw marks and broken boards decorate the outside of the barn. There was more than two people fighting here, but it seems like most were ganging up on a single target.

The door isn’t locked so I make my way inside and grab the flashlight from my belt beneath my robes. The inside smells more like blood than the outside. I flash the light around and there’s blood stains everywhere. I’m not sure this is done by a Werewolf, as there’s no bodies left around. I flash the light a little more and catch a glimpse of something behind a bale of hay. A brown paw, belonging to a werewolf. It isn’t moving at all, so I make my way over. It’s a dead wolf. It looks like he was killed halfway through a transformation. The lower body is all Werewolf, thick brown fur, clawed paws and muscular calves. But everything from the waist up is still human. I didn’t even know you could kill a Werewolf during a transformation. I don’t see a cause of death from the back, so I flip the body over. The abdomen has been ripped completely open. Organs hang out, almost as if someone took time with this and played around. Other wounds are visible, small individual cuts around the arms and face. This wasn’t another Werewolf that killed the victim. Werewolves don’t play around when they kill.

My guess is Vampires, and a lot of them. Some of them tend to play around with their victims. Different types of vampires, different personalities. They’re a mixed bag. It also wouldn’t be strange for them to be behind the kidnappings. I make another lap of the barn, searching for hidden entrances or anything else that could lead me to where the victims would be, but nothing. In a pile of hay I find a broken fang that confirms my hunch that this was Vampires for sure.

I make my way out of the barn and fire off a flair. This is the hot zone, it would make sense if we all regrouped here and came up with a new plan based on the information that we have here. Slowly people start to arrive. The new kids look confused and afraid, expecting a fight.

Elser makes his way over to me and before he can ask why I called everyone here, I pull him into the barn alone.

“Werewolves aren’t behind this,” I say.

“What makes you so confident in that,” Elser asks

“That,” I say pointing at the corpse.

“Well, that’s a sight to see,” he moves in for a closer look. “You certainly might be right this time. Good discovery,” he responds staring at the half-transformed werewolf with his abdomen ripped open.

Despite the obvious signs of death Elser still checks for a pulse. He uses magic to create his own light and quickly goes over the body. I believe was a field medic at some point, this is probably him doing his due diligence.

“Any signs of other werewolves?”

“Nothing recent. Other tracks have been covered by time. I did find a fang,” I toss it to hm.

He rubs his hands over it and thinks for a moment. “You know, if you could only follow direction and accept criticism, you would be exceptional, perhaps extraordinary. Instead, you choose to rush into every problem head on without thinking as if you were a common Orc. Either way, good job.”

Even his compliments sound like insults. He’s like this with everyone, but has always seemed to have a special place in that dark heart of his, all for me.


Post a Comment