Chapter 4

Chapter 4

“Everyone come in, a discovery has been made that alters the entire mission,” Elser ushers everyone into the barn as if he’s putting on a show.

The more experienced of the bunch look, nod and move out of the way. They act as if they’ve seen it all and done it all before. Almost as if it doesn’t bother them to look at the way this Werewolf was killed, despite the fact that it is twisted amidst transformation. The newer kids are the opposite. Some stare in disbelief, others uncertainty of what they’re looking at. A few of them leave the barn to vomit. They won’t be doing this kind of work long. The monastery always needs cooks, builders, merchants, artists and all other forms of careers.

“Okay, now can anyone tell me what we have here,” Elser starts sensing a teaching moment.

“A dead dog,” a young redheaded boy jokes. Several laugh.

“Do not disrespect the dead child. In life they may be enemies, but in death they only seek eternal peace, no different than you or I. When” Elser always killed first, but he always had an odd respect, if not fascination for the dead.

“It is a werewolf, the boy answers again with his head down this time.”

“Correct, now, can anyone tell me the cause of death? Step closer if you need to,” Elser steps aside ushering anyone to look closer.

“A wound to the abdomen,” a girl with thick glasses from the back says averting her gaze.

“Good, now what kind of creatures attack the abdomen,” he continues his impromptu lecture.

“Werewolves,” a girl shouts her answer.

“Yes, but werewolves do not kill other werewolves unless there is a dispute between tribes. Nor would they kill another before transforming fully.”

“Vampires,” the blonde boy from the bus smiles smugly.

“Yes, but what kind of vampire? There are six types so be specific; it could mean life or death for you one day,” Elser wipes the smug grin from his face.

None of the students answer. They all look to one another for the answer or stare off into space. Elser walks back in forth losing his patience. Even if they are new in the field, they should know this already. This is basic knowledge for students after finishing their primary schooling.

“Isaias, tell the class what kind of vampire did this,” Elser demands putting me on the spot.

“Most likely from the Strigoi breed of vampire, judging by attacks on the abdomen and the multitude of wounds,” I answer with ease.

“Excellent, tell me how the Strigoi come to be, their behavior and hunting habits,” he shoots back.

“No one is for sure how they come back, but in the realm of vampires they are the only ones truly undead. No pulse, internal organs are of no use. The one exception being the heart. There are no bodily fluids of their own, no saliva when they bite you, the blood when you cut them, is not their own; it is the blood of their victims which flows through their veins,” I go into detail, driving home the danger of the situation. “Many speculate that they are those who had vengeful, jealous, lustful, suicidal or homicidal deaths. It doesn’t matter which one, or how, the fact is that they literally awaken from death and claw their way to the surface. They’re ruthless. They don’t drink the blood of a living victim, they tear them apart, and drink blood from the corpse. They are not solitary hunters and rove in packs up to twenty at a time. It isn’t unheard of to hear of hundreds of them in an abandoned building or sewer. They are the ugly fuckers that go bump in the night and if you don’t hear them bump first, you’re already dead. That cover it Elser,” I ask turning to him. We’ve never liked each other, but we mutual respect for each other.

“That’s why I called on you, perfect description,” he says with a smile as the group looks on in fear. “Don’t worry they’re easy to kill. Stick to your basics. Stab them in the heart, decapitation, blessed weapons. Watch for the claws and fangs, they can’t turn you, but they can kill you,” Elser says with a smile leading the group out of the barn.

It’s getting dark but we’ve finally found some kind of clue. Like clockwork Elser starts talking about the importance of knowing when to back down. He plans to return us all to the bus tonight and call in an expert team tomorrow. But that’s a terrible idea, we can find them and surprise them tonight. They’ve cleared out the werewolves that were here. They probably don’t expect anyone.

“We could surprise them tonight. There probably isn’t a large amount of them if they’re keeping hostages and haven’t been spotted,” I speak up.

“After your perfect lesson on the Strigoi in the barn, it is surprising that you would say something so ignorant,” Elser says without missing a step. A few of the kids that were terrified moments ago giggle.

“How about you send the new kids to the bus, and we take a small team to comb the forest? They don’t expect us, Strigoi aren’t organized and when vampires have hostages, there’s only so long they’ll last. We need to hit them hard and fast if we want to get any survivors,” I stand my ground.

“Just go to the bus,” Elser says leading the others away from the barn.

“Are you serious? We’re just going to call it quits for the day?”

“Isaias, you are good. One of the best students to ever rise through the ranks here. Without a doubt you are the best one in the last decade. You fight well, you’ve mastered weapons both conventional and unconventional. You have great situational analyses skills. The reason you will never reach one of our elite squads, reach the rank of abbot or even that of a prior is because you don’t think with your head. You put too much emphasis on emotion and that causes you to be sloppy and unpredictable. You are concerned about a few hypothetical hostages when you have fifty live students here. If there is no one there, you have placed all our lives at risk. Worry about those in front of you, not those who may not exist. When you finally know calm, then you will be able to make the correct choices without letting emotion over take you.” He speaks calmly now, “It is not wise to question a superior, a field leader when you are just returning from probation. You know your role, and it would be best if you played it well,” Elser raises his voice at me.

I think about my promise to Mother Dalia and I don’t retort. I fall in line and follow the group back towards the bus. I can almost see the smile through the back of Elser’s head. We’re going to doom these people to death. All because he wants to show that he’s in control here.

A scream pierces through the forest from the direction of the barn. We all turn in unison and stare off as if we can see where the scream had come from.

“Remain calm, and continue towards the bus. I know you may want to react, but you have your orders. It would do you wise to follow them or else it could lead to unintended consequences,” that last part was for me specifically.

Still, I keep walking towards the bus. Yet another scream, this one yells for help. The others keep walking unsure about what is happening. Emotionless animals is what they’ve been taught to be. Mother Dalia, I’m sorry.


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