Re: [Chapter 2] The Dead of Winter: Snow Stained Red
Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:45 pm
"Hopefully that thing is gone for good," Keelin began, speaking low in the hopes that Melissa wouldn't hear. The less the other girl knew, the easier it would be to suppress her memories later, anyhow. "Regardless, it shouldn't take too long for those extra clothes to warm up and you should be safe from hypothermia at the least." still, she was concerned, and kept looking toward the curtains even though she couldn't see through them, she would at least be able to see if any shadows appeared uninvited.
"Can say that again," Lovell agreed as he sat huddled tight against the bitter air, appearing awfully small within the comforter. With the hood pulled down, the Canadian shut himself away as he relished the warmth. While Keelin watched the windows, Lovell was being a good guard dog by listening attentively for any sounds that were out of place; whether it be the faintest snapping twig or falling snow. The comforter threw him off a little as it muffled much of the noise, and with the growing flames in the fireplace the chimney began to create audible creaking sounds as the frigid metal began to expand. As to whether Melissa had heard anything of what Keelin had said, the older girl gave no indication.
After the fire had grown sufficiently large, and he was confident he wasn't going to get frostbite putting on the spare clothing, Lovell began to stir within the large blanket. "That should be enough time for the clothes," he said finally, his head poking out of an opening. As he stood, he moved slowly and lethargically, almost resembling an old man as he hunched over while clinging to the blanket. Upon scooping up the clothes he made his way to one of the bedrooms in the back.
Once he got to the door, he paused and turned to Keelin. "Care to give me a hand? If that beast comes back while I'm changing, it'll catch me with my pants down."
Keelin's rosy cheeks grew a little bit darker once again and she bonked the hunter on the head with the end of her staff, ushering him down the hallway with the device. "If you're that much of a scaredy-cat I can watch the door for you, but I am NOT helping you." she responded, seeming to be quite a bit less than enthused by Lovell's near constant innuendos since they'd gotten into the cabin. "Hopefully once you've got proper clothes back on your brain will start working again. This is no time to be getting into the old cliche of one guy and two girls alone in the middle of nowhere! Especially when there's the potential for that thing to still be prowling around!"
Lovell laughed as he went, a boyish grin sitting oddly on his tired face. "Hey, least you finally seem to be lightening up a bit," he said as a passing remark while closing the door. Now alone in the backroom, he stretched a bit beneath the cover before tossing it aside, and becoming aware that the heat of the fire still had not had enough time to get back here. Moving quickly to change into the new clothes before they once again cooled off, the hunter thought back on the fact that Keelin had seemed to be hard on herself about the whole knocking him into the lake deal. As cold as it made him, he came out of it fine; and chalk it up to the dog in him, but her feeling guilty was making him feel even worse as well. He would have to remember to apologize to the girl.
Back out in the other room, Melissa had moved closer to the fire. She seemed to be thinking about something. Looking down the short hall towards Keelin, she sat back and braced her arms on the ground behind her. "So, what's the deal between you two?" she asked, trying to keep her voice low enough to where only Keelin could hear. "Lovell is never that talkative to the rest of us."
Keelin was at a loss with the question posed to her, taking a minute to really think about it before she responded, not wanting to lie to Melissa but also not wanting to tell the entire truth. "Well..." She began, carefully choosing her wording, "We sort of knew each other since he moved to town. My father was always welcoming to everyone and knew Lovell's father quite well, so we've just known each other since then, I guess?" she kicked at the floor gently, the slight scuffing sound helping her to concentrate a bit more.
"After, well, after what happened to my dad, our families kind of understood each other so we're just a bit more familiar than most people are."
Melissa nodded a bit and looked back at the fire. A bit skeptically she scanned a couple of the windows. "It's nice to have friends like that. You didn't even seem phased by him being a werewolf, so he must trust you quite a bit if he told you a secret like that. Must be nice," the older girl said, gradually drifting back to stare at the fire.
Back in the bedroom, Lovell was belting up the slightly too big jeans, working from bottom to top to ensure the aforementioned catching with no pants did not actually happen. Working in silence, his acute ears listened to the doorway and the conversation outside. Grumbling slightly at the evasive answer Keelin had given, he was never-the-less happy there wasn't going to be a misunderstanding.
The calm reverie with the soothing fire, however, was not to last very long, however. Lovell would hear it first, a crunching sound like snow underfoot came from the outside, however softly. Melissa would not hear it over the roar of the fire, and Keelin, being so far from the door, and unaugmented by her magic at the moment, wouldn't notice it, however, she would feel an encroaching sense of dread, which would be equally felt by all a few moments after the hair on the back of the magic-sensitive druid's neck had started to stand on end.
Then there was a gentle scraping o the door, that even Melissa could hear, followed by a low, unearthly growling sound, before something shoved into the door. The lock thankfully held, but it would not last long. "Melissa, Get back this way..." Keelin hissed, trying to keep her voice low, her staff raised and the tip of it glowing as she began to conjure another warding spell.
Lovell had in fact been reaching for the spare shirt when he picked up the noise. With the two girls no longer speaking, it was a clear as day to him; the sound of brittle snow crust being broken. Even now, it was faint, and had it not been so cold the snow would likely have been more forgiving to the predator, but today Lovell wasn't planning on being prey. Before he could do anything more, the sound had reached the door. Frantically, he tried to throw on the shirt, but the spare was a size to small and would take time to squeeze into. With a growl he threw it to the side and picked up the Celtic sword he had set leaning against the bed.
Rushing to the door, he swung it open and quickly placed himself at the mouth of the hallway; setting up between the door and the girls. Already, his chin began to grow a bit shaggy, signs of the early stage of his transformation showing as his body remembered the situation from not long ago; but his full strength was still suppressed. A low growl started as his grin from before became a snarl.
The beast continued to bang on the door, scratching at it and shaking the handle as it tried to get in, and while it was still held back, the door frame and the door itself were starting to show signs of cracking and other damage. Keelin cast her warding spell, the magically-augmented dread given off by the Wendigo being eased once again- while it did little to stop the creature, it would at least clear their minds and hopefully keep Melissa calm. Planting the staff and starting to chant another blasting spell, Keelin felt for her bow but realized she had left it in the other room, near the fireplace, and her only weapons now were the staff and the pouch of rune stones, which was unfortunately becoming light much too quickly for Keelin's comfort.
"I doubt that door will hold much longer," Keelin muttered, looking a bit concerned. "Should we strike first, or wait for it?" she asked the werewolf.
Casting a quick look back at Keelin, he figured both had merit. On the one hand, if the waited on it, he could potentially flank it if he crept to the side of the door and tried to surprise it when it burst in; on the other hand, Keelin could blast the door and he could rush it while it was off balance. "Strike first," Lovell said simply, before he spun hastily out of the hallway and Keelin's line of fire. Waiting for his own time to pounce.
"Okay, you asked for it! Close your eyes in 3, 2, 1!" Keelin warned Lovell as he got out of the way. As luck would have it, that was exactly when the Wendigo burst the door open- only for it to be greeted by a lightning bolt arcing from the druid's staff, a brilliant flash of light and clash of thunder accompanying the mana-fed bolt of electricity which Ionized the air and left static in its wake, sending the creature flying backwards out of the doorway. Keelin, having not cast that spell in a while, had forgotten the full effects of that particular lightning spell and found herself weak in the knees, dropping to the floor with a drained feeling knowing she had just used up a large portion of her mana pool in one blast.
As soon as he saw the wendigo go sprawling, he used the wall to push himself off with more force as he rushed to strike while the iron was hot. Thrown off a little as he was running in socks rather than the boots he was used to, were it not for the extra boost the wall had given him he would have stumbled. As he passed through the door he poised the sword for a backswing while trying to pry the sheath off, but the stubborn thing once again refused to budge. Growling loudly in response, he swung the blade at the beast midsection, experiencing slight deja vu to when he had first tried sword fighting against a sasquatch.
As Lovell propelled himself toward the Wendigo, the creature found itself tumbling backward through the snow as a result of the blast. Static electricity arced across its fur in random patterns as muscles tensed and relaxed on their own, disorienting the beast as it fought to keep itself upright before the blow finally landed. The Wolfman would find himself receiving some backlash from the blow, as while it landed squarely and solidly where intended, an accompanying crunch of bone resounding, residual electricity transferred to the Bergman and causing him a bit of discomfort as well.
Keelin sat on her knees in the hallway, breathing deeply as her energy was extremely low. she knew, however, that she would need to regain some of her strength, and get to her bow, if she were to help Lovell.
The errant electricity only served to aggravate the wolfman as he swung furiously at the wendigo. Roaring as he went, Lovell was focused solely on eliminating this beast, because anything less was out of the question. Blow after blow lashed out, but still the sheath refused to release; which frustrated Lovell further.
Back inside the cabin, Melissa, who had been standing behind Keelin, helped brace the younger girl as she fell to her knees. Looking up and out the door, she watched helplessly as Lovell made his stand keeping the wendigo outside. Part of her still wanted to believe that this was all a bad dream, as it would explain everything from the beast to what Lovell and Keelin were doing, but the other part of her knew she had to deal with it being reality. While she did not understand a lick of what was going on, it was clear that the only way she was getting out was if the two teenagers in front of her won; and she was being dead weight, while Keelin looked exhausted, and Lovell was alone.
Letting go of Keelin, Melissa rushed out of the hallway and over to the bow and arrows that Keelin had set down next to the fireplace. Grabbing the quiver and bringing it with her, she took the bow and ran to where she could get a line of sight. Nocking an arrow, she took aim. "Don't shoot Lovell. Don't shoot Lovell," she chanted as she waited for the wolfman to shift to the side, before letting the arrow fly at the beast's chest.
Keelin did her best to stay more or less upright, but she was certainly grateful for Melissa's help, while it lasted. however, when the other girl got up, she slumped sideways to rest on the wall, without enough energy to protest as her bow and arrows were taken. with no other course of action, Keelin searched in her pockets until she found a small vial of spring water, the only thing that she had that could do much at the moment. Watching with a mixture of concern and amusement as Melissa readied to fire the arrow, Keelin gulped down the small amount of water, which made her feel slightly more revitalized, but the amount of Mana it was able to restore was like pouring a glass of water into a horse trough- enough to get it wet but nowhere near enough to fill it. Still, it was becoming easier for her to think again, but all she could think of was how a normal arrow wasn't going to do much against a Wendigo.
A second later, the arrow made its way toward the Wendigo. While Melissa's aim wasn't actually that bad, she didn't necessarily have what it took to his a moving target, and through Lovell's vicious slashing, the Wendigo was moved out of the direct path of the arrow, the broad tip instead simply grazing its side, cutting into the flesh but only doing superficial damage. It was however just enough to distract the beast long enough for Lovell to land a solid blow to the beast's head, turning its head sideways with a sickening crack and causing the creature to fall backwards, stiffly.
Melissa sucked her teeth in annoyance as her arrow was off mark, but she figured that was to be expected since she hadn't gone hunting with her dad since starting high school. At the very least she took solace in the fact that she not only didn't hit Lovell, but also gave him enough of an opening to land a solid hit on the beast. Grabbing another arrow, the teen backstepped closer to Keelin while waiting to see what would happen next.
Back outside, Lovell was not waiting. Bolstered by the strike he landed, he tried once more to pry off the sheath of the sword; but the stubborn artifact remained sealed. With a roar directed more at the blade than at the wendigo, Lovell strafed around and swung the weapon downward towards the antlered head. If he couldn't cut the beast then he would bash it's head in.
Lovell's angered slashing did seem to have an effect- one of the Wendigo's horn-like antlers snapped near the base, the piece breaking off and flying a few feet away to rest in the snow. The blood that came out of it, however, was accompanied by a blood-curdling howl as the injury snapped the beast out of its stiff daze and caused it to lash back out upon Lovell, slashing with its clawed hands and catching Lovell across the upper chest.
Lovell was thrown to the side, but had miraculously not suffered anything worse than three medium-depth flesh wounds to his pecs. Keelin was, by this point, able to hold herself steady against the wall, but could only really gasp in concern as the wolf-boy was thrown aside by the angered wendigo.
A sharp growl responded to the wendigo's howl as Lovell was sent flying. His landing jarred him as he tumbled through the brittle snow, as harsh edges were all that greeted him; the sheer cold deforming what could have been quite soft. The loud crunch of the snow kept the werewolf conscious almost as much as the terrible burning he now felt in his chest. Doing his best to recover from the hit as soon as possible, Lovell dug into the snow with a clawed hand and steadied himself with his sword, Caladbolg.
Once righted, he had to shake his head a few times to allay a sense of tunnel vision coming over him, but the space between him and the wendigo was speckled with blood; some its, some his. Deep down, he felt dread begin to sink in again; but rather than the beast's unnatural abilities, this was his own doubt. Keelin had been tossing what magic she could at this thing, and he had tried a number of times now to bring his sword to bear; but the monster before him continued to fight even more ferociously. Gritting his teeth, Lovell forced himself to focus, and thankfully he had just the thing to focus on. It's broken horn. It's bloody, broken horn.
"It can bleed," Lovell thought as he readied himself. Charging as best as his simply socked feet would carry him, Lovell rushed once more. This time however he remained conscious of his angle to the doorway, and was ready to defend himself rather than leave himself open.
Gasping as well, Melissa was stunned as the gravitas of the situation threatened to once more send her into hiding. "Use more of what ever it was you did out on the lake! Lovell will die out there without help!" she pleaded, turning back to the red head in the hallway.
"If I could do that again right now-" Keelin began, finding a need to catch her breath mid sentence- "I would have already done it." she grimaced, realizing that the snow outside was changing color in spots, and that more of the blood was Lovell's than the beast's. gripping her staff, Keelin pulled herself up, standing up with quite a bit of effort and digging into her small sack for another rune-stone.
"Melissa, come here, I need to borrow something from you, maybe it will be enough..."
Outside, the Wendigo had completely righted itself, and though it had initially started back for the door, the movement of Lovell regaining himself had once again caught its attention and kept it away from the girls. It growled, a deep, otherworldly sound that caused the trio's hair to stand on end, but stood its ground, shaking its head occasionally from the pain of its broken antler, but still focused intently on the werewolf.
Lovell planted a leg in a show of defiance once he saw the beast holding position. It took a definite amount of determination for him to square off against a wendigo. It was decidedly larger, and fairing better, than he was. Brandishing the sheathed blade, he gave a growl in response; daring it to make a move.
Melissa wasn't about to start asking questions, if nothing else there would be time for that after the direct threat to their lives was gone. Turning away from the door, she hefted the bow and quiver before returning to the other girl. "Hope you've got a plan."
In Keelin's hand, was a small rune stone, with a few symbols scratched into it. One for fire, one for spark, and one for embers- it was, in fact, a perfectly normal, handy dandy firestarting rune. But Keelin had an idea. Normally this rune took very little mana, and produced a small spark, some flame, and caused burning embers to form. However, she reckoned, overcharging it, and fusing it with two different sources of mana, might cause it to act unexpectedly.
Keelin grabbed Melissa's hand, and concentrated on it, drawing on Melissa's mostly untapped mana pool. It was very small, typical for a nonmag, but it currently held more mana than the Druid's own reserves. quickly, she transferred it, as well as some of her own mana, into the rune, trying to put as much into the stone as quickly as possible.
"Lovell, Get back!" Keelin shouted, as the stone began to glow red hot in her hand and shoot sparks- it was becoming quite painful to hold quite quickly. Before it got too hot, however, she heaved the small stone through the air, at the Wendigo.
Somehow, miraculously, the rune stone impacted with the creature, hitting its upper thigh and immediately singing and burning its way into the flesh. The creature howled again, in abject agony, unable to do anything but swat at the offending appendage, before suddenly the rune could no longer contain the mana within, and burst, sending fire, spark, and embers, along with blisteringly hot rock fragments, into and through the Wendigo's leg, causing a large wound to open and buckling the creature, sending it face first into the ground, thrashing in pain.
Heeding the direction, Lovell made a quick leap away from the wendigo and shielded himself. Unsure what would happen with Keelin's magic, as he hadn't had a whole lot of experience with her using it effectively, he crouched down to minimize his own exposure. Catching sight of the rune stone, he was a little put off up until it exploded violently. Identifying the opening, Lovell sprang out of his crouch, rushing in to swing his sword down in another savage blow.
Keelin gave out a bit of a laugh, more to celebrate the success of her harebrained scheme than
anything else, and felt herself collapse, keeping her eyes open just long enough to see Lovell go rushing toward the creature once more. Laying prone on its face and thrashing helplessly, the Wendigo became a much easier target, though accurate strikes were not going to happen until it stopped moving as much. Lovell's strike landed squarely, a cracking of bones heard from the impact.
The wolfman's face donned a toothy grin, and his eyes were that of a hunter cornering its prey. Roaring with a renewed fervor, Lovell gripped the sword firmly in both hands as he continued to assault the beast. At this point, he didn't care if it was sheathed, he would simply bludgeon the wendigo to death if he had too. Blow after blow, the heavy weapon sank and cracked new bones, and with a mighty wind up Lovell swung down to crack the skull.
The sheathed sword came down, and with a mighty crack it shattered the back of the Wendigo's skull, severing the creatures spike and causing it to finally lay still, beaten fully and bleeding in several places. Suddenly, and without warning, the Wendigo's body began to change, first the hair blew away, revealing tanned human skin, and some of the animalistic features fell away, turning to ash and blowing in the wind, revealing a distorted humanoid figure, but soon, that too turned to ash, collapsing and then blowing away, leaving a dark spot in the snow, the only evidence of the Wendigo's existence being the dark spot, several spots of blood, and the singular antler Lovell had broken off earlier in the fight.
Lovell howled triumphantly as his victory was confirmed. The beast was no more, and they had survived. Once his howl had died down, the wolfman visibly shrank by a margin as his partial transformation faded. Bringing with the form change, the wounds he had sustained faded slightly, but the gashes remained gashes and blood continued to seep slowly from the wound. Regaining his clear senses as well, he became acutely aware of how cold he felt again, and the brittle snow had made his feet raw and numb.
"That was a good move Keelin," Lovell called inside as he went to pick up his trophy horn. When no answer came, he quickly grabbed the horn and rushed inside. His momentary worry diminished as he saw that the lack of noise was from not just Keelin, but Melissa as well, slumped against each other in the hallway.
"The Hell?" Lovell wondered. "Once again I am the only one left conscious as the end, eh?"
Shutting the door, the wolfman tossed another log on the fire, threw a blanket over the girls, and set about tending to his wounds.
Outside the now shuttered cabin, it was silent, though only for a short while. soon, the wind began blowing again, and a storm rolled in behind the cold air that had kept them nearly frozen throughout the whole battle with the wendigo. soon, the sounds of rough snowfall combined with blistering winds shook at the windows, causing the fire to flicker a bit. Keelin and Melissa, still unconscious from their efforts, had been covered in blankets, resting as the fireplace did its job of warming them and the cabin. every now and then, an odd sound would garner Lovell's attention, keeping him on edge, but nothing came of any of them. the wind would eventually die down a bit, the gentle sound making it harder for the young werewolf to keep himself awake to tend to the fire. Eventually, just as he was on the edge of falling asleep, he heard in the distance, almost as if in the back of his mind, so close yet so distant; an otherworldly howl.
Catching the sound, Lovell sprang up from his seat on the opposite side of the room from the two girls. Unsure of whether he had imagined it or not, the wolfman was in guard dog mode as he stood near one of the windows. Staring out in to the swirling snow, he kept telling himself it was just the wind. Looking back at the resting Keelin, Lovell tightened his grip on caladbold before moving to take a seat near the fire. The sound was likely the wind, but he was not about to risk his own and Keelin's safety.
"It's gonna be a long storm."