I was sitting beside the fire with Silky on my lap as she told me of a new adventure of her sisters. I was absently caressing the tiny bulge that was our child. Merlin cleared his throat, “You have a visitor at the door.”
I glanced at him as Silky slipped off my lap and walked towards the hallway. She was a lot shyer now that she was pregnant. I stood and walked to the door and then the outer door. I opened it to see a tiny fairy and stepped aside, “come in.”
She drifted through the door and into the house and I closed the doors to follow her back into the living room. She landed on the arm of the couch and I crossed to sit in a chair, “How can I help you?”
She smiled, “I was asked to bring a plea for help.”
I nodded as she looked around, “Gilgad has a pack of werewolves hunting the village in Evergreen Gap.”
I frowned as I tried to remember what I had read about werewolves. The fairy cleared her throat, “excuse me but I was told your wife was a wood nymph... a dryad.”
I smiled and nodded, “Yes.”
She looked around, “Is she here? The other nymphs said she was here.”
I glanced towards the hallway, “Merlin?”
He appeared and I nodded to the fairy, “tell Silky a fairy is asking for her?”
He bowed and disappeared, I smiled at the fairy, “since she became pregnant she has been very shy.”
The fairy smiled, “I understand.”
I stood and walked towards the hallway as Silky appeared. I caressed her face, “I am needed. Stay here?”
She nodded and then looked at the fairy, “I’ll be at my tree.”
I sighed, “Wear something warm?”
Silky grinned and stood on her toes to kiss me. I went to pack and walked down to the portal door. I put my hand on the door and whispered the spell that sent me on my way. I appeared at the entrance to a huge evergreen filled pass. The trail was plainly marked and I shouldered my pack before starting to walk.
There almost seemed to be a feeling of waiting once I was in the forest. It was lovely, at least until I found the torn apart remains beside the trail. I looked at what had once been a man and shook my head. I whispered a spell and the earth open. The remains sank down into the hole and the earth closed. A boulder flattened and became the grave headstone.
I started walking again as the day wore on to afternoon. I walked out into small fields around a tall wooden palisade. It seemed to stretch around the whole village. Four men looked at me suspiciously when I walked up to the gate. I bowed, “I was asked to come here to help with your problem.”
They looked at each other and one that looked older than the others cleared his throat, “You’re a wizard?”
I nodded and then grinned. The one that had spoken held out his hand, “I’m Helguard, the village chieftain.”
I took his hand and shook. The others shook and then Helguard cleared his throat, “It is getting worse. It started with a single attack but now there are more and they seem to come whenever they will and attack in a pack.”
I nodded, “It’s the wolf in them. When one is bitten they change at the first full moon. They will seek out others and mates to form a pack.”
They looked at each other and then at me. I shrugged, “I will set traps tonight.”
One man cleared his throat, “We have tried traps, they don’t work.”
I smiled as I started walking into the village, “I don’t plan to use regular traps.”
I took my time and started a walk around the inside of the palisade. After that I walked the narrow streets and finally went to the single tavern for a meal. After I finished eating I went back for another walk through the village but this time I whispered spells. I ended back in the central market square and sat on the edge of the fountain after setting my pack down.
People looked at me as they moved about. It grew dark quickly and everyone disappeared into their homes. I absently created a glowing fire from the stones of the fountain to fight the mountain cold. It was a few hours before the first wolf appeared. It slipped out of a street silently and began stalking towards me.
Halfway across the square it seemed to become frozen. I absently gestured and it shimmered before disappearing. Several more wolves appeared a few minutes later and they started towards me. Like the first wolf, they froze halfway across and I used a spell to make them seem to disappear.
By the time they stopped coming I had a dozen trapped. I continued to wait and just before dawn a man walked out of a street. He seems to hesitate as he looked at me. He turned to leave and became frozen. There was an echoing howl as he shuddered and shimmered and then a huge wolf stood in his place.
I turned and looked as a stunning woman ran into the square from the other side. She stopped and looked from me to the wolf before walking towards me as she shimmered. She froze just as she changed to become another huge white wolf. I gestured and whispered the spell that made all the wolves appear.
As the sun began to rise they started howling. The howls turned to screams and then they were all human again. I nodded and gestured and they started walking towards me jerkily. I stood and looked at them, “Now you have a choice.”
I looked at each of them, “There is a cure but it will be painful.”
Two men sneered and one spoke, “Why would we want to be normal again?”
I gestured and they froze, “Their choice is made.”
The others looked at each other. The last man to enter the square cleared his throat, “I’ll leave.”
I smiled, “It is to late, make your choice now, human or wolf.”
The last woman moved jerkily to his side and slipped her hand into his, “Please?”
He finally turned and looked at me, “Human.”
The woman nodded and one by one the others joined them. I looked at each of them and murmured a spell of compulsion. I gestured, “Be back here before the moon rises.”
I watched them leave and turned to the two men that remained frozen, “When the moon rises your last moments as a human will be here. It will be swift and clean.”
I picked up my pack and walked across the square to the tavern. After banging on the door for several minutes the half dressed tavern keeper opened the door and peered out. I smiled, “good morning, I wish a room.”
He glanced around before opening the door further. I stepped in and he closed the door after staring at the two men still frozen in the square. I slept for several hours before washing and coming downstairs. I had a large meal with a glass of warm cider. When I walked out the two men were still frozen in the square.
Some of the other villagers had thrown and heaped manure on them. I went back to sit on the edge of the fountain. Most of the villagers smiled at me and waved as they went about their business. As the sun began to set the others returned. They shifted uneasily as we waited. All the other villagers had long since disappeared into their homes.
As the moon began to rise I started the spell I had prepared. The men and women screamed as their bodies writhed and shimmered. A blackness seemed to seep out of each one except the two that had been frozen. When the moon shone fully down the group knelt. I murmured another spell and the darkness swirled around and coalesced into a sphere.
I looked at the two wolves glaring at me and murmured another spell. They were swept together with the sphere and pulled to the side where a whirlwind appeared. Suddenly they were gone and just people remained in the square. I stood and looked at each person, “The change will not return. It is up to you to live with what happened to you.”
I gestured and watched as they left before going back to the tavern. The tavern keeper peeked out the spy hole before opening the door quickly. I spent a week watching and listening before taking the walk down the pass. I was barely halfway when I saw the fresh kill. I stood looking at the torn apart body of a deer.
I sighed and looked around before walking into the forest and making camp. I set wards around my camp and prepared a spell. As it grew darker I released the spell and my scent spread rapidly. I waited and wasn’t surprised an hour later when four wolves tried to rush through my wards to attack me.
They slowed and then froze. I waited but nothing else came even after I did a summoning. I sighed as the midnight hour approached and started a spell. The wolves howled and writhed around as their forms shifted. As they became human once more the dark sphere swirled together. On the ground were four woodsmen curled up.
I opened the portal I wanted and sent the sphere through. Somehow I wasn’t surprised when there was a growl from the darkness. I gestured and the four men were pulled closer. Out of the darkness a demon came. It slowly stalked around my wards growling. I smiled and waited as it finally edged closer until it was barely beyond the ward, “Mage, you will die for...”
I gestured and shouted a spell of command. The demon screamed and the whole forest seemed to tremble. I walked towards the demon, “This is not your world.”
The demon’s eyes glowed with power as it fought my commands silently. I turned and brought my pack to me before searching in it. I lifted the large pouch of salt I always carried and walked around the demon slowly as I created a ward. Once I sealed it with salt, I moved back and sat to wait. It was a long night with the four men huddling together.
I kept my eyes on the demon the whole time. As the sun began to rise, it screamed and writhed as it began to smoke. When the sun rose completely above the horizon the demon burst into fire. Even the trees shook at its screams. Soon it was just a lump that was smoldering. I still waited as the sun rose higher above the trees and its rays stuck the demon’s remains.
It exploded in a tower of flames that reached up higher than the trees. A few minutes later it died and only a small pile of ash remained. I walked to it and sprinkled salt through the ashes before looking at the men, “Your free now.”