Though the sun was high in the sky, the day was dark. Thick clouds always seemed to smoother its light. The group was making good time though, with at least some sunlight, Jack was able to scan further ahead on the path, allowing Franz to keep the pace more fervent. The morning realization of Helena’s new found gifts was all the motivation they needed to quicken their pace.
“Stop,” Helena whispers from within the covered carriage.
“What is it?” Franz, asks as he slowing his pace slightly.
“I am not sure, a new smell. Meat, I think.” Her sniffs were audible from under the cover. “Possibly people.”
Jack looked to Franz with a gaze of curiosity. Franz did not want to lose time, but if there was someone out there and Helena could smell them, he knew it might mean they were injured.
“Go check it out, be quick.” Franz nods towards the tree line.
Jack hops down from her seat next to her brother and lifts the cover to see Helena who points to the left of the road. Jack agilely moves into the trees. It does not take her long to realize there was a fight here. Trees lay felled, and those lucky enough to survive the fight still were splintered. Soon she saw blood and follows the trail. Scanning the ground, the blood gets more abundant, until finally she saw the gleaming plate of an Inquisitor. She runs to him, rolling him over to see his face. The eyes never adjust to look at her, the man who was once there, is long gone. She closes the eyelids and checks the companion he has at his side. A younger man, wearing leather armor and still grasping his censor.
“May you sleep forever brothers.” She whispers under her breath along with a short prayer to Avacyn.
Jack quickly returns to the carriage and explains what she found to the group. Franz is hesitant and wants to move on with their journey, but Britta insists they stay to see the bodies to rest.
“We do not have time for this.” Franz says, agitated at the thought of spending time digging graves while they still have the advantage of daylight.
“If it was you, you would want us to stop.” Jack says, a slight disappointment of her brothers lack of piety on her voice.
“I can dig the graves.” Britta says, as she begins into the woods after pulling a small shovel from her pack. “Fortunately for you Franz, I am quite experienced at it.”
Franz shakes his head and guides the carriage as far to that side of the road as is possible. As Jack hops off to follow Britta, he looks to her and says “I am sorry, I do not mean to show the dead disrespect. I only wish to ensure this one does not suffer a fate worse than death.” Jack nods in understanding.
“But this is still the right thing to do, we will get Helena there in time brother.”
Franz can already hear the digging from just inside the tree line. He begins to scan the road for any other signs of life. Nothing. At least he can hear the birds, that’s always a good sign. Werewolves and Vampires tend to make even the most bardic bird fall silent.
“This isn’t good is it Mr. Franz?” Helena spoke with a wavering tone.
“You’re going to be ok Helena, I have never failed before, we will not fail you.” Franz says with stalwart poise. If Jack were here she would instantly have known his words to be false, however to Helena, holding on to her remaining threads of humanity, his words were a comfort.
After some time, but a shorter time than Franz expected, Britta and Jack returned. They had with them a few of the items that must’ve been with the bodies. Britta was also wearing new armor.
“Laid to rest, without their armor?” Franz said with an air of sarcasm.
“This is Slayer’s Plate inquisitor, it is not to be buried with the dead, it is to continue on.” Britta said while adjusting the straps. The armor seemed to reform to fit her size and shape. On the shoulders it had inlaid silvered spikes and though it still had stains of blood on it, it seemed to hold its shine in the limited sunlight.
“Here,” Jack said, as she hands Franz a spear, the tip shaped into the symbol of Avacyn.
Franz looked down and saw that Jack had a censor strapped to her built and took the spear. He secured it in place next to him. Jack and Britta took their positions on the carriage and the party continued onward.
Hours passed with no issues. Jack had just started to become comfortable on the road as the sun began to set. Franz seemed on edge and was becoming restless in his seat. He snapped the reigns and the horse picked up their pace.
“What is it brother?” Jack said, the worry was clear on her voice.
“Something is wrong.” Franz says. “Listen, the birds are gone.”
“More hunting dogs.” Helena whispers from the carriage.
“Britta! Something is coming, be on guard!” Jack yelled from over the carriage.
Britta adjusted on the ledge she was sitting on and brought her shield to bare. She could not see anything in the tree line. The fading light making sight ever more difficult. As Britta scanned the trees Jack heard the first sounds of their pursuers. Heavy foot falls to the rear of the carriage, just inside the left tree line.
“Britta! On the left!” Jack yelled, being quiet was no longer necessary.
Britta adjusted to face that direction. She saw the yellowed eyes just in time and managed to raise her shield in time. The claws and the creature they were attached to flew in her direction. Unnatural leaping ability allowed the werewolf to clear the distance from the tree line to the carriage in a single bound. Though she managed to block the claws, the force of the impact through her and her attacker from the cart. As they hit the dirt, she scrambled to get to her feet, but the creature was faster and soon on top of her. It bit down into the side of her neck, causing great pain. Blood spurted from the wound, but before the creature could pull his teeth and complete a killing blow, Britta rolled her shoulder into its head, causing the spikes there to slice into the creature’s skin. It released its grip as it reeled back in pain, the flesh that was cut seeming to sizzle as if burned by acid.
Jack did not know what was happening. Just as she called to Britta, she heard the sound of metal hitting the ground and two separate cries of pain. One human, one bestial.
“What is going on?” Franz looked to Jack for an answer.
“I don’t know, it is too dark, I cannot see.” Jack says, struggling to see what had transpired.
Just as she said this, she heard. “ I can help, Avacyn has blessed me with minor gifts.” The voice did not come from her brother however, instead it came from the carriage.
Jack lifted the cloth to see Helena, with her chained hands outstretched. “The censor; let me touch it.” Helena requested with urgency. Jack obliged and slide the censor through the bars. As Helena laid her hands upon it she muttered a few words to Avacyn and the censor lit up. Its Light now brightening the night in every direction as if doing battle with the darkness itself.
“Stay down!” Franz commanded, locking eyes with Helena as he jumped from the carriage.
In a swift motion he was over to the creature. Grasping a small pouch on his belt he pulled out a bit of sand. Waving it in an arcane pattern and saying the words of the holy Avacyn he flung the sand at the creature attacking Britta. The creature staggered, dropping back down to a knee, before falling over, asleep. Fran quickly moved to help Britta to her feet.
“A little help!” Jack’s voice came piercing through the night air.
As Britta and Franz turned to the front of the carriage, two more werewolves were climbing the rigging, going after Jack. Franz ran to his sister’s aide. Gutting one of the beasts with his silvered dagger. Suddenly glad it was left over from Helena’s fathers old adventuring days. The beast let out a cry, but as it fell it swiped at the inquisitor. He staggered back, with deep gashes now adorned on his chest. Franz grasped the wound as the creature in front of him began to take a more human form, slowly turning back into the man it had once been.
Britta went for her weapon, but before she can move to Franz’s side, a fourth werewolf lunged from the darkness. It went straight for the bars of the carriage, pulling and tugging at them. They start to bend, and Helena lets out a scream. The Paladin of Holy Avacyn was not going to let the beast get to it’s quarry. With the first blow she sliced a giant gash down the creatures back, the magic essence of her family blade opening the wound on its supernatural skin. The beast turned to face her, then before it could strike the second swipe came up, severing one of its paws. The creature astounded by the show of force, paused. This was all the opening Britta needed as she thrust her sword through is open maw. The head began to shrink around her sword, and by the time she withdrew it, the eyes of a human women looked up at her.
Jack kicked at the werewolf the was swiping at her. She saw her brother was wounded but knew she would need to deal with this first. Seeing the spear secured to the seat in front of her she yanked it from its place. In a single movement of unmatched acrobatics, she flipped from the top of the carriage, landing behind the beast. Before it could turn the spear was already piercing its back. It stumbled, and Franz saw an opening, with the beast distracted, he managed to sneak inside its defenses and raked the silvered dagger across its throat. Blood gurgled as the creature collapsed to the ground. It slowly returned to its human form as well, revealing a younger man, perhaps not even above the age of 20.
“Brother! Are you ok?” Jack runs towards her brother.
“I will be fine,” he wipes a bit of blood from his mouth. “We still have one more to deal with.”
The magical sleep held the werewolf, as it lay there slumbering, the three soldiers of Avacyn surrounded the creature. On Franz’s signal, they all plunged their weapons into it.
“May the blessed sleep find you at peace.” Franz and Jack looked curiously at Britta as she said the words. “He was once like us and now the beast is dead, he deserves the same peace we would.”
Jack took a moment to bandage Franz’s wounds as best she could, and Britta covered the wound on her neck with a cloth.
“We need to get moving, the smell of blood will bring more.” Franz said, holding back the urge to wince at the pain.
Jack climbed back atop the carriage and helped her brother into his seat. She worried the injury was worse than he let on, but there was not much she could do now. If it was indeed serious, the best thing they could do was get to Thraben with haste.