Scars, Chapter 22

This month’s first update is a continuation of Scars. The final confrontation with the vampire is upon us… or is it? Khy-kala leads a group of humans to what she believes is it’s lair, but things aren’t always what they appear…

Enjoy!

~

Grygir paused at the threshold, only stopping because Khy-kala didn’t enter the cottage. Instead, the elf crouched by the ruin of a large buck. Most of the meat had been stripped away, flies buzzing over what was left. “Our friend’s been busy,” the human grunted. “Coming, elf? You said it’s here.”

“I said something is here,” Khy-kala pointed out. A few more seconds passed.“I don’t think this is our friend,” she said. “There’s too much meat missing.” Some vampires would eat the raw flesh of their prey, either because they liked the taste or because they couldn’t differentiate between mortal hunger and their newfound thirst. To devour an entire carcass, though… that wasn’t normal.

“It’s just scavengers,” the man grunted, squaring his shoulders. On the cusp of revenge, his patience was rapidly running out. “Are you finished?” he asked through gritted teeth.

“A moment,” Khy-kala told him as she lifted the buck’s head, looking into its empty eye sockets. Like the elk, this had been torn from the animal’s body. There was nothing that it could tell her, but the strange animal’s odour was very strong. “Wolves have been here,” she announced.

“Aye, eating what the beast has left for them,” Komanj snapped, no longer humouring the elf. “You can play with its leavings, but I have a score to settle.”

“Wait,” she said. “I’m not done.”

“Nothing to be found,” he pronounced. “You said it’s here, and I’m through waiting. I’ll have my vengeance and whoever else wants some should follow me.” With that, he pulled the door open, its rusted hinges squealing loud enough to hurt Khy-kala’s ears. The hunter stomped into the house, four more men following him. The guard captain paused at the threshold, wanting to go with them, but seasoned enough that the heat of imminent righteous justice didn’t overtake him. The remaining men looked to him for what they should do.

“What are you thinking?” he asked Khy-kala.

The carpet of fallen leaves made it impossible to see any tracks, but Khy-kala didn’t need that to see the story of this buck’s death. Even with just this wreckage of meat and bone, it was revealing itself to her. She lifted a broken femur, examining the edge before tossing it to Omaniv. It was pitted with bite marks from several different jaws. “Vampires don’t gnaw their prey’s bones,” she told him. “And a scavenging wolf pack won’t sit down to dine outside any lair but their own.” She looked towards the house. “I think we need to get those men back,” she told him as she rose to her feet. “Right now.”

Omaniv’s expression turned brittle as the coin dropped. To his credit, he didn’t shout in alarm, though he must have wanted to. Instead, he discarded the bone, whispering orders to the group with him, indicating that one of them should accompany him and Khy-kala into the house. They needed to reach Grygir and his companions and retreat before whatever was inside woke up.

They failed.

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