Storytime: Small problems in small places (draft 2)

So this is the first of hopefully many short stories I post on here. Now, Rita Wulf is a character I’ve had for many years, and mostly used for freeform RP (roleplaying), but in my mind I’ve always had a lot of adventures for her, so I thought it was time to write some of them down.

Now this is only the second draft (first draft just exists as a file on my computer and with a few proofreaders), so feel free to come with constructive criticism to help improve future drafts, since I know the story is far from perfect, even if I can’t see exactly what is wrong with it at the moment. Ideas and insight will come in time, I sure. Heck, even the title might be subject to change.

Even so, I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

~Start~

 The small town of Meergart wakes slowly as the sun rises one lazy Sunday in May. Few people have any plans on such a day, and many who are woken by birdsong attempt to just ignore it and go back to sleep. Not many people are out and about yet apart from those who were out so late last night they’re only just heading home, and the people delivering the newspapers. Among other places, one newspaper slaps heavily onto the doorstep of a modest two-story building. Shortly after a woman with clear, blue eyes and long, messy, brown hair opens the door and bends over to pick it up. She’s wearing an over-sized buttoned-up man’s shirt and she takes a deep breath of the fresh morning air before closing the door and heading back into the house. The woman is tall, pale-skinned, moderately proportioned and looks to be in her mid-to-late 30s. She takes a seat at the kitchen table and starts leafing through the newspaper slowly.

 About 15 minutes later a man with bronze skin, warm hazel eyes and short, scraggy dark hair comes into the kitchen, wearing a pair of grey boxers and a black Helloween t-shirt. He’s well-built and tall, even taller than her, and looks to be in his early 30s. He heads over to the table and smiles wryly at her.

“So this is where you went. Just had to catch the news?” he comments in a playful tone before taking a seat across from her. She chuckles and lowers the paper before smiling warmly at him.

“You know me. I rarely sleep for very long. And it’s not like there was much else I could do without waking you up, sleepyhead,” she adds chidingly and he laughs a bit.

“Well, I am deeply sorry for having such a normal sleep rhythm. Besides you were rather hard on me last night,” he adds with a grin, which prompts a giggle from her as she lays the paper down.

“I thought it was the other way around,” she says playfully, and takes a look out the window before looking back at him. “So this is where you ended up. It seems like a nice place, very clean and quiet, but I still wonder… why here? Why you?” He stretches and gets up, and starts to brew some coffee. He doesn’t answer immediately, and she doesn’t pressure him.

“I just needed a break from it all,” he says after a little while. “You know how it can be. I heard you’ve settled down yourself now. Quiet little place in the middle of nowhere, with only family close by.” She looks a little surprised and smiles kindly.

“For the most part, yes… I wasn’t aware you were keeping up with what I was doing. Or is it just that people talk?” she asks with a slight chuckle and leans forward on her elbows, resting her chin on her palms. He takes down a couple of cups from a cupboard, stretching in a way that draws her eyes.

“Well, I like keeping up to date on important people. How is the family doing, by the way?” he asks as he sets the cups down and checks the pot. Her smile softens.

“Oh, they’re alright. The clan is ever-growing as usual, but you’ve probably heard that as well.”

“Yeah, one of your daughters had some kids, right? Twins was it?” He lifts the kettle and starts pouring. “Milk? Sugar?”

“Triplets actually,” she says, smiling a little wider. “She’s handling it well though. And just a little milk, thank you.” She looks around the kitchen. “So what’s available for breakfast? If I knew you were waking up already I might have prepared some.”

He chuckles and puts the cups on the table. “Nonsense, you’re my guest. I should have some eggs…” He heads to the fridge, gets some eggs and starts scrambling them as the two of them keep on chatting about small stuff. She sips her coffee and watches him with a content smile and they keep chit-chatting throughout the breakfast.

“So I noticed something in the paper… there’s been some trouble at the hospital? Nothing dangerous I hope?” she asks as they finish eating.

“No, it’s… rather weird actually. We’ve been told not to talk to outsiders about it, but you’re hardly just anyone,” he says with a smirk. “The bodies in the morgue have been disappearing. There are few traces and the police have told us next to nothing. Not us common employees at least. The management aren’t very forthcoming either,” he adds with a disapproving frown. “I just can’t understand what people around here would use the bodies for, unless there’s some cult starting.” He shrugs and gets up, starting to clean off the table. She gets up too and helps out, earning her a slap on the bum that she really doesn’t seem to mind.

“Speaking of work though, I kinda have to go,” he says apologetically.

“Awww, but what am I supposed to do all alone all day?” she asks with a feigned pout. He chuckles and shakes his head.

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll think of something. Get out of the house, look around, torment the innocent, whatever. It’s your vacation,” he says with a warm smile. “I’ll be back before you know it, and I’ll get time off in a few days. I can give you a proper tour then.”

“Oh alright,” she says with a grin. “I’ll hold you to that though.” She kisses him gently. “Now go get ready, I’ll finish up here,” she adds as she shoos him out of the kitchen. He comes back a few minutes later, properly groomed and dressed, and she whistles appreciatively.

“I always did like a man in a uniform. Even a doctor. Doctor Anders. Has a nice ring to it.” She grins and his cheeks redden slightly.

“You could always stop by for a visit if you’re too bored, you know,” he says as he gets his shoes on. Her smile wilts a little.

“I don’t really like the smell of hospitals, but I might still drop by. We’ll see,” she says with a slight apology in her voice. He nods and gives her a hug.

“I figured. You’re still the same Rita. Take care then, and see you later.” He releases her and heads out the door. “And do remember to put some clothes on before you go out,” he comments with a smirk and closes the door before she can reply. She shakes her head and giggles, then looks down at herself, only wearing the big shirt.

A short while later she steps out the door, wearing denim shorts, a pale yellow blouse and some leather sandals. The sun has climbed pretty far up in the sky now, and only a few clouds dot the blue expanse. As she steps into the sunlight, the warmth of the rays assault her and she takes the heat, absorbs it into her body, wraps it around her bones and feels it seep into her marrow. She takes a deep breath and stretches, revelling in the feeling of the sun upon her skin, before she heads out onto the walkway by the road and just starts walking.

It looks to be a lazy day and she can hardly see anyone else about. Considering it’s a Sunday it might be a bit early for most people. Taking another deep breath she gets a good sense of spring; the pollen from the plants, the pheromones of the insects, the musk from the animals and humans, the- She stops. She looks around. What was that? She’s not far from the town centre now. She listens. The buzzing of bees, flies and other insects hangs in the air, birds chirp and tweet from the trees and bushes, some cars driving a short ways off, rustling in gardens from small animals… she sniffs the air again, more focused this time. Maybe it was just imagined? There’s nothing now, at least. If it was real, it didn’t linger.

She looks up at the sky. There are more clouds in the horizon, as if it might rain this afternoon. She shrugs and walks on, trying to relax, but her instincts keeping her more alert now. She’s got a bad feeling, and can’t seem to shake it. A sigh escapes her. This was supposed to be a vacation. She’s no superhero. Even if anything was to happen, she wouldn’t need to get involved. It could simply be ignored. She smiles. And a small voice in the back of her head goes ‘yeah, right’ as she keeps walking.

The tree-line was her original destination, but now her steps take her further into the town centre instead. More people are out and about here. Some kids with their skateboards and bikes. People walking their dogs. Walking their children. A few cars driving by. Some people just hanging around. Most of the shops are closed today, but she finds a bakery there, and heads inside. After browsing the goods on display, she orders some Danish pastries and a baguette with cheese and ham, then heads back outside and finds a nice, sunlit table to sit at. There are only a few elderly villagers here, so most of the tables are still free. She makes herself comfortable and starts munching on the baguette while taking in the view, letting her senses absorb all the impressions.

Things look normal, which is a curious sight in and of itself for her. Normal is something she could never really have. The real question is, does she actually want normal? Would she really enjoy living in ignorance and leading the ‘normal life’ as these people do? Maybe for a little while, but curiosity, the hunger for more, is in her blood. She would get restless quite quickly. On the flip-side she wonders how many of them would want her life, if they could even make themselves believe it possible? People always want what they don’t have, and when they have something good, they want more of it. It’s in the nature of practically everyone.

Her eyes spot something that seems… out of place. That trio over there. The woman and the two men. At first glance they appear to be just hanging around, taking it easy on a warm day like everyone else, but she can tell they’re watching, just like her. Watching for what though? Are they pondering life as well? She doubts it. She’s seen that kind of look before. They see her and see that she’s looking back at them, though they appear to not care. They measure her up with their eyes before their looks move on. She keeps watching them while she eats, getting to the pastries and savouring the taste of vanilla cream. Closing her eyes for a moment, just enjoying, but when they open again, the trio are gone. She gets up and looks around the entire square, but they’re nowhere to be seen. Maybe they did care after all.

After finishing one pastry and taking the other in a bag with her, she walks over to where they were standing and sniffs covertly, trying to find a trail. People have a way of noticing things that are out of the ordinary, so she doesn’t want to be too obvious. While she is able to confirm that it’s the same scent she smelled earlier, she isn’t able to follow the trail for very long before it gets too diluted.

She stops and checks the time. It’s still pretty early, and there’s little point in scouring this place for those things right now. She heads out of the town centre and up towards the woods, slowly enjoying the last pastry on her way there. She finds a small trail leading upwards and follows it. About a hundred metres from the trees she heads off to the right, wading into the unkempt grass. When she gets to the trees she takes her sandals off with a sigh of relief, digging her toes into the ground gently. She then bounds in between the trees without a care in the world, a few excited squeals escaping her before she’s swallowed up by the forest.

Some hours later she comes back out and reluctantly puts the sandals back on. She looks to be remarkably clean for someone who’s been running around the woods for several hours, and even her hair is still amazingly well arranged. After checking the time again she sees it’s still about an hour till Anders gets off work. She debates with herself for a moment, and then decides to stop by his hospital and escort him home.

It takes her a little while to get out there, but she found someone kind enough to offer her a lift, and she thanks them before stepping out and looking at the place. It’s an old building, but well maintained. While it looks nice enough, she is already dreading the odour that’s going to be inside. After deciding that yes, she is indeed a big girl, she walks over and enters the reception area. She asks for her friend, and then goes off to find him. He’s in his office doing paperwork, finishing up for the day when she knocks. He doesn’t answer, so she just opens the door. He looks up annoyed.

“I said I didn-” he pauses and blinks a little. “You came! Wow, I didn’t actually ex-” another pause. “Is something wrong?” He asks suddenly. She smiles at him, still standing with one hand on the door-handle.

“No, I just thought I’d see if you wanted some company on the way home. Do you want me to leave again?” she asks, and he chuckles and shakes his head.

“No no, I’m happy you came. This is always rather dreary, but it still needs to be done. If you can hang on for ten more minutes, I’ll be done. There’s a snack machine down the hallway if you want anything,” he adds and grins a little at her, knowing her all too well. She sticks her tongue out at him.

“Oh alright then, I’ll try to behave. But you’d better not keep me waiting!” she says in a playful manner, as if it were a threat, and closes the door again. She looks around both ways, as if to see if anyone’s looking, and then heads for the snack machine.

It’s not exactly easy to ignore the smell in here, of patients, illness, disinfectant and… blood, but she’s certainly felt worse and the place seems to be as nice as you might expect. She examines the snack machine, wondering what she wants, until she remembers that she didn’t bring any money. Looking both ways to again make sure no one is watching, she places a hand over the coin slot, a slight charge builds up in the air before it releases and a chocolate bar falls down into the pickup tray. She retrieves and happily unwraps it before starting to munch. She leans against the wall by a window and absently gazes out.

Traffic seems to be picking up as people are getting out of work, and that rain does indeed seem to be close. The chocolate bar is gone pretty fast as she ponders on what she’s experienced so far today. Before long she picks up familiar footfalls approaching her, and she turns her head and smiles at Anders.

“There you are,” he says. “Shall we go now?” She straightens up and brushes some invisible crumbs off of her top.

“Well…” she starts, in a tone that immediately makes him frown. “I was wondering if I could have a look at the morgue?” she asks, as nonchalantly as possible. He shakes his head before answering.

“Rita…” he starts in a mollifying tone. “You’re here to relax, remember? Not chase mysteries,” he finishes, leading her to adopt a cute pout.

“But if I don’t check it out, it will gnaw at me the entire time I’m here. You wouldn’t want that, would you?” she asks sweetly and gives him a plaintive look.

“You… I… oh, alright. That’s low though, using that look on me,” he says in a dejected voice, but she just grins at him, happy to have gotten her way, even though she never doubted she would. “This way, it’s down in the basement,” he adds before leading the way.

“I don’t understand why you’re so interested though,” he continues as they head down the stairs. “It’s likely just some kids having a prank,” he says, not sounding entirely convinced.

“It could,” she admits. “But I have a feeling there’s more to it. Nothing concrete yet, but something is amiss in this town…” She lets that sentence drift off. The drab walls down in the basement nearly make her shiver, not to mention the smells are far worse down here.

“Or you could just be chasing ghosts,” he retorts as they come upon the morgue door. He opens it and goes inside, leaving it open for her to follow. She heads inside after him and looks around. She frowns and sniffs the air.

“They’re all gone?” she asks, and he nods.

“Every single one. About half went the first night, then the rest a week after, despite increased security. Everyone on watch claims to have neither heard nor seen anything. I have at times wondered whether they just won’t admit to it, or if the thieves were really that stealthy.” As he’s talking, she walks around the room, sniffing the air and looking at various things which seem to be of varying relevance. She can’t find much of a scent trail for the missing bodies, like they weren’t actually moved from here. Perhaps teleportation, she ponders, but there is no trace of that, be it magical or technological. And there’s that same type of smell from earlier.

“Something smells wrong in here,” she says after a while. “Something that shouldn’t be here.” She walks out into the hallway and sniffs around there while he leans against the door and watches her.

“Besides us?” he comments snarkily, and she rolls her eyes at him.

“Yes, you daft bugger, something was here. Something… not human, something wrong. Something… I’d have to say not of this world.” She walks back into the room and takes another thorough look, finding only the most minute traces of the bodies, just barely confirming they were once here. “I don’t think the bodies ever actually left this room, at least not as they were,” she adds, and he raises an eyebrow at her.

“What are you saying here, that they turned into zombies or something?” he asks in a disbelieving and half-mocking tone. She sighs with exasperation.

“Again, no. I think they were consumed, right here,” she concludes. He blinks at her.

“Now hold on. Consumed? As in eaten? Preposterous. There would be traces, and that doesn’t even address the why of it all,” he scoffs.

“Do you always have to be so quarrelsome? I don’t know the why, not yet, but I am fairly certain in my conclusion. I can’t find any hint of magical activity, and the scent trails don’t support the bodies actually having been moved from here. And there’s no hint of advanced technology being used in here. The evidence supports the corpses being eaten or absorbed right here,” she says, and keeps inspecting the room, crouching down to look under the autopsy table.

“And what, or who, could have done that?” he asks, still disbelieving, and folds his arms.

“I am not sure… not yet, though I don’t think it’s someone I’ve met before,” she says as she gets back up. “Anyway, I’ve gotten what I can from here. Let’s just go before this smell threatens to shut down my nose,” she says and starts to head out, but stops to give him a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks for indulging me, even if you can be a fractious bastard.” He gives a wry smile and a chuckle, and walks out with her. They talk little about other subjects, as they both consider what was said and what was learned. They get in his car and drive to his home. Drops of rain start striking the windshield.

“This really is a nice place though. Apart from the monsters, I mean,” she says in a humourous tone and he grins a little.

“Yeah, it is. I guess I’ll have to make sure none are around the next time I invite you,” he jokes and they both chuckle.

They drive in silence for the final minutes, and it’s not long before they’re in the house. The rain is light, so they avoid being drenched on the way in. As he puts his stuff away and gets changed, she raids the kitchen and starts cooking dinner; frying some chicken and getting rice and salad going. When he’s done he comes and starts to help, though he’s shooed away by her and has to resign himself to taking a seat.

“Come to think of it,” he says after watching her for a bit. “Whatever happened with the Verren? Were you able to resolve the situation?” he asks. She looks up, confused for a moment, but then recollection catches up with her.

“Oh! Yes. I bribed them with a watermelon,” she says with a grin. “They were all ready to declare me chief after that.” She adds happily and flips the chicken in the pan. He laughs and gets up, starting to set the table.

“Oh dear. I take it you didn’t accept?” he asks with a smile.

“Heavens no!” she laughs. “I have enough to deal with already, trust me. They took my refusal quite well, so long as I gave them another melon,” she finishes, and he glances at her to try to figure out just how serious she is. Her face gives away little apart from a smile, and he doesn’t push it. They sit down and eat, and not long after end up on the couch with some dessert.

As it gets dark and he’s fallen asleep from exhaustion, she dresses lightly and sneaks out of the house. The rain stopped over an hour ago, and as anyone knows, predators enjoy the cloak of darkness, so with any luck she’ll find something.

With a mix of speed and stealth combined with the lack of people in the streets, she gets downtown fast. It’s slightly more busy down here, as any community seems to have those that lack the sense to go to bed early. They are no longer taught to be afraid of the dark, she muses, though that seems to be part of progress.

She keeps her nose, ears and eyes peeled, taking in the environment around her, but she is fairly certain they know of her by now, so if they’re at all clever they will have initiated measures. So she simply walks along and appears to just idly look around. Some of the young boys call out lewd proposals, but none actually approach her. Perhaps part of their instinct is still in there and advises them to stay away. Or maybe they’re all talk. It’s hard to say.

As she does nothing to conceal her presence to those with enhanced senses, she is basically inviting them to find her, or to leave this place if they have the wisdom to do so. It has been a long time since she made any sort of reputation for herself, and a lot has changed since then. They might not know of her specifically, and merely be aware of her kind. Or perhaps they’ve been forgotten by time.

Turning a corner into an abandoned street, she starts walking down the sidewalk at a slow pace. She can hear the noise of something heavy being picked up and thrown, and she senses it come flying towards her. She spins around, throws a punch and it impacts with the bumper of the car that’s flying at her. The resounding bang is phenomenal and the vehicle crumples as if it hit a rock wall at ludicrous speed. The shockwave causes it to stop dead and collapse to the ground in front of her.

Two yellow points of light pierce the smoke that rises from the wreckage, and several figures flee from across the street about fifty metres away. The hunt is on.

As lights come on in the surrounding buildings and people peer half-blind and half-asleep out of windows and into the darkness to figure out what just happened, she moves with inhuman speed and agility, leaping over the smoking rubble and darting after the fleeing figures. They are fast, but not fast enough. She now sees they are five, and she quickly catches up to the first two and grabs their heads, knocking them together and causing them to crash down as she leaps over them.

 The final three seem to unanimously decide on the smartest course of action, and split up. She goes for the one on the left, reckoning that it doesn’t much matter if the other two get away. These three will help her find the rest. She tackles him and smashes his head against a rock, knocking him out. She throws him over her shoulder before going back to pick up the other two.

—–

He wakes up slowly, not yet remembering what happened, and not knowing where he is. His eyes don’t immediately adjust to the light, and everything is blurry. He hears noises he can’t quite describe, except maybe as a kind of squelching. And then a soft voice reaches his ears.

“Ah, you’ve woken up on your own? Either you’re stronger than I thought, or time has really flown by.” It is a woman, he can barely make her out as his eyes start to focus. Where is he? Who is she? What happened? They were out stalking, and then Martel spotted… her.

“Your friends have filled me in on much of what you people are up to, but sadly I am out of practice, so I do hope you’re going to last longer.” His eyes finally adjust and he sees her clearly, coming closer. Those claws look very sharp. You can almost see a blue gleam to them as if they slice the very air they move through.

“Now what do you say we become friends, and you tell me what I want to know?”

—–

The sky is turning grey as the door to the house opens and Rita quietly slips in. She barely gets it closed before Anders speaks up behind her.

“What sort of a time to come back is this, hm?” She turns around slowly, seeing him standing there leaned against the wall, morning robe wrapped around him.

“I was just-” she starts, but he interrupts.

“Do you even know the meaning of the word ‘vacation’, Rita?” he says in a stern tone. She pouts and waits for a moment to make sure he isn’t going to say anything more.

“Look, I know what is going on in this town now,” she says, causing him to raise an eyebrow in interest. “It’s a pack of Larrusi who think they’ve found good hunting ground.” She finishes.

“Larrusi?” he inquires as he straightens up and stifles a yawn.

“Yes,” she replies as she takes off her shoes. “They’re normally scavengers, but far from harmless.” She walks into the living room and plops down on the couch. He follows and takes a chair.

“I assume they started with the local graveyard,” she continues. “They are fairly good at covering their tracks, so I doubt anyone would notice, at least for a time. And then they moved on to the morgue when there were no edible corpses left in the soil. Soon they’ll go after live prey, picking off the weak and old first.” She leans back and sighs. He drums his fingers together.

“And how do you know all this?” he asks after a short silence. She blushes slightly.

“I… ahm… I questioned a couple of them. I also found out they weren’t that many to begin with, but more came as word spread of this place. Anders, I… have to stop them. Chase them off. Or your new home won’t be very pleasant for long.” She gives him an apologetic smile. He closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose.

“It’s too early for this… will you at least help me with breakfast and see me off before you go all hero out there? I’d offer to help, but somehow I feel you’d deny me.” He looks up and offers her a small smile, and she smiles back.

“Of course, hun. You know I can handle myself, and besides, they don’t seem to be very active during the day anyway.” She gets up and stretches, then walks towards the kitchen. “I’ll get some coffee started. By the looks of you, I’ll make it very black.”

They get breakfast done and eaten in relative silence. As he is ready to leave, she leans up to kiss his cheek, and he suddenly hugs her tight.

“Just… be careful out there, alright? Gods only know what your family would do to me if you got hurt,” he says as he releases her. She looks up at him and grins.

“Oh, psh. When have I ever given you cause to worry?” she exclaims cheerfully, and he just gives her a look. With that said, he goes to work, and she goes back inside to get ready.

She finds her trunk sitting in the bedroom and pops the lid. After stripping down, she slips on the family vestments, which look like a pair of dark grey tights with a small lighter grey crest shaped like a wolf’s head on the right side of her chest, and on top of that she dresses casually in pale jeans and a red cotton blouse. Even though the cut is not especially modest, the tights underneath seem to have gone from sight.

As she gets to the door she sees her shoes and sighs. In all honesty she’d rather go without, but that’s not the way to avoid notice. Wait, she’s already dressed like a loon, so if anyone sees her, they’re certain to look at her strange outfit rather than check to see if she still has footwear on. With a slight grin she darts out the door.

The sun has crawled a fair way up into the sky by now, shining through and around the light cloud cover. A fresh aroma of evaporating rain hangs in the air, the dampness adding a light chill to the morning. She scans the area, watching people in various stages of Monday morning preparations, in and out of their houses. Newspapers being collected, activity in kitchen windows and cars being started among other things.

Different scenarios play out in the back of her mind, most of them worst-case. How much do they know? Could they have booby-trapped the place? The farm she was told about is out west a ways, though if she could get somewhere she wouldn’t be seen, it wouldn’t take very long to get there. She walks around behind the house and heads into the stand of trees back there, figuring she’ll be out of sight by the time she gets past them.

Will the Larrusi be expecting her? Maybe they’re already watching her. She feels fairly certain she’d notice that, but maybe she’s underestimating them. Will they want to parley? Or attack her on sight? Lure her into an ambush? The ones who attacked her were young. Brash. Perhaps the leader will be open to negotiation. Perhaps not.

Once she’s past the trees she breaks into a sprint, moving much faster than any human ever could. She keeps to the low areas, hoping to remain out of sight, at least enough that anyone who should happen to see her streak by would believe their imagination had gotten the best of them.

As she closes in on the old farm she slows down and comes to a stop in a clump of trees on a hill overlooking the area. It looks well-maintained, with tractors and other farm equipment sitting where you’d expect, and in reasonable shape. The farmhouse sits on the edge of the large grass field for grazing animals, and it seems to have been painted quite recently, with its pale colouring remaining intact and fresh-looking. The barn sits about a hundred metres to the side, a typical red building with a dark green, sloped roof. In fact it all looks like a proper, normal farm. Except there are no signs of life. No animals, no people and no movement.

She moves down towards the houses, hiding herself in the grass as far as possible. She imagines the original owners of this place met a grisly end. It could be they’re just away on holiday, but considering all the farmers she has known, it seems unlikely. She ponders if anyone has started to wonder where they are.

The barn seems the most likely choice for the Larrusi to hide out, especially considering the numbers she learned of through interrogation. A few of them might be in the house, but that shouldn’t cause any issues with the right precautions.

At the end of field she pauses and gets down flat on the ground. Now comes the real test. If they’re vigilant, they already know she’s here. She assumes they’d believe they could best her if they ambushed her in the barn. She could just burn it down, but she’d rather avoid that. With some concentration she spins forth strings of magic. A mix of air, earth and spirit weave together and set up a ward around the house and then the barn, which will alert her should anyone exit or enter either building. It’s a weak spell, but anything bigger risks detection.

When she’s satisfied with the result, she gets up and casually walks over to the barn. She tests the side door and finds it unblocked, and gently pushes it open, then steps into the dark corridor inside. The stench of the creatures is insufferable in here, but all’s quiet and nothing moves. The presence of them is looming though, causing every hair on her body to stand on end. As she gets to the end of the corridor, she sees one of them waiting for her in the room beyond.

No disguise this time, the thing just stands there, looking like a large, bald rat with elongated limbs and cold, green eyes. She judges him to be slightly smaller than herself, but he stands tall and confident, with no trace of fear on his face. Though why would there be? It’s been too long since her reputation was well-known.

“Why are you here, wolf?” he asks her in a raspy voice. The venom drips off of his words. “Your kind have no place on this world any longer.” She circles slowly around him anti-clockwise, alert for signs of the others whom are no doubt watching.

“And your kind have never had a place here,” she replies neutrally. “You don’t fit in on this world, and I am giving you one chance to pack up and move on.” There’s a slight rustle from the shadows, but she pretends to not notice. The one addressing her lets out a dusty cough that she assumes is laughter.

“Or what, wolf?” he practically spits the last word at her. “The Tellusians are already overflowing and choking their own world. No one would notice a bit of trimming. I say we fit in just fine.” He points a long finger at her. “And while you may have taken a few of us, you will not take us all! Attack!” the final command was shouted at the room at large, and the shadows spring to life. She easily counts a dozen, perhaps two dozen before it’s time to react.

With a slight twist of her torso, the nearest attacker misses, and then her elbow connects with the back of his head and he flies past. Or perhaps her. She is unable to tell any such difference when they’re like this. Their rotten and wrong scent does not help clear things up. She flips backwards, away from another swipe and her foot connects with his chin, causing a sickening crunch.

As the would-be assailant flies up and backwards, she begins to put together a spell to end this fight. It will take a little while to complete with so much of her concentration taken up by the fighting, but it’s better than dragging this out. The air around her builds up a magical charge as she starts mixing together air and water, though unless these guys have any wizards, they wouldn’t be able to see her work even if they sensed the tension in the air.

As she lands a clawed hand swipes across her back and while the suit absorbs most of the blow and she manages to roll with the rest, it still stings and nearly causes her to lose control of her casting. As she rolls between the legs of another creature she grows a long, sleek tail covered in dark brown fur which wraps around the leg of her tunnel and viciously flings him into a wall, knocking over one of his compatriots on the way. It earns her no respite however, as she has to do a quick sidestep to avoid a lunge as soon as she gets to her feet again.

The spell is now starting to take shape, but another charging Larrusi barrels into her side, knocking the air from her lungs and causing her to bungle one of the threads. She kicks her attacker up into the roof in frustration, nearly smashing him through it, while she works to extract the errant thread and weave it in again properly. To hopefully buy some time she leaps into the air and sails over the heads of nearby creatures.

While in the air she spins and twists to avoid yet another attack,then shifts into her battle form; her suit seeming to merge with her skin as she gains a coat of dark brown fur identical to that of her tail, a lupine head and sharp claws and fangs, while she loses any indication of gender and obvious weak spots. She lands on one leg and uses her momentum to go into a spin kick, connecting with the midsection of a charging Larrusi and sending him flying through a metal stall gate.

They are starting to pile up on her now, and dodging the blows becomes ever trickier. She stabs her claws right through the chest of one that leaps at her, but then immediately curses herself for lack of forethought, as it takes an instant to retract her hand and that’s enough of a distraction for another of them to rake his claws down her leg and a third to slash her shoulder. They don’t penetrate deep, but by the sting she can tell they were venomous and she snarls loudly and kicks out at one of them who simply jumps out of the way, though she fells the other and several standing close to him with a sweep of her tail before leaping up into the rafters.

The venom isn’t that bad, but it disturbed her concentration and nearly made her lose hold of the spell, which could have been catastrophic at this point. She takes the moment her leap bought her to refocus and tighten the spell web while swiping her claws at an eager opponent who tried to follow her, causing him to crash down on his fellows while his blood sprays across the room. The stench of it is almost unbearable. She spots their leader and dives off of the beam she was sitting on just before two others pounce up there and she aims straight for him, somersaulting around to hit him with a double kick, but he manages to dodge it, so she goes into a roll.

Bouncing to her feet again, she digs her claws into the shoulders of an unlucky Larrusi facing her and flips over him before she flips him back over her and throws him into the large barn doors, that to their credit actually hold, though her victim sounds quite broken.

She leaps away again onto a wall dividing two livestock stalls, and then hops from wall to wall, focusing more on her spell. This causes her to almost not notice as another of them moves to block her jumps, and it’s just barely she manages to not barrel straight into him. She lands right beside him and delivers a vicious kick to his groin, sending him flying. Perhaps he doesn’t feel any extra because of that, but it sure felt satisfying for her.

She hops down in the stall, and as her spell is nearly complete, she uses the better footing to leap into the centre of the room, holding her spell tight and ignoring the scratches she suffers on the way. Just as they are pouncing on her again to try to overwhelm her, she casts the spell and a blast of frost radiates out from her, freezing everything inside the barn completely solid. The Larrusi in the air fall to the ground and shatter quite spectacularly, while the rest are frozen solid where they stand. She pauses and catches her breath in the suddenly chill air, and now that she’s free of distractions, she quickly whips together a shockwave of air that shatters all the remaining creatures.

After returning to her human form she does a final sweep of the barn to make sure she didn’t miss anyone, finds their dingy spaceship and decides to keep it. She sets up a portal and floats the ship through it to a location where she can study it later, and then start to dispose of their remains. It wouldn’t be good if the locals found even the smallest piece of them.

Once satisfied she walks out of the barn again, and into the warm, damp air of the approaching summer. Her perimeter spells have not been set off, and going inside the farm house she finds a teleporter set up in the basement, though no trace of the farmers or any additional creatures. So that’s how they got more of them in here after the first ship. It’s a very basic design, but functional, and not hard to disable. Before that though, she sends a message through the teleporter.

‘Stay away from Tellus,’ is all it says, with her name signed underneath; Rita Wulf.

Then she swiftly disables the equipment before sending it through another portal for study as well. Meeting new races should never be taken lightly.

Now that she feels certain the area is secure, she checks her vestments. Her wounds are gone, the venom is neutralised and the suit only has minor damage that should be swift to mend. As she steps outside and prepares to go back, she turns around at the start of the field and dismantles her spells. Now apart from some broken pieces of wood and a bent metal gate, no one ordinary will find proof of anything abnormal happening here. As a final note, she casts a quick spell to switch to an outfit more suiting to the weather; a light green summer dress with a floral pattern. She walks back towards Anders’s house at a leisurely stroll. She has all day, and feels determined to enjoy the rest of her vacation. She will merely keep an eye out in case there’s more trouble around. A smile settles on her face as she reflects that she’s quite enjoyed herself so far already.

~The End~

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Posted on June 23, 2012, in Fiction, Storytime and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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