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The Red Wolf

The door shut with a heavy bang, dust falling from the rafters in response, the stone trembling under the anguished and rabid screams echoing just beyond. The group heaved for breath, well, most of them.

Five stood within the dank room lit only by the moonlight cascading in from the single window. Three were human men, Hunters, tasked with killing the Master of the creatures behind the door they had just fled through, the fourth was a young nobleman with porcelain skin and crimson eyes, and the last an Amazonian- built woman dressed in gleaming bronze and gold armor splattered with blood.

The men immediately turned to each other, words rushing over one another as they attempted to calm themselves and form a plan for the army that lied behind those slabs of wood. But as the seconds ticked by, they grew more and more panicked, fear filling the air with its heavy rank scent. The nobleman offered no words, only leant against the stood, arm pressed to his side, a hiss falling from his clenched teeth.

“Open the doors.” Spoke the woman, a resounding clang following her words, immediately claiming her companions attention. The three men turned, eyes wide as their female companion began slipping out of her armor, each piece falling carelessly at her feet.

“Are you insane?!” One cried, lurching a step towards her, leaning heavily on his staff as blood dripped down the side of his face. She said nothing, only continued shrugging off the heavy ornate armor. “We barley held our own as a group, and now you want to take them on your own?” The man huffed, wavering and nearly falling if not for the other two men rushing to his side.

“Are you certain, Rowan?” The nobleman breathed, casting a weary gaze towards her, his arm trembling against his gouged side, the wound was healing inhumanly quick, but worryingly slow, for a vampire as powerful as him. Crimson eyes flushed with hunger, but the party knew of their companions restraint and held little fear of his fangs.

A final clang rang in the ensuing silence and Rowan stood before them dressed only in the simplest cloth, the flesh of her arms, calves, feet and neck exposed. She raised her head and met her friends steady gaze, dark eyes narrowed in cold determination as a golden glow began creeping at the edges. She looked away and dropped to the floor, sharp hails digging into the stone, legs spread out behind her, ready to push her into a sprint.

“Very well.” The nobleman said, pushing himself to his feet and moving towards the barred door. Immediately the three men roared in outrage and protest, lurching as one, trembling hands reaching out to stop the vampire.

“What’s she going to do without her armor? She’s even more vulnerable now!” The other two men nodded frantically, casting frightened glances between the door and Rowan, whose eyes remained straight and steady upon the exit, her lips curled at the edges, revealing sharp canines.

“You misunderstand, Hunter.” The vampire spoke, heaving the lock with minimal effort, bracing himself, before glancing back. Rowan nodded once, sharply, settling deeper into her stance. With one blurred motion, he wrenched the door open as Rowan rushed past, a blur of red hair and rippling tan flesh.

“The armor was not made to protect her, but as a signal for her true strength. And a physical manifestation of her restraint.” He shut the door with a grunt, leaving the men with a final image of their young companion; bones shifted and in the span of a blink of an eye, she grew large and furry, a large red wolf lunging at the throats of their enemies, jaw wide as she howled.

“She will only shed her armor for real opponents, otherwise — ” He continued, only to be cut off as screams and cries, louder and more pained than before, rang out behind the heavy wood. Only to be cut off sharply, following the rip of tearing flesh, the snap of bone, the crunch of metal. Heavy growls and howls they knew didn’t come from the monsters they’d been fighting echoing after. The men flinched as they reconsidered how battle worn they really were, and how Rowan had barely broken a sweat.

“She would tear apart all who stand before her with ease.” The nobleman finished, slumping against the cool stone, eyes falling shut with a bitter chuckle. “Oh, she had made my monster of a Father proud with her ease in battle. Her bloodlust, her steadfast loyalty, those qualities are rare and so useful.” He hissed, brow scrunching as he pressed harder against his side. “My dear friend, my little red wolf.” He finished with a mutter.

The men cowered together, and sat too against the stone, waiting with racing hearts until the air fell silent. Then, three polite knocks fell against the wood. The men jumped while the nobleman pushed himself off the wall, stepped to the door and threw it open before the men could utter a word of protest.

In the fading light of the moon stood Rowan, hair somehow wilder, flesh stained with splashes of dark crimson, clothes just barely covering her. She flashed a grin, inhuman teeth catching in the remaining silver light, her hands, jaw and cheeks stained almost black. Her eyes flashed gold as she turned her bright gaze upon the vampire nobleman.

“We should move, either further in to a better stronghold room, or back out the door.” The nobleman nodded, stepping aside as Rowan breezed past, stooping to replace her armor quickly before rising and offering an arm to her fellow inhuman companion. Under the nearly untouched glow of the metal, her face appeared even more savage as she smiled.

“Further in, there is no turning back now.” The nobleman said, taking her arm and gesturing for the men to follow as the moved out.

With unsteady steps, the three men followed, stepping across the darkened room painted with the corpses of their enemies. The men groaned and grew pale, turning their queasy gazes upon the untouched backs of their inhuman companions.

The men vowed never to cross or question their inhuman companions again, and felt just a bit better about the impossible task ahead of them. Maybe killing an immortal would be easier than they thought.

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