With my companions wounds no longer life threatening, and with him recovering, and with me bringing some useful tools to our little hideout in the forest, we have a slightly better chance of both living decent and surviving our stay here.
"I'll need to go gather some more in the ways of food and drink for sustenance for us, we will need to consider a method for preserving what we stock up too so we don't starve. We don't have a safe option of leaving lest we be found and sought for execution." I tell me companion.
"That's true... if anything though, I've learned how to set a campfire and tent long ago, if you find me a Tent kit, I'll get everything set up in front of our Den... not too comfy inside here at the moment. Speaking of which, did you learn my name?" my companion says.
"Um... what was it, I think I heard it before?" I question embarrassingly. "It's John." he says. "Are you sure it's not Lictor?" I respond. "It's John Lictor." He replies.
"Well it's nice to meet you John Lictor, um, did you learn my name from the papers on my imprisonment?" I ask him.
"All that is known is that you first name is Victor. Your surname and hometown is unknown, as is your childhood. You appeared out here as a young adult with a pouch of coin, bought a small cottage, and kept to yourself since then." John replies.
"I don't too much about you, 200 gold coins is quite a comfy sum of coin for someone 18 years old and suddenly on their own, and the owner of the home and patch of land abandoned it a few years past, leaving it rundown, and cheap to buy. You fixed it up real nice." John then says scratching his chin.
"Seems your lucky then, unlucky now. Don't know what happened that you never left the Cottage to return to your hometown, don't care either. You never caused problems and never broke the law. You seem like a good person to me so far... other than having to strike a finishing blow on several guardsmen." he says, at first, with a positive cheerful expression, then a more dire one.
"I just need to remind you our lives were in danger, plus, not everyone who attacked us I killed. I was more than happy to allow one of our attackers to leave unharmed, you don't need to kill everyone that harms you, only those that would result in one's own death." I explain.
"I appreciate you sparing one fellow guard... I really do... and I appreciate you not turning me and instead healing me. If anything, I owe you now at this point... to an extent. I freed you, you protected me, I got injured, you healed me, you ARE going to feed me and care for me during my recovery. I'll have to do something to repay you further for your kindness." he explains.
"I'm just glad your alive and well, I don't have much in the way of friends. One friend is an excellent wondrous gift that I shall treasure." I respond with. Hopefully he sees that I'm not doing these acts of kindness to seek favors in return.
"I know you view me as a friend... but just realize that I have to serve as a guard, and I can't exist as a friend to someone who is a criminal, until I prove their innocence. You are clearly an innocent, your innocence is quite proven... just not accepted, but when I return to my superior and explain what I experience in my abscence, he will have no choice but to acknowledge your innocence, and accept me as redeemed." he explains.
"What if my innocence is never accepted?, or your superior never acknowledges your redemptions?" I then ask, to see what he would view of the future.
"I can't accept that. The Lord of Justice would never allow such an injustice or cruelty to be allowed. This is a cruel world, but the Lord of Justice seeks to keep it fair." he responds. John is clearly Religious and devout.
"I am proud your faith keeps you on a righteous and noble path John. May you never lose your faith, regardless of the painful trails that may ever stand before you." I tell him, putting my hand on his shoulder.
"Thank you." he says softly. I can't tell, but it looks almost like John is near crying. I think this might have been quite painful and hard for him. His faith is his shield, and he relies on it in his time of need. Without his faith, he would feel like having nothing.
When he turned on his fellow guards, he did so for me, but he never intended to turn on his God, nor did he ever want to allow harm or bloodshed to happen. I should do everything I can to help him feel better and stand strong for his God.
"I'll be back soon John, stay strong my friend." I tell him. "May the light keep you safe Victor. he replies. I go through the woods, gathering what I can in the daylight hours.
With the daylight, natures plenty is revealed, along with countless small animals foraging within the forest. Birds, rodents, rabbits, and deer, an occasional fox and even a few badgers... all roaming about.
Every creature, living in harmony, in its place, doing as it must, without any illogical or immoral violence. You do what you need to live, not out of anger, hatred, or prejudice. The purity of nature is refreshing to me. It calms me...
I choose not to hunt, as I can find food for myself and my companion without killing. I gather nuts, berries, and mushrooms for food. Some select berries and mushrooms I find are good for alchemy. I even find some flowers and leaven plants useful for alchemy.
Yet, going through the forest, I come across a deer, and see it caught in a trap. A claw trap, likely for bears. It has been bleeding for quite some time. It would be a shame for it to continue to suffer, so it would be best to end its life.
Of the things I've collected for alchemy, some are capable of toxicity, I decide to end the poor creatures life quickly through such 'medication'. It stops breathing after half a minute of heavy breathing. The meat might be mildly tainted, but if I properly prepare it, it could still be salvaged.
For one good deed, a reward is given. The trap itself is not easily removed, and I only end up mangling the dead buck's leg further attempting to remove it... eventually I succeed in my endeavor, and my succor is a luxurious kill, that a foolish hunter will have lost from his inattentiveness to the traps he abandons around the forest.
I'm carrying a lot I soon realize, but develop an idea from a nearby vine hanging from a tree. I use the vine which I wrap one end around my arm and the other end around slain bucks legs. I drag its body to the 'hideout' John awaits at. Sun is high overhead now.
"That sure is a glorious bounty in your arms!, and all the meat on that animal!, what a find!" John says, astonished. John appears to have made a small firepit, a circle built of large stones, numerous branches, twigs, chunks of lumber, all filling the center of the firepit.
"You built a firepit? Not just a campfire, but a firepit? That's amazing!" I exclaim... putting down all my findings and removing the vine just to lookg at the firepit further. "It's perfect, flawless, the amount of stone used to keep the fire from spreading to the surrounding area is just right, just enough wood, and you placed dry grass and leaves in it too, it'll light up quickly with that! Um... whats the black I spot?" I mention as I talk to him.
"I can't walk far from here with my injuries, but I was still able to find everything I needed, oddly, a campfire site must have existed in the distant past near here... or a bush or sapling hit by lightning, cause I found a small amount of charcoal standing while I was gathering what I needed." he explained.
"What a stroke of luck! Well, I must admit, this is perfect, considering that there is no way a small campfire could possibly cook this much meat..." I say happy.
"Whoa, uh... cook a whole deer? Um... idea, why not try cooking all we could eat for now, but try drying the rest somehow? We need to store food right?" John replies.
"Oh, yes, true... but, we also need to consider how I killed the deer... I... kinda medicated it... so... it wouldn't continue sufferring from its wound in a trap." I say grimly.
"Uh huh, and?" John says expecting me to say more. "Well, we'll need to consider that with the herbs used we could get sick if we consume specific parts of animal and get sick."
"Uh... are you saying you poisoned the deer so it wouldn't slowly die from the trap it was caught in?" he then asks. "Yup." I say. "Oh!" he slaps forhead.
"I fed it poison and its blood is likely still tainted. We'd have trouble breathing as well if we consumed any tainted blood. We'd need to thouroughly cook the meat through, the toxins would likely be neutralized by extreme heat, which is what is normally done, but if anything, this means cooking this to Well Done if its to be safe at all for consumption. I'm not sure we could dry any of it. Unless maybe we could crisp it somehow afterwards." I then explain to him.
"Well that's a helpful life lesson, if anything, you could have ignored the animal and left it to die, or killed it with cruelty, but this method if anything provides meat, even if not preventing leftovers. Yet an act of mercy is not done for reward, but as the Lord of Mercy says, is done for the sake of a Greater Good." he explains.
"I'm glad that the path of mercy is something noble enough to be followed. We can still enjoy our meal and the thanks this creature would undeniably give for its just release from pain." I say with a smile as I got get John's blade from the Den.
"If anything, I believe that you provided the firepit, and own the blade which we must use to butcher our meat, you can choose who gets what." I say, offerring John his sword. "So your giving me the task of butchering the buck? Gladly! I haven't did this in several years!" John says.
John gets to butchering the beast. While I go about preparing everything. I set to light the firepit, and then gather as multiple flat stones from the area for cooking on. One spot more distant from the camp and fire provides a large, but potentially useful hole for later on...
Some flat stones are small, which I can roast mushrooms, nuts, and berries on. The large ones are good for slabs of meat and organs. I put the large stones by John as I find them, giving him something to place the meat butchered on.
John is if anything taking his time to cut through everything, measuring each piece before placing them on the large stones. He seems to have a talent for butchering his meat. When he said he hadn't done this in several years, I could believe he hadn't done it in several days.
I begin to notice that there is no large flat stones in proximity to the 'hideout' left. I consider focusing for more ways to stoke and increase the fire's strength. As I travel at the edges of the 'hideout', barely in range of the fire, I notice the sun is almost done setting... I realize my time left till night is short.
Worrysome, I try to avoid shifting right in front of my companion, and travel further out into the woods. I notice that it is disturbingly quiet in the woods... abnormally so. That... isn't normal. Do they animals know I'm going to shift? Or is it something else?
The sun sets... and the moon rises, I feel a tingling in my spine, I could wait till the moon forces me to shift, but I'd rather not keep my companion waiting. I have minimal control over my 'talents'. I get down on my knees and hands, close my eyes, and focus.
Mere nightfall is all a werewolf needs to shift, the moon a focus that never truly leaves, it's light a catalyst, lost in the clouds, and blinded in it's coming and missing in it's passing. But one's mind and spirit can serve as a catalyst as well.
It takes not long for me to 'focus' my thoughts, my mind, and spirit, and begin the process, and my flesh contorts whilst my bones reshape and my body reforms.
By the time it is over, the unpleasent feelings have passed, and with these rags, and with my choice, no great pain or sufferring transpired.
I open my eyes, and my view is sharper than ever, and the smell of the deers blood in the distance from my friend's butchering job entices me... but the silence gives me worry, and a faint blowing of wind gives me a scent in my snout.
I smell imps! Small mischeivous beasts known for being magical, malevolent, thieving mongrels with a love for cruelty. I know they are near, but without focusing, I cannot tell where. I should warn John... quickly.
I return to the campsite and John has already placed the large stones with slabs of meat and organs on the firepit... the aroma is... wonderful... I stare into the fire.
"Your... changed? Already? The moon is almost fully up, figures, you must have changed... instantly I guess? Um... buddy... mind talking?" John says with worry.
"The smell... is nice... but... there was more smells... not just meat, or blood, or your blood..." I say, focused on the fire, and that delicious meat.
"Um... okay. Mind telling me what's on your mind?" John says, more worried keeping his blade at his side.
"There was another smell on the wind, not this beast, nor you, other beasts, nearby, not sure how many, a few?, many?, not good as food though... dangerous maybe..."
John interrupts me, "Wait!, dangerous?! Mind talking normal for a sec!" I snap out of my daze at the fire and speak. "Oh, sorry, the meat... is distracting... Imps... I smell Imps." John goes to the den... comes out with his shield... and he falls to his knees and drops to his side.
"John! Are you okay?!" I say loudly and in concern. "No I'm not okay you idiot!, AGH!, I can't stop walking now, DAMN IT LEGS! Victor, I'm in danger! Watch me and make sure the Imps don't get near me!" John shouts.
The shield was probably too much extra weight for him. I turn around, cursing in my head, yet the smell of the meat distracts me and keeps me from focusing... until I notice the cackling of the imps that are approaching. The stay right outside of the firepit's light, yet I can see the glint in their beady eyes.
Small evil winged monkeys. Tormenting, killing, eating small animals, stealing from people, kidnapping children and eating them. Tribal barbaric dumb little twits.
"Do you see them? I think I heard them! Don't let them near me... I'm gonna crawl to the Den... just... keep them away, okay?" John says.
The small little bastards focus on the Firepit, its not John they want, but the feast that we were making. I could sacrifice our food, and we could go hungry. Or I could risk my health, and potentially John's, by fighting them head on.
They probably won't stop with forfeitting food alone. They are creature of gluttony AND cruelty. There is no certainty that with John vulnerable and near helpless that they would spare him. They may try to take him as well... he is injured, and thus, is a toy, prey even to them.
I can see at least four pairs of shining eyes... meaning four imps... and if anything, while one would be an easy fight... four would be a challenge. I'll gladly take the challenge. I'll fight them the best I can. I stand my ground, and wait for them to charge.
Indeed they do, and I lash out and bite at them, as the winged little monkeys claw and bite me. Some of them spit flames with their mouths, some of them have sparks of thunder from their claws, but I do not relent, yet I scream in pain all the same, for each strike of the beasts is agony.
There were five, five little screaming mongrels spitting flames and swinging lightning, but the might of the enraged wolf defending it packmate is too much for the filthy monsters. Each little devils falls, one by one. And with each one slain I am closer to death.
By the time I'm done, I'm covered in blood and scorch marks. I notice the meat is well cooked. The sides of nuts, mushrooms, and berries is overcooked. I remove the slabs... from the firepit... and walk to the Den, my companion shouting. I can't hear him well.
I grab leg of deer that was the only piece of meat not fully cooked, its scent the best, I'm not sure why, and I chew on it, with my eyes closed, nearby the firepit. I fall into a deep sleep. I dream, I dream of tearing through imps, guardsmen, and deer, in a valley of darkness and feasting on everyone and everything when its over.
I wake up in the morning, still in beast form... I forgot that if I choose to shift, I need to choose to return when the sun rises. I thouroughly chewed up the leg of deer, all thats left is bone. My companion is nearby. He appears to have made a potion... and is poking the top of my head.
"Grr... what?" I mumble. "I made a potion for you... one of the healing potions I learned to make, thanx to you. You need it, bad, considering your still torn up and covered in blood" John replies, corcerned, but trying to be cheerful for me.
I notice the potion is pale yellow like the one I made him. I drink some of it. It tastes sour... and bitter... it tastes very sour and very bitter... this... is the same thing? "Are you sure it is the same?" I tell him, "It tastes like it would be somewhat... different..."
"Um... there was a problem making it the same, we didn't have as much honey, and... we had those mushrooms, but I once heard that butterfly wings had healing powers... and so I got some... and hoped it would work... it would work right?" he said, a bit... worried. "I didn't know what to do... so... well?"
I finish drinking the potion, "Well, thankfully you heard the truth, considering, but if anything, even a little bit of honey would have been enough. It just would have been a weaker healing potion. Three healing ingredients from three different sources would make a stronger healing potion." I say cheerfully.
My wounds already begin healing, I feel, refreshed, though, my flesh and skin crawls as my body is restored. The potion, combined with the 'beast's blessing' enables me to recover from my injuries rapidly and fully. "Whoa, quite a potion! I'm amazed it worked THAT well!" he says surprised.
"Well, I am in werewolf form, my injuries heal quickly in this form, and a powerful healing potion will work twice as well. I'm quite lucky to have you as a friend." I say.
"I'm glad I could help in some way... I... wish I fought those damn things with you... but... maybe I don't need to kill to do my Lord's work?" John says.
"If you needed to serve the Lord of Justice and Mercy, he could always use more Healers among his Layservants and Priests." I reply happily.
"Maybe if this doesn't turn out well with my superior... I'll welcome the change... but I still want to be a Guard, for now." he replies contemplatively.
"Speaking of your Lord's work, monsters Imps may be, but we can't leave their bodies to rot... where are they?" I say, inquisitive.
"I... was angry... I tore off the rags and jewelry worn by their leader, vain proud bastard most likely, and burned his corpse with his fellows." he says grimly.
"Well... count that as cremation just as much as retribution. Though, if one of them had jewelry, we should take a look at it later." I mention.
"Well, its in the Den... mind you, I have been waiting a bit, and I think its time for me to use the dumping hole." John says.
"Please tell me its not right next to here..." I say with unease at the thought... of both smell and sight of it.
"Nope, its not viewable from here... but if I were to stand and shout, you could locate it easily from the firepit. Made it when you went 'deer saving'." He replies.
I give a sigh and walk off. "Where you going?" John asks. "Same thing you want to do. Take a dump, using the dumping hole I made." I shout in his direction.