The mess was impossible to follow. Cobalt pulled her sword from one of the wolves sides and beat her wings, sending herself back and up from the fight. She was still outside, and the air–lacking the stench of wolf–was refreshing.
She narrowed her eyes, trying to take in the general state of things. Her people were fighters, trained from birth and incredibly deadly. But these wolves…they fought almost as one, and their flesh was difficult to pierce. She had only managed by catching one pinned down and not looking, and even then it was a struggle. Finding a soft spot on these creatures was a chore all by itself.
She swore at herself. This wasn’t how things were meant to go. Her troops weren’t winning–and they were tiring, much faster than the wolves would, it seemed. She had been arrogant. Her victory had seemed assured, but she had thought werewolves to be no different than normal wolves, once changed. She had been wrong. So badly wrong.
But the traitor was right there, inside the house, hiding behind these beasts. How could she turn away? None of them could return home until their objective was complete. Deserina would have them executed if they dared.
But this frontal attack had been a bad idea. They needed to leave, regroup, heal, and learn more about the beasts, so they could return and taste their victory.
Cobalt sang out a signal, two quick high whistles and two long and long, repeated twice.
At the signal, her troops immediately changed their objective. Those that could, disengaged. Those that couldn’t, found help coming. One by one, the beasts allowed them to backtrack out of the house–and Cobalt knew, with a cold, helpless fury, that they were indeed being allowed to leave. In fact, she was convinced that the beasts hadn’t been trying to kill them. Two of her people lay dead, that was true, and they were being carried out now by her troops, but…the beasts had held them, not destroyed them. Why? Cobalt thought that if she could answer that question, more would become clear. But not now. Not here. She whistled again, a long medium tone, and watched as her people took to the skies, the injured being supported by others. In moments she was the only pixie left, hovering above the garden.
What she assumed to be the lead wolf–the biggest by far–stepped out onto the pathway and changed back, standing naked as she looked directly into Cobalt’s eyes, the challenge there evident.
Cobalt shook her head and held her tongue, turning to follow her people away. Back to their command post. Back to where Onson would look at her from beneath his hood, and say nothing, accusation simply standing in the air between them.
Sofia turned back to her wolves, who were all shifting back to their human states. All of them showed bruises and slight gashes, three of them needed more urgent attention and were carried to the basement, where a medical station had been set up. They all had some field medic training–Sofia and the previous Alpha had insisted on it–and a couple had more than that. The three injured were disinfected, stitched, and gauze placed over their wounds. The stitches would be removed in a few hours, before they healed too far, and they would heal completely in a day or two. In the meantime they would mostly itch as the rapid healing took place.
Sofia held conference with Brute, Louis and Alfonse.
“I think they fell for it,” Sofia said, looking for confirmation.
“Yeah, that was a tactical retreat but not because they realised anything,” Brute agreed.
“I’ll have the essence refreshed in a couple of days. We need to figure out what tack they’ll try next,” Alfonse said, rubbing a bruised rib with a wince.
“Thanks Alfonse,” Sofia nodded. “We’ll hold a council tomorrow, once everyone has rested and done some healing. Lou, grab some people and sort us out a big meal, would you? Go shopping, fill the fridges and freezers, and get cooking. We need the replenishment after this.”
Louis nodded and stood, leaving the two of them alone.
“What’s bothering you?” Brute asked.
Sofia grinned, “That obvious?”
“They left too easy. If they didn’t figure out the bait and switch, why?”
“I think they fucked up,” Brute said with a shrug of one large shoulder. “I think they forgot to do their homework, and were sadly unprepared for what a werewolf is. Which means we got off easy today, but when they come back they’ll be smarter about it. I just hope they didn’t catch the whole not killing them thing that we did, that’ll make things trickier. We might have to next time.”
Sofia nodded, “I’d rather not, but if they show up ready for real, then we will.”
Later, over food, the wolves exchanged tall tales, jokes, and more. Sofia, sat between one of the younger wolves, Silas, and one of the older wolves, Beth, heard the older telling the younger about a necromancer she had once known.
“…and for gods only know what reason, this guy decided we were soulmates or something, so he started sending me presents. And when necromancers try to woo you, it ain’t with flowers and chocolates!”
Silas, eyes wide, leaned in, “What did he send you?”
Beth also leaned in, Sofia now watching the two of them with a smile, “An eye. Some fingers. Hair. Things he found that were good quality, just all from corpses. He was trying to woo me by showing me the great things he could get. Don’t ask me the logic of that. But anyway, I threw them all away and kept telling him to leave me alone. Did he? Bollocks did he. He sent me the weirdest fucking thing. A skeleton. A human skeleton, picked perfectly clean, probably boiled or whatever the fuck they do, then reassembled, reanimated, and sent right to our door!”
Silas’ mouth dropped open and he stared, “That’s a joke, right? You’ve gotta be having me on!”
Sofia laughed, “Sad to say, Silas, that she is not. I was there.”
“So what did you do?!”
Beth grinned, “Well, I tried to send it away but it apparently ‘belonged’ to me now. So, first, I finally gave up being nice to the necromancer and went round with a couple of the pack. We scared him pretty quickly into staying away forever. Maybe we left him a couple scars to remember us by…”
“And the skeleton??”
“Now that was more of a puzzle. We divided it up between us, wolfed out, and buried its bones in different parts of the forest where we lived then.”
Silas laughed, “Bet that stopped it!”
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Nope. It took a while, but a couple of months later, looking somewhat the worse for wear–covered in mud and slime, with half its bones in wrong–there it was again, knocking politely at the door.
“I tell you, boy, we buried that fucking thing more times than I care to count. We buried its bits farther away–came back. We buried it in sanctified ground–came back. We took a goddamned plane and buried it the other side of the world–came back covered in seaweed, ocean salt, and bite marks.”
Most of the pack was listening now. Those who had been there were laughing. Those who had heard the story before were grinning, enjoying Silas’ reaction.
Silas was shaking his head slowly, “So how did you get rid of it?”
Beth smiled and held out her hands innocently, “Honey we’re werewolves. When you get right down to it, we’re dogs. So we did what dogs do to bones when they’re not burying them.”
“Took a few weeks to get through it all, but we did it!” Brute put in from farther down the table, bursting into guffaws.
Silas sat back, utterly gobsmacked. The table was laughing, and soon turned back to their conversations but with a bit more energy. Sofia winked at Beth, who winked right back–some of the old timers knew how to bring the pack back to reality just right.
Did you enjoy? I hope so.
If you did, you could buy me a coffee here.
Writing prompt used: