A lone figure stood on the top of Mt. Chocorua, backlit by a sunrise that was just starting to peek over the hills in the distance. Strange markings had been scratched into a basketball sized rock at his feet, obvious from the trail. He didn’t bother to try to hide his handiwork, knowing passing hikers would just assume it was the work of some teenagers who had been drinking, or not notice them at all.
The man bent down and pulled out a strange looking knife, the jet black wooden handle worn smooth from centuries of use. The blade looked like black glass, humming lightly and pulsing with a dull red light. Whispering a few unintelligible words, he slashed his other hand open and covered the blade with his own blood before plunging it into the rock. The blade piercing into the hard granite like a hot knife into butter. A quick turn of the man’s wrist and the handle broke off, leaving the glowing blade stuck deep into the rock. Putting the handle into his pocket, he held his hand over the rock and whispered a few last words.
The ground under his feet shuttered slightly and the rock started to sink into the mountain. Unseen to any human eye, tiny whiffs of smoke started to seep from the cracks formed in the earth and stone by the burrowing rock. As the stone settled itself halfway into the ground, the smoke slowly started pouring out from further and further away, as if a fire was spreading through the ground around the stone and pushing itself out of the mountain. No human would see or feel the flames, they would never sense the smoke. The spectral fire would spread over the exposed rocks and dirt that made up the top of the mountain, a giant torch that would call his pawns, like a moth to a flame.
Smiling, the man stood and walked slowly down the trail that would take him off the mountain, every now and then turning to admire his handiwork before the top of the mountain disappeared when he walked below the tree line. His work was done for now, soon the entire mountain would burn, calling every vampire for hundreds of miles to this tiny tourist town. The body count will rise as the mountain’s influence on them got stronger, it will make them hunger, it will make them feed. Then he would use them. All that came within the mountain’s influence would be his slaves, and this new army would be used to overpower those he really wanted. They will come to him, bow to him, and if necessary, die for him. The board was now set, all he had to do was wait for his pieces to arrive.
The white wolf raced through the forest, dodging trees and brush instinctively as he moved faster than any wildlife biologist would think remotely possible. He was closely followed by two others, one grey, one dark brown. He raced towards a campsite that he hoped would be empty even though what he saw, and sensed, said differently.
He had been sound asleep in his human form when the alarm went off in his head, a sixth sense that was completely in tune with the world around him. Something had happened, something bad. His suspicions were confirmed when he looked out his window to see smoke rising in the distance. Normally this wouldn’t put him in the state of alarm he was in now, but this was no ordinary smoke. The supernatural knows the supernatural, no human would react to the smoke, in fact, no human would even know it was there. At the moment it was faint, even to him, but as the minutes ticked on it gained in strength and potency, and it was evil.
Werewolves had gained a bad reputation over the centuries, the few people to know of their existence knew only that they were short tempered and prone to change and attack if provoked. In truth, they instinctively watched over both humans and each other, one of the few creatures on earth with the ability to take down vampires when they got too careless with their feeding.
This, however, was not the work of vampires, this was something different. The creature that had set this spectral fire had already killed once this summer, his scent was all over the mountain, though he had yet to discover it hiding places. Now he was afraid the creature had struck again and killed off the couple he had been trying to scare out of the woods.
With his two pack mates following, he couldn’t move as fast as he wanted, still, they arrived at the base of the mountain in less than fifteen minutes. They walked slowly down the game trail, smelling traces of not only the couple, but also something supernatural, something that sent chills up even his spine. Sensing something dark, the white wolf sent a mental signal for the other two to back off while he went on alone. If the couple were still alive, he didn’t need to risk having three of them circling the camp. If they weren’t, and the creature was still there, he wanted to be able to get away quick if things turned ugly.
The smell of burned flesh hit him before he was within sight of the camp, it was a thick smell that clung to the inside of his mouth, making his stomach turn. Then he was there. Throughout his life he had fought several wandering vampires and seen the horrible ways they tried to cover their tracks from humans. This was something entirely different. This was impossible.
The camp was surrounded by a ring of melting frost and ice. Trees had burst and fallen over, there blackened leaves hanging limply from shattered branches, rocks had cracked and crumbled to pieces, instantly frozen. The circle of frozen destruction must have gone on for fifty or sixty feet, everything caught in its path had been killed and destroyed. In the center of the frozen waste lay a charred smoldering patch, everything within a blackened ruin.
The burned patch was roughly twenty feet wide, the ground still hot and smoking. The pads on his feet burned, the sand in the center of the patch had melted into glass, the ground had a strange sunken look to it. Not far from that were the remains of the couple, their bodies charred black.
“Damnit…” the wolf sat back and let out a howl, a few seconds later he was joined by the others. They both let out a small yip when they got to the smoldering ground, surprised by the heat.
“What could cause this” the grey wolf sent the question straight to the white wolf’s mind.
“I don’t know, the scent is the same from where we found the boy’s body, and it matches what was in the silver box.”
“Is it a vampire? Can they do this” the brown wolf asked.
“No, whatever did this is different, the vampires fear it. I think it’s time he explained what it is we’re hunting. I think it caused whatever is happening on the mountain, I just wish I knew why.”
The grey wolf stepped forward, nervously glancing at the top of the mountain. “I don’t like that. He’ll be back today, we’ll talk to him. Are you going to call on the others? Is it time?”
“Not yet, soon. I want to know what’s happening first, and what that is.”
He motioned his nose up to the mountaintop. The strange smoke was still small but getting bigger, and he could now see black flames rising in the smoke.
“What about them? Do we bury them or will you tell the police?” The brown wolf asked.
The white wolf pondered for a moment, then growled in anger at the scene. “Bury them when it’s cool enough to get them. We need to keep this quiet, I think it is going to be too dangerous for humans to be involved.”
“Dangerous for us too…” the grey said.
The white wolf stood over him and growled, the grey wolf whimpered and hung his head. “It’s our job to protect the humans, do you think you were born into our pack just for the hunt? We exist for a reason, and this is it.”
The white wolf snapped at the two smaller wolves, with a yip they both ran off into the woods. The wolf looked from the scene before him to the mountaintop. He only knew one thing to make of all this; it was going to be bad, very bad.
YOU ARE READING
The Last of the Twenty: The Setting of the BoardVampire
Alex can’t understand why Nadia is with Ethan. Nadia is the most beautiful girl in Freedom, New Hampshire, and Ethan is a grade-A jerk. But as Alex observes the budding relationship, his jealousy turns to worry. Historical research and some damning...