Chapter Two: Alone with the Moon

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Cool mead trickled into Yuri's mouth, tickling his throat with its bitter taste. Smacking his lips, he set his mug down on the table of the pub. Fast fiddle music fused together with the boisterous sounds of singing drunkards and laughing fools to create a cacophony of sound that hurt Yuri's eardrums. He sighed and lowered his head. After spending several days with Asmund's polite family, returning to a chaotic environment such as this was unsettling.

Yuri spun a gold coin on the table and leaned his face against his palm, pressing his elbow against the hard wood of the table. He bit his lower lip, watching as the coin spun. I'll get used to it again, I always do.

There was a loud bang at the entrance of the tavern and the entire building suddenly went silent. Yuri's coin clattered to the table's surface.

All of the drunken men and women in the pub stared at an exhausted stranger that was doubled over, gasping for air. The man wore a black cloak that curled around his body, covering his leather armor. His long hair was undone, causing it to cascade over his face. "Listen to me!" he panted, even though he already had the attention of everyone in the tavern. "Werewolves ... they aren't just myths. They really do exist, there is one underneath the city ... I saw it!"

A chorus of laughter arose from a crowd of drunks near the tavern's entrance. The stranger stared at the nearby group of guffawing men, shocked that they did not believe him. "Beo, the noble, is the one that has the beast locked up! Please, you must believe me! We are living so close to an infectious creature that could turn us all into abominations if it is let loose!"

"Aren't you a bit old to be believing tales of werewolves, Archerus?" said a man standing in the tavern's main doorway. The newcomer was clad in shining metal armor that covered him from neck to toe. His helmet was gripped in his right gauntlet, resting at his side. A red cape streamed down his back, grazing the wooden floor of the pub. Over his iron chest plate was a dark-blue tabard, bearing the majestic insignia of a white wolf woven into the fine fabric.

Yuri took another swig of his mead as he watched the knight. The tabard that the warrior wore was a sign that he worked directly for the king of Horux, it was only worn by the city's greatest warriors. Yuri tapped his chin, feeling that he recognized this man from somewhere. That's it! He's the stern man that was standing next to Princess Violet during the arena match.Yuri narrowed his eyes. So, what's he doing here? We're in Horux's Lower District. No one here likes members of the upper class.

"I'm telling you the truth," Archerus insisted, turning to face the knight. "It is so like you to make judgments before you see the proof, Senna."

"You won't be showing any proof because werewolves do not exist. Now, silence. I am not here for you," Senna growled, pushing Archerus aside like an unwanted toy as he entered the silent pub. Three armed guards, men that also worked for the king, clanked through the doorway behind their superior officer.

The royal knight's gaze met Yuri's, sending a subtle chill creeping through his skin. "I'm here for today's champion, Yuri."

"Yuri?" Archerus grumbled, watching as the three soldiers walked past him. "You care nothing for the wellbeing of the people if you let something like this slide, Senna! A vicious beast lives beneath the streets of Horux. I can show you, the entrance to the catacombs that confine the monster is in the forest just outside the city. All I need is a moment of your time and—"

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