C.O.T.W Chapter 50: The Wolf Turned Prey

  • Arnbjorn ran as fast as his legs could carry him, he dared not look back as he knew the bloodthirsty argonians were hot on his tail.

    He transformed and ran as fast as he could on all fours, trying to evade his pursuers in any way he could. Ocheeva smelled his wolf

    form on the air and also transformed into a wolf, one with less hair and less muscle mass than Arnbjorn's wolf. 

     

    Thelizard and the old, mostly harless grey werewolf leapt over rocks, dodged trees and sped through forests and over dirt paths. As

    Veezara ran,he heard Mai's, Ocheeva's wolf, hot breath on his neck as she brought up the rear. He giggled to himself and made

    faces at her thinking she woulld not be able to catch up in her advanced age. Mai's lips pulled back to reveal rows of yellowing teeth.

    He swallowed, knowing that she caught wind of his little game. The game, or rather bet, for a more precise term, was simple: if he

    caught Arnbjorn before his mother did she would do the cleaning up when they finished dinner that night but if she won, Veezara

    sniggered at this, then he would clean after whatever meal they had that night in the sanctuary.

    Mai growled which Veezara took as 'you're on.' Veezara and Mai smirked evilly as they grasped the opportunity to outdo the other.

    Both the reptile and the werewolf got ready at an invisible starting line. They paused for the longest time as they both counted down

    in their heads; well Veezara counted. A werewolf brain as aged as Mai's could not grasp such a simple train of thought because her

    werewolf brain had minute traces of human left in it. When werewolves age, their minds become more and more taken over by

    the beast. When this happens, they can no longer shape their thoughts in a human-like way. 

     

    Young werewolves like Hasir or those freshly turned still maintain their humanity while in their werewolf forms. Their mental faculties

    are in tact and they retain their thoughts without the beast taking over; this is harder for older werewolves. Wolves who are at

    death's doorstep need not worry about this because their minds are quite adled because they are close to being taken into the

    hunting grounds by the ghostly stag form of Hircine to become his honorbound hounds forever.

     

    Veezara looked sadly over and Mai and shook his head slowly, sighing,

    "Guess I have to do it then," He muttered under his breath, "3..2-" Before he could finish his countdown Mai's paws tore at the dirt

    and ran after Arnbjorn, while not nearly as old as she was, he too was feeling the effects of his human mind slipping away to become

    replaced with the beast that dwells within. He looked out from behind where he hid, yelped in fright and ran off again. He caught

    Mai's scent not too far behind him as the female werewolf, now stripped of most of her humanity that wolfsbane might not be able to

    fix, eyed his  with murderous intent.

     

    Veezara had to ran as fast as he could to keep up with her as his every foot traveled equaled every ten feet of hers. He tried telling

    her that this was only a training excercise and Nazeem would be livid if Arnbjorn was brought back to him with slash marks across

    his chest. Mai did not listen as she bounded every closer to her prey.

     

    Veezara groaned,

    "Sithis help me, my mother has turned into a lunatic." He said to himself

    Dirt roads, road signs and rivers blurred past Arnbjorn as he ran, his eyes wide with fear. He knew full well that Ocheeva must've

    gone mad because she had barely any human left in her to stop and think whether what she was doing was the right thing to do or

    not. He had never met Ocheeva before last night went she knocked on the sanctuary door showing Nazeem the flyer that came to

    her house in the Elven Gardens District of the Imperial City. He didn't even know she was a werewolf for Hircine's sake. Not only that

    but when she walked into the sanctuary. She seemed well in control of her own mind. Now, however, something, a thirst for blood

    and the hunt seemed to  overshadow her rational reptilian mind.

     

    He picked up the pace so that his breathing was in tune with the pounding of his paws and heart. He had never been as scared for

    his life as he was at ths very moment. He knew werewolves had to eat otherwise they would perish; but he thought back on how

    murderous her eyes were and thought it rather bizarre how hunger a werewolf had to be to go after one of their own. He thought

    this was going to test the experienced werewolf hunters, not have Nazeem sic a wolf whose sate he was blind to join in on the hunt

    as well, especially one with woflish amnesia.

     

    The grey werewolf had chased him for a good ten miles toward the city of Falkreath. Arnbjon had to hide somewhere and gather his

    thoughts and outline a plan of attack in his head if it came to that. He cast around for any viable hiding spots where he could wait

    out the grey wolf. If he was lucky, he might not have to fight and the grey werewolf would overlook him.

     

    Arnbjorn had enough of this running and hiding and stood up on two feet and charge at a tree beside where Mai stood looking

    especially viscious. This expression of utter visciousity turned sour and Mai suddenly yelped in fright and hid behind the tree that she

    stood beside. The brown wolf ran full pelt toward her, fangs bared and claws out and ready. Mai winced in terror and the wolf drew

    ever closer towards her.

    Mai kept her eyes closed as she heard the frantic wolf crash over leaves, rotten tombstones and fallen trees. He trod on trees as

    thick as snakes and crushed them under his massive paws, leaving no trace of the crushed bits of wood having ever been a tree. The

    wolf did not stop coming, she could hear his heavy breathing from a few hundreds of feet away.

     

    The frail grey wolf's heart was beating fast as her thoughts seems shattered about, she starting counting down in order to try and

    calm herself,

    "Ten...Hircine, I hope the attack isn't meant for me, nine...That idea is bullshit, calm yourself, wolf, eight...does Arnbjorn hate me?,

    seven...No, of course not, six, We have to act, else Arnbjorn will have us for wolfchops, five...Get a grip on yourself, girl, four...I will

    kill him before he pounces, three...now, now, don't split your haunces, two...what? should we just sit on my hind quarters and watch

    as he kills me?, One!"

     

    On the count of one, Mai broke off her argument with her Argonian self and pounced, flew through the air and pinned Arnbjorn's

    wolf to a tree near a tree next to a stone-walled cottage. Mai bit and clawed at him furiously, Arnbjorn's wolf dodged the frantically

    flailing limbs of Ocheeva's wolf. He had suceeded for the most parrt. He then made a fatal mistake. Mai capitalized on this and

    greedily bit down on the wolf's neck and thrashed her head about to try and decapitate him.

     

    Veezara saw this and ran towards her, wildly waving his arms above his head. He got to the tree on the other side of the graveyard

    just as Mai was nibbling on Arnbjorn's neck. Veezara summoned all the strength he had and yelled at Ocheeva, or rather, her wolf

    form. She rounded on him like a dog who got a sharp whack on the nose by a newspaper before being called a bad dog, lip curled

    upward, snarling. 

    Veezara gulped loudly as he saw her furry grey muzzle mere feet from his. He laughed nervously as he started backing away toward

    the graveyard entrance. Mai's nostrils flared as her snarl become louder and more menacing. She left her meal to slide down onto

    the ground in front of the tree as she turned her attention to this new threat.

     

    Veezara barely made it to the entrance of the Falkreath graveyard when he turned around and saw the grey werewolf running across

    the leafy ground toward him. His mouth open in a silent scream, he pressed himself up against a tree near the corpselight farm

    building. 

     

    She reached him in mere minutes. Veezara ducked just as black claws as thick as tree branches and as sharp as ebony daggers

    missed his head by mere inches as they swiped though a gravestone near him. Her massive claws cut the stone just as a masoner

    would to fit a house. The stone hit the ground with a mighty thud and the wolf looked up, her muzzle wrinkled and let out a deep

    throated growl. She ran at her new prey, eyes glowing yellow with pure menace. She ran at the wimpering Argonian. Veezara

    dodged out of the way just as the wolf ran full pelt at the place where he occupied seconds before.

     

    CRASH!

     

    The wolf's jaws missed lizard flesh by mere feet and tasted the metal of the gate surrounded by hedges on either side. Veezara ran

    to hide near the fallen form of the brown wolf; except he was not dead, unfortunate for him the grey wolf had finally wretched its

    jaws free of the gate and ran toward him and her former prey. Arnbjorn got up, shaking his head, raised himself to his full height

    and prepared to swipe at the grey, snarling werewolf.

    The grey werewolf snarled at him and whacked Arnbjorn's head off with one swipe of her massive paw. Veezara sank down beside

    Arnjorn's transformed headless body. He was still wearing his leather armor. Veezara silently sobbed beside him and closed his eyes

    for the final time. He got up and huffed angrily at Mai.

     

    The sun started to peak over the mountains around the city. The werewolf howled shrilly as she transformed back to her reptilian

    form. She caught his disapproving glare,

    "What? Have I done something wrong?" She asked, a bit confused

     

    Veezara glanced at her, picked up a large stick and whacked her playfully on the backside,

    "You killed a member of the Silver Hand assassins, hsss." He said, shaking his head, "By Sithis, what were you thinking?" 

     

    Ocheeva shrugged and noted that she obviously did not think because when the wolf took over her mind, her conscious was looked

    away. She also noted that as werewolves age their mind seems to start to 'slip away.' Veezara patted her on the shoulder, his tail

    twirled behind him,

    "Ermmm, mother I...I already know that." He said in a deflated, matter of fact tone.

    Ocheeva looked at him,

    "Oh, sorry, surely you can forgive your poor mother?" She asked

     

    Veezara gawked at her,

    "Forgive you for what?" 

     

    Ocheeva turned to him and smiled slyly,

    "Why, forgive me for doing that." She gestured to the bloodied and headless form of Arnbjorn

     

    Veezara punched her in the shoulder,

    "Of course not, I will flay you alive for killing one of our number." He said, roaring with laughter

     

    Ocheeva went a deep shade of magenta and knelt down in the bracken,

    "No please, you must forgive your mother. She was not in her right mind at the time." She said, a bit shakily

    Veezara just smiled, said he was joking and bent down to assist the aged Argonian to her feet. She thanked him for not going into a

    flurry of insults along with the floggings that would surely follow soon after. She smiled at him and walked in the direction of the dark

    brotherhood sanctuary, asking him if he was coming.He said he would follow soon after and went over to Arnbjorn's headless body,

    dug a hole and heaved the abnormally heavy body of Astrid's husband into the newly dug hole. He cast around quickly for the

    missing head, found it near an old gravestone and brought the head back to the hole with the rest of the body and set it neatly on

    the nord's neck and closed the eyes for the final time.

     

    He filled the hole with the mound of dirt that lay next to it, patted it flat with his shovel and stuck a massive tombstone near the

    nord's head. He turned and propped the shovel up against the  gravestone and wiped his brow. When he turned around again, he

    saw Astrid's horse Shadowmere galloping up the road towards him. She stopped in front of the graveyard and dismounted. He was

    sweating heavily, his eyes expanded to the size of hubcaps and he wanted to turn and run but his legs remained rooted to the spot.

    His eyes shrank in size again as they darted madly left and right. He could hear Astrid's heavy breathing as she strode angrily toward

    him. He failed miserably and waited for the worst, squeezing his eyes tight.

     

    Astrid did not go straight for the Argonian. He opened his eyes just enough to see the dark brotherhood leader kneeling down beside

    the grave where Veezara had laid her husband to rest of the final time. She got up and rounded on the green Argonian, fists and

    teeth clenched, casting her head about in a fit of anger,

    "When I find who did this," She said, scathingly, "I will skin them alive." She solidified this threat by shaking her clenched fist a foot

    away from the Argonian's nose. 

     

    Veezara gulped, fell over and backed to a grave perpendicular to one of the houses lining the perimeter of the cemetery. Astrid saw

    this out of the corner of her brown eye and advanced toward him, making Veezara press himself further on the cobbleston siding of

    one of the houses. She stared widely as the leader of Falkreath sanctuary bore into him wide eyed and extremely tight lipped.

     

    Finally, after a long pause, she spoke,

    "By Sithis, did you do this?" Veezzara shook his head nervously and pointed to the cemetery gate. 

     

    Astrid followed his trembling finger and narrowed her eyes in suspicion. She did not see anybody Maybe this was one of his tricks, to

    make me think someone else did thiss, but I know for a fact he did She thought. She turned back toward him and pressed him so far

    into the ccobblestone that he had to fight the urge to vocalize as he could feel something hard grinding against his scales. Astrid

    stared at his with murdeous intent,

    "Stop lying, I know you killed my Arnbjorn!" She hissed through gritted teeth, Veezara shook hsi head again

     

    Veezara struggled aganst the angry nord's hands,

    "Let me go damn you, I told you, I never killed him." He hissed

     

    Astrid redoubled her grip so that his shoulders began to turn purple. Astrid had a fire in her eyes that would have engulfed the

    Argonian had she let it, 

    "You lie, you did not tell me, you merely shook your head." She hissed at him dismiisively 

     

    Veezara merely shrugged and gave a sheepish smile,

    "Well, I am telling you now!" He hissed angrily at her

    Astrid lent so close to him that he was afraid he would pass through the thick walls. Veezara told her nervously that he definitely did

    not kill her husband. He affirmatively told her that a grey werewolf killed him. She, however, still did not believe him. Not wanting to

    argue the point any further, they walked toward the cemetery gate where Astrid's horse, Shadowmere, waited. Astrid mounted up

    and told Veezara to mount up behind her. He did so but kept sliding of the horse. Astrid sniggered much to Veezara's displeasure.

    She helped the struggling Argonian on the horse. She told him to hold her tight so he did not slide off the horse again. 

     

    Veezara grabbed her around the waist, gave a cheeky smile and slide his hands a few inch downward towards her bottom. She

    yelped in fright and realigned his fingers on her waist. His face went red as Astrid shot him a scathing look. Astrid nudged the horse

    in the sides with her feet. Both of them rode toward the sanctuary while the scenery blurred as they went in full gallop. Signposts, a

    wide expanse of grass and dirt and streams whizzed past them. Around late afternoon, they got to the pond which was diluted with

    flour from the half open sacks hanging from the ropes. They dismounted the horse, tied him to one of the posts holding the sorry

    looking flour sacks and walked toward the black door, responded to its question and stepped inside. 

     

    Once inside the sanctuary, they found Ocheeva in the main room along with the rest of the Silver Hand assassins. They sat at a long

    oaken table in the northern corner of the main room. Veezara and Astrid approached the elderly Argonian, who patted an empty seat

    beside her. Astrid took that seat and Veezara the one on Ocheeva's otherside. Astrid lent close to Ocheeva and asked her what

    happened to her husband. Ocheeva shrugged. the female nord's eyes narrowed and Ocheeva gulped. 

    Ocheeva huffed in anger, crossing her arms,

    "Nice to meet you too." She hissed angrily 

     

    Astrid's eyes bore into the old Argonians, just as she had done with Veezara in the cemetery,

    "So," she said, in a calm manner, "Do you know who killed Arnbjorn then?" She asked scathingly

     

    Ocheeva gulped again as she backed away from her,

    "No, I haven't, sorry." She said, waved her hands in front of her frantic face

     

    This did nothing to abate the dark brotherhood leader's inner volcano that was bound to erupt, though she did her best to surpress

    the urge to blow up on the Argonian. 

     

    She got up from the tablle and headed to the corner in the hall where Festus Krex was working out his next contract. Ocheeva

    sighed and muttered to herself about how thcik some other dark brotherhood leaders can be. Astrid heard this despite being a few

    hundred of feet away and ran down the wooden steps and straight for Ocheeva. The female Argonian shook with fear as the nord's

    hands closed around her scaly throat. Blood pumping in her ears, she involuntarily transformed.

    Astrid's face contorted in fear as she stumbled over the oak table, knocking over, and breaking, several plates and goblets. Amidst

    the broken bits of glass and china, she was very, very nervous, nervous and afraid. Now fully transformed, Mai lunged at the scared

    nord. Astrid tried to brace herself for the oncoming attack by arranging the bits of broken glass and china into a sort of shield. The

    wolf's jaws closed around the 'shield' and bore down so hard with his teeth that Astrid found it hard to fend off the attack.

     

    Astrid's shoulders shrugged in defeat. All she could do now was to try and force the furious beast back a few steps so she can gather

    her thoughts. The werewolf, however, did not budge, teeth still holding fast on the 'shield.' Astrid screamed in agony as she heard a

    series of gut-wrenching cracks. She released the makeshift shield and tried to extricate her left arm. She could not, however, as the

    arm did not feel like an arm at all but a heavy, immovable ebony ingot. Astrid had to fight back tears of pain as the wolf finally ate a

    hole through the shield. When iit had made a hole wide enough for a skeever to fit through, the shield was quickly broken apart and

    discarded. The werewolf's eyes narrowed and snarled at her. She had to roll this way and that in order to avoid the wolf's jaws.

     

    Ocheeva's temper accidentally turned for the better. She transformed back while her wolf brain flitted between thoughts of fresh

    meat and not want to be seen as a sheep in wolf's clothing. She, however, did transformd Astrid squealed in fright and pointed a

    long finger at her.

     

    Astrid smiled conspiratorialy,

    "I knew it, I knew it, I knew your were a werewolf." Astrid smirked and waggled a finger at her, "Well, well, aren't we a deer in

    wolves' jaws, hmm?"

     

    Ocheeva scales were positively wet with sweat. She cast around for help but none came,

    "Astrid, I didn't kill Arnbjorn, I swear I didn't." She said, frantically 

     Astrid did not believe her. She looked incredulously at the Argonian and gave her an evil sneer,

    "Oh, don't give me that shit, you killed Arnbjorn, admit it!" She snarled at her

     

    Ocheeva lowered her head in shame like a dog who tried to hidee something bad he had done from its master. Ocheeva murmered

    something inaudible. Astrid had to cup her hand around her ear so she could catch the slightest idea of what she had said. The

    female Argonian took a deep breath and spoke slowly so Astrid could hear her,

    "I said that I was not in control of my wolf form, well, I...I mean I was but as a wolf I could feel my mind steadily slipping away,"

    She sighed, pacing between the table and the wall, "You see, when werewolves age, our minds start to betray us." She hung her

    head in shame, "The reason I, or rather my wolf form, Mai, chased and killed Arnbjorn was because his mind was at a further

    distance away than mine was in my wolf form. She stopped six inches from Astrid's face and the Argonian looked at her with her

    face in the neutral position, "I killed your husband, Astrid because I realized that he had turned into a complete monster with very

    little control over his human mind."  

     

    Ocheeva''s tail lashed about behind her, hoping against hope that Astrid was understanding about why the aged Argonian had to kill

    her husband. The female nord's eyes glinted with malice as she leapt at the Argonian, hands grasping her throat. The momentum

    carried Ocheeva past the table and sent her crashing into the nearby wall, cracking it a bit on contact,

    "You stupid bitch, I scarcely believe your story." She said, teeth gritted, "You killed my husband out of jealousy, admit it!" She said,

    unsheathing a hidden silver dagger and pressed it against the aged Arrgonian's neck.

     

    "I did not!" She spat, "Go on kill me, yet another werewolf added to your guild's stupid quest for glory." She said, glaring at Astrid,

    "Or does your guild kill wolves for revenge?" She asked through gritted teeth 

    Astrid's grip lessened on Ocheeva's neck. The Argonian slumped onto the ground, spluttered and glanced up at Astrid who bent down

    and helped her up. Astrid apologized for grilling the ancient Argonian but she went out of control when she heard the shocking news

    of her husband's untimely death. Ocheeva gave her a knowing glance and dissmissively waved her scaly hand in the air,

    "Don't worry about it Astrid, I am sure if your were a werewolf you would do the same thing too, you know," She mimed a crazy

    person's expression, 'take leave of your senses' or so innocent people would be lead to believe." 

     

    She strode past Astrid tail swaying happily side to side which Astrid guessed meant that she was either happy or willing to bury the

    hatchet. Astrid turned as the Argonian slowly walked up the wooden steps near the word wall and table to disappear on the landing

    above. Astrid smiled to herself as she figured it was best not to argue the matter any further and to just let it lay in the dirt to die

    even though she was still somewhat miffed about her killing her husband. Deep down, she knew Ocheeva, or, rather Mai, did not

    mean it. As Ocheeva had said aged werewolves give in more to their primal nature, go feral for lack of a better term, and put

    less stock into their rational think mind as it starts to slowly drift away.

     

    Astrid sighed as she walked the opposite direction that the aged Argonian and the young Argonian had gone, up the stairs to the

    right of the word wall and into her bedroom. She sat on her bed in the corner of the room near a niightstand that had a picture of her

    husband on it. She shed a tear as she looked at his bearded face which she will never see again and sighed,

    "Arnbjorn, I will miss you, Hircine guide you to peace."

     

    She sighed and wept into her pillow for a good while until her eyelids grew so heavy she could hardly keep them open. She rolled

    over as sleep finally took her.