The Aliens They Summoned
It was dark. It was wet. It was uncomfortable... and he was a ticking time bomb. Everyone was a ticking time bomb. Being transported in a cart as he had been, Marion had noticed just how quickly they could make it to the town.
While traveling with walking speed, they took a few days, not longer.
If he were to transform into a beast and remember that there were juicy humans over in that direction... he could run that distance in half a night.
They wouldn't stand a chance.
He grabbed the iron bars, shaking them with the little strength he had. Marion couldn't complain about the treatment they gave him now.
The Lord of this castle, a Lord Viktor, also visited him on occasion.
All the strong fighters were gone, even that strong-looking but gruff-sounding guard Marion had noticed when he was first arrested with Carl.
To think that he...
Marion shook the thought out of his head, returning to the useless act of attempting to break out of his cell.
The prison cell across from his own was cleaned out, but missing the bars. It was the one Marion and Carl had been imprisoned in before.
He had a lot of time to study the damage he had done to something as sturdy as the stone walls, so he couldn't even imagine how it would be to stand against him as a mere human.
Humans are made to be devoured, a voice in his head spoke, sounding sweet but menacing.
It got worse the closer the full moon moved. That was when it would take over his mind. With how prominent it was now, it wouldn't take long.
Maybe one or two nights...
They didn't cover up the daylight, either. Maybe they were just gracious to their fellow human in need, or maybe they didn't have the personnel for such flamboyancies.
Marion couldn't tell.
Since the only window was the one in his old cell, he couldn't get close enough to see the moon at night. No matter where it moved, the small hole in the wall didn't provide him with a line of sight that lined up with visual proof about the state of his bestiality.
Waiting for the inevitable was the worst.
If he'd at least know when it would happen, but now he had the unknown evil he couldn't avoid creeping closer, and he couldn't do a thing.
It was frustrating.
It was infuriating.
It was useless...
Even if he were to be set free right this instance, he would never make it far enough to ensure the safety of the townsfolk from him.
Not to speak of the inhabitants of this castle...
Thinking stuff along those lines, Marion watched every evening as the sun went down and the moon became the only light source.
Would he transform, or was he safe for another day, until the fearing began anew?
Marion shivered, clasping his hands for a prayer.
"Please, don't let me transform tonight, I don't want to do this anymore! Why was I cursed with this bestial body? Who thought this was a good idea? Who...? Why...? Why me...?"
He hung his head as the light hit him... and a change occurred.
Don't hang hour head, a voice told him as bubbles protruded from his skin, hair sprouting out of each one of them. I'm no evil thing. I am simply hungry. Be glad, for I only come out once every lunar cycle... though, listen to the castle!
Listen to them go! They are all going to join us tonight. though that's a problem. They're all moving for that town ahead of us! No, some are going in a different direction... yes, I also smell fresh meat that way! Interesting, to have a delivery transported right to our doorstep! Though they are a bit off, still. First is the cell...
"GRAAAA!" a voice both like and unlike Marion's growled, and a body which was both Marion's and not Marion's crashed through the prison bars as if they were mere young trees in the dirt. Some of the dirt (stone) was ripped out alongside the trees (bars). Similar sounds could be heard from above, and Marion lost consciousness as the beast took over. He was fully designated to the background as they made it outside and the moon shone down on their bodies. "AWOOOO!"
It was the time of the beast.
Tonight, we hunt!
There was a strange scent among the smells of humans and werewolves he knew. Marion got a late start, but with this being the first transformation for most of his rivals, he caught up to them rather quickly.
They ran together, faster than any horse, driven by their thirst for flesh and blood.
The humans were just two miles or so away, but there was another, cold scent among them. Almost scentless, with a tinge of human.
What was it?
"Grah!" the beast said, swatting an annoying fly out of the air. A strange, black creature with leathery wings and weak fangs. There were a lot of these around, he noted. Just to try it, he caught one in his mouth, trying the taste. They were kinda similar to the scent ahead, the one with the humans. Why would they take these useless creatures with them? Or was this simply a part of the wildlife here? Marion didn't have the time to think about this as his nose caught the scent of blood! Someone had hurt a human, and... it smelled delicious! "GROOAAAARRRRRGH!"
All around him, the few dozen or so werewolves who went in the same direction as he did let out cries and howls of anticipation, and they crashed through the last treeline between them and their long-awaited meat...
Suddenly, Marion felt pain, and he toppled over.
A shivering paw with claws gently caressed his mid-section, finding a thin line of blood under the protection of his fur.
Similar howls of pain erupted around him, as something dark approached him again.
What was it?
"Foul creature, be purged!" the shadow yelled, and Marion answered its challenge.
It wielded a sword of some sorts, but it would stand no chance against Marion's claws-
Somehow, the shadow easily separated the claws from his paw.
The shadow's sword-like thing was stronger than his claws!
"Pitiful beast, prepare for hell!"
The shadow moved closer once more, but Marion wouldn't let it end him there! He hit the ground, throwing up dust and foliage, then he attempted to slice through the shadow with the claws on his healthy paw... but the shadow moved out of the way in time! Settling for some damage, at least, Marion swung his other paw without the claws at it, hitting it this time.
It crashed through some trees, which fell over.
With how strong the thing was, Marion knew that this was far from over.
As Marion showered in the moonlight, the wound on his belly and his claws began to sizzle and steam, healing them.
This creature smelled distantly human...
Marion wanted to take a bite.
As expected, it came storming back, though from a different direction, surprising Marion!
It swung its sword at one of Marion's legs, cutting deep.
"Graaaah! Nasty shadow, I'll kill you!"
"So you can speak, foul anomaly!"
"Are you one to talk?"
They clashed once more, and this time, Marion evaded the sword, slashing through the shadow with his claws... but it did nothing!
"Not like this, beast!"
As the moonlight hit the darkness, a distinctly human face appeared in the shadow. Marion couldn't hold himself back anymore.
His mouth shot forward, and a grin appeared on the shadow's face as intense pain silenced Marion. The sword poked out on the top of his snout, having entered through his lower jaw. But the shadow basked in its glory for too long!
This time, Marion's claws did something, and an arm fell to the ground as blood gushed from the wound.
The shadow pulled the sword out of Marion's snout as it retreated, calling into the darkness.
"Monrag! Herim! Take him!"
"Yes, Count Nosgrad!" two voices said, attacking Marion from places where he never would've expected someone to be.
How many of these things would he have to fight before he could taste a human? His jaw began to sizzle and steam and heal as he turned to these new adversaries, watching his previous opponent run towards the place where he smelled the humans.
The mere fact that they were two made it harder for Marion to land a hit.
Whenever he turned to one, the other moved behind him, wounding him in some way. They were weaker than this... Count Nosgard, but they were still strong.
Especially in a pair.
Normal weapons couldn't even harm Marion, so what was going on?
"What is this thing?" one of his enemies yelled, slicing for Marion's arm.
His healing couldn't keep up!
"Just kill it!" the other shadow barked back, gracing the skin of Marion's neck.
"Enough is enough!" Enraged over the hard battle, Marion allowed both swords to get clean hits in, burying the blades in his body. He tightened his muscles through the pain, ignoring the strange shadow-like substance steaming from the weapons, and grabbed one of the two with his clawed paw. the other one, angry over the capture of his ally, got too close, and Marion could bury the shadow under his foot. He heard bones break and a popping sound. The squirming stopped. The one in his paw struggled to break free, shouting inaudible stuff. Marion ignored it and bit hard on the head, tasting this strange new flavor. There was definitely human among it, but he couldn't say he was a fan. There was more human ahead, delicious human! "Awooooooo!"
His victory over the shadows didn't go unnoticed.
The werewolves in the vicinity fought with more vigor, their wounds seemingly healing faster than before. Marion saw several of them dead on the ground, sliced open or decapitated until their metabolism couldn't work anymore.
Something about it... made him lose it.
Instead of the humans, he went for the shadows, fighting them alongside his fellow monsters.
Marion wouldn't call either side a winner.
There was a shadow almost as savage as the first one he had fought, smelling hard of human. He had killed no less than three werewolves before making a beeline.
Marion knew that the end of the night was nigh!
In an attempt to get revenge for his fallen brothers, he followed the shadow, but it moved through the undergrowth as if it had no mass whatsoever.
Moreover, the strange black-winged creatures kept assaulting him as if they wished to protect the shadow, and Marion lost him.
He still smelled traces of him, but the sun was coming out, and he kept his body bestial through sheer willpower.
Not like this!
I'll kill this bastard!
Not like this!
He finally came upon a cave. The scent was very strong here, so he knew that the shadow was inside... but he had overstayed his welcome.
The sun was in the sky, and the beast retreated...
Not... like... this...
Its body had other plans.
Against its wishes, the night of the beast was over.
He woke up shortly after.
The pictures of the night kept haunting him. He didn't know what these shadows were, but they had been strong enough to battle him and countless other werewolves to a stand-still.
If there were more of them, surely...
No, many werewolves had run to the town, too. They surely reached it, which meant that the villagers there were either dead or...
Marion didn't want to think about it.
He remembered why the beast had come here.
Please, don't be here!
Every movement in the shadows scared him. As much as he hated the beast, anything that could beat it was equally scary to him!
He didn't want to kill!
He didn't want to die!
He had to run away!
As quick as his tired feet could carry him, Marion ran away, through the undergrowth and past trees and forests.
He didn't know where he was going, but anywhere was better than here!
A sound of surprise.
This wasn't the place he wanted to reach!
Marion was back at the site of the battle. He hesitated, but looked at the corpses, anyway. To his surprise, the shadows wore normal clothing.
He looked for the ones he had killed and quickly found them.
Their clothing would be better than nothing, at least...
But he couldn't go in this direction.
Judging from the direction they had retreated to, he couldn't go there either, as their fortress was probably there.
If he didn't want to go back to Lord Viktor, and not ahead to the land of the shadows...
He was left with two choices.
Marion deliberated his options while rubbing his neck... his neck? Did he always have bite marks there? Had he fought with another werewolf that night... no, he didn't?
The night was still vivid in his mind, so he was quite sure...
What was going on?
Judging it best to put some distance between him and this place first, he retreated.
As he walked, the trees wore fewer leaves and the bark turned darker...