Chapter 2:

Blood Moon

Vampire Lanterns

The red blood moon meant great danger for everybody. Werewolves were stronger and their aggressivity also immensely grew. Around that time, nobody dared to enter their territory. Unfortunately, the vampires miscalculated their wood resources and they had to venture straight into the danger.
Wearing black cloaks and covered in the darkness of the night, they walked directly into their menacing forest. Demyan stood his ground ready to defend his people. Howls were heard around the whole forest. In no time they were coming closer. He hurried the woodcutters to be earlier done with their job.
A growl came out of the bushes. He got ready to fight. Turning his sword in that direction. Werewolves came running out of the bushes attacking the vampires. Demyan swung his sword and began cutting one by one, keeping them abay from the goods and his people. Soon they were overrun by those beasts and couldn't hold them back any longer.
It came to the situation, when werewolves began to kill his comrades. He needed to act... now! He ordered everybody to retreat and he decided to lure those monsters away from them.
Demyan didn't mind dying, if it would come to it.
He provoked them and ran directly into the dense forest. Of course, those werewolves took the bait and followed him. He managed to reach the center of the woods, when the werewolves caught up. He had no chance to resist long.
One of those menacing beasts bit him on his neck, shoulder and they both struggled with each other. At last, they both fell into the lake next to them. The werewolf released its grip on Demyan and swam up, while he was sinking to the bottom. Whilst still barely conscious he could hear gunshots muffled by the water, which surrounded him. As a final gesture, he slightly smiled and closed his eyes.

He felt like someone began to pull him out and then he woke up in a soft bed, which had a beautiful flowery fragrance. He was confused. I young, tiny woman with ash-brown hair in a bun walked in. She held a wooden vessel with water in it. "Oh hello there! You woke up? I am so glad! I took off the wet clothes and replaced them with dry ones. Don't worry, I saw nothing!" /She totally did. Her face was fully red and the moon wasn't the cause./
With a cloth, she reached out to his face. Demyan grabbed her by the wrist. How dare she! A mere human tried to do something to the vampire prince. He was angered. He noticed something odd, his claws... they were... gone, replaced only by something, what looked like fingernails?
He stretched both of his hands in front of his face and inspected them. The human girl processed, with what she planned before. She started to gently clean his face. Demyan couldn't speak out, since he was hurt on his neck, even when he tried his best. He opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
"No! Please, don't overdo it right now! It was lucky you survived. I was worried you wouldn't make it." His eyes showed, that he was surprised. "She was worried? For me? Why? This must be some scheme... a trick. Maybe she hopes to gain something out of it?"  Demyan was immersed deep inside his thoughts, he didn't notice how she was caring for his wound on his neck. She was changing his bandages on the neck. "Well, if you are curious... My name is Petrona and I live inside the bulwark, which stretches alongside the river. You were lucky, we were patrolling..."
She stopped to move for a second. Demyan noticed it and looked into her worried hazel eyes. She shook it off. "Ah, don't worry, I am just concerned about your wound... I hope it will heal well. Anyway... we heard the commotion and followed it, even when we shouldn't. But we knew someone needed us. We reached the lake in time seeing you falling inside with one of the werewolf boys. You should know, they are not hostile like this normally. The Blood Moon making them go nuts.
Everytime their mind gets blank and the next day they even don't remember anything. Honestly, they are afraid of it too, because they fear they might kill someone they like. The one bitting on you was actually a friend of mine. I will ask him to apologize properly to you, ok? He didn't mean it, I am sure about that. My patrolling mates fought them away, while I dragged you here."

She gifted him a warm smile. Howls began to reverberate around them. "Don't worry, right now we are in a fortified outpost. It's my personal one. I like to spend some time here, when I work in the forest." Demyan was still concerned, even after she assured him, it was safe. She left the room for a bit and Demyan looked around. He spotted his arm in a mirror. Seeing himself was impossible outside his realm, so he leaned in.
His raven hair was replaced with dark brown, the same with his eyes. He looked like a mortal human. "That was not right, how...?" He touched his wound on the neck. Maybe the werewolf bite and blood loss was the cause of it? That's why the woman was relatively nice to him. She believes he is one of her own kind.
He decided, that until he was ready to leave, he would pretend to be a human. She came back with some porridge in a small bowl. "Are you hungry?" He looked away. She lifted the spoon towards his mouth. His eyes locked with the thick liquid. She smiled at him. "Don't worry, it's safe to eat. Look..." She put it in her mouth.
Grabbed a new full spoon and lifted it up to his lips. He again refused. Petrona got fed up; with a sarcastic grin, she stuck it inside his mouth with a little bit of force. He coughed a little and then smacked his lips. Demyan never tasted anything like it. He was used to the irony taste of blood. It actually tasted... good? After the first spoon, the rest he took in willingly, until he ate the whole thing. "See?! Wasn't bad, right?"
She lowered the flame in the oil lamp, took a book from the shelves in front of the bunk and sat down next to his bed. "You should try to sleep. It will be long till morning. Only then we will be able to leave and seek more help for you. If you will feel better and still be around the area, you could watch with me the Festival next week."
His eyes sparkled at her mentioning the Festival of Lights. He saw this as the one and only golden opportunity to experience it. She dipped her face into reading. This calming atmosphere made Demyan sleepy and he drifted away soon after.
Petrona noticed him dreaming and admired his beauty. Sharp and manly facial features, overly tall figure, muscular "gifted" body. Long shiny hair with those big bright brown eyes. Although men like this are unreachable for women like her. The social stigma of shortness in the Lush Lands is too strong. Being a short person is looked down upon, since it means they are not strong nor fast enough to withstand in combat against other creatures from Waste Lands.

Demyan was woken up by loud banging and shooting. Petrona ran up to his bed, helped him to his feet. Even hunched over he was towering over her short stature. She was dragging him downstairs, where the dungeon was. She locked them both from the inside of a cell. Those were designed to keep out werewolves, because they were made out of silver.
Soon they both heard how the door broke down and loud steps were following their path. She lifted up her rifle. The werewolves appeared in the dimly lit room. Those werewolves looked like they became rabid. Red pupilles eyes, bushy coats and saliva dripping down their muzzle. They were staring and growling at them slowly walking closer.
Petrona stood in front of Demyan to protect him. "Stay behind me! We are in huge danger right now. I don't know what makes them this crazy." The werewolves became even more agitated and started to bang on the silver bars like it wouldn't even hurt them. Petrona was mortified and began to shoot at them. Of course, she didn't aim for important body parts, because she didn't want to kill any of them.
The door on the cage was taking the impact of those hits, but soon it wouldn't be able to withstand it any longer. Petrona noticed it. "Behind you is a tunnel... you should take it to escape. I will buy you some time... So GO!"
Demyan was shocked. He never once was in a position, when someone tried to protect him. He was stunned and in awe. The werewolves continued with their attack and soon the door fell. Petrona dropped the gun and tried to hold it up. "RUN!"
Sadly she was no match for the weight and force, which was applied to it. It fell onto her... probably crushing her. The dust from underneath snuffed out all the lights and the whole room dived into deep darkness...