Sunday Story Time – A Grim Night in the Forest part 4

An enormous shadow moved through the dark trees on the far side of a clearing a mile or more from the site of the forester’s death. Hardly a leaf was disturbed as it slowly stalked through the forest.

“You have got to be joking.” Grimm hissed, keeping his voice low so that the thing would not notice the two humans lying under some underbrush. “Let me get this straight, you want me to wonder out there and get that things attention, that beast that happens to be as large as a house, and then when it comes to tear my head off I am supposed to entertain it for a little bit while you line a shot up?”

“That is essentially the plan, yes. Why?” Lady Wessex replied, her eyes large and round is fascination as she watched the shape across the clearing.

“You are insane lady.” Grimm quietly rebuked.

“Not so. You are uniquely suited to performing this task with a higher then normal likely hood that you will come out alive.”

“Wonderful, so you are pitting my aberration against a god of the forest then?”

“Don’t be silly, there are no gods in the world. I am pitting your aberration against a large predatory animal, nothing more.”

“Let me guess, if I don’t do this you are going to keep dragging me through this forest and farther away from the nice fire we had going until you come up with another plan aren’t you?”

“You are the one that chose to come along, now shut up and be useful.” Mrs. Wessex snapped, a hint of nervousness in her voice.

Shrugging, Grimm stealthily moved away from where Lady Wessex was hiding, the long rifle primed and ready. Once he had moved a good hundred feet or so away, he stood up and strode into the clearing, making no pretense to hide his movement. In fact, a faint whistled tune drifted on the slight breeze back to Lady Wessex.

The shadow stopped and turned towards that lone man standing in the clearing nearby. A howl of bestial rage shook the trees of the forest as the creature bounded our of the covering foliage and into the moon light. Pitch black fur with streaks of silver in it covered the a towering frame packed with muscle and power. The creature resembled a wolf except that is was at least ten feet tall at the shoulder and the jaws that snapped were filled with wickedly sharp curved teeth. The eyes of the beast sent a chill down Grimm’s spine. They were brilliant, glowing green and shed a sickly light on the clearing as the beast looked around. A sense of eternal hatred, malice and sorrow filled Grimm as those shining eyes finally bore down on him.

The clearing erupted into frantic motion as the beast sprang at Grimm, saliva dripping from its distended jaws. With the speed of much battle experience, Grimm dove to the side rolling and coming to his feet. The beast was just as fast as it landed and skidded in the snow, its claws digging furrows in the soil and sending the covering of snow up in a shower of white. Again it sprang at Grimm, its jaws snapping and its front paws sweeping out to the sides to hem the hunter in.

Seeing the beast’s tactic, Grimm threw himself forward on his stomach and let the slick snow take him under the pouncing creature. Landing and spinning the beast eyed Grimm with a base cunning. Instead of leaping at the nimble opponent, the beast moved forward slowly, its head near the ground and watching as Grimm moved first this way and then that to try and find a path away from the stalking beast. When at last the creature was within striking distance of Grimm, it lunged forwards hoping to take Grimm in its jaws. With a bestial howl of his own, Grimm jumped as high into the air as he could and propelled himself forward, managing to land in the thick fur of the creatures back and grabbing up large handfuls of fur to keep himself there.

A snarl of rage tore out of the creatures mouth and it tried to snap at Grimm over its own shoulder. The first snap almost dislodged the scrambling hunter before he had gotten himself well seated behind the beast’s head and sparks flew as the creature’s tooth slid down Grimm’s leg tearing his pants but finding no purchase on his metal infused skin. With a grunt of pain, Grimm wrapped his legs around the giant wolf’s neck and dug his hands into its fur as well as he could.

With predictable ire, the wolf began to jump, dance and dart around in an effort to dislodge the clinging opponent.

“Though this may look like fun, I assure you that it is less than entertaining.” Grimm yelled as the beast continued to jump and caper around the clearing, twisting and turning in its efforts to dislodge the offending party.

A sound like a pressure tank breaching filled the clearing and was quickly followed by the sound of a massive detonation. The force of the blast flung Grimm through the air to crash his way down through the branches of a tree near the edge of the clearing. Pain erupted in his body as he hit the ground, muscles and bones bruised from the swift stop at the end of his flight. Shaking himself, Grimm pushed his way to his feet and looked around trying to find the clearing. Smoke filled the empty area between the trees and scorch marks could be seen prominently on the trunks of the trees near to Grimm. In the clearing stood the monstrous wolf, a gaping hole where the thing’s chest should have been. It stood there in the clearing, its head raised to the full moon and the light in its eyes dimming slowly. From the looks of things, Grimm thought it strange that there was no sound in the clearing at all, not the howling of the great beast, or even the soft shuffle of leaves in the slight wind. Shrugging in confusion, Grimm started moving into the clearing. As he walked towards the creature it slumped to its knees, the sapping of its strength pulling its head towards the charred grass at its feet. The glowing light from its eyes pulsed erratically now as Grimm stood in front of it and watched as its life faded away. The silence of the scene felt eerie to Grimm, but also oddly appropriate as the magnificent creature finally fell on its side and the last of its hot breath escaped into the world.

Grimm stood over the dead creature and felt a melancholy that shocked him. Something so proud and primordial had been taken down with a single shot from a man made monstrosity. The thought was startling to the callous hunter, but not half as startling as the hand on his shoulder.

Spinning and crouching at the same time, Grimm’s hand went to the dagger he carried at his back before he realized that it was Lady Wessex, the augmented rifle casually resting on her shoulder. A smile of triumph and something akin to ecstasy filled her face as she took in her kill. Her lips began to move in the actions of forming words, but Grimm still heard nothing except a high pitched whine that had just started. Tapping his hand against his head, Grimm realized that the concussion of the blast had knocked his senses from his head and that was the reason he hadn’t heard the creature howling to the moon. Pointing at his ears, he informed Mrs. Wessex that he couldn’t hear anything and instead stood at the head of the Wolfe, its life blood mingling with the moisture of the snow in the muddy ground.

A few minutes passed before Grimm was sure that he would be able to hear again. When he was, he turned to the still beaming girl at his side.

“Took you long enough to get that shot off.” He growled.

“Sorry about that, when I saw the actuality of the creature, I was shocked, honestly unsure it could be killed. It wasn’t until you called that I came back to my sense. A momentary lapse, it won’t happen again.” She replied, contrition only barely smudging the pride and joy that filled her voice, husky from her emotions.

“Spirit, beast or god, everything in this world can be killed, remember that next time you hesitate.” Grimm replied before turning his back on the carcass and heading back towards where he hoped the camp was.

 

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