Part 2 of 8 – 900 Words

This work of fiction contains strong elements of horror and violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Ambroys’s head was pounding even before his eyes opened.  He groaned and tried to raise a hand to the source of the throbbing to find that his wrists were bound together.  His eyes peeled open only to screw down tight again as sparks exploded inside his skull.  He gritted his teeth and clenched his hands into fists until the pain dulled. 

More carefully, Ambroys inched his eyes apart letting them adapt to the change in light.  A bonfire roared next to him and, with the throbbing starting to settle to a dull ache, he could now feel the intense heat of it biting at his cheek.  His other senses began to clear.  He could hear voices, harsh barking voices mingled with yipping and the occasional raucous howl.  They came from all around him attached to lanky shadows that danced in the flickering glow.

There was a smell like roasting beef and sizzling pork fat.  No.  That was wrong somehow.  It smelled more pungent, more rancid, turned but not rotting.  It was carried on the smoke and coated his nostrils like fetid grease.  Ambroys rolled his shoulder and turned his head to look at the fire trying to make as small a movement as possible lest his captors realize he was again conscious.

His squad mate Berard’s lifeless eyes stared back at Ambroys from atop a roasting spit.  Ambroys’s eyes widened and bile raced up his throat.  He winced trying to keep the contents of his guts inside.  It was too much.  Ambroys bolted to his hands and knees and vomited the entirety of his stomach onto the damp soil.  A mocking howl erupted from the revelers.

A hand, hairy and strong, gripped Ambroys by his blond locks.  It yanked him back onto his heels until his neck arched agonizingly.  A lupine face hung above him with a wicked grin.

“What’s wrong, manling?” sneered the creature.  His voice was hoarse.  His long tongue ran hungrily from one side of his mouth to the other as his one good eye gleamed yellow with amused malice.  “You don’t fancy our roast?”

Ambroys glowered back into the creature’s eyes, one golden and the other milky white.  Lupekin.  Wolfmen.  He had been warned about them shortly after reporting to Reaper’s Fen.  They roamed in packs hunting any thinking creature they came upon.  It was said they were merciless monsters to be eradicated.  With the gut-churning reek of Berard’s roasting flesh still clinging in his nostrils, Ambroys tended to agree.

The Lupekin held Ambroys’s cold stare a while longer as his toothsome grin grew cartoonishly wide.  A sort of manic glee percolated behind his golden eye.  When it reached a boil, he threw his head back and howled to the night.  The others joined the hunter’s chorus.  Then he threw Ambroys back to the ground and spread his arms as wide as they could stretch.  Spinning slowly, he barked at the rest of the pack.  The gathered crowd erupted into a cacophony of harsh, yipping laughs.  He’s either real pretty or their leader.  No one laughs at a one-liner like that unless they are trying to get screwed now or hoping they won’t get screwed later.  Something told Ambroys it was not the Lupekin’s looks.

The creature pulled a long knife with a worn bone handle from its sheath at his hip and strode over to the spit.  Standing next to Berard’s crackling skin, the wolfman tossed a side-eyed glance at Ambroys who had struggled back to his hands and knees.  “Perhaps, you only think that you do not like our roast,” he said as he carved a strip from the dead man’s thigh. 

He took a step toward Ambroys. “But how can you know if you’ve never tried,” he said teeth glinting dangerously.  He snatched Ambroys’s chin into a vice-like grip and squeezed until the man’s lips were forced open.  Ambroys’s eyes went wide as the strip of roasted muscle was dangled before him.  He gripped the Lupekin’s wrist with both hands and tried to rip it away.  His nails dug into the beast’s reddish gray fur and pulled at the skin beneath, but the Lupekin’s clawed fingers only crushed tighter against his cheeks. 

Ambroys howled, hot with fury.  He released the Lupekin’s arm and swung hard with his fists catching his foe in the ribs.  The creature coughed and dropped Ambroys who scuttled backward as quickly as he was able with bound wrists and ankles. 

Before he could get a body length between them the Lupekin was on him.  The creature’s hairy fist smashed into Ambroys’s already blackened eye setting off an explosion of fireworks in his skull.  Ambroys reeled and tried to swing again despite the disorientation.  The Lupekin just knocked his arms away and gripped him again by the jaw.  This time the wolf leaned in, climbing on top of Ambroys.  The creature panted rank, hot breaths into his face.

“Shh, shh, shhhh.  Hush now, pup,” cooed the Lupekin.  His grin smeared across his snout and curved up into his yellow eye.  “I’ll not have you say Volk kept all the kill to himself.”  Ambroys’s howl turned to a muffled scream as his friend’s roasted flesh pushed past his lips.

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