Survival of the Grimmest

 

      James Rowan ran through the woods at speeds that would have been unheard of to most before the Fall. It wasn't enough that he'd been booted out of his domain and had to leave in a hurry before someone found his haven, but he hadn't had time to take his compass and map. He vaguely recalled something about a domain to his North that might take him in, so he just walked that direction for a few weeks to see what would happen.

 

     Well, something happened all-right. He had entered a thick forest on his fourth week and after a few hours of searching had managed to track down and kill a deer, draining the dumb animal of it's precious, precious vitae. That had proved to be a mistake. The scent of the thing's blood had drawn...something and the Vampire now found himself the prey of things with unearthly howls that never seemed to tire. What's worse than that, was that sometimes, he could see the ground get a little bit darker for a few moments, as if a massive shadow were flying above the canopy, and blotting out what little light managed to filter through the trees.

 

     It wasn't a sensation he was used to, being prey like this. A proud and noble Kindred should be a hunter, not prey. Still he did not know what he was up against, and he doubted if his Presence would work on things that seemed to not be of this world and he tried hurling a rock at one of the shadowy things with Potence, only for the rock to shatter on impact with no effect. That left him his Celerity enhanced speed, and so he fled.

 

    The howls were drawing closer now, he had been running for three days, and the deer had not given him much vitae to begin with. He stumbled on a rock and twisted his ankle in his fall. He hadn't much vitae left, but he needed to keep moving, he felt his blood pump into the affected area, healing the wound. It robbed him of precious seconds, but he was back up and running again. The Howls started once more, and this time a larger, more bellowing howl echoed amongst them. James didn't wish to find out what that howl had come from.

 

      He ran again, but found himself standing on the edge of a cliff in the woods. He stared down at the sheer drop in disbelief, if he took that fall, he would almost certainly go into torpor, he didn't have much vitae left either. He cursed himself for not learning fortitude, he had thought at the time that presence enhanced words would be good enough to keep him from harm.

 

    Suddenly there came a rustling from the woods behind him. He turned and saw three large, misshapen wolves, with coal black fur and blood red chitin sticking out. Their faces were harsh, slightly humanoid in appearance, their eyes glowing red with malevolence as the shadows seemed to gather around them. Their fangs were like tiny blades, dripping with spittle as they licked their lips with black wormlike tongues, anticipating their kill.

 

   James steeled himself, he had not much vitae left, but was prepared to spend it all to keep from being these things meal. As he willed his blood into his fists, preparing to strike with potence enhanced blows, he was suddenly thrown to the ground. He tried to use his enhanced strength to stand back up, but something was on top of him, pinning him to the ground. It was one of those hellhounds, twice as large as the others, grinning at him with it's sharpened bladelike teeth. The last thing James Rowan saw was the maw of that huge thing descend upon his neck, tearing out the Vampire's throat. As his meager amount of remaining vitae leaked from him, he saw a shadow pass over the cliff and heard the howls of these fiendish wolves echo through the trees. Then the maw plunged down again, and James Rowan knew no more. . .

 

    Two days later, a patrol of the Adamant Guard had traveled into Barghest territory in search of a Wyvern that had attacked a village and was thought to be hiding amongst the Barghests. Three trolls and their House Aesin Patrol Leader had stumbled upon some tracks that seemed to be moving fast towards the edge of Barghest Territory, from the four sets of track that were shadowing it, it seemed that a pack of Barghests and their alpha had been hunting the poor guy. They seemed to catch up to him at a cliffside and from the dried blood and smashed undergrowth had caught up to poor bastard and eaten his soul.

 

    "Should we head back and report this?" Asked one of the Trolls. "No, we still haven't found the Wyvern's nest, we came out here to do a job after all." Replied the Squad Leader. "Still if there are outsiders making their way into our territory, don't you think Jarl Floki would want to know?" Asked a second troll. "I think Jarl Floki would want us to perform the mission we were assigned. We can always add this to the report." Replied the Squad Leader. "Well one thing is for sure, I wouldn't want to be the poor bastard who thought it was a good idea to enter Barghest Territory without a plan." Replied the third Troll, shaking his head. The squad leader shook his head and chuckled, "Outsiders rarely understand the dangers of the North. Now come on, we make for that outcropping to the east." He said, pointing to a boulder strewn hill in the distance. And with that, the squad moved out.