(Post co-written by NotAFlyingToy, Tiko and Leli)
Varia's route had taken the group deep into the forest to a secluded stretch of land at the base of a tall escarpment well east of either gypsy or castle Vankoryth. While she herself did not know the location of the werewolves, the wolves did. They knew where to tread and where not, and she had let them take the lead. Scattered about the ground were the remnants of a camp, wolf furs thrown about and a burnt out fire evident. A lone figure sat nearby, its back to the trio of vampires. Tilting her head back Varia scented the air, but the wind wasn't in their favor. All she could pick up was the general stench of werewolf clinging to the area. Where Torrential had noted the earlier meeting place was lacking in ambush capabilities, this place was quite the opposite. The escarpment blocked an easy route of escape and offered little in the way of cover.
The wolves converged around Varia, their hackles raised as the ravenous beasts anticipated a much needed meal to come.
Torrential's first instinct proved to be a predictable one, his hands reaching for both of his pistols, twirling them unnecessarily as they went from holster to fist, the sight on them true, pointed towards the figure. His lips curled slightly, revealing the bleach white fangs of an old vampire.
"I've waited for this," he snarled, his voice kissing the lower octaves of his range. "What's the word, Charles? Are we making a smear of it?"
Drawing in a deep breath Charles brought his eyes upwards to empty sky. His hands clenched and opened to his breaths, steadily growing quicker until a cackle chewed through his lips. Yellowed fangs flashed from near black gums as he lurched forward, left foot leading. “Don’t kill it, the nights too short, just -he paused, still facing the new moon- no, perhaps you’re right, it ought to die.”
As the trio of vampires was revving up for a battle, several of the wolves turned about. Something downwind had riled the beast and they stanced off towards the woods beyond. It was from there that four more figured stepped, three hulking werebeasts and the dominating figure of a red haired woman. No moon shone over-head, but it would seem Maria had been hard at work teaching the werewolves to utilize their affliction without the moons aid.
The three werebeasts fanned out behind the woman and despite their burly wolfen forms, it was she who seemed to dominate the group. Silver eyes, fiery red hair and the iron collar about her neck marked her out for who she was. She said nothing though as the werebeasts passed her by and closed in around the trio of vampires. She herself held back for the time being, observing.
“I thought you said there were only two of them...” Varia remarked dryly. Five werewolves, three vampires and only one dart. The odds could be better.
"Two, five, ten. What does it matter? They all bleed." But Torrential's nervous hands belied his brave words, one hand letting the gun slide with a clack back into its holster. In the same hand, he drew a dagger, beginning to move to his right and backwards, slightly, putting more distance between himself and the advancing trio of beasts.
He sensed glorious death, this day.
"Say the word, you two. I'm ready."
The word would never come as the werewolves broke into a run, converging upon the vampires with all the speed and ferocity of their wolvish nature. The wolves that barred their way had the sense fall back and instead they turned to easier prey, the lone figure. Splitting off from the group, the pack surged into motion. Throwing themselves at its shadowy form, snarls and yelps filling the night.
The exact extent of the commotion going on behind the trio was difficult to ascertain with the three werwolves bearing down on them. Varia being both the closest and the least experienced was the first to go down under the bone jarring impact of the foremost werewolf. The impact left her prone and caught beneath the muscled form of the werebeast, its jaws snapping for her face as she worked to hold it at bay long enough to get her hand around one of her blades. The two remaining wolves surged past their brethen to engage Charles and Torrential.
The first contact Charles heard wasn’t his fist to the side of a werewolves head, but the sound of Varia being driven back. He couldn’t for the life of him remember when he’d fought beside others before, even before he’d turned over in his grave. And it was apparent as he blasted forward pounding the skull and snout of the advancing bitch as it tried just to keep a steady footing. Driving it back away from the other two Charles charged forward intending to end the conflict before it found itself tearing through his flesh.
It seemed luck was never on his side though as the werewolf rending upwards with a great claw struck Charles just as he targetted its lower body. Catching the blow in the ribs and avoiding all but a bruise he gripped at the ground, finding a piece of wood from the abandoned camp at reach of his hand. The end was charred black, and the singed bark chipped away as the stick came down on the werewolves head until finally it snapped.
Quickly stepping forward Charles reached out with his left hand grabbing the mutt by the back of its neck and pulling it towards the broken piece of wood that he drove into its neck.
The one that charged Torrential was much, much luckier.
As the warrior backpedaled, firing a handful of rounds into the beast, he wobbled on a chunk of errant debris, just enough to send his balance slightly off kilter. It was this advantage that the wolf pressed with a snarl, leaping to his suddenly weakend left side. Twisting and giving up his pistol, Torrential attempted to drive his silver deep into the werewolf's hide, but missed by a mile.
He felt the teeth sink into his shoulder before he registered the miss, and gave a grunt of pain. Readjusting his strategy, he threw himself backwards, freeing up both of his hands as the werewolf attempted to take a second piece out of him, causing the white jaws to snap close to his face. Growling in satisfaction at the dodge, Torrential grabbed the werewolf by the scruff of it's neck, pushing it off and rolling it so that he was suddenly was on top.
Just like that, the advantage was on the Vampire's side. Three quick plunges with the silver, and the warrior leapt up, bleeding and satisfied, looking eagerly for another kill, unable to stop the rolling chuckle that escaped him.
Meanwhile, Varia's own struggle was well underway. Claws racked against her exposed skin but through sheer ferocity of her own, Varia managed to keep the werwolves snapping jaws clear of her face while her free hand finally gained purchase on one of her shorter blades. Drawing it out and across, the silvered steel sliced deeply into the werebeasts throat causing it to rear back in pain. The movement gave her the opening and leverage needed to utilize both hands to drive the blade up through its lower jaw until it was protruding from the top of the beasts skull.
Pushing the twitching carcass off her, Varia regained her footing and wiped the grit and blood from her face. Smoothly drawing one of her remaining blades she tossed it to Charles. The twitching beast at his feet was surprisingly enough, not dead. The wound was debilitating, but rapid regenerative capabilities would have it back into fighting shape in a matter of moments.
“Finish it off!” she yelled.
Maria meanwhile had shed her wolf furs as her body contorted, muscles bulging and sinew tearing while her skeletal structure rearranged itself. Thick russet fur sprouted along her skin and her face elongated into the fierce visage of a wolf, complete with a muzzle full of vicious fangs that dripped heated saliva.
As Maria surged into motion, it was again Varia who was caught in the path of the approaching werewolf due to proximity. Reaching for the dart tucked behind her ear, she quickly noted its absence, apparently knocked loose in her earlier struggle. She had learned her lesson though and rather than take the beast head on, she dove to the side, spotting the fallen dart as she grabbed it up mid tumble. Maria meanwhile had her sights set on another and simply passed Varia by. Charles had been a thorn in her side for months and his presence had brought her rage to a boil within her veins. So eager was she to spill his blood once and for all that she let it drive her into a blind frenzy.
Catching the blade in the same hand that had seconds ago gripped the charred wood Charles pulled up on the thick hair behind the downed beasts head. Running his tongue over his fangs he pulled upwards on the wolf until its neck was level to his eyes, the feet of the werewolf just barely touching ground.
In one fluid motion he drew the short blade across the throat of the wolf, splattering himself with warm blood and crippling the wolf for once and all. Raising the decapitated head to his lips he drew in the blood, grimacing as it swirled into the small cuts that lined the inside of his mouth. A bloody smile crept onto his face just as Maria surged onto him.
As it was a night without moon he was at his strongest, and she at her worst, or so he thought. It was like their first meeting, though reversed. Meeting Maria head on in charge without blade Charles struck upwards with a single motion of his body, arms seeking ribs as they blasted towards the softer parts of Maria. His legs extending fully from a bend as he drove forward and hopefully into the beast.
He wouldn't meet her head on and immediately exchange blows, she wasn't some juvenile whelp to be quelled with a stick and a shiny blade, and Charles wasn't on his own either. Though he had no doubt that his blow would be the final, of this he would make sure, he had no qualms with sharing the spoils of battle. And so at the end of his tackle Charles let one knee fall slightly, his body twisting like a marionette to throw Maria down onto her side while he scurried away from her heavy, soon to be, corpse.
Rising back from the ground, Charles' sheer ferocity had caught even Maria off guard. It was a ferocity of the likes that he had not displayed in their previous altercations. Shaking herself off she rose up onto her rear legs and bellowed out a challenging roar, the sound rolling off the escarpment like thunder.
Many of Charles' blows landed true, but as with their earlier encounters her regenerative capabilities proved impressively efficient. Fractured ribs knitted back together even as she moved and bruises had faded almost as quickly as they were inflicted. Taking a single menacing step towards Charles', Maria's frenzied state left her eyes on him, and him alone.
Torrential's gaze was drawn to the scuffle between Charles and the wolf, the wolf who's gaze had been haunting him; locked onto his across a forest floor, just before he saw her back, retreating through the underbrush. A growl that surprised him with its ferocity ripped through his body, seemingly seeping in through his legs, drawing strength from the core of the earth itself from the noise that he emitted.
His legs were churning, head lowering, and before he knew what exactly had become of his insanity, the thick Vampire warrior was launching himself into a full on tackle at the distracted wolf, the silver dagger still clenched in his white-knuckled grip. His arms gripped around her waist, feeling the rough, russet fur on the side of his face as his momentum carried them both to the floor.
Pressing his advantage, he dug the hilt of his dagger deeper into his palm, trying to get a good grip on it. With a snap of his elbow, he lashed at her abdomen, the short blade not nearly sinking deep enough for his liking. He aimed for a second attack, but the singing pain in his shoulder caused his grip to fade. With a grimace of horror, he felt the gleaming weapon slip out of his grip and fall to the grass.
Taking the opening provided by Torrential, Varia leaped into the fray with a wolfish howl. In a dangerous gambit she drove the dart deeply into the werewolfs back, but the combination of Torrential's knife wound and Varia's actions had the beast more angered than wounded. Knocking Varia back with a wayward blow, Maria leaped clear of the scuffle, colliding with the side of the escarpment about seven feet up. Claws rend into rock and earth as she coiled her muscles and launched herself back down at Torrential with a snarl.
Torrential leaped to his feet as Maria disengaged, and his eyes tracked her leap skyward, his grimace becoming curled in a smile with the thrill of the fight. As the wolf leapt back towards the warrior, Torrential stepped to the side, taking a firm grip of the wolf's neck as it stretched towards him. With a roar, a twirl, and a tightening of his lower muscles, he used her own momentum forward to send her crashing back into the wall. He took the brief respite to snatch up his silver blade, ensuring it was gripped in his good arm.
"Having fun yet, mongrel!?" He roared.
Maria got back to her feet unsteadily shaking her head in a daze at the impact with the escarpment. A deep warning growl rumbled from her throat but another shake of her head betrayed that something wasn't quite right with her. She seemed unsteady on her feet as she backed up against the rocky wall to keep from being surrounded.
Pleased with himself Charles advanced on Maria. The wolfsebane had obviously taken effect, had it not she would have likely already been upon Torrential trying to bash him from side to side while snapping with her shark-like maw. The others may have held some disdain against her, but he’d wrought his into an obsession he could only cure through her death, or better yet, pain. Perhaps killing her wasn’t the solution. His wounds hadn’t lasted him such a short time. The shame and scars both carved into his body still tinged with a fiery pain, however imaginary it was.
Slowly bringing himself to within a short reach of Maria Charles let himself be absorbed by his thoughts, allowing the complete darkness of the night to grow and fester within him. From his shadow an ooze seemed to grow. It was this that made a blade unecessary for him as he needn’t use special metals to kill a beast when he could simply rip it apart, bit by bit. The gas though was not capable of much more than to numb the eyes and cause smell to falter. Toxic in odour it was akin to heaving deep breaths of rotted eggs, feces and corspes all blended together into a rotted mess. With every step this vile substance grew, swirling it’s way around Charles until his entire body, shadow and even the trail he left was a great body of black smoke.
The thick stench of Charles' miasma overtook Maria's senses. It was so very similar to the stench of decay she had grown to loathe and despise. Fragmented memories assaulted her, memories of tortured screams and of flesh rotting clean to bone beneath the administrations of the Lessard family. They were loathsome creatures of the same sort that stood before her now. It had her nostrils flaring angrily, adding blind rage to her already disorientated state. Meanwhile, Varia had regained her footing and armed herself once more. Between the three vampires, Maria was suitably pinned down, her back to the wall as the trio closed in.
A deep laugh found freedom from the smoke, but only for an instant as it shot forward carrying a short step behind it Charles with fangs barred and claws ready to reave through fur and flesh into the juicy bits of Maria. With no desire to end her suffering here Charles aimed to torture the wolf as much as possible for the night, and perhaps longer if the others permitted.
Okay, the smoking shit? Freaky. But Torrential could look past it, seeing as the source of the smoking, rotting, disgusting mess was on his side of this particular encounter. With a flaring of nostrils, the warrior was reminded of why he didn't usually work with other of his own kind.
Well, with a few exceptions. Varia came to mind.
Rolling his neck on big shoulders, Torrential prepared for a bit of a bloodbath. Unlike his stinky partner in this hunt, Torrential wasn't too fond of torture. He grew impatient. He was more a fan of a straight, simple death, and he prepared for it now. Keeping his joints loose, he watched the big werewolf with a critical eye, looking for a weakness.
Just as Charles lunged foreward, as did the big Vampire, but from the opposite side. Moving quickly, he thrust the dagger from low to high in an arc, his target; the ribcage of his opponent.
A sweeping back handed blow knocked Torrential's swing wide, but that left her open for Charles' onslaught. Fangs and claws tore at flesh, but the burly beast wasn't down yet. With a bodily heave, she drove the pair back from her, slashing almost blindly with a forearm to keep them at bay. The wounds inflicted by Charles continued to heal over almost as quickly as he could inflict them, but the ragged knife wound across her ribcage remained. The wolfsbane was making quick work of her and a shudder ran through her body as her bestial form began to recede. Waring against the affects of the toxins in her blood, Maria seemed caught somewhere between woman and beast as she struggled to regain her stronger form.
Torrential had slight difficulty recovering from the ferocity of the backhand, but before long he was reset in his offensive position, and he liked what he saw. The mongrel was dazed, stunned; looking like a moth approaching a flame. That shit that Varia seemed to carry seemed to do the trick.
Switching the knife to a reverse grip, he darted in, plunging the dagger into her ribcage, utilizing the full force of his elbow.
Half-formed and twisted hands closed around Torrential's own, but Maria's claws and fur continued to recede, leaving only pale skin behind. With the knife buried between her ribs, her breath was ragged and labored, a tinge of blood upon her lips. Gone was the beast, and it its wake was simply a woman, battered and defeated. The pain and fear reflected in her eyes betrayed her realization of that.
With a grin, the dark glasses met the woman's delicious expression with a nod, as if to say yes, that just happened. As much as he could in her iron grip, he twisted the knife further. With the scraping of metal against bone, Torrential's efforts drew a grunt of pain out of her and a fresh trickle of blood from her lips.
Charles had let Torrential lead for a moment, and saw that he was right to do so. Revoking the noxious smoke he was upon Maria, no longer a beast, in a second. He looked at her face, the blood trailing along her lip and couldn't help but to enjoy the scene with a smile that, under any other circumstances, would have seem terribly misplaced. But he wasn't content to merely watch as someone else took away her life.
"Enough!" He shouted to his companion in at least this nights hunt. "Why kill her when you can prolongue her misery, have her crumble beneath your feet for more than a mere moment?"
Varia scowled from the side, lowering her weapon. "Just kill her and be done with it!" she retorted.
Torrential gazed at the werewolf for a long second, allowing her pain and fear to wash over his senses. He smiled. "So unfortunate for you that I'm not in the mood to start a feud, Mongrel. Else I would kill you where you stand, and Smoky the bear wouldn't have his fun."
With another wrench, he let the knife pop free, turning away from his prize. "Besides. There's another wolf to hun-"
He paused, straightening, his head whipping from left to right in rapid movements. "Where the fuck's the last one?"
With another grunt, Maria fell to her knees, head bowed. One bloody hand reached up to grip at the rocky escarpment as if even now she would make to rise, but the strength just wasn't there.
Varia on the other hand seemed thoroughly disgusted at the decision to not kill the werewolf. Turning away in ire, she threw her weapon down upon the ground with a scowl. As long as Maria lived she was a threat to the Lessard's, but there was little she could do at the moment without Torrential backing her on the matter. Besides, the wolfsbane would kill her sure enough.
Turning to shout at Varia for demanding the death of what he'd worked so hard and waited so long to capture Charles' attention was taken away by the words of Torrential.
"You sent your wolves after it didin't you? Did they do nothing but lead us into an ambush?"
"Some ambush." Torrential muttered.
"One nonetheless." Charles snapped in retort.
Varia waved her hand towards the surrounding ground that was littered with the broken bodies of wolves. “They did their purpose in finding the place. Wolves don't fair well against werewolves.”
Torrential was inclined to agree. "All's well that end's well, Charlie. Though another notch in my belt would've been nice."
He bared his teeth in a feral smile.
"You'll have your notch, but I'll have my fun before then." Turning to Maria Charles watched over her as she grabbed at the rocks of the escarpment. He had no room for her at his temporary home, and was in no position to take her leagues upon leagues away, not without more wolfesbane at least. So until then he would take her to the castle, chain her in the dungeons and forget to mention her to the clan.