Chapter One

The woods were quiet outside the village of Darca. Darca was one of the last villages still in the woods. Its mud and hay huts were unguarded usually, but in time of war the people had built wooden gates that squared in the village. The wooden wall was sharpened at the top to guard against the outside forces. A walkway existed from tower to tower around the village, each built on a corner facing the village and the woods. Derrek watched as the fog rolled in. For the last week howling was heard outside the village and the people were frightened. The night was cold and Derrek could see his breath. He was one of the men who took watched every night. The four corners of the village were always watched. Derrek was not on guard tonight, but he just couldn't sleep due to the anticipation of the fight. He was a blacksmith, not a warrior, but that didn't matter now. It was so silent. The animals of the night stopped chirping and the birds were mute. Nothing seemed right. The silence echoed around the village. Nothing moved; the trees stood still; not even a breeze came through the crowded forest. Each man looked tired. Derrek could only hope that the creatures had something better to do tonight.

"Do you think they will attack tonight, Derrek?" Armand asked him. Armand was a veteran of the wars around the nation. His family had died from these creatures just a few months ago. He swore they would die by his hand and his family would be avenged.

"I don't know." Derrek answered. His dark brown hair was smoothed back and curled around the edges. Most would say his hair was black, but the hints of chocolate still shone from it. It had length, but it was cut short near the neck. His facial hair circled his mouth and attached to a goatee. His grey shirt and black pants were dusty from working with the stone diggers. He helped make the stones to honor the dead. His blacksmithing had come to a halt at the appearance of the creatures in this village. He had seen so much death in the past months come to this village. He wondered what they were waiting for. The villagers were easy targets, but the creatures seemed to be waiting for something or someone to make a mistake.

Each moment of the night dragged on and on. Derrek stood watching the sides of the village. He couldn't do anything, but try to keep people safe. He had come to this village after his own village was destroyed just a year ago. He had no family and didn't want to start one during this time of war between the creatures. He had never even seen one of them. Each time they attacked it was dark and it was gone before they caught up to it. Only the mangled corpse was left to claim and bury. Each time the creatures ate less and less of the corpse, leaving only the injury that killed the person. Everyone was frightened of the creatures and they had a right to be.

The morning dawned quiet. Not even the roosters dared to make a noise. Derrek had slept in the west tower while Armand stood guard. He woke up still tired and sore from the lack of sleep he had during the week. His blue eyes brightened with the sun and he stretched with the dawn.

"How long had I been out?" Derrek asked Armand as he stood up to look out in the village. Some of the villagers were out doing the morning chores and gathering breakfast for the men. The night seemed to be a good sign that everything was going to fine today.

"A couple of hours." Armand answered still staring off at the woods. Armand took a deep breath.

"You are hungry, Armand. Go, get you some breakfast." Derrek said to him.

"No, Derrek. This is my post and I will watch the woods." Armand was stubborn. He hated what the creatures had done to his wife and children. Suddenly something made a thud, almost silenced by the early fog. Derrek and Armand looked at the other towers to see if any of the other guards heard it. The north guard was looking for something on the ground outside the wall. The south guard was checking his side, but the east guard was nowhere in sight.

Derrek couldn't help the feeling of danger in the bottom of his stomach. Suddenly they heard a woman scream in the village and a jet-black beast run out of the hut into a new one. The creatures were in town.

"They are in the village!!!!!" Derrek hollered to the other guards. He grabbed his sword and ran as fast as he could down to the village. "Protect the women and children!!!!"

Armand followed him as quick as his legs could go.

As Derrek and some of the other men got the ground with their weapons a side of the north wall collapsed on nearby huts and a wave of the creatures came crashing in. "Holy…" Derrek said. "Run and fight!!!!!!"

The creatures ran on all fours until they were close enough to attack the men. They were almost seven feet tall and had razor sharp claws that tore through flesh and armor like a hot knife through butter. They had jet-black fur; it looked thick, but was hugging the muscle tone of their bodies. One could say they looked like a werewolf, but they were myths. These creatures had facial similarities with felines and canines, but matched none in build.

Derrek was doing his best fighting off some of the creatures so that some of the villagers could escape, but there seemed to be about twenty or so creatures in the village. Each swing at the creatures with Derrek's sword seemed to miss the vulnerable spots. He started to think that these creatures were invulnerable, at least to what ever they were doing. Derrek wounded the creature with a slight slice to the chest, but the creature was still coming closer to him. He lunged at the creature and inserted his sword in the creature's chest. It howled and then the sound faded as the creature lay lifeless on the ground. They weren't invincible and now they knew that. "They can be killed!!!" Derrek hollered to the men fighting.

Derrek turned and saw one of the beasts attacking Armand. Armand swung his sword at the beast only to have the beast slice his chest with its claws. Armand fell to the ground bleeding and Derrek ran to him just to stab the beast in the back. The beast howled and growled at Derrek. It slowly turned to face its attacker and snarled fiercely. Derrek felt his heart beat slowly to a muted sound and time seemed to go by so slow. The creature had him backed against a wall; Derrek was helpless.

In a second the beast howled in pain and fell to the ground bleeding. A man with short light brown hair pulling his sword from the beast's back. His grey duster touched the ground and his navy shirt was covered by a brown armor looking vest.

"You okay?" The mysterious man asked.

Derrek nodded and said, "Yeah…"

The man nodded and went on battling the beasts. Each of his swings came close to injuring the creatures. Another creature fell at his hand before Derrek unfroze from his state.

Derrek ran to check Armand's wound. Armand was gone, dead… The creatures had killed him and Derrek couldn't protect his friend. So Derrek rushed over to the strange man's side and took down one the creatures himself.

The man said, "Thanks." He continued to fight off the creatures until they were surrounded. The creatures' breaths were hot to the air. Derrek could feel their heat-embrace gasp of air. Derrek and the man were surrounded by six of the creatures. The villagers seemed to be hiding or had escaped and a few of the men were still fighting.

The brown haired man lunged at one of the beast and nicked its arm. The wail of pain echoed through the town. Each moment they creatures took a step back had Derrek and this man becoming more trapped. One of the creatures pounced at the two and the man stabbed its chest and slid his blade from its bleeding chest. "Any one else want to play?" he asked to the creatures. The remaining five snarled and had a look of death in their eyes. One of the bigger ones howled loudly right in the man's face.

Before the creatures could attack the stranger, he hollered only one thing. "DIANA!!!!!" Derrek could see a sense of desperation in his eyes. But what happened next was something he didn't expect.

A raven-black horse came crashing through the destroyed wall and an arrow came from the rider. All Derrek saw was the arrow pierce one of the creatures in the neck and the creature fall back in pain. The others looked up to the horse and the rider. Another arrow came flying in to another creature's torso. It growled towards the horse and rider only to call out to the others to back off. The rider continued to shoot the arrows towards the creatures as they began to fall back. Derrek had never seen archery like the rider's. Every arrow was shot and hit a creature only to make it back off more. Each shot was perfectly chosen. The rider never even had to keep their hand on the reins. Soon the entire number of the creatures started back towards the woods followed by the rider and the rider's arrows. Soon the creatures and the rider were out of site leaving the village destroyed but empty of the creatures.

Derrek turned to the strange man only to find him walking away. He ran up next to the guy and said, "Hey…. thanks for coming to fight with us. I mean… not many men would come and fight these creatures."

"It is my job." He said walking away to see the dead. Another strange man walked up to him, but this one was blonde with hair that dangled near his ears. "Erick, gather our dead and make sure they are given a warrior's burial when we get back to the shelter."

"Will do, Captain." Erick said as he hurried to get a few men to help with their dead.

"So you are a solider?" Derrek asked.

"Not a solider, just some one who wants these Torfangs dead." He said,

"Torfangs?" Derrek asked. His face showed the confusion he had.

A voice behind him answered. "Torfangs is what they are called." It was the rider who chased the creatures away. Her eyes shone with the blueness of the sky and green depth from the sea and they caught Derrek's. Her dusty auburn hair was long and wild as she stepped down from her horse. "Jason, we have a problem." Her duster was a dark purple and her shirt was a black tight top with a few patches of color on it. She looked like she had been trained as a fighter, but her archery was amazing.

Derrek looked at the man called Jason and stood silent.

The man answered the rider. "Not now. We must get back to the shelter."

"They were more organized this time. They are evolving mentally." The rider said holding her horse's reins.

"You give them too much credit." Jason replied.

"You don't give them enough." She replied back with a sharp tongue.

"I am Derrek." Derrek said trying to get them to not fight. He waited for introductions, hopefully that would distract them.

"I am Jason," Jason responded. His voice was sharp and strong. "This is Diana, my second in command."

Diana nodded at Derrek and then turned to Jason. "Jason, we must get back before they come back to finish their destruction."

Jason nodded. "I'll get the men to move out." Jason started off towards his men.

"Wait, what are these people going to do?" Derrek asked stopping Jason in his tracks. "Their village is wrecked. They have no homes."

Jason looked at the village. Some of the huts were still standing but blood was covering the walls or a serious hole in one of the wooden walls had been knocked down. The dead lie all around the huts and the wreckage of the wall. He knew that they would never survive staying here.

"What is left of them can follow us to shelter. Gather them, Derrek, but be quick about it. We leave in less than twenty minutes." Jason walked off towards the group of warriors that he had left.

Diana shook her head and walked her horse towards what was left of the village. She looked around for a moment and then started going through a hut. Everything seemed crushed. The irritating scent of the creatures smothered the air in the hut. She could see what happened here. This was the first place it attack, but why here. A young child laid dead, its throat torn and blood everywhere. She was so innocent in this action by the creatures. She couldn't even protect herself; the creatures had never attack those who hadn't attacked them first. Something was definitely not right about this attack.

"Diana." Jason stood at the door.

Diana turned quickly and looked at Jason. "Come on," His voice was sensitive to Diana's pain.

She nodded and came out of the hut. The sun had came out and shown the destruction of the village. She knew there couldn't be many survivors from this battle. It wasn't even a battle. Her eyes scanned the wreckage. Too many lives had been lost. These creatures had killed too many innocent people and yet nothing is really known about them.

"Jason, we have a serious problem." Diana said as her eyes turned from the wreckage to Jason's.

"I know." Jason replied. "We need to get going."

Jason and Diana walked off and both jumped on their horses. Diana looked at Derrek getting some of the children on the cart. Derrek turned to see the pain hidden in Diana's eyes. They were caught in each other's sights for a moment and then Diana reared her horse and started off to the head of the traveling hunters. Jason followed her and noticed her interest in Derrek. Jason didn't have any emotion in his face. Derrek did not know what to think about these hunters.