Hunters are warriors who have been assigned with the job of exterminating a beast that has threatened the human race for centuries. Their only prey is known as the werewolf. They are beasts who were once man, who have been converted into dangerous creatures. Throughout the centuries hunters have been trained to exterminate these beasts.
Werewolves were beings who were supposedly cursed by Lucifer himself. Hunters thought that their mission was to kill these monsters; they were to do the will of Christ.
They all agreed to this concept and banded together, and called themselves Finem. In the beginning, Finem was a clan of dysfunctional hunters who were wild with their hatred for the wolves. At the time they did now know tactics, or the proper ways to hunt. The hunters would have continued to be a disorganized group of warriors if it weren't for Frank. He was a respected and powerful hunter, known for his ability to lead. He was the most favored among his brethren. This man soon unified Finem and became the first elder. Under his guidance there was a chain of command created. Elder Frank was joined by Elder Joshua and the first female hunter, Elder Natalie. Under them were a group of commanders who were all assigned a group of hunters, based off of skill and expertise. Then under them were the lower ranked hunters themselves, referred to as the soldiers.
The elder's jobs were to pass on the traditions and values of the clan onto the younger generations. They also trained the chosen captains, teaching them the ways of hunting and combat. Eventually every skill, technique and history was known to every hunter.
This practice continued into the present, and Finem became the strongest source of werewolf extermination. Finem grew so powerful that the werewolf population decreased significantly over two centuries.
Megan Chase was one of these hunters. At the age of seventeen she was one of the youngest captains to lead. She was known for her long dark hair and her icy blue eyes. As it was tradition for all of the captains to have titles, she was known as Umbra, the shadow. This came from her superb ability to use stealth and speed to eliminate her enemies. Megan was a pale girl and her stature was small yet her body was still toned. Unlike the others, her muscles were lean, making her body more equipped for flexibility and speed.
Megan was one who always obeyed the rules and carried out her orders without fail. Her calm and stoic persona kept her subordinates in line. Though her voice may have been low, her orders were never unheard. Because of this she was specifically assigned to this mission.
Her objective was to raid a werewolf hideout before the full moon. It was simple enough, and the wolves would be vulnerable during this time period because their wolf forms would not be as dangerous compared to how they would be during the full moon. Megan was sure that this mission would go without incident. She and her soldiers were trained for this.
The sky was a hazy gray. Dense fog, obscured the vision of anyone who dared look any farther than a meter. This was a bad situation for a hunter used their sight as one of their many weapons.
Megan made her way through the haze, her hand clutching a bloodstained sword. She fanatically looked around as perspiration began to collect on her forehead. The young hunter called out for her men, her breath raspy and horse from repeated use. Her already pale skin was almost a sickly color and there were dark circles around her eyes.
She continued to call out the names of her comrades, cursing when she received no response.
She shook her head in anger. "I told them to stay close, damn it."
She lost her footing for a moment and stumbled, clumsily hitting the ground face first. Her head turned to the side and she spat out whatever dirt made it into her mouth. Usually she would have gotten back to her feet, but she chose to stay there.
Megan closed her eyes and listened to the sounds that filled the humid air. She heard the pounding of footsteps, and the barking of orders. She also heard the screams and pleas from her comrades. In that moment, she was relieved that none of those voices belonged to her own group. But she listened for a while longer, her ears picking up other noises. She felt her skin crawl as she heard it. It was roar that belonged to a creature that she was very familiar with. And it was very close.
She quickly got on her feet and turned in the direction of the sound. She held her sword in a two-handed grip as she stared straight ahead. She took a deep breath as she heard another hunter call out before their voice was cut short by the sound of ripping flesh.
It got another man.
She noticed a large dark figure as it emerged from the fog.
Megan took a step back, watching as the tall and menacing creature advanced. She tried to keep her sword steady as it approached.
"Monster," the woman breathed. She squinted through the fog, her sight working against her. She tried to make eye contact with the figure but she knew that it was a fruitless endeavor.
The creature was humanoid with a coat of short dark fur that covered its body. Its head was that of a wolf, though its face showed more expression than the average animal. It had the body of a man, muscular and agile. The creature flexed its claws, muscles rippling under the thin layer of fur. As it took a step forward it arched its back, its large animal-like feet stirring the dust beneath it. It bared its teeth, revealing a full set of sharp fangs that were stained with blood.
Megan froze in place, realizing how quiet it was around her. Even if she was separated from her subordinates they shouldn't have been that far away. Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to think of where they could be, but her mind kept drawing blanks.
"What's wrong human," the wolf asked. Its voice, a deep and gravely baritone, seemed as if it shook the ground beneath her feet. "Are you looking for your friends? Because if you are-"
Megan cut the wolf off, "What are you getting at?"
The creature showed off more of those fearsome teeth, its mouth pulling back into a twisted grin. "I think you know girl," it said with a voice dripping with amusement.
The hunter's grip on her sword tightened and her shoulders stiffened. Her teeth were clenched as she took one of her hands off of the sword and stood so that her legs were shoulder length apart. She was ready to attack.
The werewolf's smiled faded yet it did not take up a stance of its own. Instead it straightened its posture and folded its arms across its broad chest. Though it did not smile, everything about the wolf's body seemed as if it were screaming mockery.
"Do you think this is a game," Megan spat. "I'm not one of your play-things, dog!"
It tilted its head to the side. "Hunter, you are no threat to me."
This statement made Megan's face red with anger. The beast was toying with her. To the werewolf, she was nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Its words hurt her in a place that went beyond any physical wound; it hurt her pride. Her cool blue eyes bore holes into its form before she charged it.
Megan, who was known for her tact and stealth, discarded all of that composure and left only rage. There was only one thing on her mind; she wanted the wolf dead. Her mind only channeled negative thoughts, finding any reason to mangle this creature. She told herself that she was enacting revenge for her fallen comrades, or that the beast was simply an abomination.
She swung her sword around her, her movements sloppy. She stumbled over her own feet and fell as the wolf avoided her attacks with barely any effort. Though it had such a large form, the beast moved with speed and an odd form of grace.
While the trained hunter continued to slash at the air, the wolf laughed. Eventually it began to circle around her, using its speed as a way to keep her at bay. It then began to push her around; at times it took hold of her sword and pulled her along. When it finally let go she hit the soil, hard. After this practice was repeated a few times, her pale face had become dirty. Blood leaked from her broken nose like water from a faulty roof yet her eyes still burned with hatred.
Her shoulders rose and dropped with the heaving of her chest. Her sword dragged along the dirt as she approached, using her free hand to wipe at her nose. Her dark hair, once silky, was now a mess of tangles and dirt.
"You filthy mutt!"
There was a subtle change in the wolf's expression and the glow of delight in its eyes seemed to dim. It stared at Megan, giving her a look of disappointment. The wolf then sighed as it glanced up at the sky.
"Human, I grow tired of this." It turned its eyes on her. "You bore me."
Megan's eyebrows furrowed at this, "What-"
Before she could finish her sentence the wolf had its claws around her neck. With little effort, she was lifted into the air, the werewolf holding her in a one-armed grip. The beast tightened its grip, digging those hooked claws into her flesh. Choked cries left Megan's mouth as she scratched and tugged at its hand, trying to free herself. Her eyes stung with the familiar sting of tears as her vision began to become blurred. Her legs kicked in the air as she used what little fight she had left.
"Let…me," she began.
The wolf brought her closer, that sickening smile back on its face. "What was that?"
Megan used the small amount of air that passed through her throat to try to speak. "Let…me…go."
The beast chuckled, "If that is what you want." The beast tossed her aside like garbage.
She hit the ground with a dull thud. She sucked in air until her lungs filled and she had to exhale. As she lay there her hands dug into the soil before she balled them into fists. It took a while before she finally gained enough strength to pull herself into a sitting position. Those eyes of hers still burned with the fire of unadulterated loathing.
The creature scoffed, reaching down and pulling the woman back by her hair. It then lifted her up, watching as she cried out in pain. It stared at her face for a moment, watching her pathetic attempts to free herself. Though there was confusion in those gold eyes, and it hesitated for a moment.
"Why do you still fight, when your kind is defeated? Look at you, pathetic and weak. Is it the hate that drives you? Do you really hate us that much?" The beast's eyes narrowed. "What have we done to be hated…and attacked?"
"You should not exist," Megan spat. "You are tainted with the devil's blood. You are cursed! So ugly and dirty…God, I wish to vomit when I look at you. I hate you and your kin. That is why I hunt. I want to wipe you from the face of this earth."
The wolf's grip on Megan's hair tightened almost to the point of ripping the hair from her scalp. She could feel its claws scraping across her scalp, causing her to struggle more.
"So that is how you view us? We are to die when this…" The wolf motioned to itself. "Is out of our control?"
The creature brought Megan close, its teeth bared. "Well hunter, I will show you what it's like to be one of us. I would never spare one of your kind…but you. You need to understand."
The wolf opened its mouth, bringing its jaws down upon her neck.
Megan's wrists and ankles were bound by heavy shackles and chains. The restraints were like hands, weighing her down in their forceful grip. She eventually fell to her knees. She soon made contact with the wooden platform, the impact rattling her bones to the point that she was convinced her knees were shattered. Once her body recovered from the initial shock, she tried to move yet the pain lingered like a bee's sting. Even though her body ached and her veins felt as if they were on fire, she did not move.
Megan stared at her pale hands, balling them into fists. She then looked up; her piercing blue eyes peeked out through the curtain of black hair. This was her third and final day in captivity due to her wretched and incurable ailment. She glanced at the sky above, her eyes searching for any break between the thick, dark clouds.
God…please. If only I could see one star.
This would be her last chance to see the night as she was now. She continued to search, her eyebrows furrowed with the effort. I wasn't long before her shoulder slumped, a long sigh left her lips. Those same icy eyes drifted, taking in her surroundings. She watched as men crowded around her. Some grimaced at her, their teeth clenched together.
Megan brought her hands up to her neck, wincing as she touched the tender area. The wound burned as if it were on fire. She let her fingers slowly trail over the injury, feeling each place where the wolf's teeth punctured her flesh.
"Elder Paul has arrived," one of the men called.
The other hunters backed away as a middle aged man stepped onto the wooden platform. The dark-haired woman looked up at the hunched over form of her superior.
"Elder Paul," she whispered.
Elder Paul simply stared at her, sorrow filling those wise brown eyes of his. He ran his fingers through his gray beard, the corners of his mouth pulled down into a frown. This continued for a few minutes before he finally blinked, pulling out a piece of paper from his pocket. He cleared his throat before he spoke.
"Megan Chase, do you know your crime?"
Megan nodded. "Yes, Elder-I do."
"Then tell us."
Megan hesitated, and glanced around. She took a moment to look at everyone around her, taking in their expressions. These were people that were once comrades, and even friends. She sighed, turning her attention back to Elder Paul.
"I allowed myself to be bitten by a werewolf."
"And what is the punishment for your crime?"
"I must be put to death."
Elder Paul nodded. "Yes, and by doing this you shall be put back in God's good grace, and free from the devil's curse."
Megan looked up, her eyes wide. Put back in His grace? She thought. What did I ever do to leave it?
What happened that morning was something out of her control, yet she would be paying for it. Megan had enough time to realize just how…wrong that sounded. To be punished for something she did not do? To be judged, ridiculed, and isolated from the rest of the clan simply because she was forced against her will? That did not sit right with her. Her family and the people she once considered friends turned on her in an instant, calling her an abomination. And now she was to die. Was this really the will of God?
The Elder looked off, motioned for one of the men behind her to come forward. Megan could hear the heavy footsteps followed by the dragging of a weapon she knew all too well. Even though she was tempted to look she simply gazed up at the sky, smiling when she noticed that those clouds began to clear. She could even see the moon poking out from between the clouds.
Megan finally gave in to her morbid curiosity and turned her head. She watched one of her fellow hunters lift a sword. She quickly turned her head back, so that she was facing the Elder once more. In that moment, she realized that this was what the wolf meant.
It was their plight, their true curse. To be hunted and killed for a sin that wasn't theirs. It left her feeling angry and disgusted, even as the hunter behind her took a step back and raised his blade above her head. The last thing Megan saw before everything went black was the full moon peeking out from behind the clouds.