Prologue

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The Wolf glanced back at the remains of the sorry pack, struggling through the nightmarish thoroughfare; their every muscle, sinew and fibre stretched to the limit of endurance. Flames from the high torches flickered down a pale yellowish luminosity, casting a glow on the surface of the craggy red ground; the darkness intermittently interrupted by the reflective flash of sliding metal.

In a rigidly taut stance, the demeanour of the Wolf acknowledged the demise of the fallen. With a determined will focused upon the vertical mound, releasing a defiant snarl, the Wolf began to climb the mountain of wrecked machines, clambering upwards towards the goal, the quarry, upwards towards the last platform.

The Wolf struggled, slipping, stumbling and grappling over rusting storage tanks, thick oxidised chains and hollow cubes of steel, with the distant sound of the trailing pack, in a chorus of strained howls, unharmoniously mixing with the cacophony of falling debris. Obsolete oil drums tumbled to roll with threatening alarm over the detritus of antiquated machinery now cast aside upon the heap; a steep incline of treacherous sharp traps set underfoot; the onslaught of an avalanche of coils, cranks and engine spares crashing down and around, bruising the flesh, slashing at the skin; still the Wolf persevered ever upwards.

Almost at the summit, the foundation beneath gave way forcing the Wolf’s limbs to sink into temporary chasms. Growling from deep within the Wolf strained against tubes and pipes of an austere, industrial bygone age; raising up the spirit to invigorate soul and body, the Wolf pushed on. Bounding forever onward despite the injurious blows, bloodied and exhausted, the Wolf desperately fought to reach the pinnacle. Executing a body twisting manoeuvre in an effort of extreme, sinew‑stretching agony, from the collapsing colossal heap of scrap metal, the Wolf launched into the air. Leaping forward with heaving gasps of heavy rapid breaths, the much fatigued predator at last landed upon the relative safety of the platform’s wooden planks. The mountains unstable works crumbled to slide away in a deafening explosion of sound.

The planks led to an adjacent platform which housed a small stairway. Atop it, sitting upon an old croc skin chair, resplendent with spite and pride in equal measure, was the one with the accursed title of the Wanderin’ Padré. Flanked at each side by his cowl clad henchmen sat the head of the brethren of despair; chief architect of the bloodthirsty brotherhood; the disciples of doom. Cold callous calculating eyes stared out from beneath the Padré’s ragged brown hood, his face contorted with hate, the lips tightly stretched to reveal the decaying pegs of teeth held in a motionless grimace.

The Wolf did not hesitate. Leaping at the dark despicable figure with an unmatched ferocity the Wolf clawed at this vile creature that had been a despised abomination for much of the Wolf’s lifetime; now the only mission, the only purpose, to rip this bastard to pieces.

The Wolf howled in premature triumph, almost reaching the Wanderin’ Padré’s throat, this unholy monk inhaled deeply, to invite the presumption that he tasted the air to welcome his own vicious, savage demise. He lifted one bony hand to his servants and with a flick of the wrist the crossbow bolts were despatched to fly, cutting through the air from several directions. One by one the bolts thudded into the body of the Wolf. The impact was solid and brutal, the pain a penetrating dullness of an agonising ache.

The Padré widened his leering smile of satisfaction, to deeply inhale the air once again.

For the Wolf, the light faded and all turned to darkness.


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by Jack Grant