Prologue

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The Wolf glanced back at the remains of the sorry pack, struggling through the nightmarish thoroughfare, as his every muscle and sinew was stretched; flames from the high torches flickered down a shadow of yellow, illuminating the surface of the red rocky ground; the darkness intermittently interrupted by the reflective flash of sliding metal.

In a grimace, the demeanour of the Wolf acknowledged the demise of the fallen.  Snarling, and focused on the vertical mound, the Wolf started to climb the mountain of wrecked machines, clambering upwards towards the goal, the quarry, upwards towards the last platform.

Slipping, stumbling and grappling over tanks and chains, cubes of empty metal and rusting drums now cast aside upon the heap; a hill 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 as the Wolf's legs sank into the temporary chasms.  Growling from deep within the Wolf strained against tubes and pipes of a far better bygone age; raising up the whole of the body, the Wolf pushed on, bloodied, exhausted, desperate to reach the pinnacle.  With a twist embroiled in toil, one mighty effort, the Wolf leapt forward to land upon the relative safety of the platform's wooden planks as the mountains unstable detritus crumbled and slid away in a deafening turmoil.

The planks lead to an adjacent platform which housed a small stairway.  Atop it, sitting resplendent with spite and pride in equal measure upon an old croc skin chair, flanked at each side by his cowl clad henchmen was the one known as the wanderin' padré; head of the brethren of despair, chief architect of the bloodthirsty brotherhood of the disciples of doom.  Cold callous calculating eyes stared out from beneath the padré's brown ragged hood, his face contorted with hate, the lips tightly stretched to reveal the decaying pegs of teeth held in a crocodile smile.

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's throat.

The Wolf howled in premature triumph, almost reaching the wanderin' padré's neck, this unholy monk breathed in deeply, as if breathing in the hate filled vibration of sheer malice and aggression.  He lifted one bony hand to his servants; the crossbow bolts flew, cutting through the air from several directions, the pain was dull as they thudded into the body of the Wolf.

The padré flashed a leering smile of satisfaction, he deeply inhaled once more.

For the Wolf, the light went out and all turned to darkness.

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by Jack Grant