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[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
“It’s interesting, you see, that your reaction was so unique. Most die within hours of the scratch or bite, however you lingered on for days. This is why I returned, I wanted to observe. Your biological makeup seems to give you a unique acceptance of the poison that I use to line my blades and that acceptance makes you very interesting indeed.” The old man was yammering on and pacing the room when Nick came to. His eyes were heavy and burned harshly as he blinked them repeatedly, trying to focus. He was sitting in a light wooden chair; he wasn’t tied up but he couldn’t move his limbs at all. The room was lit dimly by the same candles as before and Nick could barely make out a small table with a bowl of green liquid on the table in front of him, though he could hardly move his neck to look at it. “I won’t go into the details but…”

“You’ll pay for this.” Nick interrupted the man, growling harshly as his throat burned with the words. The man stopped pacing and looked at him with a puzzled look on his face.

“Now, now. This is no time to be a buffoon. You clearly are in no state to make threats. I’ll laugh this one off as one would a child, but make no mistake, a second threat will not be taken lightly.” The old man’s eyes flashed with a hint of rage as he spoke the last words and Nick’s heart skipped a beat. “Where was I? The fewer interruptions I have, the quicker this will be.” The man pondered for a minute, standing in front of Nick regarding him thoughtfully. Finally he shrugged in resignation and moved on. “No matter, I guess I’ll just cut to the chase. I’m not certain you’re what you say you are.”

“What do you mean ‘what’ I say I am?”

“I mean, what are you?” Nick stared back at the man coldly, unsure of how to answer the question.

“I’m…human, I suppose.”

“You see,” the old man continued with a grin, “that’s what I am talking about right there. I’m not convinced that that’s true at all. What evidence do you have to support such claims?” Nick squinted at the man, knowing whatever answer he gave would be mocked and ridiculed. He kept his mouth shut. “I see. Would you like to hear my evidence against the matter?”


“Well,” the old man threw a hand up, stopping Nick before he could finish his answer. “The poison I used is an ancient recipe. It reacts with the white blood cells causing them to rupture uncontrollably. Death is almost immediate and relatively painless, as far as I have been able to tell. It has been used for thousands of years on millions of humans with the same effect. However, once in a great while, we find one of our own hidden amongst the human race. For them, it’s a mere paralytic, such as you’re experiencing now.”

“So…what are you then?” Nick was growing impatient and began to grip the chair arms tightly. He hoped the man hadn’t noticed the fact that he was regaining control of his limbs, or was he? Could he move his fingers before? He couldn’t remember.

“I…” the old man glanced down at Nick’s hands, seeing his knuckles white with pressure, “am like you.” As he finished his sentence he swung his arm in a single quick motion in a circle around his body and the candles blew out with a whoosh of wind. Nick sat alone in the dark for some time, listening for the old man but he heard nothing. It seemed as if the man just stood in place after the flames went out. As the minutes wore on he could move his hands, then his arms, and soon his legs. Nick pushed himself to a stand and stretched cautiously, anxious for an attack any minute. He was still wearing his jacket, he reached inside his pocket and pulled out a book of matches.
Lighting one, he could see the small room fairly clearly; the old man had left but a small note sat on the table next to the bowl.

The contents of this bowl are more potent than the doses I gave you. It will, surely, cure you of the disease in which I have inflicted upon you. However, if you choose to adopt your heritage just go home. We will find you. We will save you.
The note was written in elegant handwriting that swooped across the paper beautifully. Nick could almost make out the way the hand would have gracefully swooped and swirled over the paper to make such beautiful letters. He had never seen handwriting so exquisite and beautiful. We will find you. Nick pondered a moment. He could go back to his life as a renowned adventurer, saving the town from beasts, or he could investigate this strange group that claimed to be of his own genes. A group that had poisoned and captured him, nearly tortured him for no apparent reason. And yet, there seemed to be a quality about the man he met. Something about him that said he was meant for bigger things and knew many secrets.

“No…” Nick shook his head, remembering the beast that attacked him. “I am not you.” He grabbed the bowl and drank quickly, the thick green liquid coating his throat and soothing the burning sensation that had set in since he had woken. With a stab of pain he dropped the bowl on the floor and it bounced away with a loud rattling noise. Nick sunk to his knees, his gut wrenching with a pain whose intensity he had never experienced before.

“I see you’ve made your choice. Very well. The tonic has cured you.” The old man’s boots made a soft sound on the floor as he walked around Nick’s chair form behind, standing in front of him in the dark. Sweat began to bead on Nick’s forehead as a chill ran through his whole body. He tried to rise from his knees but fell forward onto the small table. “You are a disease.” The old man leaned down to whisper in his ear. “You disown your own kind and like all diseases, you must be cured.” With a final jolt that rain from Nick’s stomach up to his heart, he closed his eyes and fell still.

“Such a pity.” The old man stood over Nick’s dead body. “So much potential.”
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
The old man was surprisingly nimble as he hopped through the snow, hot on Nick’s heels as he guided them to the cave.

“We must be quiet,” Nick warned, as the old man started singing a jolly tune. “Trust me, this beast is not to be messed with.”

“Oh, relax. I’ve handled a beast or two in my day.” The old man laughed and continued his tune while Nick gritted his teeth, keeping his head on a swivel as he looked for signs of the beast. The trip was relatively uneventful, the two men saw no signs of the beast though the old man did collapse in the snow at one point with a fit. His body shook violently and he screamed in agony, snow flying everywhere as he writhed in pain. Nick grabbed him by the shoulder and tried to calm him but the fit needed to run its course. When it was over the man hopped to his feet, smiled, and returned to his tune, skipping through the snow as if nothing had happened. Nick tried to ask him about it several times but the man seemed to have no recollection of the event and didn’t want to talk, just sing.

When they reached the cave Nick waved to the old man, telling him to quiet down. The man smiled slyly and did as he was told, crouching in the snow next to Nick.

“So, the beast is in there, eh?”

“Well, this is where he held me, that’s all I know.”

“You said you knew where he lived!” The old man became agitated.

“Well, I assumed that…”

“You assumed? You assumed!?” The man handed Nick the water skin full of green liquid.

“Drink this, you ninny. Can’t have you turning all crazy in there.” As Nick took a swig the old man darted towards the cave.

“Wait!” Nick tried to stop him but the man disappeared into the cave. “Fuck…” he muttered to himself, following cautiously. As he entered the cave Nick could hear a quiet giggling echoing off the walls. Following the sound he found his way to a dimly lit room in the back. A rough wooden chair sat by a table with five candles, all quite low, wax covering the surface. A rusty nail was driven into the wall a few feet from the candles and on it hung a fur suit.

“He’s not here.” Nick surmised, relaxing a little and looking around the room. Scattered around the floor were ropes and bags, nothing that made this place look like a home, no survival gear.
“Not here? Are you sure?” The old man laughed, dancing lightly on his toes. Nick’s head started to ache and he took a swig of the green liquid again, but this time the headache only intensified, blurring his vision.

“The medicine, it’s not working…” The old man beamed at Nick as he began to reel around the room, losing his balance and looking for something to hold on to.

“Here, here,” the old man grabbed his arm and guided him to the chair. “The candles, the wicks are lined with sap from the Teramon tree, an ancient tree from far away, it’s counteracting the…no matter, sit! Sit!” Nick sat as his muscles began to stiffen.

“We need to leave…” Nick muttered as his vision began to fade.

“No, we need to talk.”
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
The man quickly strolled out of the room, then returned from Nick’s office with the tome concerning mysterious and fantastical creatures.

“I’ve already read th…”

“Read, perhaps, but understood?” The man cut Nick off, lifting his finger in the air to wag it disapprovingly. Nick pulled himself out of the chair with a groan; the pain was gone but his muscles were stiff as if he’d been sitting for days. He rubbed the stiffness from his arms as he walked towards the man. “This is not a creature…”

“It’s a disease,” Nick finished, sighing. “I told you, I’ve read it already.” The man closed the book with a snap and stared at Nick with a smirk on his face. “The author is just claiming that the species needs to be eradicated.”

“Or, perhaps the creature is not a creature at all, but a diseased man. You were scratched, you contracted the disease.” The old man smiled at Nick as the realization rolled across his face. “Here,” he said as he tossed Nick the book. “Maybe you should read it again, unless of course, you know everything.” The old man retired to the kitchen with a smile on his face and began arranging strange ingredients on the counter as Nick slumped back down into his chair to read.

He continued to toil away in the kitchen and periodically brought steaming bowls of green liquid. He seemed to know exactly when Nick was starting to feel ill again and would bring it immediately, keeping whatever sickness was setting in at bay. On one of these occasions, as Nick’s head was starting to ache and his arms starting to stiffen, he noticed something strange on the page as the old man brought his medicine. He nodded to the man and grabbed the bowl, but set it on the small table next to his chair instead of drinking it right away. The old man smirked and wandered back to the kitchen, whistling quietly as he did.

Nick squinted at the page, staring at the rough sketch of the Anunnaki that had been scribbled amongst the text. It’s teeth were large and dripping with saliva, claws curled and fur thick along its entire body. He narrowed his eyes further as his head began to pound. The image suddenly began to animate, slowly at first but quickening as his head pounded harder. It started with a light jog, standing upright like a human being then slowed to a walk. Suddenly, the creature’s head split and the fur slipped off as if removing a jacket. The fur and claws slid to the ground leaving a naked man, almost seven feet tall with a long, slender face, stepping out of the pile on the floor and standing next to it. Next the figure leaned down and lifted the massive hand from the pile on the floor, inspecting the claws. He reached behind him, his hand disappeared behind the text on the page and returned with a small corked vial. The man popped the cork and poured the contents of the vial on the claws. Nick’s head was pounding vigorously and his joints were becoming stiffer every second. He moaned in pain as he squinted at the page; the man looked up and startled Nick as he seemed to make eye contact with him. Then, without warning, the image faded away and the original sketch of the beast returned.

“What…” Nick mumbled, closing his eyes and grabbing the warm green liquid from his side. He gulped it down vigorously as the headache subsided.

“Did you see something?” The old man was standing in front of the chair, grinning.

“The claws…they were poisoned by something.”
“Ah, so we must find the creature’s lair, he must keep an antidote in case…”

“It’s not a creature….it’s a…costume.” The man scratched his chin, ruffling his beard and squinted at Nick. “I’ve been to his home, it’s not safe but I guess we don’t have another option.”

“Say no more!” The old man scurried to the kitchen and started pouring the green liquid into a water skin. “We must go at once!”
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
The dreams were vivid, but Nick knew they were only dreams. He sprinted through the forest at lightweight speed; his vision as as keen and sharp as an eagle’s. He ducked under branches and leapt over brambles without effort, charing through the woods and into a small clearing, blue in the moonlight. A man was standing there facing away from him, his hands limp by his sides and a hunting knife, red with blood, hung loosely in his fingers on the left hand. Nick slowed and crept closer, listening to the snow softly crunch under his feet. Slowly the man turned to face Nick, his face was blank and featureless. A slight blur hung in the air about the face, Nick could make out shadows where the nose, eyes, and mouth should be but the features just weren’t there.

For a moment, the two regarded each other silently as it started to snow lightly.

“Follow the old man.” A voice echoed through Nick’s headed that sounded much like his own, but much older and more weathered.

“What old man?”

“Follow the old man!” The voice commanded again as the body began to flicker, as if it was about to disappear.

Nick opened his mouth to question again but the man vanished before his eyes leaving one last whisper echoing through his skull.

“Follow the old man…”

Nick woke with a start; a fire crackled in his fireplace and the room felt warm and comforting. He was sitting in his rocking chair in the living room of his cabin, a warm wool blanket draped over his legs. As Nick tried to stand pain shot from his neck down his back and into his legs, forcing him to collapse back into the chair with a yelp.

“Easy there, it will be best not to move right off.” The voice was gravelly and rough, it came from behind him near the kitchen.

“Who are you?” Nick’s throat burned as if it was on fire as he tried to speak the words, it was dry and raw. His voice came out harsh and sounded more like a croak than the english he usually spoke.

“Shh, shh, now. Here, drink this.” The man walked around the side of the chair with a steaming bowl of green liquid and held it up to Nick’s lips. “Don’t worry, it won’t burn you.” Nick gulped the liquid down, suddenly realizing how thirsty he was. It was sweet and coated his throat, he could feel the burning sensation waning already. As the man pulled the bowl away Nick caught his eye for a brief second before he headed back to the kitchen. His skin was wrinkled with a slight grey tint and a long, white beard flowed from his chin. The whiskers under his nose blended with the beard, completely obscuring his lips from view, but when he talked his toothless maw could be seen flapping underneath. His head was bare and shiny, devoid of both hair and wrinkles and his grey eyes had a sparkle to them that Nick had never seen the like of in his life.

“Who are you?” Nick asked, his throat now soothed and his voice familiar once again.

“Names are unimportant. What matters is that you have been infected.”

“Infected by what?”

“Don’t be foolish, your memory can’t have faded yet.”

Nick shook his head slightly as he remembered the beast pulling him out of the window, the infected claw marks on his neck, and the horrible fight in the woods.

“The tonic will push the infection away, but it won’t cure you. Unless you find the cure, your body will fail and the eggs in your neck will spew forth thousands of creatures like the one that attacked you upon this town.” Nick began to panic. “But relax, I know the cure.” The man was standing before him again with a sick smile on his face, offering him the bowl. “Take it, your arms should work fine now.” Nick lifted his hands, ready for the intense pain but nothing came. He tenderly grabbed the bowl and drank the sweet green liquid, feeling his muscles strengthen with each gulp. “Good,” the old man beamed, “now follow me, we’ve work to do!”
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
For a brief moment the two stood face to face, Nick’s blood pulsed through his veins. His head pounded with each beat of his heart; his veins felt as if they were pumping ice. Nick’s fingers played with the hunting knife in his hand, twisting it slowly as he held it by his hip. The creature made no move to attack or flee, it simply stood there, examining Nick silently. Soft puffs of steam left its nostrils every few seconds, otherwise it remained completely motionless.

“Who…Who are you?” The words broke as they came out of Nick’s mouth and he stuttered involuntarily, his mouth feeling awkward and hard to control. The creature just cocked his head slightly and continued to stare. “Wh…what did you do to…m…me?” The creature cocked his head the other way and reached out with a tentative paw. His hand was the size of Nick’s skull and sported claws the size of his big finger, hooked and deadly looking. Nick absent-mindedly reached for his neck, causing a sudden intense pain to shoot down his spine. In a fury, he swung upwards from his hip with his knife and slashed the back of the beast’s hand. He let out a bellow so deep and intense that it shook Nick to his very core, his heart began to race and the ice in his veins pumped with a new ferocity, making his head spin.

In a rage, the creature charged at Nick, hitting in hard in the chest with his shoulder and the two flew backwards into the snow. The world became a blur of blood, fur, and snow as Nick stabbed and slashed with his knife and felt the creature’s claws rip at his close and tear at his skin. As his knife found a tender spot between the ribs the creature let out a loud bellow and jumped off of Nick, leaving him stunned and confused in the snow. As the adrenaline began to wear off intense pain started to set in. His ribs throbbed, his back ached, and a burning sensation ripped through his body from the dozens of cuts and slashes he had endured.

With a grunt, the creature rose out of the snow, his hand clutching his rips as thick, black blood dripped through his fingers; his eyes focused on Nick, red with rage. With a sudden panic, Nick realized that the had lost his knife in the fray. His hands dug through the snow at his sides but found nothing as the creature took a step towards him. “No,” Nick muttered as the pain surged through his body and the creature took another step forward, slow and deliberate. “No!” He rolled over and tried to push himself onto his hands and knees but the pain was too much; the ground shook as the creature took another step towards him and grunted in pain. “No, no, no,” his brain raced but Nick couldn’t seem to think anything else. The pain seared through his body with every move as he clawed through the snow, trying to craw further away from the creature as he shook the ground with his heavy steps. “Please!” he pleaded with the creature, still trying to crawl away but feeling him step closer and closer. “Please, no!” A massive, clawed hand grabbed his shirt and lifted him off the ground. The sudden forced movement sent a burning sensation through his body, he felt as if he had just been struck by lightning or lit on fire. “Please,” he muttered as he slowly lost consciousness.
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
As the days went and Nick continued to pore over the tome on his desk, re-reading the chapter on Anunnaki over and over, a horrible anxiety began to set in. He stopped eating, barely slept, and spent all of his time pacing back and forth from his office to the living room and back, reading from the book and mouthing the words to himself silently. From time to time he would reach up to his neck to touch the open wounds. They were so painless he would forget about them until his fingers absentmindedly grazed them causing immense, searing pain. His neck would burn and the pain would shoot down his neck and into his chest, centering on his beating heart that threatened to pound its way out of his chest, suddenly.

Nick didn’t own a mirror but when he caught his reflection in the window he could see that the scratches were red, puffy, and oozing a yellow puss. His eyes were bloodshot and the skin around the cuts had started to turn a light shade of gray. The first day Nick had gone through everything in his medicine closet, trying to clean it up but nothing worked. According to his book no one had ever lived through an attack and barely anyone had lived after seeing one. After a particularly painful spell where Nick, without thinking, rubbed his neck causing such a spasm of pain that he dropped the book and fell to his knees he found himself screaming, “What is happening to me?!” As the pain faded and he regained his composure he saw two yellow eyes peering into the window, but as soon as he noticed them they disappeared into the darkness.
As day after day wore on Nick’s palms began to grown small, soft tufts of hair, and his knuckles became thick and knobby. On the fifth day his neck started to become very stiff and his cuts began to throb constantly. He caught a glimpse of himself in the window and saw that his brow was enlarged and a thick beard had sprouted in patches across his face. His heart thudded loudly in his chest and an uncontrollable rage started to take over. He needed to know what was happening to him, he needed the beast in his house, dead or alive, ready for experimentation. In a fit of fury, Nick grabbed his hunting knife and bounded out the door into the snow without grabbing his jacket or even his shoes.

Nick leapt through the snow with an inexplicable energy, the cold snow caressed his bare feet but didn’t bite like it should. He ignored this, focusing solely on finding this creature that had apparently been watching him. He rushed through the woods, branches and leaves whipping at his face as he charged through, breaking out of the underbrush and into a wide clearing. He could recognize the faint blue glow on the snow and the trees, the serene and peaceful scene that he remembered so well, the first night he saw the Anunnaki. As Nick slowed his pace in the middle of the field he heard a rough snort behind him. He spun to find himself face to face with the beast, standing barely five yards apart. They locked eyes and Nick readied his hunting knife in his gnarled hand.
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
As Nick let the ice melt from his veins and he unglued his wide eyes from the, now empty, window, he started to claw at the bottom of his desk, looking for the shotgun that he kept mounted there for this exact scenario. He snatched it from the desks weak hold and bolted out of the office, headed for his front door. Carefully pulling it shut behind him he started to quietly walk around to the back of the house, looking for footprints as he went. When he reached his office window he found a scuffle of prints in the ground, then tracks leading away from the house. A chill passed through his body as he noticed how large this creature’s step was, there was almost four feet between each footfall.

Nick squinted into the distance but the thick forest covered any sign of the creature. He pondered going after him but the sight of those massive footprints daunted him, plus his slippers were not meant to be in the snow and he was starting to get cold. He quietly slipped back into his house, locking the door behind him and keeping the gun at his side as he sat back down at the desk to continue reading.

The first few pages were about the creature’s diet, which could have just read “anything” since it was found almost anywhere in the world. The next few pages discussed various genetic differences that had been reported and theories as to how those differences were linked to the location the creature lived in. As he flipped to the section about migration patters the hair on the back of his neck stood on end and a chill ran down his spine. Nick’s head snapped up and his gaze was met with two yellow eyes once again.

Nick sprung out of his chair and reached for his shotgun that had been propped against the table next to him. His fingers grazed the barrel as his eyes remained locked on the window and the gun fell to the floor with a loud clang. The yellow eyes in the window narrowed with an angry glare then disappeared again. Nick cursed himself for potentially ruining this opportunity and grabbed the gun off the floor. Instead of running through the house and running outside like a madman he unlocked the window and pulled it open, climbing across his desk to peer outside.

With a sudden stab of pain, Nick felt claws rip into his neck as the mysterious creature grabbed his collar from his hiding spot below. He yelled in pain and his finger instinctively pulled the trigger on the shotgun in his hand, firing a loud shot into the air. With a horrifying howl the creature released Nick and barreled into the woods, leaving his prey to flop through the window, bloody and confused. Nick landed in a heap in the snow, gasping for air and clutching his gun with both hands.

“What the hell…” he sighed as he pressed the palm of his handed over the wound in his neck, his hand came away bloody. “Son of a bitch!”
Read Up
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
Nick’s brain told him to sprint home, that this mysterious creature could sneak up on him at any second, but he did his best to remain calm. His pulse was slow and steady as he quietly slipped through the snow-covered woods. His breathing was quiet and shallow, he didn’t even realize how tired he had become until he flopped into his large chair by the fireplace and let out a loud sigh. His muscles started to ache as he relaxed them, one at a time, feeling the tension rush from his body as the warmth from the fireplace started to warn his skin. Nick allowed himself to close his eyes just for a minute before he pulled himself back out of the chair to head to his study. His muscles screamed in pain and he almost fell back into the chair, but there were more important things at hand then rest.

“Rare Mythical Beasts” sat on the top shelf, covered in dust. The very title of the book declared that it was not to be trusted as a resource in any real capacity and so he read it once then put it away, forgetting about it until this last encounter. As he flipped through the pages Nick began to wander to the small wooden chair next to the reading desk. His study was small, more like a closet to most people, but it was enough space for him to read and write as well as keep his books. It had a small window with tattered red curtains over it that blocked the light from the outside when he needed, they were slightly parted right now and the moonlight streamed in. A small candle rested on the desk that lit the small room very well. Wax dripped down he side and pooled on the desk, effectively mounting it to the wooden surface.

“Damn,” he muttered as he squinted at the pages, the room was too dim with just the moonlight so he grabbed a twig from a basket by the desk and headed to the fireplace. He returned, lit the candle, then tossed the twig into the fireplace. By the time he got back to his chair the room was fully lit and he could begin reading. Slowly, page by agonizing page, he plodded through the book. Descriptions of dragons, griffins, and sea monsters bored him. These things weren’t real, at least, not anymore. “I should have marked these pages,” he muttered to himself, annoyed that the book didn’t have a table of contents or index of some kind. In the past he had written his own, added page numbers and slipped his own table of contents into the front of the book, but this one he had written off as useless and so had ignored it. Now he was paying for that laziness with his valuable time.

“Whoa…” After quite some time Nick found a page that had no text on it, just a simple sketch of a tall, hairy beast, dark of hair and humanoid in features. It was almost an exact sketch of the scene he saw in the woods as the creature ran from him. His skin began to crawl and goosebumps raised on his arms. The next page started with a list of names; Ape Man, Big Hairy Monster, Cave Spirit, Forest Devil, Gin Sung. The list continued down the page until a final bolded word rested at the bottom on a line of its own, centered. “Anunnaki.” Nick flipped to the next page to see more text than any other creature had received. Pages and pages of historical sightings from across the entire globe, cultures as far back as the ancient Sumer race. “Anunnaki,” he said aloud, letting the name sink in as the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end. His heart skipped a beat and a chill passed across his skin. There were only a few times that this feeling had passed through his body and he had a scar for each one. Nervously, Nick looked up from the book to meet two yellow eyes staring at him through the window in front of the desk.

Nick almost fell back out of his chair but he didn’t yell or make any sound at all, and almost as fast as he had seen them, the eyes disappeared into the night.
The Cave
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
The sound of dripping water gently dragged Nick from his deep, dreamless slumber. His dim surroundings didn’t leave him much to discern, but he could hear the echoes of dripping water off in the distance. The air was thick and had a musty quality to it that lingered in his nostrils after each breath. The cold, dry stone against his face scratched and tore at his skin like an animal as he tried to drag himself to a sitting position. His head was pounding and his neck was still, but he felt like he was in tact. He could vaguely remember flying through the air after being attacked.
“Shit,” he muttered to himself, suddenly realizing the predicament he was likely in. He felt around in his fur jacket and found that none of his gear had been stripped from him. His knife was still strapped to his belt, his pockets full of dried meat, matches, and bits of moss. He blinked hard a few times, trying to get his eyes to adjust to the dim light. Stabbing pain shot through his temples and down his jaw with every blink but he continued, the room slowly coming into view.

When he could finally make it out he saw that he was being held in a cave, a short bend up ahead had the blue hue of moonlight shining around it, he was obviously close to the exit. He turned to look behind him and found that the cave drove deeper into the ground at a steep slope, but it faded to pitch black and he couldn’t make out how deep it went. His ears picked up the heavy dragging noises echoing off the stone walls from below and his heart began to race. That creature was here, dragging another poor soul to its doom. Without another thought Nick ran out of the cave, as quietly as he possibly could.

As he burst out of the cave opening into the moonlit woods he began to realize that he had no clue where he was. He hoped that he was close to home but a creature that size and that fast could travel miles to hunt. Wanting to avoid leaving too many footprints he climbed the nearest pine tree, pushing through the branches as snow rained down on him, filling in his tracks slightly. The woods were thick enough here that he hoped he could climb from tree to tree for a while, and he could. It was slow going, and his freezing hands started to tense up on him as he gripped the ice cold branches, shaking snow onto the ground below, but he pressed on. First one tree, then the next, he slowly worked in a semicircle around the cave entrance, hoping to get out of sight of the cave entrance before his captor noticed his absence.

A gentle breeze rolled through the forest, sending painful chills into his knuckles. Nick grabbed his compass from a pocket sewn into the front of his jacket and examined it. The breeze was blowing from the North, unusual for this area. He squinted his eyes and tapped the compass, watching the needle rotate slightly before settling back in place. Frustrated and starting to worry, Nick decided to climb higher up into the tree, it was sturdy enough and taller than the rest by a short bit. He should be able to see quite a distance over the trees. He carefully pulled himself up, one branch at a time, trying his best not to knock too much snow off in case his captor exited the cave to look for him.

Before long he broke through the thick canopy and found himself staring at a gorgeous view of the forest. Smoke in the distance told him that he was likely about fifteen miles from town, his home was on the outskirts but he couldn’t tell which way from here.

“HAROOOOO!” The sickening howl echoed from the mouth of the cave as the creature realized his prey was missing. Nick watched through the branches as a tall, furry beast burst from the mouth of the cave, looking left and right then sniffing the air, hoping to catch his scent. “HAROOOOO!” The beast howled, perhaps in anger, then took off North, away from Nick and his tree at a sprint. Nick could barely make out the shape of the creature as he caught glimpses of it through the canopy below him, but he could tell it was large, affirming what he had seen before the attack. Nick’s heart slowed, pounding in his ears as he watched the creature disappear in the distance.
“I need to get home.”
The Beast
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
For a short time Nick stood in the quiet field, the Marēdier’s blood melting the snow around his feet. The creature’s howl still echoed through the woods, bouncing off the trees and back across the field as if it was taunting him. His heart was racing and a lump rose in his throat as the creature disappeared into the woods ahead. His home was the opposite direction, but his eyes were locked on the large tracks left by this new beast.

“Shit,” he muttered to himself as he took off after the strange being, not sure what he was really going to do if he caught it. He raced across the field, his keen eyes examining the tracks as he ran. They were large and without feature, much like the tracks left by his own wolfskin boots. The creature ran on two legs like a human, swung its arms while it ran like a human, but that howl was far from human. He had never heard another human being utter such a horrible and gut curdling sound. It still rang in his ears, forcing his heart to race with anxiety at the mystery of it.

Nick had never encountered a creature in these woods that he hadn’t heard of before in some story or tale. Everything he found made sense but nothing he had ever heard even remotely resembled that beast. It stood at least a foot taller than he, and he was large compared to the men of the town. The creature’s stride was long and it ran far faster than Nick could ever hope to. As he plunged into the woods at the end of the field the beast was already long gone. His tracks were all that remained of his sudden presence, and even those were starting to become obscured in the woods, as if something had tried to brush them away. The further into the woods he ran the harder it became to spot the tracks until, after about 5 miles of unrelenting sprinting, he lost the trail completely.
“Dammit,” Nick muttered to himself as he shook his head in disbelief. He had never failed to track anything before, this was all so new and strange to him. Something odd was definitely afoot. He turned to head back towards his home, his mind wandering to the hundreds of books on his shelves about various mysterious creatures of lore that he could pore through while he sat next to the fire. He was determined to discover this creature’s orient and would not sleep until he had. As he took a step towards home the snow in front of him exploded as a large mass flung itself from the trees above and landed directly in front of him.

“HAROOO!” The sickening howl rattled his skull and his vision became blurry. Nick’s heart raced and leapt into his throat again, his chest began to pound as if he was being kicked in the chest and his vision continued to blur until the mess of snow and fur merged into one unidentifiable texture. With a sickening crunch, Nick felt a stab of pain in his shoulder and an unbearably strong force that shot him off his feet and launched him into the air. ‘This must be how it feels to fly,’ he thought to himself as the blurry world faded and his weightless body floated through the air.
The Ghost of the Woods
[Slick Nick] [Reader View]
The snow didn’t glisten in the moonlight like glitter or diamonds like the stories always said. It didn’t sparkle and dazzle the eye or create a magical or enchanting scene. The full moon simply turned the white field into a dull blue waste. The trees were black with blue snow causing the heaviest branches to droop. A light blue-white haze danced lazily about the bases of the trees but disappeared in wisps as it tried to approach Nick where he stood. His footprints behind him became mere dark circles in the otherwise perfect blue field in which he stood. They led back into the woods behind him, towards his home, but he had no interest in going back there just yet.

His quarry stood just before him in the middle of the field, walking slowly across the depressing landscape, a bloody red foam on its lips. It was known as Marēdier in these parts, gray of skin and course fur with open sores covering its body that oozed blood and puss. Its eyes were jet black and its head sported a massive rack of black antlers that were broken and cracked in several places, making them sharp and dangerous. It walked deftly on four hoofed feet and a slight red mist hovered around its nose as it snorted. Nick quietly shook snow off of his fur boots and pulled back his fur hood, letting the cold air lick at his ears. His black hair was ragged, he kept it short with his hunting knife to stop it from snagging on low-hanging branches as he walked through the woods.

The Marēdier glanced behind him, hearing a sound somewhere in the distance and Nick froze. The creature was harmless aside from the antlers. They weren’t aggressive and they weren’t contagious, but they made the locals very uncomfortable. No one really knew where they came from, once in a while they would be seen or heard in the forest but no one ever saw a baby or a migration path. They closely resembled the local deer that roamed the woods and the locals referred to them as zombie deer, using an old Nepali word in their name. For some reason they always came to Nick when they found one. Perhaps it was his size, or his proclivity towards hunting, but either way when a strange creature was found Nick was asked to don his furs and trek through the woods to rid the town of its presence.

The Marēdier went back to grazing, digging its snout into the snow to reach the roots and grass below, leaving a trail of dark red in its wake. Nick silently moved in, feet softly and silently sliding through the snow as he pulled his large hunting knife from the sheath on his belt. With unmatched speed, Nick hurtled forward through the snow, pouncing on the Marēdier’s back before it had a second to react. As it reared and tried to throw him off, Nick’s knife dug into the skin on its throat and tore a hole in the tender skin. The creature tensed, then collapsed in the snow, the gaping hole in its neck leaking dark blood into the snow. Without a word Nick stood, pulled a match from his pocket, lit it, and tossed it onto the corpse which ignited immediately.

With a slight nod, glad that everything went according to plan and happy with a successful hunt, Nick turned away to head back towards his comfy cabin in the woods. To his surprise, his eyes locked on the dark eyes of another large humanoid creature in thick furs that was creeping towards him in the snow thirty feet away. The two silently eyed each other as drops of blood dripped from Nick’s blade that was held ready at his side. Suddenly, without provocation, the person bolted from the field, moving with lightning speed. Nick’s heart raced as the being fled from the field with a sickening howl, he was no longer the only hunter in these woods.