When hunting a wolf in these woods, one must always bring an army. That is the creed of the hunters who dwell in Volicheuss western lands. But what can one do, when trying to hunt a pack? A pack of vicious, bloodthirsty wolves at least four times the size and the danger of any creature to walk the forests or prowl the mountains.
The answer is simple…you run. You run and you pray to every god there is to pray too and try to forget that you were ever there and perhaps even regret your own birth. You swear to give up your bow or your blade and perhaps even make an oath to never touch meat again as long as you live. And most importantly, you cling onto the desperate, slim hope that you are not hunted and fed to the crows.
Thankfully, there was not a single hunter forced into a situation like that on that day. They were far too intuitive to be so foolish as to walk into the woods that day. There are alway telltale signs to indicate the mood of the forest. When flowers are wilting and larks are quiet and rabbits are meek, the wisest thing to do is to play with your children and sleep with your wives and put aside the need to hunt if only for a day.
The anger that could be felt creeping through the woods that day was palpable. It was nauseating, discomforting, it was every negative adjective a man could think off. Larks fell from their trees, not a single rabbit could be seen bounding across the meadows, flowers lay dead in mass.
Because that day, was a gathering like no other. A gathering of scoundrels, of wolves so despicable that they seemed to exist outside of human reason. Wolves in general are creatures far removed from the values and justifications of human existence and identity. They exist solely for the hunt, for the darkness, for the edges of indulgence that can only be dreamed of by a man who has stripped himself of all reason.
They live for the pack and for the hunt. That endless, insatiable hunt which craves an endless supply of rabbits and deer to gorge oneself upon, that hunt which desires everything and anything a man could want simply for the sake of wanting it.
All fifteen souls who gathered in those ruins at the edge of the forest fit that criteria perfect. It had been three years since all of them had gathered in one spot. Everyone there practically oozed anticipation and excitement upon seeing one another again. There was some tension and argumentation however the general atmosphere was most certainly a positive one.
At face value, the people in that room did not look like wolves. They looked like normal people, perhaps a band of adventurers or merchants. But the moment an everyman locked eyes with the abnormal, depraved eyes of anyone in that room, they would know for certain that these were no ordinary individuals.
Every man and woman who entered the decrepit building had done something truly despicable. And not something as paltry as an arson or theft, such surface level conceptualizations couldn be further from the truth. The actions these individuals had committed would make even a hardened criminal unable to stand out of sheer disgust. Every soul who entered those ruins had hearts tainted so black that they hardly even seemed human.
”Helloooo my friends! How great it is to see you after so many years ” cried a voice, piercing through the disjointed mess of interactions which spread out amongst the ruins interior. Suddenly, everyone became silent. They all stared silently at the man who had so casually just strolled into the clearing where they had all gathered.
He had crystal blue irises, gorgeous blonde hair, and a pale, perfect little face which practically radiated innocence. But even more prominent than that was how perfect the face was. The edges of the mans face and nose were neither too soft nor too rigid, his eyebrows were long and enamoringly feminine, his cheeks were flushed with color and life, and his teeth were like shining white bricks laying underneath a pair of full, pink lips.
But yet despite his peculiar beauty he also had a sense of masculinity to him to compliment this gracefulness in his features. At first glance, his slim physique would indicate that he was quite frail, but upon closer inspection his structure and physical capabilities were rather impressive.
He currently wore a skin tight red tunic, which only further helped to showcase the definition in his chest and abdominal muscles, as well as the prominence in his upper arm and forearm muscles. Though the arms in particular could not be seen under the leather surcoat he was wearing.
This angelic seeming individual accompanied his red tunic and dark purple coat with beige leggings held up by a black belt, and complimented with pointed green ankle boots.
His mouth was spread into a beaming smile and his arms were thrown up in a warm and accepting way as he entered the ruins, but no one dared approach him. Instead they all froze as he walked by casually. He even slicked back his hair a little and hummed cheerily.
But trailing behind him was an unbelievable sense of cold which made every other individual in the room shiver. In the center of the clearing was a pile of stones collapsed on top of each other. Still humming, the blue eyed man made his way to the top of the pile and sat himself down in a rather relaxed position at the top.
He pulled his hand up to his chest and began fingering the cross shaped pendant which hung at the end of a gold necklace.
”Come on guys! Try to cheer up a little. Just because I arrived doesn mean you all need to be so gloomy! ” the room remained eerily silent. But the man didn become disheartened and continued to talk.
”Have any of you noticed that this room was once a library? Its nearly impossible to tell but if you look hard enough you can seen a few strewn books and the components of a shelf, ” noted the mysterious man.
Nobody seemed to respond to him, until a voice spoke out amongst the gathered crowd.
”What is wrong with all of you? Our master is attempting to engage us in conversation! Are we not some of the most powerful and souls this world has seen? So why do you cower when our lord attempts to speak to us? ”
Murmurs began to arise within the crowd and a few even got up on their feet in agreement.
”Treat him as an equal, those are the word he spoke to us the first time we gathered many years ago, so by cowering before him and failing to respond to his attempts for interaction we are doing nothing but failing our end of the bargain. ”
Voices arose in cheer after being roused by the mysterious figure from the crowd and began bombarding the man they all referred to as their master with questions and discussions.
The man who spurned forth the rest of the gathered individuals to discuss with their leader, was also a very imposing man.
He had an air of regality to him. He wore no top, and on his bottom were black hakama pants with a white sash wrapped around them. His hair was a silky, raven haired hue and went down to his waist. By his side was a katana held within an ornate dragon scabbard. His name was Fukushu Kumotta, and everything about him seemed to be stranded from an era long past. But nevertheless it gave him an air of wisdom and resoluteness.
”I apologize for my hesitation, Lord Julius Kastlös ”, Kumotta apologized with a deep bow. Julians grin receded to a far more natural looking smile, and his pressed lips indicated far more emotionality than the hollow smile he had strode into the room with.
”Nonsense, I applaud you for being able to rouse everyone else. And besides, its been such a long time since weve seen each other, a little bit of tension is to be expected. ”
”I appreciate the praise deeply my liege, ” Kumotta responded with what could only be called utter gratitude and appreciation for his master.
”However, forgive me for being rather blunt…but for what purpose did you call us here? ”
”Well why not Kumotta? We haven seen each other in many years, so what hurt could there be in gathering for a meeting. ”
e doing a rather poor job of concealing your intentions lord Julius ”, remarked a female voice. She was a mature, seductive lady in both appearance and tone. She had silky black hair, as well as a tall but rather curved figure, which went well with the pecan brown tone of her skin. Additionally her eyes were an enchanting scarlet color…which only added to her air of mystery and enchantment.
”He has always been a very, shall I say, layered man…Kumotta. Ive spent so many years with him but yet he refuses to give me even a little bite! ” cried the woman. She emphasized that last line with a pout.
Julius swerved his head towards her and stared at her figure coldly. Nothing seemed to stir within those eyes no matter what circumstance, even if the rest of his face was perfectly animated.
”Perhaps I will offer you a taste Lili…on the condition that in exchange you offer me knowledge on the Tome of Wargesnacht and how to use it. ”
”You would have me exchange precious knowledge for a mere taste? ” She inquired with a laugh. ”Im afraid itll take more than that for such valuable information… ”
”I thought we agreed to no bargaining with this organization but here we are ” Julius said with a sigh. ”Its quite a wonder that Ive let this go unpunished. Perhaps that alone is indicative of how much I favor you Lili. ”
”Lord Julius, Lili, please restrain yourselves. It surprises me that you would stoop down to the level of this…woman ”, Kumotta said disdainfully.
”Oh shut up you stiff bastard! How dare you treat me with such disrespect! ”
”How troublesome you are woman. Tell me, why would I give any thought to a snake like yourself? All you can do is wrap yourself around those better than you and constrict them until they give you what they want. I shan let you do the same to Lord Julius. ”
e like a rock you know that Kumotta? Well defined but yet so utterly lacking in personality its nauseating. ”
”Thats enough! ” boomed a fourth voice. All three eyes turned to lock upon a muscular mountain of a man with a bottle of red wine pressed to his lips. His cheeks were flushed red and his stormy grey eyes were hardly visible due to the lids fluttering in front of him. A shaggy brown beard hung from his sharp jawline, and seemed to be collecting the drops of beer that escaped the mans lips. He was Godo, the unlikely child of a mountain giant and a sorceress. His father had given him his immense size whilst his mother had instilled upon him gifts which manifested along the surface of his flesh in the form of marks.
”All you do is sleep and drink all day Godo…you have no right to be butting in this conversation ”, Lili retorted viciously.
”Now, now…calm down all of you ” Julius commanded loudly. The room fell silent, and even Lili and Godo dropped into a bow in the face of Juliuss authority. He immediately sat back down and contorted his face into a sweet smile.
”To answer your question Kumotta….I ring myself down to her level because she is a valuable member of our organization. Additionally she holds a piece of information I find very intriguing. ”
”Then why not simply coerce or even force her to give her the information? ”
”To do so would be to violate the code of our order. We must never prioritize societal temptations over the organization and its stability, ” Julius said in a reprimanding tone. ”Information is most certainly one of those compulsions. Besides, shell tell me the knowledge she withholds someday, I know this for a fact. ”
”So then why… ”
”Well, I wanted to see if I was truly worthy of being your leader. If I had felt myself compelled to force the information out of Lili here, then I would be no more than a failure. ”
”Sir! ” Kumotta interjected loudly, concern inlaid in his voice. He could not stand to see his lord talking in this manner, it would be an embarrassment to his dignity as both a warrior and a servant if he allowed his own master to collapse.
”You are perfect! I am not very good at verbalization, not in the way Lili or Inquisitor or Ajax are, but you are a man beyond words anyways. You are the perfect devil to lead us, please do not doubt yourself! ”
”Oh, I know. ”
Julius descended from atop his makeshift throne of rubble and ran his fingers through Kumottas smooth black hair.
”My worth as your leader was never truly in question here. Even if I postulated it as a matter of failure or success, this is a much more complex matter. It was more so- ” he paused to contemplate his next words. They had to be perfect, complete, articulated.
After all, every eye in the room was on him, hanging off his every word. Every man and woman in that room had an obsession of some sort with Julius, like how an ant views its queen. As divine, intangible, in this case as the accumulation of all the darkest parts of themselves wrapped into the body of a single man.
”It was more so an experiment. A test of expression and identity, if this makes sense. I wanted to measure myself on the basis of how far I would be willing to even conceptualize for that information. ”
”A-and what is that conceptualization? ”
”Nothing! ” Julius laughed, letting go off his hold on Kumottas face. He laughed with the fervor of a child who been given a toy, and in that moment that was truly what he became. A child, and yet a man all the same. Interchangeable and fluid in state and nature, unbound. At a particular angle it was possible to even interpret his figure as that of a female.
How hopelessly depraved it was, for an individual to exist in such a state. But for a moment, Julius flickered, he slipped, he toed the line of existence itself.
No one in that room understood this phenomenon, this seemingly impossible moment, but to them it was beautiful all the same. And then, they saw their masters face, and that beauty, manifested itself quite differently.
Julius was no longer a man, but a monster of otherworldly proportions, bubbling with the cloak of a human being.
”I felt absolutely nothing! Even as I played and toyed with Lili, not once did I feel even the slightest compulsion to give her up, especially not for a thing like money or knowledge. ”
”But did you feel like giving her up? ” asked another voice. It belonged to a man named Inquisitor, who stood at the far end of the room, trembling in fear and excitement.
”I…I did actually. I felt that if I fancied it, I could do anything to her, as long as my heart truly, irrationally craved to do so. ” his face twisted into an expression of bliss, as if he were describing heaven itself.
No one could bear to look at him though in that moment. They were afraid, not even of him, but of disturbing the strange, incomprehensible peace he had actualized right then and there.
That fear caused the entire room to became draped in silence. The way he had said that last sentence, it dripped with a false sweetness that was teetering on toxic, and it made everyone present break out into a cold sweat. They couldn explain it, but they found themselves unable to look at their masters face, as they were too afraid of seeing his twisted expression.
The only one genuinely afraid of Julius as an individual in that moment, even if it was just for a brief instance, was Lili. But she was also the one who had the best picture of what the monster beneath Juliuss flesh looked like. The imaginary, intangible monster which was supposed to be without shape or definition. Yet she could conceive its presence, its shape, and it scared her more than anything she had ever imagined in her life. She stifled herself immediately, stuffing her thoughts in, afraid exposing them to anybody else. And yet despite how insignificant her thoughts had been, they did not go unnoticed.
Julius made his way over to Lili and stood before her, scrutinizing her figure which was at present in a kneeling position.
Suddenly, her face was grabbed by two cold, clammy hands, like the hands of a dead man. The hands pulled her up until she was staring face to face with Julius.
His expression wasn as twisted as she expected now, but he did have an unsettling smile stretched across his face.
”Why did you avert your eyes Lili? Did you see something scary? ” he asked with an irresistibly child like voice.
”Yes my lord, I did. I-it was terrifying, like nothing Ive ever seen ”, said Lili. She hadn meant to blurt out those words, but Juliuss tone had subconsciously awakened the tiny, honest fragment of her being.
Suddenly his innocence warped into malignant curiosity, and Lili felt chills yet again. Nevertheless she continued.
”It was nothing sir, just mere delusional- ”
”Tell me Lili. Do not hold back in your honesty Lili. This is the one time I shall not allow you to hide from me. ”
”Y-yes sir. This sounds rather insane of me I know, however- ” she tried to avoid Juliuss gaze whilst saying this, but was left no choice but to stare directly at him. She took a deep breath and continued.
”However for a brief second, I saw some kind of…creature, I guess you could say. Like a demon or something. From your back I could see wings, mouths were scattered across your frame, multiple heads extended from your neck, your arms looked like some sort of jello, and your eyes…. ” she froze.
”What about my eyes Lili? ” Julius asked, eyes alight with fascination upon what Lili was describing.
”There were eyes all over you just like the mouths, but for some reason they were all closed. ”
Lili stopped, afraid of being asked to continue. But Julius seemed satisfied. He took one hand off her face and raised it to his lips in contemplation. He didn notice that everyone else in the clearing was staring directly at them, but when it did come to his attention they all directed their gaze back towards the floor.
”Hey, hey, hey! ” he cried, reverting back to a more playful tone and releasing Lilis face. ”Don be afraid! You are all my lifeblood, why do you fear me? Come on…raise your heads and carry on as you were! ”
The thirteen other fellows gathered there raised their eyes and slowly but gradually eased back into conversation. They were quite adaptive in that way. It took a few moments but soon they were back to being merry and making conversation once again. They had all felt the terror Lili had felt, and both rejoiced and recoiled from it all the same. But the only face on which worry still lingered for quite a while was hers.
It disappeared soon enough though…just in time for another announcement.
Julius rose his voice again, in the same authoritative tone which never failed to capture their attention.
”This gathering was initially intended as a means for us all to interact once again, however I have come to a conscious realization. And I think…there is something I would like to discuss with you all. ”
Every single male and female in that room fell in line clustered around their leader immediately. Every one of them was immensely powerful and dangerous, a heinous villain in their own form. But nevertheless these disobedient, violent souls all complied when their superior issued a command.
However Julius was not on top of the pile of rocks, and was instead pulling out a table from the other side of the pile. Then he carefully placed some stray rocks on top of the table in different formations and configurations.
”For many years up until this point, we have carved our name on this continent as a small but extremely deadly organization of warriors. We remain shrouded in mystery, but have crafted a name with such infamy attached to it, that countries all over the land know us! But that is far too shallow for men of our caliber. As I trust, you all have spent the last several years stealing and killing as you please? ”
A man named Ulgoath spoke up. He was a warrior belonging to the barbaric lands of EMorgaez near the south of the continent. One of the most dominant races there were the Zar Knulls, bulky, grey skinned figures with bodies like bears and skin as tough as boulders. Ulgoath was the second largest man in the room after Goro, and he was a man who lived and breathed on his raw instincts.
”I have slain many warriors over these past several years and stolen a variety of their most valuable treasures. If they will be of service to you I shall happily transfer my ownership of these items to you. ” Ulgoath said, with surprising elegance for his stature and nature.
”That would be most appreciated Ulgoath ” Julius said in what sounded like gratitude. ”As I said, we are fighters and schemers of the highest degree. Our power alone is enough to shift the balance between nations themselves! Have you heard the names they attach to us? Mar Golzuth, The Clan of Shadows, Ellvor Sayruneth, and of course as the Volicheans call us…the House of Wolves. ”
Murmurs rippled amongst the crowd in admiration of the name. The organization had never settled on an appropriate title, they found and associated each other as comrades through different ways. But they all seemed to like the last name.
”And if we are wolves
” Julius said, cutting through the murmurs,
”is it not our job to tear apart the weak? Is that not the very spirit which drives every one of these beasts? So…if we
e to be worthy of such a name, we must do something truly grand. It will require some time to put in motion, but…. ” in just a single word Juliuss voice transitioned from one of authority and confidence to one of deviousness and devilry.
”When its over well have left so much carnage and tragedy in our wake history shall have no choice but to remember us for what we are. Monsters, outcasts, demons, I can just imagine the names theyll call us! They won even recognize us as one of their own! ”
”How so? ” asked Undyne, the youngest member of the House, but one with immense bloodlust all the same.
”Well its simple, isn it? Well create such climactic and nauseating tragedy that they may even question their own existences! Wouldn that be fantastic! How could people do such a thing? is what theyll say. Well become dehumanized, and in the process immortalized! Even if we
e cut down we will be remembered for what we are; just imagine that! ” Julius cried with frenzied insanity.
But this time, his subordinates did not look at him with fear, but with excitement, and a piercing roar filled the air and rang far beyond the confines of those small, empty ruins.
No amount of preparation could protect the world from what this House of Wolves had set in motion that day…
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