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Artificer

The Dead of Winter

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"Yes, let them come to us." Sikkoran's voice was low, a deadly lilt to anyone who heard. He'd dreamt of this day for many weeks, lied awake at night thinking of all the ways he would rid the earth of the horrid beast that stalked these arid lands. It was his daily nightmare that he wouldn't be able to fight back, instead he would stand their as everyone he'd ever cared about, ever known, were slaughtered around him. He'd fall to his knees and look up in time to see bright red eyes bearing down on him. Not today.

In an instant Silverstrike was on the ground, yowling at the winds. He slid his pack off, keeping his back close to one of his mates. He didn't necessarily trust anyone, maybe Marcell a bit, but he knew that they all had one goal: kill and survive. The snow whipping around the group suddenly stops as Sikko uses it to form a three foot wall around the perimeter, about 15 feet in diameter. He bathed in the elemental power surging through his veins, making his face hot and his body pulse. 

Visibility was no issue inside of his dome, and the air began to warm as two fists of fire appear in front of Sikkoran. Even if he went down today, he'd go down with every wolf at his back.

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Unimpeded by the snow and ice, the wolves surged towards the group. Though savage beasts, what marvelous creation they were – a near sparkling white, white as the moon at full height with eyes red as fresh blood. They moved with a grace that could be granted only to masterful dancers, and a ferocious speed that for years struck fear into the greatest of warriors. As they neared their latest prey they let loose, all together, a haunting, vicious howl that cut through the searing wind. Twenty separate voices, twenty wolves that spread into an arc as they began their assault.

Only twenty? Kassandra laughed, a light, tinkering sound. Truth, she had expected more. It seemed that her companions were just as ready as she was, as a wolf went down before the one she knew as Sikkoran. It was a grand feat he had performed, but now it was her turn. She smiled as two wolves bounded towards her; she was a female, surely she would be the weakest and easiest to take down.

“Hello darling,” she murmured as she brought her hands together as if in prayer.

The temperature, already cold, dropped sharply around her. The wind, already fierce, kicked up at her feet, circling around her like an intangible, rancorous serpent. Suddenly a black light washed over her petite body, and lashed out at the two wolves, covering them with blackness. Their alabaster fur sparkled in the magic light.

They were beautiful as they were lifted into the air by an unseen hand. They roared in fury as they struggled against the invisible chain that held them fast…

And then in agony, gorgeous pain as they were ripped apart like wet paper. Fur and flesh imploded, entrails and blood and bone followed one after the other, painting the air and landscape in blood. All that was left were the heads, jaws wide open in silenced screams, red eyes dull in death, lying in the ground.

Smiling brightly, Kassandra released her hands and regarded the rest of the wolves. They had stopped, growling and snarling. Already, with three of them dead, they knew to respect their adversaries.

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MARCELLUS L.H.

Hand in quiver, frostbitten fingers felt for the vanes of an arrow. They were drawing closer now — ever so closer — Marcellus could practically smell the rank stench of dead carrion on their fur. Deftly, he knocked the shaft on bowstring and set position, second and third arrows gripped with riser, eyes scanning the surroundings. Deep breaths. He had done this thousands of times before. Listening for their steps in the snow, the ranger focused outward past the curtain of the storm. Senses guided him through the movements — twenty wolves setting upon the group in that moment. To think he was relying on his otherworldly senses. It was sickening at the thought of using talent bestowed instead of talent earned, but if he was cursed with it, he might as well take advantage of it.

"Good! They come to us. Save us the trouble of finding them!"

"Yes, let them come to us."

The elementalist’s hands thrust outward, and the very winds themselves stopped in a dome around them at his command. Snow which was falling froze in their place, unmoving and suspended midair. The tiny, crystalline, droplets of solidified water shone in the veritable light of the lantern like stars in the sky.

Impressive, Marcellus thought. The works of magic never ceased to amaze him.

With two arms lifting, Sikkoran bended the snow at their feet into a rampart of ice. Would the mage launch spikes from the wall — freeze the beasts' feet as they try to vault over? Marcellus could only imagine what works would be done.

The pack moved next, taking the rear flank from behind. Kassandra was their target, but little did they know that this woman was not as meek as they surmised. Two fanged faces appeared from over the icy wall, vaulting over with eyes locked on the woman that was their quarry. What happened next surprised Marcellus as much as the wolves. With a flourish of the hand, she stopped them — crushed both wolves midair through strength of will alone. Marcellus eyes widened as a splatter of red painted the inside of the perimeter. Never before had he seen such a terrifyingly efficient method of killing. The gore shocked him, but the look on the witch’s face — that smile — that sheer enjoyment from unadulterated cruelty — it bore a pit in his stomach. It lit a fire in his heart.

Was it right to take her along?

He would have to reconsider telling the group his secret.

Tipped ears caught wind of the next attack. Hand tensed on grip as the hunter braced his knees. Five wolves jumped over their defenses with ease, but Marcellus was already looking in their direction.

He smirked.

Gotcha.”

Time started to slow for the hunter — a rush of adrenaline running through his veins.

Fingers relaxed, letting the first arrow fly straight into the chest of one wolf. With inhuman speed, Marcellus knocked a second, drew back, and released, sending another arrow into the side of another wolf’s head. The third and final arrow in his hand had been knocked on the bowstring, but that third wolf was too close. It’s mouth was wide open — clawed paws extending out to rake whatever flesh it could grab. Marcellus would have shot it if it weren’t too close.

A split-second decision was made.

Bending his knees, he ducked, facing the beast head on. He kept his bow low, and when the moment was right, let his back fall backwards to the snow. The beast must have been surprised — what prey show their bare stomachs to the air? His knees coiled like a spring, he waited until the last moment until — SLAM — both feet caught the flying wolf by the underbelly. Rolling further back, he carried the wolf like a pole on a cart, using the mongrel’s forward momentum to push him up and past. With a final kick, Marcellus sent the wolf flying back up into the air. Vulnerable.

Knees now in the snow, he twisted right and to the side, bow still drawn — sights aiming at the dumbstruck animal.

What human could lift, let alone toss a grown white wolf?

He saw the beasts pupils constrict.

Dog must have finally smelled it, Marcellus thought, teeth grit.

Smelled that there was an unnatural in the party.

Too late for them.

With a twang, the arrow was sent straight down that beast’s open jaws. Seeing it hit sent a surge of energy down the werewolf's spine. There was an odd satisfaction seeing that blooming of blood — those eyes full of surprise. It was almost euphoric.

Choke on that.

Three dead bodies thumped to the floor. Five wolves down, fifteen to go.

Head snapped back towards the action — two more descending upon the axe-man from behind.

There was no time to draw another arrow.

HAFT!” Marcellus yelled.

 

@Fierach @The Hummingbird @TheElementHunter

Edited by Artificer

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Kosvo was already embroiled in battle. Facing two snarling wolves as they advanced on him warily. They were cunning beasts, capable of recognizing a shield, and death when it looked them back in the eye. At Marcellus’s warning, a lesser-experienced warrior might’ve simply turned, blankly, and faced their death, but the young knight recognized the alarm in the tone, and acted instantly, exploding forth from his readied stance like a cannon shot. The two wolves were been waiting for their compatriots to get in position for the perfect takedown would be surprised, one of them stunned with a heavy shield bash to the snout. The other leapt aside, but not far enough as Kosvo reached out with his axe, hammering it down on the creature’s neck. The weapon cut through hide, resilient sinew and muscle and lodged deep into its vertebra, killing the beast outright.

With a roar of effort, he flung the body around at the end of his axe back behind him, flicking his wrist so that the axehead came free in a spray of blood and bone, and the body was flung into the two wolves that approached his back, barring their path and stalling their way. And then he was upon them. Not many mortal men could move with the speed that Kosvo possessed, stepping across the snow as if he had ample experience with the frosty terrain himself. His next strike split one of the beasts’ head, laying the steaming cranium open to the chilling air, while its comrade counterattacked, and was received by the shield. With powerful jaws clamped on the shield wrestling to try and pin down his limb, the knight awaited his moment and twisted along in the direction of one particularly violent movement, flipping the wolf onto its back and exposing its vulnerable belly, the animal ended in the next overhead swing buried into its guts. The blood spray gushed into the air, a strange crimson miasma wafting about Kosvo before being blown away by the wind as he looked in the direction of the first creature, surely recovered from its stun and any fresh wolves that might have joined with it.

It may have been the adrenaline of combat, the rush of battle, or may have been something else, but the way Kosvo “Haft” Hoss’s eyes dilated, the hiss of his breathe amidst the blood mist was most unnatural. A passing moment, invisible to all but the most observant.

_0003_Blood_Mist_12_0711.jpg

Edited by Fierach

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Adrenaline.

It was all he felt as his companions fought and the wolves charged.

One. Two. Three. Four wolves soured over his walls, running straight at him.

Five feet. He steals himself, looking into those cruel, crimson eyes. He imagined all of the innocence that'd seen those fiery pupils and then eternal darkness, without even a chance to fight back or scream. A fire lit his stomach crawling through every nerve in his body.

Four. Three.

Two feet. He slips his dagger out

One. Ice explodes in their hearts. It spreads through vein and arteries in a split second, filling them until they crack. They hadn't noticed the slight pricks when they jumped, a thin spire placing the cold seeds in their chests. The ice goes through tissues, tearing them apart before reinforcing it with cold. Through the bone it goes and out of the skin, thin sprays of crimson shooting from their bodies.

Sikkoran jumped, using the snow to throw himself higher than normal, just missing two tumbling bodies flying below him. The other two run to the perimeter of the wall, his ice magic filling their bodies and taking their forms. They jump at a wolf who'd made the mistaken of not checking its six, taking it down with a blood lust that Sikko couldn't express with words.

He landed on the floor, rolling beneath an angry jaw. He scrambled up and dusted the snow from his hair, smiling at his foe. They made at a dance, going left, then right, before leaping at each other. a scream billowing from Sikko's mouth. It grabbed his arm, clamping tight. Using the wind, he sent the dagger straight through and out the other side of the wolf's chest and into his other hand. The momentum of his jump caused his body to go forward, twisting around until his arm was ripped out of the moth by the force. Sikko went spiraling through the air, landing atop a soft bed of snow.

"How many more of these bastards?" He called as hurriedly cleaned the wound, sealing it with a layer of ice. 

Edited by TheElementHunter
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As suddenly as it began, the assault of the wolves ceased. There were thirteen of them left now, and their sleek forms, some of them spattered with fresh blood, circled their intended prey – no longer victims – slowly. They snarled and snapped, their fangs glittering in the reflected light of the snow, as their crimson eyes searched for an opening, a weakness to these things who dared to fight so hard.

Then it was heard. A howl, different from theirs; deeper, somehow harsher. It sliced through the wind like the keenest of blades though the weakest of flesh. The wolves’ heads lifted, their ears turning to catch the sound. Teeth bared, they backed away from the hunters. And as they backed away, something in the distance came forth.

They might have heard of him, the monstrous thing that approached with silent steps that swept great ravines through the snow and ice. They might have heard legends, myths, or fanciful tales of his teeth, of his claws, of his vicious cruelty. Now they would see that those stories, so often steeped in blood and the bodies of fallen heroes, were true.

Stygian black was his fur, so dark it seemed to siphon away and destroy any light that touched it. His eyes were red, but whereas the white wolves’ eyes glowed, these burned, seeming to drip blood from their sharp corners. And he was huge, four times the size of the other wolves. The Greater Direwolf towered over his brethren, and looked down with contempt at the little people who dared think to hunt them.

All those who feared him, and rightly so, called him Ebonvine.

He stopped before them, his eyes sweeping over them to stop on one; Marcellus.

Kassandra followed the wolf’s stare, and she wondered what sort of secret the man was hiding that warranted Ebonvine’s attention.

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Kosvo eyed the new entrant to the fray. The giant lupine was hard to miss, to be honest, and the young knight made a show of staggering a few feet to the side of his party, almost stumbling over as he stepped over the fallen corpse of one of the wolves. Hunched over for a second, he took a deep breathe, subtly sucking in the spray-mist of blood from this fallen enemy as well, before standing upright and readied as if all was right in the world.

"Big alpha, no guarantee his fur will be intact when I'm through with him, so take your pick now!"

Edited by Fierach

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EBONVINE

Calm, calculating eyes fell upon the five that were his quarry. Fresh, crisp breaths steamed from between his bared teeth, whistling away as white streaks in the howling winds against the blackness of his coat. As he stood atop the powdered dune of ice and snow, the long hairs which hung from his back waved like shadowy tassels — the silhouette of a demon in the backdrop of a frigid hell. There was a scent in the air — one unlike the others. The Ebonvine did not gaze hatefully at the three humans — No — there was no reason to hate those beneath him. Instead, scarlet gaze focused in on the one in between — the one who did not belong.

The wolves behind him stirred behind with impatience. They smelled it too. Stillness did not bode well for these children.

One look — a piercing glance — one silent command: Stop — and they no longer fidgeted.

His attention was not towards feeding the new bloods — No. His business was strictly with the traitor in front of him. As an alpha of the packs, it was his job to deal with the dissidents and rogues who ran away. Still, for one who smelled so strongly of The Kin... he wondered.

Fanged maw opened, revealing a set of brilliant ivory daggers. Fluid tongue rolled as he spoke, voice tinged with guttural intonation. His words were growls among barks among throaty whispers — a language only one of The Refashioned would understand. Those hounds who were molded by The Kin would know it. It was a language spoken only by one who ordered, and heard only by those who obeyed.

Several words uttered, and the cloaked man shivered like prey.

Ebonvine’s eyes narrowed in disgust.

This was indeed a traitor.

In a single motion, the wolves all moved in tandem — an uncanny synchronicity gifted by the one who led. Soon, the thirteen who followed him encircled the three men and two beasts — keeping their distance while being wary of their movements. The great direwolf stood above them all, watching from the back. He would not let the stray escape — No. He would hand deliver this one back to The Kin. The Ebonvine knew that death was not the cruelest fate that could befall a traitor. No... no... there were worse fates than death. A sickening grin rose to his scowling face — one warped with malevolent delight. His emotions had long been twisted from that fateful night, but still, some things never changed. His sadism, for one, still lingered. Oh how he would enjoy watching those fighting eyes be extinguished. How he would enjoy watching the man be turned.

Watch those faint hopes of false rebellion turn to ashes and dust.

He wondered how the man was doing fighting it. Surely, the wolf was struggling now. Perhaps temptation would beget that sweet, sweet release that all wolves sought.

Sweet satiation to that never-ending hunger.

Ears perked — another wolf-howl came from the distance. His earlier call had been answered.

If a wolf could snicker, The Ebonvine did snicker.

Soon, these humans would have exactly what they were searching for. A warpack was to arrive shortly.

 

@The Hummingbird @Fierach @TheElementHunter

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Ebonvine directed the others well, as he should’ve. The pack leader was a formidable opponent, made even more so by his precision control over the other wolves… but what if that control was disrupted?

Kosvo stepped out a foot or two ahead of the others. His voice and posture changed, dropping all manner of previous swagger that seemed to be present. The masquerade was dropped, he was not “Haft” the young warrior who likely overestimated himself. He was in that instant a Knight of the Order of Force Majeure in his natural element, fighting long odds against beings no mortal was meant to stand against.

I’ll break the cordon” he warned the others in a low voice. It was the only warning they’d get as Kosvo then banged his axe against his shield. The blood on his axe coalesced itself, fading away in the icy air to a fine mist, which he then blew through the wind against all odds. The mist would reach almost a third of the wolves, and even the great black direwolf himself. Although the pack leader might be able to resist the effects of the blood magic spell, the minds of the rest might well be consumed by unreasoning rage and anguish to preempt the attack, particularly targeting the axe-wielding blood knight.

Out of formation and with their senses driven to berserk, they would be easy pickings for the ready warrior, striking down the first two that leapt at him with a single, powerful counter-stroke for each, flaying them open to the bone. There would be much to discuss later, but now, they would have to ramp up the killing to see that later.

Edited by Fierach

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No fear showed in Kassandra’s face as she observed the black direwolf. In fact, there was only a slight interest, as if she examined a particularly rare insect or impaled butterfly. Yes, Ebonvine was an impressive specimen, but she had seen stronger and better things of her time. Still, he might be worth the effort of subduing and securing, if she was still in the giving mood when the time came. She stored the idea in the back of her mind as the wolves circled around them.

She watched keenly as Ebonvine’s great maw opened to form sounds that could only be speech. She didn’t quite understand it, but she did recognize language when she heard it. It was very animalistic, very brutal and rather primitive, but it was a tongue nonetheless. Aimed at none other than Marcellus, and that was all she needed to rightly identify the man.

“Well, well…” she murmured. “Talk about a wolf among men. My, my.”

Ashe was not sure who was more interesting at the moment – the disguised wolf masquerading as a man, or the other man – Kosvo? – masquerading till then as normal. The latter was clearly versed in blood magic, just as she was, though it was just as clear he used his talent in a different manner unfamiliar to her. She might have to talk to him later.

If he lived.

“Darling,” she said coyly to Kosvo as the mist was forced against air and wind and swept throughout the wolves, “what beautiful casting.”

The wolves already furious, frustrated minds were no match for Kosvo’s spell. Their eyes flashed into blank rage as they suddenly, against Ebonvine’s exasperated roar, charged in full force at the group. Two went down quickly before Kosvo… and after that, well who could say? Every man for himself.

Or herself; Kassandra took a dainty step back and spun, trailing a hand before her. Where her fingers swept through the air it left a trail of purple light, forming a circle when she completed a full turn. She crossed her arms in front of her and swept them outward. Her palms reached the apex of their arc, the farthest distance between her body and fingertips, and a pentagram drew itself over the circle. Archaic glyphs burst into life at each of its points as it began to rotate counterclockwise, rising to hover over Kassandra’s head.

Five tapering beams of light shot down around Kassandra from the glyphs. They burned into the ground and ricocheted forth, as if they had struck panels of glass rather than snowy earth. With an evil hiss they struck five wolves running amok amidst the warriors, and with a death howl five wolves were suddenly dead. Three had been completely incinerated; only ash remained. One had been skinned alive, and twitched feebly. The last fourth was bleeding out still, all four limbs burned away.

Unaffected by the spell. Ebonvine was not afraid, but nor was he pleased. He lifted his head, and threw it back in a savage howl.

In an answer, the warpack arrived. They were huge too. While not as large as their leader, but larger than the wolves that preceded them. Their white fur rippled with health and strength and vigor, and their eyes glowed with eager hunger.

There was no counting them this time.

The hunters would be torn apart.

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Sikkoran had looked death in the face many times. It seemed as if he were destined to meet some astronomical quota of times to see death set by the universe itself. It never felt the same, quite the contrary actually. One time it had frozen his whole body, rendering him helpless in the face of an Elemental that hunted his life. Another time he'd been on fire, limbs twitching, arms itching, his body ready to run straight of a cliff, straight to its death. 

But this time was different.

He felt nothing when he looked into that wolfs eyes. Felt nothing when his mind conjured images of his own corpse, mangled and decorated in scrapes and gashes. He felt the teeth, looked down the throat of this beast, as he was eaten alive, but still felt... nothing.

What was this feeling?

Everything was moving so quickly. Blood fighting against nature, infecting minds, sparkling deadly as snow. A sword glinted and two heads rolled onto the ground, snouts imprinting into the snow. The black beast was angry at this, Sikko seen the snarl, felt the quickening of its heart.

How did he feel that?

"Kassandra, wait!" He never spoke those words because they were too slow coming from his lips. He watched the light and glyphs and magic and death, all in the blink of an eye. The Beast's chest twitched, its heart beating even faster. Faster and faster it went, no more time they had.

They shouldn't be doing this, they shouldn't be here! A mistake would be what historians called this group's arduous journey, but a mistake it was not. Stupidity was an understatement. All of them knew they wouldn't be strong enough, couldn't do this without an army, yet they still came. Noble? No, not for Sikko at least. He could see clearly that he wasn't trying to avenge his friends or save people...

He'd been trying to kill himself like he'd been doing since they'd failed the first time.

ARHOOOOOOOOOOO 

"We need to run," Those words came out at normal speed, the fear replaced by survival. He holds out his hand. Suddenly the ice around them forms into a sleigh. "We need to run now!"

Edited by TheElementHunter
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MARCELLUS L.H.

The wolf’s words resounded in his mind, over and over and over. Formless command, the Ebonvine had uttered — a beckoning towards a seed which dared break soil. Sweet, sweet temptations among the biting grit of his rebuke. Yes, the wolf was right — there was an evil planted long ago within the hunter. Not a day had gone by where Marcellus couldn’t feel it growing and wrapping its roots around whatever it could. The teeth of its thorns gnawed at whatever rationality he had, reminding him of the extent of his sins. Yes, he was no longer that innocent man he once was.

He had indeed tasted human flesh.

Marcel stepped back, a dribble of saliva falling from his lips. That insatiable hunger settled in once more, and for a moment — after that blood mist dispersed — he almost let himself loose. Take that ferality which burned in his chest and direct it towards those he enlisted. The spirits of the wolves were high, and the mania which gripped them began affecting him too. No, it wasn’t Haft’s spell, but rather the sheer energy of it all. Their yaps — barks — snarls. It was chaos, wild and free. Watching them gave him the putrid urge to let go. Go back to them. Go back to serve the mastermind behind it all.

A faithful servant....

Gah! he yelled, hands clutching his head.

Marcellus would not let the madness take hold. Not there, and not then. He shook his head madly as if to shake those urges from his mind. There was a promise he made to himself that he intended to keep; he could not afford to succumb to those wolves. He refused. He wasn't one of then. With his wrist, Marcellus wiped the corners of his lips using the cloth of his cloak.

Yes, he had promises to keep — there was no failing to be done here.

Bow strung, he took aim once more.

What could he do? He needed to analyze the situation in its entirety. Marcel was the leader of this party, after all. He needed to lead.

His companions had been staving off the mounting threat; however, with one howl, the great direwolf heralded the beginning of the end.

The warpack had arrived.

We need to run,"

"We need to run now!"

Sikkoran’s words barely registered. How — how did they arrive so quickly?! Had the storm masked their sounds — their scents? Regardless, there was no way the four of them could fight a pack that large. Thoughts raced for a solution, until suddenly, one appeared right in front of him:

While Haft and The Witch kept the wolves at bay, the mage had fashioned a great sleigh of ice and frost. It was crude — large — but thick and durable.

Perfect.

Quickly, the hunter unslung his bag and bow, throwing the latter onto the slab of ice. From the side of his rucksack, he grabbed a coil of rope which was roughly fifty feet in length. He smiled — thank the gods he listened to the shopkeeper. How could one questing ever live without cordage?

He relented at what he was about to do, but after seeing the suspicious glance of Kassandra, he knew that there was no point in hiding it anymore. He untied that thread of red from his wrist, the glamour disappearing in naught but an instant.

Where there was once the image of a man, there was now a large, slavering, monstrous werewolf.

His true visage.

Gods — he hoped they didn’t shoot him.

Threading the rope through the frozen vehicle, he grabbed the two ends and barked at the party,

Get on if you don’t want to die — I’ll pull!

Ropes now clamped between his teeth, he was ready to run like hell.

 

@TheElementHunter @Fierach @The Hummingbird

Edited by Artificer

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Oh well. That was a surprise. Kosvo suspected either Marcel or his second, Sikkoran had some sort of connection to the wolves given their overall tenseness and the way they reacted to certain stimuli, but not something like this. Was the whole thing a case of a breakdown in familial relations? Was Marcel a stray pup that the others were trying to bring into the fold? Did the man insult Ebonvine and call his mother a bitch and that was the reason they were being hunted by an entire war pack?

Questions for another time. Right now they needed to make good their escape. 

The blood magic spread among the wolves. The young Knight hacked down another attacker with a powerful swipe of his axe. More blood. More bodies. Good. A good leader would have taken note of the infection taking root within some of the crazed creatures, perhaps Ebonvine was too confident to really pay much attention. Kosvo could twist its effects, amplify its power. Another of the beasts came, a larger specimen who lunged past his shield and chomped down on his axe arm, buckling armor under its jaws and drawing blood and a hiss of pain.

Perfect.

His response was to unceremoniously boot the creature between the legs, certainly ending any chance of it perhaps one day being an alpha of its own pack and siring offspring. At the pain which no male creature could really stand, the wolf let go and was met with a heavy shield bash with the rim, slicing a deep gouge across its snout. Kosvo then drew his own blood from the wound like a siphon, coalescing it in his left hand, before projecting it up to the sky.

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All of the killing so far. The ground-work laid with the previous spell. The use of his own blood as the final regent. It was all for this. 

Billows of red vitae sprayed from every corpse on the frozen earth. The weaker, smaller wolves that had been effected by the rage boiling in their bodies shuddered and keeled over, foaming blood as well from every orifice.  It became as a cloud, an oily, thick,  pugent cloud that concealed vision and masked the party as it drifted into the approaching war-pack. The intense coppery stink would mask their scent as well, stimulating the olfactory senses of the wolves to the point of debilitating pain. Kosvo had done his research and preparations well to turn the canines's keen sense of smell against them in a worst-case scenario. 

"Lets go then!" he coughed, piling onto the sled. Still, using the ability drained him a good bit of his own stamina and life force. He looked for Kassandra, and would reach out a hand to her (ever the gentleman at heart) to help her aboard if it was needed.

Edited by Fierach

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For the first time since their journey had begun, Kassandra hesitated. These wolves were not only massive but sported intelligence higher than their preceding kin. She could see it, the burn of self-awareness in their eyes, the way their unblinking crimson stare moved from target to target. They were measuring, judging – strategizing.

These were not foes she wanted to fight against, not with so many of them with Ebonvine at their center. She knew in an instant that even with her companion’s powers and might, this would only end in their death. She would die fighting, of course, and it would not be an easy battle, but her magic was still of limited supply.  Easy or not, such a fight would still lead to her demise.

She wasn’t ready to die quite yet. The idea that she might infuriated her.

Fortunately, the means to escape was given to her by Sikkoran, and her suspicions about Marcellus’ true nature confirmed as he shed the glamour in favor of a savage beast. The thought of running appalled her, but it seemed she was given no choice, and she wasn’t of the mind to stay here alone to be slaughtered.

Thus she graciously took Kosvo’s hand and stepped into the sleigh. Most of the first wolves were down now, but the warpack was still fresh and new, and Ebonvine grinned in victory.

“Go!” she snapped at Marcellus as he took the rope in his teeth. They would have to be fast if they weren’t to be caught by the wolves.

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Sikko took a moment to admire Marcellus as his body twisted into that of an animal. It was an alarming sight, the piercing eyes and mangled fir. He knew that inside was his friend, a companion that had suffered as much loss as he had, but it still scared him. What if this was all a trap? It wouldn't have been the first time the man had led a group of people out into the wilds to be killed and scattered into piles of flesh and bone. He thought of the captain, his head rolling off of his shoulders, blooding hissing as it hit the snow.

And now he knew why Silverstrike never liked the man.

Now was not the time for such thoughts, though. Throwing out his hands, he caused a pillar of snow to shoot him in the air. At the same time, while snow covered the sleigh he sent a thin spire of ice to prick Marcellus' skin, planting a little ice into his body. Just in case, he thought, landing onto the sleigh. If he did decide to kill them, at least they'd have half a chance to get away from his beast form as ice temporarily immobilized him.

"Alright, let's go!" As Marcellus drove the sleigh he'd help by clearing a path in front of the werewolves path. "I hope you've got something up our sleeve Marcellus!"

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