Lukas leapt onto a fence, pulling his body up and over it. One of the spiked bars tore his shirt and into the flesh of his waist. Snarling hounds nearly crashed into the fence, trying to push through the bars but with no luck. It was a very short moment for Lukas to rest, and right enough, the shaggy form of the wolfen creature caught up with the pack and seemingly ushered them away in one direction. Lukas started running the other way, ducking into the first alley he found. It was a broad street with waist high stone walls on each side to mark the gardens for the large houses. Lukas leapt on top of the right side wall and kept running on top of it.
Lukas managed two more turns before he heard the clicking noise and heavy panting of about a dozen dogs catching up with him. There was nothing close that he could jump on top or over now, only the wet street and tall straight walls of houses. The clicking was still getting closer and all Lukas could think of was to keep running, futile as it seemed.
And there, another corner. Lukas maneuvered towards the wall as he ran, hoping to be able to reach it. He meant to catapult himself around it but as he reached with his right arm he felt something his ankle. Before he knew it he was on the grounds, the paws of another hound having struck his back while unbalanced. He tried to cover his head with his hands and kick out with his legs. One of them was already constrained through the grip of a hound. The panting was loud and they pulled at him everywhere, snarling, groaning, snapping their teeth.
As suddenly as they assaulted the hounds backed off and Lukas was left lying in the gutter surrounded by the tall wirey grey hounds. His heart was about to explode through his chest and he didn’t dare move. The animals weren’t leaving, but were padding around him and yowling to one another.
“They’re sighthounds, Winter, if it runs they follow. I thought you were cleverer than that.” The voice was unlike anything Lukas had heard before, it was deep and very gruff, almost a growl. It –or he– also spoke slowly, getting the words out seemed to be an effort. Yet Lukas did not want to move and simply lay huddled on the ground waiting for something else to be said.
“Stand up, boy, if you choose to defy me you must have the decency to look me in the eye to inform me of it.”
Sore and bloody, Lukas got to his four feet without looking at the speaker. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before continuing. The back of his right leg was aching badly and so was his upper arm. However, it was the large black furry form that had his attention. It was the same dark sooty yet muddy kinda colour of the wolfen form he had seen with the dogs, and was very nasty looking in the way you’d expect something that looked like a mix of a man and a wolf to be. It was almost half-everything with a lot of fur. Yet not enough to not make it look scrawny.
Lukas swallowed hard, and planned to take a step back but his sore leg gave in and he nearly fell back but managed to keep his balance. The hounds were almost at him again but a loud rumbling growl from the dark creature stopped them.
“You’re a werewolf,” was the first thing that escaped Lukas’s mouth and although it was a bit like stating the obvious he still wasn’t certain this person really was the Lord Dimitrie de Vries.
The creature didn’t respond at first but shifted weight between the two legs it stood on. It watched Lukas almost curiously.
“Good observation, maybe you will next tell me that the sky is blue,” he finally said, closing the distance between the two of them. He seized Lukas by the neck of his shirt with sturdy fingers. The claws were thick but not sharp. Lukas looked him straight in the eye. “You are punishing me for your own shortfalls. More fool the you if you fall into the trap,” Lukas braved knowing this was no time for lies or half truths. “I was always going to play nice with the Emperor, otherwise I wouldn’t be in power here, and the fact I’m alive must mean I’m doing something to stay that way. Can’t you see what he’s doing? He’s outmaneuvering you here. If I get killed now he doesn’t need physical evidence to run you over. He’s on to you and he’s doing anything he can to get a reason to take you down.” Lukas stopped as Dimitrie ‘de Wolf’ threw him down to the ground. It produced a new surge of pain pulsing through his body.
“If that is indeed what he is doing then it is time for you to choose sides. If you have people killed to pretend you are only proving yourself as his tool. If he is using me, he is using you even more. You are a pawn, Winter, pawns always get killed first. Now you must decide if you think either side will upgrade your status. Keep in mind that whatever you do, you will be hounded.”
Before his eyes, the creature morphed down to its wolfen form even if it happened in a way that made Lukas feel unsure what exactly he had seen. Then as soon as the change was completed the pack was off, back to where it came from. Lukas remained alone on the ground feeling both confused and in pain.
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