The brothers woke up early in the morning and waited outside the Chief's modest cottage home for Gever. She volunteered to guide the brothers to the beast and to hopefully persuade them to spare its life. Meanwhile, Horder continuously speaks about the monster's danger to his tribe. He continued to boast about the monster's strength and speed, and its ferocity could make even a troll flee to its caves.
The more Horder tells tales of the monster, the more Sun grew interested in adding it to their army. Smoke doubts that a monster could be controlled, but Gever's interest showed evidence that this monster could be reasoned with. But what this monster wants is a mystery to everyone. Only Gever could shed light on this mystery.
Gever opened the white front door and brought her travel bag out. "I ready!" She yelled while catching her breath. She wore a worn-out gambeson and short wool pants.
Horder followed her out the door berating her, "You don't need all of this stuff. It literally takes half a day's walk to get to that beast! And why are you bringing out my favorite food? Are you going to give it that monster!"
Rock grabbed Hoder's shoulder and gave him a massage. "Woah, my man, calm down. There's no need to yell so much, especially to a lady."
"But," Horder stared at the bag filled to the brim with so many trinkets and food. But Rock's strong grip was more compelling.
"See? No need to yell." Rock released Horder from his gentle hands and helped carry Gever's heavy bag. The brothers left the Zackons tribe with their little guide showing them the way to the beast.
They traveled south, crossing the bridge going over the raging, and followed a deer path. The wind was strong and was expected to get stronger by the afternoon, bringing with it dark clouds. Smoke predicted that the rain would arrive in the afternoon and the surrounding area will flood, but Gever assured them that wouldn't be the case. The city will stop the river from flowing to keep the water levels even during heavy rainfall.
On the way, Gever explained to them the reason why Horder wants the monster gone. It was not because the monster was doing any harm to the tribe, but it due to his fear of wolves. And the monster in question was the largest and most fearsome wolf they faced.
The brothers laughed at such a statement. "Why laugh? No believe Gever?" She asked them.
"It's not our first time fighting Timber Wolves." Rock boasted.
"Yeah," Sun agreed. "Although I never did fight them much since you and Smoke dealt with them faster than expected."
"Honestly, I think it would have been a lot easier if Rock used his head a little." Smoke joked.
"That's true. My headbutt is tougher than anything you can dish out, Smoke. Hahaha!" Rock laughed.
"Am I the only one that never killed a Timber Wolf?" Stick asked. "Well, honestly, at least didn't get bitten by one."
"Trust me, you don't want to get bitten by them," Sun remarked. "Honestly, I can understand Horder for being so scared. Those big guys got power on their bite."
Gever stopped walking and faced the brothers, "Monster is no Timber Wolf. Much worse. More smarter, faster, and it has," Gever looked to the sky, "Heart and kindness in it. He good, but he curse. Maybe find cure, maybe city have cure? I show monster, show he no monster and maybe brothers find cure in city."
The brothers looked at each other. They know they are deceiving her and her people, but even if they weren't, what kind of cure is she looking for? "What kind of curse does he have?" Sun asked Gever.
She let a sighed, then hugged herself, "He good goblin. But turn monster sometimes. Not normal self when monster. More animal."
"Animal?" Sun could not help but think that this was linked to the curse their race was inflicted with long ago. Goblins regressed into a barbaric near animal state, and this monster maybe the next level of degradation that his race will turn into as time continues. If so, then they must take the city soon, because in the city, locked deep within its stone walls, is the first step in unlocking their race's true form. "We will get him the cure. You can trust us on that." Sun hugged Gever.
They reached a clearing in the afternoon. The brothers could spot an abandoned town on the horizon with a hill beside it with a destroyed temple on top. When they got closer, the brothers realized that the town they arrived in was their former home. It was the village that the Lev tribe once called home. And in the center of the town was the person Gever mentioned to be cursed. That person was Olhos.
"Olhos!" The brothers were shocked.
"You know Olhos, then you know he good just curse." Gever embraced Olhos' arm, "No kill Olhos."
"Wait, what?" Olhos freed himself from Gever's arms, "What do you mean kill? And what are you guys doing here?"
The brothers slapped their cheeks to wake themselves from the shocking revelation. Then Sun grabbed Olhos by the shoulders. "Olhos! You have some explaining to do. She said you're cursed to be a monster." Then Sun remembered Gever mentioning Horder's fear of wolves. "Are you a werewolf? And if so, that sounds awesome. How did you become one?"
"And now that I think about it, where is Sum?" Smoke asked. "Didn't he leave with you?"
"I'll tell you everything. But can you release me first?" Sun let him go, "Thank you. Follow me in my tent."
Along with Gever, the brothers followed Olhos, and they sat around a small, cold fire pit. Olhos shared with them his past and how he gained such a dangerous power, and what it cost. He started by telling them the day he and Sum ventured north to join the Zackons tribe.
Contact between Lev and Zackons remained sparse despite paying tribute to the same city and being so close to one another geographically. The reason behind this was a mystery to Olhos and Sum. It was assumed it was because Cala was too busy tightening his grip on the tribe after becoming the Chief. But it may also be due to the culture between the two tribes. Zackons would venture out of the forest using their longboats to sail north to the swap lands raiding the towns founded by the river. Meanwhile, Lev plays the waiting game, attacking adventures and looters that would venture to the city ruins, and the tribe rarely leaves the forest.
Their focus was on different areas, and thus there's no need to communicate with one another. But they still a raiding tribe, a much better fit than the agricultural southern tribe. Unfortunately, the thick snow and fog impeded their movement, making a half-day trip into a full day. Tired, the two sought shelter within a large burrow dug up by wild animals. They found one near a small creek, with the majority of its entrance blocked by a fallen tree. And just in time for the sun was beginning to set.
Sum and Olhos crawled in the burrow. They were safe within the earth from the harsh winter elements. It was still cold, but their thick wool clothing kept them warm. "Finally, we get rest from snow." Olhos sighed, "It long walk to other tribe."
"I should have brought my snowshoe. Stupid!" Sum hit his head against the wall. "How did this happen? I should have stayed by his side. Then maybe he wouldn't have died from that troll. I'm such a useless coward beaten by his own woman."
"No change result. Already happened. And you no coward, just too loyal."
"How can you say that? My loyalty is what,"
Olhos interrupted, "Got Cala killed. If stay, disobey, maybe Cala not die. But not matter now. Too late. Must get in new tribe, move on from past."
Sum did not respond. He took out a small packet of beef jerkies and shared one with Olhos. The two ate while the sound of the winter winds echoed in their burrow. "Olhos,"
"You didn't have to leave everything for me."
"I know, but Sum friend."
"I don't think I can ever get back up from my feet. I lost my brothers, my lover, and my home. But at least I have a friend with me. Thank you, Olhos."
Night past and morning came. The duo climbed out of their chamber and continued their journey north, but the morning fog blocked their vision. And they lost their direction. They walked through the cold fog until they found the frozen river used by the Zackons.
They walked beside it, hoping to stumble upon the tribe they were searching for. But their walk lasted for hours until the day's end without finding a hint of the Zackons and its goblins. The night sky was coming, and the cold despair of winter will strangle them if they do not find shelter. But the fog grew thicker, and the sky began to spill snow onto the land. "Why must it snow now?" Sum wrestled through the deep snow, digging his way to a tree grove. "Olhos, we can seek shelter under the branches. We might even find a burrow to stay in. Olhos?"
Sum stopped moving and turned around. Olhos was on the ground shivering from the cold. Sum ran back to him and carried him on his shoulders. When they reached the grove, Sum found a small crevice beneath the trunks. They struggled to dig out the snow blocking the entrance, then they dove in and passed out.
They woke up to a sunny morning. They crawled out their hole covered in mud and twigs. And in front of them, close to the tree groves, was a large crater. "What the hell?" Sum climbed the trees and scouted the giant hole. "There's something in the middle."
Olhos took out his bow and arrow from his backpack and walked towards the edge of the crater. "What think caused hole?"
"Do you remember that large explosion that happened several days ago?" Sum jumped and landed in the soft, deep snow.
"Yeah, there was a large explosion northwest from our tribe. Two of them actually, one on the mountainside and another from the forest."
"And Sum think this from explosion?"
"Yeah," Sum climbed down the crater.
"To the center, there must be something down there we can find."
Olhos jumped down and followed him. At the center of the crater was a naked person lying face-first on the snow. Sum poked the body, "It seemed to be dead. Let's go around and search in the area. Maybe he left something."
Suddenly, the body stood up, revealing it to be a male elf. The body was full of infected wounds, and its eyes lacked any pupil. Olhos aimed his arrow at the elf when suddenly, the elf's body contorted, and hair grew rapidly from his body. "What happening to it?" Olhos yelled.
The sounds of bones getting crush and flesh burning bounced off the crater's walls. Then an immense blue light covered the elf, and when the light dimmed, the elf was gone, and a wolf-like monster took its place standing on its mutated hind legs. Olhos fired an arrow, but it did nothing. Its fur was too thick. "Shit, run!" Sum yelled.
The two ran away from the beast, but it was faster than they were. The monster tripped Sum with his freakishly long arms and was about to stab Sum with its claws, but Olhos protected Sum with his body. "Olhos! What are you doing? Runaway, you're going to get yourself killed!"
"No! I no die that quickly." The monster stabbed Olhos on his right shoulders, and the two stared at each other. Olhos could feel his feet shiver from fear, but not once did he think of leaving Sum. "Olhos will kill you!" The beast opened its jaws and plunged his fangs on Olhos' left shoulder.
But instead of blood, blue flames burst out of his flesh and covered his body. "Olhos, you're turning into a conquerer!" Sum shouted in excitement.
The monster bit harder as the flames converged across Olhos' body. Olhos reached towards his quiver on his right hip and pulled out an arrow. "Die!" Olhos stabbed the wolf in its ears.
Blood came out from the ear like a geyser, and the monster howled from the pain, freeing Olhos from its jaws. With its mouth opened, Olhos jumped out from the flame and jammed his arrow down the monster's throat. The beast fell on its back, with its body wriggling in pain, and after several minutes the monster died from suffocation. When the beast died, Olhos closed his eyes and fainted.
"Olhos, you did! Olhos?" Sum stood up and caught Olhos. "Don't worry, Olhos. I'll carry you."