(If they make this into a film, what rating would it be?)
This time, they managed to make camp and light a fire with no problems. The view from the hilltop was spectacular and the setting sun made for a beautiful evening scene.
You’ll just have to take my word for it.
A frugal but welcome meal was made with everyone contributing; the Writer picked some herbs, and wrote some cooking implements into the story. The Knight ‘borrowed’ some potatoes and vegetables from a nearby farmer’s field to boil up with the herbs. And the horse trotted off and kicked a couple of rabbits to death, and brought them back to be cooked.
After clearing up (and by clearing up, I mean throwing everything down the side of the hill), they settled down for the night. Unfortunately, they didn’t stay settled for very long. In the middle of the night, they were woken by the mournful howl of a wolf – and a close one at that. To make matters worse, it appeared to have some friends not too far off. The Knight peered over the edge of the hill, and through the mist could just make out several dark shapes gathering at the foot of the hill.
Realising the imminent danger, the Knight cried ‘Hurry!! Build up the fire!! Arm yourselves!! The enemy is on all sides!!!’ This rallying cry did not have the desired the effect – as the horse just gave him a look that seemed to say ‘no opposable thumbs – remember?’, and the Writer had only his wits with him, and they were about as sharp as a sack of feathers floating in a bowl of custard.
Cursing his own never ending bad luck, the Knight hurriedly threw more wood on the fire until it roared into life with flames six feet high. He thrust a branch into the flames, and then with his sword in one hand and the flaming brand in the other he turned and looked out into the darkness.
At first he could see nothing, but he could hear the low growl of several wolves that were just out of sight in the shadows. Then, as his eyes became accustomed to the lack of light the Knight started to make out several pairs of pale yellow eyes circling the camp. The Knight also noticed a single yellow eye which bobbed up and down with an awkward rhythm, which the Knight assumed belonged to old wolf with only one eye. The yellow eyes circled ceaselessly, never moving their gaze from where the Knight stood. So fixed on the Knight were the wolves that on more than one occasion two wolves would crash into each other travelling in opposite directions, and a brief fight would break out with lots of snarling and whining. The circling seemed to last for ages, but suddenly it stopped. The air seemed thick around the Knights head, and the sound of his own breathing was deafening. Suddenly a howl echoed out into the night, and was immediately answered by countless others. The noise that surrounded him struck terror into the Knights heart – but worse was to come.
Suddenly, in the darkness the horse started to neigh frantically, but its cries of terror were cut short by the snarls of several wolves that were tearing it to shreds. The Knight wanted to run to the aid of his horse, but was powerless to do so.
The Knight turned to the Writer and said ‘can’t you do something?!’, but the Writer was so scared all he could was shake his head – that, and steadily soil himself.
The Knight realised that the entire camp was now surrounded, and if he or the Writer had tried to move they too would almost certainly be killed.
Suddenly, out of the darkness, a single wolf stepped into the circle of light made by the fire. It was huge, a grey mass of fur and muscle, with tattered ears from countless battles and a scar running down the length of its face right over its left eye, which had been missing for several years. This was the owner of the single eye the Knight had seen circling the camp. This was the wolf general.
The wolf took a single step forward and then stopped, looking at the Knight. By the Knights reckoning, the wolf was six foot tall at the shoulder at least – which was a bit of a worry, as the Knight was only five feet eight tall. The Knight stared into the pale eye of the wolf and saw pure evil looking back at him. Then the wolf general turned his gaze upon the Writer – but seemed to recoil a little as if he had discovered a bad smell. The Knight turned to where the Writer was and caught him mouthing the words ‘eat him, not me!!’ to the Wolf whilst pointing furiously at the Knight. Not entirely surprised by this gesture, the Knight made himself a promise that if he ever got out of this, he would run the Writer through with his sword.
However, at this precise moment in time, that wasn’t looking very likely.
The wolf general curled his lipped and gave a blood curdling guttural growl, and coiled it self in preparation to leap at the Knight. The Knight braced himself, and prepared to face what could be his final moment. In an explosion of energy the wolf leapt at the Knight, and as he did so the Knight suddenly felt a terrible burning sensation engulf his left hand. The flaming brand which the Knight had been holding had been burning steadily as the wolves circled the camp, and just as the wolf general leapt
The wolf let out a terrible howl as its vital organs were ruptured by the cold steel forcing its way through them, as the weight of its own body pushed the wolf further onto the Knight’s sword. The Knight was knocked to the ground by the momentum of the wolf and lay there pinned as the wolf lay on top of him dying. The wolf trembled violently for a moment, and then its last rancid breath escaped from its body, and then it was still. Suddenly it seemed as if a thousand wolves cried out in anguish, and were then silent. The Knight lay there, waiting for the revenge of the general’s soldiers to come. But nothing happened. The wolves, leaderless without their general, did not have the heart to fight. They might have been a pack, but there was no loyalty amongst them, so they all ran off into the night, and were not seen again.
The Knight managed to roll the body of the dead wolf off himself, and staggered to his feet. His right arm was numb from the weight of the wolf, and would be bruised for weeks to come. His sleeve of armour was stained with the blood of the wolf, and the smell of death was on him. He looked over to where the Writer was – now cowering in the foetal position on the floor – and could tell that the Writer had his own smell on him, and it certainly wasn’t death. The Knight made a note to remind the Writer to change his undergarments before they went any further.
The Knight’s left hand was in agony from the burning brand he had been holding, and he would bear a mark there the rest of his days. Still fearful of attack he sat close to the fire and vowed to stay awake all night, ensuring that the fire didn’t go out.
Of course, he never managed it, exhaustion, emotion and the toll of the effort it took to get the wolf general off him, was all too much and he was asleep within five minutes.