Status: Will be updated once to twice a week, until I catch up to what I have written.

The Quest

Chapter Thirteen - The Last Prophecy

Tess walked ahead of Tom a short way into the woods. His tail swung lazily behind him. His ears continuously rotated, listening to all the sounds that surrounded them. Tess was regretting not bringing her herb basket. She had found so many plants that she wanted to take back with them. “Puffballs!” Tess kneeled down next to a giant cream looking mushroom.

“That one’s as big as your head,” Tom teased, pushing Tess’s face into the mushroom.

Tess glared at him as the mushroom squished against her cheek. “It’s soft,” Tess grinned. “Can we-”

“No.”

“But you didn’t let me finish,” Tess sprang up next to Tom as he continued to walk forward.

“You were going to ask me to carry the mushroom. Then we’re gonna walk in the woods for another two hours,” Tom answered, stopping a short distance in front of her. His tail had gone still. “Tess, turn around.” His hackles rose.

“What’s wrong?” Tess asked, stepping up next to Tom to see what he was seeing. She clasped a hand to her mouth. They were in the clearing she had been in the night before. Strewn throughout the clearing were bodies of five people, brutally mutilated. “What happened?” she whispered.

Tom turned her around and walked her back to town. He didn’t let his guard down until they saw their first set of people near the docks. Tom sat Tess on a crate once they were near the ships. He took her chin in his hand and looked her in the eyes, trying to determine if she was feeling okay or not. “Tess, are you okay?”

Tess nodded, not sure if she’d be able to utter any words.

“Do you feel okay?” Tom put a hand on her forehead before placing it on her arm once more. He knew she’d never seen a dead body before. If his family went out hunting, they’d never show her the kills... not that they hunted humans, but it happened occasionally.

“Y-yeah,” Tess answered shakily. “What would have done that?” she whispered, as a few people walked past them.

“I don’t know, but I think I should go find a sheriff and report it,” Tom answered. He looked around the nearby houses for a sheriff’s station. “Do you want to come with?”

Tess looked at Tom before trying to stand up. She fell back onto the crate. “No, I don’t think I’m ready to move,” she admitted.

Tom nodded understandingly. He didn’t want to leave her alone near the water. He thought about the previous night. But he also didn’t want her to come with if she didn’t feel comfortable doing that.

“Feeling better today, Young Lass?” Destru’s voice called to them.

“Haven’t you shipped out yet?” Tom sighed, as Destru came closer.

“Not until tomorrow,” Destru laughed, clapping Tom on the back.

Tom silently groaned as he rubbed his back where Destru had gotten him. “Destru, would you mind hanging out with Tess for a few minutes?”

“Is everything okay, Lass?” Destru turned towards Tess, noticing she wasn’t as peppy as the previous times he had seen her. “You look a little green around the gills.”

Tess offered a small smile, then looked back towards the ground.

“Hm, much too quiet for my liking,” Destru scratched his chin. “We’ll be on my boat once you return.” Destru picked Tess up bridal style, making Tess let out a surprised yelp as she put her arms around his neck. “Time to cheer you up, Little Lass!” Destru took her towards his ship, as Tom stood on the dock in disbelief. That wasn’t what he had intended. Sighing, he turned towards town and started looking for the sheriff’s station.

Destru took Tess to his cabin and sat her down on his bed. “Are you okay, Pet?” Destru kneeled in front of her as he gently stroked her cheek with his thumb.

“I’ll be fine,” Tess gave a small smile, trying to put on a brave face.

“What happened? Did your mate hurt you?” Destru stood and walked to a pitcher of liquid and poured a couple of drinks.

“Tom?” Tess asked in shock. She took the drink from Destru as he handed it to her. “He would never hurt me.” She took a sip of the liquid, then promptly began coughing as it burned her throat. “What is this?”

“Just a little whiskey,” Destru smiled. “Never tasted it before?”

Tess shook her head no. Her cheeks were heating from the liquid. Who needed a warming potion when they had whiskey? “Destru, may I ask you a question?” Tess asked as she swirled the amber liquid in her glass.

“Ask away,” Destru smiled. She could only imagine his ears perked forward under his hat.

“What’s the Last Prophecy about?”

Destru looked out a window thoughtfully before downing the rest of his drink. “That’s a tough question,” he started, standing up and began pacing. “Nobody knows what’s in the last prophecy except for the Wilkolaks that guard it.”

“How do you know it exists, if no one knows what’s in it?” Tess asked, cocking her head.

“That’s the interesting part about it,” Destru turned towards her, beaming. “The Wilkolaks were supposedly killed hundreds of years ago. Yet you’re walking around town with one.”

Tess looked thoughtful as she contemplated everything. “But Tom’s just a werewolf... I grew up with him and I can’t think of anything that would be a prophecy.”

“He’s transformed when there’s no full moon, right?” Destru prompted, as Tess watched him go behind his desk to pull out a paper.

“Well, yes,” she started uncertainly. “But can’t all werewolves do that?”

“We wish we could,” Destru gave a wry smile. “Wilkolaks are the only breed that can. They’re known as witches’ protectors in our stories.”

“Why would witches seek protection from them?” Tess thought back on growing up with Tom. She hadn’t met another werewolf while they had been at his parents’ home. She only really knew what they had taught her.

“I don’t know a lot about the protection service they offered.” Destru looked thoughtful from the paper he was drawing on. “I know the witches were usually highly ranked or were important somehow.”

“Like a Priestess?” Tess asked, not thinking and not knowing why she knew that word.

“Exactly,” Destru smiled, standing up and bringing the paper with him. “This is what would be near the prophecy. Do you recognize it?”

Tess looked at the paper to see a picture of a gigantic bird holding a paper in its talons. She shook her head. “No, sorry. I’ve never seen that picture before.”

“Aw, it was worth a shot.” Destru’s face fell at this news.

“He’s in here,” another voice said from outside the doors.

“Thank you,” Tom’s voice answered as he walked into the room. “Tess, how’re you doing?”

“Better,” Tess beamed at Tom, she sat the glass aside as she stood up to give him a hug.

Tom looked over at Destru to see the paper in his hands. “What’re you up to Destru?”

“Just asking if she’s seen any pictures around,” Destru shrugged, crumpling the paper up.

“He was asking if your family was guarding a prophecy. Do you think we could ask your mom if she recognizes the picture?” Tess looked up at Tom’s unmoving face.

Tom’s features hardened at the mention of his family. “That wouldn’t be a good idea, Tess,” he finally said, removing her hands from him.

“Why?” Tess asked. “Summer’s almost done, and we’d be heading back soon, anyway. Why can’t we head back sooner.”

Tom bit his lip before running a hand through his hair, sighing. He suddenly looked like a small, scared little boy.

“Tom, is something wrong?” Tess asked, fear taking a hold of her heart.

“Tess,” tears started forming in Tom’s eyes. “They’re dead.”