The Hunt for Truth

Ha. I just remembered I had this story on here. I’m planning to rewrite it and expand it.

 

I decided today that, rather than just letting this blog sit here and do nothing, I could use it to show the world my literary talent and see what the world thought of it. This is a short story I wrote a while back, and never did anything with. Enjoy.

The Hunt for Truth

By Nicholas Holley

The sun was setting. All across town, shutters were being fastened, and doors locked, as the townspeople scurried home. Tonight, there would be a full moon.

Tonight, the werewolf would prowl.

*

There were two types of people who did not return home after dark on the night of the full moon; those who were too educated and full of themselves to believe in the werewolf, and those who were too drunk or desperate to care. On this night, there was one man who fit neither category.

He knew full well that the werewolf was real, and he was neither drunk nor desperate. Yet he stood alone, on a darkened street corner, unafraid. The werewolf was the reason he had come to this town. He was a hunter. He made a living tracking things down. Animals, criminals, monsters, it made no difference. He found whatever he hunted.

Right now, he was hunting the werewolf, at the behest of the church. And he would find it. That was what he did.

And he was the best at what he did.

*

As the last of the sun’s scorching rays gave way to the soothing light of the moon, there was another man who did not fit into any of the categories mentioned. A man who regarded the werewolf with more fear than any other, but was driven onto the streets in spite of it. Driven onto the streets because of it.

As the light of the full moon touched him, he felt the change begin. His bones grew stronger, and larger, his muscles swelling and stretching to accommodate them. His features morphed, becoming neither human nor beast, but something in between. His hair grew, and spread, covering him from head to toe in a glossy black coat.

He tossed away his torn and mangled clothes, wishing against all reason that he could simply hide until the night had past. As he leapt into the streets, bounding through the alleys and across the rooftops, he found himself strangely calmed, as he always was, at the sheer release he felt, using his power to the utmost, being as fast and as agile as he could be. The nature of his curse would not let him rest. No animal, however tame, will lie down quietly after he has been let out of his cage. He will run, and leap, and revel in his freedom.

As he rounded a corner, he stopped abruptly, only saving himself from falling flat on his face by placing a paw on the ground in front of him hard. There was a man. Alone on the streets, but with no scent of fear. The only scent he had was… alien. Strange. It was a scent the werewolf had never smelled before, but which some deep instinct told him to fear.

The human turned. It spied him. It reached into its coat, pulling a strange weapon from within.

The werewolf did not linger. He ran. He bounded through the streets, as fast as a horse at full gallop, but as silent as a cat. He paused only once, and looked back. The human was gaining on him. This more than anything brought his fear to life. Desperately he fled this aberration, this monstrosity that could pursue the fleetest creature of the night with ease.

He dashed down an alley, which ended in an unlocked door. Bursting through, he found himself in a small chapel. The human at the altar looked up in mild surprise. It was very old, clearly. Its hair was white as snow, and its face was lined with wrinkles, but its eyes were still keen.

The werewolf found himself arrested by those eyes, and crouched before the human at the altar.

The human placed a hand upon the werewolf’s head. “I can see much in you. You are not the killer that prowls the streets during the nights when the moon waxes full.”

He shook his head vigorously. He had brushed against the killer once, during one of his escapades. Recalling the experience with a shudder, he was glad it had never been repeated.

The human smiled benignly. “Know that you are innocent, and be at peace. You are not alone.”

The werewolf felt as though a weight had been lifted from his heart. He no longer felt like a stranger. This human understood.

Suddenly the door opened, and a sound like the crack of a thunderbolt rang out once, twice, and the werewolf felt a strange numbness in his torso. Turning, slowly, as though in a dream, he saw the man from the street corner, holding the strange weapon, from which smoke poured from twin mouths.

Falling to his knees, the werewolf was only dimly aware of the elderly human’s words of reprimand, of scorn, and did not hear the reply of the strange one.

He collapsed, the light fading from his eyes, as the hunter stowed his weapon under his jacket and turned to go. A final rebuke from the priest caused the hunter to stop, and turn for a final look at the creature he had slain. He saw, not a monster, not a killer, but an animal. A harmless thing no more in need of slaying than an overgrown puppy.

Was it a flash of regret that crossed his features? Did he feel remorse for the needless death? Did he only mourn the wasted shots? None of us can say. Whatever its reason, its duration was brief. He had seen too many tragedies, caused too many broken hearts, to be affected by this now.

He left the chapel, for his work was not yet completed. A mistake had been made, one which had led to the death of a creature that did not deserve it, but that could not be allowed to hinder his mission. He had a killer to catch.

*

The killer in question, knowing that the hunter would seek the werewolf, was feasting on yet another maiden who had strayed away from the safety of numbers. Its feast was rudely interrupted by the crack of the hunter’s weapon, and a spray of hot metal whistling towards it. It whirled, the shots passing harmlessly through its dark and formless body. Its mouth, dripping with the lifeblood of the girl, curled into a sneer.

The hunter reached into his coat once more, this time drawing forth a small crossbow. The creature almost laughed, but the hunter was already firing. The bolt was tipped with the shape of a cross, and dipped in holy water. When it struck the creature, it wailed and crumpled into a quavering mass of shadows.

His face hard, the hunter pulled a flask of holy water from his belt and poured it over the creature, murmuring a prayer in Latin as he did so. When the screams had finally ceased echoing, there was not so much as a blot on the cobblestones to indicate it had ever existed.

The hunter looked at the body of the girl, and this time his expression of remorse was unmistakable. This girl’s death was due to prejudice. The villagers had not known what was responsible for the killings, but had blamed the werewolf anyway. As the hunter later discovered, the wolf had been in the city for many years before the killings started.

His fists clenched, he took an oath before God. No longer would he hunt out anything that was not human. No longer would he try to stamp out anything different. He would hunt for truth. And he knew that he would find it. He was a hunter. That was what he did.

And he was the best at what he did.

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Filed under Fantasy, Short Stories, Writing

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