Midtown Grove was in the middle of Voliguard. It was unlike any other district of the city. Expansive gardens and paths were carved throughout the district, tall shrubberies and other foliage dotted the landscape.
It was as if someone had found the only place on KA-87 that allowed anything to grow. They hadn’t. Instead, the entire place was an elaborate hoax. The shrubbery along with everything else was an illusion.
As Helka and Jayce walked through the area, Helka brought Jayce up to speed. She turned to him and said, “It’s rumored, no one knows for sure, but Arn Two-Hammers developed this city. During a feast, he declared this city monotonous. The Elves created the illusions you see here to break up the sameness of the city.”
“Huh,” Jayce responded.
“You’re not impressed?”
“Eh, it’s fine. I guess.”
“Why do you not like the story?”
“Because humans are the same way, I reckon. We’re never satisfied with how things are, and constantly want to change things we don’t like.”
“Our bodies, cities, homes, anything. Nothing is off limits.”
“Hmm,” Helka responded, her brow furrowed underneath the weight of her thoughts. Jayce glanced at her. At no time had the dwarf exhibited an ability to consider matters on a deeper level. This new development startled him.
They came upon a modest home complete with a shed that sat off to the left of the main building. Helka came to a stop at the end of the walkway.
“We’re here. Kegger sent a courier out here last night and informed the owner to vacate the area.” She lifted the massive warhammer and held it by the end of the handle. “I’m going through the front door of the shed. You take the high ground and cover me.”
Jayce gave her a nod and surveyed the area. Just like on Earth, the shed came with a loft. He pointed at it, and Helka nodded. She waited until I began to climb to the loft before she opened the door.
Howls, maddening howls cut the early morning air as the door swung open. In the semi-darkness, I saw red eyes. I brought Malice up and took aim when underneath him he heard another roar.
It was Helka. Her war cry sounded throughout the shed, and Jayce let an arrow fly. The air struck true, and Helka charged into the fray. Wolves, not the small type from Earth, massive, slobbering hounds, with blood covered fangs bared, leapt toward Helka.
I let Malice sing. I unleashed six arrows, each one slamming into the side of the Alpha. Helka slammed a broad shoulder into one wolf and sent it flying. A dull thud, followed by a sickening crunch of the hammer caving in the head of another sounded throughout the barn. While Helka spun the hammer in a wide maneuver, the Alpha circled to her open back.
As it leapt at Helka, its mouth wide for Helka’s neck, I fired an arrow that buried into the head of the wolf. It crashed to the earth and landed at the feet of Helka. Blood covered her face, a wild grin spread across her face as she looked at the arrow that protruded from the skull of the animal.
She lifted her eyes toward the loft and gave me a nod. I nodded back and climbed down to join her. Helka extended her hand toward me. “That’s good shooting,” she shouted, slamming her hand on my back. “Dang good shooting, Jayce. I’d been a goner if you hadn’t struck him in the head.”
Helka handed me a blade. It was made of a black stone-like material, its craftsmanship unequalled by anything I’d ever seen before. “Here,” she said, as she thrust the blade toward me. “You’ve earned this. It’s from the war. The metal is made from bloodstone from the Bloodless Sands. I don’t know this for a fact, but they say it never grows dull.”
“You’re welcome, Jayce. You killed the Alpha, take his head as a trophy.”
“Why, what’s the point of that?”
She laughed and slammed another heavy hand into my back. “Proof, trainee. You must show proof the deed is done. Take his head.”
I cut the head off the Alpha and put it into my pack. We walked out of the shed, the family that issued the contract stood on the stoop of the house and watched us leave. Helka tossed a wave at them, and together we headed back to The House of The Wolves.