The small group that had left the gods were almost a week out when the first signs of trouble had started to brew, at first it hadn’t been much, just an odd amount of rain, but as the water started to fall horizontally hitting them squarely in the faces, Dave was forced to call a halt, as they were taking two steps back for everyone they took forward.
“We’ll stop here!” Dave shouted over the sound of the rain hitting the ground like hail. As the group tried to array a shelter, only Russel seemed to be at ease in the weather. As if the storm they were in was nothing to him.
“We should keep moving kid.” Brutus said in his raspy voice, as he walked over to Dave, who looked up and wiped the water out of his eyes.
“We can’t, the horses will become exhausted at this rate.” Dave said as he looked at the animals. They were in worse shape than they were to his eyes. The beasts strained against the fence that they had been attached to, as if they feared something other than the freak weather.
“All the same, we’re too exposed out here.” Brutus said as he struggled over to where Russel stood watching over the horizon. For once looking at home in this place that was far from any home he had known before everything had happened to him.
“Seen weather like this before Olly?” Jeanie asked, hoping that this was weather that was maybe not common, but at the very least not unheard off in this part of the world. But to her dismay, Olly shook his head before returning to his stance of keeping his pale face towards the ground. Jeanie then looked over at Martin, whilst not as an expert on the north as Olly, Martin had spent a little time here before getting captured himself. But he didn’t look up when she called out to him, and like the others, Jeanie began to wonder how much of the boy was left.
“Little brother.” Dave said walking over to Martin, he was also not blind to the change that had been growing in Martin, although he was seemingly more at ease with it than the others, at least that’s what he tried to show, in truth, his youngest brother was starting to scare him slightly, ever since leaving the temple.
He was about to raise this issue with his little brother, when a sound came faintly over the pounding rain, it was quiet, almost to the point that Dave had not heard, but a look over at Brutus told him all that he needed to know on the matter, as the wear-bear seemed to have picked up at the noise.
“What is it?” Dave asked, whilst he knew that there were certainly mountain wolves in these parts, normally they wouldn’t attack a party this large, instead trying to pick them off one at a time. But this was different, the noise seemed to be moving too quickly for it to be from a wolf, or even a pack of wolves. Then something else came over the din of the rain, a faint clicking noise, which took Dave and Brutus of guard for a moment, which was when the nightmare fuel came over the ridgeline.
About twenty spiderlings, eight-foot-long, with dark red eyes came hurtling towards them at breakneck speed. Russel screamed and rushed back towards them; his previous sense of peace shattered. And even Brutus looked horrified at the creatures.
“Shoot to kill!” Dave shouted, although he didn’t need to, there was no way that the group were going to do anything but that against these monsters. Despite their enormous size, the spiderlings seemed to fear the gunfire as they didn’t come closer than a few meters away from the guns.
“We can’t keep this up for much longer.” Jeanie said as she fired her weapon towards the monsters. That was the truth of it she feared and the look on Dave’s face told her that he agreed with her, whilst they were succeeding now, they would eventually run out of bullets.
Then without warning, the nearest spider began to click furiously as it was lifted off the ground, its fellows took up the cry and clicked furiously at this new development and trying to advance further but halting at the renewed gunfire.
Turning around Dave saw that Martin was walking forward, the hood of his cloak masking his lit-up eyes. Although one hand was raised above his head.
“Leave us be!” Martin shouted at the spiderlings as he brought his hand furiously downwards, and the spider that had been caught up in the air was suddenly and violently ripped in half. Green blood poured all over the ground and its fellows seemed to get the message and skittered away, not wanting any further part in the action. Almost simultaneously, the rain began to stop as Martin walked back to the group and collapsed to the ground in exhaustion.
“Sparky?” Olly said looking down at his friend with concern in his eyes. Dave also knelt and felt for a pulse, finding one he picked up his brother and helped him back towards the camp.
Martin woke up a several hours later to find the campsite now fully erected. It was dark, well past midnight by his guess. And he heard the rest of the group in a deep conversation that Martin could immediately guess as to what the subject was.
“Who sent those… Those things though?” Russel asked, unlike Martin and Olly, his time at the prison had not cured his own arachnophobia. And he was seriously doubting if he would be able to sleep for the next week after seeing those monsters.
“My guess is it was The Shadow, trying to stop the kid from reaching The Iron Tooth.” Dave said as the corner of his eye glanced in Martin’s direction and Martin thanked the gods that he was looking the other way, so that the fact that he was eavesdropping on them would continue to remain unknown.
“Although Xyla did seem concerned when she sent us away from the temple, as if she expected this attack on us. Or more specifically Martin.” Jeanie said, remembering how the god had seemed, not exactly fearful but worried all the same.
“Yeah. Well, there is something weird about that kid.” Brutus said, looking around and whilst nobody openly agreed to that statement, nobody openly disagreed with it either. “We all know that.” Brutus finished as he gazed back at Martin’s curled up figure.
“How powerful do you think he is?” Russel said as the riverman looked around the group with a nervous look in his eyes.
“Too powerful for a lad his age.” Brutus replied harshly as he leaned up against a nearby stone wall.
“That god lady seemed worried about him specifically.” Dave said, he had been on the verge of disagreeing with Brutus about his brother, but he had to admit that the wear-bear had been right with his previous statement.
“Cause she’s worried, the lad probably has the power to overthrow them if he so chooses, I don’t know how powerful he was before his time in the institute. But combine that with whatever the gods did to him. Makes him a threat to them.” Brutus said almost too calmly for their liking.
“But aren’t the gods on our side?” Olly asked, that had been the whole point of them coming down here after all, to get help from the good guys. Brutus snorted at this comment, however.
“The gods are on no-one’s side but their own lad. They helped us, or specifically the kid because he has a chance of getting rid of a mutual enemy. But the second that they preserve him as a threat, then they will come after him. And I have a sneaking suspicion that they have already tried.” Brutus growled.
“So, you think the gods sent all those things that we experienced yesterday?” Jeanie asked looking at Brutus, she found it hard to believe. They had after all been safe in their company, it had been a brief moment of respite come to think on it.
“Not everything. I agree that those monsters were more than likely sent by The Shadow, or his minions, as Dave suggested. But the weather; no someone else wanted us to, not necessarily die, but halted for long just enough.” Brutus trailed of at this thinking it through. “It’s late, we should all turn in. My guess is that we’re all going to need our strength tomorrow.” Brutus finished and walked over to the campsite, and the others followed. Martin quickly wiped the tears from his face and pretended to be asleep whilst Dave took the first watch.
Martin woke up the following morning, feeling worse than he had the previous evening. It felt weird, he had hoped that his friends and brother would have been on his side. But after what he had overheard the previous night, it felt like they were as scared of him as everyone else had been. He was however, distracted from this thought with an even bigger problem. The wind had picked up, and it felt more like a hurricane coming down from the mountains compared to anything else he had witnessed.
“What’s happening?” Dave asked as he brought out his gun. The wind continued to howl through the plains and what little trees grew up here began to rock backwards and forwards, seemingly trying to keep themselves in the ground.
“Erm guys.” Olly said pointing and the group looked to see what the problem was and found it almost as once. The clouds above had begun to spiral around, faster and faster, the wind continued to gain in intensity as Martin felt himself being pushed almost off balance by the force of the wind.
“That’s not good.” Brutus said as he planted his feet into the ground, but as the wind continued to gain in strength to the point that even Brutus was struggling to keep himself upright. Before they saw it. A twister was hurtling towards them, ripping up boulders and other bits of the scenery and flinging them up into the air before crashing them back down.
As the tornado continued to hurtle its way towards the group, they collectively thought about running, before realising that there was no hope. Then Martin’s head began to throb worse than ever, he clutched his hands to his forehead as the pain continued to rapidly increase.
Which is when it happened. Dave felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, as a flash of white light almost blinding his eyes. He didn’t know how much time had passed, it couldn’t have been that long as parts of the landscape were still falling to the ground, as was Martin, his youngest brother glided slowly to the ground and looked around at the group. It was only then did Dave notice that both the winds and more importantly the tornado, had vanished as if they had never been there at all.
For his part Martin felt a lot better, his head was no longer aching, although he didn’t know how he had managed to hover in mid-air, the last thing he remembered was his head feeling like it was about to split open before all went dark and then he had awoken to find himself gliding slowly towards the ground.
“What the hell was that?” Russel asked as he looked at his friend landing on the ground a few meters away, wondering how powerful his friend acutely was, as well as how much of Sparky was left inside this new Martin Wolfrick.
Martin stood still for a moment, seemingly not believing what he had done himself. His eyes that had been almost golden at that moment were returning to their usual blue. He looked around, his three friends were staring at him with confusion, but there was something else in their own eyes that looked distinctively like fear. Martin looked at Dave hoping for some reassurance from his older brother, but none came and, in that moment, he felt more alone than ever.
Martin lay awake that night for a long time after Russel came in from his watch, an although the river-man didn’t openly say anything to him, or even look at his general direction. Martin could still feel the fear that came off the teen, whether this was another one of his abilities, to sense emotions, or if it was just instinct. It didn’t matter, the fact remained that Russel, along with the others were terrified of him.
It was in that moment that he made his decision. He would leave, he would leave and strike out into the wild. That way, when the gods came for him next to reclaim what they obviously thought that he had stolen from them. It would mean that none of his friends would be caught in the crossfire, like they had been this time around.
He quickly gathered what little possessions he had and gently opened the tent flap and got out. The camp was quiet, with the exception of Olly’s snores which ripped through the quiet air like a gunshot in contrast to the almost silence of the other tents. Martin thought about which way to go, as no doubt his older brother would come out after him the second the camp woke up and found his tent deserted. He decided to head back the way he had come, ‘If the gods wanted him, he would try and make it easy for them, the sooner the better as well. At least then the pain would be over.’ Martin thought to himself, before taking a few steps forward on his new route as a voice called out to him from the shadows.
“Going somewhere kid?” Brutus said from somewhere in the darkness, making Martin jump in surprise, he turned around to see the wear-bear towering over him. If anything, Brutus looked more dangerous at night than he did in the day.
“You wouldn’t understand.” Martin said as he turned around and continued to head towards the distance. He had made up his mind, it had been stupid off him to allow his friends to come on this mission with him, and he was going to rectify that mistake before any of them got hurt by him.
“What? That you are afraid that you’re going to hurt them by continuing to be in their presence. Yeah, I wonder what that’s like?” Brutus asked, whilst it was a question that made Martin turn around, he didn’t fail to realise the element of sarcasm that the wear-bear injected into the statement as well.
“You’re different, you can control yourself.” Martin replied, he had not wanted any of this after all. And more importantly, he had no way of controlling his power, he had not decided to stop, it had stopped itself without his consent. Both with the spiderling and the hurricane, it was as if it was someone else inside his body, not him.
“Now I can. That is the truth of the matter.” Brutus said, and even in the darkness of the night. Martin could see a look pass through the tall man’s black eyes. “But I have only recently managed to do this. Years ago, decades ago in fact. When I was still living with you humans, I lost control of my ability and the resulting actions caused me to kill three people, and injure the gods only know how many more.” Brutus continued and despite himself Martin found it hard to go ahead with his plan to leave as Brutus continued to tell his story. “I did the same as you want to do now kid.” Brutus finished, looking for the first time genially sad, it was a strange look on the battle-scarred face.
“Yeah but. They don’t want me with them, they’re scared of…” Martin started but Brutus interrupted him on that one.
“…Of you. What did you expect kid? That they weren’t going to be terrified. You stopped a tornado with your mind and ripped a powerfully magical creature in half as if it was nothing, what did you think was going to happen.” Brutus started. At this Martin looked at the ground and wiped a tear out of his eye. “That being said. They’re still here aren’t they. They haven’t abandoned you. Think on that kid before you decide to run off.” Brutus said and before Martin could react, the wear-bear turned and returned to the small camp, leaving Martin feeling worse than he had done when he had decided to leave a few hours before.