The werewolf hunters were not the only mountain travelers taking refuge in the storm. A magician leaned down to the smoldering earth to pick up a burning stick nearly incinerated from a recent bolt of lightning. In the moments when he picked up the branch he felt the familiar rush of energy. Conundrum thought it was a strange feeling to reencounter magic. It was like meeting an old acquaintance with a fickle nature.

The magician knew there was something odd happening around him. He stood in a clearing that was entirely burned out. Only his shadow remained on the branded soil. There was a bothersome smell in the air that made him sweat. Conundrum pocketed his wand. It felt lukewarm inside the folds of his cloak. Somehow, having a new relationship with magic gave him the strength to manage his fear. Out from the trees walked a werewolf of magnificent proportions. It walked on two feet like a man, possessing an understanding of magic in its bitterly poisoned eyes. Bane moved toward Conundrum at the full height of its legendary proportions. The Lord of Werewolves stood twelve feet in height. Every exposed layer of grey sinewy muscle spoke of its strength. The beast addressed the magician in a hushed growl.

“Who gave you permission to walk in my forest?”

“I’m aware that I’m a stranger in these parts. Let me ask you directions so that I can find my way home,” suggested Conundrum.

 “You’re obviously lost and confused. I could make you one of my followers, but you must swear your allegiance,” demanded Bane.

“And what if I refuse?”

“My sons and daughters need to eat human flesh. They’ve gone without food since our last killing.”

“I’d rather join your pack of wolves.”

“You speak like a true survivor; you’re half wolf already. This clearing is the perfect place for our ceremony.” Bane raised his monstrous head toward the heavens and howled. Human figures walked forth from the shadows of the forest.

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