Part 5: The Strength of the Wolf
“Good. So, you know why I’m here. I was wondering how I would discuss the particulars of ending your life,” I said. I needed to buy some time and figure out a way to close the physical distance between us on my terms.
The advantage was his: enhanced night vision, superior reflexes, and enhanced auditory perception. He could smell fear. Any movement I made from a fixed position would betray me. Though disadvantaged, Rasool prepared me well for this encounter. Always keep moving and bait the jackal. Or, in this case, I’d have to bait the wolf. It’s not enough to visually deceive a Lycan, you have to fool all of its senses at once. Make them attack based on reflex, and then strike.
I lowered my hood and examined more of my surroundings. Gavin had selected the perfect place and time for our encounter. Paul Revere Park was a big circle outlined by trees and foliage whose pronounced auburn and golden color were evidence of the season. There was enough of a barrier to obscure our presence from any unexpected passersby. However, at this time of night, roaming innocents in this area were highly unlikely.
“You Reapers are so arrogant. To think, one of you could take me,” Gavin said. “Come on, boy.” Careful to not make any sudden moves, the giant wolf bid me toward the center of the park.
A creepy Lycan drawing me to the center of a park, if this wasn’t the ingredients for a trap I’m not sure what else was. Though, I needed him to feel confident. I knew all of his abilities, and yet, he knew nothing of mine. Besides, now that we were in motion I could bring myself into the perfect range to strike. I needed to be about six feet away from the beast in order to close the gap in less than a second.
Gavin stopped in the center of the park.
I stopped my approach just six feet shy, but heeding the lessons of Rasool, I kept circling around the Lycan at that distance. The wolf merely mirrored my orbit in a tighter circle in the park’s center.
“You aren’t the first Reaper to come for me. I’ve beat your kind before, boy. Let me show you how.”
I readied myself for his charge. My thumb was on the button of La Mano de los Segundos. He didn’t move. What’s he waiting on? At that moment I realized my mistake. I could hear the wrestling of bushes to my flanks. I stopped; a cardinal sin when fighting a Lycan. Several wolves approached making their way to the center of the park near their Alpha.
“That’s right, boy. You see now, don’t you? You’re not leaving here alive.”
Damn. All those murders weren’t murders at all. He was forming a pack. Fifteen wolves. There was an hour until the sun rose. As a result, they would try to settle this in the next few moments. Gavin played his trump card and now it was time for me to play mine.
Rasool says that my father could use La Mano de los Segundos, The Hand of the Seconds, sixty consecutive times. In time, I hope to surpass my father. But, for now, I’ve only built enough stamina for three consecutive uses. Moreover, since only Gavin’s name appears in my book, I’d have to settle this without killing any of his pack. Yet, they would absolutely aim to rip me to shreds. I had to strike now.
It was as if the wolves could sense my intent to move. Several dashed forward.
I pressed the button atop La Mano de los Segundos activating my affinity and stopping the movement of everything around me. My scythe appeared in my right hand, it’s chain connected to a clasp on my arm. The advancing wolves froze; some mid-stride, some airborne descending where I, their target, used to be. I advanced passed Gavin’s vanguard. Yet, there were still several wolves that stood between me and the leader of their pack. I needed to bait them away to have a chance at Gavin.
After the controlled second expired my scythe dematerialized. The physical toll of using my affinity was immediate. I ignored the pain in my muscles and focused on my target, readying myself for what came next.
The wolves landed at their destination and their heightened senses instantly exposed my new position. Gavin growled fueling his pack’s aggression. He and his rear guard turned to face my new location. Without hesitation, the previously advancing wolves redirected their new attack toward me. Those wolves standing between Gavin and me advanced as well coming within just a few feet.
With another click of the button atop La Mano de los Segundos, I activated my affinity a second time. My scythe appeared. The wolves froze once again. I barrel rolled pass them coming within just a few paces of Gavin. Still kneeling at the completion of my roll, the controlled second faded, as did my scythe.
Every wolf immediately started their advance toward me. The closest wolves leaped in my direction to quickly close the gap. Gavin, realizing my close proximity to him, snapped his head in my direction and opened his mouth, his fangs ready to impale me.
This is it. Breathing heavily, I activated my affinity one final time. My scythe materialized. The pack was again frozen; this time in an approaching wave of death. Gavin froze in mid-bite. I swung the blade upward through the Lycan’s neck, completing the cut just as the controlled second ended.
Gavin’s head, now separated from his body, fell to the ground. The connection to their Alpha now eliminated, the approaching and descending wolves halted their advance. They howled and whimpered, but none attacked.
My body was overwhelmed with feelings: exhaustion from using my affinity, and the new sensation of transference. The phenomena of transference separate Reapers from their extraordinary counterparts. By killing with their scythe, a Reaper absorbs the years lived of those they reap.
Rasool taught me several things about transference. However, experiencing it firsthand was beyond words. It wasn’t just the transference of Gavin’s two hundred and forty-seven years into my body, it was the transference of his memories. I experienced Gavin’s horror after finding his wife and children murdered. I experienced Gavin’s anger as he hunted his family’s killer, James Roy. And, I experienced Gavin’s fear and pain as the Lycan James Roy, The Gray, mauled him spurring his transformation. My body experienced countless emotions simultaneously. It was like a wave of heat rushing through me, and suddenly subsiding. How many memories has Rasool experienced over five thousand years? As my sense returned, I noticed the wolves sitting in a perimeter around me. There was one other thing that Gavin’s death gifted to me, the role of Alpha.
“Go now and live free.” I projected the thought with an almost instinctive awareness that the message was received.
Just as they came, the wolves turned and disappeared into the bushes at the edge of the park.
I looked down at the corpse and severed head of Gavin Whitley, now in human form. He was quickly decomposing, as is common with Preternaturals. There would be nothing left of him for even a rodent to devour in an hour or so. With my mission now complete, I returned back to the Constitution Inn. And, in the morning, I’d make my way back to Seattle. Though I still had much to learn to graduate from my status as an Apprentice. I was now a full-fledged Reaper, and one step closer to killing Brogan.