Werewolf: Tramp

Объем: 224 бумажных стр.

Формат: epub, fb2, pdfRead, mobi



The gray, scuffed walls of the place proudly called the Bar. Just «Bar». The only drinking place in this whole fucking town that I live in or don’t live in, I haven’t decided what to call my current state, for a month now. Yes. A bar. A place where they can offer you a job, feed you, warm you, or kill you with equal success.

In my opinion, so shed by shed. But I’m not pretentious. If there were no customers here, even this concrete box with a metal unpainted, sometimes rusty counter and several plastic tables would be a paradise for me.

But people spoil everything… As well as orcs, dwarves, elves, some zombies and similar evil spirits. It feels like I’m now living in someone’s fevered, crazy imagination, where characters from completely different movies or books are mixed up. For me, in this case, they are all people. Even that troll over there who’s drunkenly walking towards the bar.

Yes… I don’t want anything. Well, if only I could become completely invisible to everyone… they say that somewhere beyond the Dragon Mountains there are magicians who can teach me a spell that would be very useful to me. Otherwise… It will be the same as before I came to this world…

A sip of the local, cheapest moonshine, without even feeling bitter on the tongue, slips into the stomach. Another drink and you can go to bed, otherwise…

«Hey, human. The green troll hobbled up to me, barely able to get the words out, before shoving my elbow so hard that I spilled the rest of my drink on the table. — I don’t like you.» He glances at me, then makes his own conclusion.

Well, here we go again… eh, I didn’t have time to go to bed… Wincing, I turn my face to him and give him a contemptuous look.

A troll. Usual. He was about two and a half meters tall, with the puffy face of a perpetual drunk and fangs protruding from under his lips. I only wear a leather skirt, just like the Scots. I saw it on TV. Or not from them. I do not remember.

I don’t really care. I’m not doing ethnography here, but I’m trying to get so drunk that I’ll switch off as soon as I’m in the little doghouse that serves as my home. Here, not far from the bar.

You can say I got it for free. Yeah, inherited. From a local old-timer who also visited the region. True, he was like an orc. Or an ogre? I don’t care… the main thing is that I can live there for free.

«Trolo, don’t touch Human. — it’s already the local bartender who’s trying to save a drunk troll in Spopley, and for that reason a heroic troll, from doing something rash. «He’s already leaving anyway. Isn’t that right, Igi?» «he’s already here for me.

Funny, a troll named Trolo… I chuckle to myself. In principle, you can leave. The maximum that I will face is that I may be considered a coward. But I don’t give a damn about anyone else’s opinion. Here’s from my whole wide misanthrope soul.

That’s exactly what I was planning to do, but since the local bartender is trying to get me out, why not pay them off? With a liter approximately. Yes, at least the same moonshine. It doesn’t make much difference to me than jamming my brain. The main thing is to be able to fall asleep as soon as possible and not have nightmares.

«Yeah, Yorick. I’m leaving now. I raise my hands in a conciliatory gesture and pull away from the counter. «Give me a bottle for the walk, and I’m not even here.»

Yorick, either a dwarf or an ogre, I don’t know who the hell he is, to be honest. A man with a long beard that reached almost to the floor and was pulled back in a thick braid, he was no taller than my shoulder, but his fists were as big as my head.

And he fights, I must say, like a windmill. Yeah, he’s both a bartender and a bouncer. I somehow got under the distribution, well, it’s a fig, to be honest. Until now, when you remember, your cheekbone and the back of your head start to hurt terribly.

Cheekbone, because that’s where the bartender hit me, and the back of my head broke one of the tables after a short flight.

«Igi, maybe you shouldn’t. Yorick looks at me with some sympathy. — You promised to work for me tomorrow, and if you get drunk, you’ll have to give the job to someone else.» he makes one last attempt.

Hmm… I wonder. No, Yorick, he’s a great guy, whoever he is. He doesn’t let me get hurt if I’m not on my feet anymore. Yes, and a job, from time to time throws up. Pays really very little, but oh well. But you can borrow from him on occasion. I probably shouldn’t fight with him.

«Okay, I talked you into it. Give me a little more and I’ll go.» I push my empty glass toward the bartender.

«Eh… Igi, Igi… And why are you sitting here in our hole… — Yorick pulls out a bottle of cloudy strong liquid from under the counter, pours my glass to the brim. — You should go to the Empire, even if there are a lot of human beings there, but here your brethren are not very well liked. You can see for yourself that if you don’t come, someone will definitely get involved. he nods his head at the troll, who is listening blankly to our conversation.

«Who’s going to need me there?» I pour myself another shot of moonshine and ask the bartender.

The door creaks on its rusty hinges, letting in another group of customers. I glance over my shoulder. Ah… old acquaintances… The mercenaries are elves. Arrogant creatures, I would have strangled each of them twice. Or three at a time… I wonder if you can strangle to death, like an immortal elf? I’ll have to try it.

But no, when they see me loitering near the oni counter, they immediately change direction to an empty table, right next to the company from which this annoying troll came, smelling of sweat and alcohol

In general, everyone here treats me the same, with caution. Well duc… I, on the other hand, got into a fight with probably every regular in this doghouse for the first week I came into this world. He said it even came from Yorick, though he doesn’t usually get involved in fights between customers.

«And here?» Yorick turns the glass tumbler over in his hands, looking thoughtfully at the bottle from which he poured me the firewater.

I wonder… how long… here? And who needed me back in my world… Probably just her… the one who was there when I was slowly sinking into the abyss of being.

Who am I in life? Even I don’t know the answer…

If you had asked me about this three years ago, I would have said that I am a soldier of my country, called upon to protect the people from the attacks of terrorists and other enemies. Valiantly gave his health for the benefit of others, so that houses do not explode, do not shoot on the streets of cities, so that the peaceful sky above your head always remains so.

How wrong I was… I am the dregs of society. The society that my friends died for. A useless invalid with two contusions and a bullet in his skull that was not removed.

I wish I’d died back there, in that fight I’d completely forgotten. They say that he showed himself heroically, and they even awarded him the Order of Courage. Thank you, of course… And they threw me out into the civil service to live on welfare.

No, I wasn’t always a misanthrope. An ordinary person in general. School, sharaga. Then the army and the war. No one needs it. Not declared. who…

And even there, I believed in the people and the state. He drove his subordinates into battle, went himself. Sinking knee-deep in mud diluted with blood, but walking…

And then… Then there’s the fight, which I can only remember in fragments. I remember shouting on the air that the column was ambushed… I remember blood running down the burning armor of the BMP, immediately curdling from the heat…

I remember… no, it’s better not to remember. I don’t want to! I don’t want to and that’s it. But even then, when I was wounded, I believed in people… Until the last one.

I became a misanthrope later. When wandering around in civilian life, I met this sympathetic look… Like I’m terminally ill, or a leper.

How I received refusal after refusal, as soon as the employer looked at my military diary. And as the city administration clearly said: «We didn’t send you there, and we don’t have to do anything. You were going there to earn money.»

Creature… The sleek pomaded thing… I knew you couldn’t drink after a concussion, but I got so drunk that I fell asleep on a park bench. And the next day I got drunk, and after…

Six months passed like a delirium. I drank, violently, to the point of unconsciousness… Sold the order in a hangover. A relatively healthy, twenty-two-year-old boy. Which has become useless to anyone. Used material.

I drank, and I drank again… money? A hundred rubles is enough to get drunk — the price of a bottle of vodka. If I couldn’t earn money, I just took it away from those who had it. No, I didn’t steal. I wasn’t hiding.

I’ve borrowed from those sleek pontoons who boast that they’re not stupid enough to serve in the army. Paid off for their parents ' money. They had cool cars, and they were all Komsomol athletes.

What about me? What am I? I didn’t care… I died. Burned out. I hated them, and I hate them now, to the point of gnashing my teeth. This troll, smelling like a sow, is closer and kinder to me than the ones I once protected…

Fought… fought a lot… How did I not kill someone then? I don’t know… Probably lucky. No, not me. And to all those who tried to reach me, in a perpetual drunken stupor. He would probably have died on the street… But… then she appeared … Irina…Ira...Irochka…

I miss you so much right now, my little angel… So that at least a bullock howls at the moon… Where I am, what I do, who I am… why do I need a life without you?

«I don’t like you, Human. A whiff of alcohol washed over me, knocking me out of my memories.

What a bitch!? A veil falls before my eyes, completely disconnecting my consciousness from the outside world. I’m just a bystander now.

Who! Teeth bared, eyes bloodshot, I slowly turn in the direction of the one who dared to break into my mind with his vile voice, flooded to the eyeballs with cheap alcohol.

Yorick, who saw the change in my face at once, wisely ducked under the counter, knowing what was coming next.

The troll, clearly expecting to see a terrified man three heads shorter than him, frail, with his chlamydia obscuring his figure, and a build that could be knocked over by snot, recoiled to the side, his face changing.

And I don’t see the troll, I don’t see anyone. I can see the torn body of my would-be wife, who was carrying my unborn child under her heart. And the faces of those who had done this to her.

Majorists who played the game of omnipotence, hiding behind the money of their relatives. The cops who shrugged their shoulders — they say there are no identified persons and no witnesses. All those creatures that allowed, did not raise their children, closed the case for bribes…

A howl rises in my throat. An eerie, inhuman howl. The bar goes quiet in the blink of an eye, and the customers try to become invisible. Except for the group still laughing merrily at the far table. Trolls and orcs… immortals, I guess.

Trollo already seems to realize that things aren’t going as well as he’d like…

It’s not the troll in front of me, it’s all of them-the ones who made the mistake…

My body straightens abruptly in a short leap, unexpected and swift. It seems that this pile of meat, who thinks he’s someone else, doesn’t even understand what happened. Teeth sink into the troll’s throat, ripping through its tanned skin and ripping out chunks of meat. Salty blood trickles down my lips and into my stomach.

In a moment, it’s over. Although the troll’s body still stands, not believing that it is dead. Her eyes widened like a child’s, and she asked, «For what?» I don’t have an answer — I’m a misanthrope. I hate everyone.

But most of all, myself. For being like this. I don’t know how to fight and I don’t like it. I can’t stand pain since I was a kid. I don’t go into fights for fun…

I’m a killer! The beast! Wounded and angry!


The body I’m hanging on to with my teeth in my throat and my hands tearing at the stone body slowly rolls onto its back, finally hitting the wooden floor with a crash.

Silence, even if you cut it with a knife… even these freaks fell silent, not yet realizing what had happened. They just watch me get up from a defeated opponent. No, I didn’t have any feelings for him. He just decided to fight the wrong guy.

I am consumed with hatred. To all reasonable and unreasonable at once. It burns out everything…

My body begins to transform — my hands grow claws, my jaws lengthen slightly, making me look like a grizzly bear. I’m a werewolf… a twist of fate. In this world that I came to, after being killed in my home world, I became a werewolf.

The comrades of the troll I just killed, seeing such a metamorphosis, began to grab their weapons in unison. Knives, swords, daggers…

Too late… too late… I’ve already tasted blood on my tongue, and now I’ll kill anyone who dares to draw a weapon or just show aggression… everyone…

The mind tries to reach the body, but it is in vain. I can feel the hate directed at me. I can feel them wanting to kill me. THEY can’t do it a second time!

Snatch… The movements are blurred… the stroke of a sword flashes by. Gradually. I’m much faster.

Paw strike, yes, yes. There are no hands, only paws. Something soft and yielding under the claws. Pull as hard as you can. A piece of fresh meat remains in the paw. I’m hungry, I need to remove the hunger. Opening my mouth, I throw the flesh torn from the living body inside.

A new swing, a slant, and someone’s bitten throat is trying to wheeze under the jaws. Another piece of meat is sent to the stomach. There is no rejection. Right now, I’m a beast that hunts down those who hurt me.

The left paw burns with fire. Unpleasant… Looks like someone here has an enchanted blade. In an unthinkable bend, I reach out with my right front paw with five-centimeter claws extended to the offender and slash backhand. The fountain of blood that drenched me marks what I was able to get..

All of them? There are no people standing around. Only a few bloodied bodies scattered on the floor attract me with the sweet smell of food. Fresh meat…

I get down on all fours and walk slowly, glaring around at the nearest corpse. Blood… It’s so enticing, so maddening… I raise my head to the ceiling, where I can’t see the sky, and let out a triumphant growl, then start to eat, tearing out chunks of meat and gulping them down greedily, not even chewing…

Along with satisfying my hunger comes a sense of calm… the human part of my mind finally breaks through the wall of my instincts, and I begin the reverse transformation.


«So why?» Yorick greets me with that question as soon as I reach the bar.

What can I say? I don’t know… I look around the bar, which has become a slaughterhouse, and shrug. A pile of gnawed bones left over from one of the visitors who decided to contact the distraught werewolf does not cause any responses in the soul.

The only thing that bothers me is that I will also have to clean up the consequences of the massacre. Oh well, not for the first time… How come Yorick hasn’t killed me yet? I regularly let its visitors feed themselves. By the way, the fact that I ate a troll doesn’t bother me either.

I haven’t felt anything but hate in a long time. And thirst…

What’s bad about transformation is that you have to get drunk again to get to sleep.

«Did you mention her again?» The bartender asks, pouring me a glass to the brim of the same muddy moonshine.

«Uh — huh,» I say, nodding grimly, and then I down the glass of swill and set it down for the bartender to pour me another drink.

Yorick knows all about me… And who I am, and where I come from. And about her… My Irina…

She… She’s the only bright spot in the last few years of my life. Her laughter… HER smile…

Ira gave me meaning back in life. I stopped drinking and got a job. A loader, well, where they took it. We spent all our evenings and weekends together… And then-she told me about the pregnancy. I was so glad. It was like flying on wings.

«Will you stop?» the bartender looks at me sympathetically. — Maybe you’ll try to live normally already? «a dwarf, he’s a dwarf after all, and I think he looks at me with pity as he pours another glass.».

«Why?» I say, sipping it in small sips, not tasting it, and answering the question with a question in mind. All the customers are gone, and it’s just the two of us in the bar. And a pile of remains on the floor.

«For her sake. The bartender’s voice is suddenly firm. «For your dead wife’s sake!» — I don’t know what’s gotten into him…

Everything collapsed in one day. Exactly in one minute. The one when I got a call saying that Ira had been killed. Cruelly. They were bullied for a long time, and then stabbed to death.

Some suckers sniffed at the coke and dragged her into the car on her way out of the hospital. Scheduled visit…

Her mutilated body was found later. On the side of a country road outside the city. The investigator who called me then turned out to be a real man. Correct.

Although the case was slowed down by orders from above, he found out who was in that car. He found out and shared this knowledge with me. I don’t know what motivated him, but he did it.

I killed them all. I slowly cut them to pieces with a saw, listening to their pleas for mercy. Then he’d burn the bleeding stumps that were young bodies alive. I guess I became a beast even then.

But the story didn’t end there. I went to their homes and massacred their families. Under zero. Parents, brothers, and sisters. Everyone… no, I’m not making excuses, I don’t care.

The general who leaked the criminal case for money. How he begged me for mercy. Until the very end. While his body was slowly dissolving in the sulfuric acid tank.

I thought if I killed them all, it would be easier… No, it didn’t… There was a void in my soul that even my burning hatred of the society that had robbed me of the most precious thing in the world couldn’t fill.

They were looking for me… All the forces were thrown into the search for a maniac who had killed a lot of people with particular cruelty. Linking the closed case to the wave of murders that had swept through the small town was easy enough. But to catch a man who was taught to act behind enemy lines is not the easiest task.

They found me in the cemetery, where I went to say goodbye to her… He brought her a huge bouquet of daisies, her favorite flowers… There were no negotiations, no arrests. Just one sniper shot and here I am…

In this world. Honestly, I don’t even remember how I ended up here. Just a pain in my chest and I opened my eyes in the forest, which begins just outside the outskirts of the town inhabited by fairy-tale heroes.

«You think so?» I roll the empty bowl around in my hands indifferently and look up at the bartender.

«I’m sure.» Otherwise, why are you in our world if you say you were killed? Yorick stares at me stubbornly. «Maybe this is a chance?» A chance to start all over again? Would your Irina like to see you like this? he waved a hand at me. «Low, drunk, killing indiscriminately?»

I thought about it… Perhaps shorty is right about something…

«All right, I talked you into it. pushing the glass closer to him. «I’ll think about it, but give me another drink and I’ll go.» You say yourself that there’s work to be done tomorrow.

«Go ahead, just clean up the place first. Yorick pours the glass to the brim.

«Get a bucket and a rag…» I sigh heavily, downing the moonshine and putting the glass down on the counter, I start rolling up my sleeves. — I promise I’ll think about what you said

If I want to keep coming here, I can’t get away with cleaning up…

Chapter 1

What the fuck… Kick yourself in the head, you fucking freaks… they don’t give you a fucking chance to sleep. Right now I’ll get up and knock on the scoreboard for particularly annoying chiselers. So my head is buzzing like a bell during an evening sermon, and it’s also hitting the wall, obviously with something heavy.

The attempt to open my eyes failed. This is how I got so drunk yesterday that it hurts to even think about it… And after all, it seems that they did not sit with the Gray one for long. Or for a long time? Who the fuck knows…

Gray is a friend of mine from the days of sharaga. I showed up yesterday with a bottle of vodka. Mumbles something about unrequited love, snot on his fist coiling. I’m already hungover, and he’s here with a drink. I’m fucking hungover… That right now I can’t open my eyes.

Boo-boo-boo… Again neighbors alconauts that whether raging… Fucked up. They clean it out regularly, I warn you even more often, but one dick is all over again. As soon as they get drunk, they start interfering with cultural recreation. And why did I rent this room?

Although the answer is already well known. Nothing was cheaper, and with denyuzhki, as always naked…

I try to force my eyelids open, but I fail. Well, fuck you, if you don’t want it good, it will be bad. I lift my numb hand and push the lid of one eye open with my fingers.

Bitches don’t knock!

I didn’t understand. Where am I? Overhead are blackened rafters, on which lies a cracked sheet of rusted-through sheet iron. My head is buzzing so much that it takes about five minutes to realize myself. And all the time someone is knocking. My head’s going to burst.»

The attempt to sit down… succeeded. But it cost me a bout of nausea and an extra headache. Well, I woke up at the same time, of course… I wish I’d kept sleeping.

Immediately, I was reminded of all the shit that had happened to me since I’d returned from the army. Ugh, fuck… I collapsed back on the bed, which was covered with some rags…

Why did Yorick and I have such a drink yesterday… What makes me so flat. Okay, I need to gather my strength and get up. Ah, I don’t want to… and I don’t want to open my eyes. What didn’t I see there? Rotten planks of walls that only stand because of some magic I don’t know.


No, I guess I’ll have to get up anyway. Who would want me here in this fucking town? Fuck knows. Since my death, uh-huh, a scribe, paradoxically, but there’s no other way to explain it, and consequently I haven’t had much contact with anyone since coming to this world.

Except for those who tried to kill me but didn’t succeed, as the owner of this ramshackle shack, which by some misunderstanding is considered my home, only with Yorick and maintained at least some companionship. Ugums…

I look blearily around my little room. Mdya already… Even nothing to drink. There’s a wooden bucket lying on its side, completely empty. There are no other dishes in the shack. And there is no furniture. And in general, except for the walls and the rookery, there is nothing else to call my bed, there is nothing. Hearth what can I put together at my leisure?

I don’t feel cold, but I don’t even know what time of year it is. It’s warm, and I don’t care about the rest. Although… well, this hearth, I’ll die so I’ll die from the cold, there’s still no need to live. What is the point of striving for something and achieving it? Some freak will come and take it all away. And if there is nothing, then there is nothing to lose.


Barely able to get my feet under me, I wander over to the shivering plywood that, by some mistake, is the door to my kennel. Who the hell did you bring? If he knocks again, I will kill him, with extreme cruelty, slowly cutting off a piece from the still-living body. Or is it better to chew it off?

What I like here, well, in this world that is, although maybe such rules are only in the town, of course — if you are touched, then you can easily tear off the offender’s head. The only thing is that the relatives of this abuser can rip off your brainless skull in response, but this is at least fair.

Not that we have-do what you want, and if caught, so put money in the paw and continue to walk. The critters… Oh, it hurts to even think about it… And I’m thirsty, as if I’ve been stomping in the desert for three years. No, definitely, someone wants to go to the end…

Why? They broke down my door… yeah, while I was trying to get to it, uninvited guests tore down the thin plywood from its hinges and now a green face that seemed vaguely familiar to me brazenly looks into the room with a contemptuous twist of its lips.

Well, it’s not a palace, but that doesn’t mean all the green bastards can twist their faces. No, that’s what they want from me. They won’t even let you die with a hangover in peace. Ur-r-childbirth…

I’m going to teach you some good manners. Just let me hobble over. I’ll show you how to disturb a hungover werewolf… We’ve completely lost our fear, all sorts of trolls-nedobitki.

«Are you Iggy the werewolf?» — it feels like someone has launched a hammer drill over my ear and is finishing off my poor skull.»

«No, you’ve got the wrong door, Mr. Greenface. — why does he bother me?»…

«You! Exactly you! the troll who broke down the door to my kennel roared like a wounded beast, after a short pause, during which someone said something in a low voice from behind him. I wasn’t listening. I don’t give a fuck. Sushnyak torments, and here they are still with their stupid questions.

Imbeciles pancake! Ask any neighbor, and they’ll tell you I’ve been living here for a month. Ever since it devoured the previous owner. Literally devoured, not what you thought.

And there is no need to attack peaceful travelers who wander through an unfamiliar forest for a week without food and water. And that orc decided to attack me for some reason… Well, this is… I was hungry, angry, and all…

In short, the gentleman decided to rob the wrong traveler. By the way, the taste of orcs is so-so. Tukhlovat… Well, it’s understandable — the word hygiene is akin to a mat for them, and it’s not really possible to force them to wash their hands. In this regard, trolls are much tastier. Although the meat is a little harsh, but nothing…

«Not really. What kind of werewolf am I? I hold my hands out in front of me. «You see — I’m just an ordinary human. Got something to drink, huh? «it would be nice to have a hangover, otherwise my head isn’t working at all.»

«Uh… faq?» The troll, who wasn’t particularly intelligent, stared at me with a puzzled expression.

«Have a drink, I say?» My head is buzzing with a hangover and my stomach isn’t digesting last night’s dinner. «I belch right into slow-witted’s face.» — You’re still hammering away here, not letting me sleep.»

It’s already dawn outside the door, but I can’t see the sun yet, although the angle of the sky I can see suggests that it’s going to be a clear day. Pancake… How much sleep did I get? Hardly more than a couple of hours. Considering that Yorick and I had sat out, of course, after I’d cleaned up the bar I’d personally destroyed, until about two in the morning.

I don’t remember coming home, to be honest. Well, fuck it. Oh, that’s right, the bartender said something about work! At the same time and opohmelit. All we have to do is move the obstacle out of the way and head for Yorick.

«Why are you listening to him? A squeaky voice comes from somewhere behind the troll. — He’s the one who killed and ate your brother yesterday!» He, the damned one! I saw it myself. — the screeching prompter does not stop.

«Hey, human…» the troll tries to say something, but doesn’t have time. Because my mood is initially bad, it spoils faster and faster.

That green-skinned pig-faced troll is blocking my exit. It stands between me and the headache remedy, so to speak. Well, it’s his own fault, why blame anyone… That’s what I say-there’s no one to blame.

Releasing the already transformed claws on my right hand, I pull out one of the stupid troll’s eyes with pleasure, slightly straining. Oh, how he howled! I’d have to start a baton, at least, and that would be all. What’s the yell?

As the troll recoiled from the doorway and tried to cover the empty eye socket with both hands, from which blood was gushing like a fountain, I thoughtfully examine the torn eyeball, the size of a chicken egg, red in color, from which thick drops of blood are slowly dripping.

The troll’s howl rushes through my brain, arousing an almost bestial rage. Got it! But there is nothing to go without an invitation to visit hungover people.

I put an eye in my mouth, which crunched pleasantly on my teeth and slightly refreshed my parched throat, and in two steps I approach the howling mountain of muscles and, with the same modified hand, I rip open his throat, from which a fountain of warm, slightly salty blood gushes out. The annoying howl stops, and thanks for that, as they say.

Immediately, another blow that rips open the troll’s belly from groin to ribcage turns the fearsome troll into a piece of meat, from which slimy bluish intestines fall out, slowly spreading out in a heap in the road dust. I told you not to make any noise. What am I supposed to do with it now?

I look around at my convulsing body, listening to what I’m feeling. No… I don’t feel like eating at all. But I’m thirsty, yes.

I look around for a glass, see if someone has brought it, and then I get down on my knees and carefully touch the victim’s torn throat, catching the blood in my mouth. An unfamiliar troll tries to lift his arms, which are wrapped in ropes of muscle, but the strength that quickly flows out with the blood is only enough for him to collect dirt on the road.

The warm blood feels slightly cloying, but it quenches your thirst pretty well. Looking up from an unexpected morning snack, I get to my feet, looking around the cul-de-sac where my shack is tucked in. Empty, however, as usual…

Only at the far end of the alley, the heels of a black hoodie flashing, does the figure of a man quickly recede. It is a person, or as they call it here — a human. The werewolf’s vision allows you to see even some kind of pendant around his neck, thrown over his back.

It appears to be the companion of the troll who served as my water skin. The same one who instigated the big guy to inflict multiple injuries on me, which are not compatible with normal life activity.

Well, run, run, serdyoshny… And pray I don’t see you again.» No, I’m not exactly vindictive. Not at all. I just don’t like it when others are substituted to achieve their goals. For example, like this kindest-souled troll. Fallen victim to the machinations of a man.

Mda… The morning didn’t start well. On the other hand, why complain? At least they’d wake me up, or I’d be late for Yorick’s, out of work. Well, more precisely, I was not interested in the work, but in what I was supposed to do for it. Yeah… two or three liters of moonshine and some normal food.

You can, I don’t dispute, eat all sorts of unreasonable reasonable people who are always trying to prove the obvious fact — you don’t need to anger a werewolf who is not particularly friendly and humane anyway. But I’m afraid I’ll get an ulcer or eternal heartburn.

I sigh heavily… how I want to lie down and take a nap for a couple of hundred minutes more, but I’m afraid I’ll be late for the Bar. … I bend over the troll’s body, which has already stopped twitching, and quickly search it for anything of value. I’ll trade it at a junk shop a couple of streets down from the bar.

You can also go to Yorick’s, but he’ll start shaming me again, saying that I’m such a cool werewolf, and I’m begging for all sorts of small things. It won’t stop trying to get me out of this town. Now to guard the caravans, then, like yesterday, to some Empire there. And what doesn’t he like?

Personally, everything suits me. Sleep somewhere, hungry… Well, I won’t stay either, I think. Yes, at least if the remains of this troll are preserved, then I will have enough meat for a month. Booze again…

Some will say that this is not life, but existence. Maybe someone will be right. So what? I do not care… I died. Back in the morgue. When he took the tortured body of his beloved woman. Or when he threw a handful of dirt on her coffin.

I don’t know… I do not care. A sniper’s bullet in the cemetery only stopped the heart of the body shell, in which there was no soul left. My soul was rotting under a two-meter layer of earth, along with the bodies of my wife and unborn child.

Some weird god decided to send me here to suffer a little more? Like a maniac’s purgatory? The flag is in his hands. I won’t even flinch if there is someone who can prove to me that they have the right to deprive me of my existence here as well. Well, if not, I’ll eat it. Literally.

Beggar some troll caught. In the pockets only a couple of small circles with a half-erased image. Local money made from copper. Yes, a poor cleaver, which I easily bent with my hands.

And… a black sheep doesn’t even have a shred of hair. I shove the coppers into the pocket of my greasy jeans and walk to the bar with my cleaver straightened out for a more or less decent look. There’s no need to go back to the shack. The door that was knocked out by the troll is still lying inside the room.

And to hell with it. There’s nothing of value there. And hardly anyone will dare to come in. I don’t have a very good reputation… uh-huh. If something happens, I’ll eat it… And everyone in the area had already learned this by heart. A couple of attempts to squeeze out my housing ended very badly… so I don’t feel any concern about the unattended housing.

Yes, and the torn body of a troll, I think, will cool the ardor of those who want to take my warm, three times ha, place.

The bar met me with a closed door. Hmm… I don’t recall it ever being closed at night. Raising his head to the sky, he found the murky disk of the sun just rising from the horizon behind the clouds that had come from nowhere.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve never been here this early. Well… so Yorick, if he’s sleeping, is out of luck. I may also have wanted to take a nap, but they didn’t let me. So he has nothing. I swing with all my strength and kick at the metal door that serves as the entrance to the bar.

Ugh, bl…! I knocked my leg off. But the hum was enough to wake the dead. I can imagine the ringing inside right now. Wow! What the doctor ordered…

After waiting a couple of minutes, but still not waiting for any reaction, I repeat the kick. Only this time it’s not a single one, but a series. Just like on a drum. Only with my foot. Uh huh…

«Who cares?» Did you drink too much of the Elixir of immortality? a bolt clicked and the bar door began to open a crack. — Khu…

I honestly wasn’t going to do it, but… I didn’t have time to stop another blow on the door. With a savory slap, my heel hits Yorick squarely in the stomach, forcing him to swallow his sentence. Oops…

«How are you?» I ask him, as sympathetically as possible, as I help poor Yorick straighten up. «You’re th-sorry, I didn’t mean to…

«Well, Iggy… Well, hedgehog… well … " the bartender replies, wincing. — That’s why you’re nothing but trouble… One minute you’re eating my customers right in front of the public, the next you’re hitting me. Then what? Will you eat it too and take the bar for yourself? Grumbling, he makes his way to the bar, lighting candles as he goes.

Eh… I’d like to learn that. Yorick doesn’t even touch the candelabra. Magic, damn it… I don’t mind the bar comment. Well, to hell with him. I’ll blurt out something with a hangover, he’ll still be offended. Where will I get my alcohol?

«Why are you here so early?» All normal human beings are still asleep. he sits down in his usual place and irritably clarifies the purpose of my visit.

«I can’t sleep.» I shrug indifferently, plopping down in the chair in front of the counter. «Would you like a drink for a hangover?» The head is wooden, I will not save it. I make a plaintive face.

«Pour this for you… And then you eat my clients and beat me up. Yorick mutters under his breath, but pulls out a glass and a bottle of muddy moonshine from behind the bar. — When will they kill you?» — he’s the one who wants my health so badly, but I don’t mind.

«You can’t wait.» Well, cheers! I quickly empty the brimming glass of muddy moonshine and push it over for another drink.

Eh… and life is getting better. Thoughts clear up a bit. It doesn’t even hurt to think.

— no. If you get drunk again, you’ll go to hell. «Yorick, here’s greedie putting the bottle back on the counter. — I’m going to suffer losses again because of you. Hungover, and that’s enough. Now tell me why you’re here so early.» I thought you’d just get better this afternoon.» You’ve been crawling out of here… and, by the way, you’ve been drinking on loan again.

«Here!» I feelingly toss the coins I took from the troll in front of the dwarf. «enough?»

«Oh! I see you’ve made a fortune! Yorick looks at me quizzically, but scoops up the coins. — Where did the money come from?» Robbed someone again? he stared at me.

«Ah… it’s a long story,» I say, waving the bartender off. I have no desire to talk about what happened this morning. They’ll tell him everything in colors anyway. Although there were no witnesses, but the body is lying around. The locals will figure it out perfectly themselves. — You were talking about work yesterday, so here I am. I quickly change the subject.

— Work… He might have shown up later, but you don’t let him sleep. He looks at me thoughtfully, leaning his head on his hand.

«Well, I didn’t even think about it. The sun’s up, so I thought you were awake.» I shrug.

«He didn’t think… sometimes, Iggy, it’s good to think. Yorick waves a thick, gnarled finger in my face and instructs me with a wise thought. — And I’d lose less, and you’d be less likely to be touched.»

«What the fuck?» Well they touch and touch… They don’t want to live, that’s their problem. I shrug off the claims in a melancholy tone. — But you are blatantly lying about losses. All the trophies, by the way, you take for yourself… So there’s nothing to be pitiful about…

«Well, all right, all right. Yorick’s tone becomes more complaisant. — Are you ready for the big stuff?»

«Should I kill someone?» I look up at him blankly.

«You don’t have to… kill everything.» So soon there would be no one left in the town. he waves his head.

«Give me some water.» «if it doesn’t give you any hot stuff, you should at least turn down the dry air that has made itself felt again.

«What?» Yorick’s eyes widen in surprise.

«Give me some water, regular water, or potable water. Or do you have it for money too? «I repeat the request. Why does he start pissing me off? Just because my head stopped buzzing doesn’t mean I was filled with altruism.

«Ah… no, it’s free. Yorick goes into the back room behind the bottle rack. «Here you go.» he hands me a full ladle, returning just a minute later.

«Yeah, thanks. I take the water from his hand and drink it greedily. «So, what’s the job?» Setting the empty bucket aside, I return to the reason I’m here.

«Well, you see, people have come to me -" Yorick began. — They want to buy a batch of stones, but I don’t have any in stock, as luck would have it.

«Well, go outside and find out what the problem is. I shrug indifferently.

«haha… funny. Yorick manages a croaking laugh. «Not such stones, but…» he hesitates a little.

«Precious ones. I finish the sentence for him. Well, I’m not stupid, I can guess what it’s about. — What do you want me to do?» I don’t have them either. Just empty pockets.

«From you…» the bartender looks me up and down doubtfully. — Go to the one who has them and bring them here.


«Well, yes. the bartender answers my question.

«Hmm… aren’t you afraid that I’ll keep them?» — I ask a provocative question.

— no. And what are you going to do with them? Yorick squints at me.

— I’ll sell it. I shrug.

Yorick pulls a bottle and a second glass from under the table. — You won’t sell it. You’re not interested in money, I take it… I don’t know why, but it’s obvious. he pours muddy moonshine into glasses and slides one of them toward me. — With your abilities, you could already bathe in gold, and you only drink and live in a garbage dump…

I don’t even have any objections. I am really indifferent to money. Why would a dead man need them? That’s right, no need.

— Well, we will! «we clink glasses.»

«Don’t you have more reliable couriers?» Sniffing the moonshine on my sleeve, I return to the discussion.

— There is a way not to be. — Yorick admits honestly. — I just want to give you a little boost.» I like you, boy. — what I like about him is his directness. — I don’t know why you’re burying yourself. Still young, with his whole life ahead of him.

I think about it. On the one hand, everything suits me, and on the other — why not get some air. Look around. And… Yorick obviously wants to get me out of town for some reason. Well, then… I’ll agree… I will not quarrel with the only one, even if not a friend, but a good comrade, in this world.

By the way, since he is so eager for me to do serious work for him, you can also bargain for some bonuses. Even if it was whiskey instead of moonshine.

«And go far?» I scoop up the bottle and pour a generous amount into the glass.

«You agree, then?» The bartender grins.

«Uh-huh… persuaded, I’ll run…» I nod in response.


Yorick watched thoughtfully as the figure in the untidy robe emerged from the doorway, then sighed heavily and began to scrub the already shiny countertop with a rag. How many of them had he seen, young but with a burned-out soul, in his lifetime? Many…

They came and went. Some of them tried to swim out of whatever shit they were in, but most of them just drowned. Getting drunk and dying in fights.

This is the borderland. There are no laws. More precisely, the law is set by the one who is stronger. It’s always been like this. Yorick didn’t really complain. They didn’t touch it.

No one touched it, because it’s more expensive for themselves. The dwarves, and the bartender was a dwarf, always stuck together. Offend one dwarf, and a whole crowd of relatives will come to your soul. Therefore, everyone else tried not to get involved with the not so numerous, but very militant people who had taken over most of the trade in such border cities.

«He agreed?» a figure in a black cassock, with a hood pulled over his head to hide his face, emerged from the back room without making a sound.

Yorick grimaced. Adepts of Cleaners. It was at their request that he sent the werewolf on a journey through the dead forest, ostensibly for precious stones.

«Why do you need it, Magister?» The bartender might have liked Iggy, but it was more expensive to get involved with the Cleaners, or refuse them if they asked. The losses could be higher than the expected profit.

But he didn’t answer the question. And so everything is clear, if the person, or rather the werewolf in question, is not currently sitting at the counter, getting drunk on cheap alcohol.

The Order of the Sweepers, consisting mainly of Dark mages, necromancers, and other scum of the magical community, was banned from all states of Andalore, the only continent in this world where all intelligent beings lived. But here, on the narrow strip of no-man’s-land between the populous Duchies of Laudom and the Cursed Lands that had become so as a result of the ancient war of the mages, the Order had a powerful presence.

So, however, always. All those who are not allowed to do their dirty work in the civilized lands gather here in places like this small town, inhabited by various scum. Where no one cares about others. Where everyone is only for himself.

No, if it comes to a serious conflict, then the dwarf community, which has considerable support among the local rabble, will be able to knock out the recently seriously overgrown Order, which is already trying on the role of local authority, but… Losses may exceed possible dividends, so no one contacts the Cleaners as long as they do not touch serious people, limiting themselves to planting their orders in small villages

«Don’t you ask a lot of questions, dwarf?» The man in the cassock said coldly and indifferently. — Your job is to distribute the swill, not meddle in the Order’s affairs. Or do you have something to object to?

Yorick was a very calm, slightly phlegmatic dwarf, but he didn’t need to be rude like that. It’s one thing to ask for a favor, to send some outsider human to a pre-arranged place. Even if it was someone the dwarf liked.

But it was a different matter to compare the venerable dwarf who owned the only bar in the entire area, and who also controlled the nearest caravan route that ran along the edge of the Forest, with a peddler. Then a more restrained reasonable one will boil up, not to mention a dwarf who once led battle hyrds to storm imperial fortresses, and only in his old age decided to start a small but very profitable business.

«Watch your words, dark one. In one smooth motion, Yorick pulled a battleaxe out from under the counter, its sharpened blade coming to rest just a millimeter from the man in black’s neck. — I’m not some human being. Before you know it, you’ll be headless. Fury seeped from his tone. „Give me the silver you promised, and don’t let me see your brothers in the city again.“ Or did you want war, dark one?»

Yorick wanted the master of the Sweepers to try to pounce on him, or at least strike him with a spell. Ugh, how much he would have liked to remove the hidden head with just a light flick of his axe.

But, much to the dwarf’s disappointment, the dark one only took a canvas bag from somewhere in the folds of his cassock and threw it on the counter. It didn’t sound like it was stuffed with grass at all, but something metallic.

The bartender knew exactly what was in the bag, though. One hundred silver thalers of the Empire. By local standards-a lot of money. But for less than that, Yorick wouldn’t even talk to a member of the Order. He didn’t like them.

With a slight movement, the dwarf put the axe back in its place and pointed with his head in the direction where the magister should go, not even bothering to say a parting word.

The man in black hesitated, but didn’t say anything as he staggered toward the exit. Just inside the door, he turned his head in the direction of the dwarf and immediately disappeared through the threshold. Yorick thought he saw two bright red lights deep under the hood, where the eyes should have been, but he didn’t want to think about it.

«Here’s to the rest of your soul, Iggy!» the dwarf placed a glass on the counter, which was immediately flooded with muddy liquid from the «duty» bottle, and drained it in one gulp.

After pondering for a while about why the Order needed a werewolf who had only recently arrived in this area, Yorick went to the back room. The first visitors will arrive in a couple of hours, which means there is time to take a little nap.

He didn’t feel any remorse for sending the young human directly into the hands of the «dark ones». The main thing is that the money is paid. And Yorick would never worry about someone who wasn’t even a dwarf. And the fact that just a couple of hours earlier he had been drinking with the doomed man, talking about life, did not change anything. Just money…

Chapter 2

Tek-s… I agreed to take the dusty job. I even got an advance. Three whole silver coins. Well, at least Yorick said that the three worn, blackened roundels were silver. However, I have no reason not to take his word for it. Let’s take it as an axiom that he told the truth.

I wonder what you can buy for such an amount in this world? Somehow, during a month of stay, I never bothered with the question of local money. Well, I didn’t have any, and I don’t care. What I managed to shake out from those who bothered me, usually there were only coppers. Like that troll who woke me up in the morning.

Okay, it’s all lyrics. I got drunk, my head seemed to stop hurting, which means that the mood from angry and dissatisfied rose to the mark — first I will ask, then I will kill, and not vice versa. Which is very rare for me lately. Don’t know. Whatever.

To be honest, I don’t feel like digging into my own brain at all. There is only an impenetrable, dreary darkness of all-burning hatred. A gust of wind, bringing with it a drizzle of rain that was beginning to fall, tried to open my hoodie, which was thrown over the clothes that I actually found myself in this world.

Unpleasant, well, yes in Fig. I lift my head up. Eh… the weather, which has been threatening to be clear since morning, is rapidly deteriorating, becoming similar to my state of mind. Heavy gray clouds that have come from no one knows where, tightly cover the sun, turning the day that began recently into a gloomy evening.

Well, that’s fine. The maximum that I can face is getting wet under the beginning rain. Spit. Not sugar, not melt. I turn around regretfully at the bar’s door and direct my steps toward the cul-de-sac where my shack is located.

I don’t have anything to take with me — I just need to get dressed naked, just put on my belt. Just through a dead end leads the closest road to the forest.

In general, the task given to me by the bartender is not particularly difficult. Go from point“ A „to point «B», pick up the goods from the merchant who will be waiting for me and return back. Yorick was not too lazy, even sketched the route on a piece of shitty paper.

But the road that the dwarf pointed out to me will take me three days to walk, which is very lazy for me. Simply, the caravan route goes along the edge of the forest, without touching it and only where it ends turns to the side, skirting the hook and at the end abuts in a mountain range. Well, it was Yorick who said there were mountains. For some reason, the highway was laid out this way.

Actually, it is to the mountains that I need to get. There, judging by the map and according to the words of the dwarf again, some kind of settlement. You will need to find a local blacksmith, pick up a batch of stones and return back. Nothing complicated. It’s been a week for everything.

But! It’s too lazy for me to spend a week sawing on the road, trampling my feet. Not government-issued ones. So I’ll go straight through the forest. If I don’t get lost, and I’m still an optimist, I’ll be back in two days. Well, for three. But not for a week. The decision is made, everything is on the way.

As he passed his shack, he spent a full second debating whether to go in or not. I don’t have any things there. Unless someone wants the rags that serve as my mattress. Even then, I don’t think so. The body, or rather the remains of a troll, which I had killed early in the morning because of a terrible hangover, was torn up by stray dogs, who, when I appeared, did not even deign to break away from the division, interrupted by short fights and growls.

Just like always. Larger, and therefore stronger, individuals rubbed the puppies and bitches from the meat and greedily tearing off pieces hurried to fill their bellies. Scrawny scavengers swarmed around them, occasionally rushing in a desperate attempt to snatch a piece of food, attacking with no chance of success. I pass by, glancing indifferently at the painting.

Well, here’s a dead end formed by a high fence that looks like a rotten sieve. Like a city wall or something? I wonder who it can protect you from, considering that it’s obviously hastily made of thin boards. Ah… I don’t care. The main thing is that for me now it is not an obstacle. I pull one of the boards aside and dive into the opening.

The forest greets me like an old acquaintance. The familiar howl of the wind in the gnarled branches of the trees, the darkness under the canopy and the absence of people. Which is the best, in my unassuming opinion.

Soft springy coniferous bedding underfoot. Branches sway overhead. If you let go of everything, it seems that the trees themselves are alive around you. I don’t know… I like to walk here, enjoying the illusion of peace. Maybe to hell with the humans. Build a hut in the wilderness and live in peace?

By the way, I noticed a strange thing. Locals, for some reason, try not to go too far into the wilds. Even mushrooms and berries are collected at the very edge, in the copse. Maybe faith does not allow or taboo what? I need to find out, otherwise I might accidentally break something, and they’ll go around looking askance again. Well them…

I think about the mushrooms, and my stomach immediately reminds me that I actually had my last meal yesterday. Those trolls in the bar. Meanwhile, it feels like I’ve been treading forest trails for at least five hours.

Well, yes, I go to myself and go. Babble… There’s no one around, it’s quiet… here, among the trees, even the hatred burning inside me seems to fade into the background. No, definitely, you need to seriously think about moving to a permanent place of residence here.

I slow down a little so that I can bend down and pick a large mushroom with a white and yellow cap, about ten centimeters in diameter. I remember eating them for a couple of days when I first came to this forest. Quite a delicious meal. It’s a bit like kiwi fruit. The flesh is also quite watery and perfectly quenches not only hunger, but also thirst.

Biting off small pieces of my hat as I go, I continue on my way. I’m not afraid to lose my way. My sense of direction is beyond praise, like a straight animal. Which is pretty close to the truth, considering I’m a werewolf.

By the way, the understanding that I can turn into… well, let it be a bear. As the closest in appearance, although not quite. It doesn’t really matter. So, understanding came to me at the moment when I was attacked by an orc.

I was just out of the woods, in that cul-de-sac, trying to figure out what was going on around me. And here he is. No hello, no goodbye. He immediately attacked me with his fists, knocked me to the ground and began methodically kneading my face with his pood fists.

I almost killed him, and if it wasn’t for the opportunity to transform, my bones would have been stolen by dogs long ago. It was also the first time I had tasted the flesh of another sentient being. Yeah… like an ogre…

So, thinking about all sorts of nonsense and chewing on a mushroom as I went, I quietly reached the same clearing in the forest where a month ago I was transported by an unknown way directly from the cemetery. The memory of my dead wife made my frozen heart ache, and I quickly began to push my thoughts away, disappearing into the silence of the forest.

Why inflame yourself once again… It’s pointless. You can’t change anything. Emptiness, it is this emptiness that gradually takes the place of hatred. Just emptiness. Even in this campaign, I went only because even constant fights and murders have become familiar and ceased to bring at least some relaxation. And I’m tired of people, to be honest. Even if they are not exactly people, or rather not even people at all, but orcs, trolls, dwarves and others like them.

The point is still the same. Substitute strongly, push the weak one. Just like everywhere else. Well, apart from the fact that here you could knock someone in the face who touched you and avoid the consequences in the form of fines or prison.

Maybe Yorick was right. When he says that you need to live on… Don’t know. To be honest, I don’t want to live. It’s a pity that bullet didn’t kill me after all. I would have lain quietly in a wooden mackintosh with the one I couldn’t protect.

So I go to myself calmly, thinking about all sorts of different things and do not touch anyone. I just move my feet mechanically.

I smelled smoke only about a hundred meters away from the clearing where I had planned to make a small stop. Hmm… interesting… Where did it come from, like a thunderstorm in the last few days was not.

If it’s smoke, it’s probably a bonfire. I’m ninety percent sure it wasn’t a fire. A very faint smell, barely perceptible. The bonfire is people, but I have no desire to meet them. No, if I were hungry, it would be a different matter. And so… It is better to avoid it.

I’m just about to step out of the way to avoid the supposed place where the fire is being built, when I hear a thin, muffled cry filled with unbearable pain, as if someone is being flayed alive. Or… burned alive. The cry repeats itself, filled with such unbearable agony that even my hardened soul is shaken. Female…

That’s it, I definitely won’t stay away. Judging by the direction, the woman is shouting, right in my clearing. I mean, where I came from. From there, the smoke of the fire also blows.

The pin in my head breaks in an instant. Without even realizing what is happening, I am changing into an animal form right on the run, rushing there without making out the road.

On four legs it turns out much faster than on two. I burst into a small clearing in a whirlwind of debris flying from under my clawed feet, instantly taking in what’s happening.

My ears and nose were right. There really are uninvited guests here. A small group of five people, busy admiring how a large fire made of dry sticks, which is why there is so little smoke, writhes in pain a young girl.

A growl bursts out of their throats, causing people to jump out of the way in a panic. But I’m not up to them yet, so I take a single leap to the fire and with quick movements of my paws scatter the burning embers to the sides.

It takes at most a couple of seconds to remove the fire from the girl’s body. Well, yes, I didn’t put it out, but just scattered the firewood in different directions.

I look up at the victim and realize that all my movements are futile. In the chest of the girl, who looks no more than seventeen, is a slightly rounded face with burnt eyelashes and eyebrows, and with eyes frozen in deathly horror, the plumage of a crossbow bolt protrudes exactly in the area of the heart. Your f… leg…

Enraged, I turn around and jump towards the people who killed her. There’s a red haze in my eyes. The only thing I can do right now is kill. Without pity or discrimination.

Only now can I assess who is in front of me. Two pig-snouted orcs clad in leather armor, holding their traditional curved sabers. They look like twins to each other. They stand ready for battle, waiting for an attack.

On their right is a knight. The most natural, as in medieval engravings, clad in full metal armor. He has a more serious weapon — a heavy two-handed sword that he holds like a reed, slowly tracing a circle with the tip to distract attention.

On the left, an elf is hastily cocking a crossbow. Her face was finely chiseled, with lines that looked like they’d been drawn in a graphic editor, pointed ears, and long hair pulled back in a ponytail. He is without armor, in an ordinary cloth suit. A sheathed dagger is at his belt, and a quiver protrudes over his shoulder, almost completely crammed with crossbow bolts.

Where’s the fifth one? Had I imagined it?

Well no. Everything is right. The fifth hides behind the fighters. And it seems that I have already seen it quite recently, just this morning in the early hours of the morning. I sniff the air through my nostrils. Precisely! The same man who set the buzzer after I killed the troll. But how did he get here before I did?

I wonder what I look like from the outside. It must be an impressive sight. A beast, almost two meters tall at the withers, with a snarling mouth dripping saliva and teeth as thick as a finger. B-r-r… I would definitely be scared, and this would at least be henna. They stand waiting for an attack.

Well, let’s not upset them and keep them waiting. In my animal form, I’m already much faster than any human, and even more so when I’m in a state of rage. Lunge, knocking down the first orc with your chest, while simultaneously stabbing the second one in the throat with your outstretched claws.

I snap my jaws and the head of the orc I knocked down rolls to the side with its neck bitten through, but I don’t have time to see what happens to the one I hit with my paw. I know exactly what I got.

A whoosh of slicing air and I spin in place, barely managing to miss the heavy blade of the knight’s two-handed sword. Oh-ho-ho…

Look, it’s got a hundred kilos of iron on it, and it’s not much faster than me. I don’t think it will help him, because I can dramatically reduce the area of damage. Which I do, making a partial transformation.

Jump forward, roll, skip the whizzing blade over my head, and swing my hand with claws extended into the knight’s groin. Ungentlemanly, so I’m not in a duel.

The centimeter-long claws easily pierce the thick skin that serves as a kind of lining at the joints of the armor parts, ripping open an artery, from which blood immediately begins to gush. I jump back, breaking the distance. And then you can get it.

The sharp pain that shoots through my left leg reminds me that relaxing while there is at least one enemy standing on their feet is fraught with death. No, I’m not afraid of death. But it will be a shame to die without punishing the fiends who tortured the woman.

Ignoring the pain, I turn in the direction the blow came from. Heck! How I forgot about the elf crossbowman! He’s already standing there, cocking the crossbow again.

Jump, I try to switch back to the animal form on the fly, but for some reason it doesn’t work out for me. Only the body-as if it was put in boiling water and that’s all. And, by the way, I didn’t make it to the elf. Hm…

Looks like things are bad… But why can’t I turn into a beast? Well, there’s no time to think about it, because the elf has already cocked his gun and is preparing to shoot.

Well, that’s not so bad. I ran under machine-gun fire, it will be easier here. Swing the pendulum, from side to side, not giving the opportunity to aim and putting all my strength into the jerk, I get to the elf. A claw strike. All. Throwing the crossbow, the sleek handsome man tries to hold his torn throat with both hands.

Take a quick look around. So, the Orcs left at the very beginning. The elf twitches in agony at my feet, blood spurting everywhere. Knight… That’s stubborn. He can no longer stand, but he still crawls stubbornly toward me, his hands clinging to the ground, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

«Can I borrow it?» I reach down and pull the elf’s dagger from its scabbard.

I’ve been hoping lately that I can always turn into a beast, but this particular feature has failed. Disorder… So I’d better arm myself.

Heck! My leg feels like it’s on fire and starts to fail. It’s strange somehow… But I still managed to limp up to the knight. I bend down and, without further ado, plunge the dagger into his neck. With a final twitch, the armored man falls silent.

So, where’s that weird dude in the cassock? I quickly look around, but I can’t see him anywhere… Escaped again, you freak… I don’t really believe in coincidences, but here you are. Two meetings per day. Something’s not clean here. We need to figure it out…

Hell, I’d forgotten about the leg that was practically gone. I’d like to take care of it. But the fugitive can have a decent break during this time. The dilemma…

Although… let him run. It will be even more interesting this way. I’m going to clean myself up a bit and see how he can hide in the woods from the beast.

A malevolent grin, almost a snarl, cuts my face in two. I’m out hunting…

Chapter 3

Hunting-hunting, but my state of health is beginning to deteriorate rapidly. Some kind of cloudy film in the eyes, my head starts to spin, and my hands are shaking. What the fuck, my legs are practically unsteady… What kind of chase is there, as if not to throw back your hooves, after such an epic victory.

Without paying attention to the surrounding, frankly not very appetizing situation, swaying from the barely perceptible wind, I slowly wander to the edge of the clearing. I don’t know why, but I just want to be in the shade of the trees. A sort of near-death, feverish quirk…

The forest… now it reminds me of the «green» in the mountains, where I left my youth… But no, it’s still more like my native Ural taiga, where I liked to wander around with a gun. Not even so much to shoot some game, but just to disappear into the green cool ocean of boundless green forests…

I was only strong enough to reach the first tree I came across on my short journey, which looked like an oak, only for some reason with smooth bark, and not the lumpy gray color to which I was used. Otherwise, one to one.

A powerful trunk, with thick branches, on which it was quite possible to stretch out at full height and sleep without fear of rolling down, because there was a lot of space. The peak is lost somewhere far above, not visible in the clouds that have fallen almost to the ground. And I don’t have the strength to look anymore.

I press my back against the cool trunk and slowly sink to the ground. My legs gave out. It’s all very strange… I remember being able to walk quite normally with two shrapnel wounds in my hip, but here… A crossbow bolt of some sort, still sticking out just below the knee. I didn’t have the strength to pull it out.

Yes, and it is fraught. While the bolt is still in the wound, the blood is barely oozing out, but if you pull it out, it will immediately pour out like a stream. I don’t have any sterile bandages handy here. Yes, even ordinary green is unlikely to find…

My vision is blurry. Wow, I grin through chapped lips, how… stupid. He could have died so many times before. Yes, even in my own world, when standing on the grave of my beloved girl, I got a bullet from a sniper, but no…

I’m dying right here in this world. Strange, cruel, somehow wrong, but honest. Here, for the first time, I felt at home, at home. Here you have the right to respond to a blow with a blow. No need to turn the other cheek if you hit the first one.

It’s funny, I had so many chances to stop existing… Starting from the exotic-like quartering in the CAR, ending with the banal — just freeze drunk on the street. But no… This is all not for me…

I need to die in my own world with flowers in my hands, standing at the grave of the woman I love from a sniper’s bullet, be in these fabulous places and still die from being hit by a crossbow bolt in the leg… Thank you for not getting fucked up…

Although, to be honest, this would be the most logical thing to do in my case. I’ve been doing this all the time, through the wrong place. Eh… how many missed chances, how many were drained down the toilet, how many were just drunk

Even then, as soon as he appeared, he went back to his old ways — drinking, pouring alcohol to forget himself… In order not to face the truth — I just flushed my life down the toilet myself. Ira… how you tried to make a person out of me, all pulled by the ears… Sorry, but apparently it was all for nothing… I’m sorry, I didn’t live up to your expectations. I’m sorry, but I give up…

The soft rustle of wind in the trees, the first drops of rain. A mist rapidly descends on the forest, turning the day into evening twilight…

Someone’s barely audible whisper… I wonder who’s talking here. What’s the difference, I don’t really care anymore.

…Igor… Igor… Don’t sleep, you’ll freeze. Let’s go home…

A voice so dear and beloved, so tender and tender. It looks like I’m in agony. Hallucinations have already appeared.

She walks up quietly, her small feet barely touching the ground. Just like the last time I saw her, when she was still alive. In a light nightgown draped over her naked body, a slightly protruding, barely outlined tummy, making her even more beautiful.

The fairy from my dreams, funny and always joyful… I miss her so much. In my mind, I know she’s gone, she’s dead. But here he is… standing in front of me, batting his eyelashes and looking at me with those deep pools of blue-green eyes. So close and so far away at the same time.

I want to take her in my arms, hold her close, and never let her go. Joy and fear. And a little gratitude to the one who brought her here in the last moments of my life.

— Igor, well, how so… — a gentle, slightly sad voice. So native, so mesmerizing and warm. — You promised me you’d never kill yourself again.» the accusation in her voice.

«I’m sorry, Irishka… So it happened. I can hardly find the words. I don’t have enough air, my lips don’t want to open, but I squeeze the sounds out of myself. — You… you were killed… And I… I don’t know how to live without you… and I don’t want to…

«Oh, Igorek… What nonsense you’re saying again. a small smile that barely touches her lips and then hides in the corners of her eyes. — How can I die if you’re alive?» I will always live in your memory. Remember, my dear fool — that as long as you live, so do I. «A light touch on my cheek. The smell of a clean body, Irishka never recognized perfume. Intoxicating and reducing smell of the woman you love…

I always thought I’d have nightmares before I died. All the people I killed will come. But no. I don’t give a damn about them from the tall bell tower. So she came… My joy and happiness, my pain and longing. My failed wife, who was carrying my unborn child under her heart. I didn’t even know who we were going to have. A son or daughter. We didn’t have time to do an ultrasound.

There’s a lot we haven’t done yet…

There was so much I wanted to tell her, to ask her, to discuss. But what’s all this about…

Irina smiled sadly, leaned in and… my lips felt the warmth of her lips and the sweetness of a kiss. It is a pity that it was short-lived.

When She kissed me, She straightened up without a word and disappeared into the gathering gloom of the fog.

Somewhere there, in the depths of my black soul, ruthless and merciless, unprincipled and hardened, a black flame of pain and longing began to flare up. For so long, it had been in a compressed state, not released outside, and that only made it stronger.

My consciousness faded, drifting away into the distance, and the light flared up, devouring the body left to it by the mind. At some point, as if a string snapped, fire engulfed the soul, bursting out…

Throwing my head back, lifting my face to the rain-soaked sky, I start to howl. Hopeless and dreary. How wolves howl at the moon… In the last moments of my life, I throw out everything that I had previously kept in myself.

Pain, longing, resentment, disappointment. All the stuff I used to drink moonshine in Yorick’s bar. All the things I didn’t even tell Toffee… Everything that came before her… And after it… Resentment, lack of understanding why everything is so, and not otherwise… All this rang out over the silent forest like an eerie sepulchral howl.

The echo amplified and carried it for miles around, startling casual travelers who wandered to the edge of the cursed forest. Peasants in villages near distant mountains. Everyone in a row.

The howl echoed for a long time over the cursed forest. The howl of a dying beast… angry, dreary, and not promising anything good…

I don’t know how long I howled like that, sitting under the tree and staring blindly at the crying gray sky. Everything that had accumulated in the soul for many years spilled out, leaving a void in its wake…

But, a holy place is never empty… Therefore, in place of the pain that has gone away, rage and hatred come, which for a moment only calmed down, but did not go away… The words she’d heard in her delirium had fueled her all the more.

You can’t wait! Fuck I’m going to die! I will live!

For the memory of the one I couldn’t protect. Rage gives you strength…

With an effort of will, I reach with a shaking hand for the shaft of the crossbow bolt and pull it out with a sharp movement. The touch of metal makes my hand ache and numb, and I unclench my fingers. But…

As soon as I pull the bolt out, I feel death, who was already dragging its bony, cold fingers to my throat, recede. But most importantly, my ability to transform is coming back to me.

I don’t waste a second, because the blood that gushes from the ragged wound left by the barbarically torn bolt begins to gush like a fountain, and I immediately change into an animal form. I don’t know how this happens, but when you transform, any wounds disappear. Checked several times already.

I’m full of energy and anger again. And I have unfinished business with this company that decided to make a barbecue out of a beautiful girl. More precisely, with one of them, the one who got away while I was dealing with the fighters. Yes, and there are questions to it, in addition to the pioneer bonfire arranged in this clearing…


So, where should I start looking? The weather had finally turned bad, and everything in the forest was flooded with rain. In theory, the fugitive couldn’t have gone very far. Still, he has to move through very rough terrain. And even in the gathering darkness.

The only thing that bothers me is that this man somehow ended up in the clearing before me. And more than one of them, and I didn’t spend much time anywhere. I just sat in the bar for a little while, and then immediately set out on my way.

No, it is quite possible that I am mistaken and this is not at all the scoundrel who visited me in the morning in the company of a cute troll, who so successfully quenched my thirst and hunger. Well, and at the same time with his blood slightly softening the grip of a hangover.

Okay, I’ll think about that later, as well as this whole situation. Now is not the right time for extensive reasoning and reflection. I need to act, otherwise I may not be able to make it.

What is the beauty of being in animal form? This is when the brain starts working differently. No, I am aware of myself as a person. But all sorts of philosophizing, analysis of the situation, reflection and doubt seem to go to another plane.

Here and now I live by my instincts, only slightly directing them in the right direction. Therefore, I throw my outstretched muzzle up, and begin to sniff greedily, in an attempt to spot the trail of the fugitive.

The beginning of the rain, of course, helped him. Yes, and the time I lost sitting in delirium by the tree is also on his side. A slight sadness, at the memory of the visit, albeit a ghost, Irina touched the soul, but immediately fades into the background.

Now I’m a beast and I don’t know feelings.

After standing still for a while, I finally catch the faint smell of human flesh with a strong taste of fear. The mouth twists into a snarl… Now this worm will definitely not get away from me.

I suck in a powerful stream of air through my nostrils to get my bearings more accurately, and shoot off like a bullet. Neither the darkness nor the increasing rain is a hindrance, because I’m already on the trail, and now the prey won’t leave.

The rain hits me in the face, okay, okay in the face, and my muscles tighten pleasantly, playing under my skin. Hot blood rushes through my veins, stirring my thoughts. It’s a wonderful feeling of chasing prey, a sweet anticipation of the moment when sharp fangs will enter the victim’s throat, and warm blood, leaving a metallic taste on the tongue, will flow into the stomach.… Heady sense of superiority…

Yeah… it doesn’t hurt to dream. I was just beginning to enjoy a quick run through the forest burel when I had to stop. No, it’s not because I’ve found some adventure on my ass again…

I just caught up with my prey. He didn’t get very far… only about five hundred meters from the clearing where the dump had taken place. Right on the move, I shift into a human body, and manage to stop just at the very edge of a deep ravine, at the bottom of which sharp stones stick out.

And the fugitive… what’s a fugitive? There he is, lying there. Down below. The sharp tip of a stone protrudes from the back, stained with blood, and the intestines that have fallen out of the open stomach hang down the sides. So we talked…

I pick the ground thoughtfully with my foot, standing on the edge of the ravine and considering my next plan of action. Go on as planned to the village, completing the task of Yorick, or settle down for the night, and continue the way after a rest?

No, I don’t feel physically tired. The body is full of strength and energy. Even the bolt wound had disappeared without a trace. In general, nothing surprising. As mentioned above, wounds heal when transformed.

I remember getting my arm almost chopped off once with a battle axe during a bar fight, but nothing… I switched to the animal form and back, everything returned to normal… In general, this feature is quite relaxing, you start to feel invulnerable and lose caution.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened to me today. Presumptuously rushed headlong into the fight, not bothering to find out at least a little about the enemy, so I ran into… almost threw my skates away…

By the way, a good thing because, by and large, this crossbow. In light of what kind of world I’m in, it wouldn’t be out of place.

Another argument in favor of making a long stopover. I didn’t search the bodies of the defeated opponents. Yes, and the girl should be buried… I don’t care about these dogs… take care of the animals.

But a girl who is still tied to a pole with a crossbow bolt in her chest doesn’t deserve this. But how do I know? Maybe she does, but she didn’t do anything wrong to me. So I’ll arrange a grave for her, I won’t break it.…

So everything suggested that it was worth staying here for a while. And about the trophies won in a fair fight, do not forget. Not that I’m greedy, but I shouldn’t throw away the opportunity to raise money, especially if it’s literally lying around under my feet.

Not that I really need them, but they’ll come in handy. Yes, at least the same Yorick normal booze to buy. I’m sick of his moonshine.

Spitting in frustration at my feet, resenting the clumsy man lying quietly with his guts out, I turn around and walk slowly back to the scene of the carnage. I didn’t even change my identity. No need… I don’t sense any danger in the vicinity.

This little battle, or rather the fact that I almost died for the second time in a month, shook me up a bit. Yes, and the appearance of the ghost of Irishka… From the moment of her death, I never once thought about the future.

At first he was obsessed with revenge, and then… Yes, I simply existed by inertia, not seeing the meaning of life. Led the image of a sort of amoeba. I ate, drank, and slept. Sometimes he got into a fight, killed someone. Someone tried to kill me… No driving force. No motivation whatsoever.

Stupidly crawled to his death, burning in a drunken delirium. I don’t know what it was. Whether it was a ghost or my own subconscious mind, those words held the biggest truth I’d ever thought of.

As long as I live, Irishka will also live. At least in my memory. So, you need to make sure that this state lasts as long as possible. No, I won’t be any kinder. And I won’t get rid of my hatred for people and society, but now I know what I should at least try to live for, and not drag out a miserable existence.

So, thinking about the sublime, I quietly return to the clearing. The rain had already stopped, and a light breeze pushed the clouds aside, allowing the sun’s rays to pass through. I look up — it’s still a couple of hours before sunset, so I should be able to get everything done.

During my absence, the situation has not changed at all. The girl was still hanging, and the bodies of the soldiers I had killed were still lying in their places.

Where to start… Let’s start with the girl. It’s not a problem to arrange a search, but the dead girl confused me a little… No, I don’t feel any special emotions, but still…

I remember dropping a dagger on an elf somewhere around here… It would be very useful for cutting ropes. Oh! I remember!

I move quickly to the body of the man-at-arms and pull the dagger from his neck. The blood is no longer flowing — it was clotted while I was delirious and chasing the fifth member of the gang. I pluck a tuft of grass, wipe the blood-stained blade clean, and head for the scattered remains of the fire.


The firelight plays on the dry brushwood, slowly turning it first to coals, and then to ashes. I sit across from him, staring at him thoughtlessly. I must say, it took much longer to restore order than I thought.

Well, you try to dig a grave with a two-handed sword… In general, I spent almost an hour burying the girl, but somehow I managed. I even read a prayer. One-the only one that I remember in my entire life, and even then it’s not the fact that it’s right.

I didn’t feel like burying the enemy’s bodies. They don’t deserve this. It would be one thing if they were warriors, and quite another if they were ordinary sadists who tortured and killed a beautiful young girl.

So I simply stripped them of all their gear and dragged them a couple of hundred meters into the forest, then returned to the clearing, quickly gathered firewood and lit a small fire with a tinder box found from one of the orcs. Not that I really needed it, but it was more comfortable.

Right now I’m sitting here and trying to figure out what interesting things I managed to collect from these «comrades». All the things are piled up in one pile. It remains to decide where to start.

I think I’ll start with the weapon. Well… what’s so interesting here?

I’m not much of an expert on bladed weapons. So, I know a little about knives, but I read a couple of books about all sorts of swords and spears a long time ago…

The first to be examined are the curved swords of the Orcs. Yeah… even I know this is utter bullshit. Starting with the fact that the handle, made of ordinary wood, even not properly processed, and you look like a splinter will plant, it is inconvenient to hold… there are traces of rust on the blade… Yes, and it bends with your hands, without much effort… As for sharpening, so in general a separate conversation — to cut at least someone with an absolutely blunt edge of the blade is unrealistic.

It feels like they picked it up somewhere in a landfill and forgot to put it in order. No, as I said before, I’m not an expert in edged weapons, but I could sharpen it… well, and grease it with lard, so that at least there was no rust, too, nothing complicated. Some strange orcs. It feels like they’re not warriors at all.

Any warrior takes care of his weapons first, and then everything else. But this is clearly not about Orcs… Hmm… I wonder if they can be sold? No, of course, first to put a little in order, and then to exchange for denyuzhki. Uh-huh… find a goofball who agrees and trade…

Okay, put it aside. What do we have next? The sword of a knight-at-arms. Here! Here you can immediately see the care, and care, and… Ay, fuck! A cut finger, which I accidentally grazed the edge of a sharpened blade. The contrast with sabers is striking. Just heaven and earth.

Although there’s nothing special about this sword either. A bone handle wrapped with a thin leather strap to keep the hand from slipping. Garda, without any frills — a metal rod, crosswise attached to the blade. All…

Eh… this is also for sale. Or should I keep it for myself? Well no… What kind of swordsman am I? So one laugh…

Then we have the elf’s weapon. Here it is more interesting… Well, yes, it was he who almost sent me to my forefathers, just shooting me in the leg…

I pull a quiver out of the pile. So… one, two, three… Only a dozen arrows, plus the one I pulled out of my own leg and the one that killed the girl. A total of twelve bolts. Not thick, however… By the way, don’t forget to pick up the remaining ones.

Mine is still lying around the oak tree, and the one I took out of the girl’s chest should be lying next to her grave.

But the quantity in this case is not as important as the quality. The bolts proved to be very effective. I take one out and start studying it.

The shaft is made of some strange material that looks very much like bone. True, I’ve never come across such heavy bones, but maybe something was poured inside to make it heavier. For example lead…

The tip is tetrahedral, made of hardened silver metal, similar to stainless steel or silver. But silver is supposed to be softer… But where does stainless steel come from in this world?

Everything I’ve seen indicates that the level of development of local technologies is no higher than the late Middle Ages. Although… fuck knows what it’s really like, I’ve never been anywhere but this forest and this town that I didn’t even bother to find out the name of. Even Yorick’s bar has plastic chairs. And the metal rack is clearly not forged by blacksmiths. In general, I know that I don’t know anything about this world… We should take up this topic at our leisure.

So, I’m going back to the bolt inspection. At first glance — nothing special. The simplest craft. But somehow a bolt like this blocked my ability to transform. Or not like that?

Twisting this bolt in my hands, I do not feel any discomfort. But even when I pulled the projectile out of my leg, my hands felt like they were burning with fire. Immediately, no sensations at all. This is strange.

I need to find the one that hit me. And compare. Perhaps they really are different in some way.

With that thought in mind, I lean my hand on the ground with the crossbow bolt clenched in it, get to my feet, and freeze, unable to look away from what I see right on the other side of the fire.

No, I’m not a cowardly person. But… my skin crawls the size of cockroaches, my hair rises rapidly, turning my already not-so-neat hairstyle into a punk mohawk, and my eyes are ready to pop out of my skull and make an escape.

On the other side of the fire stands, looking at me with dead eyes with singed eyelashes, all smeared with earth, with disheveled hair and outstretched hands with crooked fingers, under the nails of which dirt can be seen, pale as death itself, a girl whom I just half an hour ago personally threw a half-meter layer of earth… Also put a cross…

Chapter 4

— B…E…Yes, on x… — other words do not come out of me, only a three-story mat. — What a fucking world this is! «I’m trying to cheer myself up a little.

The evening abruptly ceases to be languid. Something like this… I wonder if that’s what it’s like? Why the fuck is she alive?

No, I definitely don’t understand what’s going on around me. Okay, it’s one thing that I suddenly became a werewolf, and there are all sorts of orcs, trolls, dwarves and I don’t know who else living in the town. At least they’re alive and have blood in them. Well, yes, and killing them all is not a problem.

But this is a miracle-yudo… Well, it doesn’t fit into any framework. She must have been dead when I buried her. I wasn’t even bleeding anymore. Yes, and it’s hard to live if you have a centimeter crossbow bolt sticking out of your heart.

But the fact remains… Opposite me, a girl who had been dead for three hours was frozen in front of the fire. How this is possible is completely beyond comprehension. But it’s definitely the one. And the burns from the fire, and the dirt smeared, and the hole in the chest — there can be no doubt.

Maybe it’s a hallucination? Hmm… considering everything that’s happened to me, I can’t deny it. This version also has the right to exist.

What do they usually advise you to do if you think you’re sleeping? I think I should pinch myself. If you feel pain, then everything is happening in reality — if you feel it, then you are awake.

Said and done. Found a problem… I release my claws on my right hand, partially transforming it into an animal’s, and pinch my thigh as hard as I can.

Ah, Yoshkin root! Asshole, what can I say… I should have done it with a human hand… pinched it, pinched it like that… tore a piece of meat out of my own leg. I jumped in pain… Well, at least I didn’t think to bite, yeah… I’d like to eat something small. Hee-hee…

But the required result, even with losses in the form of a broken leg, is still obtained… Oh, I was so hoping that I was dreaming… by the way, I need to stop the blood. Well, there’s no problem here. A partial metamorphosis and now I’m as good as new, yeah…

All the time I was messing around with nonsense, the girl didn’t react to what was happening. He just stands there and stares, hands outstretched in my direction. Try to talk or something?

«Er… lovely lady, can I help you with something?» — I don’t know how to start a conversation with walking corpses, but we’ll try to be polite.»

By the way, I somehow did not specify why they were actually going to burn it. I rushed to save him, and then there was no one to talk to. Well, that’s what kind of character I have. First to bang, and then to think that it was worth communicating first, to find out the reasons for indecent behavior and all that stuff…

It’s too late now. You can’t raise the dead. Or resurrect it? I don’t like the soft crunch of branches under someone’s feet about fifty meters from the fire… I sniff… the smell of clotted blood

Looks like he croaked. Transform your face-animal vision is better suited to the gathering dusk. So it is, thoughtlessly pacing and tripping over the broken branches scattered on the ground, the man and elf I just killed are moving in my direction.

They say that if you meet a naked man in the woods at night, it does not bode well. And if there are two of them, and even deader than dead? Uh-huh… the situation was rapidly turning from incomprehensible, into the plot of a horror movie. I remember watching it once with Toffee. Either sinister, or the walking dead. I can’t be more precise. And it doesn’t really matter.

But the girl, if you follow the same logic — the most natural witch. But they’re supposed to be dying after they’ve been stabbed through the heart for good, not coming to warm up by the fire. Damn, this is an age-old Russian question. Are there any other Russians in this world besides me? No?

Well, then I’ll ask myself: who is to blame and what to do?

«Mademoiselle, I’m sorry, but -" I try to talk to her again, carefully stepping back and preparing to get out of here. I’m not a coward, but I’ve never fought a ghoul before. — Could you still dispel my doubts about the reasons that prompted you to stop by my light?

I think my words had some effect this time. The girl raises her hands to the sky and throws her head back, begins to mumble something monotonously. Trying to understand what she’s babbling about, I take a step forward toward the campfire…

Oh, for fuck’s sake! Lightning strikes the spot where I was, just before I step into the fire! The fur on the back of my neck immediately stands on end, and my back feels hot, even through my clothes… What’s that?» Did she want to hit me with a lightning bolt?

Oh, you little bitch! I’m just rushing to her rescue, not understanding crumble all in a row without even asking the names, and you lightning me! All right, you scribe is a scoundrel…

No, I respect women. I really love women. More precisely, one, but still… But you shouldn’t try to kill me. Here all my moral attitudes usually fly off completely, leaving only one instinct. And they advise me, if I don’t plan to turn into a barbecue, to urgently radically eliminate the source of danger in the form of a dead witch.

Uh-huh, someone else would tell you how to kill an already dead witch. Is there no one nearby? Sadly… Okay, I’ll manage somehow…

Jump over the bonfire. Right in flight, I change into a beast and at a good speed, still weighing a hundred kilograms, I crash into the witch’s puny body, trying to reach her throat with my fangs. Well, it’s logical that without a head, she can’t do anything? So I’m trying to solve the problem radically at one time.

Do you know that feeling when suddenly a concrete wall is in your way, and you don’t have time to slow down and crash into it with all the speed of a motorcycle? Head without helmet… Well, that’s about the situation I experienced for myself. However, without a motorcycle…

But the impact of the collision is quite comparable. What’s there teeth in the throat to grab! I was hit so hard that only by a miracle my neck didn’t break. But the buzzing in my head was like someone had stuck me in a bell and was pounding it with a sledgehammer.

But instead of mumbling, there was a terrible cackle that echoed through the forest. She didn’t even drop her hands, as if she hadn’t noticed my attempted attack.

So what do we do now? Once I’m firmly on all fours, I slowly start circling her, looking for a place to sink my fangs into… Well, or at least claws tsepanut.

Yeah, so save the pretty girls from the bonfire after that…

Suddenly, the witch howled horribly, her hair stood on end, and her face changed dramatically, instantly wrinkling and covered with bleeding sores. In front of me, in the place of a very recently young girl, stands an ancient old woman.

I even froze on the spot, pretty awesome from such an action… For which I almost paid the price… At some point, I became uncomfortable standing in a post and I make a sharp jump to the side. But I can’t completely avoid the lightning bolt.

The right side was pierced by thousands of red-hot needles. My muscles spasmed. The pain instantly covers the entire body, not allowing you to move. I hit the ground like a sack, unable to even brace myself to break the fall.

I couldn’t even open my eyes properly for a few seconds. More precisely, stop blinking. Every muscle in his body was living a different, unknown life, trying to escape from under his skin. It doesn’t hurt like a child…

I will definitely refuse to interfere if someone suddenly burns beautiful women at the stake. They are not grateful… Well they are in Fig… That’s what I think while I’m in pain. In fact, I know for sure that if the situation were repeated, I would do the same. Unless, of course, this crazy woman multiplies me by zero right now…

The pain is so unsettling that I completely forget about my most important advantage. Uh-huh… almost instantaneous ability to change the body. But this is a chance… While my limp carcass, dancing the bottom break, did not fly a couple of more lightning bolts. I’m afraid I won’t be able to survive this…

Little by little, the body begins to return to control, but too slowly. If I wait for a natural recovery, I will definitely not be able to wait right now. Therefore, as soon as I could collect my thoughts in a kind of heap, I immediately start the transformation.

Ugh… it’s really cool to just lie on your back and not move. The transformation has helped, and I’m taking control of my body. True, some veins are still twitching, but these are phantom pains. Bliss…

The smell! A sickly sweet cadaverous smell hits the nostrils, pulling you out of the state of nirvana and forcing you to open your eyes. There is no time to relax, from the word at all… That’s not a second.

While I’m playing the role of an opposum tasered, the witch isn’t wasting any time. She has already moved closer to me and is reaching out her bony hands with hooked fingers to my delicate, slender neck. I don’t think I’ll be able to free myself from the old woman’s weak hands.

And don’t let it fool anyone that she looks half the size of me. I had been deceived once by the frailness of her body. Uh-huh… so now I have only one idea in my head-to get out of here right away.

Roll to the side. Do not forget to collect all the branches and cones with your ribs. It hurts, however, still human skin is much thinner than animal skin. But I don’t care, not yet.

Rolling a couple of meters to the side, I jump to my feet and run as fast as I can away from here. No, don’t run away at all. Yeah, there’s so much interesting and valuable stuff left by my campfire.

I’ll give it up. Come in handy yourself. So let’s call my frantic escape a tactical retreat. Dictated by the need to find an effective way to confront forces that I can’t even understand.

Once, while tinkering with the witch, I completely forgot about two more participants in a slightly prolonged adventure, similar to a cheap Hollywood action movie.

Uh-huh, I’m talking about two of the most natural zombies. An elf and a human, both of whom I’d already detected approaching at the very beginning of the mess with Madame. Well, now, running away from a slightly overexcited lady, I chose the only right direction.

Exactly where the two bodies were moving from, slowly shifting their legs. Unlike the same witch, there were no changes in their appearance. Just two naked bodies covered in blood and dirt. The movements are clearly unconscious.

Her arms are lowered, her head bobs from side to side with each step, and her face is like a wax mask with her eyes closed.

I wouldn’t have noticed them, because the undead didn’t give themselves away when they moved. No pounding of the heart, no puffing, much less talking. Even the branches stopped crunching under my feet.

Here I was, impressed by a woman’s caress, running away at top speed, and bumped into an elf. Demolishing the already barely standing body. Somewhere in the background, the thought flashes that right now I will be finished off. Especially if all the revived dead in this world are the same as the witch.

Purely on instinct, I partially transform my hands, releasing centimeter-long claws and hitting backhand, not even looking where exactly the blow falls. The scraps of meat, skin, and congealed blood that drenched me almost from head to toe indicate that this time the enemy is quite up to me. Without paying attention to the intestines that were wrapped around my arm, the blow hit me exactly in the stomach, cutting it open from bottom to top, and I turn in the direction of the person.

If you can call a dead man that, of course. I don’t care, it’s more convenient for me. Hmm… these two are clearly not related to the witch. One step, two, and without further ado, I just hit the dead man’s neck with my outstretched claws.

That was enough. The head, pretending to be a ball, skips to the side, and the body, after standing for a while, falls over.

Ugh… it seems to have passed… So, what’s up with the witch? These two didn’t pose any problems, but it’s not worth forgetting why I do steeplechase at night in the woods at all.

Meanwhile, the witch… It doesn’t do anything. It has risen from the ground and levitates circles over the almost burned-out fire. Is he doing magic?

A shiver runs down my spine. The memory of how that madame hit me with a lightning bolt is as fresh as ever. But at the moment, I have a little time to try to come up with a plan for further action.

So, what do we have? A sorceress, or a witch, which isn’t really important, is one thing. Corpses, revived and dead again — two things. Ouch! S-bitch-a-a!

A sharp pain in the area of my right shin indicates that I’m putting at least one of the zombies on the final dead list a little early.

The elf I’d ripped open crawled up to me, his intestines trailing behind him, and bit into my leg. And his teeth are sharp! I think I bit through my leg until it bled… No matter how the corpse poison gets into the wound… there are no hospitals here, you can earn gangrene.

Yes, even an ordinary green card, I doubt that I can find it. Mdya…

While I’m still trying to figure out how to solve the problem, the witch, still circling the fire, does it for me. Another lightning strike, like some kind of electric generator, and now charred chubs are already in place of the elf. I didn’t get a bad jolt either, of course, but you can’t compare it to a direct hit… right…

Thank you, of course, but I think she was aiming at me, so quickly knock the burnt skull off my leg and run again… Ugh, that is, retreat, tactically, yeah…

This time I choose the direction in advance. To a freshly dug grave. If I’d known something like this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have bothered… Oh, if I knew the purchase price, I would live in… well, I would just live.

I’m still not sure I’m alive, considering how I came to be in this world in the first place. But at the moment, there’s no time to think about it. I run as fast as I can to the place where, just an hour and a half ago, I lowered the young body into the dug hole.

Why go there? Well, I have a brain. These brave five clearly knew who they were going to burn… and not for nothing, as soon as there was a danger that the lady would get her freedom, the elf immediately plunges a bolt right into her heart. Although he could have hit me in the back, I was a much better target in my animal form.

But for some reason, the shooter prefers the lady… and now I understand why he chose this particular priority. Although… if I’d been shot at, maybe all five of them would still be alive… although I wouldn’t have liked it very much, but now what…

Running through the woods at night isn’t my favorite activity, but after only falling a couple of times on the way, I still make it to the grave. Well, yes, on the site of the mound, filled in personally by me, there is a yawning pit. The cross is skewed, almost falling, but still holding on. So, I’m not interested in this, but in bolt. The one I plucked from the chest of a witch who still looked like a girl back then.

I fall to my knees and start digging my hands in the dirt. Luckily for me, the bolt is located fast enough that I don’t even have time to get smeared properly. Well, now I have something to surprise a strange woman with…

I grip my weapon in my hand and start back to the campfire without hesitation. Fuck knows what the witch is doing there, and I don’t want to find out. The return trip takes much less time, and there are no falls. Well, I just stopped being stupid and changed my eyes to animal eyes. Anyway, you can see better in the dark.

Nothing changes in the clearing during my absence. Only the fire is almost extinguished, only the embers are smouldering, reddish light flickering in the night.

A witch? What about the witch? It’s still spinning circles. I wonder why and why she does it… But I won’t ask the question by itself. I pick up speed and push off with all my strength, jumping on it.

At the last moment, the witch manages to turn her face towards me. And I immediately drown, losing my mind in the absolutely black, without a single gap, eyes that attracted my gaze… If I had run up to her, and not jumped, I think that I would not have been able to do anything… Because my body is frozen in a daze, and my thoughts run away in different directions, leaving only the desire to obey someone else’s will…

But! Even a witch can’t stop my body from flying. Let the hands fall limply, but do not have time to unclench. The bolt, which almost falls from my fingers, easily pierces through the livid skin, on which I almost broke my fangs, and with a smack goes into the witch’s stomach…

The delusion immediately disappears from me, giving me the opportunity to at least group up. The witch, knocked down by my body just above the fire, falls soundlessly to the coals. I push off at the last moment, meet my face with the soft coniferous litter covering the ground, and roll head over heels away from the fire, stopping only a couple of meters away from the fire…

Silence… skin hissing on the coals, hair crackling as it melts from the heat, and the smell of burning meat wafts through the forest… Romance…


Книга предназначена
для читателей старше 18 лет

Бесплатный фрагмент закончился.

Купите книгу, чтобы продолжить чтение.