“Aand we’re done!” Essairyn announced as she placed her hands on her hips and examined their work.
It had only taken them an hour to repair the seven meter stretch of fence. Essairyn had cut down and transported a tree from the nearby forest with magic, and then they tested their enhanced physical strength by chopping the wood with the Welfort’s axe. Needless to say, they and the Welforts were thoroughly impressed. By now, however, it was well past six. So, Mrs. Welfort called them inside for dinner.
The farmhouse was cozy and rustic inside with pastel painted wooden furniture and iron utensils. Several handmade toys and a picture frame rested atop the fireplace mantle. They both suggested that a family of five used to live here.
“Beef or chicken?” Mrs. Welfort asked as she stirred a pot of hearty stew.
“Beef!” Essairyn immediately answered with her eyes shining in anticipation.
Darren gave a small laugh and agreed, “Beef sounds good.”
Mrs. Welfort smiled jovially. It was a long time since her children had grown up and left, and she missed the laughter and excitement that used to ring throughout the house. Even though they had welcomed many adventurers and merchants traveling to Byar’non, it wasn’t often that their visitors were this young. The two youths reminded her of their youngest a few years before she had gotten married. It seemed like it had all passed by so fast, but the memories of those days were still vivid and alive.
The sound of her husband’s distressed voice brought Mrs. Welfort out of her reminiscence. With her ladle still in hand, she rushed over to the door as it burst open to an apprehensive Mr. Welfort.
“The wolves are back,” he shouted as he pointed toward the woods, “They look like the same ones from the other night, but there’s something off about these. They’re are emitting a strange aura, and there’re even more of them than from before.”
Mrs. Welfort furrowed her brows in unease. Essairyn and Darren exchanged alarmed glances while Akari narrowed her eyes. They looked past Mr. Welfort’s arm and spied the horde of wolves racing erratically toward the farm. Their eyes glowed red, and dark shadows like grainy smoke hung over their bodies.
“I couldn’t get all the animals inside in time, so I had to close the barn doors. Hopefully the wolves will just run past like last night and won’t harm them. However, I’m concerned about the crazed look in their eyes..” Mr. Welfort voiced tensely as he reached to close the front door.
“Wait, you’re just going to leave them out there?” Essairyn blurted out as she impeded the door from closing. The manic wolves reminded her of the previous beast demons she had come across.
“Unfortunately yes, I have to protect as many as I’m can,” the man replied regrettably.
Essairyn’s eyes shot back and forth between the quickly approaching wolves and remaining animals. A plan of action to save them was already forming in her mind.
Everyone turned at Akari’s abrupt words. “I wouldn’t go out there. Those wolves are demonically possessed and out to kill. There’s a lot of them to handle, and you’ll have to deal with any escaping demons.”
“Possessed?” Essairyn echoed.
Akari nodded gravely. “First tier demons aren’t very dangerous on their own, but they’re capable of possessing other creatures. Unless the demon leaves the body on its own, you’ll have to killed the creature being possessed. Also, ordinary wolves are intelligent, born predators. Possession grants them magical abilities, making them more formidable.”
Essairyn frowned. This was now the fourth demon disturbance since entering this world. And in all four cases, it seemed that the occurrences were out of the ordinary. Could they be connected somehow? She looked over at Akari. It can’t be you, right..? She turned to Mr. Welfort. “I’ll stop them, so can you herd the rest of the animals back inside?”
The man gaped at her in shock for even bringing up the idea to fight against them. “You heard what she just said; you shouldn’t go out there! Even though you have strong magical abilities, you’re still only a human!” he protested. In all his years, he had never come across such an audacious adventurer as Essairyn.
“Don’t worry, I can handle this,” she assured with a grim smile. In truth, she was a little concerned about the large number of wolves—it looked like there were at least fifty. She had only dealt with large demons one-on-one, but she figured each one individually wouldn’t take much to defeat. Besides, the thought of taking on so many actually enlivened her.
“Then if you’re going to do that, is there any way I can help?” Darren asked.
Essairyn nodded. “If you can assist Mr. Welfort in herding the animals, we can escape quicker.”
“Ok, sounds good,” Darren agreed. He knew that with no weapon or magical abilities of his own, he wouldn’t be able to help her fight. But he didn’t like the idea of staying inside either while she was out risking her life. “So, what’s your plan?”
“I’ll cast some barriers in front of them and direct their attention toward me while you two get the animals inside. Shout when you’re done and run inside the barn.”
“The barn? Why not the house?”
Essairyn smirked. “So I can finish them off of course.”
Everyone looked at her in surprise except Akari who had hopped off Essairyn’s shoulder and begun casually eating the leftover stew ingredients. The girl glared sharply at the sly fox before sprinting outside. Darren followed, and the older man was left trailing behind and wondering how they were both so fast.
As she ran, Essairyn formed a new weapon in her hand while casting a long barrier a few meters in front of the wolves. In a matter of seconds the foremost wolves crashed into the transparent barrier and the ones directly behind toppled over their fallen bodies. The middle and rear wolves slowed down and searched for the source of disruption. They quickly discerned the source as tiny magic pellets came barreling toward them from Essairyn.
Provoked, the wolves changed direction and rushed headlong toward the approaching human girl. Once she was within twenty feet of the wolves, Essairyn flung a wide arc into the throng and leapt into the air above them. The arc knocked out the front wolves upon impact, and as she came down, she sent a blast of magic outwards from her body that sent the wolves below her flying. She landed on her haunches and sprung toward the wolves with a now fully formed weapon: an eight-foot scythe.