One hour before - Ghosts.
Shear, red hot, undiluted panic flooded through Marcus's blood as the two huge Lycan's escorted him through the mass of underground tunnels that made up the home of the Blood Claws. The largest, most powerful and richest pack of Lycan’s in most of the western hemisphere. Everything bombarded his senses. It smelt hot and musky, the sounds didn't bear thinking about. The roars and shouts and cries of pain and screams...so many screams. It was a hellish place, how and why he had ever, ever wished to be one of them was beyond him. But after seeing what that Atlantean had done to his friends all he wanted to do was run as fast as his pathetic human legs could carry him and not stop until his shoes fell from his feet. There were eleven of us against one man and a girl! But he hadn't been just a man, whatever he...it was. He wielded that bloody axe like a surgeon would a scalpel; there'd been so much blood. If he hadn't have hung back, if he'd have run in with them like Charlie and Damien and Bracus...
Looking down to the stone flagged floor Marcus saw it was slick with something, as his eyes followed the sine in the artificial lights he found it to be blood, limbs scattered the circular corridor. Legs and arms and torsos. Rotting in the moist open air with maggots and rats eating away at the pale milky white flesh. Wretching at the sight of a rat pulling on the bottom lip of a decapitated head Marcus doubled over expecting the vomit to flow freely from his guts...but it didn't. The gags just tore at the back of his throat. 'Keep moving!' bellowed Icerus. A huge African Lycan that looked like he could have broken Marcus in half with a single hand. His anvil like foot booted into his back sending him stumbling, swinging his arms and leaning forward to avoid falling over onto the blood covered floor he collided with a set of doors that suddenly burst open under the pressure of his fall.
Oh...my...god. Steadily straightening his back the site that greeted him shot a fresh wave of fear through him, this was the land of the hunter, the very den of the hunter...And I'm the prey. They looked to be in an old abandoned bunker of some description with arched doorways, thick stone walls, lights hanging on single wires swinging from the ceilings...but that wasn't the only thing that hung from the ceiling. Standing at the top of a long cast iron, spiral staircase Marcus was eye level with them, bodies of men and women hanging from glinting metal hooks, whatever blood left in their cold rotting bodies dripping down onto the floor where hundreds of Lycans filled the huge room. Some sat quietly against the walls. Others by the bar pouring themselves drinks while they laughed and joked with each other. But beneath the floor, in huge circular pits covered with mesh cast iron grates, Lycan fought Lycan in their wolf forms.
Roaring bone shuddering battle cries as they slashed and bit and tore and wrestled while spectators cheered them on from the top of the pits, staring at the gladiators through the lattice work of iron as they tore each other to pieces for no better reason than because they could. A Lycan in human form was terrifying enough, your body knew they were not right, that they were the hunters and you were their next meal. But in wolf from. A seven foot tall, bi-pedal monster covered in fur roaring at the top of their lungs. They were horrifying. 'Welcome to the Blood Claws.' his other Lycan guard whispered in his ear as they appeared through the doors behind him. 'Now get down!' he spat pushing him down the stairs. Marcus's feet stumbled from step to step with metallic screeches as they twisted down to the ground floor. As he got closer Lycan's began looking up at him with jeering smiles, he noticed women in the crowds too, cheering along with the men and feasting on meat he daren't know the species of.
As a Legionnaire he had never been allowed to these strange depths below the Lycan building, but now he was here...he wanted nothing more than to go home. 'CLEAR A PATH!' the screamed order made Marcus jump as Icerus pushed him through the group of towering Lycan's. One snapped at him with pointed teeth causing him to fire backwards into Icerus causing the whole room to laugh at him, Icerus grunted in disgust before throwing him to the ground before a raised dais where a huge man stared down at him. Erik Silverhair was a legend of a man, six foot seven with muscles like that of a bear Erik had been in leader of the Blood Claws for several years, but now he was second in command, and was staring down at him with pure disdain racked across his wrinkled scarred face. 'This is the last Legionnaire from the group we sent after the woman.' said Icerus harshly.
'I see,' said Erik with great ease. 'What's your name human?'
'Marcus...sir.' he stuttered from the ground.
'Tell me why, when I sent eleven of you to capture a girl and kill the old man, that I now have ten fresh corpses in my street and one remaining human grovelling at my feet like a coward.' a ripple of laughter cut through the Lycan's as Marcus looked to the floor.
'The man, he had an axe sir...'
'An axe!' said Erik with over exaggerated worry. 'Well that explains everything!'
'Now now Erik,' spoke a smooth dignified voice from a doorway that had opened behind Erik. The leader of the Blood Claws strode to stand beside Erik with his hands clasped tightly behind his back, great length of matted brown hair flowing down his back, bare chest rippling with sharply defined muscle, Fenrir the Black Wolf had a rugged face, a sharp layer of dark stubble covering his thick set jaw, deep dark eyes piercing into Marcus as he rose to his knees on the floor. 'Give our friend a chance to defend himself.' Fenrir smiled, eyes dancing with malice.
The human weakling stared up at Fenrir looking as terrified as he had ever seen anyone look at him. Good, he should be scared. He should fear me. Erik nodded his head slightly as he moved to the old wolfs side, for a wolf of sixty years he could still rip apart every wolf in this building as easy as he would a loaf of bread. Aside from me of course. 'Please stand boy,' he smiled down at the human, it was only polite, after all killing a kneeling prey was nothing.
'Thank you my lord,' said the human bowing his head low as he stood, Icerus and Volt towering over the pale scared little man.
'Now tell me about this man and his axe.' he smiled again, I want to know my enemy before I kill you.
'He was like nothing I've ever seen my lord, he cut down each of my group like they were nothing, he moved like a blur.' stammered the man rubbing his hands together in worry.
'And tell me of his axe boy.'
'It was...erm...short. At first! But as he held it it's handle grew somehow. Erm...it had a shiny blade with strange blue letters carved into it.' Gotcha! Fenrir screamed in his head. So it is you...I knew it.
'Marcus is it?' he said smiling in victory which Marcus took for a sign of his forgiveness.
'Yes my lord.'
'Relax my boy I will not kill you,' that made the boy smile broadly, muttering his thanks and eternal gratitude. 'Yes yes,' Fenrir said raising a hand to silence him. 'Did Erik happen to tell you who the girl was?' he said descending the small dais slowly so he could walk around the human and see the faces of his pack.
'No my lord.'
'Well allow me to indulge you. She was Atlas, Queen of Atlantis.' mutters broke out through the pack. 'You see son, Atlanteans travel via a telekinetic transport system, these people are called Gatekeepers, our world is filled with them but...only three Gatekeepers remain active on one continent at any given time. And unfortunately for us we have no way of telling which ones these three are,' he rounded around the human. Heart beating in anticipation and excitement. 'But with the Queen, we could find the Gatekeepers...and use them.' Erik's eyes widened at his words and a hush sense of worry cut through his pack, he could smell it in the air. 'Atlantean gold and steel is a hundred times more expensive than our metals, we take the city, pick it clean, and we will all die wealthy men!' he bellowed to the massive cheer of his pack. Once again standing in front of the human Fenrir looked to Erik. 'And Erik, never send a man to do a wolfs job.'
Launching his arm out he gripped the human’s throat, closing his windpipe instantly before lifting him off his feet, his pointed claws pricking into his skin pearling it with tiny red beads of blood. 'OPEN THE CAGE!' he bellowed. Once again the wolfs cheered as their leader walked through them and hung him over an open fighting pit where the two wolfs stared up at the kill that was about to be theirs, their jowls dripping with saliva, teeth glinting in the white lights.
'You...said...' coughed the human.
'That I did...but I won't kill you. They will.' with that he dropped him into the pit. His scream was a momentary cry of fear before the sound of jaws and claws ripping into flesh cut it short. 'Bring me the girl! Kill the old man! AND DO IT SOON!' cheering, hollering and whooping his pack charged to every exit to begin combing the city for the Atlantean Queen. While Fenrir just ascended the dais back to his library to continue reading his book.