Unexpected Friendship Picture

It was hard to believe how surprisingly brief the battle was.

Pagan leaped in between the three huge, slavering beasts and was lost in a blurring fury of fur, claw, tooth, and blade. Adam raised his sword just in time to parry the long jagged claws of the Man-Wolf called Todd. Still mostly in human form, Todd's emaciated figure dodged Adam's next strikes with unnatural ease. It lashed out with the back of its bony hand, hoping to rake across the eyes of this hateful human. Adam only just backed up enough to get a painful cut across his cheek. He ducked and lunged forward. His sword stuck true.

Cold steel plunged into diseased flesh as the curved blade of the katana sank deep into the creature's gut. Twisting the blade flat, Adam pulled, the razor-sharp edge slicing out through Todd's left side. It squealed hideously and crumpled to the floor. Adam immediately turned his attention toward Pagan, she was sure to need help if--

It was dazzling. If the words "poetry in motion" could be applied to anything, it would be this. Her beauty was exceeded only by her natural grace as Pagan moved like liquid around the three monstrosities. She was wounded from bite and claw, but it didn't slow her down. She ducked low beneath the swing of the big one's massive arm and scythed her curved sword up its chest. In the backswing of the same movement, she brought her sword down diagonally, decapitating the beast. She sprang clear over the head of the second one as it charged and fired three rounds from her pistol into its neck. It faltered, hit the floor, and lay still.

The third, apparently realizing the futility of continuing, bolted and crashed through the window into the rain outside. As soon as she landed, Pagan dashed for the window.

"Come on!" she shouted as she leaped, "We have to stop it!" Mary the black cat darted after her and jumped outside. Adam, who was by no means an exceptional acrobat, took much longer in running over to the window, climbing out, and hopping down to the ground below.

How come everyone I know can do ninja moves except me? he thought to himself as he ran.

The wolf-man tore down the grassy hillside like a bat out of hell as the two feline blurs gave chase. Mary, being much smaller and faster, caught up to it first. She pounced and hooked her claws into the creature's ankle, biting furiously. The monster howled, tripping and crashing into the mud as Mary jumped away. The abomination staggered to its knees, hissing and spitting. Pagan nimbly jumped onto its back and with her left hand, dug her claws into its neck while raising her sword with her right. The beast reared, lunging its claw straight for Pagan's face. A flash from Adam's katana and the monster's forearm fell to the ground. Pagan drove her oriental blade almost hilt-deep into the wolf-man's chest and left it there. The creature gurgled a last hissing breath and fell to the mud.

Adam and Pagan both stood catching their breath for a long while. At length, Adam slumped to the ground.

"Are...are you alright?" he gasped.

"Yes..." Pagan replied, "Are you?" Adam nursed the bleeding cuts on his arms, leg, and face.

"I've been better...a lot better."

Pagan sat next to him, placing pressure on her own cuts. She looked over at the motionless corpse beside them.

"I guess we'll need silver now, right?"


"Silver. That's how you kill werewolves for good, right? I've seen movies." Adam chuckled lightly.

"That's all made-up. The whole silver thing? It's not true. You can kill a werewolf in any normal way. That doesn't make it easy, but still. Silver actually hurts vampires, not werewolves. They're terrified of fire, though. I should've made molotovs." Pagan smiled.

"Wow. You know a lot about them. Are you like 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', but with werewolves?"

Adam blinked.

"Uh...no. I'm...I'm a...It's very complicated."

"I've got time," Pagan smiled, "and the rain's letting up."

The dark clouds were finally beginning to fade away, and the golden radiance of sunset fell upon them, bathing them in warm light.

After returning to the ramshackle house and reclaiming their gear, Adam drew out bandages and medicine from his pack. They opted for going back outside due to the smell of the house and the rotting carcasses littering the floor.

As they sat on the grass bandaging their wounds, Pagan explained her beginnings.

"...And so I've been moving across the country to learn more about myself and who I am."

"That must be very lonely," Adam said.

"It is at times," Pagan replied.

"And you're a cryptid?'


"And you say pretty much every other cryptid is real, just like you?"

"Pretty much, yes."


"Of course."

"Loch Ness Monster."

"Pretty sure."


"I don't know. I've never seen one, and I don't really want to, from what I've read. I never knew werewolves were real until today. How do you know so much about them?"

Adam paused, trying to find the right words.

"Well," he said, "I've always loved mythology and cryptozoology from around the world. And soon after I found Mary, I just started running into things. Things I always thought were only legends and myths."

"So, you must be Mary, then." As Adam finished wrapping the last of his wounds, Mary leaped up onto his shoulders, nuzzling his ear. She mewed softly as Pagan stroked her back.

"From what i can tell," Adam explained, "somehow she's like a supernatural metal detector. She leads, I follow. And she usually leads me to places where paranormal evil has appeared."

"Appeared from where?"

"From wherever it's been, hiding and waiting for who knows how long."

"And so you stop them from hurting people," Pagan said with a smile.

Adam said "Well...I guess you could say I'm a...guardian. I think that's the best thing to call it without sounding stupid."

"Guardian of what?' Pagan asked.

"Okay, this part will sound stupid...I'm a guardian...of the world. I've been traveling north while trying to..." he stopped himself with a look of embarrassment.

Pagan simply looked at him, as if expecting him to continue.

"What are you protecting the world from?"

"You...don't think that's stupid?" he said with surprise, "You don't think I'm crazy?"

"Of course not. Why would I? You just saved the town below from those monsters which were killing children, didn't you?"

"Wow..." Adam gaped, "You're one of the only people I know who's accepted my story right from the start. And to be honest, I would've been killed if you hadn't saved my butt. But anyway, to answer your question.

"You know how some ancient civilizations, like the Mayans, predicted a set year, month, and day for the end of the world? Well, basically all the creatures and monsters from world myth have been hiding from the modern world. Now for whatever reason they believe the Ending will happen in December of this year. They see this as the ' party before the boom ', and now the few that are left are all coming out of hiding and going crazy. They're being drawn to a place where they believe the Ending will happen. I think it's north somewhere, since that's where Mary has always been leading me...I sound really stupid, don't I?"

"No, not at all," Pagan said with a shake of her head, "I've felt an attraction, too. Leaving my home, traveling west. I thought it was just my natural curiosity, but perhaps this Ending has something to do with it too. Do you really think the world is going to end in December?"

"Honestly, no. No I don't. Only God chooses when anything ends. But all the evil things do believe it. And there are even men who want to make the world end."

"Oh my gosh," Pagan said with surprise, "Who would want to do something like that?"

"His name is Immanuel Geist," Adam said, "he's a leader in a group called SchattenAuge. I've come against them a couple of times. They have been messing with dark things that no one should ever touch, without caring about who they hurt or kill in the process. Geist has an unnatural bond with a cat he calls Hla'Minh. It...talks to him, teaches him about supernatural forces. That thing is what hooked SchattenAuge on trying to cause the Ending."

"That's horrible," Pagan said with slight disgust, "they can't get away with it. Can you stop them?"

"Not alone. I've halted their progress a few times, but always with help from friends."

"Where are your friends?"

"We all got separated about a month ago," Adam said sadly, "I don't know where Alexia and Eckert are, and Sharon is farther north than I am. Yves is stuck in his home dimension and can't come back until the SchattenAuge summon one of his race again..." Pagan simply stared blankly.

"Oh, right, sorry. Alexia is like me. A guardian, I guess. Eckert is her dog. He helps her the same way Mary helps me."

"Just like Tyra and Warhunter." This time Adam simply stared blankly.

"Sorry, they're friends of mine. Please continue."

"Sharon was a Werewolf in Alec's pack, just like Todd. She helped me fight back against them. After Alec died, the curse was lifted from her since she rejected it. She can't transform anymore but she's still as strong and fast as one of them. She's probably stronger than you."

"I think I could take her," Pagan mused.

"Yves is a very difficult person to describe."


"Yves. It's French."


"Yves comes from another world, another dimension which I think occupies the same space as earth, but we can't interact. The SchattenAuge know how to call one of Yves' race across into our world, and Yves knows how to piggyback their spell and appear next to me. But it only works when it's raining, since they can only survive in the rain."

"How strange," Pagan said, "I never knew that French people lived in another dimension."

"What? No, they're not human. We can't speak their language, but they can speak ours. Yves told me French is their favorite human language."

"Wow. It sounds like you have some really great friends."

"Yeah, I love those guys. I wish they were here now. Alexia wouldn't have let me make such a dumb mistake like going after four werewolves alone."

"So how many cryptids or monsters have you seen?" Pagan asked like an anxious child.

"Well...name it..."


"No. Not yet, anyway. If they are real, I hope to God they don't sparkle."


"Oooooohhhh yeah," Adam said with a shudder, "Nasty little buggers."


"Does Spring-Heeled Jack count?"

"I don't really know what that is, but okay. Zombies."

"Yes. I won't forget that day anytime soon."

"Um...um...Oh, I can't think of any more. You tell me."

"Heh, you really are curious. Okay...a ghoul, a skinwalker, a succubus, a demon--that was probably the most terrifying moment in my life--, Ogopogo--which you probably already knew was real--, a sorcerer, a rabid Phooka, and a group of things I couldn't even begin to describe."

Pagan just stared in wonder.

"I'm so jealous."

"I've never seen Bigfoot."

"I've never seen Ogopogo."


"You know," Pagan said, "You have a lot of weight on your shoulders. Your friends are important to relieve some of that weight. I'm going to help you."

"Really?" Adam asked with astonishment. He had only met her today and she already considered him a friend worth sharing a burden with.

"I couldn't ask you to do that. I--"

"You don't have to. I want to. My curiosity is always getting the better of me. I can't resist going with you and saving people. The things I'd see, the places I'd go. This could be my best chance to learn more about myself. And I'm not about to let a new friend go off into danger without doing what I can to help him."

Adam was speechless. He could only smile. Pagan smiled back. Adam raised his hand.

"Thank you Pagan," he said, "Thank you for saving my life, thank you for hearing my story, and thank you for coming with me." Pagan's hand met his. Mary placed her paw on Pagan's arm playfully, as if to show her friendship as well.

"Don't mention it," she laughed, "and please, call me Katherine."

The sun set overlooking an old house resting on a grassy hill. The evil of that house lay in ruins within and without. Three sets of footprints led down the hill: in front, the small, round pawprints of a cat patiently leading toward its next destination; behind lay two paths of footprints walking side by side to the north.

I didn't expect the story to go that long.
Continue Reading: The Graces