Post by Morec0
(( Gilnean Moon (Part 18)
The Gilneans arrived at Stormglen to find, much to their relief, that it was far from in the possession of the undead, and that much to their shock and horror it was completely abandoned. Aside from a species of monstrous-sized spider, there was no life to be found in the town. And as unnerving as that was in itself, the Gilnean refugees had not only the threat of the undead invasion on their mind but the knowledge that there was a murderer amongst them as well. The higher-ups of Gilnean society had done their best to keep the information under wraps, but when people go looking for something – and they had gone looking for answers as to what happened to General Denson’s wife – they tend to find it. Only through sheer concentrated effort were they able to keep the identity of the murderer – supposedly Ivan Jeret, if Lord Godfrey was to be believed – from becoming public knowledge.
And what had become of Ivan after the Gilneans were forced to flee from their original camp? He was still around, but he was staying out of sight. He was lurking on the forest’s edge mostly, watching the other Gilneans from afar. Some took notice of this, but through efforts made by Gilnean military officers they were able to keep him from arousing suspicion – suspicious which might lead some to conclude the unsavory truth behind Ivan Jeret’s recent history. The Lordship had yet to move in to question him as planned, though; after they had been forced to Stormglen the more pressing matter became organizing their people and ensuring that their borders were watched to keep from falling prey to another surprise attack by the undead. Between that and the efforts it took to keep the details of Pamela Denson’s disappearance – and maybe death, that detail was still sketchy – under wraps, they had no time to spare to apprehend Ivan.
This did not please Henry Denson, not at all. He had finally recovered from his mysterious ailment, and, being a Gilnean Officer, had been brief on the disappearance of his wife shortly afterwards – although they had wisely chosen to edit out the portion in which Ivan might have raped his wife. He was enraged by this news, and it had taken physical force to keep him to pursuing justice on his own. “This bastard murdered my wife!” he had yelled at King Greymane, all sense of respect and fealty to his king in his mind replaced by sheer hatred, “and you want me to do nothing
“We have no proof he murdered anyone yet, General Denson,” Blaine had tried to reason with the officer.
Reason failed. “My wife is missing, probably dead
!” the General yelled. “And it’s because of your bastard of a brother! I will
have his head for this!”
“Justice will be granted if necessary,” Blaine had replied, “but only if it’s necessary, and not a moment before we find out if it is or not.” The General had growled his disapproval – and Blaine realized there was a distinct difference between a beast’s and a man’s growl – then marched off.
Even so, that justice would have to wait. There was still much to be done, and the days ticked by slowly as they continued to make sure everyone was settled in place. The spiders were dealt with and, slowly but surely, they begin to put the pieces together as to where Stormglen’s inhabitants had vanished to. Lorna Crowley was one of those most interested in finding the answer to that mystery. Rumor had it she thought it held a clue to the location of her father. No one paid this much mind, though, they all knew that Darius Crowley was long dead; torn apart by the worgen when he stayed behind in Gilneas City.
Ivan’s presence was becoming less and less noticed, partially due to the efforts of Gilnean officials to keep him out of the public eye but mostly due to that he simply was not in Stormglen that often. He would vanish for hours on end to Light-only-knew-where, and then reappear just as mysteriously as he had vanished. It put people on edge that this worgen, this animal, could come and go, appear and disappear, as he willed; even if he had been a Gilnean Lord once, people forgot this in their panic.
And it made the effort of keeping his speculated crime a secret harder and harder as the days clicked by. Each day brought new speculation that had to be stamped out, new conspiracy theories that needed to be put to rest, and doing so only made the theories that cropped up afterwards that much worse and that much harder to get rid of. Something needed to be done soon…
And Lord Godfrey decided it had to be done now. “We have wasted enough time,” he said to the gathered crowd; King Greymane, Lord Marley, and the two youngest Jeret siblings. “The matter of keeping Ivan Jeret’s crimes concealed from the people is taking from time and effort we could be putting towards keeping our people out of the hands of the Forsaken and winning this war. We must move to confront him now, or else tell the public of his dark deeds so we can refocus ourselves on more important matters.”
“The most important matter right now is keeping our people safe,” Blaine retorted, “and it is
our first and foremost goal, keeping my brother’s name clean until we can learn the truth is simply-.”
“And how do you propose we learn the truth of his deeds now?” Godfrey said. “You refused to have him arrested and now you refuse to even confront him. Do you expect him to simply tell us of his crimes? Do you even care if a murderer is on the loose amongst us?”
Blaine glowered at Vincent. His disdain for the worgen-cursed Gilneans was no secret, at least not to the youngest Jeret, and because he and his siblings were cursed like so many others what good ties there had once been between their two families were long gone. “I don’t believe my brother is a murderer,” Blaine answered. “And I-.”
“And because you’re opinion is fact, we simply leave Ivan Jeret to his own machinations? I think not.” Lord Godfrey faced Genn. “My kind, we have wasted too much time. Murderers do not simply act once, the longer we wait the longer we risk another one or several of our people dying just as Lady Denson did. Simply give the word and I will have him arrested.”
“My king,” Krista said. “My brother has never harmed another sentient being without having an honorable reason in his entire life. Lord Godfrey’s accusations-.”
“Are based on evidence and an eyewitness account; your care for your brother is touching, but it is obstructing justice. If you do not cease your efforts to prevent your brothers arrest, Lord and Lady Jeret,” he said that part with a cynical mocking to his voice, “then I will call for your arrest as well.”
Blaine glared at Godfrey, but the older Lord ignored him like the dignified and pompous creature he was realizing Vincent was. “My king, shall we have justice or shall we have a betrayal of the people’s safety?”
Genn’s gaze shifted to the Jeret’s for just a second, and it said to them what he did not speak aloud; “I am sorry.”
Said King Greymane to Godfrey; “gather a group of soldiers and hunt down Ivan Jeret.”
The brown-furred worgen known to the Gilneans as Ivan Jeret sniffed the air of Blackwald and walked up to a tree. He placed his right paw on it and then scraped his claws down along its bark. He could smell it on the breeze, see it on the trees; this section of the forest had been taken by something else. But the claws were too large and too high up to simply be wolf marks.
This area had been claimed by a worgen, and a big one at that. But the scent was fresh, and the marks too, both couldn’t have been more than a few days old. So where was this worgen? Why wasn’t he here?
It didn’t matter, the brown-furred wolf-man decided. Here or not, he would claim this part of the forest for himself. The absence of its former owner simply meant he would not have to tear out his throat for it. He was almost disappointed.
He needed to get away from the Gilneans. He had heard the rumors, seen the efforts to keep them from spreading, even from the distance he listened and watched from. He was no longer safe there, he needed to leave, but this wasn’t a split-second decision; this was something he had been planning for a long time; ever since he had first reached the camp, in fact. If he hadn’t been found by his brother’s other half, if he had just played dead and let them leave him in the pile of the fallen on that battlefield, he would have been free. But no, instead he had been forced to play a role he was not comfortable with, but one he could play all the same. And doing so had its perks; Denson’s mate prime amongst them.
The breeze didn’t shift, but he picked up a new scent in the air. That meant they were close to him, too close for him to run or hide without drawing suspicion. He turned and walked towards the source of the scent, a mix of horses and men; towards the direction of Stormglen. How had they found him here? It was irrelevant. He just needed to send them away and then move deeper in the Blackwald; clearly this was not far enough in to deter them from following him.
The group approaching him consisted of seven soldiers and a man the worgen identified as Vincent Godfrey. He opened his muzzle to speak, but Godfrey spoke first. “Lord Ivan Jeret, by the authority granted to me by His Majesty King Genn Greymane of Gilneas, I hereby place you under arrest for involvement in the murder of Pamela Denson.”
The worgen’s eyes narrowed, and sprung at the nearest Gilnean, a soldier, as Godfrey had positioned himself behind his company; this knocked him off of his horse and tearing out his throat with his jowls. Before the remaining soldiers could react he had leapt again, taking down another soldier and slaying him in identical fashion.
He turned to jump again, but the other soldiers had already pulled their firearms from their holsters on their backs and opened fire on the worgen. The bullets imbedded themselves in his chest and skull, and knocked him to the ground, where he laid still on his back. Godfrey and his soldiers approached the worgen’s body, and one of them nudged it with the plate-mail of his boot. The then removed his glove and knelt down, placing his middle and index finger on his throat. “He’s dead, milord,” the soldier confirmed.
“Then we’ve saved the courts some hassle,” Godfrey said coldly. “Load up his body, we’ll have to inform the other Lords that he attacked us first and he perished in our act of self defense.”
“Yes mi- ARGH!” The soldier gripped the bloody stump where his arm had once been as the shockwave of pain sent through his body caused him to fall to the ground. The worgen stood up, the soldier’s arm clenched in his right hand. The other soldiers, having neglected to reload their rifles, fumbled for their swords, and the two standing in front of Godfrey were backhanded out of the way, leaving the Lord exposed and defenseless.
“Impossible,” Godfrey breathed and he stared with fear and hate-filled eyes at the blood-covered and scowling creature before him. Already the bullet holes were healed over, even the ones in his skull, leaving behind little if any scar tissue to let anyone know they had once existed.
The worgen made a sound that was half-laugh half-menacing growl. “Superior in every way,” he snarled then brought a claw down to slice Godfrey’s throat open. The Gilnean Lord was spared death only by a soldier who elected to take his place in the Great Dark, jumping to intercept the blow. He was slain instantly.
Godfrey turned and ran towards the horses, knowing that if he stayed here he was as dead as four of the soldiers were. He had to get back to Stormglen, tell King Greymane and everyone else of what had happened here, and then return with more soldiers to kill him – there would not be a trial anymore; just an execution.
Before Godfrey could reach his mount the worgen reared itself up to its full height and then barked furiously at the horses. The sound spooked the animals and they turned and took off, fleeing from their seeming attacker. Godfrey froze in fear and looked back over his soldiers.
The worgen was grinning at him, although his muzzle twisted the expression to look more like a furious snarl. Only the intervention of the remaining soldiers kept the beast from barreling down on the human, but both knew it was only a matter of time.
And both of knew there was no point in trying to flee.