When Ming called out for Clod and the others to come up because it was safe, they were convinced they heard wrong. After all the sounds of snarls and growls were still echoing from above.
Climbing out one by one from the cellar each of them were baptized by the scene unfolding in front of their eyes. Not far from them at the fence Lucy was poking a spear through the spaces keeping a few wolves from trying to ram their way through.
In the eyes of these newbies, the fierce wolves were close to breaking the fences and busting into this area.
In the eyes of Lucy and the others who were here from the beginning, these tottering beast were a far cry from the well oiled killing machines that first entered the barn.
The fierce and hungry eyes, the frenzied haphazard movement and the size of the killing machines up close had their knees wobbling. If wasn’t for Ming and Lucy being around the girls would have already jumped back into the cellar in a fit of panic. They had the screams down pat, as it was being used in action already.
It was precisely because of this embarrassing display that Chu wanted them to gain some experience.
‘Wasn’t one of the most important thing that drove the wheels of industry called experience. From teacher to businessmen, engineers to doctors the most valuable thing to a person no matter the trade.
Only when the sound of Chu’s voice broke over their screams did they regain their minds.
“Snap out of it! Get up here now!”
The speed they ascended the ladder was as if they had walked on flat ground. Dyna actually fell midway but she climbed up without a care. Fear and adrenaline made for potent drivers.
“Clod remain with Ming behind the fence and keep the wolves away with the spear. Lucy come up.”
Clod was surprised but before he could ask anything Lucy handed over her spear and left. Dazed and in doubt he looked at Ming in despair.
“The boss wants you to face your fears a little. We are nearly men so its time to prove it.”
Ming gave him a comforting pat on the shoulder and started fending off the wolves with his own spear. The fence was built with stout planks, but if a beast with enough weight rammed it with sufficient force it may splinter and break. Stabbing out with the spears would help prevent this and give the bonus of overcoming the fear of facing these wild creatures head on.
For Chu the fence had shown it was more that adequate to handle beast like wolves. Even before the poison set in, the wolves could not break into the area under the platform.
Only something the caliber of a Snow bear could tear that fence like paper, much less the entire barn.
He focused on these new ‘recruits’ trembling in front of him.
“Take a deep breath and let it out. There is noting to be scared of. Lucy help Sakura load the crossbow, Dyna why is your hand shaking like a little girl, take a good aim and fire. If you miss all you have to do is reload and try again.”
Up on the platform Chu was coaxing the girls into calming down into shooting the wolves. He was more than happy to risk damaging a few pelts for the price of strengthening his little group.
After all that was the main reason behind constantly reminding the others to shoot the beast on their head.
“Good job Sakura, see how easy it is. Steady your hands and aim for the head. A shot in the front or side can also slow them if not kill it by damaging its vitals.”
“Sue take the crossbow from Dyna and have a go. Miki take Dyna to the corner for her to settle down a little. She has to come back to kill her first wolf.”
Surprising the one who had trouble adapting and being able to handle the now bloody scene was Dyna. Ever since she settled and opened up to the group she had displayed the air of a tomboy. Unfortunately it seemed she did not have the stomach when dropped into the middle of a bloody battle.
Sue was a cook and had some experience in a kitchen so she was familiar with the sight of blood. The scene here was a far cry from some meat on a chopping block, but Sue still courageously held on. Chu felt that the quiet Sakura would have been the first to wretch, instead this young girl steeled her heart and soldiered on bravely.
Clod had actually managed to kill a wolf by skewering it through the mouth with the spear. This was not that amazing considering the wolf was trying to snap the spear shaft for the past hour. What was impressive was the fact he was wielding the fairly heavy weapon for that duration without tiring.
Among them he was the strongest in build, it was only his bad leg that kept him down. With good food for the past month and plenty of jobs to keep him active he had opened out into a muscular youth.
The shouts of victory and satisfaction was heard coming from below.
After that the others became bold and eventually earned their first kill stripes. The wolf that Sakura killed was relegated to a pin cushion status. The only reason Sue’s wolf didn’t look so bad was because most of her shots missed the target completely.
In his mind, Chu had the two of them down for extra practice when this was over. His group of misfits were in need of serious training. They were, however a thousand times better than they were just a few months ago.
Baby steps Chu Baby steps.
He had already taken some massive steps forward when it came to their finances. It was their ability to protect their finances that was becoming a headache.
Down below, Ming killed a wolf by stabbing it in the neck. Chu didn’t expect anything less from the quality weapons he bought. If it was their makeshift spears Ming might have been attacking from now until the end of winter to kill the wolf.
“Good work Ming.”
“I know right! I was going to use the Sky slash to wipe it out, too bad though.”
“High slash, Ming you have to show me that move. Will I be able to use it in-spite of my bad leg?”
Chu tried his best to ignore the conversations below. He was fully aware of Ming’s special move. That move was simply a beat-down using the spear like a club. Thank god Lucy didn’t hear him or she would have laughed in his face.
The last wolf was finally killed by Dyna who had calmed down. Seeing the triumphant faces of the others awakened her determination. After a few tries the last wolf was finally killed under crossbow attacks.
“Miki I need you up in the tower we can’t become careless. See if you can spot any shadows moving out there in the moonlight. We do not want the scent of blood to attract any more unwanted guest.”
“Sue wash up and make us some hot bread and butter. Let the girls help you, when were done eating we can all rest. “
Chu took a spear and had Ming, Clod and Lucy replace the ladder and follow him down among the dead wolves. Since the poison was still in effect he wanted to confirm that all were dead and there were none playing dead.
Of course he made as certain as he could be that all the wolves he saw had some bolts sticking out of them. Even against a hallucinating wolf, he was embarrassed to show the others the fighting style of him and Ming. Lucy had seen to it that Ming never boasted about those days again.
With Lucy in the middle of the three with spears ready they cautiously made their way around. In the end they only found one wolf that was actually on its last breath. Clod put it out of its misery with a single pierce of the spear.
“Ming secure the doors get it barred closed. Clod carry over one of the oil lamps to help him see what he’s doing. When your done turn out all the lamps.”
By the time everything was completed they were all back on the platform. Under the flickering of an oil lamp everyone was eating the hot food Sue prepared. Miki rejoined them after confirming no wolves were lurking around.
“We will leave everything as it is. With no fire lighting the barn will become cold to freeze the wolves so they wont rot and smell. Tomorrow we will see about cleaning up. Lets just wash up and sleep.”
Chu words were worth gold to the others. After such a long night all they wanted was to sleep. Very quickly everyone soon made their way to the cellar. Like a good housekeeper Sue had already started a fire in the passageway and warm the water. When finished it was like the lethal three; tiredness, warm bath, warm meal, with more than enough quilts to pass around they were soon asleep.
It was nearly midday when Chu woke up. The cellar entrance was left partially open for a little light to filter in. Making some lazy stretches he went up to the platform. The others had just woken up and were in the kitchen or sitting on the platform in a daze.
It would take some time for this impossible achievement to soak in. No one would ever think that they accomplished this.
“So I was thinking we should stack those wolves near the barn entrance. We’ll use the oven to keep us warm. That way the chill will keep them good for now.”
Chu was eating a piece of bread as he talked.
“I want to clean the floor to get rid of the blood smell though.”
“If its to stop the fresh smell I think we can do that. Farms that have barns usually keep livestock. To keep it clean the farmers usually have some limestone rocks around. All you need to do is crush what you need into fine powder and wash with water. You can get the floors even cleaner than before.”
“Good thinking then after we move the wolves that’s the plan.”
It was hard work moving those twenty odd wolves to a corner and stacking them. The carcasses were already stiff and partially frozen from the cold. Clod went outside and after rummaging around brought back some small white colored stones he chipped from a larger block. Using a bucket he grounded it with the hammer mortar and pestle style.
In no time the floor was scrubbed with the powder and hot water. The barn slowly began to give out a scent of spring freshness.
“I think we need to visit the village again. The sooner the better.”
“Whaaat? You do know it’s highly likely to run into wolves now right?”
“That will be a big chance to take.”
Chu listened as they voiced their concerns.
“I know its dangerous but hear me out. First we need to get rid of the wolves it wont do for us to have them attract more beast through scent. If I can convince the Trading post to send out some of their guards to collect them, we will get supplies and food that are worth more. Second the sooner we go the better. If we delay another pack may appear since this territory will be up for grabs. The danger lies in going, we can return with safety under the protection of the guards.”
The others listed to the logic behind his words. What he was concerned about was that in the event of another pack prowling, it wold be much harder to capture them. Also if they keep all that meat around it would be bound to attract other beast besides wolves. Worse yet if a hunter party stumbles across them the only fate would be death. The worth of so much silver in the height of winter wold make anyone drool.
“We can leave in the morning when most animals are looking to rest after hunting at night. Ming will go with me, Lucy will remain with Miki as added protection. If we dont return the same day, most likely we wold be back on the second.”
With that and other issues resolved they just had to wait until tomorrow to clear up the barn.
On the next day Chu and Ming set out early in the morning. Both had spears and Ming had a crossbow under his cloak. At every little hill they crossed Chu stopped and only moved when he was certain the surroundings were empty of tracks and beast. With the high snow and slow progress they made it to the village by noon.
Chu first went to visit his family and once confirming everything was ok to satisfy his worried mother he left for the general store run by the Trading post. Griz was in a corner chatting with some attendants as the store was all but empty of customers.
“Mr Griz I have a bonus deal for you today.”