In the high mountains above, the big horn sheep were gathering along the edge of a large flat stone. The eldest of their flock was standing, covered in thick stained wool. His horns had been gnarled with time, and a curled around the back of his head, and forward along each side of his jaws. The elder looked out amongst his children, and grinned while nodding his head in acknowledgement. “It is good to see you all, it makes an old ram like me proud to see all of you gathered here today. Let us not beat around the pine trees any further, I am old.” The gathered sheep started to laugh quietly, and one called out from the back, “you still look good for an old fart!” The elder laughed and snorted, stomping his front hooves for effect. “I still have some fight left in me to crack your horns!”
A large ram, flanked by a female at his side, were standing behind the elder. Each had thick coats of dark brown wool. White tipped noses, with dark circles around their nostrils and mouth. Brown eyes stared at the elder, and out into the gathering of almost a hundred sheep. The elder looked back at the two for a moment, before turning back to address the gathering. “Today I am pleased to inform you, that I will be giving up the mantle of leadership. I want to rest, and it is time for a younger ram to take over. In accordance with Gaia and the Great Spirit Anirnialuk, it is time to summon our connection once more.” The ram lowered his head, as did all the other sheep, and began to call out in long tones. The ground began to pulse with magical energy, and in a matter of seconds, a huge green glowing chain shot up from the earth. The chain was a reminder to all, of the Great Spirit’s benevolence. The chain represented their connection to the spiritual world.
The elder looked up and then sent out a greeting call, “oh Great Spirit Anirnialuk … I am called Rock Horn, elder of our flock. It is time for me to step down from my position of leadership. In accordance with our customs and traditions, the flock has determined that the mantle of leadership should be passed to ….” The elder ram’s words stopped mid-sentence, as howls filled the air. Dozens of black fur wolves leapt from the trees, and began to vivaciously attack the female sheep that had been standing in the back of the gathering. Their warning calls filled the air, and resulted in the gathering of sheep to scatter. The male sheep, or rams, charged forward with their heads down. Horns in attack position, they lived up to their name, and rammed into the charging wolves. Not holding anything back, the reinforced skulls of the sheep, resulted in the wolves’ skulls being split and dying with each successful strike.
But the numbers were overwhelming, as dozens more black wolves continued to pour out of the trees, and up the mountain towards the chain. The elder looked into the trees, and spotted a white fur covered wolf in the back, barking orders out. “The white fur is their leader,” Rock Horn called out, “Thunderclap …take a few young-ins ready for a fight … and get him!” Thunderclap was the ram that had been slated to take over for Rock horn, and nodded before running past his father. “Lightning, Brush Fire, come on we’re taking out that alpha.” Two young rams trotted behind their friend, and all put their heads down to charge towards the wolf leader. While the wolves had the numbers, these black wolves did not fight like wolves, and seemed to charge forward without any sort of plan. They fell down quickly, and would bleed out from their injuries. “Thunderclap, are these young wolves that never fought before?” The would be elder nodded, “I think so. It makes our job easier, we can … easily …defeat …”
The ram trailed off, and slid to a halt, watching as a wolf double the size of the white fur strode up beside him. It was comprised of smoke, swirling around its body, and had blood red glowing eyes. The creature called out in a loud tone, “see … our new forces are doing well. What better way for them to learn how to fight, than to send them to fight these sheep.” The white fur alpha nodded, “it would seem so. When will they resurrect?” The trio of young rams looked around, as the black wolves that had been lying on the ground, all began to stand back up. Their eyes flashed with a burst of red before turning into their normal colors. The twenty or so that had been slain, were alive once more, and began to viciously attack anything nearby to them. Blood Fang called out, “feast my fellow wolves! The sheep are plentiful, and will never oppress you again!”
Thunderclap looked confused, “how the hell are we oppressing the wolves?” The young ram began to charge forward again, joined by his two compatriots. Heads down, they continued to drive a path forward, sending wolves flying in a variety of directions. The other rams were defending the elder and the world chain, while the females were trying to escape. The wolves continued to pour out of the tree line, and were spreading like the ocean waves against the shoreline. The females were cut off, and slaughtered by a contingent of gray wolves that had flanked the sheep. The alpha barked out, “press the attack! Let no sheep survive!” While the words were spoken, the trio of young rams had almost made it to the alpha. “Alpha, I am Thunderclap, you will die today by my horns.” Blood Fang grinned, and suddenly twenty black wolves shot out from behind a boulder, and began to claw and bite the rams from the side. The young sheep were so focused on the attack, they forgot to mind their surroundings and prepare to defend.
Blood Fang grinned once more, watching the former humans rip the attacking trio of young rams to shreds. They immediately began to feed, tearing bits of flesh and devouring hungrily. The smoke-filled wolf started to pad forward, and weaved in between the fight wolves and sheep. “Elder, I will be taking that chain off of your hooves today. I will grant you the rest you requested earlier.” Rock Horn lowered his head, “I may be old, but I still have some fight left in me. You will have to kill me to take this chain!” The elder sheep said defiantly, and put his head down as he moved forward in attack position. The creature charged forward, and leapt up onto the flat rock where the glowing chain was still sticking straight up into the air. The tension began to fill the air, as the elder continued to step forward, in attack position. The smoke-filled wolf like creature laughed insidiously, and his glowing red eyes burned brightly with hatred.
The elder charged forward, and struck the wolf directly in his chest. However, Blood Fang did not move, and only laughed louder. The ram backed up several feet, and attempt to charge forward again, striking much harder. The wolf creature still did not move, and looked down, “are you done yet?” The elder ram snorted, “BAAAAA! … just getting started.” Smokey tendrils began to separate from the wolf like creature, and began to lunge towards the ram. Rock horn jumped from side to side, before charging once more forward with every bit of strength he could muster. Blood Fang did have to take one step back, and grinned while the tendrils wrapped around the sheep’s body. “A valiant defense …. now die!” The tendrils were extensions of the foul creature’s will, and ripped the elder sheep’s body to shreds. The remnants of his body were scattered around the rock, and several former humans rushed to claim the bits of meat.
Striding over to the glowing green chain, Blood Fang placed a paw onto the edge of the chain that was connected to the rock. Once more the chain’s colors turned to a pale white, before the links exploded and disintegrated into dust as they landed on the surrounding ground. Chanting in a guttural tone that bordered on what humans would have called demonic, the ground began to erupt with blood red magic. Glowing red orbs started to shoot out of the ground, and high into the air in all directions. They were spreading in every direction, and too numerous to count. It was almost as of someone had punctured a water pipe, the magical energy and souls were flowing like pressurized water. Blood Fang laughed, “go my children! Spread forth to all corners of the land, and slaughter the lesser creatures. This world will be of our kind, the true masters of Gaia!”
Silver Fang was striding towards the erupting magical energy, and watched as the red orbs were flying out in all directions. “Soo …many …. humans. How many were there?” One black wolf looked up, “I didn’t pay attention in school, or watch the news. The teachers lied, and the news was fake anyway. But I think maybe seven billion … but most of them were worthless.” The former human looked back down, and continued to rip flesh from a female sheep he had slaughtered. The alpha wolf chuckled, and continued forward and watched from a safe distance from Blood Fang. The wolf like creature looked down, “is this not wonderful? Wolves are being sent to all corners of this land.” The white fur covered wolf, nodded while maneuvering around the rock. After a short side trip, he padded softly up beside the smokey creature, and looked out upon the field of battle.
The hundred gathered sheep had all been slaughtered. His pack members were eating the spoils of battle, and there was a happy tone in the pack members voices. The defeat at the ice bridge was fading from their memories, and the new pack members were thus far becoming very useful. One thing troubled the alpha, who spoke his mind while looking forward. “Blood Fang … is there a limit as to how many times the humans can die and come back?” The wolf like creature nodded, “sadly there is. They may only come back seven times, and one of which was spent as a human.” The alpha wolf nodded, “I see, so six times at most. Several of our new pack members have already died three times, so what happens when they reach their limit?” Blood Fang chuckled, “they will disappear. But worry not my dear Alpha, there are more humans stored away within these chains. Your forces will be limitless …and … such power can be granted to your natural wolves as well.”
Silver Fang turned to look at the smokey wolf like creature, “what do you mean by that?” Blood Fang reached a paw into the stream of orbs, and plucked one out from the geyser. “See this orb, this is a human soul. It is glowing red, because it is considered to be evil by the so-called Great Spirit. When this human lived: he beat his mate, cursed at her, and kept her from her family. When the world was falling apart, he decided that he had enough for her crying, and chose to make the home quiet once and for all.” The alpha wolf looked horrified, “he killed his own mate? The humans you brought to us earlier at the caribou chain, are they of a similar temperament?” The wolf like creature laughed, “yes …and worse. I chose the most dedicated killers, most suited for battle.”
The orb floated in front of Silver Fang, and the wolf could see a sleeping human within it. Blood Fang continued, “I can split this orb, and draw out the power of the human soul. It will extend your life, and allow you to fall multiple times and return. However, there are limitations. Each soul will allow you to come back one fewer time, until there would be no effect asides form returning to life.” The alpha snarled, “I need not a human soul, I am wolf. Proud child of Luna, ruler of the moon, and true ruler of Gaia.” The smoke-filled creature grinned, “so be it. I am sure you will come around later to this idea. Now … watch this,” and the creature split the orb in twain. The human started to scream within it, and the alpha wolf watched as the visage disappeared. Only the red magical energy remained, and soon was drawn into the wolf like creature’s body. The white fur covered wolf watched the display, and then looked up at Blood Fang’s eyes. “What happened to the human? And …. just how many of those have you absorbed?” Silver asked, while the wolf like creature grinned as he responded, “I voided him from existence. And …. I am legion.”
The alpha contained the horror that was displayed, and chose to trot off to find a suitable sheep to eat. This would serve two purposes, satisfy his hunger, and consider the information provided. The remainder of the wolf forces reached the battlefield, and the carcasses were stripped clean in time. Only the bones and inedible parts of the bodies of the fallen remained strewn about haphazardly. The geyser of souls eventually stopped, and then the strange magical energy ceased to flow. Day turned to night, and the wolf pack slept soundly, as the cold mountain air rushed down from the snow-covered peaks above. When the sun began to shine, and the wolves started to rouse themselves from slumber, they saw a startling sight. The forest which had been lush with pine trees, had all lost their needles. Towering trunks of empty pines stood all around them, and there was no sound of life. The only sound was that of the rushing wind, and Blood Fang walking around and stepping on sheep bones occasionally.
One of the natural gray wolves, looked at Silver Fang who was standing nearby. “What is happening?” The alpha shook his head, and trotted up to the wolf like creature, “Blood Fang … what happened to the trees?” Speaking in a demonic tone, “I may have let out too many souls from beneath the ground. Oh well, live and learn, next time we will keep enough in so that the plants will stay alive.” The white fur covered alpha nodded, “birds live in trees, and we are not birds. Everyone pay no heed, we will leave this place at once. Follow the same path down the mountain,” Silver Fang said while walking forward. The subordinate wolves nodded, and started to file back down the mountain from which they had travelled. While the wolves weaved between the trunks of dead trees, the bark was falling off and raining onto the ground below. The smaller trees started to fall down around them, while the tall pines wavered. The wolf forces walked on each side of the formerly flowing creek. The water which once freely flowed down the mountain was gone, leaving flecks of gold colored metal in the creek bed. One former human wolf howled in delight, “we found gold boys! If we gather it all …we can …” Another black wolf stopped and pawed at the metal, “dude …all the pawn shops are gone. This stuff is worthless now …” The former shook his head, “no … we can trade with the other animals. Maybe buy us a female or three?”
A natural gray wolf stopped, “move along you two. We have no use, nor need for whatever that stuff is.” The two black wolves sighed, and continued walking down the creek beds with their counterparts. Those former humans who had not died and come back, could still remember the old days. All the fun places were gone now: bars, brothels, casinos, etc. The world was natural, and boring, so joining up with a pack of blood thirsty wolves was the best alternative. They were as bad as Blood Fang had mentioned, having come from various prisons throughout North America. Thieves and killers, bootleggers and smugglers, they former humans ranged the gamut of the worst possible people to come back to the earth. Those that could have been redeemed, were not chosen, only the most hardened criminals that truly enjoyed the foul acts they committed. However, as they died and came back, huge chunks of their memories were disappearing. One human had come back three times, and was almost completely wolf at this point. As thoughts of glorious battle swirled in their minds, the wolves continued the descent down the mountain.
Weeks passed, and the wolf force only continued to grow, as more natural wolves rallied to the cause. Coyotes also had started to follow along, as they were cousins to the wolves. The army was so massive, that they left a path of destruction behind them. This was similar to when civil war general Sherman marched to the sea. The land was stripped of life in their path, and the ability for life to grow back was greatly diminished. The forces crossed the former border to the land once called the United States, what was once called Montana. The land was silent, save for only the sound of the weather. This fact was not lost upon the wolves, as they started to see eagles flying overhead high in the skies above. At night, the owls hooted as they kept vigil. The birds were keeping their distance, which the alpha took as a sign of dominance over the lesser creatures. As the wolves camped around a large bend of what the humans once called the Missouri river, Blood Fang began to address the wolf pack.
“With permission from our leader Silver Fang, I rise to address the pack. Our next target, are the painted horses.” A mottled coyote raised his paw, “horses are fast …how do we fight horses?” The wolf like creature grinned, “with cunning. Yes, they are indeed fast, but they lack the mental fortitude to handle cunning. We will divide our forces into smaller packs. One will chase after the horses, and drive them to where the main attack pack is located.” A gray wolf raised his paw, “what does the third pack do?” Silver Fang rose to his feet and swished the remaining half of his tail, “horses have been known to split in twain, like water around a boulder in the river. They will drive those that veer off, back to the rest of the pack.” The wolves all started to nod their heads, as well as the coyotes. Silver spoke loudly once more, “All our former human compatriots will comprise the chasing force, all of our coyote cousins will comprise the third force in case of the horses splitting, while my original pack will serve at the attack force. Now, the task of who leads each of our chase groups, I leave up to you. Once the moon begins to rise, meet me on the large rock that overlooks the water.”
Blood Fang watched as the wolves started to separate into their respective groups. The coyotes were already formed up in their pack, so they did not have to move very far. The sounds of howls, barking, and aggressive taunting filled the air. The wolf like creature turned to Silver Fang, “are you sure that was wise?” The alpha wolf chuckled wryly, “yes. We will know the pecking order, and whom needs to be culled, should order need to be maintained.” The two leaders began to walk towards a large rock overhang, that stretched out over the water. The sounds of infighting filled the air behind them, but the smoke-filled wolf like creature laughed while they walked. “Your tactics are ruthless, but I see great thought placed behind them. Now, let me explain what we will do.” Silver Fang nodded, as they reached their destination. Turning around on the rock, he sat down and watched as the creature stood silently. Folding his left ear back, “can you not sit?”
The creature shook his head, “haven’t been able to for a long time. I miss those days, when the world was simpler. Before the humans came, and ruined everything.” The alpha gave him a look, “before the humans came? Just how old are you?” Blood Fang chuckled evilly, “much older than you think. I remember the mother of All Bears when she was just a cub, and less pompous. In any case, unlike our previous targets, the painted horses do not have a static chain location.” Silver looked confused, which prompted a further explanation from the smoke creature. “Each horse holds within their body, one link of the world chain. The goal is to line up the horses as they run, into a straight line. When that occurs, the chain will start to appear above them. I will strike the lead horse, causing the chain to fly forward and into my body. Once I have control of it, I can plant the chain into the ground.”
The alpha nodded, “I see. I have been giving thought to your words from earlier. If you were to infuse the human souls into our living wolves, what would occur?” The smoke creature nodded, “if a wolf is living, they would gain strength as well as speed. The regeneration abilities are also a factor as well, though I am not sure of the effects.” Silver Fang nodded, “I see … they would become like you then?” The creature nodded, “an astute observation. In time, yes, they would resemble me. Why is it that you ask this of me? Have you reconsidered my offer?” The white fur wolf leader nodded, “I expect heavy loses on this attack. I want to have my options open, should I need to make use of the seemingly limitless supply of humans. Now, let us see who won out to lead the respective forces.” The leader stood up, and watched as a coal black wolf with blue eyes approached. He was followed by a gray coyote that was missing his left ear, and had wild yellow eyes. Blood Fang grinned, “and who might you two be?”
The coal black wolf’s fur was so dark, that he might be able to walk around at night and not be seen at all. Intense blue eyes looked up at the wolf like creature, “Tyler.” The coyote padded along, and the creature saw huge chunks of mottled gray fur ripped out of his sides. His yellow eyes were bouncing around in his eye sockets so fast, that it made the alpha wonder how he could focus long enough to see. “Blaze is my name,” the coyote barked. Silver Fang gave the coyote a look, “why blaze?” The coyote proudly stood up, as his eyes rolled back into his head, “when I was small my cousins and I attacked a human camp. They wanted to steal food and run away, but I chose a different tactic. I made the fire move all the way to their moving thing with squishy circles. I made it catch fire, and explode. I took our four of them inside.”
Tyler laughed, “good job Blaze. But I have you beat, over a hundred car jackings. Each vehicle I stole: I made sure to dispatch the driver. Before stuff went down, I was wanted in forty states and two territories in Canada. The best one was that mini van with the old grannies. I wonder if they ever found it under that lake?” Blood Fang laughed evilly, “just what we needed to lead. Now, let me explain the plan.” The wolf like creature explained where the horses should be, and how each group was to move the horses to a certain point. They would chase and herd their foes into a straight line, which Blood Fang would strike. The coyote had trouble focusing, but a good whack on the top of his head refocused both his eyes and mind. A rough map was draw into the dirt that surrounded the large rock that they were standing on, and the plan was committed to memory. The 2 sub-commanders in time departed, along with the wolf like creature, leaving Silver Fang alone on the rock. After a time of quiet contemplation, he rose and returned to his original pack of gray wolves, to explain what the plan was as well.
Before the sun rose, as the twilight began to appear, the forces divided as agreed upon. Being led by their respective commanders, the packs navigated around the lake, and crossed a small river that fed into it near the headwaters. Running at a fair clip, the wolves crossed the rolling grass covered plains. And as the sun rose, the smell of horses filled the air. The painted horses were called that, because their colorations almost seemed if someone painted their bodies. Brown horses with white splotches all over their face and bodies, were seen with their reverse: white with brown. Black horses with white patches, as well as many solid-colored ones as well. Their tails and mains were overgrown, but magnificently flowing in the wind. Silver Fang’s forces veered off to the south, skirting around the ever-growing team of horses. The coyotes maneuvered off to the north, heading behind a series of rolling hills to try and mask their approach. The former humans howled in the air, with Tyler leading the charge, “let’s go boys … time to frug them up!”
The horses’ ears perked up, and the whinnies filled the air. They had found a large number of them around forty, but as the wolves continued to give chase, more horses joined along. There was no way the former humans could match their speed, as their prey ran, but the key limitation of horses was soon on full display. Flat out: the horse can run a far distance and a fast pace, but they tire quickly. The wolves did not have to our tun them, just out last, and that was what they did. The herding was relentless, as the horses would run, stop, then be forced to run again. The plan was to send the horses into a choke point, between two very large steep hills that were nearby from what Blood Fang spoke about the day before. Along the way, the horses had grown to over a hundred, and as the smokey creature predicted, the rag split in the middle. Tyler called out, “we know what to do, keep pushing them to the choke point!”
As the black wolves forced the horses to steer towards the south, the coyotes lunged from the hills they had been hiding behind. The horses whinnied in a mixture of fear and shock, and soon were driven back to join the rest of their kind. The coyotes barked angrily, and swarmed the horses, nipping at their legs as they ran. The former humans increased their pace, as their prey tired and began to slow as they ran. Slowly but surely, the attackers were able to compress the fleeing animals into a straight line. Howls of terror filled the air, signaling that it was time. Blood Fang rushed forward at top speed, howling with a demonic fueled rage. Straight at the lead horse, who whinnied in alert. The glowing links of the world chain started to appear over each horse, and began to connect link by link. Once the chain had formed, the smoky creature leapt into the air, and snatched the chain up in his mouth. Whipping his head hard at an unnatural angle, the chain links were ripped out of the horses.
As the glowing green chain lay on the ground, the wolves and coyotes watched as the horses’ eyes rolled into the back of the heads and they fell over dead. As the gray wolves led by Silver Fang ushed forward, the separate packs soon reformed around the bodies of the horses. Tyler howled out, “what the frug happened?” The wolf like creature started to howl evilly, and the chain began to go white before exploding like the others. Horse cries filled the air, echoing on the wind, as suddenly whisps of white magical energy rushed forth in all directions. Each wolf, as well as their coyote counterparts, soon were surrounded by red orbs of glowing light. The orbs split apart, and the magical energies were infused into their bodies. The alpha watched as without warning, the same happened to him, and he could feel a rush of magical energy flowing throughout his body. Looking up into the skies, the howls were called out, louder than anything mustered before.
As the wolves looked up into the skies, the sunlight began to fade away. The blue sky turned black, and the stars disappeared. Blood Fang called out, “stand strong my brothers! Now is the time of the so-called Great Spirit to be addressed!” The wolves watched as gigantic wings crossed over the skies above, made of stars. Each feather could be made out, with the stars forming their outlines. However, something was off, which led Silver Fang to look at the wolf like creature. “That is a wing, where is the rest of the Great Spirit’s body?” The skies to their south were glowing brightly, and the ground began to shake. Violent tremors resulted in the trees shaking violently in the air, as well as several of the coyotes to fall onto the ground. It lasted for many tense minutes, and soon the wings disappeared from the skies above. The stars returned, and the light slowly returned. The thunder eagle had appeared, the form the Great Spirit assumed, but his focus was on something else. The wolves had not attracted his attention, yet.
The forces began to feed on the horses that were strewn about them on the ground. Blood Fang looked a bit defeated, “three chains …and we get a wing? How many must we destroy to gain an audience with our would-be god?” The ravenous wolves did not pay attention, and were devouring their prey. Even Silver Fang was amazed by how hungry he was, and the power flowing in his veins. The feeling of invincibility was outweighed by the revelation that the Great Spirit did in fact exist. Once full, the alpha looked up at the wolf like creature, as he licked blood from around his mouth. “So, that was the Great Spirit? Any explanation as to what happened?” The wolf like creature shook his head, “I thought for certain three chains would be enough. It would seem we need far more to attract his attention. But that being said, I have a new concern. What happened to result in the so-called Great Spirit to be summoned?” The alpha nodded, “I concur. Are there any more chains in the direction of the Great Spirit?” The smoke-filled creature nodded, “yes. Not all chains are defended by animals, some are latent connections. The animals that guarded them have long since moved on. I can sense their general location, so we may need to search awhile.”
The attack forces settled down, and began to fall asleep. The air was warm, and the moon brightly shone in the skies above. As the celestial body floated silently, the translucent face of a female wolf started to appear. In the skies above, a huge bear’s face made of stars also appeared, watching silently over the thousand wolves camped on the ground below. Owls hooted softly, watching from high above in their trees. A snow white one flew overhead and looked down as the smoke-filled wolf creature watched from the ground below. “Ahh, keeping tabs on me, I see?” Blood Fang said as the white owl disappeared from view. The creature nodded to himself, “we are being tracked. That is of concern … measures will need to be taken.” The night passed silently, and soon it was day once more. The wolves were energized, and looked at Blood Fang as to where they would head next.
Silver Fang gave the order, and once more they were on the move. They headed south east, skirting the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains. Along the way, the smokey creature formulated a plan. Days passed, and as the huge wolf pack crossed into what was once called Wyoming. The hunting was good, and lesser creatures filled the land, keeping the wolves full and satisfied. Though there was the occasional reminder to the former human wolves to not kill animals just for fun. The human was then made to eat the animal even if it made them sick, which resulted in general order in the ranks once more. Days turned into weeks, and soon months. Blood Fang had not found what they were looking for, which was resulting in some grumbling. It was after a terrible thunder storm, which drenched the lands in rain water, that the wolf like creature started to feel drawn to a specific point.
The forces headed through Colorado, and then into New Mexico. The lush lands soon started to thin out, as the desert approached. Silver Fang halted the advance, and ordered everyone to rest. The wolf like creature was grinning, which drew a look from the alpha wolf. Announcing to every wolf in ear shot, “I have found our destination, it is not too far from here. An ancient chain, that is in need of attention by our forces.” The alpha nodded, “I was beginning to doubt your sense of direction. So, into the desert lands we head then?” The wolf like creature nodded, and as the pack members stared into the desert, they saw a row of cactus standing in a row. They were ancient saguaro cacti, and stood tall in the desert skies. Silver Fang turned his head to look at a coyote arguing, before turning back to see that the cacti had disappeared. “What the …” the white fur leader remarked as the plants had disappeared. Maybe it was a mirage, and had something in his eyes?
One reply on “Blood Fang: Chapter 2: Sherman”
The opening part to this chapter was brutal. Really liking this story so far, it’s intense and very dark.