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The Werewolf of Mount Grave
The relentless barrage of snow finally began to shy away and before long the night sky fell silent. Under the still moon and the dancing stars, Mount Grave slept undisturbed beneath a blanket of snow in the dead of winter. The mountain was said to tower over five hundred meters high, and its treacherously steep slope with the arched top gave the mountain the ominous appearance of a frosty tomb. Yet, its distinctive shape was not the only reason why people had come to call it “The Grave”.
“Where’s Stark? What happened, Ross?”
“Couldn’t see anything in the damned fog. The wolf was too quick this time — barely even heard it,” Ross began to enter the forest with his lamp, illuminating the path ahead. “One moment, Stark’s trudging along right beside me. The next, I hear the whistling of snow, a scream of terror, and there’s the ragged wolf, with eyes staring directly into mine, standing over Stark’s bloodied corpse. Managed to get a shot out. Scared it off, but it’s still around.”
“Blasted beast.” Smith lowered his hood and wiped his sweaty brow. His moist hands were tingling with nervous anticipation. “At least we finally found the lost caravan, after all these tiresome years!”
At the end of the upturned carriage lay a sealed safe with a firm, discolored lock. The metal lock was almost glued in place, never surrendering an inch of space. The last guardian of the vault would stand resistant to the end, never letting go. The two men began looking on the ground for a key in vain, as the key had been the first victim claimed by The Grave, long lost somewhere in the mountain ever since the carriage was first abandoned and forgotten.
Ross looked at the cadaver of the carriage driver, whose eyes remained open with hands outstretched towards the vault. “What exactly did the man in the village say about the carman?’
“The carman was a business prospector in charge of a mine. Built his fortune on the corpses of his workers. Miners called him half-man, half-wolf.” Smith shook his head. “He was transporting gold through the mountain when the wolf consumed him.”
“I never did understand that man in the village. A map charting a vault full of gold, but the man lets go of his desires and gives up his map to us.” Ross stood back up, staring at the skeletons of the horses. “The man’s either crazy or sees something I don’t. Why did the man let go?”
“The man couldn't face the wolf.”
“I can.” Ross pulled out his revolver. “I’ll try shooting this lock off. Maybe use dynamite for good measure.”
“Rash as always, I see. You don’t always have to blow up everything around you just to continue forward. Plus, that recklessness will alert the wolf if an avalanche doesn’t bury us all first!” Smith clutched a bobby pin. “This’ll do. Can you take your revolver and guard the road?”
“I think I heard the howling of the wolf.”
As Ross begrudgingly withdrew from the vault, Smith started to pick the lock. “To think so many perished all for this simple box!” Smith thought to himself. “I suppose the lure of fortune was enough to preserve the potency of the so-called ‘vault underneath the mountain of corpses’.”
As the lock fell to the floor broken and the rusty door spilled open, Smith held a heavy breath. Waving his dimly lit lamp, he peered ahead at once and spotted the riches lining the vault. “Gold! We found it!”
“Fifty-fifty, as we agreed, then?” Smith grinned delightedly at the sight, the promise of an easy future, a life of luxury and comfort. His eyes took lengthy blinks, as if they had detected an illusion not to be trusted. Reaching forward, Smith baptized his hands with a block of gold that was denser than earth, clearer than a mirror, brighter than the sun, more real to him than anything else. Refreshed by the touch, Smith felt almost elucidated. The man didn’t even hear the crawling of the wolf behind him, nor notice the blood seeping from a wound on his chest.
A bullet wound.
“In the end, only the vault really mattered. Stark wanted to give it all up. You wanted half of it. Heck, you might’ve turned on me and taken it all, Smith!” The “wolf” chuckled as he moved his fur coat. “Everything else besides me and my goal was just potential collateral, loose ends to be tied up.”
However, the trigger of the revolver had prompted more than the breeze of gunfire. Awoken by the noise of avarice, the enraged mountain retaliated with volleys of ice. As the avalanche tore through the forest, a torrent of bitter snow flooded through the werewolf and the vault, entrapping the cornered animal in a snowy tomb.
Encaged by obsession as much as he was by icy snow, the thoughtless werewolf became trapped and isolated from all but his goal, the vault. Blind devotion of an objective with disregard to all else was a destructive form of greed that Ross could not let go of. Now, the lone wolf found himself truly alone by a Grave that would not let go.
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