The first snow at the northern border, covered all that the eyes could see. Between heaven and earth, everything had lost its color because of the snow, as far as the eye could see, there was only black and white. This snow also indicated that the extremely short summer at the northern border was already over, and the long, long winter had begun.
On that cold, frozen night, the gigantic moon was partially hiding behind a tiny cloud, and was rather hazy.
In the white birch forest of the General’s Mountains, the ashen bark was just like sharp swords that had descended from heaven, solemn and silent, reflecting the sharp white moonlight.
There was a campfire burning by a collapsed stone wall, with several forest rangers warming themselves, they all had hunter’s bows on their backs, and were wearing thick cloaks, and color was slowly returning to their faces. Even though the stone wall blocked a majority of the northern coldness, the chill at night was still pervasive.
There was a rabbit roasting on the campfire, making crackling sounds.
“Where on earth is that kid Allen……”
A ranger stood up, and looked at the surrounding silent forest uneasily.
“There’s so many trees right around here, why did he run off that far for firewood?”
“These white birches are holy trees, you can’t cut them down so wantonly.” Another ranger said in a slow drawl.
“I’m just worried about him, it hasn’t been too peaceful in these woods recently, I heard bandits just ransacked a village recently, and there were no survivors from over a hundred people, and it happened less than 100 kilometers from here,” said the ranger from earlier.
“Those bandits wouldn’t dare come to the White Fortress’s territory to act up, the Wolf Corps would destroy even their hideout! What are you worried about!” A ranger said in an annoyed manner.
“This is the first time that kid Allen’s gone on patrol, he’s not like you guys, able to find your way back by scent alone,” said the first ranger that spoke up.
“I heard that he was a lord’s son as well, this kind of person, why isn’t he enjoying himself in his castle during the winter, what’s he doing out here being a ranger?” A ranger off in the distance added to the conversation.
“Maybe his dad wants him to get some practical experience in life, I don’t think he’s a bad kid at all……” said the first ranger.
“Not bad? I think he’s too overconfident! How bravely foolish he is, to even think of dealing with the Night Banshees!” Another person angrily interrupted the conversation.
Tarta was in the midst of concentrating on carving special ranger markings into the stone wall, he’s the head of this small team, as well as one of the most experienced rangers belonging to the White Fortress. He wasn’t paying attention to the four of them gossiping, all the way up until he heard the words Night Banshee, which caused him to furrow his brows.
What Tarta honestly believed was, the fact that Allen was chasing after the Wolf Corps’ 5th platoon leader, Rosalinda, was an unbelievable undertaking. Rosalinda is older than Allen by several years, and is as cold-blooded as they come, but for some reason, Allen was smitten with her, Allen had gotten enamored with her, and was head over heels in love. Before Allen had joined the rangers, the two of them seemed to have gotten into a big fight.
The rabbit being roasted was emitting a delicious smell that made everyone’s fingers itch to take some.
“Is it ready? I’m starving!” Without waiting for a reply, several people started grabbing for some meat, and before long there was nothing but bones left.
“That brat Allen’s probably going hungry tonight.” Tarta lit a smoke, and was about to relax a bit after dinner, when he suddenly heard some movements, and alertly stopped what he was doing.
There was something strange about the southeast patch of forest.
“Quiet!” Tarta commanded in a low voice. The other four rangers immediately fell silent.
The snow compacted on the branches was making creaking noises, without an excellent sense of hearing, this wouldn’t be noticeable at all. But Tarta didn’t only rely on his hearing, he also had a hunter’s instinct.
“Something” was approaching!
“Is it a snow wolf?” One person asked in a low voice. During wintertime, the snow wolves would often attack in packs, looting food, and storing it for winter.
“……” Tarta didn’t speak, and the look on his face became more serious, he stood up, prepared his bow, reached into the quiver on his back, and slowly notched an arrow onto the bowstring. The other four people also took out their weapons, and formed themselves into a fan shape, with their backs to the stone wall, facing the direction that the sound came from.
From the ashen-white trees, two points of scarlet light appeared, the air became even more chillingly cold, and the fire suddenly dimmed.
Tarta took a deep breath in nervousness, it was as if there was an icy hand gripping his chest, making his heart skip a few beats.
That was a pair of blood-red eyes, belonging to a wolf…… But Tarta’s never seen such a large wolf before, it’s even bigger than a horse……
The red eyes shone in the forest for a bit, then suddenly disappeared without warning.
Everyone’s palms were sweating, and they all kept staring into the forest for a long, long time, before they finally let their breaths go. They finally relaxed from a state of tension, and let go of their weapons.
Tarta was just about to discuss with his comrades about what they just saw, when he turned around and suddenly saw someone standing behind them without having made a sound almost like a ghost.
“Al……Allen?” One ranger started talking loudly. “Hey brat, where’ve you been for so long! Also, how come you’re returning empty-handed!?” As he said so, he reached out his hand, and was about to put it on Allen’s shoulder.
“Get back!!” Tarta felt that something wasn’t right, and immediately shouted a warning.
The ranger’s hand froze in midair, then he doubtfully stepped back a few steps.
The young Allen was standing there limpless and motionlessly.
“Allen? What’s happened?” Tarta asked in a heavy voice.
Allen slowly raised his head, his eyes were empty, and his handsome face seemed lifeless, as if his soul wasn’t even there anymore, and he was only an empty shell.
“Blood moon…… everyone…… is dead……” Allen’s lips were turning pale, and he muttered an incomplete sentence, before he suddenly collapsed.
Everyone was shocked, and they surrounded him quickly, someone checked to see if he was still breathing while another person checked his pulse.
“He’s dead……” The person who checked his pulse said in a heavy voice, and raised his head to look at Tarta.
Chills ran down Tarta’s spine, and all the rangers’ expressions darkened.
Suddenly, that ranger discovered something else.
“It seems like he’s holding on to something……” As he said so, he pried something out of the cold, frozen fingers. Allen had been holding on to a black stone about the size of an egg. He handed the stone to Tarta.
Tarta examined the stone in his hands, and felt it all over with his fingertips. The stone was cold, smooth, and hard, and there was something engraved on it as well. It was too dark to see it clearly, but feeling it, it seems to be a u-shaped curve, with sharp edges and pointed at both ends, a bit wider in the middle…… it’s a crescent.
Tarta was just about to say something to the rangers, when a gruesome scene suddenly left the words stuck in his throat. Allen suddenly opened his eyes and sat up……
His eye sockets were already filled with stagnant water, and his eyes were just like dead fish that would rise up to the top of a lake, completely waxen white. He slowly rotated his neck completely, and looked at all five people in front of him……