9 A Deadly Winter
"Run, RUN," Anna, screamed while clutching her son Franklin's hand, dragging the young boy behind her. The sounds of screams surrounding her as she, hurtled through the underbrush of the Unbroken Region. She didn't have time to worry about those behind her. All she hoped for is that her son could escape.
"Hold, Stay together!" some brave warriors tried to rally the panicked mob but few heeded the call. Demonic Wolves, slaughtered through the holes in the defense, causing more panic and loss of life. Howls of angry men mixed with the panic screams, zaps the moral, forcing the humans into a sorry state.
As a white demonic wolf lunged towards Anna's small son, she dived down to the ground covering Franklin with her body. She could only hope the wolves wouldn't notice the young lad under her. As she gritted her teeth waiting for the pain. Arron came lunging from behind a tree, smashing into the wolf with his body. Being a farmer he had no experience with weapons, but he was strong and well built. The wolf smashed into a nearby tree stunning it. "Are you alright Anna?" he asked as he pulled her and the boy to their feet.
Anna glanced at the young man who was once her neighbor with relief "I'm fine, thanks." Taking a quick look around showed her, things were grim. The falling snow mixed with the blood to form blooming flowers in this damned forest. There didn't seem to be any hope as she saw the people she knew, tore apart before her eyes. Then she squeezed her son's hand regaining her resolve. At least him, "Please gods," she whispered as they continued running.
There wasn't much hope in her fellow refugee's eyes. They had set out after a huge war had dispersed many of the citizens, that lived near the outskirts of the Unbroken Region. Normally only strong cultivators would dare venture into this dangerous place. Now with no choice, they tested their luck only to find themselves constantly harassed by demonic beasts.
The panicked crowd began to disperse in all directions. Anna and Arron with some other villagers move towards the north. Right now there didn't seem to be any direction better than the other. Slowly the number of screams dissipated. Those caught no longer had the energy left to yell, giving in to their fate.
Growling and yelping at each other the wolves start to make more noise as if discussing something. They constantly looked at each other as if confirming something. The lead wolves began to crouch, with sharp glints in their eyes.
Arron felt the change in the mood. Looking over his shoulder, he saw that the demonic beast seemed to become cautious. What could make such strong demonic beast become so weary, he wondered with a cold sweat, joining his already sweat drenched body. Chest heaving from exhaustion he yelled, "Something is wrong these demons look scared!"
Anna, also felt something was off and tried to discover what was wrong. Yet she couldn't see anything different. The trees were oversized and dense blocking out the sun. Not being cultivators, these mortals couldn't see far in this dense forest. "Ahead there is a clearing," someone ahead called out.
"Is this clearing a blessing or the end of our path?" Arron asked as the trees indeed began to become more sparse. Looking ahead they saw a small hill covered in snow. Behind they saw that the wolves weren't giving chase anymore. They are seemingly happy to stalk behind them.
Bursting into the clearing even these nobodies could feel the difference here. The air seemed denser as if there was power in the air. Many held their breaths and looked around in a panic. Anna could only see a small hill, with a strange bump on it. It looked as if a second hill had been built on top of the first. As the demonic beast wolves neared the forest's edge; this mound on the hill seemed to move, giving her, a great shock. With wide eyes, Anna pointed to the hilltop and said, "Look!". Everyone eyes focused and indeed the mound was moving.
It shook a bit and the snow fell off revealing a giant demonic bull. As its eyes scanned the people in the clearing, their hair stood on end. What was this intense feeling? It was as if the world would end if this beast willed it. The bull seemed to ignore them for now as it focused on the demonic wolves. With a snort from the bull, causing a flurry of snow to blast a clearing on the ground. The wolves no longer put up a front and sped back into the forest with the quickest of speed.
After taking one more glance at the humans, the powerful demonic bull, no longer gave the humans any heed, returning to its rest. "Are we safe?" Anna asked falling to her knees. She hadn't run this much in her whole life and was beyond exhausted. Even the fit Arron couldn't keep his legs under him fell on his bottom.
They didn't know why this demonic beast didn't care about their presence but they were happy about it. "Perhaps it sees us as ants not worth his time," a young man speculated. In any event, at least they could now catch a short break before braving the forest once again.
After they rested through the night, they were preparing to leave this place. They didn't know when the demonic beast on the hill might go berserk. However Anna, looked at her exhausted child scraped and ragged with tears in her eyes. "Can't we just stay here?" she wondered out loud.
"How can you say that lass?" one of the older ladies looked at her as if she was crazy. "She only worried about her son," a man stated. "My daughter can't go on much longer either," a mother lamented.
They were scared with torn clothing. Even with the night's rest, they looked like they would collapse at any moment. Arron looked at this ragtag bunch without much hope. Shaking his head and looking at the hill an idea came to him. "Once, I heard from a merchant that some villages had something called a Guardian spirit."
"Oh, what's that uncle?" The small boy next to Anna asked with sparkling eyes. "Well, Franklin they are demonic beast or other wondrous entities that protect a village for offerings and worship." Arron furrowed his brow trying to remember,
Anna couldn't help but be shocked. "Do you really think that if we gave offerings, to that demonic beast, on the hill, it would help us?" "That's hard to say. It doesn't appear to hate humans but who knows what it will do in the future. It's a gamble whether we leave or stay though." Arron, responded as he wiped his brow from a nervous sweat.
After some spirited debate, fourteen people decided to stay, mostly those with young, who would be quickly picked off in the forest. While the more fit mostly decided to chance the wolves, they can at least fight them to a certain extent, unlike that powerful bull. Arron and two other men were the only men left; four mothers and Anna also chose to stay; with the three boys and Franklin as well as two girls.