The weight of a heavy fist pounded against the thick surface of bound wood several times, causing the sound to echo through the small house. Somebody was knocking at their door.

A bout of silence came shortly thereafter, before the pounding at the door came again. Helen Carpenter looked up from cleaning the food from supper's dishes, seeing if anybody was going to take the initiative of answering it.

"Can somebody answer the door, for goodness sakes!" yelled a husky voice from a separate room. Helen sighed, wondering what her husband would be doing that would prevent him from the simple task of walking to the door.

Placing her fingers around the handle, she pulled the large object open. Standing beyond the frame was a tall man of a semi-pudgy build, his stomach slightly hanging out but his arms made of muscle. His face was covered with a light, brown beard to match his brown hair; and his eyes were a deep green. She noticed him quickly scanning her appearance before moving his gaze back to her eyes. He shot a quick grin to Helen, who, blushing, smiled back to him.

"Why hello, Aaron, how are you this night?" spoke the thirty-five-year-old woman, greeting the man standing before her. Kylot was a large town, but she wouldbe damned if she didn't know the man standing before her. Aaron happened to be a close friend.

"Oh, I'm just fine, Helen," answered Aaron with his usual soft voice. "But I can't say I'm here under the finest circumstances."

Helen's face dropped from happy to one of concern. "What's wrong?"

His voice turned grim. "Well, a wagon of travelers just pulled in through the gate, barely making curfew, and—" He turned and looked away from the house, no doubt in the direction he had been from. "I really don't want to worry you, so maybe…"

The dark-brown-haired woman waved off the man's concern. "Aaron, it's fine. Please, what's happened?"

Scratching his light beard, the man sighed. "They were traveling the trail two days ago and they came upon the remains of a large wagon fire. There was barely anything left of the wagon itself, they say, but of its passengers…well, they found a body." Aaron paused once more, swallowing back before uttering his next words. "Marcus Wilkerman's body."

"Oh my heavens!" gasped Helen, bringing her hands to her mouth. Aaron just nodded.

"His body was abused pretty badly, and Doctor O'Neill, who just got a chance to examine it, ruled it murder. The men who picked up his body think thatthe whole scenefits the look of highway robbery, and considering how much Marcus and Tobias made with their meat trades, we believe it."

Helen clutched her chest, taking in deep breaths. Who would've done such a thing to such a kind man as Marcus?

"We're trying to gather up a group of men to ride down there and see if there's anything we can do to find Tobias, who wasmissing from the scene; probably running off for help. Not to mention we want to track down whoever did this to them. We have many good people who live on the trail or who travel the trail, so it's important that we help out in the interest of protecting the people we care about. Unfortunately, the place is about a two day wagon ride from here, though slightly less with horses, and we can't leave 'til morning when the gate opens, so time is on this murderer's side. That's why we're trying to gather a large group of people." Aaron attempted to look past Helen's shoulders, and the woman knew who he was looking for.

"I'll get Alexander for you, I'm sure he'd be more than happy to help," she answered, making Aaron grin in appreciation. Helen turned from the door and walked swiftly down the hall, turning to the first room where a broad man was carving a piece of wood.

"Alexander," Helen spoke. He didn't turn from his work. "Alexander, I'm talking to you."

"What is it, Helen, can't you see I'm busy?" he responded harshly.

His attitude didn't bother her; it was his usual. "Aaron is here, and he needs your help to—"

Alexander continued to pay more attention to his wood carving than to his wife. "I heard the story. Tell him I can't."

Helen folded her arms over her chest, glancing back to Aaron at the door before moving her eyes back to her husband, shocked at his lack of concern, but trying to keep a level voice. "I already told him that you'd be happy to help."

The sandy-haired man shifted his eyes briefly to his wife. "Well, tell him that I would still be happy to help him, but not tonight."

"Why not?" Helen scoffed. "Because you're too busy carving your wood? This is the Wilkerman brothers we're talking about!"

Alexander ceased his work and dropped his tools on the floor, pushing away his chair and standing up. He was a broad-shouldered man of medium height, but of an athletic build; quite toned for a thirty-seven-year-old man. His figure pushed against his button shirt, and his face showed pure annoyance and anger. He made it to the room's door in several steps, pushing past Helen and walking to the house's entrance, putting on a limp as soon as he came into Aaron's view. "Sorry about my wife," he began.

"Alexander, what's wrong?" she heard Aaron ask.

"I'd love to help you all, but I injured my leg carrying a heavy load of logs for last week's shipment. Took more than I could handle." Helen glanced up to see her husband playing a delicate character, placing his hands on Aaron's shoulder. "But if you find that scum who dared mess with one of our own, then make sure you let me have a piece of him." Helen couldn't mistake the tone of her husband's lying words, faking his kind voice to one of the men of the village. She couldn't believe that he would sink that low just to avoid helping out some people.

"Sorry to hear that. Listen, you get some rest so that can heal and we'll take care of this. Good health to you, and we'll be leaving in the morning if you feel any better. Tell the misses I said goodnight."

"I will. Thank you, Aaron, and good luck with this." His voice ceased, soon after closing the door behind him, instantaneously losing his limp as he moved back to Helen's position in the hallway. Helen shuffled to the side to allow him back into the room, but the broad man followed her and with the back of his hand smacked her square in the face, knocking her against the hallway's wall. Focusing her vision, Helen watched as Alexander moved in once more. She felt his arms going around hers.

"Feel like getting smart with me, huh Helen? Trying to make a fool of me in front of others, right?" He faked a small laugh, a throaty cackle that sounded as if he was gargling phlegm, staring her down with his dangerous brown eyes. "You have no right to do that to me! No right! Have I ever tried to humiliate you like you just tried in front of Aaron there?"

Helen wanted to bite her tongue; she wanted to remain quiet as she always did. This time words just slipped out. "You left me pregnant at sixteen, dear. I had my share of humiliation."

Using his powerful arms, the large man whipped Helen from against the wall onto the hard wood floor, watching as she slid several feet on her dress. She came to a slow stop, immediately bringing her hand to cup her sore face, red from Alexander's strike.

Her husband took in a deep breath, trying to calm himself from his quick fit of rage. "Go finish what you were doing, and allow me to do the same, if you would. I'll see you in bed." Without saying another word, the man withdrew into his work room.

Helen stayed on the floor, wiping the blood trickling from her lip. She put her other hand through her now-messy, dark brown hair, before slapping it down to the floor, using it to push herself to a sitting position. Looking up with her dark blue eyes, she stared down the hall to see a light-brown-haired, teenage girl quickly flee into her room. She had seen it. She had probably had heard everything.

Her heart sank. The poor girl shouldn't have had to witness that.

Kylot was definitely the largest town Erin had ever seen, and the massive place stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the empty plains. Her parents had tried to describe the size of the town to her many times, but seeing the real thing was truly an experience on its own. Aralan, her hometown, was a smaller village, and the red-haired young woman was sure that her quaint town could've fit at least three times over into the size of what lay before her. Perhaps 'town' wasn't the right word to call what she saw, as the place seemed like a fortress due to thelarge walls surrounding every inch of it.

Under the twilight of another clear night, the distant lights of the town lit up the sky. It was an easy beacon to follow, even through the woods, which had been the only place she dared to travel in the past days. The forest had been shelter to her, keeping her out of contact with the people of the trails and providing her with all she had needed to survive. The thought that her father would somehow find her had been the only reason that she had been walking the trail before, and she was now cold to the idea of accepting his help at this point anyway. Erin had gotten herself this far, and she knew that she would be able to bring herself the rest of the way; she was strong enough now. Yet, just as she was getting used to her forest surroundings, her shelter had abruptly ended as the border of the forest opened up into the plains that flowed into the large town. There was to be no more hiding.

Ever since she had awakened from the second and final night of the full moon several days ago, a heavy question had been hanging over her head constantly. Was there any reason to find this new home of hers in Potaria? Was all this trouble of traveling and avoiding contact worth it just so she could restore a semblance of what her life in Aralan had been? What would the town of Potaria want with a girl that tragedy followed around? Erin knew she had been lucky to escape Aralan alive…the fluke had always been how such a double lifestyle had survived for as long as it did. One screw-up in Potaria would leave her in the same situation as had happened in her hometown. Father wouldn't always come to her rescue as he had back in her last days in Aralan. But she had accepted that fact many days ago; during the time she spent reflecting in the hunters' wagon.

The young woman rubbed her arms over her bare flesh, trying to form some amount of heat against the continually dropping temperatures that the transition towards autumn was bringing. Clothing was something Erin was dearly missing at this stage of the journey, as she knew it would become increasingly more difficult to keep herself warm as time moved on. Unlike a real wolf, she only had her thick fur two or three days each month; on the moon's terms.

The unobstructed view of the night sky over the plains revealed a three-quarters moon, in the midst of its month-long cycle towards a new moon before becoming full again. The full moon cycle had only lasted two nights this month, compared to the three of the month previous; how long it'd be this next cycle was going to be hard to tell. Erin could feel the beast; the rage sleeping within the confines of her human soul. It could not be there for her in physical form for the next month, but it was in her; a part of her. It made her feel strong and confident, a feeling she had never had before but one she now cherished highly.

The young werewolf focused back on Kylot; taking in the massive town with the large walls that surrounded it. The entrance gate seemed to be closed, but from what her parents had mentioned back from their last journey to its confines was that the townspeople made sure the gates were closed at all times during night, not allowing access or exit to anybody under any circumstances, yet the same gates were open to all during the daylight hours. "They're a very superstitious people there", her mother had mentioned to her and Owen in conversation. "Night brings evil, they say, while the day brings purity. For generations, they have believed that as long as the gates are sealed after sunset, the evil creatures and spirits are kept out. Once the sun rises again, the evil has gone back into hiding, leaving them safe once more."

Superstitions were thought foolhardy by most, but it had taken a bite from a superstitious creature to make Erin start believing in what these items of lore had to say. The seventeen-year-old knew her own dark side came out under the darkness of night, so perhaps this paranoid population had a point to keeping themselves sealed in past nightfall. After all, sleeping easy at night was something Erin knew was a treasure in itself.

The gated town was also the intersection her father had told her about: the end of the Mountain Trail and the beginning of the Commerce Trail. Cutting a large corner and going straight onto the Commerce Trail, therefore skipping Kylot altogether, was definitely an option the seventeen-year-old had been considering, but she was still undecided about whether she would be heading to Potaria or not.

Inside those walls is where I want to be, Erin thought, abandoning the previous option of skipping the large town. I don't know what I'm going to do after that, but I need to get inside. People don't scare me anymore.

Erin rubbed her chin, surveying the layout of the massive walls and the one entrance that the Mountain Trail fed right into. Getting inside at night was practically impossible unless she could become a miraculous climber, and she had a feeling that waltzing through the open gates in broad daylight wearing nothing but her skin would not please the residents of Kylot very much. I don't think they'd take too kindly to me if they knew a werewolf was walking amongst them either, she thought, imagining pitchforks and torches amongst an angry mob.

The effort it would take to get into the town almost seemed unworthy of her time, but since Erin knew she was at a crossroads in how she would continue her journey, this town seemed a perfect focus for the time being.

Perhaps I just miss civilization, Erin pondered, before shaking off the thought and focusing back on her currently empty plan.

"I can't help but wonder why you would even consider entering such a place, young werewolf." The smooth, deep, and alluring voice took her by surprise but she kept her body still, feeling no fear from his presence. What could this vampire do to make her life any more miserable than it already was?

Erin could feel his stare coming down upon her from the vampire lord's favorite nesting spot in the top of trees. She refused to acknowledge him by shifting her gaze, or responding to the being; a protest to his presence when the only thing she desired was to be alone.

"Despite contemplating a foolhardy decision which sheds doubts upon your mental well-being, you are looking to be quite well, Erin…even after you've had all those grimy human hands and their blood all over you." Terafu was obviously trying to strike a nerve, Erin knew, and she found the vampire was successful.

Erin huffed, but would not move her gaze to him. "I thought you said that you would leave me be? Are vampires, especially their lords, not true to their word?"

"Now now, that was on neutral ground, my dear. But now you've stepped onto the turf of my homeland, so consider yourself a guest of mine rather than thinking me an intruder in your space." The tone of the vampire's voice never seemed to stray from the one smooth tone he held; never showing aggravation or any emotion except for the small amusement he attained through his conversations with her. He gave an elegant pause before he continued, and Erin figured he was carrying a grin on his lips as he did so. "Plus, it appears as if you require my assistance."

The red-haired woman scrunched her face in disbelief, crossing her arms over her chest as she finally spun to face the undead being in the tree. "What do you mean homeland?"

Terafu smirked. "Don't be so naive, young werewolf. You've heard the tales of the vampire lands which lie to the east; it's common folklore among the towns. Why do you think those walls around that town exist in the first place?"

Aralan hadn't been a place where many people worried about the likes of vampires and werewolves, but the common knowledge was, even if just in bedtime stories, that the vampire lands existed to the far east past Kylot while the lands of the werewolves existed in the far west past Ibergal. We were comfortably in the middle, which is why nobody dared to think to find anything remotely similar to a vampire or werewolf within our borders. Yet, both had been inside at numerous occasions, right under their noses.

"Simply put," Terafu lectured, "we've inhabited this land for centuries, and as humans do, they take what isn't theirs. When they'd get paid some friendly visits at night from their vampire neighbors whilst resting from the building of their town, they became deathly afraid. Many ran, most with tales of the horror that visited them, as we had wished. That was their warning, but it seems we couldn't frighten every last one of them. The humans have their pride and their ego, after all, and they kept on coming back during the times of daylight after fleeingcome night until they could finish their masterpiece." The vampire paused, glancing over to the town briefly.

"Once they finally populated this town, we did not allow them to sleep easily. Yet, alas, we underestimated them once more." The hand of the vampire motioned towards the large walls, drifting Erin's attention to them. "They constructed those things, and effectively shut us out."

Terafu paused, as if knowing the questions that were going to be asked of him by the young woman. "You cannot enter?" Erin asked him.

The vampire scoffed at the question, seemingly unpleased with the reality of the human victory over his brethren; for the first time Erin believed she could sense a change in his tone. "The walls are constructed from the wood of cypresses, soaked in the strongest concoction of salts and herbsone could ever think of. Therefore, any attempt to approach or cross over that wall results in the disorientation our vampiric senses, leaving us to the mercy of the many fire-lit lanterns or wooden stakes atop the walls. Or, in the chance we do make it over the walls, we're helpless to whatever waits for us on the other end." The vampire, with a slight push from his feet, drifted off the tree branch and down to the ground, meeting Erin face-to-face. "It may sound absurd to you, but we've learned from experience not to underestimate their defenses," he finished in a grim tone.

"So," Erin began, twisting her upper body back and forth trying to keep some heat in her from motion, "are you saying that all I have to do is roll around in salt and you'll finally leave me alone?"

Terafu wasn't smiling, but Erin wasn't expecting him to as his cold demeanor showed great distaste to the statement. "Cute."

Erin turned away and faced towards the large town once more, ready to change the subject of the conversation. "You mentioned something about how I looked like I required your assistance. Tell me, if you would, how you can get me over that wall if you can't even get close to it?"

There was another pause, but the red-haired young woman was almost sure the vampire was smirking again as he spoke. "Oh Erin, you are far too assuming. Who said I had to get anywhere close to it for me to get you in?"

Aaron Ross held the gun pointed at the stranger as the group of riders around him dismounted from their horses and moved in towards the man. They had only been riding for three-quarters of the day and with the sun still beating down on them from its place in the sky it seemed they had already found the man they had been looking for. The template almost seemed too stereotypical.

"Kick the rifle over to the man on your left, and keep those hands in the air if you know what's good for you," the thin-bearded man ordered, as two of his companions moved in. The stranger did as he was told and kicked his rifle over to the man on his left,Hector, who proceeded to pick it up, while the other, Robert, moved in and began to frisk the surrendering stranger.

The stranger remained still and resigned to what the men where doing, but his stubbly and unshaven face showed a clear annoyance. Aaron's eyes scanned down the man's dark clothing and black jacket, which his two comrades were frisking through and removing items from. There were small bottles, several knives, and other objects that the men threw on the grass, and the more things Hector and Robert discovered the more the stranger's guilt seemed apparent.

After finding no more, Robert lifted his rifle and kept aim on the dark-haired stranger, allowing Aaron to drop off his horse and move in close to the suspect. The stranger looked up to him with eyes full of anger, often shooting quick glances to the rifle pointed at his head. "May I ask exactly what this is about?" his voice uttered, Aaron now sure of the man's annoyance.

He didn't give the man an answer, instead turning to his companion who was standing and waiting for orders. "Hector, go see to his wagon. Tell me if you find anything of Marcus' or Tobias' in there."

The stranger's face turned from one of annoyance to one faced with absurdity. "You think I'm some sort of robber? That's preposterous!"

"What's preposterous," Aaron returned, raising his voice in an attempt to intimidate the stranger, "is that two good men were robbed, and at least one was murdered. All for the sake of money. The funny thing is thatyou seem to fit the bill of a robber quite well. You have plenty of knives and cashon you, that's for sure."

Aaron waited for a slew of remarksfrom the stranger claiming his own innocence, but instead he was rebuked with a hearty laugh. Confused as well as irritated by the man, the leader of the expedition moved in. "What's so funny, huh?"

The man gave a wicked smile as he looked into Aaron's eyes. "What's funny is the fact that you men are referring to that burnt wagon and its killed passengers back there as robbery, arson, and simple murder. What's hilarious is the fact that you're looking at somebody like me when you should be looking for somebody quite the opposite."

Clutching his own rifle tightly, Aaron moved in closer to the man. "And what the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"What it means is that you think this was the work of a simple man who wanted money and was willing to kill for it. What you should be looking for is something much more complicated than that." The dark-clothed man looked down the way Hector was moving, towards a wagon parked off in the not-so-far distance. "Bring me to the wagon, and I can show you exactly what you should be looking for, as I am."

Robert glanced to Aaron, who nodded to his companion. "Okay, bring us to your wagon. But remember, you still have a rifle at your back, so don't try anything funny."

"Trust me; I have far too much at stake to be throwing my life away right now."

The three men wandered down the trail, Aaron walking to the stranger's side with Robert following the rear, his rifle pointed at the man. As they approached the parked wagon, Hector was sitting with his gun aimed at another man, who looked in his early twenties. The man, who had short, blonde hair and didn't seem to have an ounce of fat on his body, stood with his arms raised and was quivering in fright.

"I—I'm sorr—sorry Mr. P—" he stuttered, before the stranger cut him off.

"It's okay, Samuel. These men want answers, I'll show them answers." The group of three circled to the back of the wagon and the man gave a look to Aaron, seeing if it was alright to proceed without getting a bullet lodged in his back. When Aaron gave the okay, the man jumped into the wagon and several seconds later shoved out a long item bundled in a thick cloth, letting it fall to the ground below. He jumped down next to the large wrapped object, with Aaron moving next to it, who was leaking with curiosity.

"Before I show you what lies beneath this, I want you to think exactly why you're looking for a robber. Because of slashes in the flesh? Because of arson?" The stranger turned his gaze away from the leader of the group from Kylot and placed his hand over the top of the wrapped object and ripped the cloth from the top, revealing the corpse of the hunter Tobias.

"You murderer!" shouted Robert, steadying his rifle in anger. "What are you doing with Tobias' body?!" Aaron lifted up his hand to stop his companion, taking interest in the body itself.

"Proof," was the stranger's response.

"Proof for what?!" Aaron immediately questioned back. The thin-bearded man knelt closer to the days-old cadaver, breathing through his mouth as not to take in the smell of rotting flesh. "What's happened to his neck? Did somebody…cut out his throat?"

The stranger shook his head. "Look closer. Nobody cut his throat out, somebody tore this man's neck out. With their teeth!"

"Merciful spirits…" spat Aaron's soft tone as he examined more closely. It was unlike anything he had ever seen.

"I will tell you this right now and once more," the dark-clothed man started, looking from Aaron to Robert, "if you're looking for a simple man, then you are mistaken on two accounts, for it is quite the opposite." Drifting his gaze down the Mountain Trail towards Kylot, he lifted his hands towards the far away and out-of-sight town. "Your murderer, while we are wasting time right here, is heading towards your very town. This girl, by normal looks, is just like you and I, but on the nights of the full moon, she becomes something else entirely."

Robert scoffed. "You're not serious."

The stranger smirked, glancing back at the rifle-bearing man. "Oh, but I am." He knelt down alongside Aaron, joining in the viewing of the young hunter's corpse. "You are dealing with a werewolf, a terrible and dangerous creature. One who killed your two friends and who is going to waltz right into your town and come full moon will tear it to pieces from the inside out."

Aaron appeared to be at a loss for words. "H—how is this possible? Agirl did this? One who transforms into some wolf?"

The stranger nodded. "I witnessed her trail of horrors and atrocities when she attempted to live in the town of Aralan. She ran away rather than face justice for her crimes, like the cowardly monster that she is." The man clenched his fist, before standing upright. "Ask anybody from Aralan about that horrid night over one month ago…I'm sure it's still as fresh on their minds as it is on mine. Preventing more horror stories from coming out of this mess is why I must put an end to her evil."

Aaron could feel his gut rumbling with fear for the people of the town having to deal with such a creature. The thought of anymore innocent deaths was too much for his mind to handle after seeing the second corpse of a friend of the town. "You're telling me, stranger, that you have the ability to find and kill this…she-wolf?"

"I do. I was tracking her before this slight interruption, but if you join me now and let me continue, we can follow her trail and figure out exactly where she is at, and stop her before she can harm any others, maybe evenbefore she goes into your town. You all would want that, correct?"

Aaron found himself quick to nod, and was surprised that the uptight and skeptical Robert was quick to nod to the question as well.

"Okay then," the stranger spoke, returning the cloth over Tobias' ravaged body. "The full moon is two-thirds of a month away, give or take. As an experienced werewolf hunter, I can guarantee that the only thing the light of the full moon will be touching come that time is her head on a pike."

"Glad to hear it," repliedtherelieved leader. Robert withdrew his aim from the stranger and Aaron stood up, offering out his right hand to shake on the deal. "So, werewolf hunter, do you have a name?"

The dark-clothed man cackled. "The name is Larian Paul…a name that monstrous girl knows well, which means it'd be of bad choice to spread it around too freely unless you wish to send her into hiding."

Nodding, Aaron bent down and grabbed the top of Tobias' wrapped body and climbed into the back of the wagon as Larian Paul grabbed the rear and helped him slide it back into the wagon. The thin-bearded man was fearful and happy; a mixed bag of emotions all rolled into one in the middle of his chest. Things are going to be alright, he kept telling himself. Taking a deep breath, he tried to calm himself as he set the body down, until something began moving and fidgeting behind him. Curious as to what was making the noise, Aaron spun around only to freeze at the image that stared back at him.

"Mr. Paul...w—what the hell is this?" he stuttered. Aaron was looking at a human body. This one was alive, though barely.

Larian smirked. "Werewolves are no more than animals, no matter what form they take." He shuffled next to Aaron and grinned at the sight of the person while Aaron sat horrified. "Like any other animal, in order to hunt you need to have something that can draw them out into the open so one can take a shot."

Larian Paul's eyes glowed with a sadistic enjoyment. "This, my friend, is bait. Say hello to the father of the beast."


A/N: I just want to thank shdwphoenix, Kiyo Dustren, Dracobolt, Rick Ons, Dragon2k3, Indigo Eyes, RubMyFishie, billyez26, and scottgrubb for your great reviews since my last littlethanks back on chapter 10. Every comment has been well appreciated; everything from the grammatical fixings (which help a lot, thanks Dragon2k3!) to comments on the story and the characters (shdwphoenix, RubMyFishie, billyez26 and everybody else, these compliments mean a lot!).

I hope you're enjoying Erin's story still, and I just wanted to let you know that it's thanks to you all that this story's still going along. It's been about 3 years and 3 months now, and with your help hopefully I can continue Erin's story. Happy summer!