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Rated: 18+ · Book · Action/Adventure · #2002618
One of the richest men in the world declares war on Sheriff Johnson and the Pack.
#823897 added October 2, 2014 at 5:09pm
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Chapter Twenty-Six
'Let me make certain I understand what you are saying,' Igor said. 'Among other things, you claim to be over two hundred years old. You also say you have been with two men that can perform amazing feats of strength and have fantastic speed.'


'That's only the half of it,' Tonya replied. 'I soon found out they can see better than an eagle, hear a whisper from a mile away, and heal from the most serious wounds in hours or even minutes.'


'Amazing,' Igor said as he returned to his book. Already it was over half full of his writings. He wrote for another minute before shaking his hand to get the cramps beginning to form out of it. 'Is there more to your tale?' he asked. 'I may have to get a second notebook for you. Not that I mind, oh no. I find your story fascinating. It also explains somewhat your resistance to pain.' He jotted down a couple of more lines before saying, 'A short time ago you told me your surname was Rowe. In your story, you say it is Rowette. You changed your name.'


'Yes. I Americanized it.'


'I see,' he stated as he added another line to his notebook. 'If you please, continue your story.'


'Gladly. Now where was I? Oh, yes. I just told about my first encounter with Demetrius. I was to meet him once more.'


****



Over the next two weeks, Leonard made several trips to Tonya's room. Each night as she went to bed, she kept her eyes on her door until she fell asleep, praying she would see it open. She wept for joy on the nights he was with her and wept in sorrow on the ones he was not.


He was with her two days before the full moon. She snuggled in his arms after they made love. She had never believed it would be possible to be so happy.


'My lady,' he said. 'The time has arrived I spoke of the first night I was with you. Beginning tomorrow, promise me you will stay here for three days. You must not leave the manor. I will be away for that time. I hope to meet Demetrius once more. If I am successful, four nights from now I will rejoin you. Then we can leave together. I shall give you everything you want and show you sights that will take your breath away.'


'Leonard, let us leave now. Take me far from here. I do not need wealth, only you.'


'It cannot be, my Lady. I have made a vow to others I cannot break.' He touched his finger to his lips and moved it to Tonya's. 'Sleep, my Lady. I will return as quickly as I can.'


Her door was opened and shut in less than half a second. Then he was gone.


She had been up the next morning for a half an hour when the carriage bringing Father Esposito arrived. With him was a squad of cavalry. She walked between her father and brother as they went to greet their visitors. Her father greeted the priest first.


'Battista, it is good to be in your home once more,' Father Esposito said.


'Father, the honor is mine. Please, allow Aristo to take you inside and bless us with your presence. I will join you shortly.'


He went to the commander of the cavalry next.


'Signor Rowette, I am Major Benito. My men and I have been patrolling this area for the past two weeks, searching for the evil one that attacked your family and killed so many others. With your permission, I would like to set up camp for this day only so my men and horses may rest. I give you my word as an officer and a gentleman that none of us will go near your daughter or your home.'


'Of course you may stay. I have pasture behind the house with grass and water for your horses. I will have my workers bring a fine lunch to your men for your excellent service.'


'I thank you, Signor,' Major Benito said as he saluted. He turned away to set up the bivouac for his men.


During the day, Battista, Aristo, and Father Esposito made a trip to inspect the vineyards. Father Esposito said a prayer to bless the fields and sprinkled Holy Water on them. Tonya was with them, but spoke very little. Both the Father and her family believed it was because of recent events she was so silent. Actually, her thoughts were on Leonard.


An hour before sunset, the men went to the parlor to discuss business and items considered too complicated for a young woman to understand. Tonya walked in front of the estate, moving among the flowers and enjoying the pleasant scents. She stayed away from the back of the mansion and the soldier's camp. She had been there ten minutes when she heard the hoofs of a horse racing at full speed. Ten seconds later, the rider appeared. He glanced back over his shoulder, terrified he was being chased. He saw Tonya and made his way straight to her, leaping from the horse and bowed to her.


'Are you Signorina Rowette?' he asked.


'Yes.'


He reached into his coat and pulled out a paper. 'I am to deliver this to you.' He looked behind him once more to see if anyone was coming up behind him. 'The person giving it to me said you would understand the message.'


Once he delivered the note, he jumped back on his horse and hurried away. As he rode off, he glanced behind again as if insuring a demon was not pursuing him.


Tonya watched until he was out so sight. Then she opened the letter.





My dearest Tonya,


So nice to communicate with you again. You may be interested to learn I have Leonard. He is all tied up and biding his time, wondering how I will kill him. Will it be quick and painless or will I draw it out for a time to keep it interesting? I'm leaning towards slow and painful. It is entirely up to you to make my mind up. Meet me at the same place we met last time. Come alone. If you do all I say, I might let Leonard live, then again, maybe not. You will have to use your charms to convince me. Looking forward to seeing you within the next hour.


With the deepest of wishes for your continued happiness,


Demetrius








The note fell from her hand as she raced for the stables. As she ran, she reached down and ripped her skirt off. She entered the stable in her pantaloons. She saw a pair of horses hitched to a wagon as one of the workers prepared to go to Padova for supplies.


'I will take the wagon,' she shouted. She pushed the boy holding the reins out of her way. She glanced around at the half dozen men staring at her. 'You,' she said pointing at one of them. 'Is your pistol loaded?'


'Mistress, it is, but your father would not allow you to have it.'


Tonya did not say a word but hurried to him and pulled the weapon from his belt. He knew not to touch her. In five seconds she was setting on the wagon. She snapped the reins and the horses leaped forward.


She was not completely out of the yard when Aristo ran from the house, shouting for her to come back. He looked at the stables and then towards the flowerbed. He saw the note fluttering in the breeze and ran for it.


He read it as he ran back to the house. His father and the priest were already at the door.


'She is gone,' Aristo said. 'She is going to meet someone named Demetrius. He is holding a person called Leonard captive. She is to meet him at the same place they met before.'


'The manor where the madman murdered Henri Greco. That is the only place besides here and the church she has been for the past month,' Tonya's father shouted.


Aristo ran to the soldiers to have them accompany them. Then he raced to the stable where his father was having their two fastest horses saddled. Father Esposito took the reins to his carriage and waited to accompany them.


Five minutes later, they galloped down the road, attempting to catch up to Tonya.


****



Tonya glanced at the moon as she sped down the road. It was already above the horizon. The sun was sinking and would vanish within the next forty minutes. She cracked the whip over the horses, trying to get a little more speed from them. Her plan was to get close enough to Demetrius to place the ball from her pistol into his head. She pulled her pantaloons off, tossing them to the road. Her blouse soon followed. She now wore only her undergarments. They covered her from her neck to her ankles, and shoulder to wrist, but her father would state she was practically nude. Her thoughts were not on modesty, but only on saving Leonard.


Every mile she went, the horses moved a little slower. No matter how she snapped the reins or cracked the whip, they were nearing exhaustion. She was a mile from her destination when one of them stumbled, causing the wagon to overturn. Tonya was flung from it and landed along the side of the road. Her hands were scraped as she skidded over the ground. A rock cut through her undergarment, slashing her leg. She shook her head to clear it. She was grateful nothing was broken and she was not seriously harmed. It took a minute for her to regain her breath. She looked around and located the pistol not far from her. She grabbed it and made her best speed towards the manor.


Her family members and the cavalry arrived at the site twenty minutes later. They had not ridden their mounts as hard as Tonya drove the wagon. They fell behind her because of that, but their horses still had the strength to carry them. They checked around the upside down wagon, relieved her body was not underneath it. One of the soldiers pointed to a footprint in the soil. They could tell it was a woman's shoeprint and resumed the hurried charge to catch her.


Tonya reached the manor at the same moment her father and brother left the wagon behind them. She raced for the entrance and shoved the door open. She ran through the manor, checking each room. It did not take her long to determine the place was empty.


She sped back out the door for the stables. She was halfway there when she skidded to a halt. She saw Demetrius as he left the darkness of the stable and entered the yard.


'My little vixen returns,' he said. 'Still carrying a weapon, I see. You may as well drop it. It will do you no good.'


'It will do me good to place the ball into your head,' Tonya said as she raised the pistol to aim at him.


Then, before her eyes, it seemed as if Demetrius vanished. The next thing she knew, he was at her side with his hand gripping hers. As tightly as she held the pistol, he still pulled it from her as if she had released it.


He dropped the pistol and picked her up. Tonya struck and kicked him, but he moved on without paying her hits any attention. He moved to the entrance of the stables before dropping her. He laughed at her as he began to undress.


'I will not let you take me,' Tonya shouted as she hit him again. She gasped in pain when a bone in her little finger broke from the power of her hit. Demetrius did not even flinch.


'Sorry. I know you want me, but there is no longer enough time left for me to thrill you. Only three minutes left before the sun is completely below the horizon. Get ready for a big surprise. I stress the word, big.'


Tonya glanced at the sun, wondering how it could be involved with what was happening. Part of it was already below the horizon. The Earth appeared to be swallowing it whole. The moon was up, shining bright orange.


'Where is Leonard?' she asked.


'Oh, him. I don't know. I told a little lie in the letter when I said I had him. All part of the plan for us to be alone together. When Leonard finds out about this, it will mess him up for years to come.'


Then Demetrius began to laugh. His laughter was so great, tears came to his eyes. 'Signorina Rowette, I now know where Leonard is. He is directly behind you.' His laughter filled the air.


Tonya spun around. She saw Leonard standing motionless, a look of horror on his face as he looked at her.


'NO!' he screamed. 'You were to remain at your home. What have you done!?'


Tonya felt her heart break at the reprimand.


'Leonard,' Demetrius called out. 'Who do you think will taste her heart? You or I? I so hope it is you. I'll get my fill from the ones charging for us.'


Demetrius spat on the ground as he removed the last of his clothes. He grinned at Leonard and said, 'Perhaps as humans you are stronger than me. I'm betting that is not true when we are the Wolf. Mine is bigger. I will do my best to hold him back so you can have Tonya all to yourself. Then I will send you to Hell so you may join her.'


Leonard stepped up to Tonya. 'Run,' he said. 'Run for your life. I will attempt to attack Demetrius to give you time to escape. I do not know if my Wolf will heed my wishes with a human so close.'


When Tonya did not move, Leonard shook her by the shoulders. 'DO YOU HEAR WHAT I SAY?' he screamed. 'LEAVE NOW!' He pushed her away.


Tonya started to run, crying with each step. She went a hundred yards and turned to look back at the stable. She witnessed the last sliver of the sun move below the horizon. At the same time, both Leonard and Demetrius fell to the ground.


Her eyes opened wide and she brought her hand to her mouth as she saw hair sprout from their bodies and they started to grow. The noses on their face stretched out and huge fangs jutted out of their mouths. The clothes Leonard still wore were ripped apart as he grew.


Thirty seconds later, both of them jumped to their feet and howled. Tonya clamped her hands over her ears to try and protect them. Despite her efforts, her right eardrum burst. She shouted in agony and a small stream of blood spilled from it.


Three hundred yards past her, the horses carrying her father, brother, and the cavalry began to rear and buck as they resisted the slapping of the reins to keep them running forward. Half of them threw their riders and galloped away at their fastest pace.


While Major Benito tried to regroup his men, Battista Rowette, Aristo, and Father Esposito rode towards Tonya.


'Tonya,' her father shouted. 'Hurry to us.'


Tonya did not move, but stayed rooted to the spot as she stared at the two Wolves circling each other. She knew Leonard was the smaller one because she never took her eyes from him as he changed. Smaller was a relative term since he was over nine feet tall. His marking were those of a wolverine. Demetrius was a foot taller and could have been mistaken for a grizzly bear if all you had was a quick glimpse of him.


She knew they were neither wolverine nor grizzly. The claws on their hands were long and sharp. Their face was twisted in a mask of rage. Their teeth were as blazing white needles. Their bodies were covered in muscle. They both looked as if they could crush a person without even realizing it. Their eyes glowed in the fading light. Leonard's was a bright blue and Demetrius shined yellow.


Both of the Wolves stopped circling each other and faced her. They separated as they moved to come at her and the men that joined her. Her father and brother pulled pistols from their belts.


'May God preserve us,' Father Esposito said has he held his cross in front of him as a shield.


There was movement next to them and Tonya saw a mounted soldier charge Demetrius. Four men that lost their horses were immediately behind him, carrying a pistol in each hand. The rest of the soldiers moved at Leonard.


The Wolves did not retreat from the humans attacking them but instead became a blur as they moved so fast Tonya could barely follow them. Demetrius slapped at the horse. The horse's head flew off, passing a dozen feet over Tonya and raining blood down on her. Before the body of the horse reached the ground, Major Benito was pulled from it and ripped open. The beast stuck its snout into his body and Tonya saw it jerk around as the organs were tore from him.


The rest of the men took aim and fired. It happened so fast, Tonya was not certain what she saw, but Demetrius seemed to twist and jump. Six of the balls missed him. One grazed his arm, removing a small section of hair. He was not so fortunate with the last. The round smashed into his leg, bringing a snarl of anger from him but not appearing to do much harm.


While Demetrius attacked the soldiers, Leonard charged the six that came for him. There were three men on horses and three on foot. Despite all efforts to control the horses, they turned and raced away at full speed. Leonard was faster. In seconds he was beside the slowest horse. He paid the animal no mind, but jerked its rider from the saddle.


'NO!' Tonya screamed as she watched the beast that only minutes earlier had been the man she loved rip the person apart and devour him. When he pulled his head out of the man's chest, he was covered in his blood.


Leonard dropped the man and charged after the next rider. He was a hundred sixty yards away and racing at full speed when the chase began, but Leonard caught up to him in less than ten seconds. Again the horse was left alone but the rider was eaten.


His race to catch the last rider lead him close to the soldiers on foot. The soldiers fired at him at the same time. As it was with Demetrius, it seemed as if Leonard twisted and ducked. Not one round hit him.


Tonya fell to the ground in terror as she saw him consume three more people. Leonard dropped the third foot soldier and vanished over a hill when he resumed his pursuit of the last horseman. Tonya now knew who it was that mutilated so many the past few months. She was not thinking what she would do next as she regained her feet and ran back to the stables to get the pistol. Her father and brother was shouting for her to come back as they ran behind her. Father Esposito did not move from his spot, still holding his cross in front of him.


She reached the pistol five seconds before her father and brother stopped at her side. They spun around and screamed in fear. Their eyes told the story. Tonya looked up in time to see her father picked up by Demetrius. She shouted in misery as her father died. Demetrius reached for her when he yelped in pain as Arius shot him in the side.


The Wolf left her and scooped up her brother. Tonya dropped her hands to her side. She was it shock, not even realizing she still held a weapon. Blood from her brother splashed her as he was torn open. She said a prayer, hoping God would accept her into Heaven after she was defiled by the beast.


She did not even try to escape or defend herself as the Wolf dropped her brother and reached for her. His claws were a half foot from her throat when there was a flash of fur. Demetrius was no longer in front of her but a dozen feet away. On top of him was Leonard, ripping and tearing at him.


Unlike the men killed to that point, Demetrius was effective at fighting back. His rear legs came up and placed themselves against Leonard's chest. With a heave, Leonard was thrown eighty feet into the air, twisting and spinning. Demetrius jumped to his feet, waiting for him to land.


Like a cat, Leonard landed on his feet. The two Wolves charged, snarling and growling as they met.


As rabid dogs, they bit and clawed into each other, tearing and ripping. Demetrius was starting to win before Leonard discovered the wound in Demetrius' side where Aristo shot him. He shot a single claw into the wound and ripped his paw upward, slicing Demetrius up the side.


As she watched, unable to tear her eyes away from the spectacle, Tonya wondered how either of the beasts could continue to fight. Both of them were shredded. Blood was pouring out of them, making puddles on the ground. They wounds did not seem to distract either of them.


Then Demetrius managed to grip Leonard's throat in his fangs. Demetrius shook his head and Leonard had part of his throat ripped away. There was a cry of pain from him.


Tonya did not believe what she was seeing. Blood shot out of Leonard's throat, drenching both Wolves, but he did not fall to the ground. His paw once more found the wound in Demetrius' side. Because he had already attacked that area once, the wound was now large enough to put his entire paw in. He found a rib. His claws shot out from Demetrius' chest as he pulled. With the last of his strength, he pulled Demetrius in half. The lower body of Demetrius fell to the ground. Leonard held the top half in his arms. He stumbled backwards and dropped the top section.


Tonya was now petrified, unable to move as she looked on. The Wolf that had been Demetrius started to transform back to human. Ten seconds later, the torn body of Demetrius was on the ground.


Still unable to move, Tonya saw the Wolf that was Leonard turn from the body and start for her. He stumbled and almost fell as he came at her. Halfway to her, he could no longer stay on his hind legs but had to come down to all fours. He stopped a yard from her and shook his head as he tried to stay conscious. With a great effort, he rose again to his rear legs.


Tonya shook like a leaf in a hurricane as she looked up into the eyes of the Wolf. She did not know if her mind was playing tricks on her or not, but it seemed as if the beast was trying to turn away from her. It was hesitating, not knowing for sure what it should do. For ten seconds it was undecided, then, before Tonya knew what was happening, the Wolf had its mouth on her shoulder. She came out of her stupor as an indescribable agony shot through her.


Leonard dropped her. He was so weak he could not hold her for long. As weak as the Wolf was, he would not turn away. With his paws this time, he picked Tonya up from the ground. He was bringing her throat to his mouth.


As Tonya was lifted, without even realizing she was doing it, she moved the pistol and placed it against Leonard's chest. His lips touched her throat as she pulled the trigger.


There was a flash of light as the powder ignited and hurled the ball through the tough hide and into the heart of the Wolf. Tonya and Leonard fell to the ground together.


Tonya begged God for death. The pain in her shoulder was beyond anything she could ever imagine. The fires of Hell could not top the burning in her arm. Slower than a crawling snail, it was spreading from the wound site, moving towards her heart and down her arm.


Through her tears she saw Leonard make the same change Demetrius made. The hair sank into his skin and the claws changed into fingers. His snout shrank down and he was human once more. With a great effort of will he opened his eyes and looked at her. 'My Lady,' he whispered.


He was so weak Tonya could barely hear him, even with her head only inches from his.


'I have loved you from the time I first laid eyes on you. This was not what I wanted. I wanted to give you Heaven and instead I have given you Hell. Please, do not hate me.'


His eyes glazed over as he died.


Tonya screamed again in agony. She could not tell if it was the burning in her arm or the tearing of her heart that created the greater pain. She did not understand how she was able to do it, but she climbed to her feet.


She saw a scene reminiscent of Dante's Inferno. Human bodies ripped into pieces circled her, starting with Leonard and her family and spreading out in all directions. Flies were already gathering at the dozens of pools of blood. She staggered and would have fallen, but Father Esposito reached her in time to catch her. He was the only one beside her that still lived. Through the haze forming in her mind, she saw another charging patrol of horsemen, drawn to the area from all the gunfire.


The priest appeared as pale as a ghost. Only the officer shouting at him for an explanation of what happened kept him from going into shock.


They also tried to question Tonya, but she said nothing. She did not know how to explain what occurred. Even if she did, she did not believe she would. Her eyes faded in and out as she teetered between consciousness and fainting. Her eyes focused for a short time and she tried to walk to one of the horses. She would have fallen, but both Father Esposito and the officer took hold of her.


Tonya screamed as the officer touched her arm. They held her and stayed at her side. She stopped next to the horse and attempted to reach for the canteen hanging off the saddle. The officer saw what she was after and unscrewed the top of the canteen for her. She was unable to hold it, but Father Esposito took it and helped her drink.


One of the men hurried to her side with bandages for her wound.


'No, let me die,' Tonya pleaded. Death was preferable to the pain growing in her each minute.


They paid her no attention and bandaged her wounds before carrying her into the manor. There was no furniture in it, but they brought some of their blankets and made a mat for her until a wagon could be found to take her home.


She lay in the center of the front room. Father Esposito and the officer were against the far wall as the priest gave his version of the event. Tonya was fading in and out, doing her best not to pass out. In her delirium, she imagined she could hear three soldiers in the hall. She knew that was impossible. They were over thirty feet away with their backs turned to her, but she still could hear them. One of them said if she did not die on her own, they should make certain she did. He said Satan had been there and cursed everyone in the area. She could hear each word from the priest and the officer also. The officer was not accepting the priest's story of huge hairy monsters.


Tonya felt as if strips of flesh were being pulled from her. One moment she felt as if she were on fire and the next she was freezing. Over the next two hours, the fire won out.


By the time a wagon arrived and she was taken back to her home, she was in a coma. Father Esposito gave her last rites, certain she would soon die.


To the outside world, Tonya appeared close to death. Her body was racked with a raging fever. Every three to four hours she went into convulsions. She cried out in her delirium, sometimes foaming at the mouth. Inside her immobile body, Tonya was going insane. She needed to scream so much, but was incapable of moving. She had never seen lava, but she knew what it felt like. She knew it had to be lava that replaced her blood as it flowed through her veins. Pitchfork bearing demons were doing everything it their power to tear their way out of her body. Others jumped up and down on her head, using their cloven hoofs to rip their way into her.


Flames filled her lungs with her every breath. Her eyes felt as if they were trying to explode. Her muscles twisted into knots, cramping, tearing, and convulsing. She believed every bone in her body shattered, healed instantly, and shattered again. Ants covered her from head to toe, using their pinchers to pull her skin away. Her tongue was bloated and her throat blistered from top to bottom from her thirst. The water Father Esposito poured into her mouth every hour did nothing to relieve her misery.


For three days she could not move, giving no clue to the people around her to the torture she was experiencing. Then as the sun came up on the morning of the fourth day, the pains vanished. One second she was in the lowest dungeons of Hell, and the next she was opening her eyes, the pain gone.


For several minutes she remained still, fearful any movement might bring back the pain. Then cautiously, she moved a finger, then her head. Tears filled her eyes when she realized she had passed through the pain. She did her best not to think about it. It was a memory that could give her nightmares for the rest of her life.


She looked around her room. She was alone at the time, but she heard soldiers all through her house. She could barely believe it, but she knew there were two sentries just the other side of her door. She could hear their heartbeats. She attempted to set up, but her arms and feet were bound with rope to her bed posts. She pulled, trying to see how securely they were tied. The ropes snapped. The only thing she could think of was they were rotten in the center. She pulled them from her wrists and ankles and stood. She saw a large pitcher of water on her nightstand and drank it down in one swallow.


As she placed the pitcher down, she happened to glance into her mirror. She became still as she studied her reflection. She looked different. There were no major changes in her. If her father and brother were alive, they would not have seen any difference, but Tonya did. Her hair was a shade darker. The few freckles she had were gone. Her skin was perfect, without the slightest blemish or mark. Her eyes seemed sharper and more alert. Their brown tint was a shade or two lighter. Then she focused on her teeth. Five days earlier, one of her teeth had been chipped. The chipped tooth had repaired itself. All of them were whiter.


She brought her hand to her ear. A short time ago, blood had flown from it when her eardrum burst. She believed she would be deaf in that ear the rest of her life. It too must have healed, because she could hear the singing of a bird from over a hundred yards away. That realization brought its own shock to her. She did not know how she knew the location of the bird, but she had no doubt it would be exactly where her ears told her it would be.


The wounds she received from the overturned cart were gone, without leaving the slightest of scars behind. Even the finger she broke during her fight was mended, not even being a bit sore.


She listened to the people in her parlor debate over her. Father Esposito argued with two other priests and several officers. All of them but Father Esposito stated if she lived, she would have to be imprisoned in the strongest of cells to see what effect she suffered from the attack. Father Esposito pleaded for them to leave her in peace, saying God would watch over her. He was overridden. They decided whether she regained consciousness or not, in the next hour she would be taken to Rome for examination.


Tonya moved to her closet. There she selected her riding outfit. She was not planning to take a horse, but it was less bulky than all her dresses. Without a sound, she dressed and hurried to her window. Her heart sank when she pulled her curtain back. Iron bars had been set to block any escape. She took hold of them to see how tightly they were bolted in. When she pulled, she felt a wave of relieve wash over her as they came away. The worker must not have secured them correctly. She set the bars on her bed and looked out the window. She stuck her head out to see if anyone was around. She saw no one, but then reentered her room. Two soldiers came from the side of the house and entered the front door. She did not understand how she knew they were coming when they did.


The ground was fifteen feet below her. She prayed she would not break a leg when she jumped, but being taken for examination by government and church authorities would be a worse fate.


She leaped from her window to the ground. She was shocked over how easy it was. She landed like a cat and was off. When the officers entered her room ten minutes later, she was gone. She would not return to Italy for over fifty years.


****



'So,' Tonya said to Igor. 'That was the pain at level ten. It is a pain you will never be able to match, no matter how efficient you become in your trade. I could give it, but I would have to bite a person when I was the Wolf to do that, and I have no plans to do that to anyone. There is no one I despise enough to bring that pain on, and no one at the time I admire enough to bring the blessing to.'


'Remarkable,' Igor said. 'I have a theory on how you can withstand the things I have done. You are caught up in a make-believe world. Your mind does not function as most. Because of this, you have an uncanny ability to resist the things I have done to this point. Do not fear though. I have a few items that make the toothpicks and acid seem tame in comparison. It won't be long before you shout out our secret word at the top of your lungs.'


'Sorry, Igor, you had your chance. It's my turn now.'


'No, I think we shall continue as we have, I like it better that way.'


'Igor, Sweetie. Do you remember a few minutes ago when I told about the Wolves healing at unbelievable speed?'


'Indeed I do. I have it noted in my book.'


'Good for you. Now if you would, check out the area where you applied your acid.'


Igor grinned as he turned from her eyes to examine the site where he put the acid on her. The smile vanished at once. Instead of blistered and dissolved flesh, the wound was almost healed. All that remained of it was a dark patch of skin where only thirty minutes ago the skin was smoking and melting. Even the dark patched appeared to lighten as he looked on.


'Don't forget how I sat up in my bed after coming out of my coma,' Tonya said. 'There were ropes at both my ankles and wrist. This is how I did it.'


Igor grew weak when Tonya sat up from his table. The leather straps came apart as if they had never been fastened.


Igor turned to run. He did not take a step before he was lifted off his feet. He struggled in vain as Tonya moved around the room, pulling chains and ropes off the wall. She carried him back to his work station and despite all his pulling and kicking, strapped him down. She tore off part of his hospital greens and stuffed it in his mouth to stop his screaming. After he was tied down, she pulled the toothpicks out from underneath her nails


She picked up his notebook to scan his notes. She sat at the edge of the coffee table as she read. She was smiling as she turned the pages. Then her smile vanished as quickly as Igor's did only a few minutes earlier. 'NO!' she shouted as she leaped to her feet. 'You wrote I am delusional. Do you have any idea of the hell Eddie is going to give me when he reads this? He'll be in hysterics for a month.


'Oh well,' she said as she put the book down. 'It's just another cross I have to bear.'


She picked up his case and started looking in it. She pulled out the box of toothpicks, looking back and forth from them to Igor. She tossed them over her shoulder. 'Forget the toothpicks. They're a waste of time.' She smiled at him and pulled out the bottle of acid. 'How would you like to start with this?' she asked.


On the table, Igor frantically shook his head no and strained in vain against the ropes.


'No?' Tonya asked as she put her hand on the cap to unscrew it. She paused and said, 'You're probably right, it would be sort of boring.' She tossed the bottle across the room. It broke and at once the acid began to eat through the floor.


She rummaged through the case, pulling out knifes, electrodes, vises, and a variety of items. With each item, she asked Igor what he thought. Every time when Igor shouted out a muffled, 'No, not that, please,' through the gag, Tonya would answer 'Well, you're the expert, I guess you would know best.'


The time came when the case was empty. The floor was littered with his equipment.


'Drat,' Tonya said. 'There's nothing here fit to use. I guess I might as well let you go.' Tonya wiped away a tear. 'I know how disappointed you must be,' she said. 'I had high hopes too.'


As she put her hand on one of the ropes to untie it, Igor sighed in relief. Then before the rope was loosened, Igor watched Tonya's face light up as she got an idea.


'What on Earth was I thinking? You don't have to lose out after all, Igor. I know just the thing.' She pulled her hairpins from her hair. 'They are not toothpicks, and Heaven knows they are not acid or any of the other things in your repertoire, but what the heck, we have nothing to lose by seeing what they can do.' She pulled the gag out of his mouth.


It was not long before the area around the house was filled with Igor screaming with all his strength, 'TEN! TEN, TEN, TENTENTEN! PURPLE! AUGH! STOP, PLEASE NO MORE! PURPLE TEN! TEN PURPLE!


Over the next two hours, the sound slowly died down as Igor ran out of strength. Tonya left soon after, carting away his case with all the journals. She always enjoyed a good story before going to bed.


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