The Online Newspaper of Lakewood High School

Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

“Grizzle Grey”

Color Story

The sun is setting on the small town of Sal Griseo. The waves crash against the shore and throw the smell of salt into the wind like it always does. Matthias knows this well. He’s stood watch as the inquisitor of this town for over ten years now. The smell of salt is comforting as it enters his lungs. It’s strong, but his time here makes it a comforting aroma. “Tonight will be another quiet night,” he thinks as he turns to walk back to the outpost. The road back to the outpost is quieting. The rambunctious children still run and play in the streets until their parents tell them to come back home, but most of the vendors and shoppes have closed for the night. Everything is as it should be until he smells something he should not be smelling at this time of year.


The acrid smell of blood fills his lungs quicker than the salt, and he rushes out in its direction with a sword clutched by his side. Usually he would pass this off as a wolf or hunter catching a meal, but it’s too cold out. It’s almost winter and there shouldn’t be any wild animals out. He dashes through the woods and follows the scent. When he arrives at the site he finds himself walking into a clearing with a large willow tree. Surrounding it are many hand carved stones in the shapes of wolves. Matthias has heard of this place known as the Wolf Ruins but he’s never gone to investigate. These used to be old, pagan ruins used by shamans and druids until the Inquisition came. He looks forward and realizes that the tree still has all of its leaves. All of the surrounding trees have already lost their leaves for the winter, but this one maintains a shroud of beautiful golden leaves. At the base of the tree lie dozens of armored bodies without heads, all covered in dirt and dried blood. It’s when he sees this he realizes there are larger, spherical shapes hidden in the leaves. Disembodied heads have been hung from the tree like macabre ornaments, but why? He’s wondering whether or not it’s for a ritual when he hears the crunching of dried leaves and twigs underfoot. He quickly hides behind a statue of a wolf, and cautiously watches the tree. From behind it walks a hooded, armored, humanoid figure recessed in armor similar to the ones at the base of the tree. In their left hand he’s dragging the body of what seems like another fallen comrade, which they set down before using both of their hands to hang the head that was previously in their right. 


Without turning from his work, the hooded figure calls out to Matthias, “I know you’re here. My senses are more acute than you think. “


Matthias tries to play dumb, and he doesn’t move, but the figure calls him out. “I can smell you from behind that rock. The scent of you inquisitors are all the same, putrid and filthy.”


Matthias takes offense to this and he stands from behind the rock, with his sword unsheathed and pointing to the hooded figure. “Halt! In the name of the Church of Hallowed Blood I command you to halt!”


The hooded figure turns around, revealing piercing yellow eyes and a face masked by brown cloth. They walk forward and this just makes Matthias all the more nervous. The figure whistles and soon a small pack of wolves and other armored figures like the ones at the base of the willow tree.


“Who are you?” Matthias demands.


“That is not important…yet,” the hooded figure answers, “what is important is why are you here? Why does the Inquisition dare trifle with a power it doesn’t understand?” The figure draws its sword and Matthias hears the audible clink of other weapons and the growls of angry wolves.


“Very well, perhaps we can talk this out,” Matthias proposes.


“I think not. My scouts tell me it was a man in inquisitor’s garb that struck down one of my knights not ten miles from here in the village of Sal Noir. I dragged him back to the ruins to give him respect, but all I see here is another inquisitor here to make ruins of our culture and defile our beliefs.”


Matthias is perturbed by this harsh tone, but he still voices for diplomacy. He sets his sword down. “I promise I will not harm you here.”


“Good,” and with lightning fast reflexes the hooded figure dashes to Matthias and slams him to the ground, pinning him under an iron boot. The figure takes off their hood to reveal a gold mask shaped like a face that looks almost demonic with his wolf-like eyes. “Go back to your feeble town, and tell them the rain of blood is coming. The tornado of claws and fangs will rend your civilization to the ground and everything will become as it once was. Now flee, before I change my mind.”


The man releases Matthias and signals the other armored figures to stand down. Matthias just runs. When Matthias reaches the inquisitor’s outpost just outside Sal Griseo, he sends a message for half of the inquisitors that were stationed for reconstruction in Sal Noir to relocate to Sal Griseo to defend the village against an incoming force that threatens to tear apart civilization. Not one hour later a cohort of around eight inquisitors arrive and prepare for battle against the threat. inquisitors and archers from the militia line the outer wall and barricade all but one entrance, which is the most heavily defended. It’s almost nightfall so they set up lamps and lights to see their surroundings. They stand for nearly an hour before a single wolf exits from the dark forest and stares down one of the inquisitors about thirty meters from the barricade. It howls and there is a faint rumbling from the forest. Matthias readies their sword, preparing for the worst, but what occurred is something they did not expect.


With the rumbling came a tornado of claws and fur as many wolves rushed towards the town, as well as most of the armored figures that Matthias recognized from earlier. The only one that was missing was the hooded one with wolf-like eyes. Suddenly a deafening howl erupts from the forest, and from it comes running a massive, armored canine figure. Its grizzled, grey fur flows in the evening breeze. It looks almost like a massive wolf but it stands on two legs and clutches a massive sword in its hands. It’s covered in armor similar to the others, and that’s when it hits Matthias. The hooded figure is a lycanthrope, a werewolf, and he’s the beast leading the charge against Sal Griseo. He readies his weapon, and tries to focus himself, but when he makes the mistake of taking his eyes off the battlefield for a moment, and when he regains concentration a massive set of bloody claws is inches from his face before he blacks out. 


When Matthias comes to, everything seems tinted red and blurry, and he’s dizzy. He finds himself sprawled across the ground on the dirt. “I have failed,” he says to himself. He feels he has failed the whole Church, and he feels ashamed that him taking his eyes off of the battle causes this. He knew better. He realizes it has become unusually hot, so he wipes the blood from his eyes to get his bearings, and he is greeted with a horrifying sight. The entire town of Sal Griseo is on fire and corpses litter the streets. They slowly stand up and try to limp their way to the town square, where they hear the yelling of a handful of men. But when they finally arrive everything becomes eerily, somewhat quiet. Besides the crackling of flames all he hears is a grunt, and a thud. When he turns the corner he is greeted with something even worse. In the center of town is a small pile of bodies surrounded by the armor figures who glow red as the light of the fire illuminates the blood that has been sprayed over their armor. On the top of the pile is an armored man with wolf-like eyes.


“Rejoice brethren! For one more town has fallen to the might and will of Mother Nature! Rejoice for the glorious hunt we have partook in!” He paused for a moment. “But it seems there is still one resilient soul left here. My work is not yet done. Continue to celebrate brothers and sisters. I will take care of this final human.”


As the armored man says this he jumps off the pile and draws his sword, which is absolutely covered in red. He marches towards Matthias and swiftly buries his blade deep in Matthias’ abdomen. Matthias clutches the would before losing balance and slumping over, resting on the shoulder of the armored man. The armored man then does something Matthias does not expect. The armored man holds Matthias, and carries him over to the wall of a destroyed house and lays him against it.


The armored figure stands above Matthias. “Foolish child. Humanity is nothing in the eyes of Nature. As a religious man you must understand this.”


Matthias is confused, he tries to speak but all that comes out is a gargled noise before he weakly asks “why…?”


The armored man closes his eyes as if he is choosing his words before he responds with a softer voice. “None of this is personal. Understand this first. Second, understand that we act on the will of a force greater than ourselves, much like how your order serves your god. From this standpoint we are alike.” He pauses again before squatting to lower himself to Matthias’ level “you seem an honorable man. But humanity as a whole has outlived its usefulness. What was once a symbiotic creature is now nothing but a parasite. We who serve Nature without ties to humanity, we are responsible for killing this parasite.”


Matthias starts to finally understand the armored man’s motives: he bears no hate nor malice towards any one person, but people as a whole. He intends to act on it by using religion as a justification, even if it’s wrong. But in the eyes of their followers they are saintlike figures. True heroes to their mythology.

“Very much like the Church” Matthias thinks, “we use religion as justification to our actions and our methods, even if they are wrong.” 


Throughout this the armored figure is standing and appears to be looking down at Matthias. “So you do understand.” He pauses for a while, “my name.”




“You asked earlier this evening who I was. My name is Marrok. If anyone in the afterlife asks, tell them Marrok sent you, and they will ensure your afterlife is calm. I understand that our methods are brutal, but it is necessary if we are to replace civility with primality. From this standpoint then the least I can do is commend you for your duty and ensure you have a calm eternity. You are dying, as you would have in a few months’ time anyways. Close your eyes and make peace and rest, human. Enjoy the afterlife.”


“Marrok…” Matthias whispers.


Suddenly Matthias is feeling very tired. He closes his eyes and remembers. He remembers the waves on the coast; the once salty air; the children laughing and playing. He remembers the reality of the bloodstained shore; the acrid, ashen breeze; the children lying dead on the streets. All from Marrok. Matthias realizes Marrok is still standing over him, and hears the victorious warlike shout of Marrok to his brethren. The animalistic cheer as beasts dominate man as man once did eons ago. It’s fitting isn’t it? Poetic? Ironic? Matthias’ thoughts drift away, and with this he retires into his eternal slumber.


Remember the ocean. Remember the salty air in your lungs. Remember the children. Remember what was once good and convince yourself that it always was, always will be.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Lakewood Times Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *