Saga of Fyodor the Great

December 19, 2010
By Anonymous

Part 1: Prophecy Revealed
A loud bang rang out over the foothills of the Urals in Western Russia. It permeated the stillness of that bitterly cold January dawn. It was the first such man made sound to echo in that part of the ancient pine forest. From Lake Baikal to the Volga and every peasant village in between, this gunshot was felt in the heart and soul of every Russian. They didn’t know it yet, but this single shot would help shape the course of history, not only for Russia, but for the entire world as we know it. The mythic gunshot was immediately overtaken again by yet more deafening silence as the forest began to recover from the reverberation and settle into yet more dormancy.

Minutes after the shot came a noise of another sort, quieter than the first but no less reserved. The noise was that of nine year old Fyodor Provlosky, a young peasant child from the nearby village of Khoushek. Under the close guidance of his father Vladimir, young Fyodor had killed his first wolf. In the Urals, the killing of a wolf symbolized a coming a manhood, failure to do so on the first attempt would mean a bad harvest. With the utmost importance and care, Vladimir coached his son in the art of shooting in preparation for the moment that would define his son’s life.

Needless to say Vladimir was more than relieved to see that his beloved first born son was able to consummate a proper Ural initiation into manhood. Unlike his son, Vladimir secretly kept the fact that he had failed on his first attempt to himself. This brought great shame to Vladimir’s family throughout his childhood and still haunted him up to the day of his son’s accomplishment. Neither his wife Isabella nor his son Fyodor knew of this shortcoming in his life. Fyodor’s success had vindicated Vladimir and brought him a swelling of pride he had never before felt.

The fast approach of the deadly winter night had awoken Vladimir from his sentimental reminiscing. He tenderly embraced his son as he led him through the knee high snow pack to the prize wolf in the valley below.

“This is a day to remember Fyodor. Like your father and grandfather before you, you have carried out the duty of a proper Uralite and are now a man”

“A man, just like you papa?” Questioned little Fyodor.

Vlad gave his son a deep chuckle and replied, “You will always be a child in my eyes little Fyodor Josef Provlosky. Now, let’s get a look at that wolf shall we.”
Vlad carried Fyodor on his shoulders the final hundred or so yards. The Mosin Nagat sniper rifle which was used to kill the beast dangled between his shoulder blade and Fyodor who stared at its polished stock and barrel with intense admiration and respect. In customary Ural tradition, only two rounds of ammunition were to be carried, one for the wolf and one for protection. This particular rifle manufactured in 1891 was bolt action and loaded one round at a time through a breach lock at the top of the shaft.

The particular wolf that Fyodor had killed was a prize indeed. He was a rouge with a brilliant raven black coat and fangs as sharp as daggers. At approximately four feet high and five feet long, it was by far the biggest wolf Vladimir had ever seen.
“Fyodor!” Vlad exclaimed, this is the kill of a lifetime. Hunters search their entire lives for a wolf this big, but you have bagged one on your initiative hunt, dear God, and you got him through the eye!”

“Yes papa I know, that’s where I was aiming”

“But how”, announced Vlad, “for you have not yet have the sharpness of eye of a true Ural hunter, for heaven’s sake you can barely hold a rifle.”

“But papa, I have told you, I saw the twinkle in the beast’s eye, I saw his soul papa, just like how those hunters did in grandpa’s stories. I took aim at his soul and fired my bullet into it.”

Vladimir grabbed his son by the shoulders and stared him directly in eyes. “Now you listen here boy, this was a lucky shot, next time you aim at the heart above the belly like I told you.”

“What would that do papa”, spoke Fyodor, “Wolves are heartless beasts of burden who kill the farmer’s sheep and wreak havoc on innocent villagers. If you take out his soul, he loses the capacity to hate and to hunt and so he dies.”

It was hard to argue with his son’s logic as both stared into the hole where the wolf’s eye used to be.

“We must skin the beast quickly before night falls, more wolves will be sure to investigate, Fyodor, come hither with my knife.”

Fyodor grabbed his father’s knife from his utility sack and brought it to him. It was the first such time that Fyodor was allowed to handle his father’s knife. Fyodor looked away in disgust as his father skinned the beast from tail to scalp. As his father feverishly worked to separate fur from wolf, a bone chilling howl echoed through the valley.

“Papa”, spoke a nervous Fyodor, “there is a wolf much like this one, I see him on that ledge yonder.”

“Most likely this one’s partner, after all rogues travel in twos, I should have known. We must work quickly, he will look to avenge the killing, help me cut this last bit here.”

Fyodor apprehensively helped his father skin the last of the wolf’s fur off as the second came bounding down the hillside, filled with the possessed spirit of his wolf brethren. No fallen tree, nor stream, nor boulder was going to stop this reincarnation of the devil himself as the local villagers believed. He bounded through the forest swiftly and silently as his black pupils flared crimson with fury.

Night was upon them as the weak winter sun gave way to the seventeen hour expanse of night that greeted the northern Urals in the winter months. Fyodor and Vladimir exhaled great puffs of visible breath as they labored over the uncommonly large wolf. Behind at the foot of the valley’s crest, the second wolf lays in wait, for the opportune moment to bag a meal which would mean his imminent survival for weeks to come. Starved to the bone and on his last reserve of energy, he crept around the base of the valley to get into position.

“Papa, I am cold and getting colder by the minute, let us go.”

Young Fyodor was beginning to shake uncontrollably now as Vladimir made one last hack at the wolf’s stubborn ligament holding the last of his hide to his body. Vladimir threw a generous heap of salt on the raw side of the fur for it to dry.

“Here Fyodor put this on, you deserve to wear the fur of your first kill, it shall keep you warm on our return journey.”

“Papa, can I ride on your shoulders again, the snow is up to my chest.”
“ I will do whatever for today you are Fyodor the Great, conqueror of the forest and slayer of beasts.”

Vladimir heaved young Fyodor onto his shoulders as they began the five kilometer trek back to Khoushek. Father and son, man and young man, hunter and apprentice joked and dreamed of the feast awaiting their victorious return.

“Your mother will be making a feast for the ages, with as much pheasant, grouse, and deer as can fir into our stomachs. Now that you are a man Fyodor, you must now eat like a man, and work as such. For now though my boy, we celebrate.”

Vladimir took a flask of vodka out of his front coat pocket, toasted to the night’s sky, and took a long swallow followed by an intense burning sensation in his empty stomach.

“The sooner we get home the better, I am starved, isn’t that right Fyodor….Fyodor what is it?”

Fyodor was dead still now as he peered into the darkness ahead. An opaque and shadowy silhouette of an object paced back and forth across the forest path ahead. The ghostly sentry then turned his head toward father and son, his crimson eyes now clearly visible to both.

“Fy..Fy…Fyodor”, gasped Vlad, “gr..grab the rifle and give it to me.”

“Papa”, whispered Fyodor, “I’ve got the shot, I will not miss.”

“Just one thing then Fyodor, aim for his soul for this wolf was born with no heart, just a black void, totally devoid of feeling.”

“Yes Papa.”

For the second time in one day, young Fyodor Provlosky took aim another beast, this time though, the beast knew what was coming. The wolf got very low and bared his teeth which shone in the moonlight like jagged pearls awash in a sea of ebony. Foaming at the mouth and delirious from hunger, the wolf charged at Vladimir and Fyodor. The wolf struck fast and ferociously, knocking both Vlad and Fyodor over before Fyodor could grasp the rifle. From his father’s shoulders, Fyodor was flung backwards and away from his rifle which became entrenched in the knee deep snow.

Vladimir reached for his knife as the wolf came around for a second pass. As Vlad wound back to stab at the beast, he was grabbed on the forearm by the wolf’s powerful and razor-sharp teeth. The intense pain
caused Vlad to immediately drop his dagger and sent him into a frenzy of kicks and punches to the body of the beast.

Vladimir’s frenzied blows were to no avail as the beast continued to separate flesh from bone. Fyodor scrambled out of his icy tomb, fueled by the frantic screams of his desperate father. The rifle shaped hole in the snow was visible a mere foot from the spot of his father’s intense struggle. Fyodor hurried as fast as his snow burdened rawhide boots would take him toward his dying father.

“I am coming papa, I am coming just hold on.” Fyodor yelled.

However, holding on was precisely the problem because the beast had a death grip and Vlad’s arm that could only be pried loose after the beast was cold and dead. Fyodor made a flying leap toward the gun, pushing his small hands deep into the snow to reach the rifle beneath. Numb and chapped from the winter cold, Fyodor pulled the 1891 Mosin Nagat sniper from the snow. Like King Arthur prying Excalibur from the sacred boulder, Fyodor brought the optical dual lens scope to aim on the demonic portals to the beast’s soul. The trigger felt tight as Fyodor steadied his aim on his beastly nemesis. Miss and both he and his father would perish, hit in the wrong spot, and the beast would only become more agitated.

It all happened in slow motion as the .308 caliber round exited the barrel and made its fateful flight towards its target. The first shot had been from 150 yards away and found its mark. Too bad for the wolf, young Fyodor was given a measly three yards for this kill. The beast immediately loosened its grip on Vladimir’s forearm as the round tumbled its way through the demon animal’s soul, exiting in a red spray on the pearly white snow surface. Vlad recoiled in a combination of shock and pain away from the now dead wolf that was no more a beast of burden, but a sign of things to come.

Part 2: The Curse of Khoushek

For centuries, the hills and valleys around the village of Khoushek were peaceful and fruitful. In the spring, a bountiful harvest of berries gave the villagers a variety of preserved and jams. In the summer, potatoes, yams, and other root based crops flourished from the soaking seasonal rains and strong summer sun. The autumn brought with it acres of wheat which the villagers used from the life sustaining manna from heaven they liked to call bread.
All of this land of course was perfect for raising herds of sheep, ox, and a few cows acquired from commerce with villages to the south in the Volga delta. Although the winter was a time of hibernation for all villagers and livestock, the snow pack from the brutal winter was key to the preservation of the roots and seeds. Thus each season works in harmony, supplying a piece each to the puzzle of rural life.

For nearly 600 years, this Eden like expanse of streams, valleys and plateaus sustained a good quality of life for the villagers of Khoushek. Isolated from outside influence by the surrounding Ural Mountains and protected from any attack from neighborhood villages by gorges on either side of the plateau it’s situated on, Khoushek enjoyed a golden age which rivaled that of the great empires of Greece and Rome combined. Like all great periods of prosperity there came an end. However unlike Rome and Greece which were collapsed from the outside by conquering tribes and empires, Khoushek met its downfall from within its very own confines.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Khoushek became a vital trading post between the fertile southern plain lands, and the natural resource rich northern pinelands. Between 1680 and 1720, the village’s population swelled from 5,000 to 25,000, making it the biggest city for hundreds of miles. People from every conceivable ethnic and cultural background moved into Khoushek in search of work which at the time was plentiful and full of promise. Most of these new citizens were civilized and law abiding, just looking for work like everyone else. With the good of course, there does come the bad. The nighttime saw the appearance of the city’s shadier inhabitants. These less respectable citizens would prowl the brothels, bars, and back alleys looking for a fast score of opium or whatever else they could get their hands on.

Some would come on horseback or simply drift with the tide of the poppy trade. One such drifter legend has it, by the name of Alexei Kovaleinen, came upon Khoushek during a great thunderstorm. Coerced out of his makeshift shelter on the outskirts of town by the warm glow of shops and businesses, Alexei made his way into the apothecary. He was found the next moning by the shop keep curled up in the storage closet. Emaciated and close to death, the store’s owner decided to nurse the man back to health in exchange for his hand around the shop.

Alexei quickly showed an aptitude for the pharmaceutical arts. With a full library of potion making at hand, Alexei began to conduct his own experiments after store hours creating concoctions and elixirs. He learned by process of trial and error and quickly made a name for himself, creating strong pain relievers and hallucinogens. Quickly bored by the more mundane medicines, Alexei began to dabble in the art of alchemy and mind alteration. Growing stronger and wiser by the day, Alexei quit his job at the Apothecary and used the money made there to buy a small bungalow on the opposite side of town.

With the curtains drawn and basement door closed, Alexei only appeared in public to gather supplies to continue his experiments. He took on a mystic, gothic appearance that began to rival that of the great Rasputin himself. Running low on funds and with his reputation on the line, Alexei began to open up his services to the public, offering such services as pain relief, age reversal, fortune telling, and memory reversal just to name a few. Alexei quickly made a name for himself as a mystic healer. Before long, the once destitute pauper became one of the wealthiest men in Khoushek. Even with all this wealth and fame, Alexei refused to move out of his modest dwellings and began setting limits on the number of clients he would take per day.

Before long, the ravenous demand for his services became too much to handle and Alexei decided to take a year long hiatus into the forest. He would return to his roots to hone his mind and hopefully in his mind, unlock the secrets to the theoretical questions which had been plaguing him since his humble upbringings in the apothecary. The primal solitude of the forest was cleansing to Alexei’s mind. He began to stretch the bounds of reality and was on the cusp of breaking through into total mental and spiritual enlightenment.

Such was Alexei’s mental focus that he would often forget to eat or even take shelter during the deeper trances. In the seventh month of his vision quest, a sudden and violent ground blizzard created white out conditions as Alexei made his was back to camp. Amidst the swirling wind-swept snow, Alexei vaguely made out what appeared to be cave a mere ten feet in front of him. Barging into caves unannounced in the Urals was risky business indeed, but when given the choice between freezing to death or the cave, Alexei picked the cave.

The ten foot trek to the cave itself required every last bit of endurance and will Alexei had left in him. Stumbling through the cave’s entrance, Alexei was yet again near death as he had been that fateful day he sought refuge in the apothecary’s storage room. Unable to think straight and drifting in and out of consciousness, three dark and blurry figures appeared around Alexei’s near lifeless body. This was the last image of that day he would remember and the last figment of human reasoning he would ever experience again.

Part 2.1

A small droplet of water formed on one of the caves prehistoric stalactites and dropped onto Alexei’s forehead.

“Three hundred and fifty two”, he counted to himself, still too numb to move any of his extremities more than a few inches at a time. His recollection from the previous night of the three black figures still danced around his subconscious as an opposing omen of his survival. Still foggy from the blackout there was only two things Alexei was sure of. One, that he was in a cave and two, if this Chinese water torture of sorts continued, he was going to go mad. After attempting to prop himself up the prior three times had failed quite excruciatingly, Alexei knew he would have to endure an epic amount of pain on this attempt to have success.

After a twenty minute crawl to the cave’s nearest wall, Alexei got himself in position with his head facing the wall to prop himself up.

“One, two, threeee!”

Alexei’s agonizing screams echoed off the cave walls as he clawed and fought his way into the upright position. Muscles straining with the wear of atrophy and bones cracking with the consistency of glass, Alexei came into the upright position lightheaded and near blacking out once again. A hushed silence came over the cave as the only sounds were that of the settling of the snow-drift wall that had imprisoned Alexei overnight.

“If there indeed was something or someone in this cave, all of that commotion would surely have caused some stir.”

Examining his surroundings for the first time with a renewed clearness of mind, Alexei realized that he was not the first human to set foot in this cave. Remains of an old campfire and the bones from the feast were visible beneath a rocky outcropping at the far end of the cave. To the right of the outcropping were beds of straw with wear spots in the center. The cave was clearly used frequently, perhaps by traders passing by Alexei thought to himself.

Examining the cave once more, the intensely white blockage of snow at the entrance of the cave came into sharp focus. Alexei could not understand how he was not gasping for every breath if the cave had been blocked. Clearly, there was a separate opening to the cave, perhaps there was an escape route dug by traveling tradesmen or a natural opening. Whatever the case, it became apparent of the reason this cave was used so frequently, it was not only a sanctuary, but part of a network of caves that stretched throughout the pinelands and beyond.

Stirred out of complacency by the lust of adventure, Alexei began stretching his extremities in preparation for an attempt at walking. With the snow blocking the entrance, the cave’s internal temperature began to rise, speeding up the recovery process. Crawling became a kneel, kneeling became a crouch, and like prehistoric mans departure into homo sapienism, Alexei stood up and was mobile for the first time in days.

He was forced to crouch amongst a ceiling of low hanging ancient rock formations as he felt his way along the wall in search of the mysterious tunnel he sought after. Scattering the wall from floor to ceiling were the remnants of blood splatter and claw marks.

“I’m obviously not the first person to go mad with insanity in this wretched place.” Alexei thought to himself.

Alexei began to shake him head in disbelief, “this is the act of no human, these are acts of primal instinct, not human psychosis.” The freshly blood stained cave walls combined with shards of bone sent an icy chill down Alexei’s spine, colder than any sensation the Russian winter had ever given him. Any poor settler that decided to take refuge in this den of inequity would most certainly have met his fate in the jaws of the primordial demons that live here. Whatever Alexei had encountered that night had for a reason unknown, spared his life at least for the time being.

Alexei searched the cave high and low with still no sign of the escape hole. He knew it was here but just where it was perplexed him to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. After four frenzied hours turning over every stick and pebble, Alexei decided to get some sleep and continue the search in the morning or at least what he thought would be morning.

In what was the biggest decision he had to make in weeks, Alexei decided to nap on the pile of straw closest to the wall. The tired and destitute mystic took off his shoes, his sheepskin vest, and rolled over onto his makeshift mattress. As if the ground had been pulled out from underneath, Alexei was plunged through the cave floor in a sudden and swift motion. He toppled end over end, following a series of intricate and violent curves and corners which took him ever deeper into the unknown.

In what seemed like an eternity tumbling through the abyss, Alexei met a softer than expected landing on an all too familiar straw pile. With his head still spinning from the five story fall he had just taken, Alexei stumbled his way through an ever narrowing hallway of sorts that tightened into yet another tunnel. Every step was taken with painstaking care, carefully avoiding falling into yet another hidden passageway. Walking eventually turned into a crawl as Alexei made his way along an expansive tunnel system which seemed to never end.

The attention to detail and intricacy with which the system was build marveled Alexei. He realized that he must be crawling through the main tunnel because every ten feet exactly on either side were side tunnels which led to yet more side tunnels. These side tunnels led to yet more caves. Alexei however did not dare enter these auxiliary caves, he know all too well the danger that lay within them. However, what our dear friend did not know what exactly called this tunnel system home. He came to this realization in the climax of our legend. Much of what has been written so far has been compiled from dozens of variations of the tale. No matter what village in the Urals you are from or what version you have been told, everybody from small child to village elder can agree on the final aspect of the legend.

As Alexei Kovaleinen made his way down the central passageway, it opened up once more into a grand hall. He was now able to crouch and brush himself off after nearly an hour on the dirty subterranean ground. What lay ahead of him put a serious damper on Alexei’s spirits for it was another entrance, possibly to another cave. To his back were miles of tunnel and the prospect of rubbing nose with rocky ground for another hour. For this reason, Alexei decided to enter the unknown once again.

Even in near pitch blackness, Alexei could get a sense of the grand scale of the space he was entering into. This was no stalactite infested leaky cave, but an immense domed structure, clearly the center of the cave system. It was this room which linked the miles of tunnels and where eventually, anyone or anything traveling through the caves had to converge. Feeling around on the ground once again, Alexei painstakingly felt like a blind man along the ground for any inconveniently placed holes or bone fragments that could cut him.

What he felt on the ground in that great underground hall was much more pleasant and softer to the touch than anything Alexei could associate with a cave. All around him lays balls of fur,
“Perhaps more beds”, Alexei whispered to himself. Feeling tired and once again exhausted beyond belief, Alexei decided to nap once again and explore more at a later time. He began to see his dilemma as more of a spiritual journey than a dire predicament. He began chanting under his breath and uttering incantations, attempting to purify his soul for the next journey.

Resting his head on the furry object he believed to be a fur pillow, Alexei uttered one more chant which was more song than spell. He had read it in a naturalist’s guide to the Russian exterior. It was in the chapter dealing with the darker inhabitants of the forest, mainly wolves and wolverines. It claimed to awaken the demon spirit inside these beasts of darkness and unleash the inherent evil within. Alexei knew all too well the fables told about the demonic wolves of the forest. Like all normal Ural boys in the Russian tradition, Alexei had killed a wolf with his late father as an initiation into manhood.

Alexei never liked the killing of animals, he respected all creatures of the forest and was frequently berated for his liberal environmental views. He felt that there was much more to wolves than met the eye and that there was much we did not know about them the stereotyped stigma kept us from knowing. Whatever the case, Alexei murmured the ballad of the wolves in hopes of giving him the same cunning and strength associated with the wolves of the pinelands.

Roughly translated, the song went something like this:

“As the sun sets, I hear the howls, they penetrate and awaken my soul, I see them moving, the forest is their kingdom and I their servant, light in me a desire to run with the hunt, Babylon fading into obscurity, red glowing orbs to the subconscious they are other-worldly, I hear the howls, they are here, rise again , rise again.”

Alexei finished the ballad in a cold sweat, shaking from head to toe. He felt a spiritual presence stronger than any he had encountered before. A red glow began to emanate from underneath each furry object. Low octave murmuring shook the floor in harmonious unison. The great hall of the subterranean shaft stirred with life for the first time in six hundred years.

“My God, I have awoken a great curse indeed.”

The sound heard next was rumored to have been heard as far away as Sherksly to the west. It started with a single howl, deep in the bowels of the cave system. It spread like wildfire throughout the tunnels, in and out of every cave and crevice. The hauntingly beautiful chorus of howls converged on the great hall all at once. The sound waves met at the center and rose up to the uppermost reaches of the dome, combining a supersonic speeds. A shockwave rippled down and across the floor blowing Alexei clear off his feet, slamming him up against the nearest wall.

Adrenaline was being fed into Alexei’s bloodstream at an alarming rate, preventing him from blacking out from the immense blow to his head. The whitish glowing orb at the apex of the dome was turning a dark navy blue as it descended towards the ground. The crimson glow below the still unidentified furry objects intensified as well as one by one, the mysterious beasts began to wake from their centuries-old slumber. In unison the beast began circling the orb, first slowly then at a gallop.

The strange ritual was putting Alexei in a trance-like state that was becoming increasingly harder to shake off. With the creatures at a full out sprint, the orb reached the ground and like an egg cracking, split open releasing an ear splitting howl that rivaled all others up to that point. Such was the power and enormity of the sound that it rattled and shook the entire subterranean structure to the breaking point. Rubble was falling all around Alexei as he scrambled for any type of shelter he could find.

“Who knew, a secret subterranean species of hibernating wolves, I must be dreaming.”

But Alexei was not dreaming, not even close to. In fact, he didn’t know it, but he awoken an ancient curse dating back to the time of Mongol occupation. Historians had always believed the brutal Russian winter was to blame for the failure of attempted conquests into interior Russia. However, as the Mongols, Napoleon, and Hitler came to find out, weapon bearing Russian peasants were the least of their worries. The wolves were Russia’s secret weapon, known only by a select few in the war cabinet in Moscow. Neither Stalin himself nor the late Lenin knew of their existence.

In Alexei’s time of course neither the Napoleonic Wars or any of the World Wars had happened yet. Rumors of the Mongol retreat of centuries past abounded, however they were just that, merely hysterical rumors.

The quakes were intensifying now as ever bigger chucks of the cave’s interior were being pulverized into oblivion. An especially loud band was audible over the other noise. A Massive thirty foot stalactite had crashed from the ceiling, exposing a ray of sunlight that cast a beam of light on the cave floor. It was just the beacon of hope Alexei needed. While the wolves still acclimating to being brought to life for the first time in centuries, Alexei made a mad dash for the opening, his final shot at salvation.

With the wolves now mobile, it became increasingly harder to dodge them. With the opening now a mere fifteen feet away, Alexei realized the true dilemma at hand. There was an opening yes, however it was beyond his reach, a full ten feet above him. Alexei was a tall man standing six foot three, however this was one jump he was not going to make.

Just as all hope had seemed lost, Alexei came up with a daring, near suicidal plan that required the slaughter of the animals he loved the most. Foaming at the mouth with red glowing eyes and razor sharp teeth, these wolves were not something to be f***ed with. Lucky for Alexei, they were still quite disoriented from their pharaoh-like slumber. Alexei pulled out his trusty dagger and began stealthily killing wolves one by one, careful not to alert the others to his foul play. With a dozen or so wolves killed, Alexei carefully stacked the carcasses on top of each other one by one against the cave wall. With the space gap now closed to a mere four feet, Alexei climb the tower of wolves to freedom.

His fingers grasped the cool, freshly fallen snow pack. It was a feeling Alexei thought he would never feel again. He heaved himself over the precipice of the opening and rolled over onto the forest floor. Grabbing a stick from a nearby bush, he pushed the stack of dead wolves over, sending them crashing to the cave floor some twenty feet below causing quite a stir from their wolfen brethren below. Alexei knew he had to cover up this portal to h*** as quickly as possible. With only minutes to spare before the wolves figured out how to access the hole.

Alexei spied a boulder precariously perched atop a small knoll thirty or so meters away. If he could somehow mange to pry the boulder from its granite base and direct it over the hole, that would prevent anything from getting in or more importantly from getting out. Alexei set to work searching for a sturdy enough limb to leverage the boulder over the edge of the crest. He found a freshly fallen pine tree a mere twelve or so feet long, perfect as a fulcrum for pushing over the boulder. He also set tracks from the boulder to the hole to direct it exactly where he wanted it to go.

Pressing with all his might, Alexei was able to push the boulder over on his third attempt. It followed the exact path he laid out for it. With a definite thud, the boulder found it’s mark square over the opening, closing off the horror beneath for good or at least Alexei thought so. Alexei would write about his adventures upon returning to town. His stories were passed down from parent to child throughout the ages. People would make pilgrimage to the legendary stone that supposedly hid the demon wolves beneath.

The true validity of the story was called into question from its very conception. For this reason, no real excursions were made nor were any search parties assembled for further examination of the area. Alexei would die some years later, alone, cloistered off from the world and amongst his work, just as he would have wanted it.

His fabled curse would remain awakened and undead for centuries to come. Silently pacing the tunnels and caves of their underground fortress, the wolves became ever angered as the years past. Undead and eternally awakened, the wolves set to work making a final tunnel to the surface. For centuries a steady and near silent sound could be heard underneath the wooded path from the valley to Khoshek. Regarded as docile volcanic activity, the villagers paid no attention to it. On the date of January 13, 1947, the villagers would finally realize how very wrong that assumption was after all.

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