The deserts light warm breeze felt as if some unseen creature was standing behind ones back and exhaling its earthy breath upon his neck. The voices of the desert also spoke with an eerie chorus that would soothe only the most insane of any that listened; as if pipes from some distant demonic plane had their notes carried in the breeze to the world of the living. In the distance, the silhouette of Gomorras low skyline became more murky with each passing second as the waning light of the desert sun shrieked away from the coming night like a hunted animal trying to hide from a dangerous predator; the kind of dangerous predators that could only be brought forward by nights arrival. As twilight reached the booming mining town of Gomorra, three figures quickly ushered themselves into the nearing darkness of the desert surroundings.
After traveling about two miles out of town, the three figures rested. They were near their destination; a secret spot where they had recently buried some Indian braves that their family had brutally murdered. They wanted to play with the dead and subjugate their remains to even more vexation. For this family, this added up to an evening of frivolity and paganism. Leading the group was Nicodemus Whateley, one of the more sane members of his family. His skill in the arcane arts was only surpassed by Wilhelmina Whateley, the matriarch of their wealthy, insane and inbred family. His clothes were that of an eastern gentlemen, including white gloves, for he was one to never dirty his hands. Even during this trek, when he should have been wearing boots, he insisted on loafers. He wore dark glasses to hide the misshapen corneas that would make one think that they may have been staring into the eyes of Satan himself. Normally covering his long strands of dark brown curls was a top hat, which he uncharacteristically left at home.
The next member of the group was Moses Whateley. He was the youngest member of the small band. He wore blue jeans with a shirt and straps. Though he was an original easterner, Moses had adjusted more to the lifestyle of the west than much of the rest of his family. He enjoyed playing the part of a rough and tumble cowboy. Moses main distinctive feature was having large teeth that looked like a massive fang overbite. Even when keeping his mouth closed, one could still see the discolored ivory features. Moses was one of the few Whateleys that did not know the arcane arts of the huckster, hence he carried a six-shooter wherever he traveled.
The final member of this band was Saul Whateley, the younger brother of Nicodemus. Of all the members of the Whateley family, it was Saul who was considered the most unstable. He had been known to froth at the mouth and attack someone for no reason whatsoever, even a family member. There were only two people in the Whateley family that seemed to have any control over Saul: Nicodemus and Wilhelmina. Though Saul was an enraged soul, he did have the tainted gift of the arcane arts. If not for his constant battle to control his insanity, he might have become the most powerful huckster in the Whateley family. Even with his limited self-control Saul was a very formidable opponent for anyone.
After resting a few moments, they continued on their way to their final destination. The sky itself contained an eerie red tint from the desert dust that was being roused from it resting place by oncoming winds. And the moon seemed to be a blood red eye that was suspended in the void of space, where it watched over everything below it. As the winds began to pick up, it whipped the clothes of the three men and sent heavier pieces of dirt and debris all around. The weather seemed to be taking on a life of its own. Nicodemus began to concentrate. As the winds gained strength and seemed to be directly attacking them, he plucked glowing playing cards from the air. As he pulled each of the five cards the small hurricane slowly subsided until he pulled the last card, completing a poker hand of a full house, but the cards were three suicide kings and two queen of spades. The cards then vanished as if they never existed.
"That was good," Saul said as he came out from behind a rock. "Youre getting better, but you had a bunch of the same cards and that could be bad." Nicodemus knew Sauls warnings to be true, but it was something with which he could not take the time to concern himself.
"Lifes a risk my brother" said Nicodemus as he patted his brother on the back and bade him to continue to the location of their mass grave. Moses brought up the rear. Aside from his obvious canine feature, Moses seemed to have hearing which was more acute than his other senses, leading one to think that maybe his branch of the family tree may have included a canine or two. With Moses in the group, there was no concern that someone could sneak up on them. As they were within reach of their destination, they heard the howl from a nearby distance. Immediately all three looked at each other and smiled. "The hunt is on!" Nicodemus clasped and rubbed his hands and Saul began to get highly agitated with anticipation. This was more then any of them could have hoped. "We wanted to play with the dead, but instead well play with a monster. A dangerous one at that".
"A monster!" was repeated by both Moses and Saul.
"First we have to make sure to catch the creatures attention. If you wouldnt mind my brother " With his cue, Saul jumped on top of a large boulder and began to howl like an animal. After a few seconds Moses joined him. To Nicodemus, it was a concerto, and the audience would soon be arriving.
"Sam, youre such a swell guy that it always makes me wonder what someone like you is doing in a town like Gomorra?" Sam just smiled and continued walking Bob Bidwell out of the store. Sam hated being rude, but he was nearly at the point of shoving Bob out the door. Sam was not sure if he would get Bob Bidwell out before nightfall since the man seemed to be a never ending windbag that talked about nothing in particular. He quickly locked all the doors and windows and moved to the basement level of his store. Within his basement was a hidden room that contained a large iron cage and within it was a goat. He quickly moved through the secret door that lead to the cage and closed it behind him. Just as he was about to lock himself in the cage for the night, he began to spasm and fell to the ground.
"Damn you Bob!" were the last words spoken by Sam the General Store Guy.
Sam went through a transformation that turned him into one of the most feared creatures in the west, a Werewolf. Sam wasnt just any werewolf, he was a Razorback and this meant trouble, even more trouble then the typical canine-lycanthrope. A Razorback could be distinguished by the white silvery spine along its back, and any who that knew a single thing about werewolves, knew that this creature was something supernatural, unlike a normal werewolf. A Razorback was possessed and controlled by wild spirits when in this form. A manitou spirit had possessed the body when the person was in its lycanthrope form, which caused the spirit to be trapped somewhere within the persons soul when the possessed person was not in its were-form. This uncontrollable prison drives the manitou spirit to madness and turns what at one time may have been a calm calculating thinking demon into a rage that only knows hate and destruction.
The Razorback tore through the hidden wall in Sams basement and moved up the stairs. It ripped through the clothes it wore with huge claws and teeth, leaving only Sams workbelt with a feather duster hanging from its side. The creature quickly ransacked the store and broke through the rear door and headed out into the night. The salty warm air carried the scent of food
in the direction of the desert and the creature had enough sense to keep away from the bright lights of the town. Its rage needed an outlet and it could sense that release in the darkness ahead. It howled with all its rage. It wanted to terrify its prey, for the hunt was more satisfying when it fed from its victims fears. But the creature could have not been ready for what was ahead, and when it heard the responding howls, it became even more enraged. They mocked it, and for that there was only one penalty. Death would be slow and painful, as they would watch the creature harvest their organs and feast in front of their eyes.
Saul moved in behind a rock and pulled his own gun out of its holster. He then made a few gestures and a poker hand of three different sixes along with the Ace of Spades and the nine of hearts appeared from the air. As the cards disintegrated from Sauls hand, he spat on the nine of hearts. The hearts were a vile suit as far as Saul was concerned. The world around him then slowly steadied and everything in the surrounding area seemed to grow larger and more in focus. The creature would be an easier target for Sauls bullets. He performed the same magic on his cousin Moses and both waited for the creature to appear.
Nicodemus stood in the center of their selected playground and waited for their prey to arrive. It had been some years since he had captured and tortured a were-creature. He could remember the delight he experienced last time such an event had occurred. He knew the creature would be coming straight at him as soon at it sensed him. He once again made a slight motion with his hand and a new poker hand appeared. His body then began to fade from the scene, then just as it was about to disappear from sight, a second exact image of Nicodemus appeared. The new visible image stood in place, making slight motions to continue the illusion of truly existing. The other body seemed to fade entirely from the scene and became a shadow. Only the dark outline against the moonlight helped to determine where Nicodemus truly stood. A fragment of his lifeforce was required to create the wraith, which was now the bait. Nicodemus knew that when it felt pain, so would he. He was prepared for this. Pain was nothing that bothered the elder son of the Whateley family; in fact, he relished it.
The shadowed form of Nicodemus then cut the palm of his hand and tossed the blood drops to the ground. Within moments he began to pull card hands for each of the six blood drops. All but one of his incantations were successful and with each success he saw a giant deformed scorpion appear which each being just over two feet long. One appendage contained a huge claw and the other was a clawed human-like hand. The creatures long bulbous bodies was separated into the head, which looked like the head of a newborn baby with six deep glowing red eyes with spiked tipped mandibles, the thorax, which housed four pair of legs which had strands of black hair hanging along the length of the legs, and finally there was the poisonous stinger, with its dark black icor seeping from the tip.
"My children, move into place and hide yourself and at my command, strike the beast." The five creatures moved into position around the wraith-like image of Nicodemus, then burrowed themselves into the ground, hiding their legs and tail, leaving only the childlike faces in plain sight for any to see. As they moved into place, all could hear the muffled cries of a newborn child coming from each of the vile creatures.
The Whateleys waited patiently for the beast to arrive. Nicodemus stood to the side, sure that it would not detect his presence. Both Saul and Moses continued to hide themselves on both sides of the clearing, Saul behind a rock and Moses hiding next to a huge tumbleweed that was nearby. All was still, even the slight breeze that seemed to begin to stir up just moments before had subsided; as if in anticipation for the oncoming trial.
Moments passed and the stillness of the hot desert air began to win the battle of nerves. Saul was using every ounce of self-control to not spring from his hiding place and begin shouting and shooting in all directions, but then they heard the crack of a twig and the attention of all the players once again focused on the deadly situation. Moses lifted his head to check out the surrounding area and was shocked to find a huge claw racking at his face as the huge beast jumped past him on a direct path with the wraith decoy. He barely moved his head in time to prevent its separation from his body. His right ear was the only casualty; being almost completely torn form the side of his head.
"You bastard!" screamed Moses. He lifted his pistol and fired into the creature. It ignored his shots.
Nicodemus stood in awe as the creature moved with a grace that equaled its ferocity. He instantly noted that the creature was much too big to be a normal werewolf, over eight feet tall. He and almost mistook the creature for a werebear, but then noticed the white streak on the creatures back. It was a Razorback.
"We are the hunted," he whispered to himself. As the creature moved in to strike the wraith, it suddenly stopped and looked directly at the true form of Nicodemus. In the mortal world of man there are very few things that frighten a Whateley, especially Nicodemus, and this creature was one of them. "Now my children!" And with his command, then large scorpion like creatures sprang and latched onto the hulking beast. Nicodemus quickly gestured once again and as each card appeared he quickly tossed them into the direction of the beast, each growing in intensity as the rank of his poker hand increased; four Aces. The final card that struck sent a shockwave throughout the area. It stunned the creature and temporarily knocked the scorpions from their latched positions. Nicodemus became spent from the effort needed to cast his hex. If he did not recover soon he would probably be killed.
Saul sensed the dire situation. He knew his brother would not use such a powerful spell unless their was a need. He fired his shots into the beast then tossed his gun. The loud guttural sound that came from Sauls throat was something that could not have been imaged by anyone. The stunned beast froze for an instant. Saul charged the creature. As he charged the creature, he
whispered a few worlds and threw his cards to the ground. Large fangs sprouted from Sauls mouth and his fingernails turned into razor-sharp talons. Saul Whateley charged without even thinking twice about his own life or the life of anyone else, including his brother. Saul Whateley saw in this beast an opportunity to rage like the true beast he was and no one was going to stop him.
As the creature was recovering from the harsh blow applied from Nicodemus Whateley, it sensed an oncoming foe. Just as Nicodemus shadowy body began to reappear, the werewolf struck his wraith-like form, causing much pain in Nicodemus. The true form of Nicodemus fell to the ground as his its wraith-like double silently screamed and vanished from the scene. The dazed scorpions clamped once again onto the beast and struck with their stingers. The beast became even more infuriated. Saul tackled the beast, crushing one of the scorpions in the process.
Moses got to his feet and did his best to gather his wits. Through his blurred vision he saw Nicodemus scream and fall to the ground in pain. Though Saul cared for no one, including his family, Moses was a true patriot of the Whateleys and their causes and quickly rushed to his cousins aid. He saw that Saul had the beast tangled in a brawl and hurried over to Nicodemus.
"Can Saul handle that thing?" he asked Nicodemus. All Nicodemus could do was shake his head. "Are you alright?" he asked again. Nicodemus shook his head. Moses grabbed his Bowie knife that was strapped to the side of his boot and charged into the fray. "Get out of here Nicodemus!"
The creature had managed to kill all the scorpions as it continued to fight off Saul. The creatures size was just too much for even Saul to handle, even if he was 6'2'. But Saul seemed to be fighting the creature to a near standstill. After a few moments, the creature seemed to gain the upper hand and just as its claw had wrapped around Sauls neck and was about to snap it, the beast felt a sharp pain at the back of its shoulder. It howled in pain as it dropped Saul, who struggled to keep conscious. The Razorback turned and struck Moses with the back of its hand sending the protective Whateley back ten feet into the air and unconscious before he even hit the ground.
The creature tried to reach the knife and remove it, but could not. Saul and the scorpions had left the creature bloody, cut and tired, but it would make Moses pay for his knife wound. It moved toward the unconscious Moses. As it was about to stomp its foot on Moses head, it felt a sharp pain rise from its other calf. Saul had bit into the creature and had staked his next meal,
which he devilishly chewed. The creature fell to the ground and kicked Saul in the head sending the younger Whateley brother to the land of nightmares.
The Razorback had just staggered to its feet when the first blast struck. The second was even stronger, and the beast knew it might not survive if it continued its fight with the remaining member of its prey, so it turned and limped into the night.
Nicodemus did his best to help both his brother and cousin. He performed arcane tricks and bandaged both with strips of cloth. All the while he wore a smile on his face. He had seen a razorback up close and lived to tell the tale. It would only make his reputation within the family grow. Someday, he would be in charge of the family and all would revere him as they do "mother" Wilhelmina.
"That was a razorback" said Nicodemus to his brother and cousin. "Some would say that we are lucky to be alive."
"To hell with that" said Saul. "I cut him good. I couldve taken him!" Both Nicodemus and Moses shook their heads. "Next time Ill finish eating all that bastard!"
"Im sure you will cousin," said Moses. "Can we go home now?"
As they began to move out of the area, Nicodemus noticed a leather belt, and on it was a feather duster. On the belt were the words: Sams General Store. He was curious for a moment. He took the items and thought nothing more of it.
The next morning, it was all over Gomorra how Sams General Store had been ransacked by some deadly creature and it had attacked Sam and had left him barely alive. He had been naked and covered in blood, with his clothes all torn off.
This news reached Nicodemus Whateley and he decided that he was in need of some matches, this caught other family members by surprise since he could create fire with but a thought. He excused himself from their presence and took with him a broken belt and feather duster.
As he reached the store, Nicodemus noticed Bob Bidwell talking to Sam as he tried to clean. Bob did not even seem to help or have a care for Sam obvious struggle, since both his leg and shoulder had been bandaged. "Maybe Bob has a bit of Whateley blood in him after all." Thought Nicodemus, but a second later he recanted the though " By the dark one, I sincerely hope not!" As Bob Bidwell saw Nicodemus Whateley walk into the store, he stopped talking and excused himself. He gave Nicodemus a polite nod as he went out the door. There were rumors of Whateley family members hunting folk that had been rude to them. Nicodemus gave a slight acknowledgment to Bob as he left, but he concentrated on the person before him.
"Good afternoon," Sam Said. "Can I help with anything. Its a bit of a mess, but Ill do my best".
Nicodemus nodded. "My good man. Ive seen your best, and trust me, you have the full respect of Nicodemus Whateley" He then handed the broken belt and feather duster to Sam. "Your secret is safe with me", and as Nicodemus turned around to leave, he stopped himself, "At least until I feel I have no use for you or you cross me." Nicodemus Whateley did not know if he had found an ally or an enemy, but either way - he did not really care. He continued on his way, as if he had not a care in the world.