#3 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Nero and the Black Wolf

#3 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Nero and the Black Wolf
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This week the story has a very unexpected tonal shift …

“Why not?”

“Because I might shoot you, that’s why not.”

You look her up and down. Something about her is familiar. “Have we met? I don’t remember.”

“We may have passed each other on the road,” she says guardedly.

“I don’t… I don’t think so.”

She still has her bow trained on you. You swallow hard, keeping your hands raised, and wait to see what happens next. She doesn’t seem like she’s going to shoot you, no matter what she claimed, but you don’t want to test her patience.

At length, she slightly lowers her bow, easing the arrow on the string. “What were you doing with that wolf?” she asks you.

“Talking to it,” you say. “Hoping it wouldn’t eat me. I met it before and … I don’t know. It spoke to me then.”

“What did it say?”

“It … said it didn’t want to hurt me.” You decide honesty might serve you best, given you were caught speaking to it. “Last time, anyway. This time it didn’t say anything.”

The woman looks away, still keeping the arrow on you. She heaves a sigh, as if she was expecting that answer would lead to this.

“What’s your name?”

“Nero,” you say. “I’m from Blackwater, just down the road.”

She stiffens at the name of your village, though you don’t know why. “Come here,” she says sharply.

“I don’t –”

“Now!”

You approach carefully, your heart pounding. You have no idea what this armed stranger might try, but if she does, you have a better hope of over-powering her up close.

As you near, she slings her bow over one shoulder and draws a silver dagger from her belt. “Hold out your arms,” she demands.

“What? No!” you say, immediately stepping back. “I’m not going to let you cut me. Look, just let me go home.”

The woman snarls. “I’m not going to ask again.”

You hold out your arms, and she slices them open with the knife. Blood pours forth, and you gasp in shock as the deep cut spurts hot blood all over you.

You scream and jerk away, hugging your arms to your chest. “What the hell is wrong with you?” you shriek as you stagger back.

The woman calmly examines the blood on her dagger. “Looks like you’re clean,” she says.

You run, plunging into the forest off the road, hoping that if this woman decides to shoot you it’ll be harder to do so with the cover of the forest. The blood is still pouring down your arms in long red streams. You wonder how badly she cut you. You wonder if you will make it to a healer in time, if it’s as bad as it feels.

“Wait!” The woman shouts after you, but you don’t stop.

With the trees around you, you hope you’ll be safe.

Keep running.

You can’t see where you’re going, or even anything in front of you, because you are crying so hard.

You keep moving forward through the underbrush, not caring about anything. You run on instinct at this point, just wanting to put more space between you and her.

You scream when you suddenly feel the skin on the back of your neck burn.

You reach up with blood-drenched hands. There is a strange energy buzzing at the back of your neck, and as your fingers pass through it they begin to burn as well. You fall to your knees, scrabbling at your neck. You hear the crunch of leaves behind you.

“RAAAAGH!” You can hear the creature’s voice in the distance. “RAAAAGH!”

It sounds furious, and you see a flash of white light in the distance. It comes from the direction of your village, Blackwater.

You turn your head, as something grabs your hair and yanks you backward.

“Stay down,” hisses the woman. “There are more dangerous things than me out here.”

“You cut open my arms!” you reply, trying to struggle free, but her grip on you is strong and with a sharp jerk of her hand she puts your neck into an extremely uncomfortable position.

“I said you’re clear,” she said. “I’m not going to hurt you. And those cuts won’t kill you.”

You can still feel the burning at the back of your neck, madddening and unreachable. Her words remind you of the Black Wolf all those weeks ago — and It at least had never harmed you.

Now, you see large figures emerge through the trees, and the woman’s grip tightens.

“Remember what I told you,” she hisses, before releasing you and sprinting off into the woods.

As the figures get closer, you can see that they are in fact large men in fur clothing holding long spears.

They stop less than twenty feet from you. Thankfully, they seem more confused than anything else. The biggest one seems to be shouting at the others, before turning his attention to you. You’re not sure what will happen if he gets angry.

The burning on the back of your neck eases. You stagger to your feet. “I’m just leaving,” you say as clearly as you can. “I’m from Blackwater. I don’t … I don’t want any part of this.” Whatever “this” may be. You don’t think you can handle any more strangeness. You begin to back away from the crowd of men. There are half a dozen of them at least, and you don’t know what you’ll do if they try to stop you.

The biggest one steps closer to you. You can see he is much different than the others, even though you can’t really tell much about him. “We don’t appreciate being attacked while we’re hunting with our families.”

“I didn’t attack anyone,” you say honestly, still backing away. “I was attacked myself.” You show your bleeding arms, and as you catch sight of the wounds you feel a wave of dizziness come over you. “I just need to go home and see a healer.”

As long is everything at home is okay. You remember the flash of light that appeared over Blackwater. You still have no idea what that was, or what it means.

The man steps even closer, and you feel his hot breath on the side of your face. “You,” he says, more as a statement than a question.

Then, he grabs your hand.

You scream — but it’s cut off by a massive claw clamping down on your throat.

You are yanked away from the big man as his men shout, but the creature holding you quickly repositions until you are cradled against a large hairy chest and carried away. The Black Wolf has you, eyes glowing in the dark, jaw slavering with thick trails of drool.

Spears whizz past to thunk into nearby trees as the wolf continues to flee with you in its arms.

You can hear the Black Wolf howling into the moonlight, which you presume is a call for reinforcements.

Soon, it’s no longer moving. The Black Wolf has made it back to a large burrow, larger than anything you’ve seen before. It drops you in the dirt and disappears into its earthy cave.

Your heart is pounding. Your arms shift between numbness and sharp twangs of pain. Your neck is still sore with a memory of burning. And your neck and body is bruised from the Black Wolf. You stand up, reaching a trembling hand to the back of your neck. There you feel intricate, thin ridges. As if you have been branded.

“Be careful,” the Black Wolf says in its odd, growly voice. It emerges from the burrow, carrying a bowl of what looks like green mud.

You quickly back away, but the wolf stops at your panic.

“I told you before,” it says. “I’m not here to hurt you.” It puts the bowl of green mud on the floor and backs away a few steps. “Smear that on your arms. It should help you heal.”

As bizarre as it seems, this creature has been the least threatening being you’ve met tonight. After a pause, you creep forward and reach for the mud.

It isn’t wet, but when you touch it it feels cool and soothing. You gently pat some on your arms and feel immediate relief.

The mud soaks into your skin, and as you watch the wounds begin to knit back together, as effective as a healer’s spell.

“Thank you,” you finally say, turning to the furry beast. You step back, suddenly not sure of how to react. The Black Wolf bares its teeth in what you hope is a smile.

“I… I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. I am Nolazir.”

The name sounds familiar. “Nolazir,” you say, testing it out. “It’s a strong name.”

The Black Wolf inclines its head. “As is Nero,” it replies, and you’re not sure what to think about it remembering your name after all these weeks.

“So … who was that woman?” you ask. “Who were those men?”

“Clans,” the Black Wolf says. “We’re in a… a complicated situation. I’d tell you to meet us at the Falls, but…” It pauses. “I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“What do you mean?”

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