In the most northern part of Saskatchewan, two heroes made their way across the snow covered countryside. Dressed all in black leather and Kevlar with a thick green winter coat overtop, the vigilante known as the Black Flag crouched down. Sticking out of the snow was a purplish human hand.
“I found them,” Flag said.
The second hero, a middle-aged African American named Morgan Snowfall, stood next to Flag. Snowfall was raised by the Blackfoot people of Canada, could sense the dark magic in the air.
“Yes. You’re right,” Snowfall replied solemnly. He raised his arms into the air and magical energy began to gather around his hands, twirling the snowflakes in the air around them. The magic spread out from his hands, reaching down into the icy ground and pushing aside the soil and snow. Flag covered his face from the cold whirlwind as Snowfall uncovered the buried bodies. There were twelve bodies in total, eleven men and a single woman. All of them were victims of an ancient monster, one whose murder spree had garnered national attention. The authorities has no leads and no clues, it had fallen to the superheroes to find the killer.
The bodies had been skinned and partially consumed by a Yenaldlooshi. The creature they pursued was known to Native people as a skinwalker or shapeshifter. These were not all of its victims, these were the ones who it had imitated and impersonated. The families of the victims in the pit were also dead, killed without even knowing the one who killed them was not their husband, father or mother. Why it killed was a mystery but Snowfall had studied the stories of the creature and had come to the conclusion that it was just plain evil. It created mischief and murder simply to enjoy the chaos.
“It is the Yenaldlooshi, as we suspected.” Snowfall said.
“What did it do to them?” Flag asked. He covered his nose and mouth with a gloved hand, the smell was strong even in the freezing cold.
“It took everything, their lives, their faces, the ones they loved.”
Deep in the base of the pit, dug deep and hidden beneath the bodies was a tiny cavern where the Yenaldlooshi had left a gift for them. As it smelled them, it opened its red eyes and began to claw to the surface.
The Black Flag turned around to head back to the Snowcat they had borrowed from the local community. The creature burst from the snow behind him, roaring with a sickening bellow. Flag turned to face the bear, a corrupted, sick version of itself. The Yenaldlooshi had corrupted it, sickened it with its dark magic. Flag could see the maggots squirming around the edges of its blood red eyes as it came at him.
“LOOK OUT!” Snowfall shouted. He gathered his magic into the palm of his hand and let it burst out as frozen spears. The ice spears flew over Flag’s head and punctured through the bear’s chest. It made a sickening sound and fell over dead, but a second bear came out of the cave behind it. The Black Flag smiled broadly and clenched his brass knuckles tight. As the bear’s mouth came for his head, he hit it hard with his left hand. With the ability to increase his strength, speed and endurance, Flag was not afraid of the bear at all. Putting his super-adrenaline to work, the punch easily stunned the bear, knocking a pair of blackened teeth from its mouth in the process. A cloud of snow flew into the air as the bear collapsed. Snowfall stood over it, using his magic to read its history. It took a minute but when he finished he shook his head.
“Now what?” Flag asked.
“Now we take these people home to be buried. But I cannot save the bears. They have been too badly changed by the Yenaldlooshi’s dark magic. The best I can do is set it free.” Snowfall said.
“Alright. I’ll call the RCMP, let them know we found the bodies.” For the second time Flag turned and headed toward the Snowcat. When he heard the roar of fire, he did not turn around. The bears were another victim of the creature they’d been tracking for months and he had seen more than enough death. At least the human victims were found and could be put to rest, but there was nothing they could do for the animals that the creature controlled. Neither of them knew the Yenaldlooshi watched from a perch on an icy hill, the setting sun at its back. It rode a massive Irish Elk, a dark beast with black antlers and fire in its belly. The dark shaman wore nothing more than a loincloth and wolf skin cape. Like Snowfall, both men were immune to the effects of the cold. It smelled the meat of the bear being incinerated and enjoyed it, breathing deeply through its nose to take it in fully. The Yenaldlooshi had lived a long, long time. Yet it had also been asleep for over a hundred years, there was a new world out there, a world of powerful heroes and strange science, a world it did not understand. The Skinwalker saw something in the man in the black and his wizard companion, something he’d wanted for a long, long time.