The Church of Wolves

by Barry Kukovich

When the killings began, they first went unnoticed, buried in the decimation of the Great War. But soon the soldiers in the trenches began whispering about the horror that stalked them. It was a terror so great that their bitterly opposed armies joined forces to combat it. Together, they would hunt through the dark forest of Lithuania to fight their murderous, incomprehensible enemy.

World War I - In the winter darkness of 1916-1917, hordes of wolves began to attack the German and Russian armies stalemated across the eastern no man's land of Lithuania. Enemies of war Captain Kurt Shaffer and Lieutenant Ivan Andronov, officers respectively serving the German and Russian Empires, are ordered to join together and discover the reason for the wolf attacks. Their efforts are aided by Kristina Kleiza, a local peasant girl. Kristina becomes their guide, and much more, as she desperately searches for her grandfather, Petras. A teacher and local elder-turned-recluse, Petras has established a solitary hermitage in a ruined church hidden in the deepest forest of the region. But he has mysteriously fled the church and Kristina fears that he is wandering alone in the frost-bound forest and has become easy prey for the increasingly savage wolf packs.

What inexplicable circumstances could produce this mass terror and inspire such a union between bitterly opposed enemies? Why would such large numbers of wolves attack armed soldiers? Why was the unnatural behavior of the wolves so unlike their instinctive, predatory pattern?

The soldiers and Kristina discover the answers to all their questions, but in a way they never dreamed as they also uncover the greatest secret of an ancient culture: the dark mystery that has slept for so long in the crumbling walls of a humble, ruined church.

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