Lycanthrope

(or "The Man Who Became a Wolf")

Prologue

© 2001 by Sofía 'Toffee' Francisco

This page was last modified: 2001/07/28


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Sometimes I look back into the past and wonder.. had I left him there to die, would he have been happier? Perhaps peace was not the same to him as it was to me.. perhaps by saving him I had alienated him even more from that which he was, or wasn't. I could have indeed left him, yet for some reason I felt the urge to save him, and I did. My sister, Glaur, claims that I did it out of empathy. I know nothing of such things, but she may be right nonetheless. He and I were more similar than others were lead to believe. We were exactly the same. We would never fit, not even among our own people. So sometimes I look back, and wonder... and sometimes... wish I knew how to cry.

It was spring when it happened, I still remember it clearly. My mother, Angurboda, sat down beside me and stroked my fur with her delicate white hands. The fire crackled in front of me, and I let out a frustrated growl as her fingers tangled in the knots I had not been able to weed out. I turned my head to look straight at her, pricking my ears as I caught the scent of anguish hanging around her. I whined expectantly, and saw her lips curve into a smile, her hand straying upwards to fondle my ears.

"Glaur hasn't come back yet," she informed me mildly. I growled softly, hating the way she tried to cover up her feelings. I was not an empath, but I could scent out her emotions as easily as I could see her with my eyes.

"I'm can't help feeling angry," she sighed. "She knows how worried I get when she stays out for too long... I know no one could tell the difference.. but the wolves..."

I whined again, trying to calm her down. My mother smiled and stroked the bridge of my snout lovingly.

"Oh, I know you have convinced most of the wolves in our territory that we can be allies, but you know your sister has a tendency to want to stray out of out lands." She wrung her hands together nervously and shook her head at her own foolishness. She wanted to make sure Glaur was safe, but we both knew how much my sister despised being looked after. And yet...

I let out a soft questioning yip and my mother blinked back her tears. "You would go and look for her?"

I nodded, trying to imitate a gesture that had been natural to my mind since birth, and yet not truly adequate for my body. "Thank you!" She cried, and put both arms around my neck, her face disappearing in my thick fur. I knew she had wanted me to do this anyway, it was probably why she had come here and stroked my pelt in the first place.

I trotted out of the house and broke into a run as I reached the outskirts of the forest. A few wolves appeared after a while and ran beside me, flanking my guard. I growled a welcome and ran faster, trying to catch Glaur's scent in between the pine trees and the fresh snow. Far off, a wolf howled throatily, informing us that nothing was new. I stopped and howled back, querying on the whereabouts of my sister. The reply came from far within the forest: no one had seen her. Another howl from the north gave us a warning though; there was a hungry bear prowling the area. I huffed irritably at this added piece of trouble and hoped that my mother hadn't heard the howl, or she would be worried.

Glaur couldn't outrun a bear, much less fight it. A human's female shape was far too weak... no wonder mother was so worried about her. I howled and started running again, my defacto pack howling with me as they passed on the message from wolf to wolf: the one called Glaur was missing.

It was close to midday by the time I called the pack to a stop, lifting my head anxiously as I thought I caught the vaguely sweet and savage scent of my sister. One of my companions whines and pawed the snow, I looked down to find bear footprints on the snow. I felt my fur grow stiff as the bear's smell filled my nose, and I took a few steps back huffing. A far away howl echoed through the trees.

Where had Glaur gone to?

A sudden roar made us all start, I shivered and looked around in alarm. It had been the bear... I could smell him closer and closer. I was about to turn back and lead my pack away, when a woman's cry reached my ears making me go tense.

Glaur!

I turned again and broke into a mad run towards the origin of the overpowering scent of bear-fur and blood, the scent of blood growing stronger too. The wolves followed me in excitement; they had learned to trust me, the wolf who was not a wolf, and understood that I was smarter. If I wanted to go and fight the bear then it meant that they could do it too... I had become a sort of religion to them.

The bear growled low and loud, and I heard a man's gasp of pain, and then a desperate cry.

"Ingrid! Take him and run!" A man's voice, followed by a scream that was cut abruptly by a sick ripping sound, and the wet gurgling noises of a dying person. This... was not Glaur....

We finally pushed through the thick, snow-coated brush to find a desolate scene. I heard several whines behind me. There was a man and a woman, both of them cut open and obviously dying if not dead already. And to the side...the bear.

I stood on its hindquarters like a mythological monster, hunched over the trembling shape of a small human boy. I let out a savage howl, calling my pack to fight. This was madness, this bear was stupid! Did it not understand that our safety lay in not angering the humans!

We leaped onto the creature, teeth sinking into the thick fur as we struggled to hurt it. The little boy looked up in surprise, and I was caught in the animal embrace of his golden eyes. Like wild thing...

I was so foolishly absorbed by his stare that I did not see the bear's paw descend upon me, even though the boy did and opened his mouth in some primal reflex to warn me. I was thrown to the cold ground, a whine rising in my throat as I felt all of my bones being jostled. The boy stared in awe, and then anger. I felt numbly touched as he picked up a stick and tried to defend me. But I was too strong to be beaten like this, and the wolves had grown to need me. We were all hurt by the time the bear was dead, but dead it was indeed.

I turned to the boy, my head spinning as he stared deep into my eyes with a sort of childish innocence and predatory curiosity, still transfixed by pain and confusion. As soon as his gaze strayed to his parents the golden slits widened and brimmed over with tears.

"Mamma...?" I leaned forward and licked his tears, the only gesture I could do to help him. I was a wolf in shape, I couldn't speak. Yet the child did not flinch or seem afraid of me, he just pulled out a cloth from his pocket and wiped my bleeding forehead. For a moment it seemed as if he would be okay, but all to suddenly his face crumpled and he broke down sobbing into my fur.

"Mamma!" he cried, and clutched big clumps of hair in his chubby fingers.

One of the wolves whined, the question was plain enough. What now?

I nudged the boy, urging him to slide into my back and let me carry him. He complied dazedly, and grabbed my fur in order to stay upon me as I ran.

To this day I don't know why I took him in. He was a human, a human! Yet for some reason his beastly eyes called to me, and for the first time in my life I felt I had found someone akin to me. We were both creatures trapped in the wrong body. Both of us. Mother always said so, as she sat beside me during long afternoons reading to me the books I was incapable of reading myself. Yes... I think he and I were exactly the same, so I took him with me.

Mother was not pleased when I arrived home without Glaur, but the sight of the small trembling heap on my back melted her down her usual motherly self, and she was on him in a minute. I whined, not because I hurt but because the child might be. Yet he snuggled into her arms like a kitten and gripped the front of her dress.

"Where did you find him?" she demanded suddenly, her skin going from pink to marble white.

I shook my fur, dislodging the bear's scent from my hair, straight into her face. She shuddered and looked down at the little boy she held. "He is one of the nobles.." she muttered. "A child of one of the Seven Families... we can't keep him!"

I half-growled half-whined, the wolves howled softly.

"Dead? Ingrid and Balder are dead?" her arms tightened around the boy, and she sighed. "Allfather! That mean's the only survivor of their family is here!"

And competition would seek to destroy him and take their place. There was no place for this child in the world of nobles and politics, and my mother knew it.

She knew it all too well...

... and that is how Fenrir came into my family. To this day I wonder if I should have left him... but it's too late for that now. There was nothing else I could do. I was a human trapped in the body of a wolf. While Fenrir... he was a wolf trapped in the visage of a human. And mother must have seen this too, or she wouldn't have let him live with us. She wouldn't have let a human know the secrets of the werewolves.

The End of the Prologue -- Continued in Chapter 1


Toffeesayz:

Hiyas! New fic, new plot, new depression... you are welcome! *smiles* Dedicated to everyone who mailed me as I wrote the first fic, cause it's because of them (and my obsessions, of course) that I still hang around.


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