12. Children of the Moon
"The history of our ancestors begins over twenty-two hundred years ago." Ian peaked our interest immediately, and my eyes widened at the time frame he was about to share. Twenty-two hundred years ago?
"I ask that you keep what you are about hear, safe. Our family has been able to keep its secret for all this time, and we hope—within an inch or our lives…and yours—it stays that way," his voice cautioned a warning, and a hint of a threat, his expression exceedingly serious.
This was obviously not going to be some gossip story to spread around town yelling, "Hey! Guess what I know?" No. No way. And it was apparent—that what we were about to hear—was not to even leave this room, under any circumstances. So, accepting (within an inch of our lives) and acknowledging what Ian was asking of us, each member of my family nodded their head in respectful understanding to Ian's firm advice.
But If Aro ever touched one of us…
"Thank you," Ian spoke, and his story began…
"In a small town, outside the capital city known today at Belgrade, a man by the name of Karolis Nidelya set out for a hunting trip in the nearby mountains. It was nearly sundown when he caught sight of a large animal that would easily make for his dinner for the next week. After several minutes of chasing and short-cutting the deer at a hurried speed, Karolis accidentally slipped on a small pile of leaves that gathered too close to the edge of a deep slope. Brutally he fell down the long hill, tumbling, sliding and rolling until he was knocked unconscious when his head slammed against a large rock at the bottom, stopping him, leaving his battered body lying in a near lifeless state. He lay there all night, unmoving, bleeding, and completely vulnerable to the animals of prey that stalked the deep, dark woods. But mercy was on his side, and Karolis was spared from becoming a hungry animal's nighttime meal.
"When he woke in the morning, though, slowly coming into consciousness, Karolis felt a strange, wet sensation on his leg. He lifted his head—with dizziness and much pain—and looked down to see a very large, white wolf licking at a deeply gashed wound. Karolis yanked his leg away quickly, screamed with the agony, and then pushed himself up against the rock that carried his blood-dried markings, while trying not to cry out more in pain of just moving. He felt broken all over. The wolf turned to face him then, staring down and peering into his eyes, as if making a connection. Something inside Karolis, though, told him not to be afraid.
"But he stared back nervously as the animal began to approach him, those giant paws and sharp claws inching in closer. With his hand, Karolis felt blindly around for a big stick or a large rock to throw, but there was nothing. He panicked, knowing then he'd have to try to fight the animal off with his own bare hands…and feeble body. A fight he was sure to lose. Then terror flowed ice-cold through his veins and froze him in place when the wolf stopped within mere inches of his face, its warm breath blowing against his cold, sweat-soaked skin."
My grip on Edward's knee tightened as I imagined the horror Karolis must have felt at that moment. Face to face with a wolf that had already gotten a good taste of him—was just like facing the killer vampire—who'd once wanted a human taste of me. Karolis and I had both been mere seconds away from losing our lives…
"Then the wolf did the unexpected, and gave a dripping, sloppy lick up Karolis's cheek, as if it were making friends. Needless to say, he was completely stunned by the action, and thankful—before wondering if maybe the animal was getting in a quick sample of its next meal. Alone in the mountains, with a wild wolf staring at him, not sure if he'd be dinner soon, Karolis was unable to find his voice, or the strength, to yell for help.
"So he swallowed, closed his eyes, and allowed what was ever going to happen…to happen. Which is when the giant wolf surprised him again, and lay down gently beside him. Peeling one lid open, then the other—the wolf lowering its thick head on its front paws—Karolis took quick inventory of the damage to his body…without moving. He noticed all the deep cuts and scrapes he'd received, were cleaned, not bleeding, nor full of dirt, sticks or small earth. Unable to fully understand what was happening in this possibly odd, fantasy land, he reached up slowly to touch his hand to the side of his incredibly, throbbing head to feel the spot where a huge lump had grown. Agony shot through him again just from touching it, and Karolis began to feel dizzy, thinking maybe this was all just a hallucination. So he laid his head back against the rock, closed his heavy eyes, pushed away his need to vomit, and went sorely back into slumber."
"A gentle wolf…" Esme spoke softly, making the connection as she gazed at Ian.
"Yes." He smiled back with a single nod.
"What happened next?" She eyed him, wanting more.
"Karolis woke a few hours later to the faint sound of men shouting, their calls echoing all around the woods. Remembering the wolf, he sat up quickly, his head spinning as he looked to see if the animal was still around. But it was gone. He thought for sure then he'd just imagined it, but when he looked over his wounds again, they were still neat and cleaned. A hallucination, he knew, would never perform such a realistic act. He was certain then, he had not imagined the wolf, nor had he dreamt it.
"So, Karolis peered up farther into the wooded mountain area, to see if it might still be near by, maybe hiding from the men who were closing in, but he saw no evidence of a wolf leering in the midst. Or any tracks around him. As the men's callings became louder, and with the wolf gone, he was finally able to call out for help. To which six men instantly running down and carefully carried him back home.
"His friend Gavyn, who helped find him, stayed by his side that first night to watch over him, and Karolis noticed his friend's confused expression at the cleanliness of his wounds. He panicked a little, not sure how to explain, when Gavyn did asked about them. But Karolis only shrugged, remaining silent, as if confused himself—because part of him was—not wanting or quite willing to share the foolish story of a wolf who may have taken care of him during the night."
"So he never told anyone?" Jasper asked.
"Well…that was his intention," Ian replied. "But three weeks had passed, and Karolis was finally able to use his full strength to head out and take care of his fields, with the help of some friends. While hauling a heavy bundle of grain over his shoulder, making his way back toward his barn, the large bag was dropped immediately when Karolis gripped at his ribs as a terribly, sharp pain pierced through them, sending him loudly groaning to the ground."
My eyes shot wide open because I knew where this was going. I'd read the stories in books, and I'd seen the movies about werewolf transformation. Always fiction I'd thought, though—before I'd met Edward…and Jacob. This tale was going to be just like what I'd read and seen on film…but real. Very, very real.
"He stayed bent over for a while," Ian continued, "panting, waiting for the pain to go away, thinking maybe he'd just strained himself with too big of a haul. After a few minutes, when he felt a bit better, he slowly picked up the group of grain, flung it over his shoulder and proceeded to the barn. Karolis got about three-fourths of the way there when the pain pierced even harder, his whole spine cracking this time, as if it was being stretched and shifted. He cried out in excruciating pain, dropping bundle once again as he fell harder to the ground, writhing feverishly in bone moving, flesh-ripping agony."
The room was completely silent. I don't think anyone even blinked. Yet, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Ian, knowing he would go through that very same thing every time he changed. Yes, vampires' burned for two to three days in transformation, but that was it—even though we wished and begged for death in the meantime. But Ian, he would transform three times every month.
"Karolis gritted his teeth, not wanting to shout louder and be discovered as he watched wiry, thick hair began to grow rapidly on both his forearms. Like fur. His hands trembled uncontrollably then, the pain nearly fainting him as he took deep, heavy breaths while watching the knuckles in his hands separate, crack, tear, and stretch before his eyes. The nails protruding from his fingers had become thick, dark claws that stopped growing around six inches long, and a low growl instinctually rumbled in his chest between breaths. He continued on in excruciating silence as his feet went through the same process, sweat pouring down his head, face and back. Karolis covered his mouth, trying not to scream. And then his eyesight suddenly magnified and his hearing and smell intensified. Footsteps, they were approaching, coming closer with each heavy thud to the ground. They were running. His friends were out in that field and had probably heard his painfully, thunderous cries. They would come check on him. He had to get away.
"Karolis nearly ripped off his own barn doors with his new strength when he clawed them awkwardly open, managing to half-walk, half-crawl himself inside—between continual rib-cracks and spine-shifts that knocked him down over and over. Once he was in the barn, Karolis looked around for something strong to lock the doors from the inside, not wanting anyone to find him."
"Oh, my goodness," Esme said as she put her hands over her mouth. "That all sounds so painful." She then put a comforting hand on Ian, sharing her concern for him.
"Not to worry, my dear." He patted her hand. "It's only rough like that the first time." Ian reassured her with a smile.
Well, that was good, I thought to myself in relief as I imagined the bone shifting in sympathetic pain.
"Did his friends see him crawling in?" Edward wondered, and I loved that he still didn't know what was coming.
"Well," Ian continued. "They did run up to the barn and tried opening the doors, believing they saw something go in there. But the doors wouldn't budge.
"When they began hearing horrible noises of thrashing, cracking and ripping coming from inside, they slowly backed off in terror, looking at one another. Karolis was desperately trying to be quiet, but the shifting pain was so unbearable at times, he couldn't help the few monster growls that shot out between his muffled human cries. His friends at that point had thought a large, ferocious animal was attacking him, and knew they had to try to save him. One man ran over and retrieved the firewood axe from a nearby pile of wood and began heaving at the barn doors. When they finally got through, many minutes later, and looked inside, they found themselves surrounded by an eerie quiet. Gavyn was afraid to go in any further, believing Karolis had already been destroyed, not wanting to see his friend's mutilated body. But the man who held the axe, walked slowly in, looking around, wondering if the animal was hiding."
I leaned into Edward more. And just like in the movies, I was waiting for Ian to burst out loudly with what happened next and scare the pants off of me. Edward wrapped an arm around my shoulders and tightened his grip with a slight laugh through his nose.
Rosalie and Emmett were sitting on the edge of their seats, while everyone else sat relaxed in their chairs. Was no one else expecting to jump at this point? Just me? I took a deep breath, tried to calm myself, and listened very lightly to this part of the tale.
"Gavyn told the other man he thought he saw a wolf-like creature crawling into the barn on the way here, that it was big, very big, warning his friend to be careful. Whispering loudly, they called out for Karolis, but received no answer. Then they heard a slight, rustling noise coming from the back corner of the barn. The friend pointed to Gavyn that he was going to sneak quietly in that direction while raising the axe high over his head, ready to strike at anything that moved if needed. As the man came closer, Karolis's smell kicked further into action, and the appetizing scent from the men became too strong to resist. Saliva began to drip down his large fangs and out his mouth onto the ground, his stomach cramping for bloody nourishment. He was instinctively hungry, and wanted to feed."
"Those poor men…" I cupped my hand over my mouth.
"His transformation had finished, then?" Carlisle inquired.
"Yes." Ian nodded. "The very first process takes the longest, about fifteen extremely excruciating minutes to complete while the body does it's best to adjust."
"Interesting…" Carlisle drifted into thought, and his doctor mode kicked in. "So, the saliva…from the wolf? It seeped into Karolis' system, making him a new creature?"
"Correct, Carlisle," Ian spoke with amazement. He was impressed with how quickly he'd caught on. "But if that were completely true," he held up a finger for him to ponder another thought, "then any animal lick would turn a human into something else, would it not? No, there was something special about that wolf, Karolis now knew it." Ian shrugged his shoulders and shook his head then. "But he never had the chance to find out how—because even though he'd searched for the animal for many, many years—he never saw it again."
Part of me would have laughed at the thought of a "special" wolf "licking" a man into a werewolf, until I looked at my pasty arm, as a reminder of what a bite from a vampire had done to me.
"I'm a doctor," Carlisle said to Ian. "It's a bit of a habit to break things down as quick as possible. And I see what you mean about an innocent lick, which was my next question."
"A doctor?" Ian folded his arms happily across his chest. "My wife is a nurse in the city. Good to have a fellow healer around."
I assumed that explained the blood Adriana had in the icebox, and why Peter said no humans were harmed. They were able to get it just like Carlisle was.
"She's a nurse in the city?" Jasper asked with a confused look on his face. "But you mentioned you resided in the mountains?"
"That's true," Ian defended quickly. "We reside in these mountains for three nights every month. But we live normal lives in the city otherwise, with a home, a job…and a family."
"So, all of you come up here then?" I wondered. Wouldn't someone notice a whole family gone for three days every month?
"No. The females in our family do not change. Only the men carry the extra chromosome that allows them to convert," Ian stated. "We come up here at dusk before we transform, then feed with Marek and Adriana under the evenings light, till dawn, when we change back. We do that until the moon's three day phase is over, protecting each other in the meantime. And as far as the townspeople know, the men in our family are very avid hunters and take this trip once a month 'for sport'." He laughed a husky laugh at his words.
"I see," I replied, thinking immediately of Jacob and his pack. They could change anytime they wanted. Ian and the men in his family didn't have a choice, and they couldn't control it. It just happened to them.
"Marek?" Carlisle questioned. "You and Adriana feed on the animals, as well?"
"We do. And Ian brings human blood donations for us to drink in the meantime, till they return. We gave up killing humans a long time ago my friend, but do miss the taste."
I swallowed thickly, chasing away the reminded craving as a smile beamed across Carlisle's face.
That explained Marek and Adriana's eyes and why they were a dark gold. They drank human and animal blood.
"What happened in the barn?" Emmett shouted, anxious to get back to the tale.
"Yes, of course. Where was I?" Ian thought out loud.
"He wanted to eat the men!" Emmett said eagerly, rubbing his hands palms against each other. I could tell he was hoping to hear something gross and chewy by the look in his eyes.
"Right." Ian remembered, looking inquisitively at Emmett's interest in whether or not the friends were going to be eaten, and continued while holding back a grin.
"Karolis jumped out on all fours then, stood up on extremely muscled, hind legs, and towered over the shaking men who'd nearly pissed their pants right then and there. Pardon my language, ladies. He then raised his massive clawed hands up with a growling snarl and barred back his lips, showing his still dripping fangs," Ian made the hand motions at the table to mimic this part of the tale, "then crouched down, prepared to pounce and devour. But instinct, adrenaline and fear, had the one man swing down the axe and slash Karolis through his chest, leaving a deep, bloody gash.
"Jumping back with a vicious roar and in pain, the action had caused Karolis to become distracted for the moment from attacking. And the fear he saw in the faces and familiar eyes of Gavyn and his friend, immediately backed him off, looking around for a way of quick escape. He leaped easily up to the hay loft above and jumped out the second story opening, running swiftly into the mountains. Once the men composed themselves from what they'd just witnessed, they began looking around the barn for Karolis, but he was nowhere to be found. All that was left of him were pieces of torn clothing…and not one trace of blood."
"So what happened?" Rosalie asked, sitting even further out from the couch.
"After many hours of searching inside and outside the barn, then just inside the nearby woods—incase the beast dropped Karolis's body—the one man eventually gave up, growing weary, and went home to his family. But Gavyn stayed, waiting to see if the animal or Karolis would return."
"Did he?" Rosalie asked again, "return?"
"Karolis did return to his home in the morning, after changing back. He made his way exhaustedly to his house, not knowing, of course, that Gavyn was there. When he entered, he woke his friend who proceeded to frightfully ask him what happened."
"What did he tell him?" Esme eyes were wide with wonder.
"He told him he, too, had seen the animal and ran off into the mountains to hide until it had left."
"And Gavyn believed him?" Jasper inquired.
"He did at first," Ian said. "Except Karolis wasn't wearing any clothes, and he was holding his ribs and chest very carefully, acting strange. Gavyn noticed his hands and questioned the traces of blood around each cuticle, as if all his nails had been removed and placed back on mangled and a bit crooked. Karolis told him his nails torn up from climbing a tree quickly. But the tips of his fingers were not scraped, broken or damaged in any way, and Gavyn wondered more at his story—and to where his clothes had gone? Mistakenly then, Karolis moved his arms away from his chest and ribs—which caused Gavyn to gasp. A large gash ran itself half way across Karolis's chest, resembling the same exact wound given to the large beast last night. Gavyn stared at his friend wide-eyed and confused, forgetting to breathe. Karolis looked down and knew what his friend was seeing. Proof of what he was. Wanting to avoid further conversations, though, Karolis said he needed to lie down from his horrifying night, and that he was too tired to talk. Exhausted in truth, he walked into his room, curled up on his bed and fell fast asleep, while Gavyn stared wide-eyed at the closed bedroom door.
"But it was what Gavyn heard while Karolis was slept, that got his curiosity stirring. He walked into the room to see his friend panting heavily in his sleep; like a dog would after a long run, his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. And every now and then, Karolis would whimper between fits of pain and motions of snarling chases. Gavyn slowly sat down on the bed, intrigued, waiting, watching…and curious."
"Brave friend," Emmett told Rosalie, and she nodded back.
"He was," Ian agreed.
"Did Karolis wake up?" Esme asked.
"No. He slept the whole day like that, restless, while Gavyn kept tense watch. But as the sun began to set, Gavyn was growing hungry, and made his way to the kitchen to look for anything Karolis had available—which is when the real noises began."
"He was changing again…" Edward said.
"Yes." Ian nodded. "Gavyn, dropping everything he had in his hands, ran into Karolis's room just in time to see him going into deep convulsions on the bed. He ran to him then backed off, shocked and scared, when he heard ribs cracking and saw large claws tearing out from his nails. He held himself motionless and in terror in the back corner as Karolis twisted, arched and moaned, not knowing what to do and in fear for his friend's life. The transformation process was quicker this time and everything seemed to flow a bit better. But before Gavyn could process what he'd just viewed, a large, black wolf stepped from the bed, sniffing around the room, before spotting him. Gavyn shook uncontrollably because he'd recognized this wolf.
"Karolis approached him, repeating his actions from the night before, standing at least two feet above Gavyn, yellow eyes staring down, standing on hind legs, breathing heavily through his snout while barring his saliva, dripping teeth. Gavyn wanted to scream, but couldn't. Fear was the only thing that made itself known through his expression. Recognition dawned, though, and Karolis took a gigantic, pawed step back, lowering back on all fours, then bolted out of the room and smashed through the front door, not bothering to stop. Wood slats and splinters went flying as Karolis quickly took off running into the mountains once again."
"Woe!" Emmett shouted. "The transformation must have been cool to see!" He flung himself against the back of the chair, astonished with what he'd been hearing.
"I don't think Gavyn was thinking that, my friend. But he did grab the axe left on the floor in the barn and followed after him toward the wooded mountains. When he reached the entrance to the trees, he stopped, afraid to go in further when he heard a fierce howl, then the sound of an animal being attacked. Gavyn glanced down and knew the measly axe he carried wasn't going to save him from what was in there. So he went back to the house to wait…once again."
I looked around and noticed all of us where sitting on the edge of our seats, enthralled in what the leader of the Siberian werewolves was sharing with us. I had a whole new respect for his kind. Like us, they didn't want to harm a human…a friend. They too could not completely control their senses and instincts, but they were strong enough, gentle enough to catch themselves and run when needed.
"Did Karolis have any idea Gavyn would be waiting for him again in the morning?" Jasper asked.
"He did," Ian said. "And when he arrived unclothed at the house again, just after sunrise, he entered quietly the makeshift door Gavyn had tried to fix during the night. His friend was sleeping crooked in the front room chair with the firewood axe still gripped tight in hand. Karolis, exhausted from running all night, hoped to fall asleep before he could be asked anything. But Gavyn woke with a jolt when he heard something make a heavy plop on the bed in Karolis's room. He entered the room slowly, head first and axe first, whispering Karolis's name. Karolis rolled over with a heavy sigh. He knew his friend wasn't going to go away. And he had to face the facts it was time to let Gavyn in on what happened. So he shared his story.
"Gavyn, astounded after hearing everything, promised to keep Karolis's secret to his dying day. And until he was laid to rest in his final, resting grave…he did."
"Incredible." Esme put her hands up to rest her chin on and shake her head.
Me, I was speechless along with everyone else.
Well, everyone except Emmett.
"So…where did the 'wild' werewolves come from?" Emmett asked, wanting more.
Ian took a deep breath and exhaled loudly before beginning again; leading me to believe we weren't anywhere near being finished with his ancestor's story.
"Karolis later had two sons," he replied, jumping further in time. "He married Gavyn's sister a few years after his first transformation. She was the only other person to know about Karolis, besides Gavyn, and loved him dearly, regardless." Ian then hung his head in sadness. "But, regrettably she died just after giving birth to their second son."
"Oh, no..." Esme sympathized. "I'm so sorry." And for a brief second, I felt a connection to Karolis's wife.
"It happens." Ian face was blank momentarily, and then he smiled to her for her compassion before continuing.
"Gavyn would come help take care of his nephews on full moon nights—both men watching the boys intensely from month to month, to see if they, too, did anything different or out of the ordinary. Karolis wasn't sure what to expect, though, if anything? He hoped he was alone with what he was. But…it was the first full moon, after his oldest son's thirteenth birthday…that it all began again."
"All the boys in the family..." Edward commented.
"Right," Ian said. "Kadin, his oldest, had complained of rib pain a few times that first afternoon, causing concern in both men. And by dusk, the pain had worsened, doubling him over to the floor. Kadin had screamed and cried in agony when the cracking and shifting began, to which Karolis grabbed him, threw him over his shoulder, eyed Gavyn, and ran with his son before he transformed himself.
"The boys new their father always went 'hunting' on full moon nights, but from then on, Kadin would be going with him. Gavyn stayed with Direk, his second son—who still didn't know, each time until morning. When they'd both arrive home, exhausted and weary, they would fall asleep immediately, and snore the whole day. Karolis told Direk when he turned thirteen, he, too, would be going 'hunting' by the moonlight…which was only two years away."
"So, then there were three?" Jasper spoke.
"And then there were three," Ian repeated. "Six nearly normal years went by after Direk's transformation, before things went horribly wrong."
I clinched Edward's knee again, preparing myself for round three, of things that had gone "horribly wrong".
"Gavyn didn't need to stay at the house anymore, now that the boys were older and the family hunted together. But he made sure to stay near the perimeter of the woods, knowing the scent of man was a very strong pull for them. It was his intention to sidetrack the three Nidelya wolves if they should get the urge to roam into town, and warn them with sounds of birds, if men were to wander in."
"Did they ever? Try to run into town?" Emmett wondered.
"No, they were very controlled, and gentle, like I said. Big game was plentiful in the mountains, and their hunger was sustained quite adequately."
"So, what went wrong?" Edward asked, as his muscles tensed slightly in anticipation and he clutched firmly at my arm. It was interesting to see him like this, not knowing. Almost like he was a "normal" vampire, if such a thing truly existed and wasn't so oxymoronic to believe.
"When they were out hunting, a few months later, Direk picked up on a new, delicious scent. So he followed it, curious…and hungry. As he approached the animal that spiked his craving, he discovered there was something wrong with it. In a state of confusion, he backed away from the animal that had now turned on him, heaving and foaming at the mouth. Direk froze. The large, brown, rabid wolf took advantage and pounced instantly, biting him over and over. Direk howled in pain while trying to fight it off. His father and brother loped to him immediately, scaring the rabid wolf away when they approached. Karolis tended to his battered and bleeding son while Kadin chased after the animal, destroying it quickly with the snap of its neck, and managing to avoid being bitten himself.
"They stayed by Direk's side in the woods until dawn, trying to stop the bleeding as much as possible with pressure and dirt, then carried him back to the house in the morning when it was safe. They were able to tend to his wounds better when he was human. Kadin counted sixteen large punctures in his brother's skin, eight bites, most of them on his arms and a few to the neck. They cleaned and wrapped each one, then placed Direk in bed. He slept for only a few hours before his behavior changed during his sleep. Direk's breathing turned rough. He became feverish and shook heavily from the chills that ran throughout his body. Karolis covered him with blankets and placed cool rags on his forehead to help with the fever, but nothing worked. He was still burning up and shaking uncontrollably. When his brother went to remove the warm rag from his forehead, Direk's eyes opened. He growled violently and bit up at his brother, almost getting his arm. Kadin backed up, mystified by what he'd seen…then shaken by what happen next.
"Direk's blood-shot eyes rolled back into his head, and he began to pant erratically. Kadin didn't move and hollered for his father. Karolis entered the room to see his son's condition. Direk appeared to be dying…rapidly, as he struggled to breathe, taking in as many shallow gasps as he could. His chest rose only a few more times, before it stopped."
"Poor Karolis," Esme expressed.
"No kidding," Emmett said with remorse as he slumped down in his chair. "That's horrible."
"Yes." Ian hung his head then sighed. "But, there's more," he said in a way that had me thinking there were worse things coming. Was that possible?
"Karolis slumped himself over the lifeless body of his son, held him tightly, and began to cry. Only a few seconds had gone by of grieving, before Kadin suddenly gasped, causing Karolis to turn and look at him. He stared at his brother in shock because his eyes had opened again. All of the sudden Direk took in a large mouthful of air causing his chest to rise to its fullest, then exhaled in a ragged gust. Karolis beamed with joy; until his son started thrashing wildly under him. He tried to hold him down but backed up when the cracking, breaking and distorted moaning began. Direk was transforming."
"But it was the middle of the day…" Carlisle said what we were all thinking, and then pulled his eyebrows in, in confusion.
"Yes it was. And what Direk was doing, should not have been possible. But for him…it was…" Ian held up a finger to Carlisle to wait before he asked his next question, and I stopped myself, as well. Because I knew mine would be the same as his. How?
"When the process was complete, Direk flung his huge, furry body, viciously from the bed. Instantly catching the sight of two mouthwatering humans standing in his midst and was anxious to feed. His red-tinted, black eyes seemed to fill with fire as he barred his yellow, dripping fangs and opened his brown, foaming mouth, lunging at his brother first. In a panic, Kadin grabbed the thick, wooden chair next to him and slammed Direk across the head with it, knocking his brother to the ground, unconscious. Karolis told Kadin to run to the barn and get as many thick straps of leather as he could find. They were going to have to tie him up.
"When he got back, Direk was starting to come around, and they hurried with their ties. Kadin made sure to wrap an extra-tight one around his muzzle, so he couldn't bite through anything, or anyone."
"What happened when dusk came and it was time for the father and son to turn?" Rosalie asked.
"They changed, but stayed in the house. Direk was bound on the floor, unable to move, watching with loud huffs, snarls and muffled growls as the two large werewolves paced themselves back and forth the entire night. He was desperate to fight, desperate to break free, and he was desperate to feed…on anything, even another werewolf. Which is why they remain alone when wild, they destroy each other very quickly, leaving only the strongest one standing."
"So the rabid wolf changed him into a rabid werewolf," Jasper noted. "But…why the transform before nightfall?"
"The disease that the rabid wolf carried messed up Direk's system, distorting what he was, keeping him in full, wild wolf form until the end of the full moon cycle," Ian explained.
"And when he was human again?" Carlisle asked.
"He never behaved right after that night. Direk was always angry, always bitter…and always mean. He couldn't sit still, either. He paced continuously, always sniffing subconsciously at the air. He kept his father and brother in constant defense because they didn't know what 'could' happen at any time. He was dangerous, very dangerous. Direk was under close watch."
"Did Direk remember he tried to kill his brother?" Jasper asked.
"No. His mentality was so different when he changed; he couldn't remember anything besides wanting to hunt and destroy everything around him…father or brother, it didn't matter."
"And another full moon would be coming," Carlisle sighed lightly. "Would they tie him up every time?"
"That was the plan. They couldn't let him loose in the woods, knowing he'd find a way to get past them and head into town. And they didn't want to take the chance of him devouring a human, completely unable to control himself."
"Did Direk know what they would do to him each month?" Rosalie asked.
"No. Karolis and Kadin took him by surprise every time, to avoid a fight. Both men were very strong, but Direk had grown stronger, almost as strong as the two of them put together. They knew they'd have a better chance if he didn't know what was coming."
"So they pounced on him, right?" Emmett made a wrestling move with his arms.
"They were going to, but he surprised them when he changed again mid-morning, just like the month before, but sooner in the day. The process happened so quick, neither could wrestle him to the ground in time. Direk and all his strength, flung them both across the room, simultaneously, knocking his brother out when he hit the wall, and wounding his fathers arm. He turned and took off out of the house, not interested in feeding on his family anymore, for other scents had caught his attention many times before today. Other scents he remembered. Other scents that drew him towards town.
"Karolis tried following after him, finding it impossible to keep up, though, and could only watch his son run out of sight. Running back to the house to check on Kadin, he was thankful his son was still alive. He told Kadin what happened when his son came back around, and that his brother was heading for town."
"Oh, this can't be good," Rosalie mumbled, shaking her head slowly.
"No, it wasn't." Ian shook his head with her. "By the time Karolis and Kadin made it to town, Direk had already mutilated two people and terrorized the townsfolk. Word spread quickly that a man-like wolf was on the loose and killing people. So, the citizens formed a search party that afternoon, going to go door to door first, before searching the woods for the beast. Karolis knew he and Kadin were also in trouble as he looked towards the sky, seeing they maybe had only an hour until sundown, before they, too, were noticed. Running home as fast as they could from town, they saw Gavyn waiting for them out front—his fears confirmed, when only two men returned. They told Gavyn everything before his face fell in sadness. He knew Direk would have to be 'stopped', and there was only one way that could happen..."
Carlisle shook his head back and forth. He didn't like the idea of any creature having to be destroyed, but like us, when innocent people begin to die, or become hunted, then something needs to be done. James, Laurent and Victoria had hunted after me once, and they were all gone now. I breathed a heavy sigh at the relived thought. Edward touched the top of my thigh, then shifted his hand underneath, holding it tight. I took in a quick breath then let it out slowly as tingles ran down my leg at his gesture. He smirked at my not-so-casual display of stimulation. I shook my head, hugged firmly at his arm and rested my head on his shoulder. I thought about playing back, but I wanted to focus on the story and avoid another punch to him from Rosalie.
"Karolis and Kadin stayed in the house during and after transformation that night. Gavyn told them he'd also stay and ward off any townsfolk that came by. A few did come that evening and asked if Karolis was home, but Gavyn said they were out hunting, that they'd be back by morning. One of the men told him the man-wolf had attacked another human, but the wolf was chased off into the mountains before he could kill the human. They were going to look for it, and would watch for the Nidelya family while they were out there. Gavyn nodded and told them 'thank you' knowing what he'd just heard meant. When he went back into the house, he told Karolis they needed to run. They had to leave Siberia, follow the Danube River north…anything, just get away. Karolis understood his friend in wolf form, and he and Kadin took off for the river, headed north and never looked back."
"Woe," I think Emmett finally breathed, grabbing at his head, "but what about Direk?"
"The townspeople never found find him, or the Nidelya Family. As far as they figured, with Gavyn's help; Karolis, Kadin and Direk were the next to fall victim to the wolf that haunted the woods, never to return."
"So the three of them were written off for dead," Jasper said, holding a look of cleverness in his expression.
"And the townsfolk never had any idea about Direk?"
"None." Ian shook his head, emphasizing the word.
"What about when he changed again, or came out from the woods? Wouldn't they see he was alive at some point?"
"They would, except the large hunting party had frightened Direk out of the woods that same night. And as he galloped out, he caught the of his father and brother…following it, north, to the river…tracking after them."
"No way..." Emmett's eyes widened, extremely intrigued yet somewhat fearful for the men who were on the run.
"And the person who was bitten in town and survived?" Carlisle pressed for more information.
"That's where the werewolf legend truly begins to humans. They know nothing of before. A few weeks later, on the first night of the full moon, still home and in bed from his injuries, the man who'd been attacked, suddenly began to thrash violently, scaring his wife half to death. She ran out of the house and down the road screaming for help when her husband began transforming. The neighbors who heard her shouts ran back to her house just in time to witness a wolf-man spring from his bed, wild, fierce, foaming and hungry. He bit three of them before being killed by others who'd just arrived. Two of those humans turned later that evening and so on and so on through time. The third one, a woman, never did. But her behavior was like Direk's as a human. Dark and changed until her last breath."
"Ian, would I be out of line if I asked how the wolf-man was killed?" Carlisle tiled his head hoping he hadn't offended him. "If we should ever come across a wild one, that is?"
We knew how we were killed, but this information would be vital for us to know as well.
"We can be killed just like any other human, Carlisle. Bullets, knives, fire…it's just…a lot harder. We can take many injuries; we don't go down so easy."
"I see. Thank you." Carlisle nodded with understanding and appreciation.
"What happened with Karolis and Kadin?" Edward's curiosity wanted to know more. "Did Direk ever catch up to them?"
Ian looked at Marek then motioned his hand to him. "This is your part of the story, Marek. Would you like to take it from here?"
Ah-ha! I thought as all the pieces were starting to fit together.
"I can," he stated. "I remember that night very well."
Something about Marek's accented voice, and the eeriness in it, made me feel like we were settling ourselves in for another scary tale. I gripped Edward's arm tighter and he placed a soft hand over mine, weaving my fingers in with his.
"It was a full moon. Adriana and I were 'hunting' here in the woods, but, we did not feed on animals at the time. We caught the scent of some gypsy hunters in the area and followed after them. After we caught them and fed, Adriana stiffened. It was the first time her 'gift' had ever made itself known. She mentioned something was not right, like she felt the presence of three creatures around us, but could not see them. Nerved by what she was feeling, we headed home. The next morning, there was a knock on our door. Adriana worried as I went to answer it, prepared to attack whatever stood on the other side. It was two humans. I was about to consume them when I noticed they didn't smell like humans, but more like the wolves of the forest. I was intrigued and held my bite. The older man begged us to let him and the younger man in. They noticed we were different as well, but were not afraid of us, which was a first for a human. They were looking for shelter, and my curiosity invited them in. We offered them clothing, but had no food or water. Adriana and I gave them a puzzled glare, unaware of what we let in, when they said they ate as they ran and not to worry. The man and his son noticed our defensive expressions and explained themselves as we listened to their recent story."
So, Marek and Adriana were over twenty-two hundred years old, and had been around to experience this tale, first hand. They had met Karolis and Kadin, in person, so, so long ago.
I was fascinated.
"We shared stories until late afternoon; knowing what was coming at sunset," Marek continued, spooking me once again. "The two changed into giant man-like wolves before our eyes, so we could see, but made no motion to hurt us. Adriana became nervous again when she said she felt like there was still something around. The four of us went outside immediately, looking to see if we could hear or smell anything wrong. Then a light breeze sent a familiar scent at us…all of us. Karolis and Kadin crouched while low snarls sent out a warning to whatever was out there. Their reaction told us there was danger, so Adriana and I followed suit.
"We heard a light rustle behind a group of large trees in front of us, but before we could go after it…it came to us. A huge man-wolf jumped at the space in front of Adriana and I, foaming at the mouth, eyes on fire, wanting to rip us to shreds. But this one was different than the two that stood with us. He was wild, angry, and fierce. Violent growls ripped from his chest, barreling throughout the forest. And for once, I didn't know if I could take on another creature, this creature.
"Karolis and Kadin pounced between us and the wolf. When the wolf leaped at them, Karolis caught it by the neck, twisted, and broke its neck immediately with a loud snap. And the wolf was dead before it hit the ground. Karolis had just killed his own son to protect us. And in return, we have been protecting their family in gratitude ever since."
Marek's story was much shorter, but still event filled. And their friendship with the Nidelya family had lasted after all this time.
"I couldn't imagine if I had to do that," Esme sounded tearful, shaking her head slowly at the table.
"Karolis found it necessary, my dear, and took no regret in doing what was needed." Marek patted her hand softly.
"Are you not immortal, Ian?" Carlisle asked.
I assumed he noticed what I had. That if Ian was the leader of the werewolves, then that meant that Karolis and Kadin were no longer around.
"No, we are not. We age like any other human and pass on when our bodies become too weak to go through the transformation process. The wear and tear usually takes us out of this world around the age of seventy. But seven to eight of us generally exist at one time. And our genes are passed down through each direct descendant of the family, only affecting the males, keeping the bloodline going."
"I see…" Carlisle respectfully nodded and sounded as if he wished that wasn't true. I would have liked to have met Karolis and Kadin as much as he did. And since it obviously was not an immortal animal that bit Karolis, they in-turn could not be immortal. Which made sense for the transformation part—not affecting the way of their life span one bit.
"Ian," Carlisle focused in on his eyes. "Marek mentioned two losses, but only one that we might be able to help with?"
"That is correct." He nodded.
"Why only one?"