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The Howling Chronicles: Hunt Me Down

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Summary

Brothers are natural born rivals, but with the power of a god coursing through your veins, rivalries become deadly. Henry Bach is the glue of his world and responsible for the safety of a pack of shape-shifters created by the wolf-god Fenrir. He has also been blessed with a daughter who will take his place as Alpha when the time comes, but Henry’s twin brother isn’t ready to welcome baby Lena into the family. Boris Bach has spent his entire life being mistaken for his brother. He is forced into a supporting role simply because Henry came mere seconds before him. Boris’s first son is born on May Day at the same exact time as his niece, Lena. When Henry insists that Lena will be the next in line to lead the pack instead of Boris’s son, something inside Boris snaps. Henry knows that Boris is planning something and fears for his daughter. He puts Lena’s life in the hands of his mother just as Boris commits an act so terrible that the entire future of the Bachlaufer is put at risk. Will the Elder Bach save Lena in time? If so, how can one little baby save an entire pack?

Genre:
Fantasy / Drama
Author:
DaniKaine
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
21
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

The Birth of the Bachlaufer

If you cared to look up the ‘myth’ of Fenrir, you would discover that he is the son of Loki. You would learn that he grew so fast that the gods became nervous. He was tied up in an unbreakable chain, tricked by those who raised him. At this point you might feel sorry for Fenrir. You might wonder if he might have turned out differently if he had been shown kindness.

Fear not my friend, Fenrir escaped. Now, that myth would have you believe that Fenrir took revenge. That he went on a rampage and swallowed up Odin and devoured everything in his path. Who knows, maybe he did. But the myth doesn’t tell you that he came here.

Fenrir touched down on our realm in Germany, who knows how long ago. Before it was called Germany I imagine. Maybe even at the dawn of this realm’s time. He left tracks. Massive paw prints were stamped all down the Harz Mountains. Deep, deep in the mountain side where they were hidden by forests of towering trees. The myth would have you think Fenrir was killed by a son of Odin, but it’s just not true. Injured, maybe, but not killed. We Bachlaufer know better. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’m sorry for the history, or rather, mythology lesson. It’s imperative to know about Fenrir as you continue reading. There are two other things you need to know for this to make any sense.

One- The whole ‘the full moon has power over werewolves’ thing. Yeah, we’ve all heard that one. No one ever mentions the water. That’s the real key. See, it rained over those mountains. Those tracks filled up with so much water that they over flowed and became a winding river. The water was, let’s say ‘contaminated’ by Fenrir’s power. That power was amplified by the magnetic pull of the moon. The truth is, the moon holds sway over the water and the power within it, not the person.

Two- There is a little known belief that if you drink water from the paw print of a wolf, you will become a werewolf. See where I’m going with this?

There is a small town in the Harz Mountains. To this day the people of the town instinctively fear that river, though it’s much smaller now. They warn travelers to stay away from it. Since my ancestors, the first River Runners, there’s an unspoken understanding. If you go near the river, you may never be seen again. They say it’s cursed. That’s not really how we see it though. One man’s curse is another man’s blessing after all.

A very long time ago, a large group of gypsy travelers happened by Fenrir’s river. (I love that word, gypsy. It’s a word I associate with freedom.) The gypsies loved the enchanting view of the river so much that they decided to make the forest their home. It truly is a beautiful sight that draws you in. There were wild berry bushes, fruit and nut trees and wild game as far as the eye could see. The land was perfect for our clan. There were metal veins in the mountain side and clusters of semi-precious stones in the rocks and river bed. Materials perfect for crafting trinkets were readily available and the abundant land provided for our people for years. During all that time, and the time before my people discovered the river, the land was absorbing Fenrir’s power through the water. All of the surrounding land was blessed. Once they came, every one of the gypsy clan used that water every day. They had no idea what it was turning them into. Not at first anyway. They cooked with it, cleaned with it, made medicines with it, bathed in it even! Remember what I said about drinking from the paw print of a wolf? All those people soaking up the power of a wolf god for years...can you imagine?

It really only took a few days for the power to take hold. Everything seemed brighter to my ancestors. They felt lighter, faster. They could see more colors, hear more sounds. They felt deeper emotions and understood the earth better. The adults never turned, but the young kids and babies... they were in for a shock. As they got closer to adulthood, they started getting sick. Very sick. Some didn’t survive. Even now, it’s a small risk; that first shift. The teenagers would fall into a bad fever that lasted for days. They began to have nightmares and hallucinate. They shivered and shook until their bodies were sore and exhausted. The heat and the nightmares became too much for their fragile minds to handle and they tried to run away. They always try to run away. It’s the animal instinct coming through. They always take to the woods. It’s the next few hours after they run that determines if they live or die.

That first generation of shifters was unexpected. The kids fought the change because they were terrified. They didn’t know what was happening to them. Alone, in the woods, if they resisted too much, their human bodies gave out before the new form, Fenrir’s form, could take over. That first shift, the Great Turning, had the most casualties. Afterwards, when the clan understood the gift they’d been given, very few resisted. Of course, the parents of those first shifters were terrified when they learned what their children were becoming. But even though they didn’t turn themselves, they still knew the power of Fenrir. They were a true clan. Even though they were afraid, they stuck together. Without family you have nothing; that’s what they believed. It was a good thing they did stay together. The shift is the greatest thing to us now. It’s a rite of passage. And don’t think we are all power hungry monsters. It’s the freedom that we love so much about being Runners. We care nothing for power and we were never monsters.

The small town that was nestled against the forest of the Harz Mountains felt differently. People always fear what they don’t understand, and they hate what they fear. They imagined there were demons in the woods. I never knew why they thought that. Maybe someone had witnessed the shift... But I think it really is to do with the sounds they heard at night. Howling, running. A hundred massive paws pounding the dirt, racing through the river bed. That’s why they called us Bachlaufer. River Runners. It suited us. As you can see, we still use it.

For the record, there was never any proof that the wolves ever harmed anyone. But as any high school girl can tell you, rumors will fly. The Runners kept to themselves in their wolf forms. As half-humans they respected humanity; we all do. Runners remain fully aware of themselves in both forms. No Runner would have ever harmed a human.

The power of the river kept getting stronger and stronger. It didn’t stop growing just because the Runners were shifting, but they never noticed. Everyone knew that the adults that first came to the river never shifted. So when a Count and his bride came travelling through the forest, no one thought to warn them about the river. The lovely Countess must have been much younger than she looked, because for whatever reason, she turned. She drank from the river, and a few nights later, after they arrived in the town, she shifted.

Being a gypsy means you have to be used to a certain level of ‘wildness’ even without the river’s power. The Countess’s body made the shift, but not her mind. Perhaps it wasn’t strong enough. She wasn’t aware of anything. Children began disappearing from their beds where blood was always found. The children never were, though.

The towns people had been telling horrible stories about the demons in the woods who race through the cursed river at night. The Countess became sick with worry, knowing that she drank from that river. The Count forced the people to stop spreading the story as even he feared for her mental state. He should have listened. Not that the river is really cursed, not for us. But for them...

It started with the horrible nightmares and the hallucinations, just like it had for my ancestors. But something went wrong. One night, the Count witnessed his wife’s transformation. Not the shifting into a wolf part, apparently. But he shot the beast as it was stealing a child away. As it died, he witnessed the beast change back into his wife.

Immediately he blamed the Runners. He spat curses at the demons and my ancestor’s knew they would be hunted down. They were forced to leave their precious forest. They took as much metal, stone, food, and as many pelts as they could. At least half of the carriages were filled with Fenrir’s water. In the dead of night, the Bachlaufer were driven west.

Over the next several generations the Bachlaufer travelled over oceans and rolling hills of emerald. Finally they settled in a new land. They, after so much searching, found a home that could provide for them the way their old forest did. It seemed, for a time, there might be peace for them.

After becoming more familiar with their wolf forms, the gypsies restructured the clan and called themselves a pack. The highest authority, the Alphas, all come from the Bach family line. Every generation produced a son to carry on the proud title. When the new Alpha takes over, the previous one becomes the new Elder. It’s rare for there to be more than three generations in a single family at once. After a certain age, all the shifting takes its toll on the human body and it dies. But the blessing of Fenrir keeps the other side, the wild side, alive.

As a runner takes his or her last human breath, they make their final shift. Permanently. They are able to live a second life after death as a part of the wild. Normally life and death are equal cause for a celebration in the pack. The first year of the brand new century would be the most blessed and most celebrated in all Bachlaufer history. It would also be the most tragic.

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