A Christmas Tale
“Once upon a time, on a snowy December night just Like this night. The history of our heritage begins with the tales of man and beast.” The children gathered around my father gasp in both fright and delight as my father begins to tell this tale the same way he does every single year.
The entirety of the pack gathering in tradition in the spirit of the holidays. We all gather around the fire where everyone sips hot cocoa or tea made of linden flowers that blossom around the pack. While we all wait patiently for the story tone repeated, in this case for the pups who are able to comprehend, it will be their first retelling of the history of werewolves.
The young pups of the pack are huddled around my father, leaning forward eagerly to hear the story about to be told. Braving the harsh snow they sit on as this will be the first time they are hearing this tale.
The flames from the bonfire before me flickers high as sparks fly into the sky as the midnight hour darkens. Our tradition states that this tale, our story, our history is always told on the midnight hour when the heavens is at its darkest while our moon is at her brightest.
I can’t hear anything but the crackling of fire burning oakwood as my father takes a deep breathe in. “Twas the night before Christmas.” My father’s voice remains low and quietly as he glances around all of the pups. He is a true storyteller every time I listen I become sucked into the fast land of our history being retold. What it means to be a wolf and human as one.
“Everything was ablaze, not even the snow could douse out the flames. The homes, the forest, and the people had been sucked into the first inferno that grew and grew as the night winds swept the sparks across the lands.” My eyes look into the flames of the fire as my father continues. I’m lost in the dancing of the flames. They paint a picture of men, women, and children running; fleeing in terror. A chill runs down my spine, it is as if I can hear their cries as I look into the burning light.
“There was chaos amongst man battling against man, beast against beast, and beast against man.” He pauses letting his words sink into our hearts where we grow and listen to the words of our history.
“But we were not the only ones fighting for the Gods were at war as well, their battles was in the heavens above us, all sacrificing for territory and control, all while ignoring our cries, our pleas, our desperation for redemption.”
I can see the destruction in the flames, no matter how many times I hear my father tell this story I can’t help but feel as though I am apart of history, a shiver flows along my spine at the thought of how savage the world used to be.
“The beasts of the land were killing us in our sleep as they were hungry, as were we. The gods had destroyed everything on our land in their war. The tribes, the ones here before we formed packs were all slaughtering each other out of fear.” My father’s voice lowers even more, it is barely a whisper as I can feel the suspense building deep in my bones.
I am unable to drag my eyes away from the flames still as I begin to see the tale my father is telling. I can see the flames create an image of small huts huddled together, safety in numbers. I can see the beasts, prowling along the treelines. The beasts look just like the people do, thin, sick even mangey.
“The eyes of both man and beast were crazed, ravenous and hungry. Neither could remember when their last meal was or knew when their next meal was to come.”
I can see it all as a clear picture as if this story is a part of me. But it isn’t this story if it is even real took place centuries ago, well before my birth and the chance of me being related to a single person in that tribe is slim.
“One the night before what we now know as Christmas, a fire started. No one knew how or why but no one could put an end to it. It was fire stolen from the Gods, only another God could douse the flames..”
I can see humans running with small baskets that they had made filled up with water frantically throwing them on the flames, the beasts running for their lives only to be trapped by the flames.
“There was no escape.” My father leans in even further towards the pups, looking each of them directly in the eye. He told me once that everyone in this pack must understand this story because of those who do not learn from the past repeat it.
“The smoke was making it hard to see anything as we cried up into the night sky, all that could be seen was a full moon, nothing else. Man cried up to the heavens for Zeus to hear us, he created man, surely he would save mankind. Out of all the beasts of the land, only one stayed by our sides and cried up to the heavens.”
The flames show me a picture of a man and wolf both crying to the moon, I can hear the howls of the wolf along with the pleas of man. It is deafening to my ears, although I appear to be the only one who hears this.
Everyone else is too consumed of my fathers words as he spins this tale. All eyes are on him while mine are glued to the flames.
“Wolf and man were side by side on the ground begging to the gods to hear us and save us. But the Gods were too busy for us.” He pauses.
“All but one.” Almost everyone in the pack chants together as one. “One God, one Goddess heard our pleas and descended down from her home. A goddess of the moon. As soon as one pale foot landed on the ground the flames diminished. As if they never threatened to destroy everything.”
I can see a woman in the flames, skin as pale as the moon with hair as dark as night, her back is to me as she picks both man and wolf off of the ground. She walks away from them, almost gliding as she walks up the mountain that our pack is built in front of. The man and the wolf follow her as if they are in a trance.
Just like I am.
I watch as the flames show me the three of them climbing up to the highest peak of the mountain the closest to the moon the living can get. It is where our temple is built in thanks and worship to this Goddess.
I watch as she combines both souls together so that beast becomes man and man becomes beast sharing the same body and soul as one.
The birth of the werewolf.
“Selene, our goddess blessed us, saved us…” my father’s voice sounds in my head as I watch as the man shifts back and forth as bones crack and replacing itself I the shape of the beasts. The children of the night. Between himself and the wolf as he climbs down the mountain to find that his people have had the same blessing.
“This is our history.” My father finishes. I have missed out on chunks of the story but the flames have shown me what I didn’t listen to. But this can’t be true, the gods aren’t real. They don’t save us from our misery, our pain our suffering.
One by one all the members of the pack disappear from the bonfires as the moon begins to disappear from the night sky. All while I continue to stare into the flames until long after they are gone and deduced to nothing but ash and coals.
“Liana.” I jump slightly as my father places a hand on my shoulder. “It’s time to go home.” I follow as he leads me away from where our ancestors were once being burnt to the ground towards our home at the base of the mountain where they say that we were saved.
All I can think about on the walk home is how can the gods be real? How can my family and this pack believe so deeply and entirely in figures they have never met or seen. To have such faith in entities up in the sky, to let beings dictate our agency as beings. How can anyone rely their life in the hands of celestial gods?
“Sleep well.” My father places a small kiss on the top of my head as we reach home, I didn’t even notice that we were home. I follow him up the stairs until I reach my bedroom and jump into bed, letting my mind think over what I saw tonight.
Why did I see things in the flames? How was that even possible? Maybe I put a bit too much vodka in my hot chocolate this year and I was having drunk illusions.
That must be it….
Sleep didn’t come to me that night I woke up to the sounds of my brother banging on my door, just like usual.
“Liana! Get up! I can’t open anything until you get your ass out of bed!” He whines, he only cares for the presents but my family can be very patient when it comes to the exchange of gifts.
“Alright, alright.” I mutter under my breath. Exhausted I crawl out of bed with a yawn and throw my light blue dressing gown on top of my pyjamas before I make my way down into the living room.
I smile as I see my family gathered by the massive christmas tree that my brother, Jasper just had to go and cut down. I found it a little overkill but he had to have the best.
“She is here can we open the presents now!” He complains, I swear if he wasn’t older than me I would think that he is still a seven year old child.
“Yes.” My mother sighs as she hands me another mug of hot chocolate, this time it isn’t laced with alcohol thankfully.
Before I can even take a step forward my brother and father have already torn into there presents while my mother and I just stay well out of there way. Waiting for there carnage to be done before we enter the mess of wrapping paper.
“Here.” Jasper calls to me as he starts throwing presents my way. “That’s from me.” He smiles. Opening it, it is yet another weird annoying novelty alarm clock. Just like every other year. “That one you sit on the floor and it moves around yelling at you so you have to get out of bed in the morning.” He jokes.
“Oh gee thanks…” I really don’t need any more from him I have a pile growing in the back of my closest of the ones he gets me every other christmas and birthday.
“Here don’t be a sook.” He yells as another present comes flying towards my face.
“Don’t throw things in my house.” My mother gets up and hits my brother while I open it.
“Thank you! Thank you thank you thank you!” I squeal as I unwrap the lace white dress I have been dreaming off.
“You’re welcome.” He smiles towards me as he pulls the emerald velvet sweater I got him over his head.
“We got this for you.” My father comes up to me with my mother trailing behind me. “Now, I know it is old but we got a new chain for it and got it cleaned and shined.” my mother starts to ramble.
I open up the little square present to reveal my mothers pendant, well my families pendant. We have passed it down for generations.
“We thought it was time to pass this on to you.” They both smile at me as I waste no time pulling it over my head, it sits perfectly over my heart. For a split second, I felt as though the necklace flowed a luminous violet hue as if it felt alive as it felt heavy with a searing burn into my skin yet not scar made my skin. Before I could speak on this matter, everyone was too engrossed in their presents and conversations gathered around.
We spend the rest of the morning opening presents before we go to mingle with the rest of the pack and share a lunch with everyone.
“When are we meeting the other packs?” My brother asks my father.
“In the new year after each pack is finished up with their own holiday celebrations.” My father replies.
“I wish they would hurry up.” My brother mutters under his breath. This is the first time in years all of the packs in our region are getting together and my brother is hoping to mind his mate there.
I’m just excited to go out and have some fun, it is a week long trip where we all camp in the centre of all eight packs of the region. It is a time for me to let loose and have some fun, not only that I can test my skills against the other packs.
There has been a rumour of traveling overseas and meeting packs in the United States. There’s also talks of visiting one of the best packs in the States who is run by Alpha Nathan.
And that has me excited.