The time was the Year of Our Lord 915 in Lyon, 72 years after the Treaty of Verdun, during which Lyon went to Lothair I. At the time Lyon was a town and not the city it is today. It was in August of that year that the town was subject to a series of brutal murders it seemed at first, but then appearing to be the attacks of a wild beast. The town and surrounding farms lived under a cloud of fear. Wine production was feared to drop as the farmers feared going into their vineyards to harvest the grapes, and the harvest season was about to start that month and last until October. Even monks with vineyards within the enclosures of their monasteries feared going into the vineyards.
It had started with the murder of a local child playing in the woods, his body torn to shreds. At first it was believed that he was murdered and then picked apart by wolves. But a local huntsman had said that wolf packs had been vacant from the region that year. Next to be killed was a woodsman that was felling trees in the forest when he died in the same manner. Some believed it to be the work of a well know witch in the forest until she was found ripped to shreds in her tiny hovel.
Blame then shifted to some travelling Roma until the Town Guard went to their encampment and found all 22 of them dead. Men, women, children, elderly, and livestock were all dead. Tracks found at the scene soon shifted the theory behind the deaths from murder to monster, which only stirred the pot of fear as it boiled over.
The entrances to town had gates built quickly and were guarded night and day. That was when the monster came to town killing a Town Guardsman named Francois, his head and torso pulled over the gate and dragged away leaving his legs in town. The call went out for monster hunters, and while the town waited the previously mentioned huntsman was torn apart.
Only one group of monster hunters had the courage to come to the town. The team consisted of two Frenchmen Luc and Robert, an Englander named William, a German named Hans, and an Arab named Sayed. Their reputation travelled before them with wild tales of vampires, werewolves, witches, sea monsters, and even a dragon.
The townsfolk believed that their salvation had arrived. A huge celebration was held in their honor. The mayor Pierre showed them the payment that awaited the successful killing of the beast. The next day they went into the forest to kill the creature. No one knows exactly what occurred on their final adventure except that the creature killed them instead. Their bodies were found several days later when a small contingent soldiers arrived and went out to find them. Their bodies were strewn across a river bank, displaying that a great battle had taken place.
More soldiers would have been sent, but many were off in Italy near Minturnae with the Christian forces that were personally led by Pope John X against the Saracens, and had been there since June. The soldiers set up a small barracks with the Town Guard and ordered people to stay within the city. The order also called for those living outside the town to move to town, but not everyone obeyed this and took their chances.
This is where the story truly begins in late September at the tiny country cottage of Vincent and Margaret and their daughter Corrine. Corrine was seventeen years old and given to daydreams of one day finding her true love, maybe living in a castle, and having children. With all of the talk of monsters her dreams now had an element of fear.
A beautiful blonde girl with sparkling blue eyes with a figure that was not too thin or too full, she would be sought after by a great many men if her mother and father had not kept her hidden away from the World. Day in and day out she could never venture too far from the cottage, either feeding chickens, collecting eggs, shearing the sheep, spinning the wool on a loom, or some other menial task. But although a prisoner of her parents with a yearning to actually live life, she knew that one day her parents would let her go, and until then she was happy to stay with them.
Tragically things wouldn’t happen that way. She heard her father shout to her and her mother to get inside the house. The women did as they were told as fast as they could and were about to open a window to look outside when Vincent yelled.
“Bolt the door and windows and don’t come out no matter what!” Vincent had yelled.
“Corrine. Get those windows.” Margaret told the girl as she complied with her husband’s orders.
The women didn’t know what was happening, but they heard what sounded like Vincent fighting someone or something, followed by a terrifying scream. Corrine launched herself to the door, but her mother caught her and pulled her to the floor.
“No! We will do as your father told us to do.” Margaret told her daughter, holding her tight.
Suddenly there was a pounding upon the front door that seemed as though it was falling from its hinges. The women screamed which only garnered more attention and rage from whatever was outside the door. The door rattled and shook and was clearly coming apart.
“Get in the basement Corrine!” Margaret shouted.
Corrine did as her mother told her, lifting the hatch in the floor and descending the ladder. As she did she saw the door split down the middle, causing her and the hatch to fall. As she fell, the last thing she saw through the hatch were the massive hairy paws of whatever creature had just attacked her mother. After she fell she saw small streams of blood leaked through the floorboards, and then she lost consciousness.
When she awakened she listened and heard nothing moving. She slowly rose and climbed the ladder and lifted open the hatch. Blood was everywhere, as where parts of her mother. The girl fell to the floor and vomited, but the violent wrenching wouldn’t stop and she rose to her feet and ran out of the door. She did not stop running until she reached the town, where she collapsed in the center of town.
This time when she woke she was being tended to by the town doctor. Physically the girl was in great shape, but mentally no one could be sure. The mayor and a captain from the army were also present.
“Corrine, do you hurt anywhere?” the doctor asked.
“No. Where are my mother and father?” Corrine asked.
“I regret to inform you dear, that they are dead.” the mayor Pierre stated.
“I…I…remember now.” Corrine muttered.
“Do you know what killed them?” the army officer asked.
“I saw big hairy paws. I think it was a werewolf.” Corrine answered.
“A werewolf?” the mayor said in response.
Corrine was given clothes donated by another woman of the town and given time to clean and change clothes before going to the mayor’s manor house to stay through this ordeal. Word spread quickly of the werewolf rumor. Word even made it to the ears of Gaston de Luc.
Gaston was a young man that lived far outside of town. He lived there with the purpose of isolating himself from human contact, and the news of a werewolf bothered him since he knew he hadn’t changed recently. Gaston was a werewolf, and a very practiced one, no longer subject to control of the Moon, he could change at will and remain in control of the wolf.
If another werewolf, quite possibly even the one that had bitten him were in his territory he should have known. This presented a number of different problems for him; including the problem of if it was him behind these attacks he had lost control. Whatever the cause, if he wanted to keep his life a secret, he would need to learn more.
He went into town and straight to the mayor’s house. He was allowed entry on the premise that he was volunteering his services to go out and bury the parents. The mayor allowed him to speak to Corrine for a few minutes. When he first saw her he was fixated upon her beauty, standing there mesmerized and wondering why he chose to live alone, until realizing that question was also the answer.
“Mademoiselle, I’m going up to your cottage to bury your parents. While I’m there is there anything that you need?” Gaston asked.
“You shouldn’t go, there werewolf will only kill you too.” Corrine muttered.
“Thank you for your concern, but I will be alright.” he responded.
“Overconfident fool, you’ll get yourself killed. It is a werewolf. Don’t you understand?” the girl said clearly getting upset.
“Please calm yourself. I am safe in the forest. Whatever this beast is, I can avoid it easily.” Gaston told her, grabbing her by the hand to comfort her. She looked into his blue eyes and thought that they looked like the eyes of a wolf. She felt a little fear, but also safe with him there.
“Can you kill the werewolf?” Corrine asked coldly, and not letting go of his hand.
“I don’t know that it is a werewolf, but whatever the beast I can probably kill it. I hope that does not confirm your belief that I’m an overconfident fool.” Gaston said smiling. Corrine noticed that some of his teeth were sharp.
“I saw its paw and it was huge, what else could it be?” Corrine asked.
“Some lions still live in the mountains, or it could be a bear.” Gaston explained.
“Why are you so sure it is not a werewolf?” Corrine asked, calming more and more in his presence.
“I know wolves. They are more likely to run from humans than attack them, unless they are cornered or sick. Most wolves are protective of each other, their young, and on rare occasions they have protected human children. Have you ever heard the story of Romulus and Remus?” Gaston asked.
“No, perhaps you can tell it to me.” Corrine answered, a tiny bit flirtatiously.
“If the mayor has no objections to my visiting you again, I would be glad to. But first, I will go take care of your parents. So I ask again, is there anything you need?” Gaston urged.
“Just that you tell them that I love them, and that you come back alive, monsieur…?” Corrine said, not knowing his name.
“Gaston.” he added for her.
“Promise me that whether you kill the beast or not, that you will return to me alive, my dear sweet Gaston.” Corrine said.
“I promise.” Gaston answered, now feeling a little embarrassed and like a fool for getting too close to the girl.
Gaston left the mayor’s house, having finally pried himself away from the girl. It was not easy, for what she was starting to feel for him, he knew that he also felt for her. There was no future for them. Was he to turn her to a wolf, or live in fear of doing just that? He decided that he would do this deed and return to his home. First he stopped off to examine the girl’s old clothes. The army officer was there.
“Monsieur Gaston, I believe, the young country gentleman that has pledged to bury the girl’s parents. What brings you here?” the officer asked.
“I don’t desire to be the next victim. I was hoping to have a look at her old clothes. There may be a sign of what this animal is.” Gaston answered.
“They are over there. The girl has identified it as a werewolf, do you believe differently?” the officer asked.
“I do. I have seen wolves all of my life and they don’t do this.” Gaston answered.
“But this is not a wolf, but a werewolf instead.” said the officer.
“I don’t have any experience with them, and do not believe in them, but if they exist it is their human side that is evil. Wolves don’t hunt humans, humans hunt humans,” Gaston said.
“Nevertheless, I would feel better sending men with you, for your protection. Henri, go get Girard and about five others to escort monsieur Gaston…” the officer began.
“Pardon my interruption, but you and your men are needed here. I move faster on my own. So as much as I appreciate the offer, I’m afraid that I must decline.” Gaston interrupted.
“As you wish, did you learn anything from the girl’s clothes?” the officer asked.
“I have learned that aside from there being a lot of blood and viscera, there is a thick mud that would have come from next to a river, and that the whole time we have spoken, you have not introduced yourself, Captain…” Gaston prodded.
“Captain de Gaulle.” he answered.
“A pleasure.” Gaston replied.
Within minutes Gaston was on his way. He had not told de Gaulle, but he had picked up a scent upon the clothes from small hairs in the mud. The creature was a bear, but different. In the hereditary knowledge of scents he had acquired from his wolf side, this bear had not been seen in this region for a very long time. As his human side recalled, ancient people of the area would have referred to it as a cave bear. This bear was bound to be larger than other bears, and if it was on a killing spree either its young were dead or threatened, or the bear had gone mad.
Minutes ago he had picked up Corrine’s scent on the road, but it was getting stronger. She was out here and headed home about ten minutes ahead of him. Gaston picked up his pace to a sprint. He was tempted to change to the wolf for more speed, but thought better of it. Instead he compromised, keeping his human form while taking on the strength of the wolf.
As he arrived at the cottage he could hear Corrine calling out his name, expecting that he would have been there before her, but there was a lot of terror in her voice, indicating that the bear was here as well. Gaston transformed, wolf-like muscles tearing away at his clothing as they became proportionate to his human frame. He stumbled a few steps as his joints changed directions to give him his wolfish mobility. He had finished changing as he bounded into the clearing and launched himself at the fifteen foot tall cave bear that had Corrine pinned behind the fire wood.
Gaston’s fangs ripped into the neck of the bear, but the bear swatted him away with ease. The running over, he transformed his joints back to give him better mobility to fight with. By the time the transformation was complete, the lumbering bear was upon him. Again he launched himself at the bear, but the bear caught him in air and gripped him up in a bear hug. Both creatures sank their teeth into the neck of their foe. To break the bear hug, Gaston used the claws of his hind legs to rip at the belly of the bear.
Finally the bear was weakening his hold, but managed to sink claws into Gaston’s back. The bear lifted Gaston’s body up as high as it could, and then slamming Gaston upon the ground. Despite being a werewolf Gaston was physically outclassed. In desperation he let out a howl that echoed through every valley in the region.
The bear roared in response, trying to make it appear bigger. Gaston found Vincent’s pitchfork nearby and grabbed it. With as much force as he could muster he threw the pitchfork like a spear at the bear’s chest. It was a direct hit, and the wooden tines punctured the bear’s skin, but it swatted at the pitchfork breaking the tines off in its chest.
The bear was angry, and Gaston desperate for what to do. The two beasts locked up again, this time with Gaston trying hard to push the tine in further. The bear bit down hard on Gaston’s shoulder and shook him violently. Gaston began to fade, losing strength as his blood and the bear’s saliva trickled down his chest and back. The bear whipped his head to the side and flung Gaston’s lifeless body to the side, siding his body flying through the air. Corrine watched helplessly as the man she had fallen for so quickly was dead just as quick.
The bear, still standing let out his victory roar, and was about to go back to see about Corrine when it noticed Gaston stirring. The bear and Corrine looked in astonishment as he slowly managed to crawl back to his feet. The bear dropped to all fours and began to sway back and forth in agitation that this wolf still lived and still challenged him for the human.
The bear started running at Gaston, who had not recovered enough for another fight. But before the bear could reach him, his call was answered. Without warning two male wolves hit the bear on either side, tearing at his throat. Several other wolves, both male and female attacked the bear’s hind legs, and jumped upon his back. Before too long the bear had an entire pack taking turns getting at his flesh in what appeared to be a coordinated attack. Corrine was glad that the wolves had come to save Gaston, protecting one of their pack.
The bear mustered his strength and cast off the entire pack. But decided that if they felt that strongly about defending him, then he still had the girl, but this too was a mistake as the somewhat recovered Gaston flew through the air and landing upon the bear’s back craned his neck over the bear’s shoulder and bit down hard on its neck. Gaston did not let go, and as the bear began to wear down he whipped his head towards his own back, the bear’s throat still lodged in his maw.
The body of the bear dropped and Gaston stepped away letting his pack have the rest. He could taste it in the bear’s blood. The bear was very old and past his own extinction. With more humans than there were in its time, there was less food for it to eat. The bear’s solution was to add humans to its diet, and so it hunted them. Gaston limped over to Corrine and could smell it before he saw it. Corrine had been slashed across the abdomen by the bear.
She was dying, and there was only one way he knew of to save her. He looked at her in desperation, wondering if he could damn her to the same half-life existence that he lived. As much as he enjoyed it, there were many drawbacks. He looked deeply into her eyes as he wrestled with the decision.
“Do it, my love.” Corrine told him tilting her neck towards his mouth.
Gaston bit down upon her shoulder instead. She passed out, unconscious but not dead. When she woke this time Gaston was in human form and wearing some clothes of her father’s, she was dressed in some clean clothing of her own, her parents were buried, the bear was nearly picked clean by the wolves who mostly laid around looking fed and happy.
“You’re awake. How do you feel?” Gaston asked.
“I itch a little.” she said, pointing to where her wound had been.
“You’re still healing. The wolf’s blood is doing that. The pack has been waiting to see if you were alright. They are very concerned.” Gaston said.
“So what now?” Corrine asked standing up and walking over to her love.
“I take you home where you will be my mate.” Gaston said, smiling and taking her hand.
The couple began walking off into the forest in the direction of Gaston’s home, the wolves of the pack followed like dogs behind their master, some leaping and playing as they went.
“So you said you would tell me the story of Romulus and Remus.” Corrine teased.
“When we get home.” Gaston said.
“How long will that take?” Corrine asked.
“About two hours walking.” Gaston said.
“Let’s run like the wolf.” Corrine cried, as she transformed into a wolf.
Gaston thought she was a natural as he transformed and raced to catch her, both leaving their clothes behind to add to the mystery of the wolf.