Like many times before, Aticus day-dreamed… romanticizing the psalms that his mother once sung. He dreamed of his family again, another memory seared into his brain of Ayaa, Oyo and Mother Wolf… his family, happy and together. Sure the relationship between Oyo and Aticus had been strained at best but they were still family. But he began day-dreamed about pyramids and watchful eyes, an all-knowing eye. The colors Crimson and purple mixing together and he began to get anxious. The wretched “God’s Light” found him even in his waking thoughts!
Although the family pack had made their den very close to a human village and every night mother wolf wailed her sad songs, they managed their concealment for months until one warm summer day changed all that. The smell alerted mother wolf even before the noise did, although the troop made no attempt to squash the raucous laughter which inundated their surroundings. They were just three men but their footfalls sounded like a battalion. The pups and Aticus were blissfully unaware of the men approaching, too busy basking in the sun’s warming rays, until a series of yowls from mother wolf warned them of an approaching danger.
Quickly, mother wolf had a hold of Oyo by the scruff and flung him as gently as she could into the camouflage of brush. Next mother wolf, with a good hold of Ayaa’s scruff tossed her child down the gently sloping hill by the creek, yelping from surprise instead of pain as she hit the water. She had no time to toss Aticus before the soldiers broke through the entanglement of thick vines between the trees.
“I finally found you, bitch!” Gale, son of Glom and brother of the slain Gael, said triumphantly.
The son whose first hunt had been her mate, seasoned now and no longer the scared shaking boy he had been, stood confident with dagger in hand. Two of Gael’s sons, Gamell and Googg, still only children themselves began to encircle the mother Wolf.
“I knew it, Gale! I knew this abomination would lead us to her!” Googg said with excitement. “Gale, you were right! There was another one after all!”
Gale felt vindicated; he knew his beloved brother had warned him of another wolf before he died. He had in one of his hands a long, rusty chain and he gave it a quick yank. The chain slithered through the tall grass like a snake, pulling taunt for a moment and then going slack again. The dense trees and overgrown weeds and vines obscured the dark figure shackled to the end of the chain.
“Kill the bitch and be done with it! We’ll finally be heading back home. My father is ill and he can’t stand being away from home too long.” Gale whispered vehemently.
Mother wolf braced herself and began to snarl. She may not have understood their words but their intentions were clear. She exposed pearly white fangs warning the three intruders to stay back. Branches of a nearby bush suddenly exploded to life. Mother Wolf tried to deliberately hide Oyo but he arose from the underbrush. However Oyo’s noises and movement were masked by mother wolf’s snarls of warnings.
Aticus felt his brother’s teeth against his neck. That’s it, Aticus thought, Oyo had patiently waited until the opportune moment to strike. Pressure on his neck increasing until it was all he could do to keep from passing out. No control of his body anymore as it was tossed up and now in flight, he landed in the mud face first beside the creek at the bottom of the hill. Dazed, Aticus looked up only to see Googg had rounded on Oyo and thrust his shiny sword into his heart. Aticus sat slack-jawed too stunned to move. How could he have been so stupid, guilt coursing through Aticus’ human veins, Oyo was not trying to kill him, but had rushed in and saved his life. Aticus’ throat swelled up in sadness as the sword jerked out of his brother’s bleeding chest, a quick slice and Oyo’s head bounced along the tall grass.
The head tumbled downhill and with a splash came to a stop in the water, tongue sticking out at Aticus. Tearing his eyes from Oyo’s decapitated head, Aticus noticed his sister. A muddy mess, Ayaa was only visible when she opened her eyes wide. She stared up the hill, whimpering quietly.
Her stomach churning, the mother wolf retreated back to the edge of the hill and stopped. She knew her two remaining children were down the hill and she wouldn’t dare risk exposing them. Mother wolf went on the offensive Snarling and clawing at the three soldiers. She couldn’t help but glance down the hill to look for her pups to assure their safety, though. Four blinking eyes stared back at her, comforting her, but that distraction cost her. Googg side-stepped her deadly fangs and thrust a dagger into her ribcage. Mother wolf yelped in pain and he raised his dagger for the death blow.
Before Googg could react, a second wind invigorated the she-wolf; sparks turned into an inferno of desire to live, to escape her tormentors and to ensure her remaining pup’s safety. She twisted her ribcage around and the awkward angle of his hand made Googg lose his grasp of the dagger. Mother wolf’s shoulders shoving him back and hitting his head on a low hanging Cypress branch. His knees buckled, trying to catch his balance but ultimately falling on his back. Dazed, he searched for his brother and Uncle through the thick fog in his mind. The blow to his head left him confused, his ears ringing and not able to reach for his scabbard before the she-wolf pounced on him.
Gamell, diverted by a cluster of trees, weeds, and falling branches circled around in an attempt to save his brother, Googg. Between clusters of trees there lay a long forgotten fox den. When the stream flooded, leaves and branches inundated the hole in clustered masses. Navigating the refuge made it extremely difficult but Gale managed to pick his way around to the other side in an attempt to save his nephew, still carrying the encumbering chain with him. The confusion had lifted from Googg’s mind just in time to see the grotesque snarling teeth and wild eyes of the mother Wolf.
“Gamell, my Brother!” He yelled for help.
Googg repositioned his body the best he could with the weight of the wolf bearing down on him. With fingers outstretched he desperately tried to retrieve his sword. With his body awkwardly positioned, however, moving left him exposed for the next strike. Muscles almost at their breaking point he struggled to get his elbow and forearm between his exposed neck and her deadly snapping teeth. He smelled her putrid breath, which reminded him of the meat market back in Babylon. Googg, almost out of breath, fended off her dangerous muzzle with its wild snapping powerful incisors. One or two strikes came dangerously close to his cheek leaving trickles of drool behind. Mother Wolf swiped and scratched violently at his leather padded armor but it did nothing but score the hardened shell. His legs kicked for traction in an attempt to right himself. Then their desperate eyes met, Googg and mother wolf, locked in a stare that seem like a singularity. He unexpectedly saw through mother Wolf’s eyes, and those eyes were not at all the eyes of a cold blooded killer, they were the eyes of a mother that just witnessed the murder of her pup and fought valiantly to protect herself. An indescribable sorrow for the loss made tears spring out from his eyes as he thought of the senselessness of what had already been lost for both of them, so clearly just self-defense and nothing more that had driven the mother Wolf into such frenzy.
The uncle did not hesitate, like last hunt, navigating a series of fallen trees and branches he finally found his nephew. His brother made it none too worse for wear with just minor scratches and bruises, but then mother Wolf had found a weak spot in Googg’s armor. Her nails scored the armor and traveled up his shoulder to pierce his unprotected neck. Only two of five nails punctured his flesh but it had been a mortal hit when it shredded his jugular vein.
Googg felt an uncontrollable sensation come over him. One of pissing himself but above his waist, warm and wet every time his heart knocked in his chest. His neck gushed blood, prompting him to release his faulty grip upon mother wolf’s muzzle to try to quell the copious amounts of sticky substance. Like sticking a finger in a cracked dam the blood still flowed and his heart still beat his life away. He made a halfhearted attempt to stab at mother wolf but failed, only penetrating the thick fur before he lost his grip. A torrent of scratches made mincemeat of his face, the wolf only stopping when Googg stopped squirming. Googg’s brother and Uncle had made it through the obstacles only to find mother wolf facing them head-on.
Pacing quickly from side to side so Gale and Gamell could not get a clear swipe at her, mother wolf’s eyes did not dare look away from her attackers. After some hesitation they raised their swords but a sudden snap of her vicious fangs, still dripping with their relative’s blood, made both men hesitate. It seemed a stalemate, until Gale shook that massive chain. Something stirred from the shadows and glowing green eyes appeared. The pacing wounded Wolf stopped in her tracks, stunned as the thing moved out of the shadows into the light.
A shackled and humiliated man-beast appeared. It looked like an emaciated Wolf walking on two legs but both the other arms all the way to his shoulders were severed. She stared in horror at the silver stakes protruding from his stumps and noticed the wolf’s once luxurious black fur. Gone, in its place were thinning, unhealthy, sparse black patches fur which were greying. The beast locked onto mother Wolf’s eyes. Vacant sorrowful green eyes so old and alien yet seemed so familiar. The scent of the horrid thing unmistakable, the scent of her long lost mate, he had finally returned to her.
Aticus and Ayaa saw the unfamiliar wolf man too but the unmistakable pheromones and implicit bond told them that they were laying their eyes on their father for the first time. Angered by the chains that bound his father, Aticus grinds his teeth. He can’t help but notice the shiny pyramid and a dazzling jewel eye set upon it adorning the corset that constricted his father’s breathing and held him tight like a walking prison. A screeching yelp made Aticus’ ears twitch and impulsively glance over at his mother who now howled in pain. Gale seized the opportunity and when mother Wolf had been distracted plunged his sword deep into her chest, piercing a lung. Gamell smiled smugly and with one resolute arc the head of mother Wolf rolled down the hill to join the head of her pup at the creek’s edge.
Aticus lay naked in the noonday sun. He tossed and turned with the sun in his face but the warm pleasant day soothed his bare skin. Unpleasant memories plagued him, so much so he could not bring himself to open his eye now. Even with his eyes shut tight the sun at its zenith he could not help but see the Gods Light “eye” under his eyelid. Just thinking about the eye Aticus shut his eye tighter still the unstoppable train of his memory steaming forward.
The surviving siblings slipped from the tightening noose of the God’s Light bastards and the villagers alike. It had been three weeks since mother and brother wolf’s untimely deaths and they were completely alone, Aticus and Ayaa now had to fend for themselves. But they strived to forget the horrors of that fateful night, and in time they learned to be happy again. Since Aticus’ birth he had aged rapidly, the result of the lupine metabolism. Puberty had come swiftly, Aticus tying Ayaa in growth.
Before the tragedy of their brother and mother’s death they were inseparable so when the siblings had to collaborate for food the occasional kill of a small boar or two, brought them even closer. Every waking day the bond grew stronger, not a moment went by the pair weren’t together. Ayaa even kept him warm at night, sleeping by him so peacefully. A strange sensation seized him every time he looked into the full Moon, wishing that he could stare at it forever, until thirst overwhelmed him. Lapping up clear, refreshing water cupped in his hands Aticus glanced at Ayaa who watched him with piqued curiosity. She saw in the water’s reflection his human hands. Now he stared at her with curiosity as she too dipped her paws into the cold water. Ayaa’s physiology finally developing neural pathways of thought; wondering why her paws were so different from Aticus she crooked her head in concentration until she yelped aloud in surprise. One of her paws began to change!
Aticus’ eyes widened in amazement at the sight of his sister’s changing, as her pads softened and thinned and as the digits of her paws lengthened. Whimpering, not so much in pain but in fear and surprise, Ayaa curled her body into a tight ball until her mutating paw turned fully into that of a human hand. Amazed at the site of the miracle Aticus sat in awe his arm stretching towards her until their hands touched. Ayaa sat up on her haunches as her other paw began the metamorphosis as well. Aticus could still remember his sister’s sweet voice.
Her vocal chords began to transform, in an invented twin language Ayaa excitedly yelled, “Ahh…yo.”
Ayaa’s lupine visage with the long, proud muzzle began to pulse, transforming, shrinking into a gorilla-like nose, transforming still more, until finally becoming a beautiful and innocent human’s face. Her big doe eyes were moist with tears of happiness and wonder. Ayaa smiled a human smile and slipped her new hands into Aticus’, entwining their fingers. Aticus and his now human sister would stay that way until the next full moon. Eventually, the sibling’s roles changed as Aticus made the transition into a Wolf’s form.
Aticus grinned when he thought of her and their new found abilities. For three whole days he had run, chased and played as a true wolf but without any family to guide either of them through the trials of lycanthropy spontaneous transformation had been difficult to say the least. Every full moon they would sneak in to an unsuspecting village as wolves and wreak havoc on the villagers. Come daybreak they liked to walk around in human form with stolen clothes to see what damage had been done. Jealousy and pride came over him, even now, when he thought about his sister. She had the privilege to grow up a majestic canine.
A tear ran down his eye remembering pleasant times with his sister. For three days each month they would play together in lupine form due to the moon’s phases. Aticus would slip into a lupine shape much earlier than Ayaa. So she would kneel down on one knee next to Aticus’ lupine form. She would rub his muzzle in a slow counter clockwise fashion then would rub his soft fur and scratch his lupine ears until the transformation came upon her as well. They would run off together across the land brother and sister. Their mother left them alone in the world, but they had each other.
Everything changed when one hot and windy day they unexpectedly caught a faint and familiar scent. Both Aticus and his sister’s heart skipped a beat. They ran on two legs, his sister still unfamiliar with running on two legs anxiously tripping on loose twigs and rocks. The pair negotiated the familiar hills and valleys that they had grown accustomed to until they saw the three crosses up on a nearby hill. Excited running became an uneasy jog as the overpowering rotting stench permeated the air around them. Aticus slid to a stop so abruptly he lost his balance and tumbled onto the ground, only yards away. Ayaa stared up at the crosses with tears in her eyes and a stricken look on her face. Aticus had already prepared himself in his mind for his father’s demise but not for the scene that stood before him now. He squeezed his eyes shut tight and could not bring himself to open them until a gasp from his sister startled them open again.
On the far left and far right cross Aticus saw two unknown and decapitated corpses positioned like they had been crucified. The middle cross was set higher and upon it was a headless man’s corpse. His arms were severed and someone had cut out his heart and shoved a spike threw his spine and into the wood. The hairs on the back of Aticus neck stood on end. He saw the familiar spikes that were imbedded into the corpse’s stumps. Even with the rotting flesh masking the scent he breathed in the unmistakable smell of their father. He had obviously been kept alive for whatever reason until inevitably being brutally slaughtered.
Aticus shooed away a dozen or so flies circling his head and glanced at Ayaa. She had smelled their father first, and now lying on the ground, Ayaa was blubbering hysterically. A cold chill ran down Aticus’ spine. Deja-vu consumed his paranoid mind. He found himself on yet another hill. The songs his late mother sang of their disastrous encounter and how she was parted from her mate consuming his mind. Trapped at the top of the hill she had lost sight of her mate. At the top of the hill Aticus had lost his brother and his mother. Now he found himself on the top of the hill with his sister. Suspicion came over him but he couldn’t look away from his father’s body. His stomach was still bloated and swollen from the gases so that the skin had cracked open in places, weeping fluids onto the ground around him in a circle like a perverted ring of protection gone horribly awry.
This sounds of trampling feet vibrated through the ground. From the sounds, just three men, another of their calling cards of late, the men of “God’s Light” were soon to be upon them. Aticus realized this display had been a trap meant to flush out hidden lycanthropes that came to mourn or witness their kin’s unspeakable tortures.
“Ayaa!” He warned in their invented language, he had yet to see the hunters, but he knew they were close at hand.
Aticus ran without caution to meet his beloved sister, and as he neared her he tripped a hidden wire. Suddenly the ground gave way beneath him. The only thought running through his head was that he was falling indefinitely, but was glad that Ayaa managed to miss the traps. He found himself without sight as he plummeted toward the ground with a loss of equilibrium that made his head spin. To this day when he thought long and hard about it, he could still remember the dank cold all over his body and the moldy grit on his tongue.
Aticus’ forearm put up no resistance to the spike placed firmly in the ground. Eight foot spikes scraped between his chest and up his back as he fell. Alternating spikes meant to maximize damage to any unlucky person to fall in the trap. They would be deadly to any animal on four legs but with Aticus able to walk upright, the damage was greatly minimized. The sudden stop made Aticus’ knees buckle then pop, a searing pain radiating all through his legs and up his spine as his feet found Earth and the darkness consumed him. His ears were still keen however; muffled sounds of violence violating his soul.
“One down, one to go!” Someone said with unbridled enthusiasm.
“Get the girl!” Someone with a gruff and mature voice ordered spurring on hurried footfalls of two anxious-to-please men.
Immediately Aticus knew the raspy voice, it was the one who hunted his family and was responsible for leaving them orphans. He found himself frantically assessing the situation. His arm stretched up and out like a twisted salute, joints and bones at their breaking points, but he had to get out of this hole he now found himself in.
He couldn’t help but hear from above the shrill scream of Ayaa as she stumbled to the ground, or at least that is what he saw in his mind’s eye. His stomach churned, anxiety twisting it in knots until vomiting up his meager dinner of well chewed chunks of rabbit and grass.
“No!” He heard Ayaa’s desperate pleas in her broken and alien speech, “No, please don’t!”
He heard fabric ripping, the violent and nauseating smack, smack, smack of pounding flesh made Aticus’ soul ache imagining all the horrid possibilities that were much worse than death. Something deep in his core snapped that day. He yanked his forearm with all his might against the silver pole but with no success. Then a series of frantic jerks made his arm pulsate with a pain he had not felt since the onset of his first transformation but still the stake did not move. He heard growling resonating through the trap, astonishing him as he realized it was coming from his own throat. Bloody droplets one, two, three then a steady flow ran down from the pole as the wound on his hand deepened.
His wounded body abruptly and involuntarily transformed into a hulking beast, humanoid in appearance, lupine muscles intertwining amid human muscles combining to make the perfect killing machine. He had changed, he would have marveled at this situation, he had never before transformed in between moon cycles but fueled on instinct alone he thought he had to get out of the pit to save his sister. He didn’t waste any time but began gnawing on the flesh of his trapped forearm with his extended muzzle. His hand had not transformed as a result of the deadly silver, and it serves him well. Imagining the hand violating his sister he viciously gnawed on his forearm until finally freeing flesh and muscle from bone.
“Brother,” Ayaa exclaimed struggling to be free, “help me!”
The commotion and loud commands that could be heard up above him made Aticus crazed. Still stuck in the hole, still impaled, he could not help his sister as he heard steel rendering tender flesh, then shrieks of pain followed by a quick swish and then deafening silence.
The skin on Aticus’ forearm had separated from the elbow revealing bare bone and the wound from his forearm had stretched open allowing him to slide his arm up and down. Fangs tore through his exposed bone until sweet marrow emerged. A snap then twist from his powerful neck and Aticus was free! His Loose forearm swung wildly about. Calves wound like springs and nerves like a hairline trigger, he burst out of the hole as remnants of his clothing, now only bloody rags, waved about him like a red flag of vengeance.
Aticus dug his feet firmly into the green grass, preparing for anything except for the scene laid out before him. It made him physically sick. The soldiers were gone; with Ayaa dead and Aticus falling into a trap leaving them to believe he was dead or dying their macabre job had been done. Ayaa’s decapitated and lifeless body lay on the ground. Black and blue bruises manifested all over her inner thighs. Blood clotted in the gaping wound in her chest. He could tell right away, her heart had been taken.
Aticus scooped up Ayaa’s limp body, holding her closely while sorrowful howls echoed over the hillside. He tried to breathe in her scent for the last time, a mixture of sunflowers and feral musk. He remembered so many times in the bitter cold she had snuggled up to him with her soft, soft fur. Agony seized him over the thought that she was no longer warm. She had died wearing human skin while Aticus now exuded warmth in his lupine fur.
The sounds of howling coming from the hills prompted the three men to split up with two doubling back in Aticus direction. Heartbreaking thoughts had Aticus distracted until he sniffed the nauseating scent of his sister’s torturer.
The pair involuntarily gasped and stopped in their tracks at the sight of the beast. All of their information and training had been incorrect, the sun high in the sky, moon nowhere to be seen still they saw a monster in their path. Without any hesitation the one with the nauseating smell tried to draw his sword before Aticus leapt upon him. Delicately balancing Ayaa on his shoulder Aticus grabbed the rapist’s head with his clawed hand and smashed his head into a rock, crashing his head against the rock again and again until the skull burst open in a spatter of gore. Blood and brain matter splashed onto the remaining soldier’s face. A quick swipe with Aticus’ other claw threw the other soldier up into the air and he fell down onto the ground with a solid “smack”. The soldier had survived however. Aticus with all his fury forgot his missing hand and forearm being chewed off to escape the hole. He impulsively grasped for his missing forearm and finding a whole arm, complete with hand he let out a sigh of relief… He had forgotten in time even this lost limb would grow back, one of the wonders of lycanthropy.
His memories flashed forward through the decades to his grandmother who had heard his sorrowful howls and had blessedly come to the rescue. She told him about the last of her surviving ancestors, a cousin to him though long lost. He had been genuinely happy to have found a true relative, to learn all that he could about his species, and for the first time in years he had companionship since his sister’s death. His grandmother taught him the enigmas of transformation. Longevity was a consequence. So-seti taught him some secrets of the Wolf and laws of man before she too was murdered at the hand of “God’s Light”. The symbol emblazoned upon their bronze chest plates were forever burned into his memory. There had been so many questions left unanswered. He mourned at the thought of his sister. If grandmother had guided her to transition from wolf to woman or back again would his sister survived? Memories cut through him like sharp daggers thrust into his thoughts.
By the time Devon saved him from certain death, with yet another encounter of angry villagers and “Gods Light” Hunters, the seeds of hatred had been firmly planted and nurtured. His grandmother told him the ways of the lycanthropes and their origins, Devon told him how to tell time and the basics of human behaviors. Before then, telling time seemed so foreign to him, so useless. Now the ability to tell time infuriated and depressed him.
The physical wounds healed quickly but the mental wounds cut deeply and those worms of thoughts burrowed into his brain, festering and spreading. After Devon left for the virgin new world, somewhere in modern-day Canada, leaving him alone again, something in him had just broken. The year of our lord, 1759 ad., Aticus had to come down from the mountains hell bent for vengeance and blood, so much bloodshed.
An abundance of time existed for him and it took him centuries to find an only relative of his. Fueled with a lust for revenge the pairing of him and his insane cousin had been destined by the stars. They made their way through Europe leaving a bloody mess in their wake, killing indiscriminately across the land for decades. His cousin had made a name for himself in the rural villages of France being called the beast of Ge’vaudan. His cousin, Sacco, out for blood and food courtesy of the unwitting town folk, but not Aticus, he knew the continuing bloodshed and tales of werewolves in their midst would flush out everyone participating in “God’s Light”. The eventual death of his treasured but entirely insane cousin did not detour his own blood lust, killing every offspring from the “God’s Light” ministry he could find.
In 1810 A.D., Aticus moved to the Americas tracking that faint but distinct smell, determined to eradicate them all. However, everything changed when he met Alicia.
Alicia, he could still hear her calling his name.
Aticus heard a rustling coming from the bushes, startling him from his daydreams. In the fog of thought things were not as they appeared to be, disorienting him, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
“Alicia?” Aticus squinted to see a woman; the sun’s rays illuminating her silhouette and making her appear an Angel come to Earth.
“No…” The stranger answered in a familiar voice, her Navajo dialect distinctive.
His senses awakened fully and he could see the beautifully caramelized smooth skin and raven black hair that hung down the length to the small of her back. He breathed in the fragrance of cinnamon and sandalwood. The wind gradually moved her silken hair and light caught her luxurious black hair making it shine in the sun. With her hair swept back her forehead and cheeks now showed the disfiguring burns from the explosion that almost cost her life many years ago. Her yellow eyes burned with the intensity of a noble Navajo princess, eyes full of loyalty, but also distrust.
“Hello Tonya.” His surprise evident in the expression on his face, “I’m surprised to see you here!”
“Ah Aticus,” Tonya nimbly touched his chest, “you called, and I must obey.”