All Hallow's Eve found me, with neither trick nor treat,
alone in my office. Once, like other children and pets, I had costumed myself
in search of candy, and set off with my friends and family on the house-to-house
travels. Now as a living monster, every day of the year, I had no friends or
family with which to engage in such reverie. One by one, they had deserted me,
turned their backs upon me... all but...
She pushed open my door now, with a cautious
paw, careful now as always to judge the state of my mood and mentality before
entering completely. Through her eyes, I must have appeared a sorry sight -
a pale figure of a Grarrl, head in hands behind the desk, in the near total
darkness. She moved gracefully, her costume, that of an angel in gossamer wings
and silken fabrics of gold. She wore a mask of feathers and lace, all softness
and texture, held so precariously by velvet straps that it seemed even the slightest
wind might carry it away. Her voice was gentle as she spoke, soothing my sharp
corners like balm. "Come with me, Gaelan."
"I do not belong at your parties, my angel.
There is no place among the coloured lights and streamers, and costumes for
one such as myself..." I sighed heavily as she rested one paw upon my shoulder,
and allowed her to tilt my head upwards from my hands with her other.
"You always used to love them... remember, the
pumpkin carving? You took first place one year..." The sadness in her tone was
My heart ached with the sorrow of being its
cause. "Do you know why people carve Jack-O-Lanterns, my angel?"
"Gaelan..." Her paw lifted from my shoulder
to still the words, but I brushed it away.
"To keep evil at bay. To keep the monsters they
pretend at from becoming real. I would not go into the midst of all that and
shatter their illusions of security and small safe terrors, to show them that
the creatures of their nightmares and legend are reality." I sounded morose,
even to myself, and she turned away in disgust.
"Fine. If you wish to stay here and pity yourself,
then do so. I will be at the party, dancing and laughing, and having a good
time." My angel stalked through the door, glorious in her anger, righteous and
right in her observations. I was, indeed, feeling a bit sorry for myself.
"I am not pitying myself... I have a client
this evening." That much was true, at least. "A Mr. Colt King, who is seeking
knowledge on the subject of lycanthropy." I was speaking to air, still slightly
scented of the rainwater shampoo that She used. I sighed softly, and
stood to light a lamp that my office might be slightly more inviting to company.
I was rewarded a scant moment later by a frantic, steady knock.
"Keep patience, good sir," I called loudly,
setting the lamp down and making haste for the entrance, lest he batter it down.
I pulled the latch and swung it open, peering out into the darkness. An orange
Lupe stood on my doorstep, peering up at the slightly overcast sky with a baleful
expression. He wore only a tattered pair of breeches, tied with a rope where
a belt should have been. His paws were grubby with what was hopefully earth,
to the point that even his claws were blackened.
"Come in," I said, stepping aside. My hopes
of payment for my services were fading by the minute as he shambled in, cowering
slightly at the sight of me.
"Wow... I ain't never seen no vampire costume what looked as good as that,"
he drawled, looking me up and down. "You done scared me good."
"Good heavens... please tell me that you're
here to inquire about the theft of your grammar and diction," I said, taken
aback by his rough manner of speaking.
"Grammar an Diction? They a new group over in
Tyrannia or something? I ain't never..."
"Haven't ever. Please. By the faeries, man -
who raised you?" I shook my head, sitting behind my desk.
"I done raised myself after I busted out of that there pound," he said, grinning
widely and hopping up to sit on my desk.
"Arrgh... I'm going to bite you if you don't
get off my desk this instant," I roared, baring my fangs and leaning up over
him. Much to my astonishment, he leaped nimbly off the desk and smiled wide.
The slack-jawed bumpkin look faded, leaving me staring into two dark eyes that
glittered with intelligence and good humour.
"Sorry about all that," he said, smirking lightly.
"I just wanted to make sure you were genuine before I entrusted you with my
"I dislike being played for a fool, Mr. King,"
I snarled, making the connection.
"Please, do call me Colt. Surely, one such as
yourself can understand the need for secrecy when one is faced with a difficult...
"From what I understand, your 'situation' is that you need information on
lycanthropy. Were-creatures, lunar affected shape shifters, if you will. Am
I correct, or is that too part of your little game?" I was less than amused,
and half-wishing I had taken my angel up on her invitation to the party at this
"Desperate need, Mr. Legarro - or may I call
you Gaelan?" Taking my nod for consent to this, he continued. "I fear, Gaelan,
that I have been bitten by a lycanthrope and will change into such with the
rise of the moon." Colt ran a shaky hand through his fur, considering this disturbing
"The bite of an infected creature is one sure
way to transmit the disease - when did this occur? If the wound is still open,
there is the possibility of purification..." I forgave the annoyance as I settled
into work mode, opening the reference book that I had pulled from my collection
earlier in anticipation of this meeting.
"A few days ago... I've been drinking healing
potions daily since then. The wound has closed, but I've been tired and irritable.
I... I've been too afraid to seek the Healing Springs or to go to the hospital...."
Colt stared down at his feet, ashamed of his fear. He was obviously a creature
accustomed to being in charge of his emotions.
Fear. Welcome to my world.
"If the wound has closed, it's far too late.
Lycanthropy is undocumented by modern healing science, and incurable by the
magic of the Springs, so there's nothing else you could have done..." I calmly
looked up from my book, and stated, as if relating the weather... "When the
moon rises full, you will undergo your first change."
"What?! Just like that!" Colt growled low in
his throat, and lunged halfway across the desk. I stared him down coolly, unflinching,
until he turned away. "Isn't there anything you can do to help me?"
"The kindest thing I can do for you, my boy,
is to take you down to my dungeons and lock you away for the night." I stood
to my full height, towering over him, and offered my hand. "You're going to
have to trust me."
Colt eyed my outstretched hand, the friendship
I offered. Indecision flickered through his eyes, his brows furrowing with the
effort of contemplation. After a long tense moment, he slipped his paw into
my hand and we shook on it. "Do what you must..." he sighed. "And quickly...
already, I grow restless."
I lead the way out of the office, down the corridor
and to the stone stairwell. Our footfalls echoed heavy on the stone, and the
sound of his nails clicking against the mortar was slightly grating. I couldn't
say for certain that I would enjoy companionship with this strange Lupe - our
acquaintance was tenuous at best. There would be time enough to test the mettle
of this alliance when we weren't about to experience the wonders of transformation
As we stepped off the landing and into the basement,
I could hear Colt's breathing quickening, the raspy draws alerting my senses
to danger. Cautiously, so as not to startle the beast that might be waiting,
I inched my way around to face him. The shift had begun - his eyes were glassy
and glowing with a supernatural greenness. His fur had darkened, and grown shaggy,
beyond the disarray he'd arranged for his ruse.
"Colt," I cautioned. "Keep focused. Just a bit
"I... can't... hold... on..." he whispered raggedly,
leaning against the wall for support, balling his paws into fists.
"You must! If you change now, I'd have to stop
you from heading up those stairs, and letting the beast in you run amuck. And
believe me... you wouldn't like that prospect very much at all." My eyes narrowed
to slits, and I bared just a bit of fang to hint at how things would go if it
came down to that. The subtle threat was enough to bring him back around.
"Sorry..." he muttered, his eyes losing the
glow. His fur, however, remained dark and shaggy, and I knew it was only a matter
of time before his control shattered again-perhaps completely this time. First
transformations were rumoured to be the hardest, both on the individual lycanthrope
and those around him.
We traversed the basement in silence, passing
my laboratory and the records storage area to come to the cell I'd had built
in the farthest corner. Strong bars of thick iron secured the place on all sides.
The floor was the thick stone of the castle, unbreakable by even preternatural
strength. Straw served as the only bedding, clean and fairly fresh. I had built
this place, not in preparation for housing lycanthropes, but in the eventuality
that I might need it to contain myself. If I ever became a danger to myself
or others again, She had firm instructions to lock me away...
I chuckled a bit at the irony of the situation,
ignoring the sharp glance from Colt who most certainly was not finding the prospect
of being locked away humorous at all. To his credit, he walked willingly into
the cell, and crouched low into the far corner. "Do it..." he said, burying
his face into his arms, "Lock the door! Hurry!"
I slammed the iron gate shut, and turned the
key in the lock. Colt's head snapped up sharply at the finality of the lock.
His eyes were bright green now, glowing with fury as he lunged for the bars.
I stepped back out of harm's reach, wincing as he howled and shrieked, backing
away rapidly. "Did I neglect to mention that cold iron is nearly as painful
to a lycanthrope as silver? Don't worry - it won't kill you, but it will keep
you quite contained."
Ignoring the furious growls and the sound of
head bashing stone, I returned upstairs to the solace of my night. Colt King
had come to me for help, and help I had provided. "You really should be careful
what you wish for," I chuckled as I helped myself to a large vein cabbage and
pondered the night. Werelupes locked away in the basement... She would
be in for quite a story, when She returned.
I thought of her with the gossamer wings and
the feathered mask, dancing and sipping cider, among the fake monsters and the
flickering pumpkins to ward off the night. I thought of her dancing there among
them, the only one who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the monsters were
real, and occasionally, benevolent.
Author's Note: The curious may visit Gaelan's Castle by clicking on his pet page--but
beware--Monsters lurk there. Colt can be found by looking up King_Colt . As for